Picture a person in a scary movie who is hiding from a bad person. What do they do when that bad person is within very close range? They hold perfectly still, doing their best not to make a sound. They hold their breath. No movement.
Have you ever tried holding your breath when you are scared? That’s essentially what I do every time that I am afraid to make a move because of my mental illness. I’m doing it right now.
It is painful! But not in the same way as when you are actually scared for your life and forced to hold your breath for as long as possible and then slowly let it out because you can’t hold it anymore without passing out and now, instead of holding your breath in, you have to breathe as slowly, evenly, and shallowly as you can so that it is QUIET. It is the slow, even, shallow breathing that hurts. It hurts because your heart is pumping a million miles an hour, ready to fight or fly, but you are forcing your lungs to pretend like nothing is wrong. They want to suck in as much air as possible and propel you into victory, but you’ve chosen to make them do something that doesn’t feel natural to them.
For me, normal life is halted when I am severely depressed. If I make a decision, it is usually a bad one, so this is my coping mechanism. I become lethargic, with almost no interest in food or the activities that I usually enjoy. I cancel plans, push people away, skip showering, and more. I don’t like doing this to myself. It hurts me to see myself falling into these patterns. But I don’t know what to do differently. I am the scared victim in the movie, hiding from myself. Putting life on hold so that I can survive the next 30 seconds.
I’ve spent countless hours learning coping skills from therapists and self-help books. Some really helpful stuff, but my memory is awful and when things start to go sour, I can’t remember what to do to help myself. I’m 34. Maybe my memory sucks just because? Maybe it’s because of years of different psychiatric drugs? Maybe it’s due to past trauma? I don’t know why, but my memory sucks, which sucks.
Because I’m terrible at helping myself in these times of severe depression, I rely heavily on my husbeast and my mother for support. I become so tired that I fall asleep in the middle of the day and sleep for up to 6 hours. I wake up dazed, hungry, and thirsty, but can’t muster enough energy/willpower to walk myself to the kitchen to get food and drink, so I lay on the couch until my husbeast comes home. He finds me cold (I usually don’t have the foresight to grab a blanket) and starving. But food doesn’t sound good. We both know that I need to eat, but it’s difficult to do so when nothing sounds good.
I don’t like putting that burden on my support group. I see the toll that it takes. I fucking hate that sometimes I need to be rescued. Sometimes = multiple times per year, often for weeks at a time. I have always been the empath/caregiver, and don’t like being on the other side. I want to be able to take care of myself! I’m screwed if there’s ever a zombie apocalypse, WWIII, etc.
My condition affects other things like my part-time job, my small business, and my friendships too but I’ll write about that later. Not really sure where I am going with this, I guess this is a status update. I’m holding still. Doing my best to survive another hour. It hurts, but I’m doing okay. Today’s accomplishments:
- eat (orange for breakfast, ramen for lunch)
- drink water (only did 1 bottle, but better than none)
- put on more than just a bathrobe (I did undies, sweats, and a t-shirt)
- take care of something other than myself (baby chicks)
- channeled bipolar energy to create art
- blog about feelings/progress/whatever this is about
- avoided going to the hospital (keep telling myself one day at a time)
I hope that your day is going well.