For me, the feeling was similar to that of being completely lost. I felt detached from my surroundings and so far removed from the reality I once knew so well that I didn’t know where I belonged. So many questions plagued me. Do I truly belong anywhere? What is my purpose? Why me?
I had a dream – no, not like Martin Luther King; but a dream where I was being sucked into the sky by a force so strong and lights so bright that my body felt paralysed by the intensity of it all. It was as if my mouth had been sewn shut but I’m desperately crying for help. I was being abducted out of the sky …poof, I would be gone and nobody would know. I was petrified. I fought so hard to resist it that I awoke with a crying scream and startled my boyfriend who had been peacefully sleeping next to me.
That was the worst. The anxiety, depressed feelings and night terrors. That feeling of absolute dread and a dark cloud following me around even on the sunniest of days. I tried hard to ignore it, you know, “positive mind, positive vibes, positive life”, shake it off, solider on etc. I was pretty convincing, I almost convinced myself. After all, I had so much to be grateful for. The perfect boyfriend (fiancé even). a great job in the city, a roof over my head, steady income, festivals, holidays, family, friends, my health etc etc.
But we all know happiness is a state of mind, and my mind wasn’t quite right at the time.
I can’t say t was one thing in particular. The doctors put it down as an ‘acute stress reaction’ which subsequently lead to a psychotic episode. Never did I really understand or believe that stress could make you sick. Well, it can and I was. Years of suppressed emotions and not managing my stresses, anxious mind and the stresses that comes with working in a highly pressured industry.
Without delving into too much detail, let’s just say it go bad, then worse, then rock bottom. But it had to happen. I ended up in hospital, A&E more specifically – and yes, it was an emergency, I was losing my mind and at one point, I was convinced I was dying. I then spent two weeks on a psychiatric ward. Although the period of stay was quite short, and one of the scariest and most surreal things I’d ever experiences – it was strangely great. Time stood absolutely still and I managed to reach the places in my mind I’d never before reached.
From this point, and the rest of 2016, it was all about medication, therapy and managing my depression. It was likely I was dealing with manic depression, I had no job and I was back at home. As shit as it felt, I had the love and support of my family and god knows where I would be without them! Fortunately for me, my family surrounded and grounded me – they came with me to Buddhist classes at the local community centre (I’m not religious but I was naturally drawn to that through yoga and it really helped me). They dragged me on early morning jogs even if it was just to the end of the road and back, cooked for me and tried everything to make me smile again.
Things did eventually get better. I was fortunate enough to go on three holidays abroad during that time (with my family – parental supervision obviously). You might think, two trips to sunny Spain and bumming around on a beach on the Greek Islands sounds somewhat idyllic. You might also be thinking, ‘this girl is spoilt, or well off’. Let me assure you, I’m neither. What I am however, is very grateful. I wasn’t grateful whilst holidaying, although I felt a little joy, I was largely numb for the most part. I found it hard to join in conversations, make any effort and really just wanted to drift away peacefully in the ocean and forget everything and everyone.
I tried hard to shift those thoughts. Part of me felt (or thought, rather) that I was now broken, a failure, like a child that had gotten lost and endangered themselves and was now being kept on safety reigns. But I looked at the facts. I had no job, some savings and the support of my family. I lived in a room at my mum’s under the watchful eye of everyone (for my own sake I know) but then I was on holiday, and I could go on more holidays, in fact, I had two big ones planned at the end of the year for a close friends Hen party and wedding abroad! Maybe I could turn this year into some sort of Gap year? The one I never really took – and the one without the back pack. This would surely be like a genuine soul searching experience? But I didn’t want to spend my savings on traveling the world come back a year later and get back in that rat race committing myself to another five years of working my ass off to live, save for a mortgage, wedding and everything else! I didn’t want to go backwards but I also didn’t want to leave my friends and family for an extensive period of time.
So I took my time, moved at a much slower pace and spent time out of work just trying to get back to being me. I worked out, ate well (most of the time), went to counseling, meditated, read self help books and spent quality time with family and friends. I then decided to move back in with my boyfriend in London but I knew I didn’t want the immediate pressure of planning a wedding or finding a job. I also knew I couldn’t drink alcohol or indulge in any recreational drugs because those were some of my triggers.
I could only think and plan a week or two ahead. Any more than that I would get myself into a frenzy. It was a tough couple of months but I was determined to get back to my life and at the same time, create a better one. Struggling to figure out what I wanted to do with my time, the only thing that I obviously really enjoyed doing was traveling. It wasn’t until my suggested becoming an air hostess did I ever think about it. I had my doubts but then again, I had nothing to lose. So I decided to apply.
After absolutely everything, I got in! It felt good to be applying myself again and I was so excited to learn something completely new. It was an intense 4 weeks of training but I loved every minute of it. Now I’m here, one year on, 3 flights in and I’m starting to feel as though that huge weight that turned my whole world upside down, has finally been lifted.
If you or someone you know is suffering with the symptoms of poor mental health, please visit the following sites for more information on where to find the appropriate help and support. NHS, Mind and Rethink Mental Illness are all great places to start. If you feel you or someone you know requires immediate help, please dial 111 or call the Samaritans on 116 123 (UK).