Some days are better than others. I came to terms with that a long time ago. However, when the bad days outweigh the good, when you have to take time off work because your head is too full of negativity to the point where you don’t have confidence to do your job to the level you want to, that’s the moment I realised I had to take a step back.
The first piece I wrote for Vent went down better than I ever thought it would. I’m really proud of it, and I’m so grateful to Vent for allowing me the space and platform to share my story. There was a part of me that thought being open and honest would make my own issues easier. People are clearly there to support me, outside of my family and friends.
I was wrong.
The hardest part is still having to be the rock. Knowing there are people in my family, who I care about, that are struggling with their own mental health makes me want to do everything I can to support them. Real life gets in the way, sure. I can’t see them as often as I’d like or have the meaningful conversations that I want to because I have responsibilities. But they know I’m always there.
That is exactly what I want. It’s how I need them to feel. But it can sometimes be a struggle. There are days where I can’t process how they must be feeling because I can barely process how I’m feeling.
These days, the part of my mind that I used to feel myself ‘slipping’ into is a place that I am all too aware exists. Dragging myself back into the positive hurts. I have a face that I need to keep on at work, around my family. My boyfriend is amazingly supportive and, whilst I don’t have to hide how I’m feeling to him, I can’t always keep the darkness at bay. I sit, seemingly in a bad mood, trying to enjoy our evenings together. But I’m stuck in my own head.
Recently, it all became a bit too much.
Nothing specific triggered it, but there were days where I felt physically ill at the thought of having to approach the next morning and be the version of myself that people expect. My anxiety was through the roof, I felt like crying. Having to leave the supportive blanket of my home and my boyfriend and enter the real world on a Monday was my biggest fear.
On a Tuesday morning I had my weekly catch up with my boss. We discussed our usual business, what’s happening with the company and my team, and then he asked me how I was. And, for once, I was honest. I’m not okay.
I went home early that day and took the next day off. I made time for myself, I caught up on the couple of episodes of Doctor Who that I’d missed. I went for a walk across the city to get breakfast and walked the long way home. I felt guilty for having the time off, just to ‘sort out my own head’. But during that time away from the ‘real world’, I had a moment where everything became clear.
I got home from the walk and opened the notes app on my phone, and four lists appeared.
What makes me happy?
My boyfriend, my best friend, going on Adventures, reading, watching TV, playing video games, writing & creativity.
What can I do to amplify these?
Plan more weekend activities, get my passport for bigger adventures and to visit my best friend, find more time to watch new TV shoes and play games, start writing again!
What gets me down or frustrates me?
Money & Career, my weight and appearance.
What can I do to combat these?
Invest time in building up writing, producing and screenwriting skills, eat well, exercise more.
Once it was written in front of me, with actual, actionable goals, it made me realise that it is actually achievable. I can recognise what helps me out of the darkness and what can cause me to slip. I know what to do to boost the good and try and remove the bad.
My advice? Try and find the things and people in your life that can bring you out of the darkness. Recognise them. Try and use them.
Since needing to take time from work to deal with my mental health problems, I’ve considered getting professional help. After so many years of dealing with it myself, after so many years of ‘there are other people who need those services more than me’, I’m starting to feel like it could help.
I’m ready to be me but I know the struggle continues.
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