That is kind of the million-dollar question right now. Is what I am feeling part of the overall despondence brought about by my mental illness? Could the harrowing exhaustion, anger and hopelessness that is completely incapacitating me be tethered to my being a ‘basket case’. I have well for months now racked my mind on whether my lack of motivation to be a remotely normal functioning human being was because I damn well couldn’t. It has been the utter bane of my existence. Trust me, there is only so much of the same thought that can plague you over and over again before your mind is ready to jump over the deep end.
I believe it is not stated enough how the term depression sometimes tends to feel a tad bit too linear. For me at least, it no longer embodies the tumultuous nature and degree of detachment that precedes having major depression. Hence the question, ’That’s it?’. It surely can’t just be it anymore, not when it feels like I unlock a highly complex level of this ailment every other time that I am bound to experience an episode of it. It surely also doesn’t help that it is entirely possible to experience many of the symptoms of depression without being psychologically unwell. Many a time I have struggled to come to terms with the awareness that this illness seems to spread a lot like wildfire among my peers because surely, they wouldn’t be experiencing the same kind of agony I seem to carry around every waking moment. The gravity that there may be a chance that they are going through the same degree of despondence as I am is truthfully heartbreaking.
My experience within this realm of psychological turmoil surely no longer fits within the box that is depression. I am no longer of the meagre notion that depression isn’t just sadness. If the tumultuousness of my pain is anything close to what is truly defined as depression, then it should be made well aware that depression was never sadness, to begin with.
What are antidepressants?
I wanna believe that majority of you are familiar with the term antidepressants or have come across it once in a while somewhere. For the few that may not be aware of what exactly they are, they are medicine taken for different mental health illnesses. Most especially depression. That’s the lame man’s definition.
Why am I on antidepressants?
I’ve mentioned before that I have been on and off antidepressants before. I started taking antidepressants for my depression and anxiety sometime last year after a terrible episode that required me to see a psychiatrist and through that session, I was prescribed my first set of antidepressants. I was on Mirtazapine for my first dose and I’ll go into detail on the side effects in a few. For a first timer, I can say I took it like a champ. It’s a different experience to be on this medication but it might seem scary at first but I can assure or anyone who may be on the path to having it prescribed to them by their doctor, it will help. It is part of the means of getting better.
Side effects of the antidepressants
The side effects stated below are mine and not a general over view of all the side effects one is prone to get while on any set of antidepressants prescribed to you by your psychiatrist.
My initial reaction to starting antidepressants was that it would minimise the depression I was feeling in a matter of days but I got to learn quite quickly that that wouldn’t be the case. On mitarzapine, the effects quite frankly hit me like a hurricane. The depression quite literally became worse before it became better. On most occasions, there is always a fluctuation in weight and sadly for me, I gained a lot of weight. My appetite sorta increased ten fold and I was eating on a constant. The hunger was on another level. When I mentioned earlier that I took it like a champ was because despite how gravely the side effects were, I never discontinued it and was on it for a month before I had my prescription changed by my then psychiatrist.
My second prescription was what I gotta admit taking was an extreme sport. I didn’t go long on them due to the grave side effects they had on my body. I won’t mention the names of the exact medicine I was on just in case it gives off the wrong depiction of the said meds. I remember on the second night of taking them, I began to have serious tremors. I couldn’t stop shaking and my teeth rattled, you’d think I was on the North Pole. In addition to that, my heart started pounding so heavily, I was sure I was gonna have a heart attack. With the side effects being that heavy, I had to discontinue the medication and it took me a whole nearly six months before I went on any other antidepressants.
Mid year of 2021, I got into another depression episode that required me to visit a new psychiatrist since I was home over that period. This time around, I got a better prescription than the last which is what I am still on currently. I am on 10mg Cipralex and 10mg haloperidole. The first one is majorly for my severe depression whereas the latter is for my anxieties and agitation. On the first take of this medication, it didn’t have much of a side effect that I could positively point out but now when I’m currently on it, there are a few new side effects that are damning to the soul.
This will positively be very inappropriate to whoever reads this but I’ll say it anyway, my vagina has been going through it with this current set of meds I’m on. Going through it, I mean it’s dead dead. Like I can’t seem to get aroused what’s so ever and trust me, I have tried. You name it, besides sex though… don’t gotta a guy for that, or a boyfriend too.
Not too long, I was ranting to a close friend how I can’t seem to feel the slightest bit of sensation down there and she had a good laugh out of it. Besides the dead vagina, I also can’t seem to feel much joy over anything which is a lot like a mild numbness. What I can’t truly stand though, out of all this, is the agitation at night, right before bed. It is darn right annoying. It’s such an extreme sport to get myself settled in bed when it feels like every thought is racing and none of them have got sleep in them.
So yeah, just thought I’d share my brief experience with taking antidepressants and hope it distigmatizes them for the better.
I smoke among the dead at night. Most people would be shaken at the thought of that mere occurrence but I’m not. When I think of it now, I wonder why that little aspect of things has never really phased me considering I have been out there at the wee hours of the morning. My mind has fears of its own, dead people just isn’t one of them.
