Waking Up Empty

If you’ve ever experienced depression or anxiety, you have probably experienced the emptiness that resounds in your chest the moment you wake up. I felt that this morning for the first time in a while.

I forgot how horrible it feels to be hollow once more. For many weeks I only woke up feeling sleepy, ready to go back to sleep instead of getting up at 5:30 or 6 in the morning. This morning I rose, began to stretch then the empty feeling began to settle into my chest.

I have today off so I should be looking forward to everything I get to do (and don’t have to do) today. I have some work for my side gig to do, I’m going shopping, hopefully going to the gym and best of all, I am getting a sauna and massage. My emptiness calls me to forget those positive activities, instead to focus on how depressed I feel.

This is a feeling I hoped wouldn’t touch me until the new year. I deeply hoped that the light inside me could continue to shine brightly. To light me up like a jack-o-lantern, but it seems that my candle was blown out.

I don’t want my depression to ruin the holidays for me. Not this year!

On Christmas 2016 I was remembering that I had been suicidal for 3 months instead of celebrating with my family. The desire to die was so strong even on my favorite holiday. This year, I don’t want that to be the case! I want to be happy spending time with my family, my boyfriend and his family.

This empty feeling may not go away for a while, that’s reality. I know myself and have learned so much through my long journey with mental illness. In time I will be better. In time I will have my energy back and be able to feel good again.

It’s all in time.

Sinking down

I had been free from the grips of depression for over a month. It was beautiful! I felt truly happy with my life and where I am at.

Until today.

I feel like I have fallen down the stairs, that I was at the top, slipped and have begun to topple down step after step. I was perfectly content at the top until my footing got shaky yesterday.

I was at my boyfriend’s house where I began to overreact about something I said to him. I got very upset with myself  so I started to cry. I told him I didn’t know why I was crying, just that I felt bad for being nasty to him when I shouldn’t have been.

This morning (and basically all day) he has been off, I noticed immediately. My brain shut down and I lost it. I began sobbing and saying to myself over and over, “It’s all my fault.” I always blame myself for anything that goes wrong. All morning I could not stop crying, my mind felt unbalanced. That something had snapped or a switch was turned off that allowed me to function properly.

All day my brain has been telling me that my boyfriend doesn’t love me anymore, that he hates me, that he doesn’t want to see me anymore after nearly 2 years together. It makes me stomach hurt as those thoughts claw on the inside of my skull.

Depression has returned. I feel it in the core of my being. It’s such a familiar feeling to have my energy zapped and feel like I’m a hollow vessel.

This time around I don’t find any comfort in my depression. I feel like I’m tied up with extra-strength chewing gum trying to break free from it’s grasp. I feel uncomfortable and I want my mind to go back to the way it was.

I don’t know if I can get back to where I was mentally any time soon. I don’t know how long this depressive episode will last me.

All I can do is be strong and try my best to make it through.

Curbing Self-Harm Urges

When you’re in one of those intense waves of depression, it can be difficult to think clearly. I’ve struggled with this countless times, there were times where I thought the only way to calm down or feel better was to self-harm.

For seven years I’ve been faced with the decision on whether to cut or not. I have chosen to act on that desire more times than I will ever admit. They are scars I never want to count. Turning this into a positive, I’ve said no many more times than I have said yes.

Coping mechanisms and rational thinking have helped me through this tough journey. Here are a few things that have helped me:

Rubber Bands and Hair Ties

One of the first coping mechanisms I learned about was snapping a hair tie or rubber band wherever I wanted to hurt myself. This really hurts depending on how hard you snap it. It has helped me and of course there are no scars left afterwards which is a plus.

Find a Distraction

Finding something to take your mind off of the urge to self-harm, anything positive or makes you feel better. My most often technique is to play a video on YouTube that I can really pay attention to. I will watch very intently to push the desire to hurt myself back down into my brain.

Sometimes I’ll combine this with knitting, covering up with fuzzy blankets and dabbing essential oil on my wrists to engage more of my senses. I’ve learned the more senses I can engage, the easier it is to distract myself from my own thoughts.

Leave

Wherever you’re at try and leave that place even for a couple minutes to clear your mind. Go to a different part of your house/apartment, go to Target (that place has healing powers), walk around your block or sit in your bathroom for a moment. A change of scenery can sometimes put me in a different state of mind.

Think of Someone You Love

This can be a sensitive topic for someone with mental illness because so often we are told by our depression that there is nobody who loves us. My brain has screamed that at me for so many years that it can be difficult not to believe it.

Let’s push the possibility that depression is right out of the picture; there is someone who deeply cares for you. Think about that person before you hurt yourself. If that person was in the room with you, what would they say? If you showed them the marks, how would they respond?

One of the things that has helped me not resort to self-injury is thinking about my boyfriend. I know he doesn’t want me to do that to myself, it has brought him to tears seeing what I have done. So I think of that moment, I think of him because my actions don’t only affect me, they affect him too.

Well that last part got intense for me. I’m going to write a couple more posts about self-harm that I hope can be encouraging/relatable for anyone reading. I’ve been ashamed to tell anyone that I’ve cut myself on and off for 7 years but right now I feel brave enough to share my experience with others.

Stay strong and I hope you’ll all be alright! –Megan

Oh the Guilt!

I hate feeling guilty and shameful. The other day I posted about guilt and right now, I’m having one of those moments where I feel so guilty that I want to curl into a ball so tightly that I disappear.

Have you ever felt that way?

