Today I am not okay

For the last 2 months my mental health, specifically social anxiety, has been deteriorating and last night I was in hospital.

It was voluntary. I was scared I would do something stupid and permanent. I needed to be somewhere safe from myself.

I had to discharge myself early because my aspie hypersensory issues were starting to show the early warning signs of meltdown. Hospitals are not autism friendly places but I sincerely appreciate the nurses and drs respect for my decision not to accept drugs. I am always wary of the adverse side effects of autism and drugs.

(Disclaimer: I do not recommend refusing prescribed drugs. This is my personal choice. Natural recovery is bloody hard work and requires 110% full-time commitment and a lot of strength. However, I do suggest talking to your care professional about complimentary natural therapies and using drugs only short-term until you’re back on your feet. Schizophrenia and manic depression require ongoing assistance balancing chemicals in the brain, 100% natural recovery is NOT an option)

The psychological pain has been as debilitating as the physical pain and last night it became too much, I could no longer cope.

I don’t want to die but I’m tired of living. I don’t have the stamina to keep fighting.

Anxiety is experienced differently for each person but hope if you do not understand anxiety now you will never understand it from lived experience. I don’t wish that on anybody. It is hell condensed into your cranium causing havoc with your senses, safety and space. It distorts reality and thought. It can feel like you are dying or that death is the only way to escape the pain and fear.

My social anxiety came back in June after the cattle road train driver tried killing me. It was manageable until November while I was still able to walk and escape anonymously to quiet and pretty places when the relapses were more difficult to walk and meditate through. But the further I walked south, into denser populations, the more often I needed to hide away. 

My ability to cope with anxiety was weakened by the increasing pain from injuries and the fear of failure brought with it. I had injuries pestering me for months but I could block the pain. It required a lot of energy and will power to manage the pain without drugs. The only times I resorted to using paracetamol and ibuprofen was when the pain started interfering with my eyesight and threatening blackouts.

The combination of pain and anxiety management was exhausting alone but I kept walking, never giving up until I could physically no longer put weight on my injuries without blacking out.

Since the day I was forced to stop and take a long rest I have battled against feeling like a failure and feeling trapped. I have started loathing myself and selfharming through comfort eating (I know where to find all the convenient vegan junk foods).

Unable to sit, stretch, exercise or even stand long enough to prepare a meal without severe pain I have not been able to self care so the decline in my mental and physical health has been rapid and feels uncontrollable.

There are many other factors at play here but I won’t go into detail except the one which almost pushed me too far last night.

I hate what I am. I live everyday knowing I am a burden on whoever has offered to give me shelter. I dream of love once I complete this walk but in reality that will never happen. Nobody needs this in their life, I will never let anyone close enough to become their burden, they will be pushed away for their own wellbeing. In 2016 I was confronted and almost crippled by loneliness. Not the solitude of aloneness I thrive on but the realisation that the people I love are far away and didn’t call to see if I was okay. To know you are not loved, are unlovable and a burden is not easy to live with so why bother. Why live if welcome solitude becomes an empty life.

Unfortunately, I have no solutions right now. I will continue to apply the therapies and activities I can do without pain and try not to stress about how much physiotherapy is costing (it will be more than $1,000) and focus on the beauty of Nature. 

I know from lived experience, surviving 3 suicide attempts and many relapses, these feelings will not last long. Tomorrow, next week, next month I will be stronger.

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Terra’s Top 10 Staying Sane

Welcome to the 2nd installment of Terra’s Top 10. Staying Sane is something many of us hope to do in this crazy world. I don’t admit to being an expert at staying sane but I’m still here right.This is my top 10.

1 Turn off the TV

Try this out, the results are amazing. Calculate how much time we lose watching TV, including movies online and catchup TV. Think of what we could be doing instead. Art, exercise, reading, family time, old fashioned game nights, study, trying out a new recipe, gardening, calling a loved one… Turn of the TV for Health

 

2 Smell the flowers

At any time during the day do you stop and smell flowers, crush a fragrant leaf in your palm or take in deep breaths of fresh air? “Take time to smell the roses” is a phrase I take literally and metaphorically. Pausing to appreciate all that life has given me, the blessings and the lessons, reminds me to be grateful I am here now. Pausing to smell flowers as I walk past a beautiful garden, picking up a freshly fallen eucalyptus leaf and crushing it in the palm of my hand, sometimes rubbing the fragrant oil on my wrists and neck like perfume, taking deep breaths of clean air full of the pungent Earthy aromas of wet soil, grass, leaf litter and bark after a storm trigger the happiness transmitters and receptors in my brain. So many times I have been walking through nature, along a wilderness coast track or through the mountains and get a thrill when a storm comes through because I anticipate the wonderful smells and how they lift my spirit.  https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200711/the-hidden-force-fragrance

 

3 Not taking myself too seriously

“I am unique, just like the rest of you!”

