Mental Cages

Today is a good day to start this on, I think. Because today was supposed to be the first day of a new sort of independence for me, and ended up being one of my most confining days to date.

As of yesterday, I have been taking my anxiety medication solidly for 3 weeks, without missing a single dose. For many that may be mundane, but for me that’s quite an achievement. I find taking medication for mental health irrationally difficult, simultaneously down to past experiences with side effects, the constant, background noise level suicidal urge to overdose – which make me both itch to swallow every pill in the flat and never take another one again because I actually might do just that, so best to avoid them altogether. There’s also the obvious social stigma of having to take artificial medicines to achieve a semblance of “normality” but that bothers me far less now than it did as a teenager, and rarely comes into play anymore when I hold the blister pack in my hand and wonder if I’ll physically be able to take today’s medication. For three weeks the answer has been yes, and sometimes the question barely forms in my mind before the pill is already swallowed, and I put a victory sticker on my chart as reward for my (I think) well fought battle. Yes I am a 26 year old with a sticker chart for taking their medication, but after 6 years of overdosing, skipping weeks at a time or coming off of them altogether, this is my new method and its working.

So today I had plans. I’ve been taking my meds steadily, my anxiety is more manageable now than its ever been and I’m trying to deal with the fact that my depression is now declining again and is at one of the least consistent points I’ve ever experienced with it. Because I have PLANS. Nothing major, just get the train into the city, go and see a film I am desperate to see, get some lunch, and pick up a couple of things from the shop that I need. The kicker is, I planned to do all of this alone. Now anyone who knows me knows that I don’t do things on my own. At the most I’ll travel on a coach to see a friend, but that’s because it doesn’t require talking to anyone at all most of the time, and honestly most people on coaches are travelling solo. Plus these trips are few and far between and take a lot of mental working up to and planning for me. Nethertheless, I was going to go to see a movie and eat lunch on my own, I was determined. Right up until I woke up this morning.

Backing up again just a little, I have always had trouble sleeping. I used to sleep too deeply, but because my last partner suffered with siezures my body became more receptive to small sounds at night. Which was great when he was alive, because I could and did wake up in my bedroom at 3am to the sound of him gasping and unable to breath in my living room as he was fitting on the sofa. However he passed away last year, and I’m still a light sleeper. Baring this in mind, my downstairs neighbours decided that 00.35 was the perfect time to, I assume, rearrange their entire flat, concentrating their efforts in the room directly below my bedroom. It was gone 4am by the time I was able to catch more than a few minutes sleep at a time, and when I did I was plagued with nightmares (as I often am) and sleep paralysis.

So my plans are on hold. Hopefully tomorrow will be better. As for today, its currently 16.34 and I haven’t managed to get out of bed at all yet. Every time I think of it, I get overwhelmed with anxiety, and I have to quite literally hide under the covers for a few minutes. I need to eat, I need to shower, I need to take my medication. But physically I can’t.

Today was meant to be a new kind of freedom. But I’ve ended up in a smaller cage.

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