As you may know, Christmas is a hard time for me. The last three or four of them I had to bail upstairs to escape my family even if just for a little while. It gets intense around them and I never quite feel welcome. Two years ago was the worst, I won’t drag you through the details again but that December through February were pretty fucking hard. I got over it eventually, just, but it sucked.
This year wasn’t so bad. I opened my presents without too much self-consciousness, ate my entire meal and then tried to enjoy the food-coma TV session. The latter became too much as expected, but this year instead of slipping upstairs to cut myself, I decided go get drunk on shots with my sister. We invented drinks, I learnt that I can layer Baileys on Creme de Menthe, and we actually had fun. Then I got emotional. Now, I’m not much of a drinker, so I don’t really know what kind of drunk I am. I usually get a little cuddly, then get self-depricating. This time however I let my December stress erupt in tears while my family watched Apollo 13 in the other room. I still don’t know if they heard me crying, but I was a mess.
Me and my sister talked for a good 30 to 40 minutes. It’s the most open I’ve been with her (voluntarily) in pretty much ever. I don’t want to say what we spoke about, but it was nice and helped put certain things into perspective. One thing I told her was that I still have anxiety and depression. She knew, of course, that I’d struggled. She accidentally saw one or two of my darker posts on here so she knew I cut and she knew I’ve struggled. But this time I chose to tell her myself. And now I’m telling you, just because it helps me to get it out in written text.
I’m struggling. Again for my own reasons I don’t want to talk about some of it, some things are too personal even for The Hell Butterfly. But I trust you and I like to write about it, regardless of whether you want to read it. I’m not happy in my job. I work in web support for 3 well known train companies here in England. I help people make bookings, process refunds, sometimes file complaints. It’s not a bad job and it pays enough, but I’m not learning and it’s stressful. People in the public are stupid, and rude, and sometimes even insulting. And when an angry Indian man who you’ve just denied a £100 refund to starts yelling and swearing at you down the phone, it’s hard to keep the anxiety from fucking up your job (yes that happened). I want to quit so bad, start a career in writing or editing or publishing, but I need the money and I’m trying to make a living in a dying industry. The conflict of what I want to do versus what is out there for someone like me is intense and it makes me uneasy.
I’m also finding it very hard to eat at the moment. I don’t think I’ve ever really talked about my food issues on here. I find it very hard to cook in front of people, and nearly impossible to eat in front of people I don’t really know or trust. It gets harder still when the depression and anxiety kicks in. I start over thinking, worrying about my weight and body shape, what people will think of me, and it spirals to where I tell myself I don’t deserve to eat. I care so much what other people think that I start to hate myself and feel disgusted with myself for even being hungry. I’ve had a long-standing chaotic relationship with food. I think it stemmed from a childhood incident involving Weetabix, my mum pouring it on my head, and being forced to go to school like that in my nightie. I don’t like to remember that. About 4 or 5 years ago I would make sure I didn’t eat more than around 500-600 calories a day. I kept a spreadsheet. If I ate over 1000 I punished myself in ways I imagine you can guess, knowing my personality. My point is, the last few weeks have been tough and with it has come more issues surrounding my ability to eat. Some days at work, if there are 4 or more people in the break room I can’t eat. There’s too many people and I panic. It means some days I wake up at 05.30 and don’t eat until 15.00, or eat at noon then don’t eat again that day.
I’ve recently come down with the illness everyone seems to be getting too. It feels like my voice box is trying to claw its way out of me through my ears. I feel nauseous a lot and that in turn affects my eating. Add the stress of my job and a recent (mildly terrifying) personal scare and we have a recipe for disaster. Yesterday I had a few cups of tea, some pasta at about 1pm, then only managed to stomach a half bowl of ice cream and a few sips of tea before bed. I was ill and in a very bad state of mind. It had been a hard day and a tough month in general. Finding the desire to put food in my mouth is a task in itself. I feel sick thinking about moving the fork to my mouth and chewing. It seems the only times I eat right these days is when my boyfriend’s dad invites me round for tea and cooks for me. I’m trying to fix that.
