Poetry helps me understand my mental illness
I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression at the beginning of 2016. I have always been a 'worrier'. I even remember being at primary school, worrying about something pretty much every day. I found myself (and still do) catastrophising about everything - again, that's how I've always been, so I didn't really think anything of it: the nervous tummy, headache, aches and pains. They were all things I was just ‘used to’.
I’d been through a lot of significant life events in the years leading up to my diagnosis and, eventually, everything caught up with me. To put it simply, I got up for work one morning and, whilst in the shower, I literally broke down.
It's been an uphill struggle and I've still a long way to go. But, one thing I do find that helps, is writing.
I find it hard to work out what it is I'm feeling and thinking but, when I get a couple of thoughts in my head, I grab my pen and notebook and, before I know it, I've written pages and pages.
A couple of things I really struggle with when my mood is low is self-harm and suicidal thoughts. I'm still at the point where I don't know they're creeping up on me until I'm in a heap on the floor.
For the first time the other day, I managed to put into words how I feel when these dark demons are making their way to me. I would like to share it with you, to help bring some clarity in what is a very confusing and terrifying place to be.
What do I do when I feel the clouds becoming darker and start rolling towards me?
I sense they are there, but they're a little way away so I'm 'OK'.
A few days go by and they seem to be staying away. There have been a few taps on my shoulder, but I'm keeping half an eye out for them, whilst the other half of me avoids looking at them, too scared at what they might develop into.
What do I do when these same clouds are now getting evermore closer and I can hear them rumbling towards me?
That eye that was looking out for me starts to slowly close, whilst the other eye looks the other way. Surely if I can't see it, it can't hurt me, right?
So what do I do when those clouds are now smothering me and I can feel their weight on my back?
What do I do when it's not only those dark clouds sitting on my back, but a thick fog is now pulling at my legs, making me feel like I'm dragging heavy chains from my ankles as I try and put one foot in front of the other?
What do I do when mentally I can't think clearly because there is so much endless noise going on in my head? I can't make sense of my thoughts and no longer know which way is forward.
What do I do when all I want to do is shut myself away from the world and never come out again because everything feels so dark, lonely, and absolutely petrifying?
What do I do when those urges of hurting myself come flooding back, they steal my concentration and I become completely absorbed in 'the moment'?
What do I do if I can't hide the marks from those around me, how many more excuses can I find?
What do I do when I’m in a world I no longer understand, or want to be part of?
Please, somebody, tell me what do I do?
If you resonate with Nick's story and are looking for support, know that help is out there. Visit our pages on self-harm and suicidal thoughts and, if you’re ready, use our search tool to find a counsellor near you.