This is probably one of the most personal pieces I will ever publish but I decided to share my mental health experiences as it is a topic that is still surrounded by an air of discomfort. I think it’s important to share our stories because these things are more common than we would expect and it is imperative that those of us who do have negative experiences with mental health do not live these in isolation. And if that is you, you are not alone. So here’s part of my story.
For years, I’ve been fighting with myself. A battle that is futile, one I’d already lost before it had even begun. There are days that I can’t drag myself out of bed, no matter how hard I try. In my younger years, I had to get creative when it came to explaining to my parents why I couldn’t go to college. The truth is, I didn’t even know what was wrong with me. I just always felt… empty. Hollow. And the days that I did get out of bed were a real struggle. Like clockwork, I always woke up at 7am. Waking up was easy. Getting up was the hard part. In my mind, I’d always plan my day. What I wanted to do and how I had to do them but when it came to getting up it always felt like something was weighing me down and somedays, that something won. This has been a recurring thing for 5 years now.
Now that I’m in university, I practically live by myself. I always thought the problem was at home, maybe I felt caged or something. I managed to convince myself that it was all in my head and once I got to uni, things will definitely be better. I’ll get out of bed on time (after hitting snooze a few times), do everything I planned on doing and more. I’ll stop feeling empty, live my life as normal as I possibly could and I’d be better. But the opposite happened.
Initially, the excitement of a new beginning kicked in. I love my course immensely so the struggle to get out of bed wasn’t as bad as it was in college. This doesn’t mean it was easy, just that it was easier. A new year began, 2016 and I was convinced that I was better. That is until I decided to let myself feel. I’ve always been the kind of person to push my emotions aside and do things “logically”. Whenever something happened, I rarely dwelled upon it. It happened, life goes on. Nothing I felt would have changed the situation so why waste my time and emotions on something I couldn’t change or control? That being said, I didn’t hate emotions. In fact I encouraged everyone around me to express theirs but when it came to me, I felt like they made me weak. And what I had learnt from life to date was that I couldn’t afford to be weak. I always had to be the strong one, it had become second nature to me. So much that I still have a problem expressing my emotions in front of people. I hate feeling vulnerable. Anyway, I decided to be more receptive towards my feelings and that’s when it happened. It was like I unlocked Pandora’s box. The things I had locked away in my subconscious mind resurfaced at full force and the emptiness I felt before was replaced by pain. An excruciating agony that sometimes physically cripple me.
I remember one day, I went to a basketball game on campus with friends. It was cool, our team won, we were happy. I had on a smile, I almost felt alright. But as soon as I got back to my room and I locked my door, I burst into tears. I fell to the floor and just cried. To this day, I have no idea what set me off. The harder I cried, the more pain I felt. I don’t know how long I was on the floor for but I managed to drag myself into my bed, kicked off my shoes and I sobbed myself to sleep. That was a Saturday. I was like that in my bed for days. I missed all my lectures for that week, hardly ate anything, I didn’t even leave my room, turn my lights on or open the curtains. Thank goodness I had some snacks in my room. I literally only got up when I was bursting to use the toilet. Didn’t bother picking up my phone when anyone called me but occasionally, I would reply to messages so my friends didn’t get suspicious or start worrying about me. During that period, I didn’t know what I was. I just existed.
Since that week in January, it’s been a cycle though it is not as bad now as it was then. I’d have a few good days and then I was back to my isolation and permanent state of exhaustion. All I wanted to do is sleep, I didn’t want to be awake. Sometimes I find myself thinking what life would be like if I slept and never woke up. Maybe this pain that I feel, this darkness I cannot explain will finally leave me alone.
I’m battling my demons but I don’t think I can win without losing myself.
If you want to, please leave a comment because it’s only through conversation that we can better ourselves.