Aside from the crying, the self-harm, the loss of hope and the suicidal thoughts, depression has changed everything. These are just some the things mental illness has done to me:
- made me indecisive. I question every decision and it takes me longer and longer to make a decision. I have dithered so long over work offers that I’ve lost out. Or I have been so unable to decide whether I will or won’t accept a job offer that I’ve turned it down simply because I feel bad about how indecisive I’m being.
- When I make a decision, there’s no guarantee I’ll stick to it. I have booked holidays and cancelled. I have arranged to meet people and cancelled at the last minute. I sign up for courses and never go.
- made me feel worthless. I look back on my life and constantly regret every decision. I can see no point in my existence – in the past, now or in the future. I don’t see any reason why I should exist. There is no reason.
- made me feel lonely. This is a contentious one because being so ill has highlighted the tiny number of people I have that I can rely on even a small amount. There is no one I can rely on to look after me (unless I told my parents, which is not an option). So in that sense, my isolation is not simply a belief; it’s a fact. However, I have been in this situation for my whole adult life and never felt it so keenly before. Maybe I should edit the bullet point to “make me realise I am alone”.
- saddled me with a complete lack of focus. It’s five tabs open on a computer at once, flicking between them every five seconds. Start one thing, move to the next, back to the first, start a third, start a fourth, back to the third, back to the third, on to the second, and the first… It’s starting to unpack the shopping, then heading off and putting the washing in machine, then checking Facebook, then unpack a bit more shopping, then clean the kitchen worktop, then put bread in the toaster, then put the washing machine on, vacuum, clean the sink… It’s round and round, mind going 100 miles an hour, never stopping.
- made me totally paranoid.
- made me frightened of everything. Too many people in the supermarket, someone looking at me on the bus, anything unexpected, staying in one place, going to a new place, routine, lack of routine, phoning anyone, silence, the present, the future… everything
- made me physically ill. Apart from the self-inflicted injuries, there are aches and pains in the neck and back and shoulders. There’s the loss of appetite and then the never-ending hunger. There is the heaviness that accompanies the insomnia, the scratchy eyes and aching limbs.
- made me question my place in the world (and quickly come to the conclusion that I have none)
And I am empty and lost and so tired. That’s what mental illness has done to me.