Maybe it is the silence that calms me. It sure isn’t the cigarettes I’m taking twice a night and four times a day. Or maybe it could be the darkness of the dead of night that gives me a sense of resemblance. It shows me that the darkness inside couldn’t possibly be that scary, at least not scary enough to stop me from staring at it alone, with the company of the seven gravesites in the backyard of my balcony. How about, it could also be that those dead folks who are buried there can feel my silent screams from the inside every night as I exhale the smoke out of my lungs. I try not to cough, we have a no sound policy out there when it’s just our souls that seem to come alive.
I hope they know of the nights that I wish I was in there with them, buried under the soil to where it is said to be peaceful. The adage, ‘’rest in peace’’ had to have had a mild relevance to the fact that besides your soul, your body and mind too can rest on the ground six feet under where not a beep of the darkness of depression can touch you. I smoke in the midst of the dead. I feel nothing and everything the darkness has to offer. I welcome it with open arms just as I do with every inhale and exhale of the cigarettes that lay print of their smoke in the middle of my fingers.
Disclaimer; This is a very anxiety-ridden post so I hope you can bear with me.
What my anxiety told me today…
My blog update (this very same one that I am writing now) will not make any absolute sense to anyone who will come across it, which begs the question of why am I even trying to write it to begin with. It will probably be a jumbled mess of my thoughts. No one should be subjected to reading my not so coherent thoughts.
Everything I will probably write here on this precise post will make zero sense to anyone. It probably is and will be an exaggeration of my said anxiety and it does not need to be highlighted at all.
I am incapable of writing anything substantially true and intelligent about what it feels like to live life with anxiety. I am never too conscious of it anyway, it probably is just another fabrication of my mind. Get over yourself Mercy, you can’t get any less pathetic than this.
I am an imposter at my own experience in anxiety which technically means that I probably don’t have anxiety at all. Nothing about my life can legitimize that I do actually have anxiety so why don’t I merely stop trying to convince the world that I do have it just so I can cover up being a weak human being.
Nobody likes my blog. Everyone probably thinks of it as quite mediocre and cliché. So what, that you experience a degree of sadness more often than not and that you are an attention seeking bitch which is probably why you cut yourself and have zero concept of selflove. That doesn’t make you anymore depressed than the rest of the world. The world truly doesn’t care much about what you write. They definitely won’t care about the pity party you are having with yourself right now by writing this.
I have no place in this world for me and my anxiety. (p.s I genuinely do believe this.)
My anxiety reared its ugly head out today. Maybe it was due to the fact that it was a lot more at the forefront of my thoughts today than it is on other days. Late last night before bed, my sister and I were having an honest conversation about why it is life feels very hopeless currently, especially for me to be precise. It is through that conversation that I was able to reveal to both myself and her just how immensely anxious I am over what is supposed to be the next phase of my life. The revelation of just how much anxiety I have for this next phase of life was both liberating to know as well as scary as hell. Later after having that conversation, I went to bed with quite a lot on my mind. Now that I knew why it was taking me so long to make any resemblance of progress in life, it left me questioning how exactly am I supposed to get past the crippling anxiety that I have.
Coming into today, I knew that I wanted to write concerning every little thought that was skimming through my mind about what it is like to have anxiety always as a voice second to that of your conscious thoughts. I didn’t know how I was going to be elaborate enough to give a sense of clear understanding and depiction of what it is like to go through the motions with anxiety wrapped around you like a second skin. Just thinking about how I wanted to project my anxiety in words, gave me major anxiety. The anxiety I got earlier just thinking about what I was going to write about was what prompted me to start this blog the way I did. I would begin by depicting exactly what it is like to have anxiety have you second guess every little bit of everything that you do. I was and still very much are conscious of my anxiety now even as I write this. My anxiety has me immensely worried that I’ll come out looking like a fraud or an imposter who’s just full of excuses over why she hasn’t made any kind of progress in her life since finishing school. I tried writing down prompts as a result of my anxiety so I wouldn’t keep repeating myself but now as I am trying to write this using them, I am afraid that they don’t seem to be making much sense to me now. That statement alone is a very big depiction of just how prominent anxiety is for me.
I have alluded in previous blogs just how weird of a child I was. As I have grown over the years, a lot of those weird quacks that I didn’t quite understand why I had them now make a lot of sense because they were merely just anxieties I had. Today, most of them would fall under what most would perceive as just personality traits and I too think that to an extent, they have morphed deeper into my personality than I care to admit. I not too long ago wrote about how bad of a perfectionist I am and maybe I didn’t dig deeper on why is the case but I understand now that it actually has a lot to do with my anxiety. For me, having everything happen in a precise and specific way allows me to gain control of the outcome. At the back of my mind, anxiety is the voice that requires me to feed on that sense of control. I have tried to never find out what the consequences will be if things don’t happen in perfect order but I am probably guessing that the world doesn’t collapse and neither does my life. Anxiety makes you too scared to find out that nothing probably does happen.
