Now, I’ve been dealing with my mental health – the good, the bad, the seriously ugly of it for so long now that I’ve seen my fair share of bad days. Every one is different. Every one is tough. Every one is dangerous if not handled with care.
Back in what I call the ‘bad stage’ I had constant back-to-back bad days that spiralled me deeper and deeper into my own black hole. The black hole my mind had created for me that didn’t let any light in, the black hole that consumed me, the black hole that stripped me of any self worth. I’m not that girl anymore though, not fully. For the past few months, I can safely say I’ve been doing well, even though the black hole has always been there in the back of my mind. Sometimes though, I have bad days with my mental health. The black hole likes to remind me it’s still there.
It’s taken me a while to distinguish just a bad day from a mental health bad day. On a bad mental health day, nothing is ever particularly wrong – nothing I can pinpoint. But I feel numb and sad. I feel sluggish. I feel slow and confused. But mostly I’m just really sad. Super sad. Bad days make me anxious and paranoid about every little detail – every message, every word, every thought gets twisted. Bad days make me feel so overwhelmingly alone but unsure if I actually want people around me. Bad days make hiding in bed seem like the only option. I don’t want to do anything but wait for it to be over. And I hold in tears for a long time. And then they come. And I fall asleep with this dull ache that I hopefully don’t have in the morning. And if I look after myself, I don’t.
This used to be the regular outburst back in the bad days. Big, ugly, gurn-like, ploppy tears and an achy heart that made me want to lie down and wait for the world to stop. But I’m a busy woman now, the world doesn’t stop for a day. I rarely find a day to myself.
It scares me when the black hole jumps out of nowhere and gives me a bad day like I used to have but I get through it. I’m unprepared. It feels strange and nostalgic being in this low place that is somehow so familiar but also not really at all. It’s overwhelming to be back where I was, surrounded by early teenage worries and insecurities, surrounded by memories of terrible friends and having no real motivation. I am terrified of how I can be completely fine one day then crying because I’m not comfortable being in the world the next.
So now, the bad days are different because when they happen I have to push through them. So on a bad day, when I still have to live my life, this is what I do: I get comfortable. I get up as late as I can before I need to get ready. I take all my medication, wash my face, look after my skin. I wear makeup if it’ll make me feel better, I don’t if it won’t. I pull my hair out of my face. I wear something comfortable. I work hard, I distract myself, I don’t let my paranoia and anxiety hold me back from the things I know I’m capable of. I get some tea or some iced tea. I take pain killers if I need to. I get through the day by any means I can, stopping for air, letting myself sit down for a while, excusing myself from a situation. I make sure I eat. I make sure I always have water. I listen to the music I need to hear on the way home. Sometimes I watch something. Sometimes I read. Sometimes I find comfort in poetry. Sometimes silence works. I avoid social media. I curl up in a blanket. I sob down the phone to my best friend like a baby. I let everything out and I am not embarrassed by it. I try to find the source of the pain but I never do. I take care of myself. And when it’s all over, I sleep. And I wake up, for another busy day, knowing I can and will handle a bad day the best I possibly can. That it will not take hold of me. That I am stronger than I give myself credit for.
It’s easy to give in. To take that day off. To catch up later on your chores and social responsibilities. To stay away and hide all day. Sleep is good, it’s different to laying in bed all day and feeling like you’re controlled by your mental health. You mustn’t let it take you because the more bad days you let win, the more they pop up. And suddenly you’re back where you were, your character development scrapped. It’s so important to know the signs, to know when it’s crawling back. Knowing when your mental health is taking over and when the black hole is opening back up just makes it easier to manage. I know what brings me into the good days again.
I think I’ll be one of those people who always battles with her mental health. Albeit a strong, successful and motivated woman, but one who is living with depression and anxiety every single second of her life. But it’s totally okay, not to be okay as long as you take care of yourself on the bad days.