My reflection is staring at me from the computer screen as I type. I look old today, the three lines in the middle of my forehead from furrowing my brow too often appear deeper, the circles under my eyes darker and the skin of my eyelids seems to sag heavily as gravity slowly gets the better of them.
It has also been exactly 2 years since I was released from my two month psychiatric hospital stay after my last suicide attempt. Those years have mostly passed quickly in a memory-less blur. For many, many months following my release I felt nothing. Semi disassociated from the world, my feelings were numb and it was as though I merely watched myself going about the motions from a safe distance.
I have had to learn to feel again, learn to love my family and friends again. It’s like they were from someone elses life where I had just watched the training video and then was expected to step into the main character’s role without any actual experience.
Blocking out the painful stuff is a tactic I learned in childhood, ignoring bullies didn’t make them go away but ignoring my feelings worked well, replace the pain with food and fake laughter only letting it creep back in at night time when I was alone and could cry myself to sleep. Some traumas could for the most part be shut out altogether, I remember ‘refusing to think about that’ and mentally changing the subject, but avoidance only takes you so far.
Real feelings have been sneaking back in, memories lost or blanked out reappear suddenly and startle me, usually in that twilight haze just as I begin to fall asleep. I find tears flow randomly and seemingly without provocation, tears for a life that was saved but perhaps lost after all.
I have been having a lot of flashbacks to my time in the hospital, the fear and humiliation of not knowing where I was, of being stripped to nothing but a gown in a ward full of big psychotic men and being made to sleep on a mat in the middle of the common room floor like a dog for weeks on end because by trying to end my life while in their care I had betrayed the trust of the doctors and nurses.
I think about what could have been done differently, what I could have done differently, I had the option of returning to a different mental health unit when I was released from intensive care and I chose to go back to where I thought I would feel safe and familiar. It didn’t work out that way. I was the enemy now, I had tricked them and no doubt been the cause of a great deal of paperwork and legal meetings. But that wasn’t my intention, I just couldn’t live with the pain anymore.
My psychiatrist added a new med on my last visit around 6 weeks ago when I started to fall back into depression after being brought down from my manic episode, it is a low dose of an anti-depressant. There was always the fear that it would make me manic again, but touch wood that hasn’t happened. The tablet is possibly working, I think I am less suicidal than I was – suicidality is always lurking in the background for me, it’s more a matter of how often I think about it than ‘if’ I do. I don’t know, it’s hard to tell how far I would have crashed if I hadn’t started taking it.
The new med is kindly only giving me a few side effects, carb cravings that scare the hell out of me because I CAN NOT gain weight, my labido got up and walked out and one that seems to unfortunately be getting worse by the day which is shocking night sweats. I wake up freezing and drenched as though I have been running on the treadmill for hours its really gross and I’m tired all the time from the constant broken sleep. But I’m not manic and I’m not dead so I suppose I should be thankful.
Sorry, this got whiny fast. That wasn’t my intention when I switched on the computer! It’s 1pm now, I should really go hang out washing, clean up my bomb site of a house and do a water change on the fish tank but instead I think I will curl up back in bed and watch a movie while playing hashtag games on twitter.
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