Two days ago I had a severe anxiety attack while I was on my way to the airport, before flying to a friend’s wedding half way around the world. While I have issues with anxiety I have not experienced many severe anxiety attacks, so in an effort to learn, I began writing about it as my anti-anxiety medication was guiding me back to safety.
Yesterday afternoon I arrived in Malta, which means I survived the 28 hours and 10 minute journey that triggered the attack. Before leaving, I was so afraid of being cut off from the people that I credit for my every day existence, and while the trip over was mentally difficult and draining, I survived and made it to the other side - and I’ll credit Emirates Airlines for that because every flight offered two hours of free Wi-Fi so I wasn’t as isolated in the sky as I thought.
While arriving was a relief, it has also been strange. I am not feeling the way I thought I would a month or even a week ago. I was so excited to come here, to see my friends that are usually scattered around the globe. And as I found them off the main thoroughfare of old Valetta, and they lined up to offer me hugs in turns with warm, friendly smiling faces, I felt uncomfortable. I felt like a liar.
I am me, and I am here, but I am undeniably different. I am not the girl they knew. I don’t know where I lost her, suffice it to say she’s gone. I am the imposter who’s taken her place.
As the day wore on and we migrated from Valetta to the older Mdina, I came to feel, the girl they are left with doesn’t belong.
The Hard Truths
Not all of these friends know about my depression, not all of them know that it began when I was 18, or that I didn’t understand what was afflicting me until I was 23. I don’t try to hide my disease, and I have taken opportunities over the last 10 years to express and share information on my condition. Everything they know is anecdotal, none of them have seen it in action…until now.
The last year and a half has been very difficult for me due to my mental health battles. It might appear that I managed them well enough, my friends commend me on the progress and strength I’ve shown, but it is all a fucking lie.
I am no stronger today. Not in relative terms.
I am not doing any better. Not from my perspective. Not anymore anyway.
I started disappearing back in October or November 2016 and I been trying hunt myself down ever since.
The only problem now is that I wonder if she still exists? Or if she is truly gone. Am I all that is left?
Free Spirit or Spirit Free
Yesterday my cousin told me we are both free spirits and that confinement is tough on us. And this made me wonder if it’s possible that a consequence of having a free spirit is that even I can’t hold on to her? Because, maybe, she doesn’t even belong to me. Looking back I think my spirit abandoned me a year or a year and a half ago. And in that time I’ve tried to get her back, I really tried. I went back on anti depressants, which I’m frustratingly sensitive to. It took me two months of nausea to adjust to them, and three awful weeks of headaches and dizziness to withdraw from them. I took these pills because while they made me sick at times, I was committed and desperate. I preserved despite it’s unstoppable impact on my weight, where it added 13 kilos to my 156cm frame. I returned to therapy which has costs my parents, the government and me thousands. It continues to stress and strain my bank account. And despite all this and more, I still don’t know where or how to get my spirit back. Sometimes I feel like I can feel her or that she’s returned, but those are fleeting moments and days. Sometimes I feel like it’s just her ghost haunting me. And this trip has made me realise that even if I reunite with my spirit, we may not fit together anymore. But maybe that’s the actual problem. Maybe I am no longer a hospitable place for her to exist so moments is all I get.
One of the hardest parts leading up to this trip has been those around me telling me I seem better; that I seem brighter. It’s sweet to hear but I become overcome with guilt because I know I can’t maintain that higher ground.
The other challenge with this trip has been everyone wishing me a great time, and telling me to have fun, forget my troubles, leave all my cares in Australia and just enjoy my time in Malta. But I don’t think they understand that the ‘troubles’ I have are me. I am my troubles and I can’t escape myself. The only way to leave my troubles behind is to leave myself. I’ve been fighting this battle since I was 18 and I’m tired. I’m so tired. I hate being uncomfortable around lighters. I hate that I wish I had one right now. I hate that I can’t make a dignified exit. I hate that as I write this I realise that despite all my efforts to help myself I still fall short. I realise that I shouldn’t have refused my GP’s recommendation to start a new anti depressant.
I hate that one stupid anxiety attack can unravel what progress I thought I’d made. I hate that all efforts can disappear in an instant. Nothing is ever real because a fucking mental illness is my reality and it can undo and erase everything. I hate. I hate, I HATE, I hate. I hate feeling that love, one day, won’t be enough for me.