One of the most dreadful things about being mentally unwell is the sense of isolation it causes.
Sadly this is also mirrored in my living conditions. I live on my own in a little village about two miles from the nearest town centre – as my depression has progressed and my OCD rituals around my skin worsened I have become almost house-bound. And lonely. Very very lonely.
Last week was marked by a growing sense of agitation and paranoid thoughts:
- My reaction to my employers kindly offering to support me by outsourcing an occupational therapist (I work from home currently but even that has become problematic at times) is to assume that they think I’ve made all this up. That I’m a fake.
- Similarly a flood of thoughts around my multiple problems led to a concern that this wasn’t real. That really I was “okay” that I was a bad bad person. That really I was just lazy and “attention-seeking”.
- There was an increased sense of nervousness around my Asperger’s assessment day. “Fake, fake, fake Rose. You’re normal. Stop trying to make sh*t up and waste people’s time. You have friends, you have a job. Stop with this now!” And then I had to remember recurrent difficulties and some of the issues one of my exes drew attention to and suddenly I felt different again.
- Extreme sensitivity. I’m not good with unsolicited sexual advances, particular from males. I don’t know why exactly. However, I had one and I “flipped”. The intrusive thoughts and paranoia multiplied out of control. I panicked.
What actually helped to calm me was spending time with a friend.
I don’t normally accept last minute invites but I did so after much coaxing. I distrusted the idea of being alone with horrid thoughts and therefore chose to spend time being fed (important when often I am too tired to cook anything nutritious) and importantly being listened to.
Just talking about the urges to rip at my skin and the intrusive thoughts which accompany them was scary. But I was met with a listening ear. Even if there wasn’t perfect understanding (and I’m not sure there ever can be without access to the content of another’s mind) there was acceptance and no judgement.
Acceptance and no judgement.
What a balm these things are! A perfect antidote to the sense of dread and isolation that I experience on almost a daily basis.
Too often in these cases people try to leap in and “fix” and “advise”. To give a “good talking to”. To hope that people like me have the sense to “snap out of it”. To be “educate” and “inform” as our suffering surely means complete ignorance of how to live any better.
No, please. Just listen and hear me as I am. The feeling of acceptance is a great medicine and I’m definitely feeling the benefits from it this week.