“This helpless heart and these scars”

I went to the doctor’s today for my monthly review. I was supposed to go to see my usual doctor on Monday, but I slept through the appointment so I was stuck seeing another doctor that I don’t like today. It was an awkward appointment, with a man I don’t know trying to get me to talk about my innermost feelings. I didn’t want to. I did want to know – how long could I expect to be on anti depressants and how long I have to drag myself to the doctor’s monthly. His answer confused and annoyed me. He said usually it would be 6 months, and then it may be possible that I go off them or go on longer prescriptions. He said that it would depend on whether I get “better.” And I was puzzled – I did not know what he was trying to say. What is better? He is clearly not as good as treating mental health as my doctor – my doctor would never make such false promises. I saw it as a false promise, and I was annoyed that he would dangle it in front of me. I’ve been struggling with my mental health since I was 15 – am I ever going to be better? And is it even OK to think in those terms? When I first overcame depression I thought I was better and I stopped treating myself, and I relapsed. I didn’t get depression again – but I relapsed into the negative thought patterns, the difficulties sleeping, the worries and anxieties and low self esteem. I developed disordered eating as I tried to eat away my feelings, because by the time things had gotten worse I hadn’t been prepared for them, and I had forgotten what it was like and what to do. I wasn’t ready to feel that way again. So – better? He talked like there was an end point to this. But is there? Isn’t it better to keep myself ready for it…

…or perhaps that would turn into waiting for it, and then where would I be.

And I wonder about the antidepressants. He asked me what was working about them, and what wasn’t and I struggled to answer. I feel it – I can’t describe it but I feel just a little different. I feel more able to cope. I’m struggling with insomnia, and I’m stressed and unhappy, but I’m holding on. I don’t know how they are doing it, but these pills are giving me just a little bit more strength to get through. I wish I would be able to fall asleep easier, that my concentration would improve, that I wouldn’t feel quite so tired. But when I’m at work, when I’m driving and chatting happily with my driving instructor, when I’m scared and worried but not hyperventilating or crying every day over it, I think its better. My disordered eating has completely come back – and that it worrying me. I wished the pills could do something. I wish they would have made it disappear – this hunger. Except its not appetite is it- this is a very different type of hunger.

I admit to maybe feeling a bit scared of going off the tablets – what then? I cannot imagine life without my shitty mental health. So maybe hearing “better” doesn’t annoy me, it scares me. What happens when I’m better? What would change? Would anything be different? Or would it be like the first time I went through CBT for my depression and I came out of my last appointment on top of the world, only to crash down a couple of years later when all my expectations and my hopes shattered as real life pressed its weight down on my shoulders?

Sometimes I think I am clinging onto my mental health, somehow doing this to myself, to give myself a convenient excuse for why I am so spectacularly useless at life.

I’m not writing much. I struggle to express these feelings inside me. This feeling of dread deep inside me, this fear, like I’m being followed by an invisible enemy. Something is going to happen and I’m caught in the headlights, paralysed. I’m coping, but just. I’m struggling with uni, still. I’m terrified of graduating and being thrown out into real life. I can’t sleep and I have horrible, disturbing dreams. Driving lessons are going well though, and work is too, and my family are being nice right now. I’m going home soon – two whole weeks. Hopefully my parents can help me reclaim the lost hours in my day as it is currently – hours lost to oversleeping, to finding myself spacing out, or too exhausted to work. I worry about the lack of privacy and alone time at home, but I know I need someone around me to make sure I wake up in the mornings and to watch what I eat. And I want a break from other minor responsibilities- like chores. I am not doing a good job at taking responsibility for myself right now, and so I’m trying to the proper thing and I’m going home where I can focus on trying to get through my work, and let my parents do the rest. I’m trying not to feel bad about needing that.

It doesn’t sound like I’m coping at all. But I’m not ending my days sobbing miserably or hyperventilating as I am overcome by panic and I can talk to people and go to work without panicking so I’ll take what I can get. “Are you enjoying your course right now?” the doctor asked. No, I said and laughed, because what else can I do?

“Its not that,” I told my mom when she told me to do something else if I hated my degree so much. “I want to be an electrical engineer. Its everything I want. I just don’t think I’m good enough.”

Can a pill make you feel good enough? Or are there things you lose because of depression and you can’t get them back? Just what does it mean to be “better”?