This event occurred last week, but I wrote about it straight away. Hence when I refer to these occurrences as yesterday, last night etc. I’m actually referring to a week ago.
In the past I wouldn’t have spoken about stuff like this, believing that it makes me seem somehow weak if I confide my darkest moments in such a public way, but I’m learning not to think this way. Because to be honest, I don’t think I could really be weak if I tried to be. It’s time to own my darkest moments as just what they are, mere moments in this array of experiences that is my life.
Last night I had a massive breakdown, for many reasons. I received my hormone injection yesterday. The last injection I got was botched by (as she very kindly admitted to me) the fault of the doctor. I didn’t blame her. We all make mistakes, but nevertheless it was an extremely painful experience that left me with a massive bruise and open wounds. I won’t share a picture as it’s rather disgusting, but I was left somewhat traumatised by the experience.
When I was lying on the doctor’s table yesterday, I found myself feeling quite anxious and panicky. This was obviously understandable, but these are not feelings that I’m even slightly accustomed to. She did everything she could to calm me down and armed with a stress-ball, I received the very sore injection into my stomach. Thank God it all went as planned this time and I was only left with a small stingy wound.
But I found myself unable to relax afterwards. I spent the whole day feeling wound up tight, merely going through the motions. This was one of my warning signs. Another was that my eating had gone extremely haywire and I was down to merely one meal a day. I knew what was coming and it was just a waiting game. I couldn’t prepare, I couldn’t make it easier, I could only try to take the best care of myself while I waited for this stress to manifest itself somehow.
I had an exam today, which was playing heavily on my mind. Due to this awful fatigue that I’m suffering from, my attendance in college has been less than stellar in recent months. I’m usually feeling quite confident and relaxed around exam time but I was unable to be this way. The best I can currently hope for is an indifferent feeling before I enter an exam, rather than the quiet assurance I usually feel.
I went to bed early last night, wanting to have a good night’s sleep. But as I lay there, staring at a street light outside my window, my mind began to churn. I lay there for about two hours as my thoughts declined into darker and darker territories. I could feel myself detaching from everything I cared about, shrinking back into the black abyss where I once retreated in the darkest time of my life. Since my very serious mental break at 14 years of age, I’ve vowed to never let myself get to a place like that again.
I had two choices. I could lie there and let these intensely awful feelings build into something really damaging, or I could get help. Luckily for me, help was only a room away. I knocked on my poor roommate’s door, waking her and giving her what I’m sure was a huge fright. We went to the living room where I broke down, shaking and crying intensely.
I barely ever cry, so when I do, my roommates know that something’s seriously wrong. I actually still can’t really understand what the origin of this breakdown was. At a guess, it was a stressful week combined with my hormone injection, which always makes my emotions go a bit haywire. My roommate calmed me down, assuring me that I’d feel better in the morning and making my room feel nice and cosy before tucking me into bed.
I went to sleep feeling extremely grateful to her and by the morning I was back to my normal self, still feeling a bit shaky, but feeling assured after my intense feelings had broken, almost like a storm.
I’ve only ever had an experience like this once before, back in January. January was a dark time for me. Laden with hormonal changes and suffering from a bout of depression, I was in my apartment in Dublin alone. I had run out of money and I was feeling incredibly lonely. I ended up breaking down on my bedroom floor, feeling an utter hopelessness that terrified me. The only thing I could think to do was pick up my phone and reach out to someone.
My Mam answered straight away and knew what to do immediately. She transferred money into my account so I could by a bus ticket down to her. I packed a bag and marched out into the night, hopping on the late bus and getting off where my Mam was waiting for me with a spice bag from my favourite Wexford takeaway.
I’m so lucky to have people that help me at times like this and I’m extremely grateful for each and every one of them. I definitely rely on and draw strength from the support network I have around me because that’s what they’re for.
As for my fear at looking weak in light of this, I now recognise how foolish that is. Reading back over this, I completely recognise the strength that it took to endure these episodes. I completely recognise the strength it took to make the choices that I did. To reach out to people and ask for help. That’s really not an easy thing to do, particularly not for a person as stubborn and independent as I am (it also doesn’t help that I’m a control freak).
My feelings and my breakdowns are valid. I’m not failing if I have a bad day or indeed a bad week. I’m a citizen living in this world which can have a tendency to be cruel. I’m a young person managing my own life, my transition and everything else that I have on my plate. It would be more strange if I didn’t feel overwhelmed from time to time.
I am smart, I am independent, I am organised, I am capable and I am strong.
I am strong even if I have a breakdown.
In fact, I may be stronger after I do.
Read about how my fatigue lead me to take a break from writing here.
Listen to my interview with Ruth Hoban about mental illness below: