In 2008 I was diagnosed with Bipolar II and was given several types of medication. It was explained to me that I could never lead a normal life and that I must avoid stressful situations at all costs. I was also told that sadly the reason I never reached my full potential was likely because of my bouts of depression but that I had done extremely well considering that there is Bipolar and Schizophrenia on both sides of my family as well as the fact that I had suffered from quite severe mental and physical abuse in my childhood which has definitely shaped the way I see the world and how I behave. I've had two breakdowns in my life, both triggered by being in abusive relationships though luckily for me, only mentally abusive. As I say this it sounds strange to say luckily...but it could have been worse. A year after being put on medication I decided to go off the meds because I had put on a lot of weight and found myself living in a fog of exhaustion, sleeping around 15 hours per day and losing my creativity, the only thing I felt I had at the time and could count on. The last straw came when so intoxicated by the medication I fell down the stairs and that was my wake up call. It was then I decided (along with the feeling of not being there and even having suicidal tendencies in response to these meds) that I would take myself off the medication and learn as much as I could about how the brain works and replace the meds with vitamins, healthy food, better living and learning how to be mindful and manage my anxiety through dabbling in buddhist teachings/podcasts and yoga. That and trying not to allow negative, damaging people into my life. (That took a few tries :P)
It's been an uphill battle but somehow I have managed to get myself through a couple of mentally abusive relationships without having a breakdown and finding the self esteem to eventually walk away as well as the difficult path of deciding to become a musician in 2010 and pursuing that path full time ever since. Last year I had a really difficult year. I didn't know how I would make it through but I am so lucky to have found an amazing person who has been there for me no matter what. I feel like in my life I never had that before so it's been sort of strange and at times I wondered what was in it for him and questioned if he had an ulterior motive. But it seems no, he doesn't. Not all people are damaged and in turn damage you. That was a revelation for me to learn. Seems like such a simple notion now and to him I am so grateful.
So I have made it this far but over the last 6 months as 2017 turned into a repeat of 2016 with money problems, car problems, housing problems and more I have been finding I am coping less and the strategies I had for making it through don't seem to be working anymore. It's become a lot harder to make a living from music because of a lot of changes in the industry (people not willing to pay for live music / venues not willing to pay / GEMA / styles / other factors) and I'm only just starting to get my head around that and working on ways to adapt so I can continue doing this thing that has saved me so many times I have lost count.
But I am struggling with life. Lately my depression feels like it's surrounding me and my anger and anxiety have become daily features of my personality which is something that makes me so sad to see after all the work I have done on myself. I've not given up, I just feel I need to express myself. It's easy to wonder what's wrong with you when on social media you constantly see posts from people who seem to be living the most wonderful lives full of happiness, success and fulfillment. It's easy to wonder, am I the only one who feels either nothing or a mild dread most mornings when I wake up? What is wrong with me? Why can't I be normal and happy and just get on with things like everyone else? That's a question I've been asking myself for most of my adult life but it stopped for a few years when I was more on top of things. Now the darn question has returned. I don't know what I am trying to achieve with this post. I just want to get it out. I also know logically I can't be the only one who feels like this or who has to live with this kind of illness that can't be cured. They told me I had bipolar. I still don't really agree because my symptoms were also partly due to being in that abusive relationship but I do know that I have some kind of mental illness, a deep well of depression that I could fall into at any moment if I am not careful. So I will keep on fighting, keep on struggling, trying to find new ways to mend myself so I can get back up again and enjoy life. I really want to enjoy life. I am different than I was in 2010. I understand that my brain doesn't always work properly and I am aware of this. I am trying as hard as I can to remember that when I start to feel the darkness climbing under my skin. I am grateful that I even have this awareness. Again it could always be worse. I am trying to focus on the positive things. There are a lot of positive things, if I could only see them sometimes…GRRR :)
If you feel the same, I hope this post brings you some comfort and maybe we can share tips and tricks. If you don't understand what it's like to live with depression then I hope my words can give you some insight as to what your friends or family may be going through and maybe you can be an anchor for them when they need some stability and someone to keep them safe until they get through the storm. Hugs to anyone who needs one. x
Oh and I should also thank my cat. Over these past 8 years he has kept me going. The touch of his paw on my skin or his little head against mine when things were really bad has given me great comfort.