The Hell Butterfly

In Which the Blind Leads the Blind

As the months go by, and Summer makes her dreary way towards Autumn, I find myself spending more of my time trying not to cry, and more still actually crying. Like the clouds that appear to be growing in multitude above the city, so too have my anxieties one by one accumulated to elevate my stress levels. It hurts. Physically hurts. My head feels almost thick, like there’s not enough space in there for all the negativity, and it’s trying to burrow it’s way out of my via my temples. and what doesn’t make it to the brain to start cranial hammering, makes its way behind the eyes, pushing at the back of them, and to the tear ducts, straining them against their boundaries trying to make them burst.

I’ve been trying very hard recently to do things out of the ordinary. Three examples I could pull up here are 1. starting up The Hell Butterfly’s sister website, Stop The Silent Killer, a blog for mental health awareness, 2. joining an online magazine as a writer, for which I have not only had my first article published but have been asked to write a monthly piece about depression and mental health, and 3. talking to, and meeting up with, Bambi who you may remember me having mentioned in my PoF posts (Hi, Bambi). None of these things are part of my normal routine: sitting on my arse watching television, playing video games, wasting my life away in a puddle of self-loathing while I wonder how I’m going to make it out of bed the next day. Sometimes I won’t even know if I’ll be able to make it to the next day to figure out how to get out of said bed. But thinking in the last month or so that my head has been clearer, and my mood on a general high, I decided to break that destructive routine and get out into the world.

I won’t lie to you, it’s been fucking hard. It’s been so hard. Not knowing how to do things, simple things, that the rest of the world seems to be able to do. Getting out of bed in the morning. Getting dressed instead of slumming it in my pajamas all day. Applying for a job. Eating proper meals. Stepping outside the house. Getting that job. Getting my life on track. Telling myself I deserve it. None of it has been easy for me, and yet I somehow managed it. Okay, maybe not the last one, but the fact I’ve managed to function like a proper human being the last few weeks is cause enough for celebration.

But before I get carried away, I should follow this up by saying that, in my desperation to maintain this positivity, I have failed to notice the signs of the downfall. At least, the ones I may usually have picked up on sooner. Where normally my eating habits, or my sensitivity to certain films, may be an indicator of a mood drop, I failed to pick up on the downslide until the headaches, tiredness and stress crying came upon me. Maybe I just took on too much and didn’t know how to handle it. Maybe it was just time, time for that downswing of the pendulum. because no matter how high it goes, it always must come down again.

And boy have I come down.

I have suffered with travel sickness for as long as I can remember. Over the years I’ve developed methods to help combat it: don’t consume dairy products; don’t have fizzy drinks; watch the road; don’t read, or use your phone; listen to music and sing along. All of this has helped me get to a point where I barely notice the travel sickness, or if I do, I’m able to get past it fairly easily. Yesterday was the first time in at least three years that travel sickness made me vomit. Twice. Now, maybe it was just a case of, “it had to happen sometime”. But I don’t think so. That’s too much of an easy solution. I’m a firm believer that stress can manifest in physical ways. For me it’s often headaches, and more often still stress crying. This is the first time I’ve been so stressed it’s triggered physical nausea.

I’ve also, I think, been having several minor panic attacks lately. I’ve felt a panic attack, I know the feeling. The hyperventilating, terror, hopelessness. There’s a frantic feel about them. They’re gut wrenching, and at their worst they can make you feel like you’re dying. I didn’t believe this last until I had my first attack. Then I believed it. But lately I’ve been having these brief spells, just a moment or two, where suddenly I’m blind, I can’t think, all I want to do is cry because, in that moment, I let my life get on top of me. I let it take control, and I let it scare me. And then, as soon as they come, they go, for no apparent reason.

Looking at it now, how my condition is right this second, I can tell how bad it’s gotten. I don’t want to eat, in fact I detest the idea. My head is killing me. I’m trying hard to give a satisfying response in conversation and apologising for everything I say. I don’t seem to be able to understand even the simplest of things. It makes me angry. Every now and then I want to burst into tears but when I try my head protests and I’m stuck without that relief, and with a bigger headache than before. I’m also, despite sleeping a solid 10-11 hours, exhausted. My body doesn’t want to move.

Take into account my current condition, and we get to the main point of this post. If you’ve stuck with me this far, I commend you, and assure you I’m about to get to the point. A good friend of mine is struggling, really struggling, with depression. I know the symptoms, I can see he’s in pain, and I want to help. I know some of the ways to get out of this godforsaken shit-hole, even if I can’t take my own advice. But that is where the problem comes in.

Compare: a blind man who cannot see his way, will not know how to direct another blind man around. In this same way, I am not fit to tell another human being how to deal with depression. I want to help him, and I can’t stand the thought of him getting to a point as low as I’ve been. I’ve tasted the darkness. It tastes like metal. I don’t want him to have to experience that. But how can I, of all people, possibly give advice? Given my recent ventures into the world of mental health, you’d think I’d have more confidence in my ability to talk about the subject, to give a good pep talk, to find the right advice and help for a person.

But underneath it all, I’m just a girl with depression, scars, and the worst headache of the century, trying not to reach for that piece of metal, or find that tie and a high place.

I’ll probably survive this. I always seem to. But it hurts, and it’s hard, and I can only hope for the energy to get out of bed every morning. To write an article for the magazine. To write a post for The Hell Butterfly, and search for inspiration for her sister website. To talk to my friends, and make it convincing. To put food in my mouth, chew, swallow.

But like I always say: the pendulum always has to swing the other way.

Better days are coming.

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