Why I fear the good days

I can look back on a rather full and varied life. I have had many good times, I have also had many rather unpleasant times. This is typical of pretty much every person on the planet. Physically I am better off than many, I have arrived at my forties and the only stay in hospital I have ever had was not for physical problems. As far as I know all my major systems are pumping, gurgling and churning away as intended. I am lugging around a bit more fat than I should but can still fit in 32 inch trousers. My eye sight is still good, hearing is good and other manly attributes still salute.

To all outward appearances I look like a normal middle aged man. My problem lies not in my body as such but in my little grey cells. Who knows why, genetics, environmental factors growing up, or any thing else, but somewhere along the line I became different. I have to be honest, to me every single person is different. No two people have ever made exactly the same choices, so we are all unique. However, in my case by different I mean that I do not conform to the ‘social norm’. I have difficulty with emotions, some I hardly feel, others I feel to much. I have a tendency to see things in a very negative way, I often do things with little regard to outcome. I could go on but I think you see the picture.

Trying to fit in to the ‘norm’ is a daily struggle, I can have very good days, I can have okay days, I can also have days where even getting from bed to sofa is an achievement. For many years I went through my cycle, crash followed by a period of recovery. This was then followed by an intense burst of activity usually a new job which inevitably led to self destruction and another crash. The problem with the crashes are they tend to involve some form of self harm. Drugs, alcohol, cutting, suicide attempts I have done them all. I never want it to happen again, I fear that it will.

My biggest problem is the period of time when I seem to fit the ‘norm’. I will become intensely involved in a new job, or a new hobby, sometimes both. I have learned to play to my strengths, I can talk. I am also quite good at working outside the box, I can think on my feet, come up with good ideas. Almost from the outset though I will be setting myself up for failure. I would take on more work than I could do, good ideas would be left dangling. I would enjoy the thrill but in the back of my mind I would start doubting myself. The little snowflakes of doubt would slowly start to gather until the inevitable avalanche. As I have said, to look at me you would think nothing was wrong. However this is my most vulnerable time, when I forget that I am ill.

The stigma for me starts within. Having been diagnosed with epilepsy in my twenties, and letting that ruin me, the thought of any other problem was to much to face. I hated feeling that I was different, hated feeling that I could do things but was not allowed. For over twenty years I ignored the fact that there was another problem, something more than just epilepsy. I would just let it eat me up and destroy me, over and over again. I never told anyone how I was feeling, I would die alone each time.

The difference this time is that rather than ignoring what I was doing, I paid attention. I sought help, I started to learn, but most importantly for me I told people what I was feeling. It was kind of useful to a) not feel some emotions and b) get rather intense about things. I started a blog, I wrote, I spilled my thoughts and feelings out to the whole world. I did not care what people thought of me, I had had enough. The more I wrote, the more I came to realise that I was not alone, in fact I was helping people. The first time I received a message thanking me for writing and letting me know that they felt the same, that they were glad someone else had verbalised their feelings, I was stunned. I was not writing for attention, I didn’t care if anyone read it.

I continue to write, although not as much lately. I am slowly trying to rebuild my life again, this time with one eye on my mental state. I have decided that maybe I could do more than just share my feelings, maybe I could learn to help people directly. I am proud of what I have achieved in the past six months, I do not regret speaking out. I do not know if I will make a difference, but I may, even if it is just helping one other person. So many people hide their problems, so many people think that they are alone.

IMG_2013A middle aged man from the UK, blogger, writer, mental health sufferer and advocate.

David can be found on his blog and Twitter

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