Faith, mental health

Everything gets bad again. (and, an optimistic life spoiler)

I was sitting in bed the other night, half doing a strange combination of things, scrolling through Tumblr, listening to whatever music came up next on shuffle, reading. Mostly thinking. There’s always this strange period of time, a kind of limbo, between taking my night meds and when they actually kick in properly and I fall asleep. My brain goes to strange, tired places.

I was thinking. Foggy, floating, staring at the ceiling.

The last few weeks have been the best I’ve had in a very long time. I’ve felt mostly human, at the beginning of June I almost thought I was about to begin this super cliche process of self-discovery. I know, lame.

This isn’t an entirely uncommon process. After a messy few months I start to become human again, I feel like I’m finally able to crawl out of bed in the morning, get dressed, and brush my teeth, even if I have nowhere to go. Amazing, particularly when I look back to the days I’d be dragging myself to an appointment dressed in whatever I’d slept in, messy bun and makeup free in the least chic way possible. 

This other place is kind of freeing. Anxiety is at a low hum, and I consider doing things purely because I enjoy them. Living.

This blissful (probably boring, generally mundane) existence will continue on for a few days, a week or two. I start planning what living as Britts could actually be. And then something will happen.

A particularly bad panicSuddenly, panic attack that I just can’t keep hidden. It will shake me up, but I’m feeling pretty resilient, so I’ll mostly brush it off and go for a ~healing walk~ or some other lifestyle guru type activity.

A few days will pass. I’ll wake up feeling low. Not sure why. Just…meh. Shake it off, drink some coffee, listen to some music that makes you feel like you could punch someone and win, even though you’re only like five foot something and quite weak. Empowering.

Then things will start to happen. A fight or something. Whatever. Oh shit, am I crying? Did I just have that thought?

Panic. Bounce back, but not quite as high as before.

I’m still there on the outside, but everything is starting to taste like orange juice that someone has added too much water too. 

More and more dominos begin to fall. One thing leads to another.

The next thing you know you’re so numb you’re sitting in the dark doing nothing, not even bored, just…there.

Or you’re completely drunk by yourself, throwing bottles at rocks because everything is just so bad and way too much.

And then you’re sitting in a taxi with your psychologist on the way to hospital.

This was meant to be my year. I was getting better. Things were going okay.

I’m not really surprised. I saw it coming however many weeks before when I didn’t bounce back quite as high. You feel the pressure building in your chest until gradually it’s just too much. Again.

This ridiculous cycle has become my life. It is what it is, but it still scares me. It makes me sad. 

I have a period of time when the prospect of everything falling to pieces is particularly terrifying. This is the point where I do the traditional cry yourself to sleep thing. Everything is a whole lot of nope. Enter the ‘God if you make things go the way I need (want) them to I promise I’ll never swear again. Or get drunk. I will never touch Pimm’s again.’ prayer. And like, I know that’s not how things work, my faith is not transactional, but for a few hours I’m sure as hell going to try and pretend it is.

Eventually, I’ll get out of this particular patch because all my energy will be devoted to just existing.

The fear is real, though. I can feel the bad thoughts slipping through, talking over my wise mind, and it’s hard to not just accept that things are never going to change.

Fall down seven times, stand up eight. But now your knees are skinned and you’re still pretty bruised from when you fell down the fifth time. And then you fall down again. You spend about ten minutes just trying to collect yourself. You’ll stand up, but it’s exhausting and you might need something to lean on.

Exhausting. Discouraging. Is it even worth it? I don’t want to do this again.

I don’t think I can do this again.

Please don’t make me do it again.

The other night, in my medicated, foggy brain, God spoke over my anxiety.

He’s got it.

A throwaway line. God’s got it. Yeah alright. Thanks.

No. Stop. For half a second. Stop rationalising. And panicking. And Bargaining.

(Like honestly Britts, you’ve just worked through all five stages of grief in ten minutes and you’re about to get started right back at denial again.)

God knows.

I used to hate Psalm 139 because it was the Psalm given to every insecure teenage girl during my private school life. It was like a band-aid for angst.

But now I love it. Because I get it. It’s not about accepting your body because just because God made it. It’s not about being fearfully and wonderfully made so shut up about how ugly and unwanted you feel.

It’s about being known.

God knows.

All the days ordained for me were written in his book (v 16). Not just the days where everything is going well and I look like a proper Christian girl. Not just the days when I’m listening to Hillsong and just totally in awe of how great God is. He knows about the bad days when I feel too empty to get out of bed, when I’m so anxious that I want to smash my fists into the wall, when I yell at my parents, when I’ve had too much to drink, when I haven’t cried in three months because I’m too numb, when I decide to quit youth ministry, when I’m sitting by myself in a hospital watching someone search my bags.

The next few months of my life are completely uncertain. Obviously, this isn’t a situation unique to me, no one can actually know their future, mental illness aside. You could be living the best version of your life and still have no idea what the future actually holds. The best-laid plans of mice and men and all that. And that is scary.

Sometimes I forget that God knows the whole story. The ending is already known. Despite the shitstorm that the middle might feel like, his people don’t come out second best. Spoilers.

He knows. He’s there. The darkness isn’t dark to him, and I will be okay.

I’m tired, I’m scared, I’m confused and a little bit lost, but I am not alone. Sometimes that is all the reassurance I need. The God of peace is with me

(Someone should probably tag me in this post when I’m next despairing.)

All my love,

B.

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