A Day in the Life (https://dayinthelifemh.org.uk/) is a project which aims to collect the everyday experiences of people who have mental health problems. The project is collecting accounts from mental health sufferers on four particular dates over the year. What follows below is my entry of what happened on Tuesday 10th of February 2015. I hope that you can take more time to read the other entries on the project website, coming soon!
My day starts differently to most days. Due to a combination of depressive symptoms and heavily sedating anti-psychotic medication, I usually manage at least twelve hours sleep. However today I am up at 7.30am. The reason for this early start is that my house is getting surveyed and I am too scared to be around whilst a stranger is there. I have a lot of problems with social anxiety, so interacting with a stranger is extremely hard for me. What will I say? What will they think of me?
My plan for today is more or less the plan for every day: My partner drops me off at my parent’s house to spend the day with them. My Dad works from home and my Mum works part time so I have someone with me all the time. I lost a lot of confidence because of the panic attacks I have been having over the past year. I think everything through over and over and panic that all sorts of things may happen. I feel safe with my family and so I am always with them. I just can’t be on my own anymore.
Today was a day that my Mum was off work so we did a few boring things like go shopping for a washing machine. I had to talk to someone at the shop which filled me with dread but I managed ok. I am hoping that as I keep taking small steps to combat my fears, they will eventually go away. We then went for coffee. I have to say that going for coffee with my Mum is (sadly) one of the highlights of the week. When you live life with a mental illness, the smallest things can really make your day. When I visit a coffee shop I can sit in the corner where no one will notice me and watch what goes on around me. Having a coffee feels a little bit special for some reason.
Later on in the day, I start to get excited for no particular reason. I have bipolar disorder and sometimes my moods go all over the place. On this particular day, I feel high for a few minutes and jump up and down laughing but then I crash back into depression just as quickly. I feel tired, lethargic and useless.
I get picked up by my partner in the evening and I manage to make dinner for once. Cooking can be hard when you don’t have any energy or motivation. Luckily I don’t have to do much. We have crispy duck with pancakes and hoisin sauce. All I have to do is chop the veg and put the duck in the oven. It isn’t good for my weight, which has soared since going on the anti-psychotics, but it is so comforting to eat fatty food that I find it hard to care!
My partner goes off to an exercise class in the evening, leaving me at home. The evenings are the hardest for me as they are when I get most anxious and am also most likely to have bipolar symptoms. I am practicing being alone for short periods to try and overcome my fear of being alone. I can feel the panic rise in me but I try and distract myself by looking up things obsessively online. I search all sorts of random things just to keep my mind occupied.
I go to sleep with my partner reading next to me. This is the deal we have made. He reads and looks out for me as I drift off to sleep. I feel safer that way with the light on. Luckily sleep doesn’t often elude me because I am zonked out from the anti-psychotics. As much as I hate the way they make me feel numb, I don’t know how I would survive without them. I fall asleep but my last thoughts as I drift away focus around the fear of dying. As hard as life can be, I desperately want to survive. At least for the moment anyway.