A shift in understanding, in managing

I could happily sit here and watch Les Mis YouTube videos all afternoon. I’ve had a super busy week doing nothing, and after trailing the shops today looking for storage boxes I’ve come to the conclusion that really my life is pretty boring, but bloody lovely at the moment.

When you spend months on end battling with an impenetrable darkness regulated by your own brain it can feel as though nothing will ever change. One of the hardest things for me was the constant feeling that I’d failed at being ‘normal’. I often thought of people from my past and what they would think of me now if they knew how difficult I was finding things. I felt stupid, ashamed, and pretty crap about how I was unable to shake away the rubbish that my mental health was throwing at me.

My mental health was challenging every aspect of my life, but the worse part was the constant thought that I was just being dramatic, and that I ‘should be able to get over this.’ I felt so unfathomably weak, even in times when I ‘should be feeling okay’ I found myself feeling very out of place. Having to pretend – more for myself than for others- that everything was okay. One of the most difficult things was that I’d let things get to such a point where it felt like there was no return. Everything was so rubbish, and I was feeling so low that I had no idea how to start getting things back on track.

I’ve never been very good at letting people help me; I never want to burden others – but I didn’t realise that by keeping everything to myself I was – in a sense – detaching myself from those who cared. The more I kept things to myself the more it felt as though I couldn’t speak to anyone. I felt as though nobody would understand – or worse, nobody would care. I felt that if I told others how I was feeling they would just point out how ridiculous and senseless I was being. I had – and still have – stuff that ‘gets me’ – thoughts and memories that just – quite simply – break me (albeit temporarily). But I couldn’t understand why this stuff, my memories, my thoughts and my feelings were so different to others. Why could other people just get on with things? Why am I here sat crying at stuff that happened years ago, when everyone else is just getting on merrily with life?

Comparing myself to others really didn’t help – though one thing I’ve come to realise is that lots of people struggle with stuff that may be perceived as ‘simple’ everyday things. Also, no matter how hard you think about something – it’s 99% likely that no-one will have a clue what you’re thinking unless you actually tell them, or give them a very direct clue. It’s funny though – I went through a good few months last year where I really wasn’t coping, I was plodding through reluctantly and unwillingly just focusing on getting work done, rather than actually having to feel things. It wasn’t fun, it was crap, and I’m terrified of ever feeling like that again, but fast forward a few weeks and life threw so much intense stuff at me that I had no choice but to deal with unexpected, big, changes.

I was in such a lonely, dark place in my mind, and my life, but I was focusing so hard on what was happening to me, and how I couldn’t cope with things. Then I was thrown into a situation – with those I loved – where we were pushed to our limits, but – as horrid as it seems – I feel it was the crap situation that reminded me that I have some bloody wonderful people in my life, and how terrified I am of losing them. I’d do anything to bubble wrap them and keep them close-by 24/7 (though after about an hour we’d probably be sick of each other). My life had shifted so suddenly that despite it being a negative situation it was as if it was the shock I needed to remind me that I can go to others for help.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m still useless at going to others when I need support, but I think (think) that I’m ever so slightly better at recognising and vocalising what’s going on. That being said, I keep going in and out of deciding that I don’t want to talk to others, and that I don’t want their help – which is frustrating. Instead of feeling as though I can’t go to anyone, I feel as though others don’t want me to go to them, and I block everything out. But thankfully my mind reminds me that I (hopefully) am just imagining this, and that it’s okay to reach out.

Things still get tough, but it’s weird – those moments in between the tough times that feel pretty alright – and what’s weirder is that they seem fairly frequent at the moment. Of course my pessimistic thought process is constantly questioning when things will feel awful again, but there’s a part of me that’s actually enjoying things being alright – it does feel superficial – but I think that’s just because of how difficult things had been, and how I hadn’t believed that I could actually find things manageable.

Something, somewhere, shifted – and things have started to feel a lot more manageable. Things feel a lot more positive, and – despite that constant feeling of being stupid due to the things I struggle with – I’m figuring things out; I feel as though I’m moving forward, and most importantly, I’m trying hard to keep those who support me in the loop with what’s happening.

When life gives ya lemons…

Emma Lewis


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