1st May 2017
The monster named Depression:
It’s back, he’s back. Sat on my shoulder, reading this and laughing at his mean little trick. I’d felt better for 5 days, for 5 whole days the clouds had lifted and I could see the sun again. For nearly a week I had my future back. Suddenly and without warning I had woken up feeling like myself again. 5 days of the normal, everyday
anxiety that was totally common place in my life but depression, he appeared to have left, like a one-night stand who’d snuck out before morning. Depression had left me, or so I had thought, it appears he’d actually taken a freelance contract somewhere else for the week but had cleverly had a key cut to my psyche so he could let himself back in.
That’s the thing about mental health – just because you can’t see it, like a broken limb, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. And because the monsters are invisible, you can never predict when they might reappear.
The clouds were back and darker than before. Anthracite clouds. Suddenly all my demons had come home. They sat around my bed like a judging panel. All at once screaming at me in unison, their unforgiving words forming a tornado in my head and an iron grip around my chest.
You aren’t good enough.
Everyone hates you.
You are a terrible daughter, sister, granddaughter and human being.
What’s the point to your life anyway?
What are you really contributing to the world?
You look terrible by the way.
You really are a disgusting excuse for a human.
Who would ever love a creature like you?
You are wasting your life.
All of this is pointless.
You’d probably be better off dead.
Yeah, they’d be sad and a bit shocked but in the long run you’d save them the pain of putting up with you and your countless issues.
It must be exhausting to even know you.
The world is a terrible place anyway.
What’s the point?
You are hopeless.
This is hopeless.
I wanted to scream back but I didn’t have the energy. I was frozen in their presence. All the words cut like knives. I was completely exhausted and I’d only just woken up. I dragged myself out of bed trying to wave the monsters away but they followed me, they came into the shower, the stood over me as I made a coffee. They sat next to me all morning. All I wanted was to silence them, for them to go back to whatever rock they climbed out from under but they seemed to be back with a vengeance today.
A ghost called Anxiety:
Depression seemed to come and go, letting himself in and out of my subconscious without warning but Anxiety was constant, suffocating, overwhelming. A ghost that had become trapped inside of me. And not just in my mind, she was in my body too. She chocked me, laid on my chest through the night and shook me awake if I dared to drift off. I was haunted by anxiety, an unwelcome presence that I didn’t know how to exorcise.
Everything panicked me, replying to a simple text message was exhausting.
The mundane became terrifying. Sometimes just walking out of the front door felt like I swimming through hot wax. Social plans left me paralyzed with the fear that someone would see right through my nervous laughter & red wine disguise. Drinking was the only thing that made me feel like I could function.
Anxiety is a cruel disease. She can turn friends into strangers, contort genuine concern into crippling criticism and twist love into loathing. The ghost told me the worst possible ending to every story.
1st May 2018
I didn’t listen to the monsters and I don’t believe in ghosts. I never swallowed the pills, I didn’t go on anti-depressants. I never hit those rocks rumored to be down there at the bottom. With the patient help of an amazing therapist, a handful of incredibly supportive friends and A LOT of yoga, meditation and mindfulness practice, I harnessed all of the anger, sadness and fear that mental illness had brought into my life & learnt how to turn it into strength, gratitude and compassion.
Yoga taught me how to unite my body back with my mind. Meditation helped me to quiet the noise so I could listen and Mindfulness reminded me how magical the world can be if you open your eyes and take the time to look. Day by day, slowly but surely, I got better. I began to feel like me again, the sun came back into my sky.
I remember the day the clouds lifted so clearly, in the numerous books I had read about natural remedies to depression & anxiety, they had all advised that travel was one way of gaining new perspective and it really did. I had decided that as it looked like I was going to make it to my 30th birthday against all of my demons wishes, that I was strong enough to travel but I needed a safe refuge. I found sanctuary and for 2.5 weeks I escaped, I had taken myself to a yoga retreat in Mexico and there I met myself again. It felt almost euphoric to be reunited with my own spirit and optimism for life again. As though she had been hiding in the grains of sand and gentle hissing of the ocean all along.
I don’t know how I would have survived without yoga during those black months, it was the only thing that got me out of bed and the only place where I felt safe to feel. It gave me the space to connect back to myself and the time I needed to heal.
Mental Health is just as important as physical health and just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t real. Please don’t suffer in silence. Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. In England, 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) in any given week.
You can’t put a filter on your brain to make it look better and we need to start talking openly about Mental Health, it’s time we tackle this taboo.
Join in the discussion at MoreYoga.