I’m Tired of Drowning

This is an essay I wrote on the 31st of May 2019

I’m tired of drowning. As a swimmer, it goes against every fibre of my being. Yet, in January 2017 I was dunked so far under the waves that I’ve barely been able to feel oxygen fill my lungs since.

Losing your entire identity is something not many people have to experience luckily; unfortunately, I did. Everything I knew about myself and everything I thought would be was taken from me so quickly I couldn’t even attempt to save a piece of it. Suddenly I was just a blank canvas even though I had once been covered in so many colours. A bubbly, intelligent and confident individual has been left just an individual.

I had always had some mental health issues: always slightly anxious and depressed. I was first told I had depression when I was 13/14 but I never expected everything would escalate to this. I was naïve when the doctor told me he was referring me to my local mental health service. I thought that within six months I would get help and everything would be ok again. I never got that help though and even when two years had passed I was still hoping that somehow a letter would come through the door or I’d get a call saying someone was going to help me. As I was waiting I was left to suffer in unbearably loud silence.

It was a choice to suffer in silence though. I had somehow got it into my head that because I had not been offered help I, as a person was obviously the issue and not my brain. So I pushed people away because I believed that no one deserved to be loved if they were so fucked up on a natural level. I also believed I was protecting people by not telling them I was hurting. I was always aware that people had their own shit going on so I helped them instead of myself, believing they were more deserving of it than me. I don’t regret doing that at all but I do regret not finding a balance between being selfless and being selfish.

I had unhealthy coping mechanisms as well. For the next couple of years, self-harm was a huge part of my life. I would cut myself. I would burn myself. I would starve myself. I would deprive myself of sleep. I would deprive myself of any form of hydration. I didn’t do it because I wanted to die, though I had dealt with suicidal thoughts on a weekly basis. I just wanted to get my frustrations out on myself.

After I left school I realised I did really need help. I had believed that as soon as I had collected my GCSE results and was accepted into college then my world would somehow become rose-tinted and so much better. That didn’t happen though and as soon as I stepped out of enrolment I promised myself I would get some sort of help. I did as well. I contacted my college counsellor in the first few weeks of my first term and within six weeks I was sat in her office. For a while I believed life was getting better, I was being more honest with the people around me and I felt lighter.

Then January 2017 hit and it changed everything I thought I knew. All of a sudden my body was so heavy that I couldn’t get out of bed. All of a sudden the world was so utterly terrifying that I couldn’t leave the comfort of my own house. All of a sudden I couldn’t have a negative thought without having a panic attack. 

I naively believed that doctors would get me help at that point. Yet I left my emergency doctors appointment with nothing but a piece of scrap paper with a helpline on it. That was when things got dark.

The suicidal thoughts had become a part of my natural thought patterns and my brain was screaming at me to hurt myself from the moment I woke up to the moment I fell asleep. It even got to the point where I had a whole box of paracetamol hidden in my room in case I just couldn’t ignore my thoughts any longer. I had that box in my hands too many times than I want to admit but I just couldn’t do it because I couldn’t hurt the people I cared about. They didn’t deserve to live in a destructive situation I had created; they deserve to live in an incredible and happy place.

That’s what I’ve been trying to do for nearly 36 months but my success rate is extremely low. I’m trying my fucking best every day to be the person the people around me deserve to have around them but I can’t do it. I’ve tried everything I could possibly do; I’ve had counselling, I’ve exercised, I’ve attempted healthy eating, I’ve tried yoga, I’ve had girls nights and I’ve even taken up Pokemon Go to try and get me out of the house. I’ve given up on all of those things because just nothing has stuck. No matter how close to the surface I get to finally breathe my brain comes and pushes me down again.

I wrote this as a way to just get everything out and also to apologise to everybody around me. I’m sorry I can’t talk about what’s going on in my brain. To be honest it’s because I don’t know what’s going on in my brain as I don’t have a full diagnosis. I’m sorry I’ve cancelled so many plans with people. Trust me it has pained me to miss out on spending time with the people I love the most. I’m sorry I’m not the person you deserve to have in your lives. You don’t deserve someone who has constant problems that impact on those around them so much.

I’m tired of drowning. As a swimmer, it goes against every fibre of my being. Yet, in January 2017 I was dunked so far under the waves that I’ve barely been able to feel oxygen fill my lungs since. However, I’m going to keep swimming up until I become the person people deserve to have around them. I’m going to keep swimming up until I’m that bubbly, intelligent and confident individual I was. I’m going to keep swimming up until I am no longer a blank canvas but a colourful painting once again.

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