When I had my breakdown, a large part of it stemmed from feeling very lonely. I felt that I would be alone forever, that nobody could possibly love me. My previous track record with men supported the view that I had something terribly wrong with me, and once people discovered it they would leave, never to return. I felt so desperately lonely, and could see no way out of that; I believed that I would just be alone forever. I have never been one of those popular people with loads of friends; I’ve always been a bit of a loner. When I was really ill, I believed this was because the people who knew me disliked me, and others could sense this, and didn’t want to get to know me.
That’s no secret; I’ve written about that feeling a lot in the last few years – and I went on national TV to talk about it.
The thing is, even months or years before my breakdown, even months or years afterwards, even now – that feeling is still there. I am faced with the prospect that “recovery” for me doesn’t mean I no longer feel that way; perhaps recovering just means I’m better able to avoid paying it too much attention. Perhaps it means I can just put on a better front, make a better argument in the face of those thoughts.
Logically, I know that these thoughts are probably just a symptom of the illness. But in the same way that knowing my suicidal ideation was most likely a side effect of my medication didn’t make me any less inclined to throw myself off a bridge, knowing these feelings are probably incorrect does not make them much easier to deal with. I still feel that there must be something fundamentally wrong with me, and on bad days I find that feeling hard to ignore.
This is something that has always been with me. The ex, an expert abuser, found those feelings and used them against me on a daily basis – something which probably still contributes to how I feel now, more than two years since we ceased contact with him.
Let me be absolutely clear here: I am not suicidal. I am not about to throw myself off a bridge or otherwise harm myself. Having S means I have something to live for, and also something to make me drag myself through most of my depression. Having her means I just force myself to ignore my depressive feelings. I do my best not to think about it, I try to stay busy, and reason with myself that with a toddler in my life 24/7, and sleeping in my bed, there is no space for romance any way – so it doesn’t matter than I’m unlikely to find someone. And I’m not really alone, any way; I have S. So it’s fine. No need to worry.
But I am plagued by these thoughts, and they never really go away. They pop up any time someone cancels plans or lets me down. Any time I like a man who doesn’t like me. And often in the evenings, when S is in bed and I realise I am all alone. It’s been worse since the move, probably because of the stress. But also moving house is when you really notice that you’re on your own. Nobody to help lift that heavy wardrobe, nobody to offer an opinion on where the TV should go, nobody to help unpack endless boxes.
About a week before we moved house, I had four migraines in the space of three days. I could have put this down to stress, but since I was also taking a contraceptive pill with a risk of DVT and stroke, I thought it prudent to stop taking it. I didn’t have time to see a doctor about it, so I just stopped taking them and unleashed a tide of hormones right before one of the most stressful times of my life. I am aware that with my hormones all over the place, I am unlikely to be feeling fantastic right now. But on the other hand, I felt like this before I stopped taking the pill. I felt like this before I started taking it. I felt like this before I even knew what the contraceptive pill was, if I’m being totally honest.
I’m starting to think that perhaps there is no “cure” for this illness in the normal sense of the word. Perhaps these thoughts will be here forever, lurking at the back of my mind and ready to jump forward at the first sign of trouble. Worse, perhaps these thoughts are not a symptom of an illness, so much as a suspicion of the truth. Who really knows?