Ok, obviously there are a lot of things about your mental illness you could be embarrassed/ashamed about, especially when it comes to anxiety, depression, intrusive thoughts and of course the big one, suicidal ideation (which no one really wants to admit, who wants to tell people that?). And if it were a perfect world we wouldn’t have to be embarrassed by any of it! But yes…there’s that thing called stigma.
I have lots of embarrassing stories about my life in general, therapy appointments, love life, etc. But in the last three years there’s a B.I.G. one and it just so happens to have been caused by my depression.
After my break up and moving back home, I hit, not rock bottom, but definitely some sort of bottom. The breakup really destroyed a part of me. He was part of the little joy I found in life sometimes, losing him unexpectedly was devastating. Weekdays were fine but weekends…weekends were terrible. I would literally stay in bed for the majority of the day, perhaps I would wake up between noon and 2pm, eat something (wasn’t breakfast time but definitely breakfast foods), head back upstairs and just fall back into bed to sleep. Next wake up time was maybe around dinner time, I would eat, do a few things, maybe watch TV, shower… then head back to bed. And, make note, I was actually sleeping, which means I was asleep maybe 20-24 hours with a couple breaks. Sometimes this would be for both Saturday and Sunday but it really depended on my plans.
Now i’m sure you’re saying, huh, how is this embarrassing? But I feel extremely shameful about this time in my life. And you have to understand this went on for three years (a long time, I know, hence the shame). I’m mostly a type-A person and very ambitious and there I was wasting away in bed. I could’ve done so much with that time (one friend liked to point out I could’ve written another book in that time, and well she was right, I could have). It was a very shameful experience to be honest.
I lived with my father at the time, just him and I. Truthfully, I have always been a sleeper so the sleeping-in didn’t really concern him at first. When it got extensive, he obviously became very concerned. He started out very sweet and sympathetic but to be honest I think he just hit a wall of frustration at one point (I since have written him a card thanking him for his love and support while apologizing because I know this wasn’t what he imagined it would be like when I returned home to live). We fought some mornings (mostly him shouting), perhaps he thought the tough love would get me to change, but it didn’t.
Honestly now that I look back… part of me thinks that’s what I needed. I needed to shut down on weekends to survive, to reboot, to rest from all the challenges/trauma I’ve had in my life. I had been fighting emotionally for a long time. My body and mind were just like nope. And it felt good, it felt so good to just give in and sleep. It was the closest thing to death really.
It did seriously f— up my sleep cycle and circadian rhythm eventually and I had to actively work to reverse what I did and sometimes yes… sometimes that pillow or couch and sweet escape of sleep still calls my name.
What would you say are/were the most embarrassing things you dealt with when it came to your mental illness?
Sleep tips that have helped me reverse the damage:
No phone, no laptop or electronics in bedroom
Read books/magazines in bed or before bed
No alcohol, no late nights
*No caffeine after noon
*30-40mins naps only and before 3pm
Consistent sleep and wake time, *even on weekends
If it takes you longer than 20 mins to sleep get up and read (so that bed is associated with sleep)