“There should be just one safe place in the world.”

I had my first exam of the semester today. It was fairly terrible. I was feeling pretty OK about it – I’d done a good amount of revision I thought, and the past papers were fairly similar. Of course the exam turned out completely different from the past papers, with some very odd questions. By the end of the exam I felt panicky, but I couldn’t hold on to that emotion. When I left the examination hall I was worried but mostly I just felt relieved. One down, just another to go. I’m not looking forward to the next, as it is my weaker subject compared to the one today – and well, my one today did not go well which does not bode well for the weaker one. But at least its just the one left. And I’m not going to hold onto those emotions either. I’m just over this semester. I want it done with.

Of course, my calm state might have a lot to do with the pills my doctor gave me on Thursday. As mentioned in the last entry, I was called back to my doctor. I finally worked up the courage to phone on Wednesday, and went to see him on Thursday. I was a nervous wreck, sitting there in the waiting room, shaky and at a loss as to what I was going to say. Why was I even there? But once I sat down with the doctor it turned out OK. I forget sometimes how lucky I am to get a doctor like this, who is putting in so much effort in my treatment. My doctor is really nice, and its great that I’m able to see the same doctor for my appointments – I feel he knows me by now, and I have dealt with him enough that I’m beginning to trust him. It helps that he’s very friendly and cheerful. He’s very positive and optimistic and I like that about him – it makes me feel optimistic. It makes me feel that yes, I can get better. And I greatly admire my doctor for being able to be so upbeat despite what must be a stressful job. It makes me trust in him as a doctor. Doctors who make the effort to have good ‘bedside manner’ are the best. I feel very blessed to have been able to meet such a great doctor, as I do not think I would have the courage to go speak to him last year about this, and to carry on with these appointments, otherwise.

Anyway, on Thursday we talked about where I wanted my treatment to go now regarding my mental health. More counselling was offered, but I declined. I’ve got enough to think about from the last round. Then medication came up. Its come up before- and I dismissed it then, too scared, not feeling like my problems were serious enough. This time, I hesitantly enquired about my options. In the end he prescribed me short term betablockers for anxiety- which I’m so grateful to have. I took my first on Friday as a test and it made me sleepy and sluggish, and it was strange, because my thoughts were worried, and usually that would lead to physical symptoms – feeling sick, shaky, my chest tight, my heart racing. Those kind of things. But it just wouldn’t. I didn’t feel entirely calm – but I couldn’t panic. It felt a bit weird, actually. It felt unusual to feel so relaxed, and I wasn’t sure what to do with it. Similarly in my exam today it was actually almost as distracting that I wasn’t having a panic attack than if I was – I was keenly aware of the absence of it. It feels downright strange to feel relaxed, how pathetic is that?

As well as that I’m currently thinking of going on anti-depressants. I’ve always been against them. Its not that I think nobody should take them – but I’m personally terrified of the side effects. And there’s also a stigma surrounding them isn’t there? It feels like I should be able to deal with my problems without medicine. After all its always in the news isn’t it – that as a society we are covering our problems with pills, that it is basically not good to take them. Its weakness, that you cannot deal with it without medicine. That the pills themselves don’t work, and are damaging us. The horrific stories of their side effects. Even when I research them – and I spent a good few hours on Friday trawling through the internet looking up information – the list of potential side effects from reputable sources are daunting. What if it makes it worse? I cannot help but think. But then I think – what if it makes it better? Its not like I’ve not tried to solve this myself. I’ve been through CBT twice. I’ve gone to speak to a counsellor a few times. I’ve tried enough, haven’t I? Its not a new thing…this. Its years of trying, years of ups and downs and further downs. Surely its not cowardly to want to take medicine? I know a pill won’t magically fix anything, but if it could just make it a little easier…is it so bad to want to have it a little easier?

The side effects are so off putting though. And the thought of more doctors appointments…is slightly exhausting. But I have the whole summer free, so it feels like a good time to try this. If it goes wrong, there’s nothing that can be affected. I hope. I’ve been thinking about this since Thursday and it always cycles back to despite the risks, I should do this. But I’m still unsure.

Lately I also worry about talking about all this here. I read an article about the dangers of talking about your mental health. And it was sad article, because it basically says to be extremely careful, especially in regards to social media, and its true, and it made me think. Can my blog be connected to me in real life? I do not think it can. But sometimes I do worry – where do you draw the line between wanting to talk honestly, and ending up being too honest? It becomes especially tricky when it comes to talking about things like this. Again, as the article said, there’s a lot of stigma and a lot of misunderstandings surrounding mental health. You wish to live in a society where this isn’t shameful, where you don’t end up fearful of someone finding out – like you’ve got some dark secret, not an illness. But its not like that. I’m already nervous with all the strange gaps in my CV, which cannot be explained, and at the possibility that one day I’d have to tell an employer of this for safety purposes. But right now, I do wonder about this on my blog. Its a fairly anonymous blog, but is it anonymous enough? Its too late to make it completely anonymous after all. Its just I do not have anywhere else to talk about this. Its not something you can talk to anyone about. I just want to talk about it, somewhere. This blog has always been an expression of myself, an online diary. I wonder if its old fashioned to keep this kind of old style of blog, and if maybe there isn’t a place today for these kind of blogs. Of course despite this, I’ll keep writing. I’ll cling to this idea of this being my “safe place” where I can express myself. I just do worry sometimes about it coming back to me.