Earlier today when I was having a shower I got a sudden a unexpected flash back from how things were normally just about a couple of months ago.
I was just washing the shampoo out of my hair when suddenly my heart dropped to the floor and I could feel my breaths getting shallower and pace up to a rythmic, paniced pace, simlar to a rabbit's breathing when stressed.
The trigger ?
"Blood stains won't make it matter
Got good things, got you"
A song. Of corse it was a bloody song.
As always when I'm home alone I was playing music in the shower (and yes, sometimes I sing..) as speakers and phones are waterproof now a days. Nothing strange, I was actually in quite a pumped mood after completing 45 minutes on the treadmill at the gym just before.
Then that song came on. I had actually queued it myself before I got in the shower since it used to be my favourite song not long ago. I used to listen to it when I felt down and even though I thought the lyrics wasn't at all fitting my situaton, I used to feel like I could relate to the song and that it made me calmer.
In fact, the song wore me down as it described what I was doing to myself and in the weak state I was, I didn't realise that it actually triggered me to be harder on myself.
"Are you lonely, are you there when I'm not in the room
Are you only, only a part of this when you choose"
This song really got to me when I was down but I had no idea back then what effect it had on me. I didn't know why it made me cry while I sang the words loudly in my car or why I put it on repeat even though I was sick of Sam Margin's blue voice long ago. I just knew it made me feel something, and that was better than nothing.
I had never experienced anxiety, panic or severe self doubt before it hit me at the end of last year. Therefore, I was open as a book as it came sneaking up on me and that's why it hit me so hard. I just couldn't believe it. Couldn't beleive that it could happen to me, and that's why it took me so long to understand what was going on with me.
"Is it real, is it something that you can not touch
Do you feel, do you feel that you feel too much"
A common mistake among people suffering from anxiety is that they keep going. It's common that successful people with a high paced life find themselves feeling a bit off, and then before they know it they're eating pills of the hands of psychiatrists. Many would call this phenomenom "hitting the wall": productive people that forget to care about their mental health and keep preassuring themselves until they're too mentally exhausted to think another reasonable thought without freaking out, physically.
"Something crazy, something changing in the way you talk"
For me, it was the opposite. I used to be that person who had a packed schedule, every day, every week, every year. If I had a space free in my "life roster", I'd make sure to fill it quickly and be careful that everything I did "developed me" and brought me forward.
Here, in Australia, I showed up with a near empty life roster. The only thing I knew that I was here to do, was pretty much seeing Alex. Obviously, this drastic contrast in lifestyle got to me eventually. It took a long, long time for me to complete my life puzzle on this side of the world and to get a context of my own. Much longer than I expected it to take, and it was so much harder than I expected it to be.
Despite the support I had from Al, in order to get better:
I would have to fight through this alone.
"Blood stains make confusing patterns
That lead me to you"
It's hard to describe mental illness and even harder to relate to it for those who haven't experienced it. But I can say one thing: It helps to be prepared. And it helps to talk, no matter how hard it is.
Today, in the shower, when I could feel all my positive energy get drained from me and numbness consume me I knew what was going on. I was prepared and I was not in the mood to fall back to being the miserable mess I found myself being at the end of last year.
I opened my eyes, took control of my breathing as I stared at my speaker like it would feel guilty for what it had done to me and change songs. It didn't, obviously, and I was just going to go and change songs myself when I challenged myself. It was risky, but it was also a way to prove to myself that I was over this sh*t and that I was stronger than to let a stupid song bring me down.
So, I listened to the whole thing. In the shower. With cold water still flushing down on my head.
"Gonna drown, I give up and get on with the life lived good"
And then it was over. The next song rolled on, and I was fine.
"Get back never get back too soon
Get back never get back too soon
Get back never get back...."
Fine, as in: not lost or shaking or being unable to breathe. As in being able to stand up, look myself in the mirror and keep going. Keep doing what I was doing instead of wasting minutes, sometimes hours, days in bed trying to recover.
Get back never get back
To say that I was completely untouched by the incident would be a lie. I definitely felt that "emotional hangover" for hours afterwards but only in the form of being easily provoked or grumpy (which is me in general if I'm hungry or tired anyway).
I got over it, and I feel so damn good about it. I got over it, on my own. I fought through it, on my own. I don't need any better evidence that I'm strong enough to take on whatever life choses to throw at me.
And that. That has made me grown more as a person than any packed schedule ever has.