In the case of my not so foreseeable future, anxiety has taken away every sense of hope I have that adulting is not some big bad wolf that intends to gobble me up and spit me out like cud. It was a long time coming but for the past couple of months, I have been evading the subject of what’s next for me now that school is done. I have told myself and those around me of just how unprepared I am for working or looking for a job at that. Most people’s responses to my uncertainty of choice are that I would eventually have to start somewhere, regardless of whatever. As long as the rest of the world has gone down the same road into adulting, I don’t have much of a choice in it either. Revisiting this conversation with my sister was able to give me insight and perspective of just how much my anxiety has the reign over this. I probably did not take time to really go into the depths of why I was so resistant to the idea of working and of not feeling qualified enough to work in my field of expertise. Feeling anxious can do that to someone; Blind you from the fact that it is no ordinary fear but in hindsight, it is genuinely crippling anxiety that you’re feeling.
Now that I am aware of just how much anxiety has a hold on me right now, I do not know how to work my way around it. I still very much are terrified of looking for work and starting that work. I feel quite amateurish in the career I chose and I don’t think there is much I can do about that feeling, not when it will probably take me years of more studying in school for me to trust in my expertise. On previous occasions, I have had a little control over my anxiety through smoking and truthfully speaking, I can’t seem to even stand the scent of an unlit cigarette, let alone smoke it. I thought before that if I replaced self-harm with smoking, it would give me a better hold on my anxiety levels but I am aware that it merely turns into a rabbit hole that is never quite easy to get out of. I have been clean for a couple of months now, I think it’s safe to say I am trying to keep it that way.
It is of great importance that I try and get a hold of this crippling anxiety that I have over starting work and getting a job. Right now, all it has achieved is make me absolutely horrified about life and what to expect of it. My ambitions in life have become less because I am convinced that I don’t want to live long enough to keep trifling with anxiety at every step of my life. Anxiety demystifies death for me every other day. I can’t even express this to anyone because it comes off as such a cowardly notion to not want to live over the tiniest bit of change. Anyone would think that dying is too big of a reason or in their minds, too melodramatic of an excuse to do just because I am not ready to take up life by its horns… and I wouldn’t blame anyone for thinking that. Anxiety is a ball of melodramatic fear over consequences that are very much unlikely to happen. I can’t tell you what exactly petrifies me so much about the whole idea of getting a job as a counsellor and having a supervisor but I can assure you, I am convinced in my mind that I am not ready for it and if on the chance that I do start off unprepared, I will be the world’s unhappiest human being which eventually might give me reason enough to jump ship from this thing we call life.
If I am being genuinely honest, I don’t know where my train of thought will lead me while writing this. Today being the tenth of October signifies something quite salient to me. In obvious nature, I should have too many words on it, instead, I don’t feel like I have quite enough words; or even the right words to begin with. Today is World Mental Health Day. Mental health is the subject I am not quite sure I have enough words to scribble about.
Every day, I happen to come across one thing or another that is in direct relation to matters on mental health. That’s how important it is. I can’t deny that it is being spoken of more often than it was in the past, but I believe there is still quite a lot on it that isn’t said enough. I am well aware, that the progress of it can’t all happen at one go. I am well aware that my words and two cents about it here won’t create some sort of epiphany on mental health that’s not already been put out there. It is for those exact reasons that I had considered not mentioning anything at all in regard to today’s importance. But I also know that not regarding it or ignoring it doesn’t make much progress either. Better the little progress, than no progress at all. Time and time again, I have come across different stories on people’s different experiences with their mental health and for sure, I have read some of them and just as much, brushed others off. It is basically what will genuinely happen to all the stories I myself have put out, in the same spirit. Despite all of us being aware that our stories won’t move mountains or souls, we still go ahead and tell them. Maybe it could be because most of us are a sad lot of human beings or, most of us truthfully hope to connect with others whose stories are similar but haven’t quite gotten out yet. Our reasons may vary entirely, but the sole importance of it all at least for me would be the fact that issues on mental health are viewed to be less alien-like to one less person.
As I was skimming through ideas on what I would write about, a question popped up in my head on whether I ever would have been remotely interested in matters of mental health had I never experienced any form of mental turmoil in my life. I can’t truly say I came up with a substantial answer to my question if I am being truthfully honest. It posed the challenge of me having to try envisioning myself in a life that I can’t say I have ever lived. Consciously or not, my mental health has always been at the forefront of my thoughts, my actions, my mannerisms and my outward being. I was too aware of it as a child and I am more aware of it today, as some version of an adult. I recall being too much in my own mind. I can’t speak much for other kids, but I do recall having too many conversations in my own head than I did out of it. My opinions were safer projected out in my mind than they ever could have been being said out loud. I think a lot of that still is very much how I live today, stuck in my thoughts. I knew it wasn’t entirely how most kids were because most kids were quite uninhibited to their opinions. I must have felt like such a weirdo being all silent and enclosed in my head whereas every other child couldn’t wait for their turn to speak up. I guess as I grew up, it wasn’t too hard to pick out who was different between me and those kids around me. Reserved is what I eventually got to regard myself as. Different but reserved.
