I sat at the end of the bed. Unable to climb back in and unable to leave the room. I was suffocating. My hands clutched my head. My mind was spinning out of control.
It was 2013, and the second time I’d been to visit my ex-girlfriend. Although at this stage, she wasn’t an ex, she wasn’t even my girlfriend yet. I was staying at a house owned by some of her friends, but they were away. I was some 600km from my home. I trembled my way through the night. Alone, afraid and desperately longing for life.
The next day, I met with her after work and we walked through a park. I kissed her on a small board walk – in front of a pond and fountain. You had to press a button to activate the fountain. Somehow, amongst the chaos crushing my brain, I managed to press it before asking for the kiss.
I felt nothing and hated myself for it. Somewhere, deep inside, I think I caught a glimpse of joy, but my heart was too numb to recognise it. I broke down in tears as we continued to walk. I told her how wretched I felt. How I was on the verge of panic. I told her about the night before.
For some reason, despite what I thought made me an unattractive mess. She kept in contact. We started going out.
Over two years I tried desperately to shake the numbness, to believe that beyond the anxiety I felt something. She moved to my home town. And my panic increased. I longed for my mind to be still. But instead, I fought day in and day out with uncertainty. Was it just anxiety or was the relationship not right? Was I simply not attracted to her or was medication and illness leaving me dry of affection. Either way, I was struggling. Over time It took its toll, eventually, we separated.
Managing mental illness is not easy. It can rip you and those close to you apart – It can prevent you from interacting with people the way you desperately want to – fearlessly and with hope for the future. It can take your hope, and leave you lost.
I have continually fought to manage my anxiety more effectively. However, relationships still scare the shit out of me. I’m petrified of ending up stuck, feeling nothing.
I’ve searched for affection in many places. I’ve made an arse of myself online. I’ve thought “stuff it. If I cant feel a connection or love maybe ill just seek some fleeting pleasure. Who cares if I feel shit afterwards. I feel shit anyway.” I haven't come close to sorting this part of my life out.
I’m not here to tell you a sob story. I’m definitely not here because I get a kick out of exposing my fears. I’d prefer you to think that I’ve got it together, but where is the value in that?
I’m here to give you a glimpse inside the chaos. to tell others you’re not alone. To highlight it’s a process. You don’t have to have everything together at once. I certainly don’t – and that’s okay.