Seriously, life is too short. I can’t look at myself without pulling faces. If you see a Terra selfie somewhere you can be sure there were a bunch of silly selfies on my phone taken before and after. One of the sure signs of my mental health declining is the loss of my sense of humour. As an aspie (someone born with aspergers on the autism spectrum) I don’t get most sarcasm or innuendo but I love comedy and the older I get the more I can laugh at my mistakes. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/14/10-successful-people-who-_n_4262766.html

 

4 Mindful breathing

It is like meditation and mindfulness but it is all about the breath. I was taught two kinds in India back in 07 and have used them regularly since. The first I learnt in Shimla is relaxing, breathing in, filling from the bottom of my lungs to the top, holding for 10 seconds then breathing out and holding for 10 seconds. The length of time I hold increases but I remain comfortable, not like struggling underwater. I do this for 10-30 minutes when feeling stressed or over-stimulated (an aspie hyper-sensory thing). Before, during and after this practice I check my heart rate and it drops by at least 5 bpm. http://healthland.time.com/2012/10/08/6-breathing-exercises-to-relax-in-10-minutes-or-less/ The other breathing exercise I learnt was a form of laughing yoga I learnt in Kolkata. It is fun and silly and really feels good. It is very energetic starting with stretches, then yawning laughter, rhythmic laughter, belly laughter, hand shaking laughter, arm swinging, jumping, lunging, toe touching, rolling, limb shaking laughter. All the while concentrating on pitch and resonance, where in our body our laugh is coming from, ie, head, nose, throat, chest, belly and where we can feel it vibrating. I practice this while walking, without the rolling and lunging of course. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laughter_yoga

 

5 Volunteering

Altruism is great for mental health and so is meeting new people and a sense of belonging to a community or organisation. As a volunteer, and there are literally thousands of groups in Australia who only exist to help others because of volunteers, you are giving a gift of your time and skills. It can be teaching ethics through drama in schools, peer mentorship, walking wounded in emergency service training, feeding homeless, teaching English, maritime rescue, fire fighting, rescuing and raising wildlife, rehabilitating and releasing birds rescued from oil spills, rehabilitation of sensitive ecosystems, caretaking historic BnBs and bird observatories, help establish an LGBTI support program, wash and walk rescued and impounded dogs, rescue marine mammals, take shifts for a 24/7 phone hotline, crew aboard an activist ship, clean enclosures and feed koalas at a rescue hospital, drive a support vehicle for a campaign rider…these are some of the volunteering I have tried and loved. I have made many great friends through volunteering in Australia and around the world. It gives me great satisfaction giving to someone or something else in greater need than myself. http://www.volunteeringaustralia.org/wp-content/uploads/Media-Backgrounder-Volunteering-and-Happiness-The-Facts-FINAL1.pdf

 

6 Not comparing myself or my achievements with others

I grew up with a strong competitive influence on my life and never felt good enough. Even in my mid 40s I still catch myself comparing my choices, lifestyle and achievements with my old school friends. They have apartments, houses, careers, steady jobs, cars, partners, families but I know none of these things are for me because I have tried them and they made me sick. My life is profoundly different from most people, I have learnt in recent years that it can not be compared. Wanting what they have, having what they have will not make me happy. Ironically, in the last decade I have discovered that many friends think I’m the one “living the dream.” https://www.becomingminimalist.com/compare-less/

 

7 Love

I can’t really speak about intimate romantic types of love because I am not familiar with them but I do know how important it is to have friends and family you love and care about. I have both my parents, a grandparent, 1 brother and his beautiful wife, 1 sister and her husband and 7 awesome nieces and nephews. I love all of them and they love me. I think the human heart and mind is programed to love. It feels natural to love and be loved. It feels good. http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-17284/5-unexpected-health-benefits-of-love-friendship.html

 

8 Time out

For some this may be the rarest privilege of all, especially single parents, but it is sometimes the only thing that keeps us sane. Time out might be calling in for a mental health day, taking a weekend micro adventure or a massive annual leave holiday or just 30 minutes in the day to sit quietly without any phone calls to meditate or dance, walking home through the gardens instead of taking the peak hour train or sitting in the backyard with a coldie watching the sunset. Time out is simply getting away from the tedium, distractions and noise of a busy life, time to switch off the work, student or parent brain and tune out. I use time out to prevent and manage my anxiety and depression relapses and asperger meltdowns. If I fail to see the warning signs before taking time out I get sick and need more time out to recover than I would have needed to prevent it. http://www.lifehack.org/articles/featured/how-to-find-time-for-yourself.html

 

9 Saying “no”

This gets easier with practice. To put it simply, if you say yes to everything people will start taking advantage of you. Saying no can prevent burning out or having a breakdown. Decide who and what your priorities are and focus on them. http://lifehacker.com/how-people-pleasers-can-learn-to-say-no-more-often-1524324151

 

10 Flexible planning

Depending on how long you have been following The Happy Walk you will understand where I’m coming from on this one. It is one of the biggest lessons I have learnt since I started walking. In 2011/12 I meticulously planned every aspect of this walk. Since the first step in 2013 nothing has gone to plan, in fact, I have changed my plans more than I can remember. Now I have a rough idea of where I want to go and when I want to arrive and hope for the best. Removing all the pressure attached to plans makes working (or walking) towards your goals much more enjoyable. When things go wrong, which they often do, keep some flexibility built into your plans to prevent stress. I am fortunate than my cause, Lifeline, allows my itinerary to be as flexible as I need it be. http://lifehacker.com/allow-goals-to-be-flexible-to-maintain-optimism-1443893133

 

These are only 10 of many things I do to stay sane, cope, survive, manage my mental health, get by.

What are some of the things you do?

Have you tried any of these and how did they work for you?

 

Next week’s Top 10 will be fun, something uplifting and joyful. I started doing next week’s list today buy my gut told me to do Staying Sane which I hadn’t even thought about until after lunch. I hope it helps.

 

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