So basically this post is just me saying I’m struggling with food, my job, and my personal life. I’m hoping I can get back on track with writing as I’m finding it hard to know how to do even that but it does make me feel better to post on here, no matter the subject. Thank you all for sticking with me and Happy New Year everyone.
Some of you may have noticed The Hell Butterfly has been dormant a while. Some of you may not, and that’s okay too. But in either case, here is a brief update of why.
I have, as you may recall, moved out of my old student house. Unfortunately, there is no rest for the homeless (or something like that). I have been unpacking, repacking, unboxing, reboxing, organising, moving around and generally preparing for the next big move at the end of this week. As it stands, on Friday I will get an early train to Plymouth, where I shall meet Bambi, then pick up my key and slob at mine until Bambi goes to work. The next three hours of my life will be spent filling out the inventory form, setting up the wifi and acclimatising to my new abode. Bambi will return after work to chill for the evening. So far I have discovered I shall be sharing my house with Richard, Adrian, Thomas and Waleed. It would appear I will be the only female in a house of men. What could go wrong? I just hope none of them are misogynists.
In other news, I have just submitted my third article to The Unknowledgeable. This one is one I was asked personally by my boss, the founder of the online magazine, to write. Now, this may sound impressive, and indeed it is to me, but before we get ahead of ourselves I should say I don’t believe there can be many more than 10 members of ‘staff’, myself included. Perhaps I just can’t see behind the proverbial curtain, but while the quality is good and I enjoy writing for them, I don’t think it’s a greatly known magazine. And I’m definitely not traffic-trawling by saying this or posting the link to my article on online safety or anything [I totally am, click the doobly-doo, go on, do it for me: ‘Catfish’ Lessons in Online Safety]. This request to write the article came straight after I created my sister website Stop The Silent Killer and shared the link on my Facebook page. My boss approached me in a very formal (lies, all lies) Facebook Chat message and basically asked me to write a monthly mental health feature for the magazine. Of course I readily accepted, and within a couple of days my introduction to mental health article should be up online. I had some struggles writing it, but I found sitting in my bed in the quiet I was finally comfortable enough to get into the mind frame and complete it. Hopefully soon I should be back on track with this blog too.
On the Bambi front, things are good. Talking to him is effortless. Well, mostly effortless. He has so many interesting things to say and so many good opinions I sometimes wonder what I’ve been doing all my life to be so .. uninteresting. So uncultured, so lacking of my own opinion on pretty much anything. But he’s fascinating to talk to, and I find I can talk to him about things in a way I haven’t ever been able to talk to people about them before. He just has a way of making me feel at ease. And he’s very sweet (duh, Statement of the Year, Captain Obvious). In a nutshell, he knows how to treat a person right, as a girl, a friend, and a human being. As you will remember from the beginning of this post, I will be meeting him on Friday straight from my 4 hour train journey and I don’t doubt my belongings will be thrown to the ground so I will be able to give him a big hug. Neither of us want to rush things, but I can’t help but be optimistic about what might develop if things keep up this way. Though I might blow my chances if I keep pretending that I can speak German.
My depression is attempting to make an appearance. I’m beginning to notice certain places where it shows itself in my everyday life, and while it’s not a good sign that they’re coming up, I can also say from experience things are far from terrible. Lately I am tired all the time. Whether I sleep for 2 or 12 hours, I am always exhausted. Perhaps lethargic is a better word. Essentially, I lack energy no matter how long I sleep for. I’m also noticing the time-mood correlation returning. The later it gets, the lower my mood sinks. During the day I am pretty much always okay, but as the evening draws on into night, so my mood follows suit and becomes darker. In this respect I must say Bambi has been amazing. When my mood dips he is willing to simply listen as I pour my crap out, and is great at having just the right thing to say in the end. I feel I should put this return of symptoms down to the building stress of moving house, and I suppose in general, to change. New house, new job, new man, maybe, new academic year. If it is stress related, I am afraid things may turn a little darker on The Hell Butterfly for a time, but I implore you please do not see it as a bad thing. If I post about the problems I am having, and the struggles in my life, it is because I trust you enough to tell you, and value your support.
