Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Simple things which become hard when you're mentally ill

I try to be open about the fact that I am mentally ill, mainly because I think it's important to fight the stigma attached to mental illness. Also because honesty is absolutely the best way to fight 'the lying disease.' That said, there are times when I simply am not up to dealing with conversations about mental illness. When I don't have the energy to grit my teeth and explain for the nth time why I can't 'just snap out of it.' Times when I simply don't have it in me to try and prove to someone that my illnesses even exist in the first place. There are times when even the simple things in life seem to take energy, motivation and skills that I just haven't got.

When I say simple things I really do mean simple. Things which people do every single day. Take the morning for example. A fairly normal morning routine might go as follows: Get up. Shower. Get dressed. Eat breakfast. Brush teeth. Simple, right? Wrong. Let me talk you through my morning.

Get up

I wake up tired and sort of blank feeling, with the thought that nothing really matters. I consider the fact that this thought should bother me but somehow I can't care enough to, well, care. I know I should get up but I don't see the point. Plus my limbs feel heavy, too heavy to move. I try, but I can't move my legs. Panic sets in. I can't move! I concentrate on moving my foot and manage to twitch it a little. I'm not paralysed, there is nothing wrong with me. I can move. For some reason this fact has bursting into tears. I sort of wish it was impossible for me to move, then no one could expect  me to do such impossible things as get up and go out and do things that seem, in this moment, to be beyond me. I cry myself back to sleep. Next time I wake up I manage to drag myself out of bed but once I've done that I don't know what to do with myself.


Today is not a day for being naked. I don't want to see my ugly flesh, my stretch marks, my scars. I don't want to have to touch and handle the fat which I know will have make me quite literally sick. I am not sure today that I will have the strength to resist the urge to take a razor to my hated body. I skip the shower for the third day in a row. I am starting to smell a bit but again, I can't summon up enough energy to care.

Get dressed

I still haven't managed this today. Partly it's the thought of being naked again, even briefly. Partly it's because being in my bed clothes is sort of my safety net. It's like being snuggled up in the safety of bed all day long and I'm not ready to give it up yet. Besides, now that I've missed work (again) there's no reason to go out so what's the point?

Eat breakfast

Meals are difficult. First you have to go to some effort to make them happen. For me to eat breakfast this morning I would have to first wash up. I stare blankly round the kitchen for a bit. I know I need to eat. I can't afford to skip meals without risking a fall back into my disordered eating patters, plus I am meant to take my medication with food. I do some washing up but can't summon up anything even close to an appetite. Instead of eating I take my tablets with a sip of water and go back to bed.

Brush teeth

I realise I haven't done this yet after I have climbed back into bed. What's the point? I haven't eaten anything. I am never going to eat anything again. Or do anything again. I am going to just lie here and sleep until I am dead. On some level I know this isn't true but it seems to make sense at the time. I go back to sleep.

On a day where I do have the energy and motivation to do these simple things they are still hard. By the time I have left the house in the morning I am often already worn out. Some days, like today, they seem beyond me.

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