“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” L.P Hartley
Everyone has a past. Its a universal truth that most of us are embarrassed or ashamed of what occurred in their past. Most people hate the pictures of when they had an awkward hippie phase, or maybe a horrible, ill thought-out haircut that took months upon months to grow out. In my more serious posts, I touched on bullying because of my hair colour and also on anxiety.
I love blogging about beauty, don't get me wrong, but every so often I have to remember that this blog was created so I could have a place to write thing that would help me, and in turn help others. So I'm going to reclaim that for a while.
Please remember that what follows is personal and maybe I shouldn't be sharing this, but someone out there will get solace from this, maybe. If I help one person, then it will be worth the anxious feelings that hitting that little orange "publish" button will bring.
When I was 18 or 19, I went to see Paramore in The 02 with my boyfriend at the time. Everything was going amazingly and we were after making friends with some people from Northern Ireland in the queue. We got in and were standing around in the crowd surrounded by around 10,000 people. I was in front of Himself, and I don't really remember what preceded my breakdown but I have been told that I turned my head to look around and I was in tears. I snapped back into the world around me then and I started to freak out. I remember it vividly, painfully. I started to freak out and He had to push me out of the crowd as I hyperventilated, cried and screamed. I was having my very first panic attack. I couldn't control it and for that very reason I was terrified. What was happening to me??? I was brought to a Medic and all I remember was being asked had I taken drugs. No way. Never have, never will. I was taken into a medical room and made to sit down as they attempted to bring me out of my panic. They gave me water and asked me questions. I answered them all in a pretty harrowed, hiccuping voice, from what I remember. Then they gave us seated tickets to get me away from the crowd and let me go out to the ushers when I was able to be up and functioning properly.
That was the start of two or three awful years for me. I went downhill rapidly after that, sometimes having up to two panics a week, which would vary from mild shaking and quietness, to full blown screaming and hysterical crying. All of these panics were accompanied by thoughts that the world around me was falling asunder, that I was losing control of myself and my life. I hated myself for being weak. There was an awful couple of weeks during the following summer, where I was really low, and I just didn't know how to reach out, or who to reach out to. As if that wasn't bad enough, I was being made to feel awful by others because I didn't know how to cope with my own feelings. It was Hell.
My relationship ended the following February/March and I was surprisingly fine with it for about a week. Then I crumbled even further. Now while I say that, I in no way blame him, nor was it the definitive reason for my further demise. This was when I started to think really dark thoughts. I was listening to a lot of really depressing music which now when I think back on it, was glamorizing self-harm and suicide. Now while I have to just plainly state that I have never ever physically harmed myself, I can fully admit that wallowing in my dark, depressive states was mental harm. I was always listening to music that dealt with death, suicide, blades, alcohol, and a lot of negative imagery. I was hurting myself indirectly. I can admit that now, but back then, I was spiralling and could not see it. While I can understand the mentality and the place you have to be in to want to take it out on yourself, in order to have physical pain to focus on rather than the mental anguish, I just could never understand the action. Its a big jump from theory to practice.
I met Chris not too long after my previous relationship, having known him for a while just as casual hello's, as he's a close friend of my Ex. He doesn't know this (but I believe he reads my blog) but I thought he was the instant fixer. He made me feel beautiful, he made me laugh, life was looking up. But I was fooling myself. Things with Chris were getting more and more serious and I was so happy with Chris, but I was getting worse to a certain point. I would cry on the bus home because I didn't want to be alone. I was aware of how much better I felt when I spent time with people, but you have to go home sometime, and its in those moments you see the difference. I still didn't know who to reach out to or how to do it. Many nights were spent crying and feeling like I was coming apart from the inside out. I would spend hours on MSN and Facebook Chat to Chris and my best friend Aine talking. Aine (I love you, you ass kicking bitch!) gave me plenty of pep talks when I opened up. I told her about feeling so low I thought about suicide. She went ballistic. I cried and cried, typing away to beat the band, and for a while I would feel better. Time was rapidly passing. Chris spent many a night talking to me over video chat and IM, helping me to muddle through my feelings. It helped, and I love both Aine and Chris for helping me.
We went to Kerry for a week during the summer of 2011, and as is the case when 11 people in their late teens go off on a holiday of boozing and debauchery, there was drama. It's not my drama to talk about but it really set me back. Ho hum, that's just life I suppose.
Through Chris I met another amazing friend (and I love you too for the record!), Kayliegh. She and I weren't close at first, but we had common ground in our struggles and we played a lot of cards together in Kerry, and when Chris went off to Donegal and Spain for a month two summers ago, we leaned on each other a lot. I hadn't got my boyfriend and she hadn't got her best friend. We literally talked every day. Somewhere in there we formed a firm friendship that I am grateful everyday for! I don't remember who persuaded me to, but I eventually went to see my GP and told her about my panics. She was not helpful in the slightest. I was advised to buy a self help book and see how I fared with that. I read it. It did not help me. So I went back and suddenly there was a new GP in her place who was amazing! She referred me to a Psychiatrist. I was bricking it and it did take about 2 months for him to get to see me, but it was the first step to recovery. I had thought day in, day out about dying up until I went to see my doctor. Now I was getting in control.
