[CN: suicidal ideation]
Summer makes me anxious. Winter makes me depressed. Since anxiety and depression feed off each other, everything gets a bit mixed up together and none of the year is exactly a picnic, but usually the beginning of winter is a grace period when I’ve survived the season of short sleeves heat-induced panic attacks, but the cold hasn’t yet sapped my energy to its lowest. The darkness generally starts as a welcome relief from the fear of people seeing me when I leave the house, and takes a few months to pull my mood down to the soles of my boots. Not so this year – the winter blues which usually hit in January or February have arrived early.
The cold is draining my energy, and sometime before or during my breakdown, I lost the ability to tell the difference between feeling tired and feeling sad. I can’t do much, and find myself having to make choices I had got used to no longer having to make. Should I clean my room or wash my hair? I have the spoons to maintain one of them at a socially acceptable level of cleanliness. My thoughts are stuck in the flowchart of misery.
Partly, it’s politics. As a privileged white British person, I’m not in the group most vulnerable to Trump, to Brexit, or to the general wave of hatred towards Others which seems to be sweeping the political landscape this year. Far right politics is not exactly friendly towards anyone who needs extra support with anything, of course, or to anyone with a uterus, and I am terrified by both of those things, but mostly it’s just draining to watch people who hate everything you stand for gain ground day by day. Having spent so much time feeling suicidal, staying alive is something I have to actively choose several times a day; every time a suicidal thought pops into my head, I have to decide to turn myself away from it. Each of those decisions takes a bit more energy when the world I am choosing to stay in seems thoroughly hostile to everything I care about. I’m trying to channel my despair into action but with limited success – it’s hard to go to demonstrations when you’re struggling to be outside in daylight, let alone outside in daylight surrounded by noise and crowds.
Partly, it’s all the changes in my personal life: I resigned from my job at Mind just under a month ago as I was becoming too unwell to manage it, I left the crisis house ten days ago, I’m finishing therapy in two months, I’m supposed to be moving between supported housing projects (although the paperwork that was due to be completed months ago has yet to be submitted so I am sceptical at best), I’m thinking about applying to go back to university. Some of those changes are things I wanted and some of them are out of my control, but it is not ideal for them all to be happening at the same time.
I should have a neat hopeful note to end on, but I don’t. I’m managing, I’m safe, but it feels like everything’s been cut adrift.