It’s 2am and I am exhausted. Weary down to the bone, eyes bleary, limbs heavy, brain functioning at half-capacity.
Tomorrow is going to suck.
It’s been building up all month – a month full of long hours for which I’m not receiving any financial compensation nor any gratitude. A month full of solving ridiculous problems and being shouted at for silly reasons and being spoken-over in nearly every conversation I’ve held with a man around this place and someone recently made me feel bad for trying to do my volunteer job more efficiently and in a way that would directly benefit them and someone else told me that the sound of my voice is annoying and I haven’t slept properly in weeks so maybe I’m just a bit more sensitive than normal but today was my breaking point and tomorrow is going to suck.
It takes on a physical form, this monster of mine. At first it lurks about my stomach, filling me with dread and the inability to eat. Slowly it crawls it’s way up my chest transforming into a heavy weight that perches itself smack-dab on my lungs, constricting every breath. From there it continues it’s trek upwards, a lump in my throat, until it finds it’s final resting place in my forehead – a constant dull ache radiating from behind my eyes and spreading upwards until a dull thud overwhelms my senses. These days are rare and easy to spot the night before by the tell-tale fluttering of my heart and trembling of my left hand and sinking feeling in my gut yet no matter how much I try to prepare myself for them, their arrival is never any easier. They tend to hit like a sucker punch right to the tit or a sledgehammer to the head – fast and seemingly out of nowhere they swoop in and leave you gasping for breath like a fish out of water. And well, I’ve just got this feeling in my gut that this monster is going to rear its ugly head come tomorrow.
I hate these days.
Sometimes, thankfully rarely these days, they surprise me and catch me absolutely and completely off guard. In times such as now however, there are a few things I can kind of maybe sort of do to prepare.
- I make sure I have no commitments for the next day. If I do, I go into survival mode and pull myself together. If I don’t have any commitments, it’s on to the next step.
- Grab a spare blanket and prepare to spend the day in bed.
- 2 bottles of water beside my bed, so as to ensure I will have hydration at hand should I not feel up to leaving bed.
- Ditto snacks.
- Queue up my meditation playlist – soothing sounds that I can count my breaths to.
- Begin the mantra of “it’s OK not to be OK” and “It’s just a moment in time”.
It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s something.
Tomorrow will be my first ‘black hole day’ (as I like to call them) in this hostel and on top of the anxious and depressive thoughts swirling about my mind there is a somewhat absurd amount of dread and embarrassment mixed in there too. I am surrounded by people who know nothing of my mental health struggles. People who I’m not close with on this level, people who I’m positive will have no idea that there is even anything going on with me. I’ll be sure to pass this off as a physical ailment and spend the day in bed. Shall I absolutely HAVE TO leave my bed, I’ll be sure to have my headphones in and avoid all unnecessary contact. I am absolutely mortified at the thought of any of them potentially seeing me in tears, yet as I type I can feel the tears welling up behind my eyes, not yet ready to track their way down my cheeks but seemingly preparing for the morning.
Tomorrow is going to suck.
And what can I do other than acknowledge this fact?
I can’t change the chemical make-up of my brain.
I can’t change the events in my past that led me to depression and anxiety.
I can’t change where I’m living at the moment.
I can’t change how I am feeling.
“When you are depressed you feel alone, and that no one is going through quite what you are going through. You are so scared of appearing in any way mad you internalize everything, and you are so scared that people will alienate you further you clam up and don’t speak about it, which is a shame, as speaking about it helps.”
― Matt Haig, Reasons to Stay Alive
All I can do is try my hardest not to beat myself up over how my mind is reacting to stress and exhaustion. I am taking care of myself. I eat 3 meals a day, interact with people on a daily basis, have a job and a place to live and a PLAN for my mental health and my physical health and my FUTURE. I hold myself together day in, day out and I am ALLOWED to lose my shit in an epic and dramatic manner from time to time. This moment in time will not last forever and more importantly this moment in time is NOT a moment of weakness and does NOT define me and I suppose, for now, all I can do is hunker down and wait for the storm to pass.
Seriously, where do all these cliches keep coming from?!
As I sit at reception, all by my lonesome on yet another freezing and dreary Belfast night, I can’t help but think about how the hell I got here. Have I remained in this hostel out of sheer comfort, because it’s the easiest option? Is it because I’m comfortable here? I’m certainly not as happy as I could be – I miss the coast more and more with every day that passes and I SWEAR to you I can hear the ocean calling my name. Perhaps I merely need to further explore this city and I’ll find a hidden gem, a place of refuge from the mold and occasionally overwhelming noise of my current home. Or perhaps I need to start fresh, revert back to my original plan and head south to Cornwall. Or maybe, just maybe, I simply need more than 6 hours sleep and an actual day off from my job-that-isn’t-really-a-job-because-I-am-a-volunteer-who-is-allowing-herself-to-be-taken-advantage-of and life will seem a little less dark and twisty.
The thing is, on top of my dodgy mental health, I’m cold and lonely and I miss my friends and my family and my favourite craft beer and brewery and my favourite cafe and my favourite pair of comfy Roots socks that I destroyed on my hike and I desperately miss the ocean and most of all I miss just being HAPPY constantly and for no reason and honestly, I’m surprised I lasted through the holidays without a wee breakdown.
As much as adventuring the world is incredible, I miss my creature comforts and comfort zone.
(The things I would do for a bottle of Westminster Brown Ale would shock and astonish some (most) of you.)
They aren’t a solution to any of my problems, but on some level they’ve become the wee littlest bit of my coping method.
This monster of mine is a heavy burden and I’m fighting with all I can to put off the arrival of this black hole day. I don’t want it to come, but I can feel it in my bones that tomorrow is going to be spent drifting through space and time, nothing anchoring me to this world. These days aren’t pretty and I am absolutely devastated that I’m about to experience one in a room I share with 5 others. On one hand – there is absolutely no shame in dodgy mental health, on the other hand – showcasing my lowest moments to new friends is a daunting thought.
It’s now 4am and I won’t be getting to sleep. For lack of an actual book to read, I’m browsing through some of my passages online and want to end this post with this:
Tomorrow I may stumble and fall, and I may stay down for a day or even two. But I will get back up again and I will fight even harder for my happiness.
(I deserve it and so much more)