The mornings are the worst. Waking up and for the most fleeting of moments feeling calm, only for it to be swept up in a net cast in doubt, anxiety and racing thoughts. The knot in my gut starts turning on itself and the decision to get up and try and flee the feelings or to pull myself up into the smallest of balls is a decision too hard to make. A cry will involuntarily well up like the tiniest voice in the wildest of wildernesses.
Thoughts race through my brain on everything from what I’m not doing right (or not at all) with allconsuming food to the process of getting Oscar ready for school through being worried about Chef being in a dead-end job when he’s capable and deserving of so much more to financial terror and everything I haven’t done to ensure the boys will grow up to be successful and happy. These thoughts can’t be pinned down, they jump around, thumping my brain over and over, pre-empting my attempts to wrestle them into a manageable murmur.
I try so hard to calm my mind, telling myself how futile these thoughts are. I am the valedictorian of cognitive therapy techniques and I pull them out, one after the other, frantically trying to rebuild the armour to get through another day.
Life is hard when you’re in a relentless marathon to outrun your mind.
Thoughts of suicide are my shadow, lurking around me. I find it curious there’s no drama around it, just a quiet knowledge that all the stress, all the self hatred, all the feelings of embarrassment, shame and regret about my life could so easily be washed away. There’s a jagged fault line in my mind between this daily dream of death and acting on it. I’ve been in situations where I’ve been able to say “I’m not safe”, where the gash narrows and I can easily step across. I’m not there now but I worry about its possible entrance stage right. But as my shrink says, life trumps everything, even if it’s messy and broken.
More than 2,000 people commit suicide in Australia every year. There are more than 60,000 reported suicide attempts and it’s accepted those figures are an underestimate. More than 20% of all deaths in young men and women are by suicide*.
Today my psychiatrist prescribed lithium to give me a “floor”. I’m quite looking forward to having one of those.
* Figures from the National Mental Health Commission.