I have been wanting to write this article for an extremely long time. I have stumbled and tormented myself so many times with this piece as to how I could even begin to voice my boulders of darkness. I wanted to translate to you, the reader, the horrific pain mental illness can bring, and to put the raw emotions into words which you will understand. With a heavy heart on Tuesday 12th August, I woke up to the bleakest of news; Robin Williams had died. Of course, death is intensively sad and heartbreaking at anytime but when the term 'suicide' is used it makes the world, at time already so thunderously dark, seem delicately small and fragile.
Suddenly, it now seems imperative that I finally sit down and put a voice to my mental illness. Tell people, shout to the world that I, along with so many others are trying, struggling day in, day out. I don't want give in. But neither did anyone committing suicide. It is only when the voice of loneliness, desperation, depression, anxiety, mania and so many other contenders push us so far far over that the quiet time we hope comes with death, may bring solace and relief we only dream of.
That pain can be too much for so many people.
Earlier this year, after ten long, laborious months, I was finally diagnosed with a form of bipolar. The news of this did not come as a shockingly huge surprise to my family and I. There had been the 'not an official diagnosis but' whispers from several different doctors who voiced concerns and judgments. You see, I have always struggled with depression and from a young age I had fought through it, in silence. Over several years in my late twenties and early thirties, before diagnosis, I went through, and survived, possibly one of the worst experiences of my life. The depression was so much more intense than it had ever, ever been. It was a treacle like fog, soot, smog inside my lungs, drowning every capacity of my being. I cried all day, stared into the air, at the nothingness my life had indeed become. Anxiety was always there cascading over me and drenching my relationships with worry and caution. I could not go out.
Then came the mania. Everything was fast. But I was wasn't fighting in the dark anymore, so all seemed okay, I was happy and getting much elated.
It just kept getting faster.
I was so hyped up and happy that I ignored the unusual exuberance. Gym visits became not once a day rituals, but twice a day (I missed periods in doing so much). I pitched so many ideas to work that I lost count (and then ignored all the work I needed to do when the depression hit in). I'd potter off still bounding around walking the dog, go to the park with the children. I couldn't do enough so would go home and completely blitz the house, hoovering, polishing, changing the beds and hoovering again. I had never experienced this before and in truth I loved it. Sleep was something I no longer needed, at best managed 2 to 3 hours a night, my mind swarming with new projects.
At some point the mania styled perfection ended.
The pace which my mind moved increased further and I began to experience sensory overload. Noises and sights engulfed my mind, and EVERYTHING became too much. Everything felt SLOW and when driving it seemed to be in slow motion, but when I looked at the speedometer the correct pace of 40 mph was being driven. It felt like 5 mph and I fought the urge to go much faster. At home I became hostile to my husband's warmth and support. I wanted to trash the house and hurt him on several occasions. In my mind I pictured myself hurting him.
Screaming, I sat in silence. The cold spider veined thought was creeping back inside my mind of death and of letting the people I love have the freedom they deserved, away from my obscure netting. Death become my only thoughts, looking back through work everything collided with death somehow. I was obsessed and I didn't even realise.
Looking back now, I don't know how I escaped the torment. The only thing I managed to do every time was to say, 'This will pass' and 'help will come' on constant loop. On occasion I would not allow myself to move, in fear of the harm that would possibly come. And although my message was growing weaker I managed to hold on.
Each mental health battle is barbaric and savagely, brutal. In order to gain acceptance and survive this I speak up and ask that we understand and support one another.
Good night and God bless, Robin. xx