The following post contains content that could be triggering to those currently struggling with self harm and/or depression. If you ever in crisis or need hope in a time of darkness, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (US) or, for those not in the states, to a Suicide Hotline in the UK.
By Ches Powell
#Fearless Family Writer
It’s easy to say I have an addictive personality. As well as an expressive one. For me it’s natural to slip into dangerous patterns of behaviour. Follow the loop round from a trigger to a full blown breakdown.
That’s how I lost six months of my life that I will never get back.
It was September. There were leaves still on the trees, although they were starting to fall by then. I was obsessed with some song that I’ve forgotten the name of now. It was one of those songs that pretty much sucked except that one line you really identify with. I don’t even remember the line now, but I remember singing it to myself over and over while I rocked back and forth or picked at the skin of my wrists.
To me, this started with emetophobia. It may not have been the only cause, but it did play a large part in my impending breakdown.
I became consumed by the fear and obsessed with germs. Convinced I had been exposed somehow, despite days where I hadn’t left the house or perhaps even moved from my bed. I could almost feel the germs crawling on my skin, and I felt like I could see them on everything and everyone.
The memories I have of this time are far and few between. All I really know of those times is two things. The first, I nearly took my own life on a number of occasions that I’m too ashamed to admit. The second, I completely lost my mind. The glimpses of memory that I do have all contain psychotic episodes, breakdowns, and pushing absolutely everyone away whilst screaming that no one cared and no one would help me.
In some ways that seems better though, not having to remember the darkest of times that almost marked the end of me. Unlike the people around me who had to experience it from the outside, I was lucky enough to not have to re-live it, or recognise patterns beginning again and fearing the inevitable relapse.
But, at the same time, it’s very difficult to get control of your mental health when you can’t remember how or why it took a turn. It took me at least three months to figure out that I would never really know what happened, I would never understand it, and I would definitely never come to terms with it.
Everyone asks me how I got better, how I went from not being able to get out of bed all day, to being able to lead an almost normal life again. How I went from my darkest days, to laughing and joking again. The honest answer is simple: time.
I tried all the medications. I tried therapy, CBT, counselling. I saw every Support Worker, Nurse, Crisis Team, Psych Doctor, etc that my mental health team could throw at me. I tried visualising the anxieties, writing them down and throwing them away, drawing them, colouring them away. I even tried natural remedies.
But in the end I felt like all was lost. There, in the darkness, it felt like it was the end of the line for me. I vocalised often how I felt like I was ready to die, waiting for it to happen.
Then one day, I wanted to go outside.
If I put aside the fact that it caused me to have a breakdown, I can focus on the amazing nature of the moment. As well as all the other moments which followed that one. It didn’t make sense to me though, and instead of enjoying my life again I would spend all my time obsessing over why I wasn’t obsessing so much. I didn’t understand how I could no longer see the germs as they crawled their way across my skin.
Fast forward to now; a year after I came out of that dark time. You will still find me in bed some days, hands clamped down over my ears to block out all the sounds. Or perhaps I’ll make it out of bed, but spend the whole day laying on the sofa and trying not to move because I’m so physically exhausted just from the getting out of bed.
But on good days, you will find me doing everything I can to make the most of my life. My mental illnesses took almost 4 years of my life away from me, so I’m fighting back to take back every second that I can. It’s never easy, don’t get me wrong, and when it’s bad – it’s extremely bad. But I don’t feel the urge to end my life constantly any more. I have yet to find a point or a purpose to my existence, but I am aware that there IS one out there – I just need to get out there and find it!
I cannot stress enough the importance of giving yourself time. If you are afraid, or whatever you are feeling, be patient with yourself and allow yourself the time to heal. The mind is mysterious most of the time, in the way it works, and you need to just let it do it’s thing.
In times of darkness there is always hope.
Thank you to Ches for sharing her incredibly moving story!
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Lastly, we run an Emetophobia Support Group on Facebook. Emetophobia is the intense and irrational fear of throwing up, and it is one struggle we are passionately engaged in. It is a closed, by request only group to help facilitate sharing and support by all members. It is also private, meaning that the posts you and others make will not show up publicly in your newsfeed.