Article and poem by Sarah Gill
In January 2014 just after my birthday I suffered a bit of a mental breakdown, things had been accumulating for a few weeks prior but I didn’t really understand what was happening to me.
I was tearful, sad, not motivated, edgy, tense and anxious. Despite my day job and the fact that I deal with people going through similar things I did not want to believe it was happening to me.
Some family issues/arguments happened at my birthday and I began to suffer even more. I knew I had to do something, so I went to my doctor.
I still remember the shock I got when my doctor said the words: “Are you depressed?” I thought how could I be depressed? I had a good job, great friends, a loving husband and family. I didn’t have anything to be depressed about. But I was grateful for him asking it straight out, which is his job as a medical practitioner. It gave me the opportunity to be truthful to myself. Looking at my husband’s reassuring face, who was seated next to me, I answered “Yes” and I felt an immediate sense of relief.
I was referred to a psychologist and began the recovery process. I was diagnosed with Depression and Anxiety and over the course of the last two years I have continued to struggle with my illness. There have been ups and downs since then, I was put on medication for a period when my depression was getting the better of me. But all the while I worried about what others would think so I kept it from my family for a time. On my psychologists advice I practiced mindfulness meditation and pursued my writing career. Within weeks I was doing a lot better. I recognised something was wrong, and I got help. I continue to practice mindfulness and I still see my psychologist.
This year I participated in NaPoWriMo National Poem Writing Month, and for the whole month of April I wrote a poem a day. One of those poems was about my battle with anxiety. I had never put anything on social media about my mental illness before and I was scared and ashamed about what people would say or think. But I decided to post my poem, titled ‘Anxiety’ on my blog and linked it to Facebook.
The reaction was unbelievable, everyone told me how brave I was in sharing it and told me how they were there for me if I needed. A lot of people then opened up to me and shared their own experience with mental illness. I knew then that I was not alone. I felt free, and I felt that by naming anxiety in my poem and expressing it to everyone what it felt like and still feels like at times was a way of releasing it.
I still get anxiety and suffer from depression at times, but I know how to deal with it and I am no longer ashamed of it.
It is part of who I am, it has lead me to where I am now in my writing career and my personal life. It has made me a lot stronger and opened my eyes to appreciate life.
I am fear; I am shaking; I am sweating; I am worry; I can’t breathe; I am alone; I am scared.
Anxiety consumes me, holds me hostage in a dark cave. Darkness. I cower in silence and wait.
Waiting. Suffering. Waiting and suffering. Silence.
Thoughts swirling, round and round. It never stops. But I never make a sound.
Sitting silent. Listening. Can you hear it? Inside I am screaming. But you will never know.
Too many pressures to be more than what I am.
Be healthy, be fit, be good, be successful, be accomplished, and be efficient.
Too many rules: Don’t be stressed. Don’t be angry. Don’t worry!
Try to keep positive. Stimulate my mind. Be calm. Be grateful. Be happy.
Want to keep going. Want to see it through. Every day I will battle. Need to make it through.
I see the light. The sun is shining; the sky is blue. A reminder that things will be okay.
Light beyond the dark, even when I cannot see.
Today is a better day; I am going to be okay.
To read the full NaPoWriMo collection and other pieces, please visit: https://mindofsez.wordpress.com/
Image attribution – Flickr: Practical Cures