Exactly one year ago today I left work, tears running down my face, a belly full of rage, a splitting headache and a feeling of worthlessness.
This had been building up for some time, my fitness was amazing with recent 30 mile runs for training to race at the Winter100, I even stopped in the middle of a race, my knees buckling under me, not from physical tiredness, but that of a mental anguish, my head screaming as to why I was beating myself up this way. The basics were that I was just mentally tired, the strain of the past 2 years of long hours, short deadlines, extra work hours and low esteem. This topped with [still] suffering from flash backs when in the Police of dead bodies impaled on tree stumps from a train crash, the body of a young woman smashed on the pavement at the hands of her boyfriend pushing out of a window and having taken a vicious beating with a snooker cue and boots....the horrible spectre of post traumatic stress disorder that ebbs and flows through my life. I stood on the station and screamed in my head "Normal people just don't act this way, nobody cries on a platform whilst shaking"
I have suffered this for over 20 years, the depression ebbing and flowing, knocking you like a cricket bat to the skull as it over runs your senses with a quick dig at the solar plexus for good measure. The picture above is not of me physically tired but one where I continually scowled at the world, my jaw ached from grinding my teeth, my upper lip twitched and I was angry, yes, just fucking angry at the world. This was my face 3 days after I left work, tears running down my face, a splitting headache and a feeling of worthlessness, this is the face that the Delightful Mrs S used to comment on as I sighed and moped around, here is a line in the sand when I physically and mentally shut down, call it a nervous breakdown, call it what you want. The next week I was ordered to stay at home by my doctor, a week where I slept more hours than I was awake when medication tried its best to put the lions and demons back in the cage that was my sanity.
Friends were scarce, many knowing I was "mentally" ill, some stayed close whilst others melted into the background not sure what to say when all I wanted was someone to talk to. Medication helped but muted my emotions to just being OK, a Band Aid for the mind, whilst keeping the delicate emotions safe were just that, not a cure but a temporary fix.
One year later
Yes I still cry secretly when alone in the house or on a trail run, I feel less angry with the world and the people in it, something that still harks back to the time that bastard struck me the third time across the back of head with that snooker cue as his brother stamped on the back of my knees and then my ribs. I still have panic attacks in shopping centres, if somewhat less in scale from 20 years ago but nonetheless are still present as I race to the door....."Never let them get between you and the door" I silently scream inside.
Now, with a change of medication, I find that the mute button has been switched off and whilst still feeling vulnerable mentally have seen a rise in my need to get running again, enjoy it for the freedom it gives me to silence my doubts and anxiety. I still think it funny that I can go out in the middle of the night with just a head torch, a bottle of water and a map in the middle of nowhere with no problems but become a gibbering wreck in shopping mall.
And that picture
Yes, I still scowl sometimes, I still cower away from crowds, I fear counselling as I don't want to scratch the scab that the Band Aid covers to reveal old emotions, old wounds, no...the rage I once (and still have if less evident) had, the guilt and the fears are still there and I expect will always be there.
Do not see this blog as a call for sympathy, I don't want sympathy, I don't want that.