When I’m really struggling, sometimes I write letters to my psychiatrist, letters that I usually never send but the mere act of writing them somehow makes me feel better.
I wrote the following letter to her today, I haven’t sent it yet, but I think I actually will this time…
This is kind of hard to write. Oh really? Now I’m actually shaking for goodness sakes. Ridiculous considering that you’re hardly a stranger, you’re not actually here, and you may never even read this… I think perhaps I will just pretend that you won’t. Hell by the time I get to the end I will probably change my mind and never even send it.
Anyway, I am writing this because… well, I want to explain to you, and maybe to myself, that I’m really not coping and I need help.
I suppose that is a weird thing for me to find hard to say, I mean you’re my psychiatrist and I’m your patient so the fact that I need help is implied in the very terms of our relationship. Yet it hurts to write it out plainly like that, partly because I’m terrified of what that actually means and partly because a big piece of me is still secretly hopeful that this whole mental illness thing will just magically disappear, hope that it will become an obscure memory that may in fact turn out to just have been a really long, really bad dream the whole time.
After all I am 100% fine for moments at a time, even hours sometimes, if I don’t have to interact with anyone and I can lose myself in a movie and simply forget to think or feel. Until it suddenly hits me again.
I think I’ve reached the point where I really don’t know what to do next and while writing still helps me catch my breath it’s just not giving me enough oxygen to keep outrunning my shadow.
This endless cycling, it’s… well endless, and I’m just so tired. I am trying hard to just keep swimming but I’m slowly but surely drowning.
My head aches constantly from the strain of holding back my darkest thoughts until once again I am alone in my crowded mind, the freedom to breathe comes at a harsh price. Depression is a dangerous place to take a holiday.
I cry every day, several times a day, the source of my tears often times a mystery to even myself, perhaps the trigger of a moment, a voice, a look, a memory or perhaps just an overwhelming sense of sadness or hostility.
When I can’t do it anymore, something takes over and does it for me, pulls the levers and presses the buttons that make me walk and talk, while I watch on stupidly from a distance. I don’t know what I’m doing or how I’m doing it, I don’t even care.
Just as I have resigned myself once more to a world without colour, the weight I didn’t notice pressing on my shoulders suddenly lifts without warning and i am enlightened. The world becomes crystal clear. My cells flood with energy and I quiver with anticipation. The truth shines in on me from the diamond sky above and I feel as though I have been chosen by the universe to save the world. In that moment anything seems possible, and it really, really is.
Until eventually, it isn’t.
Reality quietly spins away as fear slowly seeps into the cracks and entangles itself within a web of unlikely coincidences. Fear breeds the paranoia, moments of time I can only barely recall now but find overwhelming evidence of later. A scrap of paper here, a blade hidden there, lists of the people we suddenly cannot trust along with scattered reasons why. It scares me, I don’t know exactly what I’m capable of, I’d like to believe I wouldn’t ever harm anyone else but when fear takes over and collateral damage seems inevitable, even I don’t know anymore.
All the while He stands too close behind me whispering not-so-sweet nothings in my ear like the tortured memory of a ghost, and then with his hot breath on my skin I find I am but a child again, his unquestionable, unexplainable authority weighing down on my sense of reason. He informs me that if I dare go against his word I will pay the ultimate price. With this revelation he chuckles eerily in a voice no one can hear.
The dice rolls as a new day dawns and we play the same worn out game once again, still captive in the second skin of our mind, the real world carries on around us, with or without our participation.
Play dates, school holidays, housework and celebrations.
Never ending commitments churning on and on in a questionable and impossible world that I can’t possibly commit myself to.
Finally the seemingly infinite madness relents a little and we retreat exhausted and able to sleep but still I wake behind enemy lines, not knowing when the ceasefire will be lifted, perhaps hours, days or even months if I’m lucky; but I know that a return to the front is imminent.
M, I only know one way to make this all stop, end the eternal, internal war and I feel swathed in guilt because in ending my own pain I know I am passing it along to others, but, and there’s always a but, it eventually just becomes too much for me to bear and even that guilt fades away into the black abyss of subconsciousness.
If there is another way, any other way, I need to find it soon, as I can’t do this for much longer, and I have made so many people so many promises. You know how I hate breaking promises.
I have an appointment with you next Wednesday and I don’t know how I will feel on that day, I don’t know if I will still have the strength or the will to ask you for help then, I don’t know if I will think I need help then, my moods are so volatile I might even feel amazing again. But we both know it won’t last.
I’m skating in circles on fast cracking ice, confused by my own thoughts and my own reactions, every day and every passing hour is a guessing game, except for right now, right this second, I am completely calm.
Chaos is surrounding me as I write this but I am numb to it, I have my headphones in and the extra two tweenage boys staying with us for the next few days have forced my emotions back into hiding, a calm practical front, a defense mechanism for the storm brewing underneath. So right this second, I’m okay.
Instead of bringing this up on Wednesday, in case I blather on incessantly about something else as I tend to do and forget, or change my mind… I’m asking you now to help me, although I don’t exactly know how you can. As much as I will regret sending this later, I really don’t know what else to do, so at the risk of losing all credibility in the following words of cliched tackiness, please save me from myself.
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