I’ve been trying to pen some of my thoughts on my mental health for about 6 years now. As you can tell, it’s been a productive period and I’ve been entirely successful.
I was asked yesterday what my biggest regret in life has been. There have been a few, but once I started thinking about it, there aren’t as many as I expected. It’s tough to open yourself up, and especially tough to address your own weaknesses and failings, of which mine have been plentiful and numerous. My aim is to try and explain some of the (lack of) thought processes without sounding too much like I’m making excuses.
Last year saw me hit rock bottom. I lost my job, my home and my independence. I had to give up my cats and snakes, who had kept my tenuous link to sanity at least vaguely tethered for the previous few years. I had no friends, my connection to my family was at its lowest and weakest point and I can honestly say I wanted to die. I don’t say this to shock or evoke sympathy, it’s just the case. In the years leading up to that I worked myself into a full-blown mental breakdown and lost my career of 8 or so years, and the friends who had come with that.
Last year also saw the end of my marriage and 8 year relationship, made additionally awkward as I was living with her parents who had graciously taken us into their home and helped us get our feet back on the ground. I won’t go into details, as I don’t think it is fair to do so, but whilst I wasn’t expecting it and was initially dismayed, it has since become clear that it was the right decision. I can’t speak for both parties, but I know that I am in a better mental space and have an eye on the future for the first time in a long time.
Whilst these are for sure the lowest points of my life, I’m not sure I really regret them. I certainly wouldn’t repeat them through choice or wish them upon anyone else, and for sure wouldn’t pick them out when awards season rolls around, but these are things that have hit me BECAUSE of my mental illness and my inability to cope with it. By not having the support network in place, I allowed my diagnosis to overwhelm me and eventually replace me.
My biggest regret is that, before I was even diagnosed, I allowed myself to become isolated from my friends. When I went to Uni I was too busy trying to adapt to new friends and let my old friendships die off through neglect. When depression hit me really hard in my final year of uni, I isolated myself in my room and was incapable of keeping friendships alive. I wasn’t strong enough to ask for help or to explain to my friends why I was becoming quieter, more reserved or spending so much time on my own. I chose to avoid socialising in the usual ways and proceeded to lose grip the few friends I had left.
I did later tell my best friend that I was suicidal, but I think by that point it’d probably decayed too much. He was shocked, but the subject was swiftly changed. I ignored messages and invitations until the olive branches simply stopped arriving. At the time I hadn’t sought out help but was well aware of my depression, but powerless to stop it eroding all of my support. I didn’t feel worthy of their attention. After all, they were only messaging me because they were socially obligated – they didn’t truly want me around. I was miserable, awkward and was either silent or over-the-top energetic, who would willingly want that as a friend?
So when I needed them, when everything had truly gone to shit, I didn’t have a friend left to turn to. I suppose what it comes down to is this – my main regret is not seeking help soon enough to fix the problems I had allowed to manifest.
To the friends I neglected, ignored or straight shunned – I am sorry. To those who I burned one too many times, I hope this helps alleviate some of the mystery. If anyone is reading this that I have fallen out of contact with, or would just like to talk, please drop me a message. I’ll try my hardest to respond without being too much of a sarcastic dickhead. No promises.