So, I’ve been away. Since August. Now I’m back from a bout of mental illness. A full-on, stinking, steaming, absolute mud-pat of depression and OCD. Despite having had it before, I did not catch it quickly. I did not heed any of the warning signs. I was frantic with anxiety, headlocked, relentless bullets of disordered and, frankly, insane, thoughts showering down on me thousands of times a day.
I was stuck ruminating on a decision I had to make, swinging back and forth every second of every hour of every day. I spent hours upon hours looking for ‘evidence’ to support my decision – a decision which I randomly imposed on myself and didn’t even need to make. I couldn’t write (this will be a poor post, I still can’t) and could barely speak. I went for a brain scan because I thought I had a tumour, thinking it could be the only explanation for my behaviour.
I cried, often. I kept bursting out into tears. My children were worried. Mummy, don’t cry. Everything is ok. They said this several times. It was confusing to them, these periods of crying for seemingly no reason. I became consumed by a desire to sleep during the day so I could escape the hell in my head. I cried in front of neighbours, I cried in front of strangers. I told everyone who so much as looked at me the full extent of my worries, explaining my problem in rambling, anxious and disordered speech.
I thought about death – how useless I was anyway, how I’d failed at everything in life, how I’d totally messed up, missed opportunities, made the wrong choices. My brain kept circling back to The Decision. It throttled me. It went on and on, I was drowning, choking, covered in the relentless muck of rumination.
Then, in the black pit, in the stifling dark, in the bleak horror of the unbroken night, I realised that I was in full flight, I was up there, I was gone: I was peaking in an utterly useless and tortuous bout of obsessive compulsive disorder. Brick by brick, since the beginning of this pandemic, I’d been building my house of ‘safety’. I’d been accumulating ‘evidence’ of how to ‘get through this.’
I called the doctor, and started taking an antidepressant immediately. Within a few weeks, the brick house revealed itself to be smoke and mirrors. The ‘evidence’ fell away, for how can there be evidence when the proposition being examined isn’t based on reality? There was no problem, there was no decision to be made. The hailstones of thoughts stopped. They just stopped; they went away.
I’m not a fan of pills. I started meditating some years ago because I believe there has to be a better way to manage your mental health than numbly taking a white tablet every day. However, I caught this just in time. The fact that a pill took away such a prolonged and dangerous onslaught of disordered thinking has made me reassess my attitude to medication.
Sometimes it’s necessary.