This isn’t really easy to talk about, but it’s necessary. Maybe it will help someone who is hurting feel like they are not alone. Maybe it will help someone who loves someone who struggles with mental illness be a better ally. Maybe I just need to put it into writing so I protect myself.
A few weeks ago I woke up in the middle of a mental health crisis. This was confusing and frustrating. I went to bed normal, happy and there were literally no signs of trouble on the horizon. The horizon came though, and with it a lot of trouble. I woke up and nothing was right. I was a bad mother, friend, employee, person…I couldn’t seem to find good in my own existence.
Here’s some important information…this has happened to me before, but usually it’s a slow process. One bad day turns into two, maybe that turns into a bad week. There are plenty of warning signs and I know what to do. I know I need to see my psychiatrist, there may need to be medication adjustments. I know I need to self care and talk to my therapist. I am prepared because I see the signs, the red flags waving frantically in front of my face.
But what happens when there are no red flags? What happens when there isn’t a known trigger and you just happen to wake up in a full blown mental health crisis with no advance warning? What happens then?
My skin hurt. I woke up and my skin hurt. I woke up and I knew I was too far gone already. I tried to, or I thought I was trying to, advocate for myself.
I was on the highway and I imagined running into the back of a semi truck. Intrusive thoughts are nothing new to me, but I saw it, I felt it and I knew I was capable of doing it. Instead, I drove off the highway, parked and figured out an alternative route home where I didn’t need to use an expressway.
I really thought I was asking for help when I reached out to the people I loved and told them that I wasn’t doing well, but telling someone you are not doing well and asking for help are two very different things.
It took two weeks. For two weeks I went through the motions. I mom’d, I partner’d, I worked, I social media’d, I SUFFERED. For two weeks I felt like the end was near…and can I be very honest? It was. I know this because during that two week period the normal things that keep me going weren’t working to ground me, to save me. I love my children, but during those two weeks, the darkness was bigger than love. My best friend in the entire world has been my saving grace so many times, but during those two weeks I couldn’t find the words to tell her I needed to be saved and the darkness was bigger than my love for her. The darkness was winning.
TWO WEEKS…That’s my limit. 14 days. 366 hours. 20160 minutes. That’s my limit. I say this with certainty because on the 15th day when the fog I was living in lifted, I KNEW. I knew how people choose not to exist. I knew how love couldn’t be enough when the pain was so unbearable. I knew that two weeks was my limit.
So I told my partner, and my best friend and we created an emergency plan. I told my psychiatrist. I told the people I loved. Because here’s the thing. Two weeks is my limit, but that doesn’t mean that I want to die. I DON’T. But two weeks, in whatever that was will confuse you, it will make you forget your will to survive, it will rob you of all of your survival skills.
It’s been two weeks since that two weeks. My mind isn’t cloudy, I am of sound mind and body and I can still tell you that two weeks is my limit. I lived in that nightmare for two weeks and it was too much for me. There are people who live months, years and lifetimes like that. I literally cannot imagine. There are also people who live a few days like that and than cease to exist, because it was just too much… I understand this. I don’t want this, but I understand.
This world overwhelms me more than it calms me. This is just a friendly reminder to be kind to yourself and each other. If I met you during those two weeks what kind of person would you have been to me? If I smiled at you would you have smiled back or looked away? If I held a door for you would you have said thank you? Be kind to yourself and each other because everyone has a limit, mine is just two weeks.