The following recounts my experience of 10th February 2015. It was written as part of the ‘Day in the Life‘ project, which aims to capture the ordinary daily experiences of people living with mental health problems. You can read more stories on the project website.
“I wake up. Half-an-hour before my alarm. I’m exhausted. Another poor night’s sleep. It’s my own fault. I had an upsetting chat before bed. That guarantees a bad night.
I think about going for a run. I know it’d help my mood. It might even help me wake? Oh, it’s too late now anyway. I go to the toilet. Most people wouldn’t mention such things. But for me – with my IBS – that’s half-an-hour gone. So now I’m running late, despite waking early. Was that even today? Why are mornings so hard!?
I have breakfast, get ready, and hang on, what’s happened? I must have been daydreaming. I’m running horrendously late now. I can feel the anxiety surging. My chest’s on fire, my head’s pounding. I make a run for the next train I think I’m going to make it. But the ticket machine’s out of order …
I get the train afterwards. I try to do some mindfulness medication. But I’m feeling too agitated. I get off and start walking to work. I’m quite wobbly. And my legs keep jerking. That might be the pregabalin; my new anti-anxiety drug. It causes involuntary muscle movements. Which means I’ve been even more clumsy than usual. I dread to think how I’d be feeling without it. At least the sun’s shining. I’m going to try to focus on that.
I’ve arrived at work. A whole two hours late. I feel so embarrassed. I’m currently working part time, due to my poor mental health, but I’m not that part time. I greet my colleagues. They’re a lovely bunch. Apparently I’m not looking well. ‘Decidedly peaky‘. One of them offers me water. It’s nice that they care.
I decide to start with lunch. Al desko, of course. Food always cheers me up. I wonder about eating one of the office biscuits. I then eat six. I’ve been binging a lot recently.
I’ll ease into work by looking at my ‘professional’ Twitter account. I get anxious thinking about ‘real’ work, so I’ll wait ’til I’m feeling less wobbly. I write some emails. It’s nice to feel I’m achieving something, even though it doesn’t really count. I’ve become terrible at replying to emails recently. I think it’s something to do with the anxiety.
I write an email to arrange my leaving do. I’m quite sad to be leaving. I’ve worked here for over seven years. But it was a mutual decision. My health has been too poor to continue.
A friend comes for a chat. She has chronic fatigue syndrome. We used to chat about stigma. Nowadays she talks, and I shake my head in dismay. She moaned about work on Facebook and management dragged her through two months of disciplinary hearings. I really feel for her. She was doing so well, but the stress caused a relapse. Today she’s been told that she ‘only has herself to blame‘. So I guess we’re back to chatting about stigma.
I return to my desk and work. The proper stuff now. A few hours go by. I spend most of it writing and rewriting the same few sentences. Writer’s block. Not ideal when you’re finishing a PhD.
It’s 6pm. Another friend is leaving the office. We walk to town together. She’s been going through some tough times. I listen. When did I become a listener? She’s really grateful. And that makes me happy.
On the way home, I try to catch up with my online friends. There are new messages from seven different people. I chat to four of them. Not bad, I think. But I’m feeling pretty exhausted.
I get home and greet my partner. It’s always so nice to see her. I heat up dinner it’s a relief to be having left-over’s. We eat while listening to music. Food, conversation, music. Three of my favourite things. It’s the first time today that I feel relaxed. I should do this more often.
I head to the toilet, in quite a lot of pain. The more the anxiety, the more the pain. Then it’s 30 minutes playing a video game, before bed. Today seems very ordinary. But, looking at the positives, that’s a huge improvement on November.”