I will wrap this up for tonight by saying that I may be absent again for a short while with moving and things, but hopefully the hiatus will be temporary. This next year is going to be very tough in more ways than I would like to list, but I’m going to try my hardest to make it count. Things need to change, and I think that with support, drive, and perseverance I might be able to come out the other side the better for it.
If you had told me two years ago to the day that I would be sitting here typing this to 130 readers while talking to an incredibly sweet guy I would have stared blankly at you and raised an eyebrow. That is because, almost exactly two years ago, I had plans – serious plans – to kill myself. But I am here, and my life is actually quite fantastic.
August 2012: The last two months have been spent convinced I had failed my A-Levels. There was no way I was going to get into university, I told myself. And of course if – I’m sorry, when – I didn’t get into university I wouldn’t get a good job and wouldn’t have a career and wouldn’t have even a slightly decent quality of life. It was all downhill from my final exam in June as far as I was concerned. I hadn’t felt a single emotion in months. Since the exams began in May I had been an empty shell, existing, drifting. Three months of this had gotten me to a point where I didn’t care about anything. I could no longer be happy, couldn’t even laugh at a joke. I could no longer get angry at anything. Not even mildly passionate about the subjects dearest to my heart. I hadn’t cried in months and simply, I just didn’t care. I couldn’t feel. It was scary. I was scared of myself, what I had become. But the scariest thing of all, was that no-one noticed.
I had decided. When results day came along and I didn’t get the grades or the university acceptance, I would get my things together. My family had all been on holiday in Croatia at the time, but I had elected to stay behind. I was home alone for the next week, but still had our German Shephard, Heidi, to look after. I would never abandon her while the family were away. I was emotionless, not heartless. So come results day I would organise: write a makeshift will; give my parents my bank details; arrange my funeral preferences and guest list; allocate my belongings; write letters to my friends and family; stock take (I would be crushing boxes of pills into a glass and washing it down with whatever alcohol I could stomach). It was all planned. Then, once I had everything together, I would sit tight until my family got home. I would see them one last time, say goodnight to them, to my dog, to my life. I was going to go downstairs that night, sit on the kitchen floor, and toast eternity.
Then I got in.
“Congratulations, you have achieved the necessary grades and have been accepted at Plymouth University beginning September 2012.”
I don’t know if that’s exactly what it said, but the point is I got in, and I was terrified. For every other final year college student finishing their exams they had been preparing for this moment for months. They had been packing, planning, anticipating. I had done none of that, and suddenly I would be moving across the country in 3 weeks. After the initial shock came the blinding panic. I text my best friend at the time to tell her I was in but I was freaking out, and she didn’t help. I had to deal with it by myself.
And somehow, I did.
I didn’t write my will. I didn’t write letters to my family. I didn’t hoard pills and booze. Somehow, and I don’t know quite how, I pulled my shit together and made it to university three weeks later.
Obviously I have had my ups and my downs – though, to amend the Robin Hood lyrics, “sometimes ups, outnumbered the downs, but not in Megan’s head” – throughout the last two years, including an ever-growing self harm habit, more tears than droplets in the Great Flood and a number of suicidal contemplations. But nothing has compared to the dull ache of emptiness I had during those three months.
Tonight, while discussing the success of my autistic cousin, my mood dipped to a significant low. In the last two years my cousin has joined respite care to learn independent living, done a money management course to better his knowledge of finances, joined a catering course to gain experience in the workplace and a qualification. What did I, an able-bodied 21 year old flake, have to show for the last two years?
The fact he keeps pushing forward is the best way to get the better of a bully. If you let a bully hold you back then they win. And from what I can see from the time we have known each other, you keep moving forward. You’re about to go into your 3rd year of uni, compared to where you were 3 years prior I would say that’s moving forward. You’re doing your best to step out and experience new things. You are doing well.
Upon speaking of my cousin and his success, this is what Bambi said to me. I don’t know if he realises yet, and I’m certain he didn’t at the time, how amazing it felt to hear him say that. Three years ago I lost all my friends as they left for uni and I was depressed, cutting, and failing everything. Two years ago I was nigh on friendless, emotionless, and perfectly ready to kill myself. Last year I was contemplating dropping out of university and shitting myself about moving into a house of strangers. This year I am mildly nervous about moving into a house of strangers. This year I am contemplating staying at university, and working out how to be successful at it. This year I am ready to feel, to live, to breathe. This year I have Bambi.
