You know life’s a little difficult when you can’t even make a decision of how to start your blog by choosing a simple, ‘hello’, ‘hey’, or ‘good morning’.
Also, I can tell my ‘low brain’ is in charge after referring to ‘wellness’ as a spell rather than anxiety or depression being one. Maybe I just liked the rhyme, though.
The sun is shining after yesterday’s literal and metaphorical rain, so maybe I’ll feel lighter and brighter.
Anyway – let’s get stuck in.
Recently, if you ask loved ones they’d likely say I’ve been pretty ‘well’, but I could only half agree.
People can associate ‘wellness’ with ‘success’. I first hand and second hand can tell you that (sticking with hands here) they don’t always fall…’hand in hand’.
Promotion? Found love or freedom in being recently single? Lost or gained weight that you were aiming for?
Achievements can be things to be proud of but they don’t always equate a feeling or meaning of ‘well.’ You can be doing well without feeling it.
Arguably, I have been well for a nice while. Though having lived with depression and anxiety long enough, having a ticking in the back of my head like an egg timer wondering when it will next set off again, even though things were… ‘going well’.
I’ve written about this before and seen at least one article published since but being functioning with A&D isn’t as great as it seems. For those who don’t know, it refers to people still able to work or get on with their usual life activities and commitments whilst living with mental illness. That’s where the term ‘functioning depressive’ for example, came from.
The problem is it gives out an illusion that life is rosey and that I’m ‘cured’ or fully recovered. Especially being off meds. The truth is, despite my weekly fight and mask that those who are functioning know only too well, I’ve been finding things quite hard.
I’ve also found a new and not so great alternative way to coping because I’m also experiencing great anxiety in confiding in the person I always do because recently they were struggling. That classic bad practice of not wanting to burden someone who you know as things going on…everyone has things going on! However, this was a bit deeper and I won’t go into that and why it’s been so hard.
We both know talking is essential but a recent experience has left me unable to fully expose the brunt of my (now regular) battles.
It’s also not rocket science to know that masks aren’t permanent and in fact, you could (in my case anyway – not meaning to diss financially ‘cheap’ brands here either!) compare them to being made up of cheap make up (think cheap clothing for guys if that helps, ones that make you sweat, smell and show when you don’t want to). They give an instant cover but it fades and soon reveals the cracks. You may also get a bout of acne after as your skin breaks out and struggles to breathe. Basically, they’re a short term prop to ensure you (not so )’ful’fil your ability to function.
Eventually, you don’t want to wear such a cheap mask anymore and you miss your face. No matter how you feel about it’s appearance. I used to feel that medication helped my mask like a good primer or moisturiser. Made it long lasting. There’s no stigma in being on meds and I often contemplate whether I can keep on my stride in life without them.
So as of a gentle starter conversation with a friend the day before, where we were both beautifully open with one another, something else opened too.
*Once an opening of a wound is out to air, it’s easy for more to come out.*
Last night that happened. All suppressed anxiety and depression surfaced for air and it came bubbling up for me to have to face.
It felt good to release but sad to realise yet again (as with all relapses and well spells) that I am indeed affected by mental illness. When you’re well for a while and think you’ve escaped, it’s not always the truth.
Standardly for me, it manifested in my chest. A cold hard feeling of bursting air pounding like it wants to escape me. Almost like an out of body experience.
Despite all this I must say, I’ve become much better at self care using natural methods since being off of meds. The power of essential oils for example. I was able to dab some lavender and peppermint on my wrists and breathe mindfully whilst my partner got a hot water bottle to warm my chest. I lit a candle and turned off the lights to watch it flicker and immediately experienced a sense of ease and relief.
My chest as usual is still fragile this morning (like a hangover, ‘the morning after’) but I had my release. I acknowledged my pain and self worth by taking off my mask.
Here I am now, back as ‘functioning’ ever at work, ready to try again for the next week.
“Take regular breaks,” my partner said, as he kissed me goodbye.
That I will. That, I will.