Thursday, 21 August 2014

A reflection on how mental illness has affected my life

The brush has claimed yet another clump of my rapidly thinning hair, I pull it from the knobbely pins and drop it in the waste basket. Taking a deep breath I look down over my skeletal frame briefly acknowledging the place where my breasts used to be. My skin has become a dry slightly greyish colour and the dark circles under my eyes could make people begin to question my husband’s integrity.

The sad thing is while I endure the day in day out nausea and dizzy spells caused by this war I am fighting, it is inevitably a losing battle. This battle is not against cancer as an outsider looking in may imagine at first glance, no, this is a war against myself and one entirely of my own making.

Suicide is a funny thing, usually a quick solution to a painful situation that feels inescapable, in my case it is a long slow drawn out process, but one that can no longer be stopped, and one I have no will to stop. I have anorexia nervosa and bipolar disorder, I am putting a psychologists children through the finest collage and keeping the pharmaceutical industry running.

Whatever motives I had when this journey first began, back when I still had a choice in the matter, have long since been replaced by a compulsion, the simple terrifying phobia I have developed about gaining weight.

My relationship with food and weight loss isn’t because I want to look like some super star in a magazine or attract a man, it never was. This began as a teenager when I was bullied for being overweight and decided to do something about it, lose weight or kill myself. When I did manage to lose weight the thought of ever going back to that dark place was so terrifying that gaining even a gram was unacceptable, in fact I needed to keep losing a few, just in case… Of course that spiralled out of control quickly and soon I was in the grips of Anorexia.

Lots of things happened after that, long story short I moved out of home at 16 and met the love of my life, that relationship saved me in so many ways, I slowly stopped caring about my weight, I was truly happy, one thing led to another and at 17 I was expecting my first child. That pregnancy forced me to give up my vegetarianism due to anemia and that let me cut my final tie with the weight obsession that had owned me for so long.

Over the years 3 more children followed, my weight issues came back from time to time but only in a mild manner, I was able to acknowledge that I didn’t want to go back to that place and chose to eat in a more health conscious manner to avoid excessive weight gain.

Although my weight issues weren’t taking over my life I was still waging war on myself, I had always been at the mercy of my moods, I was generally fairly content and had no reason to complain at all however I would go through months of severe suicidal depression which I tried very hard to hide from the outside world, I had the perfect life after all I shouldn’t be unhappy, it was WRONG to feel that way. In stark contrast to these bleak times I would sometimes find myself so increadibly happy and grateful for the things that I had, my spiritual oneness with nature would bloom and blossom, I would make it my mission to inspire those around me, I would join groups and committees and come up with hundreds of brilliant and grand ideas that I would stay up all night filling notebooks with lists and lists of the things I would do and achieve, telling anybody that would listed all about them.

I went through different phases and tended to spend too much money for our meagre budget on these things, like the time I spent $2000 on Christmas lights after seeing a house all lit up on TV and deciding that I could DEFINITELY win that competition the following Christmas. The time I joined AMWAY which my family and friends have kindly never spoken of again, or that time when I decided that I was going to immerse myself in learning how to cook – a task I have always loathed – so I looked up and saved hundreds of recipes off the internet, I went and bought a stack of expensive pots and pans and cook books and made spreadsheets and lists of menu ideas putting them in catagories. This phase, like all the others ended when eventually I would burn out from trying to do absolutely everything on my list at once and plunge into another deep depression as I was a failure who couldn’t do anything right and generally rather broke given the unwarranted spending on my latest failed venture.

Fast forward several years of similar scenarios and I finally cracked it totally, I went through one of my energetic excited learning phases when I got a new job, this started out great as my bosses loved my enthusiasm and drive and the fact that I was inspiring others too, I won a stack of office awards and life was peachy, then the depression hit again this time was different though, I was still energetic and felt electricity running through me but simultaneously wanted to die. I won another award and hated myself for getting it, I knew I didn’t deserve it, the other staff were whispering about me behind my back and how I was the teacher’s pet. ( A few childish types really were)

 I didn’t trust anyone, they were all against me. I started getting really forgetful, I couldn’t control my thoughts their fast pace I usually used to my learning advantage had gotten out of control, I would sit staring at my work not having a clue what I was doing, I was struggling to remember my name. In order to concentrate even a little bit I had to put headphones on with fast paced dance music, this seemed to occupy the part of my mind that was running away from me and let the other part get a little bit of work done.

Every lunch time I would go for a fast walk to get the energy out and try and hopefully lose a bit more weight while I was at it– I couldn’t control my thoughts but I could control my eating. I didn’t want to sit with my colleagues, they would notice I wasn’t eating and whisper about me even more. I would walk up the little hill and work out the best place to go to die, should I run down to the highway and jump in front of a truck? If I popped out just past the bridge they wouldn’t see me so definitely wouldn’t have time to stop, I didn’t want to fuck it up and end up quadriplegic or something.

Just as Christmas approached it got too much, I thought my head was going to completely explode, I was fairly aware I was going crazy and trying desperately to hide it. I had to go to my in-laws for a big family Christmas do on Christmas eve and I was terrified, I could barely construct a sentence, they would surely know something was up, they couldn’t know, they could never know. The only solution I could come up with was killing myself before Christmas eve.

In a brief moment of clarity I thought perhaps I should see my Dr, so I rang to make an appointment but she was away. I then asked a friend if I could have the number of a psychologist she was seeing, she wasn’t available until after Christmas. So fete had spoken, suicide it was.

I dreamed up several different ways of performing the act which were all dependent on circumstance, I guess I knew I was nuts because I had a paranoid fear of people trying to lock me up in the psych ward and most of my suicide plans involved escape scenarios and fast acting suicide for that exact situation.

My favourite scenario at the time was to do 180km into a particular tree I had picked out. I was doing a lot of high speed driving, the 100km speed limit of my daily journey to work and back felt like snail’s pace to my racing mind and so I tended to float around the 140 mark and on a quiet stretch where the police don’t hang around I tended to do 160 to 180km p/h I had a personal goal to hit the 200km but I kept running out of road.

I had decided that 180km into the tree should be enough to kill me, retrospectively 100km was probably enough but it felt so slow at the time that I remember thinking I would be lucky to sprain an ankle at that low speed.

The trouble with Christmas time, is that our family has A LOT of birthdays in December, so trying to pick the optimum day to kill yourself that wont make the death anniversary on or too close to a birthday proves very difficult. I felt bad for the kids and thought that if I knocked myself off before Christmas it would screw up Christmas for them as someone would have to arrange a funeral and insurance etc so ppl might forget to give them their presents.

So I decided I needed to wait until after Christmas and try my very very hardest to get through the holiday period without giving away my position.

This post is becoming very long and drawn out, but after one failed suicide attempt I did make it through Christmas, My birthday, New Years and just barely my sons birthday in Jan – which there is a post somewhere on here about, the rest is pretty much documented below.

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