Ask me again if, two years ago, I thought that I would be sitting here now telling all of you that the simple kind words of an incredibly sweet guy had allowed me to see, for the first time in my life, that I have come a long way .. I would still be staring you blank in the face and raising an eyebrow. But I am. I am here. I am here.
Today was the first time I had ever been able to look back on that moment two years ago, almost to the day, where I was ready to die, and smile. Smile because I survived. Smile because it got better. Smile because I was my own bully, and I won. All this time I have said it was my acceptance into uni that stopped me from killing myself, but really it was me. I stopped myself. I made the conscious – or maybe subconscious – decision not to swallow a tumbler of pills and shnapps.
I saved myself.
And now, two years, almost to the day, later, I am here and I am alive.
And I am happy.
God it feels great to say that. It is so strange, as I don’t remember the last time I could legitimately say “I am happy with my life”. But for once I think it’s true. I am happy with my life. I’ve always known I had a good life, I had all the tools and all the potential to make something good out of it, but the one thing I lacked to make it work was motivation. It was too easy being depressed. It was too easy being in pain. I think to an extent I was in love with it. It was simple, familiar. Sitting, slumped, in a dark room staring at the wall while sombre music played out in minor key in my headphones. It was a safe zone. It had been my home for years. The place I returned to at the end of every night after a hard day.
But now ..
Now I think I finally have the motivation to make something happen. I have the support, the will, the drive. I’m scared, that’s not changed, but to quote a good friend of mine, I am “nervcited”. It’s terrifying but I am excited about the possibilities and the potential. I could make something good out of the pieces I have been given, and today is the first time I have ever seen the light in my word of black.
I am here.
It would have been around the two year anniversary of my death today.
I am happy.
I had forgotten what it was like to feel, but I broke down that wall and now I am free. Free to feel. Free to be human.
I can make it.
Today’s title is a little dramatic, but I don’t know what better one to use. This week was a triumph in every way.
1. Room packed down, cleaned. Keys handed back in. Moved successfully out of my second year student house.
2. Met Bambi, twice. Had a very nice time on both occasions, possibility of meeting again. Dad approves of him.
3. England wins Test Cricket 3 – 1 against India. Plymouth Argyle beat Exeter City 3 – 0. Swansea beat Manchester United 2 – 1. England wins 23 medals at the European Athletic Championships, breaking several records along the way.
It has been a good week.
Mum drives me to Plymouth. This journey was rocky for me. As I mentioned in a previous post this is the first time in over three years I was physically sick from traveling. Perhaps it was using my phone, perhaps the stress of the upcoming week, perhaps I was just unlucky. Regardless I made it to Plymouth, and the next hour was spent shuttling boxes from room, to landing, to stairs, to car: CD’s; books; Xbox; more books; printer. There were probably other things, but that’s what I remember. By 3pm, Mum was gone. From then, the next three and a half hours were spent showering, eating, getting ready and texting. At 6:45, I left the house.
7pm – I meet Bambi. I step out in front of the university library and see him, we shake hands, and head to the pub, The Voodoo Lounge. I don’t know if this is a chain, or a Plymouth specific pub, but I liked it. Well, more the interior. Perhaps it was the dull sky but it wasn’t quite to my taste on the outside, though I imagine it could be quite nice in a group. The interior was all wood panelling and red leather, pool table, subtle lighting. Nice. But it was hot, felt a little closed, so we sat outside. Two drinks and a smoke later we were off for part two: fireworks.
9.30 pm – we watch the show. One picnic blanket, several comments about the irritating children and one hour later than expected, the first display began. Until this point, conversation has been entertaining, serious, funny, cute and deep. It seems effortless, and there has never been an awkward pause. The moon this night is red, a rare occurrence, possibly in relation to the meteor shower. The fireworks happen right next to this, so we get a good view of both. We cannot help but laugh at the people who “ooh” and “ahh” and feebly applaud the display. We cuddle as the second display happens, and as the families leave, and as the final display is put on. In this one the melodramatic “ooh” from the other side of the water is heard even here. My vote goes to the first or second display, but not the last. We then went home, conversation still holding strong, and I am home by midnight. It was a very good night.
Cleaning day. This entire day is dedicated to packing down, boxing up, and cleaning. The rest of the day was spent on my computer, taking to Bambi, talking to my bestie, writing blog posts. I was also feeling very down. So was my bestie. I wrote ‘In Which the Blind Leads the Blind’ to express this. I was having a bad time of it, and I felt like a hypocrite trying to cheer him up. I hope he can get better, and I hope I can be there to help, but on this particular day, neither of us were having such a great day. Needless to say, after lots of heavy lifting and cleaning, coupled with a painfully low mood, I was ready for bed.
More cleaning. The morning and most of my afternoon was spent attempting to clean blue tack marks off my walls. I tried water. I tried water and washing up liquid. I tried plain washing up liquid. I tried a shop bought solution aptly labelled ‘Elbow Grease’. I tried a shop bought, but very strong, Sugar Soap. I moved out with my walls still sporting the scars of my rock band obsession. It must not have been a particularly interesting day, as aside from a shower, I cannot remember anything else I did that day. My Dad showed up late in the evening, we watched the last half hour of Million Pound Drop, then went to bed.
The morning is unremarkable. Honestly, it is. I cannot remember what I did. I think I probably slept in, ate half a breakfast bar and drank a cup of tea. What happened after that was much more entertaining and memorable. After this, we are off to Home Park. The FansFest to be precise. The FansFest is a fan run pre-match event offering pasties, beer, music and laughter. Rick O’Shay and Dave Banana perform a small stand-up comedy show, making fun of recent news, and whipping out the best general jokes they come up with that week. It truly is a special experience, being in a room packed with jolly football fans, full of comradery, and having a laugh without a smidge of negativity. Plymouth Argyle has one of the biggest fan bases in the League. I am proud to wear my green and whites.
Speaking of which, we spent out yet more money on the new uniform. My Dad’s shirt says “Chooch 13” and my own says “Moozle 7”. Not only is it my nickname and my favourite number, it is also the number of one of my favourite Argyle players, Lewis Alessandra. It’s an honour to wear his number on my back. Plus, it’s a child’s Small. Got to love that. The game was fantastic. We began by holding up our plastic sheets and hoisting our colours to the sky, and ended 3 – 0 up, beating our biggest rivals, Exeter City. Our defense was impeccable, our attack was on top form, and while I miss such players as Cole, Young and Berry, I must say Sheridan has done a great job on this season’s team. I foresee good things from them.
A small lunch is had and the evening’s plans are made. After the game we returned to mine, and watched television until we were ready to go out to the pub to celebrate the win. During this time, I was texting Bambi and discovered he had no plans, and invited him to join us. I had asked my Dad beforehand if this was okay, and he said yes. I hadn’t intended for it to be a movie cliche “I want you to meet my parents” scene, but I couldn’t help still wanting my Dad to approve of him. Bambi is the first person I’ve ever wanted my family to approve of. So me and my Dad went to the Caffeine Club, a particular favourite haunt of ours, and Bambi joined us shortly after. I must say, I think it went well. The two of them appeared to get on well, and as I later heard my Dad say, “[Bambi’s] a little rough around the edges but gets softer every time.” Knowing my Dad, this is a good sign. He also happened to notice a certain amount of affectionate behaviour (ie. hand-holding). I will admit at first I was unsure, but very quickly grew comfortable with it. Four hours later and we were walking back to mine. My Dad went inside and left us to our goodbyes. Bambi, if you’re reading this I hope you don’t mind my telling my readers, but I can’t help it, I like to say it. At quarter to one on Sunday morning I had my first kiss. I won’t talk much about it, but suffice to say, it was an awesome moment and I’ve been grinning like an idiot since.
