Saturday, 29 November 2014

I'm feeling a little proud of myself.

It's now 10 years and nine months since I had a turning point in my life.
An overdose just before midnight on a Sunday night was the moment I couldn't hide my problems anymore. Suddenly I was that kid, another statistic.

My memories of that time are blurry. I could probably dig deeper and really go back there, but I've avoided it this long and don't think I would like to really revisit in depth.

The aftermath of such events was being sent to counselling and the local child and adolescent mental healthservice. It was short-lived.

I used to sit there mute. I'd refuse to go unless Mum was in the room with me. Not because I needed my hand holding, but because I knew she could talk and fill those silences. I wasn't opening up. 

I've always been more comfortable discussing my problems with females. The school's care was not worth talking about, but I was able to connect with one teacher who helped me as much as she could. Suddenly I was sat with a man from the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service and I didn't know what to do.

We got through bits obviously, but I was quickly boxed as depressed and needing some medication to get me back to school. And that's when I began taking anti-depressants. 

Long story short (I think I've been over the inbetween years a few times!) it's been a rocky road. A very rocky road.

I never really coped with London life. Only for having a job I absolutely loved, I'd never have lasted the two and a half years I did. I'd stay in the office as late as I could, hoping the tube would be as empty as possible and that I could quickly make my way home to the safety of my four walls. Once I was in the door, that was me safe. I could stay in my bedroom and keep doing some work or catch up on some TV. I was safe until the next morning and the next panic attack. 

That reached a peak earlier this year and next thing I knew I was back in Ireland.

Sorry, I'm really trying to do this 'long story short' business I promise. So early May I came back for my youngest brother's confirmation. I didn't even make it to the chapel. I freaked out and had to watch as my family head off without me. Again. There I was letting them down. Letting my little brother down. The next day I realised I wasn't going back to London. 

Over a 10 year period I've never seen anyone apart from my GP on occasions when I was dragged by my poor Mother. That happened again in May when my tablet dosage was increased for the first time.

I've established myself a home life routine again - even if it just throwing myself into writing and doing what I can for the people who have amazingly allowed me to remain part of what they do. I can't even begin to describe the emotions in knowing someone is willing to allow you to do what you love, even when you've been extremely hard work and abandoned them. That kind of support is what keeps me going.

But, truth be told, I exist in my own little 'Ryan bubble'. My parents are amazing people. Supporting, understanding, loving, but always pushing me. Always trying to help me. But I'm hard work. Extremely hard work. I like my space, I like my own routine. I've been used to being at home since I was 15 and began home-schooling. But I'm frighteningly alone, and I know that worried them both so much for the future.

One day my anxiety levels reached a peak which saw me sit on the sofa and pull a relatively large circle of the thick hair from my face. That's a frightening sentence to type for sharing, but the day after I did that I was so alarmed I took a picture of the mess (below), because I knew one day I would need to remind myself never to let that happen again. 

Since coming home I've been on one family day out, a promise I made to Mum that I would be part of and with enough notice and brain-planning I found myself able to be there with them all. Other than that, I've not really done much. I went to the cinema once, which, for someone who absolutely loves films, sucks. I'm in my bubble where I can work and enjoy the safety of being at home, but outside of that... Anyway, I'm glad I can write this now. 

My brother was recently diagnosed as ASD, after a long, long battle between my Mum and both his primary and secondary schools. As part of the assessment, she went through everyone in the family, detailing every bit of our lives. I think I caught their attention. Sadly, at 25, it's going to be a very long path to being diagnosed and officially placed on the spectrum. However, that's not the important part for me. Just hearing it and being able to research what Autism is and means was a huge moment for me. I suddenly felt like I had an understanding of who I am. Things made sense to me for the first time. I realised why I've struggled with so many things, why my personality is what it is. An official diagnosis might even disagree, but for me, that was the moment I was able to get a grasp of the last decade. Instead of just being the boy on anti-depressants because he was bullied at school, I could begin to understand my own brain. 

So I made a decision to finally speak to my GP and ask for the help I needed. Six weeks ago I got an appointment to see a psychiatrist. Yesterday, I had that appointment. Up until the night before I wasn't sure if I would go. I was trying to convince myself that I would, but as always with me, until I was in the door I wouldn't know for sure. Thankfully I did. And it felt amazing. 

The lady I saw said all the right things. When I first sat down she simply opened by saying she knew nothing about me. For the first time in ten years I was able to speak about everything. I finally found the voice I needed to help myself. 

The result? I'm coming off the tablets I've been on since I was 15. OK, I'm going onto new ones, but it feels like someone who understand where I'm at has actually made the first medically informed decision and knows what they have prescribed. And that feels exciting. I'll see a psychologist and then we'll progress with the ASD side of things. 

All in all, I wanted to write this as today I feel good. I feel positive. I'm proud that I finally did what I needed to do. Sure, it's late in many ways, but I can't focus on that. I have to see a future. I need to believe that this is the beginning of becoming the person I'm meant to be and building the life I deserve to have. 

Step one of that was organising a quick visit to London. I'm nervous / terrified but excited and hopeful. Small steps. Even if it takes a year, I want to believe I can get there again. That I can do the job I love with the people I love and actually find a life for myself for the first time. 

Now I just want to keep enjoying the time with the family I'm so lucky to have :)

I'm always fearful of over-sharing, but that subsides when I remember the blogs I've read that have helped me, and if I can do that for one other person, it makes it so worthwhile.

Mind -
Mental Health Foundation -
Rethink -
Young Minds -