It’s a cycle for me with guilt and mental illness. My anxiety will tell me that nobody loves me, that I’m stupid or that I’m a bother to everyone around me. Those thoughts are so loud in my head, it’s hard not to hear them. When I say them out loud or assume someone actually feels that way, I end up feeling guilty for saying my anxious thoughts out loud because it makes the person I said them to upset.

I say, “You don’t like spending time with me, do you?” Then that person gets frustrated, they’re blindsided by that comment and why I would say something like that in the first place. For me, that question makes sense because I have been hearing it for years.

My anxious statements make me immediately feel guilty. I tell myself that I’m a bad girlfriend/friend/sister/daughter, I’m a person that nobody wants to be around. I wish that I could vanish into a small space where nobody can find me. A place I can hide until the guilt subsides and I can breathe again.

I’m going through this right now so the emotions are really fresh. I feel ashamed when I let my anxiety speak because I know I should not let it have a voice. From my perspective, those anxious thoughts ring in my ears so loudly that I forget that nobody else can hear them. I forget that maybe what my mind tells me isn’t actually true.

What do you do when you’re feeling incredibly guilty about what your mental illness makes you do?

I hope that you guys will all be alright. –Megan

Guilt and Mental Illness

I seem to always feel guilty about stuff. Whenever I make a mistake or mess up in some kind of way, I am overcome with guilt and anxiety.

This happens on a weekly basis. I neglect to do something or I say the wrong thing, my stomach gets tight and my heart sinks to my feet. I lose focus on whatever was going on previously, the feeling of guilt starts to swirl around my head.

Recently I told my best friend from uni that I wouldn’t be going to her party where a bunch of our friends from school would be. Ones we haven’t seen in a long time. I said, no for many different reasons but I felt horribly guilty about it.

I felt like a bad friend even though she had been incredibly toxic to me. I felt like an ass for telling my friends who I haven’t seen in 3 years that I wouldn’t be there, like they didn’t matter to me which isn’t true.

I’m a professional at ruminating on negative thoughts. If you are too, I see you. So for days I thought those things over and over until my stomach began hurting.

Anxiety and depression love to team up and remind me how nobody likes me, I’m a terrible person and all of the shit they’ve said to me since I was a child. Do I believe them? There’s a part of me that really does. Then there’s another that says, “Well Megan, maybe that’s not 100% true.”

Today is the day of her party and I’m writing this blog post from the comfort of my bed. I’m feel a little guilty still though if I’m going to be honest. Instead of ruminating on the guilt, I’ve been enjoying my time off doing whatever I feel like. I’ve let the day take me wherever it may lead, it’s pretty awesome!

So if you’re feeling guilty too, I understand where you’re coming from. If possible try to relax or distract yourself with a coping mechanism. Do something that makes you happy even if you don’t think “you deserve to feel happy.”

Stay strong, my readers! — Megan

Feeling Understood

In my last post, I wrote about how difficult it can be to feel misunderstood when you confide in somebody about your mental health situation. It’s painful. I found it difficult to open up to others because of how many people could not understand depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts or self harm.

But sometimes people do understand! That is the best feeling when you tell somebody what’s really going on and they don’t call you weird or crazy. Even if they don’t understand what it’s like to experience a mental illness, they are still there as a support system.

Oddly I found support in a former coworker. She knew I had been sad but did not know the extent of my suffering until we had dinner together one night. We were having a delicious Mexican dinner to get us through the final hours of our shifts in the newsroom. I’m not sure how it came up but I told her that I was going to go on antidepressants so she asked if I thought that was the best choice. I told her yes because my depression is severe. Then I said it, “I want to kill myself.”

Tears were streaming down my red cheeks as the waitress is asking if our checks were together or separate. I couldn’t believe I showed my heart to her. What amazed me was that she didn’t run away or stop speaking to me after I confessed that to her. She was the best person to have in my life at that point in time besides my therapist.

We took walks together, we had a sleepover once and I even called her when I could not get my suicidal thoughts to shut up. We talked about random things so I could calm down so I could go to sleep.

I’m so appreciative of her as a friend. We don’t see each other very often anymore since I have a different job now but I look back on those memories and am thankful for all of the times we had together.

I hope you, my lovely reader, have somebody who is there for you. If not, maybe it’s time to try and open up to a safe person in your life.

Stay strong survivors! -Megan

2 Years

The moment is still as clear to me as when it happened exactly two years ago when I had my first suicidal thought.

A few days earlier I had sank into a deep depression after a bad breakup. Those days were filled with lots of tears, laying in bed and hugging my cats.

Two years ago I attended an event for my former job and in my ear I heard loud and clear, “kill yourself.” I heard it over and over again. I never had experienced anything like it before.

I was absolutely terrified.

After the event ended I drove home as fast as I could. I called my therapist, who I had only seen once at that point, who did not answer her phone. So I called the suicide crisis hotline and spoke to a really nice woman who encouraged me that I would be alright.

We talked and she helped to calm me down until my therapist returned my phone call.

The rest of the day was a blur. I know I went back to work to write my story then I left.

Those suicidal thoughts flew around in my brain for months until I got on the right antidepressant. Check out my post here about that journey!

Two years later I am still living. Two years ago I could not have envisioned getting to age 25. I could barely see myself getting to the end of each week, thinking long term wasn’t possible for me to do.

In my next post, I’m going to talk about the different things I did to soothe myself when the suicidal thoughts were too loud.

Thank you for reading this, sharing this day with someone makes me vulnerable but I want to show others that they are not alone.