52 Beaumont Road is left behind me. I’m not convinced I slept that night. One moment I was trying to convince myself it had happened, the next I was laughing to myself about it, the next I was stressing about the move, the next I was simply trying to clear my head to sleep but then I’d remember again and smile. I got out of bed at around 9am and finished packing up my room. Boxes were moved from room to car, surfaces were cleaned, the floor was hoovered and by eleven o’clock we were on the road. Before I continue, I should say that in the 48 hours prior to this journey I had consumed around 800 calories. I can’t lie, writing that number feels like a lot, but considering the time span I realise it is not. I had barely eaten on that Saturday, at first for time constraints, then later on because of my inability to eat in front of people. By the time we got home after our night at the pub it was almost 1am, I felt sick, and it was too late to eat. Fast forward to Sunday morning and, though I possibly should have, I couldn’t bring myself to eat anything. After my bout of travel sickness on the journey up, I would do nothing to risk it happening again. By the time I got home that afternoon I hadn’t eaten in 24 hours. So it is eleven o’clock, and we get to North Road. I hand my keys in, walk away, and that is it. My contact with Clever Student Lets has ceased. We were on the road to pit stop number two.
A visit to the grandparents and four hours driving. Twelve o’clock and we are at my grandparents. Not much can be said for this visit. It’s always nice seeing them, but this time was a flying visit, a quick catch up. I told them about my new position at the online magazine, we talked about my sister getting in to uni, my Dad fixed my uncle’s computer and taught my Granddad how to use Bluetooth, and we saw a picture of a man up a tree. Standard visit. I also got to see my cousin Billy again who I haven’t seen in some time. He got tall. I remember when he was just a diddy little thing, smaller than me, but despite being 4 years my junior, he is at least 7 inches taller than me now. It was nice to see he’s doing well in his football career, even if he is being a rebellious teen for his dad (my uncle). He gave me a friendly nod as he left, and ten minutes later we were gone too. The journey was pretty horrid. On the way up to Plymouth it was bad because I felt very sick. On the way back, my Dad’s driving made me feel sick. 30mph down narrow back roads, 90mph down the motorway, taking downhill bends at full throttle. I genuinely felt like we would topple over at one stage. It was horrible. Add in us getting lost near Southampton and getting stuck in traffic, I was beyond relieved to be back on solid ground. We were home, and I could sit still.
Since then, we have unpacked the car, I have helped my sister write a list for her own uni things, I have put in my second article and Bambi and I have talked almost constantly. I really do feel very lucky to have found someone like him. It already feels different to M24. With him, I was all girly and gushy over the smallest of things, but with Bambi, sure I’m girly and gushy but that’s only a small part of it. I smile every time I get a text from him. I look forward to waking up every day knowing I’ll have a text from him saying good morning. I’d happily stay up (and have done) until 4am talking to him about nonsense, or about us, or about, well, anything. I really think I’m on to something good with him. And if I can make him half as happy as he makes me I’ll be content.
So I have moved out, I have found a very sweet guy who I can’t wait to see again (and who has been kind enough to offer to help me move in to my new place next year), and it is a great time for sports. A triumph on all fronts. For once, I finally feel as though my life is going in the right direction, and I’m not completely terrified that I’ll mess it up. I actually feel like I can do this, I can make my life work, that just maybe, if I can hold it together, I have the makings of a great life. Now all I have to do is help my bestie through his rough patch, and things will be nigh on perfect.
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.
This is just a quick post to advertise The Hell Butterfly’s new sister website, Stop The Silent Killer. In light of recent events I felt it was about time I set this up. I’ve been considering it for a while but it’s finally up.
It is a platform for you to share your stories about mental illness. To tell the world about your struggles, and how you solved them. To share your pain, to help others through their own.
It is a safe zone, somewhere for us to help each other through the pain of mental illness, and to get the word out to the world about the truth behind the mask.
Let’s not stay silent about it any longer.
Please visit the link and share it. It has only just been set up and could do with a little boost to get it off the ground.
Regular Hell butterfly broadcasting will commence shortly.
This is the second part of the Meanwhile in A&E series in which we meet main character number two, Kieran Shrubb. Again, the style of this has been very carefully calculated and I hope it has paid off. As this was already in the works when I posted the first of the series, it came quicker than I imagine the next two will. Characters #3 and #4 are sculpted in my imagination. Now I just need to mould the clay that is the English language. For now, here is Chapter Two. For Chapter One, click on the doobly-doo.
