Last week I told you about my latest mental health trouble. Another anxiety attack that I did not need. But I made the best of it ;-).
As it happens I think a lot about my life lately. Memories pop up out of nowhere. It’s not like flashbacks which get me in a bad state. It’s more that they play a lot of songs from the 60s, 70s and 80s at work and besides that attack being a reminder that I am not doing the job I am supposed to do I think they bring anxieties back from way back when… So I let the feeling guide my memories and I remember people, situations and well songs I like. I have often written about the fact that music has always helped me through tough times so it does not surprise me that they might have an impact on my mood in the other direction as well.
But that’s not it either. It’s more like I take stock of where I come from and where I’m going to. I do that often and if you have followed my blogging for a while, you know that. However, I’ll be 47 in October and I can safely say that more than half of my life is over. So it’s ok to check in with myself and see where I am heading.
To be honest I think my life has so far been pretty amazing. From living in Berlin just after the wall came down to moving to Great Britain I have fulfilled a lot of my dreams. And that even though I suffer from depression certainly and PTSD probably since 30 years.
The latter wasn’t diagnosed until about 4 or five years ago but it explains a lot I never understood before. I was wondering though how I managed to get my education finished, moved around, worked and then even emigrated with all that unbearable pain inside of me.
I cannot remember a time without that pain. For those who do not know me well: I can hardly remember anything from the time before my mother passed away and what I remember feels more like the memories of someone else which was told to me.
I was nearly 13 when she passed away so that makes approximately 34 years of pain, anxiety, low self-esteem, continuous worry…. You get the gist.
It is a struggle to get up in the morning, meet people, do new or old things, just live! Noone who has not experienced this knows what it really means.
And believe me, I have been at that point a couple of times in my life. When I wonder about these things I always come back to the day of my mother’s funeral. So much chaos and desperation inside of me it still feels unbearable.
But on that day I think my life was decided. No, I think I took a decision about my life. I did not give up. I chose hope and not despair even though my feelings often tell me the opposite.
I really had nothing left and wanted to end it all but something inside of me did not let me. Something or someone inside of me told me to hold on tight and go for the ride of my life and to never ever give up. And that is what I have done. It’s not an easy decision to believe in something that just does not seem possible. But I believed that it will get better and eventually it did. I also believed that I am in power in my life with a mental health issue (no I wasn’t aware of it then) and not my mental health issue is in power over me and my life.
You can either believe your mental health has power over you or you can believe you have power over your mental health. Either way, it is difficult and you have to struggle to keep yourself afloat but if you can see yourself in power then there is hope. If you see your mental health in power there isn’t.
If you see yourself in power then you will go and find a way to make the unbearable pain inside of you somehow bearable. You will start again and again doing the things that you love to do even when your mental health went so bad you could not do anything. But you will not give up. You go to family, friends, doctors, therapists, spiritual healers…. for help and they will help you find the right way for you.
I wish I could tell you a way to get to that stage. As far as I can see for most people this decision happens subconsciously a little like out of nowhere. This week former Norwich Football Club Footballer Cedric Anselin told BBC East and to Norwich Evening News in 2012 about how he did not succumb to suicide but decided he needed to talk and needed help: He was going to hang himself in the attic but the light of his mobile shone in his eyes and that was when he decided to go and ask for help.
For me, it was a voice inside of me that said: “No! You do not give up! You will do what needs doing and you keep going! ”
It became a decision of mine when I listened to that voice. I had no idea how it could get better. I had no hope left and everything was unbearable but when I heard that voice I said to myself: “Ok, I have nothing to lose! I go for it!” I suspect it must have been similar for Mr Anselin.
However, I wonder why successful professionals like Chester Bennington or Kurt Cobain had to give into the other voice that says: “There is no hope!” I know that at least Chester Bennington has reached out to his family and to health professionals and he was open about his mental health problems and still it was not enough in the end.
So maybe I am wrong in believing I took a decision on how to see my life with a mental health issue? Maybe it is more a miracle?
I have wondered many times in my life what makes one survive and another succumb to that desperate voice inside oneself. And as I am remembering a lot lately about my life and where I am coming from that question has become important again.
What do you think? Do you take a decision or is it a miracle when you do not take your life?