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The balancing act
Posted by lucyd
27th Nov 2015

There was one day this week that was just a catalogue of (small) disasters. It started with an argument with the doctor's receptionist, progressed through a broken down car and a forgotten lunch date, and ended with a phone call from school telling me that my son was in trouble.

It was so rubbish it was almost funny.

And I got through it. I more than got through it; I actually felt more or less okay about it.

This is huge. Because even a couple of weeks ago, I would have been in pieces if even one of those things had happened.

Things seemed to have turned around dramatically over the past month. It seems inconceivable that only five weeks ago, I was admitted to a psychiatric day unit after taking an overdose.

I can't pinpoint exactly what has changed. There are a couple of things that have certainly helped - 'coming out' on Facebook about my struggle with depression; for once being able to help out a friend in need who has helped me so many times - but otherwise, it's hard to say.

Whatever it is, I'm going to grab it with both hands. It is such a relief to be feeling better. Not perfect - there have still been down days, and anxiety still ripples just beneath the surface - but better enough that I feel like I'm living rather than just existing (or trying not to exist).

The difficulty is, though, that this is a balancing act. As soon as I start to feel better, I want to ditch everything to do with mental health services. I want to stop going to counselling, cancel my psychiatrist appointment, not show up for psychology. What's the point, when I'm feeling okay? I don't want all this mental health crap cluttering up my life and reminding me of my brokenness.

But I know that's a dangerous thing to do. I've had periods before where I've felt better - better than I am now, even - and discharged myself from everything. And then had to fight to get help when I needed it again - at a time when fighting felt just too difficult.

I want to be well again, I want this not to be a temporary 'up' but one that lasts. I want to be here in six months still feeling okay. But living with depression means there is never that certainty. I know I can relapse suddenly, with no warning and for no reason. I know that I can go from okay to suicidal within the space of a couple of weeks. I know that I need to keep my appointments, keep in the system, even if the focus shifts from improving to maintaining my mental health.

I wish I knew for sure that I could recover completely from depression and never be hit by it again, but I don't and I can't.

It's a really difficult truth to live with.

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