I remember sitting on the bus. The countryside whipped past me as I looked out of the window. I felt as though I was achieving something. Actually doing something. I found it hard to believe that a bus journey was having this effect.
As I watched the trees flicker by, my mind cast back to this time, a year ago. I would’ve been sat on a plane. On my own. About to travel to the other side of the world. It seemed strange to me that I was able to fly to Australia, and yet, this particular bus journey was a challenge. This twenty minute bus journey to a quaint little town, was a big deal.
After experiencing an ‘episode’ you have to start from scratch. During the most severe parts of my low and my high I was always with someone. (Low = depressed and high = manic). Family, friends, nurses… I was under the intensive care team, which meant nurses were coming to visit daily. At some points I was pretty much housebound, for my own safety. Whilst you’re experiencing the episode it can be frustrating. It’s almost as if you forget that you’re unwell, and you can’t understand why people are not allowing you to do the simplest of things.
My polar bear effected more than one person. The ripple effect of mental health can be huge. Luckily, for me, I had an amazing stepmother that gave up work to become my carer. Otherwise, I’m sure I would’ve been sectioned. When that happens I can imagine it’s even harder to integrate back into society.
Once you’re back, you’ve got to learn to trust yourself again. It’s scary. You wonder what you’re capable of. The people around me became my safety net. I lost count of the times people said, “You’ve got to take baby steps”. You see like many of us, I can be impatient.
I wanted to drive, socialise, work… Be independent again. I wanted this overnight. Of course, this wasn’t plausible. I don’t think you realise how much it effects you until you put yourself back out there.
My Nan took me shopping one afternoon. I was so happy to be out of the house. I hadn’t expected this trip to be any different to the million times before. As we walked around it was as though I was being over-stimulated, by EVERYTHING. Now this may sound dramatic, but there’s only one way I can try to describe it. It was as if I was recovering from a head injury. You know in the films? When they make everything ten times louder than what it actually is. It felt like the music was on full volume. The hangers were being scraped along loudly. Did everyone need to shout? It was just a normal mid-week afternoon, in a quiet clothes shop. However, I was experiencing it in a very different way.
Confidence is the major issue here too. You have to push yourself, even if you don’t want too. As that’s the only way to get it back. There were so many things I did for the first time, again. The first time I left the house on my own. The first time I met the girls for lunch. The first time I drove. The first time I drove on the motorway. The first time I had a sleepover. The first birthday party. The first night clubbing. The first job interview. The first job.
It’s worth never under-estimating what you are achieving. No matter how big or how small that achievement is. As long as you’re moving forward, that’s all that matters. The word ‘perspective’ is absolutely vital in this instance.
(One of the first nights with the girls 🙂 )