It’s ten years ago, I didn’t even realise until late tonight that it’s the anniversary.
I remember rocking, my head banging against the wall, I recall the hysterical crying, the blurred vision and the noises in my head. I know I was taken to visit a doctor and that I was sedated. Apparently I didn’t put up much resistance, I just wanted everything to stop.
For the next few days I can retrieve odd snatches of memory but mainly it was a time of medicated calm. I slept 16/18 hours a day over that week. My body shutting down to protect my mind. The drugs made me feel like my head was full of cotton wool. Soft and cosy apart from a slight pressure behind my eyes.
I was back at work inside three weeks. Too much, too soon but I wasn’t about to let anyone know that. My boss was constructive and considerate. He pushed for me to get assistance from the company and for once I accepted help. It wasn’t really about a situation at work (which was the white lie he told Occupational Health) and though there was an issue, the truth was I had the accumulated pressure of years of poor decisions, of a diagnosis that I couldn’t cope with, confront or actually even acknowledge to the world at large. Something inside me snapped and I’ve never been quite the same since.
Some of that not “quite the same” is negative, I lost a part of myself that day which I’ve never really regained, the self belief that gave me confidence in the bleakest of situations. Whilst perhaps that was founded on delusion and certainly became more pronounced in hypomanic episodes it was always there to keep me moving. I don’t have that any more.
On the positive side though I gained insight in to myself. I learned to accept my limitations. I became more considerate of others and certainly more empathic. My emotional intelligence was much more in evidence and now used kindly rather than manipulatively.
Much of that summer was spent being very still, the medication did that to me but also I used the time to think about how I wanted to be in the world. In October the flood gates opened and I cried 15 years worth of tears. I cried in remorse and guilt, I cried for lost opportunities and for the kindness of others.
The last ten years have seen much change, a lot of reflection and a continuing effort to regulate and improve my mental health. I’ve not always been successful (and at this time I’m back on medication to help me stabilise) but I haven’t failed, I’m still here, something I didn’t think would be the case in 2006.