I am sure that enough of you who may read this, have had the term triggers be thrown around a lot on subjects of mental health. Besides the term’s general meaning, I didn’t see what the big fuss over the word trigger was. My naivety was at its peak. Triggers in mental health are very important. They serve as a guide in regard to identifying what exactly ‘’ticks one off’’. I understood the real impact of a trigger not too long ago. Thought I was strong enough to brush it off, but my mind knew otherwise. It’s easy to think that one is invincible to a degree, but that’s the thing about dealing with issues on mental health, as long as it is a part of your being, anyone is liable for having a mental health trigger. Don’t rule yourself out.
To end this weird post here, I just want to leave it at this. Your mental health matters, regardless of whether every day for you feels like rainbows and unicorns. It mattered from the start, even when you might never have been conscious of it. I hope that through these few jumbled words, it starts to matter. As cliche as this has been made to sound on countless occasions, nurture your mind as you would nurture your body, soul and spirit. Try not to wait on those triggers because as much as they are put out there, they are not always as easily detectable. If you could find a means on avoiding the darker sides of mental health, do so. It will save a lot of you, might even save your life. If you have already been down the road of difficulty in mental health, I just need you to know that you are absolutely amazing, whether you are still struggling or are out of the struggle. Don’t falter at trying to be happy, it is all that’s worth your life. Hope you have a good World Mental Health Day.
Over the month of August, among the other many books I got to read, I came across a book that I consider myself quite lucky to have found. I believe the book is a memoir, I am certain that it is a memoir, written by an author named Lori Gottlieb. The title of the book is Maybe You Should Talk to Someone. When I first came across it, I wasn’t entirely sure it was a book I would fully be invested in. I knew it entailed matters concerning therapy and I was a bit iffy on whether it would be artistically motivating to read. I can say with certainty now that this book is a lot more than I anticipated. I read it gradually, but loved every bit of it, including how expressive the author wrote. I am genuinely glad I got to read it to completion.
Without giving out too much of it, the plot of the book is something that quite captivated me. I learned a lot and it gave me quite the insight. I say this from the perspective of someone who has mildly studied psychology, ( I say mildly because all I have had the chance to study it, is through a diploma and if I am being honest, I still consider myself quite the amateur in regards to it). Before I can delve into my own relation to psychology, I just want to elaborate on how insightful it was reading MaybeYou Should Talk to Someone. Insightful in that, it was able to bring light into the subject of therapy from both a therapist’s opinion and that of a client’s opinion. It sort of normalized seeking professional therapeutic assistance, to those who already had sort it out and equally to those who hadn’t. I found that quite wonderful about the book. Besides just normalizing therapy itself, it too humanized therapists as more than just their professions. The author who is a psychotherapist takes us down the journey of being a therapist as well as seeking one out for herself. I found that quite great because, speaking from a personal opinion, one can be quick to perceive therapists as invincible. It is easily misjudged that therapists, being what their profession entails, are too strong of human beings to go through similar motions as those of their clients. On the off chance that they do experience similar hardships, the perception is that they are equipped to somewhat counsel themselves out of those said hardships. I should clarify that it does not work like that at all. As a psychology student, it is insisted enough that therapists need their own therapists for themselves. It’s entirely a chained link of therapists seeking out therapy from each other. That aspect of the book was quite important for me. I applauded the book mainly for that, besides all the other wonderful aspects of it that were brought out.
If someone came to me and asked me if I would advise them on seeking out help from a therapist or counsellor, or even a psychiatrist, my outright first answer would be yes. It is entirely important to give time and care to one’s mind as is given to one’s body. It would be instinctual for me to say yes as my first answer, but I owe you the honesty that it will not be technically a walk in the park. This is from a very biased opinion, this is my opinion as a client who’s been to therapy, it is not the opinion of a psychology student. This is also not meant to be a discouragement towards anyone out to seek therapeutic help, not at all. Therapy is great, wonderful even, but it will require a lot of you. Some parts of you will be required, parts that you may not be quite yet aware of.
My first experience of professional therapy was with my school counsellor in college. If I am being truthfully honest, it was long overdue. I want to be very clear that when I refer to professional therapy or counselling, I mean it as therapy from a professionally trained counsellor or psychologist. One who has studied in that field and is not a self-appointed counsellor. Anyone can give advice, not everyone can offer therapy. Just needed to be clear on that. I am strictly talking about a professional psychologist.
It was quite a big step for me to reach out to the school counsellor. I wasn’t the most approachable person, and neither was I the most approaching. At school, I knew well to never be too personal with anyone. Actually, if my memory serves me right, I was incited by my sister to seek out the counsellor because my sister thought of me then as a ticking time bomb. I was convinced that I wanted a baby, ( major eye roll) and I was only twenty years old. Then, it felt like such an urgency for me, like it was the only thing that I was missing, and it would somehow complete my life. I was quite naïve then because even now, I am not remotely ready for a child. Therapy was able to show that to me. I later learned that I was overcompensating for something entirely different. Anyway, my first take on therapy was good. I found solace and empathy that I had never quite experienced before. It was as it should have been, it was therapeutic for me and I was able to go through therapy for the next three years I had in college. It took a bit of a turn for me because the relationship between me and the school counsellor progressed to a very close friendship which in therapy is regarded as a dual relationship. To be able to maintain the levels of professionalism, it is frowned up to have any other sort of relationship outside the client/counsellor relationship. It is perceived that if the boundaries are severed, the therapist will not be able to give enough credibility in her profession hence why it is important that one seeks out a different therapist when boundaries are crossed.