When I went to see the Psychiatrist, Dr Paul, I was terrified. Was I being silly? Maybe I was over-thinking my problems? Did I even have problems??? Time to man-up, as they say! So in I went, answered a myriad of questions about my family and my relationships, my life, what was happening in my life, and how I had learned to cope with my panic attacks. I answered every single question with blunt honesty, and after 90 minutes in Dr Pauls office, I was given a basic diagnosis. Anxious Avoidance Personality Disorder. What a sigh of relief I breathed! I had a problem, it had a name, I could work on it. I was asked to come back to see a Clinical Psychologist. She was amazing. Like a lifelong friend, I just opened up to her and spilled all of the worries and hurt out. She took notes, told me she'd see me again and work on getting me a space in an Anxiety Support Group. I was thrilled. Things were looking up.
In the meantime, I couldn't get through a weekend with Chris without breaking down somehow, into hysterical tears and spilling my guts. One weekend I told him about how low I had been feeling. I felt like the worst failure in the world. What kind of person was I to be attempting to have a serious relationship with someone?? I obviously didn't deserve to be loved. I was unlovable. I was awful. Maybe I should just die and stop bothering everyone with my stupid head problems. I didn't know what to do. Things felt like they were going from bad to worse. Somehow, Chris took it all on board, and continued to persevere in helping me get through. It wasn't the worst thing I had told him. Imagine your other half telling you they had thought long and hard about how to kill themselves and feel as little pain as possible. I did that. Imagine seeing your other half in hysterical tears telling you they want to die. I also did that. I was put on medication after medication, until I found the one that fit. Then I stayed on that for a year, and slowly things picked up. The tablets were doing their job, thankfully, and I was slowly learning to be happy.
I came off those tablets a year ago, or so. I just forgot to take them and slowly I was off them. I was terrified of what Dr Paul was going to say during our next session, but he was fine with it. He reminded me that medicating was only going to do half of the work, and I had to step up and do the other half. Time to be strong. After being told I could stay off the tablets, I was pretty scared. Was I going to come crashing down? Would I cope OK? Having recently been diganosed also with Generalised Anxiety Disorte, now only time would tell. I would still talk to Kayliegh, I would still have my arse kicked by Aine, I would still cry over stupid things, but I knew I had to be a big bold 20 year old and be brave.
For the first few months after I got discharged from Dr Paul's Mental Health Clinic, I was still really liable to slip and wallow in my own self pity. That wasn't helping but this time I knew it. I decided that I was going to help myself be happy. I was going to kick all my bad habits and that was just the way it was going to be. I would be Amy 2.0 if it was to kill me. I deleted people off Facebook who I knew weren't good for me, and I forged new, wonderful friendships! I even cut all of my purple hair off and embraced my ginger self! It was hard, and every day I wanted to give up, but I am absolutely not a quitter and life is there to be lived, so I was going to live it, and fuck anyone who said I was doing it wrong!!
I can't remember the last time I wallowed. I especially can't remember the last time I panicked. I started this blog and suddenly I was feeling like this amazing, fabulous Super-Amy! I had an outlet for my negative energy, and it had the scope to help someone else. I was going to do what made me happy, and that was just the way it was going to be. If anyone said anything negative, suddenly I was able to deal with their comments. I had been budding during the months prior to this, but now I was in full bloom.
Amy from 3 years ago is so far removed from who I am now, and I couldn't be more happy, or proud of who I have become. I know now that I was damaging myself, I was making my own life miserable, and in doing so, making other people miserable and hurting them. I felt like shit, all the time, and that wasn't okay. I want to say that during my year of rising out of the darkness, there have been setbacks, hurdles I've had thrown out in front of me. My ex told me he lied about loving me and led me on. I knew for a long time that our relationship was toxic, that we were bad for each other, though, I know because he told me once I'd be unattractive with my natural hair color. The only one who was unattractive in that exchange was him, with his manipulating words. My friends have told me about their problems which I was too blind to see myself and its made me feel like a failure, as a friend. But life moves on and all you can do if grow and mature. At the age of 21, I have more knowledge of my own strength that many don't attain til their 40's.
This might not have been the most coherent post, but the misery of that time in my life mushes it all together in to one big black, tear-stained blob. I can't thank Chris, Kayliegh, Aine, and all the rest of my friends enough for helping me get through. I absolutely love every single one of you more than you will ever, EVER know!
If this post helps one person, then it will have been worth it. While I'm not proud of my past, I'm proud that I came through it. I'm proud of what I learned, and in some ways, I'm grateful for the experiences I had, because they shaped me. I'm the new and improved, confident, brave Amy, and that is definitely something I'm grateful for. If you find yourself in the dark, please remember what Dumbledore once said...
“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K Rowling)
I hope you mined some kind of wisdom from my demented, probably overly honest ramble.
All my Love,