TRIGGER WARNING: mental health struggles, unaliving
The world loses someone to suicide every 40 seconds, and yesterday, the world lost Heather B Armstrong, aka Dooce.
Heather talked openly about her struggles, both with sobriety and with mental health issues, along with her trip through the varying stages of motherhood, wrestling with a divorce and taking a journey with alternative ways to battle depression. She wrote books and in photos and online seemed to have it all together.
But those of us who are neurospicy always try to hide the worst of us because we believe we are too much for the world, or that we aren’t enough and don’t deserve help. We hide our tears to try and make other people comfortable. We withdraw from the world and cocoon ourselves in layers of blankets we haven’t washed in entirely too long, doomscrolling while we berate ourselves for isolating so we don’t bum everyone else out.
Even if you’re neurospicy yourself like me, sometimes we get frustrated when our upswing doesn’t coordinate with our loved one’s energy levels. I’ve been caught getting grouchy with friends when they cancel because they’re feeling slightly panicky, when I’ve done the same thing to them the week before.
It’s hard to explain the war when you’re in it. I can’t tell you how to help me when I’m having a panic attack because I don’t know. All I know is that every ounce of energy is being used to keep myself from vibrating into a million pieces. I can’t even fathom getting out of my bed to go downstairs to see if I have food or to get a new ice pack or fill my water glass, let alone taking a shower and putting on pants and leaving the house entirely.
I can’t pretend to know how Heather felt, I didn’t know her personally but I enjoyed her writing. I just know what it’s like to feel like people see you, but don’t really SEE you. To have the person you are online be an entirely different person than you are IRL, and for people to get disappointed with the chasm of difference between the two.
I had some very dark days a few summers ago. I was couch hopping after I lost my house, and my anxiety took all of my energy. I woke up right before work started, napped during lunch, and went back to sleep immediately after work was over. I was not functional. I thought I was dying every time I fell asleep and woke up into a panic attack. Day after day, month after month.
I wish I didn’t know how painful it is to feel like nobody sees you, like this pain is never going to go away. When it comes down to it, the scary black cloud that can hang over your head after you heal is: “what if I slide back into the dark days and it all comes crashing down again? Can I survive that again?”
And then the anxiety creeps back in. The person who pulled the pin on the grenade that blew up your life suddenly appears in front of you when you least expect it, and you’re caught off guard and spend the next 2 weeks trying to heal the part you thought was already healed. You have panic attacks again and think that you’ve done 3 years of work only to go straight back into the hell that was 2020.
Sometimes you just want the voices in your head to stop screaming at you constantly. Or to feel like you’re “normal”, even for a brief second. You wish you weren’t the person who has “lost days,” where you can barely function but you still try to show up for work, covered in ice packs and crying, but you’re there. You want to be able to have a whole day where you don’t have to stop and breathe because your heart beat is “funny” and you might be actively in the process of imminently dying.
I get it. I get why you would want an option that would make all of this stop. The war is long, and sometimes you think you are winning only to have life kick you right in the face and send you back to go (without collecting $200). You want it to be over because you are just so.effing.tired.
Please ask someone for help if you feel this way. There are 24 hour hotlines , you can dial or text 988, you can reach out to a friend or trusted family member. I know it can be really hard to ask for help, but it’s worth a try.
I’ve seen a quote floating around the internet that says “Be kind: everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” We cannot judge each other because we truly know very little about what it’s like to be anyone but ourselves. On the flip side, we also cannot assume that we are alone in our battle.
I would normally end this with something like “it always gets better”, but I think at this point, we are all beyond that. Having to quarantine (??!!) and going through a global pandemic that lasted THREE YEARS wreaked havoc on us all. None of us are the same as when we started this crazy journey.
We try our best every day and hope when our head hits the pillow, that we made the world a little better today than it was yesterday. That’s all we can do some days, and if we failed, that’s perfectly okay.
We all deserve to be here.