My darkest hour.
Recent events have provided me with the opportunity to reflect on my past. It’s not an easy thing to do for a number of reasons – shame, guilt and fear, to name but three – but, on the flip side, it does allow me to see just how far I’ve come. But this post isn’t about me telling you how great I am now (because I’m not, I’m just better than I was). No, this post is an attempt to describe how things were at my very lowest point. A point in my life that I refer to as my darkest hour, but in reality it was much longer than an hour….maybe months, possibly even a year.
Let’s start with the way I felt every time I woke up during this period. In a word – Awful. Really fucking awful. The first feeling was dread, followed by a mixture of nervousness, anger and self loathing on a continuous loop throughout the day. My heart would be beating fast and my lungs felt like bricks – almost constantly. My internal monologue would be something like:
“Oh, shit. I’m awake. How the fuck am I going to deal with this? How will I even get out of bed? How will I talk to people and not appear a jibbering mess? Will I get to see tomorrow?”
Yep. Every time I woke up.
I’ve neglected to refer to waking up as an exclusively morning based activity – simply because it wasn’t. During this period my waking may have been in the middle of the night, could’ve been lunchtime, sometimes dinner time, or on the rare occasion I would wake at the more conventional breakfast time. My sleep patterns were shot to bits. The flat I was living in was near a school and I’d be woken by the sounds of the kids chattering as they went past, the trouble was I didn’t know if they were on their way to or from school – it could’ve been 9am or 3pm. I didn’t know, and I didn’t care. I dreaded waking up, whatever time. And whenever I did wake I was filled with dread. Feelings of dread that were exaggerated by binge drinking, miss-use of sleeping pills and antidepressants, or a day spent curled up on a mattress in a darkened room. Sometimes all three. During my darkest days I would do whatever I thought I could to numb the constant state of dread I lived in. Of course, the reality is that these things only made it worse. Much worse.
Why was I even in this position? I was a guy in his early twenties living in the spare room of somebody else’s flat, sleeping on a mattress on a floor, drinking like a fish, taking sleeping pills in the middle of the day and living on beef and tomato pot noodles. I had no job, no car, no money and no girlfriend (months earlier I’d had all of those things). The answer? Anxiety. Little old anxiety put me there. Or more specifically my inability to accept, understand and deal with an anxiety disorder. All I knew was I felt like shit from the moment I woke until the moment I eventually fell asleep. I just wanted to not feel like that. I just wanted to feel normal (whatever that is). I tried everything I could to escape that world but all it really did was make it darker, scarier and very very fragile. I’d pushed away everyone close to me in pursuit of numbness. At my very lowest my personal possessions were a couple of bags of clothes, a radio and little else. I was so close to having nothing at all that it scares the living shit out of me to reflect on it. I had everything and turned it in to nothing in the space of months. That was my darkest hour.
That was over 10 years ago and I’m incredibly grateful to be able to reflect on it as a shit period in my life and little more. Some people aren’t so lucky. Some people fall and don’t get back up. If you are struggling with your mental health please reach out. #beheadstrong