The Cotswold Way Reflection: I did it my way😊

After a bit of an emotional and tiring day on day 4 I actually took the decision to come home instead of going to the B&B for what was supposed to be my last overnight stop on the route. The 4 days ultimately served their purpose: I got fresh air, peace and quiet and time to reflect on things and because of that I returned much calmer. I also feel good for challenging myself, doing some exercise and spending time in the outdoors. Slightly annoyed I didn’t complete the whole thing but I gave it a go and considering how the reality of it all panned out, I think I did myself proud.

I know it must be scary reading some of my posts; I really don’t mean to upset anyone but I want to be honest because it’s helping me recover and I hope it’s helping in a wider sense in contributing to an honest, no-bullshit conversation about dealing with a mental health illness. Showing the ups and downs all at once shows how not so black and white depression is. You can feel elated yet down at the same time; motivated and disinterested all at once; brave and scared in the same instance. It really is bloody confusing! And I know it must be like that for people on the outside looking in, not knowing how I (or others with depression) are feeling. But I can tell you one thing: support, no matter how big or small, makes the world of difference. I don’t expect anyone to understand this illness – especially when I don’t myself – but knowing there are people who care about you along the way despite not understanding is what really matters.

Broken/Identity: the Scarecrow, the Tin Man & the Lion

In my When the drugs don’t work post I briefly mentioned how I’d recently had 2 ‘moments’ relating to me coming off of one lot of anti-depressants. I also said I’d explore them in a separate post. Well, since then, not only have I had a few more ‘moments’ but something else has cropped up that’s essentially led me to feeling broken – physically, mentally, emotionally – and feeling like I’m having an identity crisis. I feel like all 3 characters from the Wizard of Oz but in reverse: I have a brain, I have a heart and I have courage but they’re slowly being chipped away at and I fear I’ll lose them. This is why:

So, I’m fully off the Amitriptyline, which I was taking to help me sleep. And I’m pleased to report that my sleep has relatively been unaffected since coming off the drug. But, for the short term, that’s where the positives stop. The withdrawal symptoms have been agony. I suddenly feel as if I’m riddled with arthritis from head to toe; my shoulders feel like they’re tissue paper that’s been scrunched up or bubble wrap that’s been twisted and popped all at once; my digestive system feels like an Olympic gymnastics team’s flipping and tumbling inside it; my head feels like it’s a hamster wheel – fairly empty but rapidly rotating making me feel dizzier and dizzier; and each night, my bed sheets are soaked through from profuse sweating (I know, gross, but it’s the truth and I promised to be frank and candid). And that’s just the physical symptoms. Increased anger, heightened paranoia, reduced concentration, inexplicable irritability and constant crying (more so than usual which, for me, is like saying the Niagara Falls has got bigger!); those are just some of the mental and emotional responses I’ve had. So all in all, a rather unpleasant few weeks. Slowly but surely I feel as if my brain is disintegrating and my body is withering, becoming limp and lifeless like the Scarecrow dangling in the field.

Adding to my broken body, I now have a broken heart. It would be unfair for me to go in to detail because this doesn’t just directly affect myself, but I can’t really write this blog without reflecting on life as it happens, and experiencing a break up and the subsequent broken heart is something that’s recently happened to me. And it’s the proverbial straw. I’ve gone to write this sentence a number of times and I still don’t know what to type. To keep the Wizard of Oz analogy going, I feel the exact opposite to how the Tin Man feels when he’s given a heart: deflated, disappointed, despondent. Towards the end of the film, the Wizard of Oz says to the Tin Man “Hearts will never be practical until they’re made unbreakable.” And yet the Tin Man still wants one. Why? What I’d give to have an unbreakable heart right now, or even no heart at all. Ok, ok, I don’t mean that. I do believe in what Tennyson said, and I’m trying to remind myself of that every time I feel anger / despair / confusion about this all. And the thing is, I do still have a heart: I am still in love, I love so many things in life, and I still believe in love. For now. But with everything else that’s been going on, it’s hard to remind myself that things will get better. I’m trying so hard to just let the feelings and emotions wash over me but not drown me. My little heart is still beating, just not pounding. I feel broken physically, mentally and emotionally, but I am not broken and I won’t feel broken forever.

And that’s where the Lion comes in. Man alive do I have courage. It’s not something people usually boast about and it’s certainly not something I usually attribute to myself; I just think “Well, I just get on with things.” But I am going to boast right now #sorrynotsorry. I am brave. I do have courage. I’m facing up to some tough shit and trying to deal with it the best I can; I’m asking for help where I need it and I’m trying to accept when I’m not coping. I know I’m not the only person in the world who has problems, but I also know that everything is relative and one person’s crap isn’t necessarily better or worse than another’s: crap is crap and we all deal with our own crap in different ways (figuratively speaking, thank you!). I’m just trying to deal with my own the best I can and in a way that’s right for me.

And yet, I’m terrified. I am so scared that my broken body and mind along with my broken heart will break my courage. And without that, what do I have? My yellow brick road. I have my yellow brick road: hope. I can’t and don’t know for sure what will happen and how things will turn out but, then again, neither did Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man nor the Lion. So I’m just going to keep on putting one foot in front of the other and follow my yellow brick road.