Tears swallowed up his sapphire eyes. Through the wringer once again. Knees gave out and down, down he went. Dead weight on the bedroom floor. Another day, another torment. Breathing for him had now become a chore. He couldn’t remember how long for. It felt like forever. It was probably more like a few weeks. Like that mattered. Weeks, days, hours; they seemed to run for an eternity. As if to prove his point the clock went tick, tick, in the silence.
He sobbed without crying. Hard, wracking sobs that made the very bone structure of his face ache, but without the warm relief of tears to follow. Fingers intertwined in his own hair, hoping somehow that if he pulled out a clump or two, the darkness would creep out of the roots and he would be okay. Bald, but okay. His vocal chords strained in their attempt to scream in silence. The breath ripped through his chest in a whisper.
Alas, a tear! A single droplet squeezed from the duct as eyelids kaleidoscoped the world into violet, marigold, chartreuse. His fingers creaked in their sockets as he grasped again at the follicles. Another cold scream stifled. The ribs on his left side went numb with the effort.
And then nothing.
The sobbing stopped. The pulling stopped. The screaming stopped. All that was left was a tingling in his fingertips and a hollowness that echoed his muted cries about his chest. His hands drifted from his head like lead weights. His movements were sluggish, yet he felt that his body was heavy. His eyes never moved; they were empty now; they stared at nothing; they noticed nothing. After the commotion in his mind, the world now seemed too quiet. It hurt his head. He didn’t care.
Twisting sideways, he let his head fall onto the edge of his mattress. His hands sat limp in his lap. How much time had passed? He really couldn’t tell. Every time it felt like an age. He began to sink down, down into the confines of his solitude. He left his bedroom behind, and fell away into nothing.
How much more of this could he take? Could he survive the next beating? Would he snap at the next verbal abuse? Could he deal with his parents screaming? Could he deal with his own? Or maybe he would crumble into dust of his own volition. Maybe one day he would simply let it all slip away and become nought but ash. Another day like today and it might just come to it.
His ankle itched.
A jean-leg rolled up, a sock pulled down, and there they were. Countless pink lines turning flesh into geometrical perfection. They cried out for more. A hand gliding to a wallet; fingers pushed into the tear in its material; a tiny slice of metal slipped from its interior. The silence didn’t hurt him now. Instead, it shrouded him. It kept him safe from prying eyes though no apparent change had yet occurred. His door was locked: here he was safe. His pale, bony fingers twirled the blade, twice the size of his bloodied thumbnail, around in the light. A flash of white struck off the metal into his eyes. It seemed to rouse him. Fingertips brushed across the corner of the implement, thinnest edge caressing the skin, a gentle push to slip metal into flesh and then, then, peace.
Shuttered eyelids made a mosaic of his vision. Stain-glass windows of his paradise. It hurt, but he didn’t care. The pain did not bother him now, it would only be a bother later when he caught it with a foot, or let the cat get too curious. For now, the only thing that mattered was the glorious pleasure of the act. Lashes fluttered open. Single bead of red sliding over ivory. He wiped it clear before it stained the carpet.
It was the precision of the thing that he craved. At a time when his mind was far from ordered, this simple act of concentration, mapping out the next contour on the map of his flesh, scaled his thoughts to a skeleton crew. No longer did the screaming drown his ears. No longer was he dying inside. The slice of metal drawn across the skin to paint another crimson line for his masterpiece kept him sane. It cleared his mind. And of course, the sweet relief of pain was a bonus. He hated the punches thrown at him from the enemy. He loathed the back-hand swiped from the mother and the glass shattered by the father. But this, this was different. This was the one thing he controlled. Pain ruled his life, but he could at least rule over pain when locked behind the doors of his solitude. Here, he was the master.
The silence hurt his head. Adrenaline had left him piled on the bedroom floor. Pleasure had abandoned him in place of familiar Hopelessness. How much longer could he take this? His eyes stung. Saltwater accumulated at the corner of his lashes. Finally he could cry. How much time had passed? It could have been only minutes. It felt like longer. He began to weep, and the clock went tick, tick, in the silence.