For me, I wouldn’t say she entirely quit being my counsellor, and I didn’t seek therapy elsewhere. She transformed into a guide to whom I sort out counsel and advice. Now she is practically like my best friend who is also my Yoda.
Therapy was able to open me up in ways I probably would never have had the chance to before. It even motivated me into being a better student in psychology. Sometime last year, I was able to go back to the professional context of therapy with an entirely new therapist who was just that, my therapist. I only got to see her for about a month before I stopped. The experience of it was quite different than my first which leads me to my next piece of advice, you don’t have to be stuck in a therapy that you don’t feel is working for you. It is absolutely okay to decide on changing your current therapist and seeking out one who best fits you. I understand for those who have been to therapy that it may sometimes feel like a betrayal to your therapist if one considers leaving, but it is best to remember that it is your wellbeing that comes first. There will be no hard feelings from your therapist.
From the standpoint of being a soon to be counsellor, I have only had so little experience as one. I did my first internship as a counsellor at a hospital and I genuinely disliked every moment of it. I was extremely underqualified and my supervisor thought it best to leave me alone on most occasions to tend to actual clients who needed therapy. I often hope that the clients I got to see were able to seek out a second opinion from a more qualified professional. Over time, I have not had the chance to be a counsellor since I finished my diploma. Let’s just say I have been putting it off for nearly a year now. I have convinced myself that I am not ready and I am not certain when I ever will be. On multiple occasions, I have had some serious self-doubt over whether psychology is even the right course for me. Most of the self-doubt best comes from the fact that I am on most occasions, a better client than I am a psychologist. I am two sides of the same coin. Reading this book sort of gave me a perspective of what it is like to be on both sides of the spectrum. The author delves into her own therapy and how difficult it was at first to not feel like her own therapist wasn’t doing enough for her as she thought she would towards her own clients. I am well aware of how that feels because it was in that exact position that I quit seeing my last therapist. Every day, I go through it in my head whether psychology was the best choice for a career. I knew I wanted to be a psychologist when I was in high school. I knew that I needed to be able to give some form of help to those who were like me then, to kids who had never quite felt like they were ‘’normal’’. I believe that I still want to do that, even despite the self-doubt. I still very much want to help people who struggle with their mental health. All I can do is hope that soon, I will get to offer that help.
To finish this off, I would definitely recommend reading Maybe You Should Talk to Someone. It is a wonderful, insightful, inspiring, beautiful and enlightening read. Lori Gottlieb is a wonderful author from whom I would love to learn more from, especially as a psychotherapist. Be sure to check it out. One can access it on the e-reader called Z library.
Some quotes I picked up from the book that I absolutely loved…
“ we have to let go of the fantasy of creating a better past.”
” When the present falls apart, so does the future we had associated with it. ”
You ever have those aspects of yourself that you’re not entirely sure are a good thing? Well I do, at least. Lots of them actually. I’ve got this specific one that I wouldn’t consider the most obvious or detectable to those who know me but don’t get to spend enough time around me to be able to pick up the said trait. For someone closer, in this case my sister who’s also my roommate has grown accustomed to it and isn’t quite fond of it. In regards to it, it makes me the Debbie Downer sister, the most up tight, the less spontaneous, oh, and the worrier too… I wouldn’t really say that I hate this specific aspect of myself fully, it grounds me to an extent and anyways, I’m only regarding it now as a flaw on the occasional times when I wish it didn’t restrain me as immensely as it does… Okay okay, enough of the beating around the bush nonsense and I’ll get right to just saying exactly what it is this said aspect of myself is. I believe that in lay man’s language, what I’ve got going on is the character aspect of a perfectionist. I’m not 100% sure whether in most cases, one’s actions that may fall under the bracket of a perfectionist are excusable entirely and whether it eliminates one from some form of fault. This isn’t to mean that wrong actions are meant to be absolved just cause one couldn’t help their perfectionist nature… and now I’m getting derailed from what I initially meant to write in regard to this insistent need of mine to do everything by the book…back to focus.
Take for example, my last statement right there. It’s absolutely okay that I write whatever comes to mind and not feel like it’s some crime I’ve committed that requires some form of punishment from god knows who or what. I’ve said it to myself before that I wish I could make my writing absolutely spontaneous but despite trying to keep up with that notion, minutes before I was able to write all this down here, I couldn’t help myself but scribble down a few highlights on this exact topic in the fear that I’d screw it up if I left it to the fate of my mind to remember exactly what my line of thought was at the very beginning. Pardon me if I hardly sound like I’m making any sense. Technically, my incessant need to have everything in some prime and proper version of things does piss on my parade a lot more than I’d like to admit.
