Saturday, 2 August 2014

When does you Illness define you?


 Recently I have been making a lot of life changing trips and decisions, and with every trip, every choice and every decision I make, I find I am being defined more and more by my illness.

I have suffered from clinical depression and anxiety for around about three years now, and although I would say (as would those closest to me) that I have improved, and I have gotten better, I still find myself defined and restricted by my illness.

A year after being diagnosed I came off anti-depressants and I felt I had reached a real turning point, I had 'beaten' my illness and I was going to make up for lost time, for all the things that I felt I had lost or had been affected by my health. I was going to go on more holidays, go to festivals, and study hard to eradicate the blemishes that my illness had made on my school grades (I sat both my GCSE's and AS Levels during the first year of my illness). But as I began to attempt these things, the illness I thought I had knocked out of my life kept cropping back up. I had had to leave 'T in the Park 2012 Festival' after a day, due to panic attacks. I couldn't go to crowded places and I began not wanting to leave the house again.

I was so desperate to prove myself that I began making life choices for all the wrong reason. I booked an Interrail Holiday with friends cause I wanted to experience something that so far my illness had prevented me from doing. I applied to Universities and fell in love with one the opposite side of the country to my home, partly because I wanted to show I didn't need to be close to home or my doctors. And as I was making all these decisions, trying to prove that I was 'normal' just like everyone else, I began to sense that things were slipping from my grasp again. I was pushing myself too far.

I started experiencing panic attacks whilst on University Open Days, my personal hygiene began slipping again and I just didn't care how I looked anymore. Then came my recent Interrail Holiday (the first installment of which you can read about here) and at first I was okish. I was slightly anxoius, and stressed but all in all I was managing relatively ok. Then about half way through the holiday things went pear shaped. I phoned home crying most days, I was texting my parents and boyfriend constantly and I just couldn't get myself back together again.

Instead of proving myself, I had taken a step back. As soon as a got home and had had a nap my parents told me how worried they had been, how they had talked about it, and they thought that I shouldn't try to go through adjustment to Bristol University, in fact they werent sure whether I should go to Univeristy at all. And had I considered Newcastle as a sensible option? Suddenly everything had become apparent to me, that pushing myself had caused me to relapse and instead of opening up doors and being the 'normal' person I craved, I had gone around in a circle.

But then it also got me thinking, what is 'normal'? Why was I so desperate to prove that I wasn't sick, that I could overcome something that I am most likely to suffer from on and off for the rest of my life? I thought that I had come to terms with my illness, and excepted it and myself, but it was at that moment that I realised I hadn't. I had been so blinded by proving that I was 'normal' that I had neglected the fact that nobody is normal. Everybody has limitations, everybody has fears and anxieties, and everybody gets sad once in a while, it is just that mine are amplified. And as I sat back and let it all hit me, I marvelled at how disillusioned I had been over the last 2 years.

So I have decided to stop trying to prove myself, and trying to escape the fact that sometimes I am gonna get sick, and sometimes I can't stay out all night at a club or go to a busy festival. And there will be months where all I want to do is stay inside, in bed, and not shower for four weeks (however hopefully these months will be few and far between).

And I am just starting to learn to be ok with this. I have had an offer from a great University that is just far enough away from home to feel like I am making my own way, yet just close enough to allow me to come back to visit family and doctors when I need to. I am going away on holiday again, but this time I am going small, for a long weekend to Edinburgh with the one person that makes me feel safe, and whilst there I am going to attempt the 'Fringe Festival' and it's crowds, but now I know to take a step back when it gets too much. I am even trying to bathe everyday, which my family are extremely grateful for to say the least.
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8 comments

  1. Its so good that you felt as though you were able to share this story with everyone, no illness defines you, you are still you no matter what illness you have, an illness is just apart of you but it doesn't define who you are x x

    Jess x
    www.momentsofbeautywars.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. So true, I think it just takes a long time for people to realise they are still the same underneath, and an especially long time for me H xx

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  2. I really love reading your blog Hope, it's so nice to realise that other people experience some of the same feelings I do. Well done for trusting yourself to know when it's a bit too much too soon and when you're feeling ready to try something new!
    s x

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    1. Thank you, that really means a lot. And it is so reassuring to know you are not alone out there. Thank you, I don't think I have learnt quite when to trust myself completely yet, but I am getting there H xx

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  3. This post was just what I needed to hear. It reminded me that you don't need to achieve and do everything in one hit; something that I struggle with sometimes!!

    timid lioness

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    1. So glad that it helped you. And that is something I struggle with too, just take it a step at a time H xx

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  4. You are so brave for sharing your story and your progress. It's really hard to tell other people how you really feel. I know this because I've been in the same situation, well I am still. Please don't push yourself too hard.
    Love from Sweden. <3

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    1. Thank you Amanda, I hope your situation will improve too, contact me if you ever need to H xx

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