by Sophie Turner
Breaking point; “the moment of greatest strain at which someone or something gives way.”
Tonight, I am experiencing the combinations of my mental health illnesses collide all at once (yet again) inside my head. Its like sitting in the middle of a boxing ring and being surrounded by each of my “opponents”:
- In the red corner there is anorexia – who wants me to be constantly poorly and maintain a life of restricting food, obsessively exercising, and being underweight. It tells me that I’d rather be dead than live in a ‘fat’ body that is repulsive and shameful. Its not showering and hiding in pajamas and baggy clothes so that my body is hidden from myself and the world, because if I cant bare to look at my body which makes my skin crawl, then how can I let anybody else look at my body. If I’m underweight then I will be in control which means I can control every other aspect of my life.
- In the blue there is depression – false smiles, fake laughs and pretending I’m ‘FINE’ when in reality I am numb, weak and tired of being tired. Its not leaving the house for 4 days and not having a shower because you don’t want to do anything ‘nice’ for yourself or because getting out of bed and leaving the house requires more motivation and energy than I have and because it is a terrifying prospect. Its breaking down crying and having a panic attack during the night so that no one can see or hear how much pain I am truly feeling. The feeling of worthlessness and that life is going to always be like this is why I question waking up every morning.
- In the yellow there is mood dysregulation/unstable emotions – which can sometimes be an hourly struggle. Where my mood is chaotic, my behaviors are chaotic I feel so unstable and my mind so unbalanced. I feel like I get dysregulated because I try and run away from things, that scare me, but I cant run away from my own mind, which is possibly the scariest place to be. Its like entering a labyrinth and then once your in you come across so many different paths and roots to take you may never come out till hours later. You could have just spent an hour in the maize/path of anorexia or 2 hours in the maize of self harm, its an endless cycle that for me occurs daily.
- In the green there is anxiety – based around my fears of abandonment. In a few weeks times I’m going to be discharged completely from MH services to be left on my own to my own ‘devices’. After years of building relationships and trust (something I struggle immensely with) with staff and my therapist, I will be ‘alone’. I am terrified, after being in services for too long and already being in a vulnerable place, I’m being left alone at vital point in recovery/ relapse because there is no outpatients due to money in NHS/ MH services. This makes me feel as though I am a burden on society – my ‘breaking point’ is linked with my fear of suffering alone in silence and not having any support around me. Somedays I just need to tell somebody and admit that I’m not ok, and let them know everything that is going on in my head other wise I will ‘break’, because bottling things up and coping with thoughts/urges can become too much to manage alone. After years of weekly appts I’m going to be alone. No monthly step down and reduction in services with no occasional check in to see how I’m doing. Its straight ‘cold turkey’. NHS has no money, and Mental Health still has to much stigma. Its safe to say scary doesn’t cover it.
- In the purple there is suicidal ideation and self harm – when my depression gets to ‘breaking point’ 9 times out of 10 it leads to horrendously distressing thoughts of suicide and self-harm that absolutely terrifies me, which at times I do and have acted upon. This is the part of my mental health that I feel most ashamed to talk about. It so unbelievably hard to put into words what I am experiencing and why. How do you explain to family/ friends why you harm yourself and cause yourself pain, because sometimes I don’t even understand it myself, it can be an impulsive act which cause a lot of self-destruction. Its a voice inside my head telling me I would be/ my family would be better of if I wasn’t here, it can feel so real, but I have to ask myself, is this true? Would my family/friend really be better of without me? Or would it just cause them more pain and more questioning as to why it happened? It would never put their minds at ease. It would be my mental illnesses causing more pain and chaos without me even being here.
All day, everyday I am constantly on edge waiting to take on the next opponent. There isn’t a day that goes by where I’m not fighting some part of my illnesses and my god its EXHAUSTING. Some days I don’t know who I am going to battle against the most? But I know that tonight and like many other times, I am experiencing a relentless explosion of my illnesses combining as one to “break me”. Physical symptoms such as stomach and chest tightening, my whole body shaking, the inability to breathe in a normal rhythm and the endless tears are all part and parcel of the mental distress I am feeling. Mentally it feels like there are constant explosions going off in my head, but all anybody on the outside can see are the tears, but even now I still hide these tears from the world because I’m too ashamed to admit how much I am still struggling. How do you even begin to explain to those around you the distress, anguish and pain you are feeling inside when they cant see it. Put a cast on somebody’s leg and you know they are in discomfort and pain, its visible. But these ‘invisible’ illnesses make it so much harder to talk about and treat because of the stigma surrounding mental illness. People often don’t know how to help and how to make the pain go away, they cant just put a bandage on it and say it will be better in a set time frame, that’s what makes recovery so frustrating. There is no set time, and for some recovery is a constant battle for years.
Tonight I thought I had reached my ‘breaking point’, but I have come out the other side. I am grateful I have the chance to do something new today, because each time I think I have broken, I make it through another night and come out fighting the next day. No, I don’t always feel strong and I still may not leave the house or treat myself with the kindness that I probably deserve, but I continue to fight through the hell, because I have been told that ‘the only way out of hell is through’. I don’t always believe this but I know I HAVE to if I want to reach the life I want to live and achieve the goals I set out to reach.
To anybody who thinks they are at ‘breaking point’ or are in crisis, you CAN come out the other side. You may have been at this point before and you’ve made it through, so you can make it through again I promise. You are NOT at breaking point, You have not broken and cant be fixed, because every second, every minute, ever hour is a new moment which you have just made it through, and you’ll make it through the rest.
“Your are Braver than you Believe,
Stronger than you Seem, and
Smarter thank you Think.”