Do you know what’s most absurd about it to me in regard to this, it’s the crazy notion in my mind that’s convinced of some form of reprimand in the case that things aren’t done in the ‘rightful’ manner. My conscious mind believes that whatever action that’s to be undertaken, if slightly bent from its set out route of focus, there will be life changing repercussion…Maybe in some cases, there might stand the chance of the odds being in favour of things needing to be done exactly as they are supposed to be done but on the off chance that the world won’t end if I don’t do things all perfect, it makes it direly impossible to have spontaneity ever happen to me. I cannot begin to elaborate just how much of this aspect of myself is fully embedded in me. It’s in everything little thing I can think of that I do. From the way I talk, to the way I carry myself around in front of people, to the way I arrange my things in my wardrobe, to the way I write… It goes on and on. It’s even trickled down to a hobby that’s absolutely supposed to relax me and completely take the edge off which is what has led me to being here and writing it down. Colouring. Yes, you read that right. I recently started colouring and had been yearning to do it for a while now because I thought to myself, why not, seems like it would be quite fun and it would bring the carefree child in me out a little bit more, to reminisce on easier times in life through bringing colour to portraits & pictures. But guess what, even that had to get trampled over by my need to do things right… I was just colouring a while ago and I couldn’t help but feel upset that I wasn’t colouring one of the pictures in my colouring book exactly as the object usually is in reality. When I first started, I’d insist on checking exactly what colours a certain picture was so that I’d colour exactly in the same manner. Rather than embracing the spontaneity of creating my own art in colour, I was anxious that by some random chance, someone would pick up my colouring book and question me for not colouring respectively as it should be. The whole point of me colouring was never to seek out perfection but despite that, I can’t seem to shake off the idea that everything needs to fall exactly into its right place or in this case, its right colour.
Like I said, to some extent, I’ve grown accustomed to it because without a doubt, I’ve never been one to live on the edge of life. I’ve always played things safe, never to purposely or intentionally rock the boat. Being a perfectionist has helped somewhat calm my raging anxiety over things beyond my control though it is also technically built on the very said anxiety. I truly believe that if I was less of an anxious person, I’d be more relaxed, maybe Zen even. Maybe then, I’d care less about the fear of an absurd repercussion than trying to have everything fall into its proper place. I’m sadly a real major stickler for order and despite how much I’d wish to change that, I think it’s best to admit that it will take a whole lot to rid me of what can be now termed second nature to me. Gotta admit though, I wish my mind, soul and body would just go with the flow you know… Sore away with the wind, wherever it may take me without the fear of a possible anxiety attack. What can I say, it’d be nice to have my own nature try not wring the breath out of my neck in the face of a little imperfection.
P. s This here is a picture of my current remotely acceptable coloured picture, not sure whether it’s a smurf or a gnome but I wanna hope that it’s colours match those acceptable to the gods of perfectionism. 😌
..another P.S …So apparently, from Pinterest quotes, it’s not at all a good thing to be a perfectionist. It’s very flawed seemingly. I’m not here to justify it’s good or bad aspects, maybe just to reflect on its disadvantage a little, at least when it’s not being life threatening.
Through my mental health journey, I’ve grown to learn that it looses it’s aspect of private and individual just cause of what & who it ropes in along the way. In my case, my ongoing journey has roped in a few people, some were strangers who turned into family and others were family right from the start. It weighs heavy on me as a person who struggles quite often with the mental battles I go through, and this is not because of what it’s done to me, but because of what it’s done to those around me who’ve stuck by me despite my ailing mind. I have seen it tear down my sister and it was for me more excruciatingly painful than any insition I’ve ever put on my body. I remember last year when I had my depressive episode for about six months. It was right about the time when my country was on a lockdown due to the pandemic. I was stuck in our apartment with my sister and we had no means to go home due to a cessation that had been implemented on my country which prohibited me to travel. I self harmed more during that period than I ever had before and it became an instinct & it was such an impulsive nature for me to do, I grew numb about it. I ratted myself out to my sister cause I knew if I didn’t, I’d have probably not so intentionally hurt myself beyond what my little first aid after care routine could handle. Even then, despite being so out of touch with anything else besides the throes of my depression, I could see just how much my battle was weighing in on my sister. She carries her emotions on her sleeve so it wasn’t so invisible to me just how exhausting it was for her to see me go through that gutter. It’s not until recently in one of the countless conversations we have about my mental health did she admit to hating her work over that period when we were quarantined together and that she wanted to cry her eyes out everyday she had to do her job. She wasn’t sure if anytime I wasn’t in her periphery, I wasn’t cutting myself and now me being aware of what it must have been like for her to go through that, genuinely breaks my heart.
