What I can’t explain is the feeling of dread that washes over me, and that can last for days before it swells to a full blown anxiety attack. Something triggers it, I never really know what exactly, and then I gradually become really, truly uncomfortable in my own skin. I suddenly feel too big in my clothes, too tall around my friends, too ugly to be looked at, too stupid to open my mouth, and too crazy to be understood. My skin begins to feel grimy and I want to shower myself multiple times a day, to wash off the dirt and shame and self-hatred.
If I don’t catch myself at this point, I become a traitor to myself. I stop trusting those around me because I’ve let myself down again. The tears begin, and the internal bullies become relentless. The pain becomes a crushing headache, so bad that all I want to do is end it, by any means possible. I become frightened by the tenacious thoughts, knowing that this is not how I really feel, but is this the point where I go from stable to mental illness, is this the way it happens? And I feel like a frightened child who wants to be comforted but is afraid that no one will want to know me, or hug me or love me. I retreat to a bathroom, to sit against the cool tiles and to assure myself that I am the same person as I always am. However.
I don’t recognise this mess in the mirror; she seemed to have it together the other day. Her pretty green eyes are now swollen and red, and her face is more than just blemished; it’s unsightly, scarred and (to use an ugly word) ugly. She doesn’t seem to be me anymore, she’s resentful and self-occupied. She wants to throw in her hard work, and not listen to anyone anymore. She wants to give up. But she can’t hide herself away, there are too many people out there who rely on her. It’s suffocating.
I’m claustrophobic in my own skin and in this bathroom and in my own home. I pace around like a whirling dervish, throwing windows open. I take gulps of air, hoping the air will somehow restore normality but I can’t get enough. I pray to a God and Universe that I’m unsure of, and hope that I’m deserving of some intervention, godly or otherwise. I’m scared to leave the house, and to meet people on the street. I don’t want people looking at me, or noticing my red eyes, or my disgusting skin or body.
I keep all of this to myself until I finally get scared enough, and yet brave enough to call my mum and sob down the phone to her, telling her all because I trust that she’s the last person on Earth who will give up on me, or will lock me up for madness, or whatever it is. She listens, and worries and patiently tells me that I’m having a terrible anxiety attack, and asks am I sure it’s not a bad case of hormones? Am I feeling stressed or worried? Is it boy trouble? Because he’s not worth it you know, she says. And if it is hormones, the best cure for that is having a baby, the old wives tale says.
Somehow it begins to work, and I wonder how I got myself into that state again, it happens so rarely now but when I’m in it, I cannot see the wood for the trees. I frighten myself enough to go see the doctor again, and continue with my therapy, and journal, and maybe talk to a trusted friend. And this time, it got me to write to down and post it on my blog, so that maybe someone else will read it and maybe identify with it, and then there might be some good out of the sheer awfulness of it.