After a shaky couple of weeks, everything in my brain erupted.
I was feeling uncomfortable about having reached my target (turning 25), not knowing how to cope with still being alive, missing my dad immensely, suffering through fibromyalgia, depression, confusion and the erratic weather patterns, and 3 days of excruciating neuralgia affecting the right side of my face and neck thanks to infected wisdom teeth and a total tolerance to painkillers. It’s just been pain, pain, constant pain.
Sometimes my physical pain overrides my mental pain — when my head feels like it’s being repeatedly run over by a juggernaut, it becomes impossible to think about anything other than the pain and sometimes even impossible to think of anything at all, like a waking blackout. So, sometimes, even though I’m in agony, at least I’m not thinking about bad/mad/sad things or listening to intrusive thoughts. Also, if I’m in serious physical pain I make a point not to complain or talk about my mental health, even if it’s just as bad as the physical. I just don’t want to whine about it all when people politely ask how I am: I’ll mention one or the other, not both. And it’s easier to tell someone about my dreadful headache than my chronic suicidality. So when I’m in horrendous physical pain my mental health goes on the back burner as I try desperately to source some morphine from one of my dodgy contacts to quell the headache sent by Satan. But this means that, once in a while, my mental illnesses feel neglected while I’ve been nursing the physical, and so they decide to come out in full-force, guns blazing, laughing at me, saying,
“You call that a headache? We’ll show you a fucking headache!”
And then it’s hell: not hell on earth, but hell inside me. I just snap. It’s all too much to bear. I can’t slow or delay the onslaught, let alone stop it. It is all-consuming; total physical pain and total mental pain in one horrific episode of indeterminate length, occurring in one body and mind.
During these episodes it doesn’t take very long for me to realise that I will probably die shortly, that I won’t survive this episode, that my brain will certainly kill me through thought or pain or both. But boy, do I put up a fight. I fight it physically, for as long as I can, until my body runs out of fight and becomes paralysed. Then I fight it mentally, for as long as I can, until my mind runs out of fight and becomes paralysed. Then I am nothing. No words, no tears, no movement. I can’t even blink. I don’t know how long the fights last. Sometimes twenty minutes, sometimes two hours, sometimes six. Then silence. I think I am dead. I don’t dare move. Is it over? The water is calm. It’s over. Then I sleep for a long time, uninterrupted. Dead to the world.
After these episodes I have to rest in bed for a few days. It’s like recovering from an exorcism. All of the badness presented itself in one go, and I lived it and I felt it and I fought it and I think I survived it: it boiled over and scalded me pretty badly but the steam disappeared and the water cooled while I was asleep.
I don’t move or speak to anyone for a few days while I recover. From the physical fight I am always injured. Cuts, bruises, scratches, stab wounds, chunks of hair ripped out, broken bones. I smash my head against concrete, over and over, trying to knock myself out to make it all stop. I lose my voice from screaming at them to go away, to just STOP. I fight by telling the voices to fuck off, saying stop stop stop stop stop please stop just stop please please stop stop stop stop, over and over. Then I try to bargain with them, before eventually agreeing with whatever they’re saying out of despair– anything to make them go away. It’s terrifying and exhausting and desperate and futile, so I always have to rest my brain afterwards because it’s been through the wringer. From the mental fight I am shot: there comes the inability to speak, write, read, cook, run a bath, listen to music, do a crossword. The inability to remember anything but a vague memory of torture and a niggling sense of survivor’s guilt.
Unfortunately I had one of these episodes on Thursday night and my better half was there. I’d done well to hide the worst parts of my illnesses from him over the past 2 years, aware that I’d lost previous partners because of them. I can’t control my illnesses or my thoughts or my behaviour, but if I feel an impending breakdown or am “due” an episode, I stay away from him until I’m out the other side. But then all of my recent pain came to a head when I didn’t want it to: with him.
He was terrified. He didn’t know what to do. I’ve never seen him cry but he did that night. I couldn’t stop crying, it just would not stop. I tried to cut my head off. The severe neuralgia and the bad thoughts: I couldn’t take it anymore. I wanted my head gone, away from my body. I just had to get rid of it, to make it stop. He foiled my plan. He locked all the knives away. While he was doing that apparently I was trying to pull my eyes out. My tears and running mascara made it too slippery, too messy, I couldn’t get a good grip. He called the emergency mental health crisis line. The call handler decided that I wasn’t currently in crisis so there was nowt they could do. He shouted,
“What do you mean ‘she’s not currently in crisis’, SHE JUST TRIED TO CUT HER OWN FUCKING HEAD OFF!”
then they hung up on him because he swore. I tried to scratch through my forehead to get to my brain so I could pull it out. I dug and clawed until he grabbed me and held my arms down. Then I bit a chunk out of my arm. I don’t know what happened after that.
I woke up the next day in his bed. He went to work but turned around and came back because he was worried. He gave me my sedatives, I went back to sleep and he went back to work. Then I felt bad for being in bed all day while he was out grafting so I forced myself to write a piece called Green Lanes but I’m not happy with it at all because it didn’t turn out how I wanted it to and my brain wasn’t working but I had to prove to myself that I’m not dead, that I survived the shit-storm.
And now I’m finally home. My head is so cut up from me digging for my brain and grabbing my eyes and smashing my head on the wall, it looks awful, like I’ve gone head-first through a fucking window. I can’t go outside for a few days now until it’s healed up but I have cigarettes, vodka and bed, and my partner hasn’t dumped me yet so now I’m going to sleep for a couple of days and hopefully I’ll be better when I wake up.
Thank you (and sorry for the rubbish Green Lanes story and this rubbish post) and goodnight. xx