My guilt in depression is tethered to what my battles have done to others besides myself. I can honestly say, I haven’t found love enough for me to feel guilty over what being mentally ill does to me. It’s what it does to those I care about that shatters me the most. To say I have tried to hide the ugly effects of my battles from my loved ones would be putting it lightly. Sometimes I just rather die with it and let it rip me from the inside out all on my own than let it seep out to those who matter more to me than anything. With my dad for instance, my old man doesn’t know just how much effort it takes his last born daughter to live through each day as a depressive. On some days, I want to shout it to him with such aggression about how I can’t seem to shake off this sadness that I’ve carried around for all my life. On other days, I can’t help but think he’s better off in the dark, from it all. Untainted from my demons.
It’s been both a blessing and a curse having my father out in the clear from my battles. It’s been a blessing because then he doesn’t have to look at me different. For now he knows the bare minimum concerning my depression. He would still be in the dark if I had never needed his help on buying antidepressants last year after starting therapy. It was a hard enough secret to keep cause then it was just me and my sister having to find means on how we would get money to take me to therapy and for me to see a psychiatrist as well. It got so hard every two weeks trying to figure out how to come up with the sum of money I needed for every therapy session because I couldn’t tell my dad that I needed money for something he was completely out of the loop on. When I finaly had to ask for his help, I came home with a prescription letter from a psychiatrist with a list of antidepressants I needed to start taking. This was right after my county opened it’s borders and the cessation that had been put in place due to covid was lifted hence why I got the chance to travel home which put a halt on me going to therapy because it was in different counties.
To say I was nervous bringing up that subject with my father was an understatement. I wasn’t sure he’d grasp what I was saying or if whether he’d even understand the gravity. This isn’t to imply my dad is slow or anything like that. On the contrary, my dad is pretty intelligent. What I was worried about was whether it would make sense to him the way it was meant to, from my understanding. It’s through him and our conversations together that the aspect of being an African and having a technically African raised father that I saw how much ones background and tradition affect different aspects and subjects which in my case was & is mental health. He actually took it quite casually which was what I thought I wanted but turns out it wasn’t what I needed. I didn’t see concern on his face when I tried telling him that I struggle with depression. Instead I got a speech on prayer & exercise and how much it would help keep me less idle. I told him that it had nothing to do with that and that it was a chemical imbalance in my brain that made me depressed and it still didn’t faze him. I was quite frustrated to say the least but I understood him despite it that he couldn’t just magically see it as I did. I gave him the prescription and told him that I needed him to buy me that medication and he was fine with it.
Whoever believes that they can go through mental health on their own have it quite wrong. I never knew just how much I’d need my father’s understanding until I finally brought him into the know about my struggles. A few days before my last birthday, my dad finally bought me the antidepressants I had been prescribed and I decided to start on them the day after my birthday. I’d already been on a different set of antidepressants two weeks before and they had really exhausted me out so I didn’t want to be loopy on my birthday since I was gonna have a little shindig going on that day. Cue to when I finally started my new meds did I see true & genuine concern which was more than his impassive nature had ever expressed. A few days in after I had started on my new meds, I got some really scary side effects after taking them and I thought I’d get them under control by buying some antibiotics. I had major and I mean major heartburn and aside from that, my heart rate was over the roof. I had heat flashes and I could hear my own heart beating so loud and quite fast, I was certain I was having a heart attack. My dad’s girlfriend is a pharmacist and I asked her if she could prescribe something for the heart burn and she asked me about the meds I was taking and I told her what I was newly on. Later that night when my dad came home, he was beyond agitated. Apparently, after my conversation with his girlfriend earlier, it was apparent to her that one of the antidepressants I had been prescribed to was very severe and was mainly for schizophrenics. In basic language as was explained to my dad, he was told they were for ‘crazy people’. That was genuinely the first time I saw my dad loose his calm and look so terrified. I believe it dawned on him that he’d just bought his daughter over the counter meds that were going to completely alter my mind and irreversibly damage it for life. For the record, I never once thought of it as my dad’s fault because it wasn’t, neither of us would have known. He felt responsibile for that mistake since he hadn’t done research or any enquiry about the meds he was buying me before he handed them to me. I on the other hand was more upset that a supposed legal & professional psychiatrist had prescribed to me medicine he knew wasn’t meant for me and which would probably have adverse effects on me but went ahead and prescribed it regardless of knowing all that. I was livid and after that, I quit taking the meds all together because despite how badly they were reacting to my body, they weren’t meant for it from the very start.
