I can hear it howling.
In the dark, from the back of my mind. It’s always there. The howl vibrates my bones and trembles my blood. And I can hear it always. A distant howling, creeping closer all the time. Always with me, never too far away. Hunting. Stalking. Creeping. There.
And it scares me. So very much. And it’s there.
When I’m awake, it’s there, from the moment I open my eyes to the time I finally close them. Sometimes it lets me close them, other times the howling keeps me awake.
Sat here, right now, as I type, putting fingers to keys, all the time I can hear it. And it’s getting louder. Pounding on my brain. A howl, a growl, a bark – an attack. And there is nowhere to hide from it.
Forgive the melodrama, but metaphor seems the best way to express this. Simply saying “I’m not well” doesn’t always elicit the expected response or full understanding, the response you’d get to a broken leg, or cancer, or simply flu. Some may find my comparison of depression to cancer distasteful, it is not meant so. It is meant only to try and cement in peoples minds that this is a very real and dangerous illness and one that affects millions of people, and one that should have the same respect and understanding.
I’ve had what I can only describe as another break down recently. It’s been creeping up for weeks, hell, maybe months. It seems to have begun its slow crawl back into my mind in May when Uni broke up. Routine gone, money situation worsened, social interaction reduced. All of these things then conspired together and my mind started to play tricks on me again. And now, here I am on the cliff edge of the Fringe and I can’t help feel that I wish I had never agreed to be a part of it.
Due to some costs for the Fringe that had to be paid for I’m going to have to make a decision- do I sell my Xbox or Projector in order to make rent this month? Hell, may have to be both just to be sure. And it may not sound like anything more than an annoying situation, but sometimes escaping into a video game is my only way of healthily getting away from reality.
But that is the least of my worries. Well, maybe not least, it’s certainly top 3. Actually, I don’t even know what my worries are, I can’t compartmentalise them or break them up. It’s just an overwhelming blanket of fear and worry. And I’m once again at my lowest point. My left arm is once again highlighted with the cuts and slashes I’ve made because the only thing I can use to release this tension, this fear, this hatred of myself is, well, myself. And I am drinking heavily again. I have to; it’s the only drug that allows me- for just a few hours- to escape from this nightmare. Prescription pills aren’t working; counselling has never worked, but alcohol. Oh boy does that work- for a few hours I feel relatively normal, the only times I’ve felt positive rushes of emotions these past few months has been whilst drinking. But they don’t last and before long I’m feeling worse- but I keep going back because for a couple of hours it’s the ONLY time I feel better. Feel positive. Feel normal.
But back the point- I’ve snapped again. I’m spending hour after hour frustrated, impatient and scared of what is coming in the next few days and I honestly don’t know how I’m going to manage those three weeks. Right now, it’s just this block of work- this whole, unrelenting cascade of stuff. And there is no escape- there is no safety zone, no comfort and no place to hide. I simply cannot do anything but do it. Is it the Fringe itself that has caused this? No. Not at all, it just happens to be there and its there at the worst possible time. The absolute fear that is gripping me in relation to this I cannot adequately put into words. But even writing about it is causing my mind to flip between this confession, the Fringe and with each flash of the Fringe there is a sideways glance at the blade to my side. As if the only way my mind can think of to deal with this is to do some physical damage. I’m not about to, so don’t worry, I wouldn’t be calmly writing about it if I were. My self harming is a spontaneous thing, not a premeditated action I sit and write about before the act.
A couple of nights ago I snapped, post after post on Facebook about my current state, breaking down and in so, so much pain. Oh that pain, I don’t think I can describe properly that pain. One of the monologues from Shattered makes a similar point- that it is difficult to explain the pain of depression to someone who has never dealt with it. But it’s agony- literal, screaming agony. And some times I have just sat and screamed at just how overwhelming it all is. I really cannot stress enough, that the right word here is pain. And agony. It is, and I know some people would find it hard to understand how something without physical signs can be painful. But it can and is. And is the worst pain because it is chronic, continuous and unforgiving.
A few months ago I had an infection in a tooth, so bad my jaw swelled to the size of a golf ball and I was in the worst physical pain I have ever been in- but that pain lasted a few days, there were ways to relieve the pain, and I was admitted to hospital to have it dealt with. I was crying with the pain, unable to sleep more than 30 minutes at a time. But I would rather have that pain again than this one. Because this one will not stop, this one cannot be treated with Codeine or a simple operation. This is here to stay and I have, reluctantly, come to terms with that. I might have months here and there of clarity and comfort but the howling, the black dog as Churchill called it, is still there. Even if it is just sleeping. And oh do I long for those times.
I know people care, but they probably care more about me than I care about me. Because I hate myself. I’ve written about it before under a pseudonym. I’ve written about all sorts of elements of my mental health, but right now it’s just so very, very overwhelming. I can’t sleep properly- I slept for three hours just this evening and here I am awake again. Sometimes I overeat, other times I hardly do. I’ve put on weight again because of my binges and inability to motivate myself to do even the simplest exercise. The most productive I can be is moving from bed to the living room to watch a movie or play the soon-to-be-sold-for-rent-money Xbox.
I just can’t see a way out, I can’t even quite bring myself to socialise again online. I haven’t posted anything to Facebook (Other than a comment on my shows wall) since the other night, when I had my breakdown. I just can’t really face doing anything more than posting this up. Right now, I don’t know what to do other than just force myself to get on with things, but I wish I had never agreed to this Fringe. Because right now, the level of fear and anxiety it is causing, as well as the financial costs, is just too much. I need to be safe and I can’t do that if I’m out every day. I don’t know how I’m going to cope, I just can’t deal with it.
People are patient and understanding, I know that, but then there’s paranoia. That’s another part of this condition. I just find it hard to trust the sincerity of people. They must be mocking me in someway. Of course they’re not, but it doesn’t stop me thinking that. The other morning my housemate was trying to talk to me- casually, relaxed, about the show we’re doing. But because of my head I was convinced she was making all sorts of criticism, ridicule and insult. Again, of course she wasn’t. But this part of my brain is in constant battle with the rational part and the rational side doesn’t always win. I’m currently a mess.
Then there are people- I can’t converse right now. I can’t be in groups or socialise- but I feel lonely and need to be around people. I need to be with people, I just don’t necessarily want to be talking. This is another issue that sounds selfish or ignorant, but it isn’t meant to be- I need to be with people, I just don’t want to talk to anyone. At all. I would quite happily sit there in the corner, quietly sipping my vimto in a crowded room with friends whilst they socialise. But then there is the inevitable attempt from caring and well meaning people who think the best thing is to try and talk to me. Sometimes I just need you to be there, that can be enough and so helpful.
I just… right now… I’m so very unwell. I just wanted to clarify my thoughts after the disjointed and angry statuses the other night. And to thank people for their kind words.
But, it’s still there. Howling.