After that experience, I have not had therapy or been on any other antidepressants since. I soon after asked my dad if he could look for a different hopefully better psychiatrist to whom I would see and get a better diagnosis of my mental health as well as better effective treatment. This is where it has proven to be very difficult to get my dad on board because he quickly fell back into his slow paced process of doing things. It’s been a few months since that encounter with the antidepressants and after that, my life sorta fell back into routine. School opened and everything else took a seat at the back of my mind. I didn’t get better per say but the depression went back to being my day to day cup of tea, the one I was accustomed to. Now, due to different triggers, I am in the middle of another depression episode and I thought it would be perfect timing to see a new psychologist & psychiatrist but mainly the latter. I made my dad aware of my need now for a psychiatrist and told him I have been struggling again but he doesn’t seem to see the urgency of it. Even just thinking about it right now, is nerve wrecking. I’m triggered by his lack of motivation and urgency in getting me help especially now when I’m not at my best mentally. I admit he’s not fully in the loop of just how bad my mental instability goes, he is clueless of my self harm which has started again after I’d been clean for 98 days. I have racked my mind on how to bridge that information to him without alarming him but I just don’t know where to start. On some days, I want to just show him my arms and let them speak for me but I get scared of what he’ll think or do. It’s taken me a lot to admit that I am mildly suicidal as of currently and I am going through the days trying to find the will to see through the end of each day. He isn’t aware that I don’t know how much waiting I can do anymore before I can completely disintegrate. I am trying to be patient but it’s hard when my mind isn’t on board. So yeah, that’s where I currently am. Mental health is so contradictory in how personal & individualistic it is but also how communal it trickles down to. I hope that the wait isn’t going to be longer than my mind can hold off from completely falling apart.
I know, not the most captivating title but I’m not sorry I didn’t come up with something better. That’s the best I could do anyway… So, again with the title, a little depressing but I’ve been meaning to elaborate to the world on my hopelessness and how wildly it sometimes makes me feel. For a precise elaboration, the term depressive is meant to bring insight to the fact that I don’t think that the drastic measures my mind seeks to end feelings in the likes of hopelessness is something that occurs in just any person’s mind. It takes a specific kind of sick to view shit the way I do, to want to solve issues the way I think makes sense which finally brings me to the highlight that the way I view or turn to resolving issues I go through isn’t similar for every person who struggles with mental issues. I was very precise in using the term ‘this’ to highlight that whatever I’m about to write is how I view things and how I feel towards them.
Besides it being a first for me to explain my title in detail, I just want to put it out there that I don’t intend to be metaphoric in my words today. I’m too hopeless as it is to wow anyone with my ‘great’ expressions of pain. I’m too drained out; that’s what feeling hopeless is about right? Feeling like there’s not a chance for anything good happening or punning out for you.. Yeah, sure sounds a lot like where I’m stuck at right now.
Where to start, not sure? A lot like everyone else, I had this grand plan for the beginning of the year but twenty days in, I’m willing ready to wrap this shit up. My needs are overwhelmingly piled up and I have no absolute means to meet each of them. To be frank, they aren’t some over the top things that I want but they are basic things that I need. I finish school in a three weeks time. I’ll be done with my diploma and where I’m from, the stereotype is that the end of one chapter or phase of life, is the absolute immediate beginning of another. No questions asked, no gap periods taken, its pretty much hopping from one wagon to the next at every stop. I’ve had it asked to me countlessly what I intended to do right after I’m done but I’ve pretty much got nothing besides heading home and working on my writing. I’m not upset about not having some grand plan to fall back on once school is done cause I genuinely need to ease off the pressure that’s been weighing in on me for a while now. What has me feeling a tad bit upset is those around me who feel like they are entitled to questioning me about what my plans are after school and why there are no immediate plans underway to get me a job. Like I’m not frustrated enough.
Feeling hopeless isn’t something I’m unfamiliar with. What can I say, I’ve got a history of things never punning out for me, not much of a surprise there… My hope is attached to the part of me that’s a christian, the part of me that believes in God therefore I rely on Him for my hopes and aspirations. I’m not knee deep into religion, I’m not even sure I’m religious but I am spiritual. Even for the most basic of things that I’d require luck, I still sorta run it through God in a verbal and brief way.. ‘Hey, I know I’ve not spoken to you in a while but could you please let me not fail in today’s paper, I’d be really grateful ‘…This will be my words pretty soon when I sit for my finals. I can’t say my mini prayers always go through as I want but I do know they are heard but being the human that I am, I am constantly asking for more and crossing my fingers that miraculously it will pun out as I want it to…
I can’t even recall how long ago it was when I started this precise update and for sure is that I’ve lost my train of thought though not entirely, can’t say I’m any more hopeful than I was while writing this. To bring y’all to where I’m at now, I’m done with school…(cue the applause). Truthfully speaking, I wish that applause was more real than the one that goes on in my head everytime I think of the fact that I’m done with school… but away from that, it doesn’t really matter anymore that nobody recognized that me finishing school was more grand than anything for me, at least in my eyes it was…
Back to hopelessness, it’s still very much there…probably now more than ever. I’ve felt hopeless in ripples and it’s taken its toll and now it’s more of just a constant feeling that I’ve honestly become accustomed to. At first, I was sure it was gonna take me down the depression express but as I began to feel the wake of the dark season set in, I was like, am I honestly ready to deal with all the bullshit this early into the year, absolutely not. Therefore, I put on my big girl panties and decided I’d just let it roll off my back, cut out the things making me feel hopeless or better yet, assume their existence in my mind. I don’t dispute that I need to figure shit out but I won’t do it on the expense of my mind deteriorating. Truthfully speaking, I’m not ready to start fighting with myself and with whether it’s worth living through. So the hopelessness is still there, just tucked away for a later time…