Feeling as though you are losing control of your thoughts is a tough battle. It can creep up on you and hit you without warning. When you realise what is happening, you can't even recognise yourself. Kristin Macfarlane writes about becoming a shell of her true self.
Some days the silent screams inside your head are so loud they can completely debilitate you at any time.
On the inside, it is taking every pinch of energy you have to get through the day.
On the outside, you're chugging along.
Although you might be functioning, you aren't quite your normal self but you aren't giving anyone around you enough of a reason for them to question your wellbeing either - even though you quietly wish they would.
You don't want pity. You don't want sympathy. You definitely don't want anyone to say 'Let me know if you need anything'. But someone simply acknowledging they can see you are going through something can help you through what you're feeling.
You can't even fully understand what's happening so how can you ask for help when you can't even figure out how to get back to normal?
All you do is doubt your right to feel the way you do, knowing there are others who are in a position to deservingly feel worse than you. You feel selfish but resentful at the same time.
That's a very small example of how I spent at least half of 2019 - constantly treading water to stay afloat.
I've never sought professional advice or help for the way I felt so I have never been diagnosed as suffering from any form of mental illness, but I know there is no part of that experience that is healthy. It was the complete opposite.
I withdrew from my friends. I 'couldn't make' social gatherings. I dissected friendships and relationships and questioned their worth.
I did all the things I had to do in my everyday life and very little else.
Everything I enjoyed doing for myself, I stopped.
Normally someone who rises early to make the most of the day, I instead found myself spending any free time outside of my commitments not doing anything at all.
There were a couple of days I didn't even get out of bed and as I lay there, drowning under blankets, I'd be dealing with an internal struggle telling myself how disappointed I was going to be wasting a day this way while also questioning the value of doing anything else in that moment.
I was alive but I wasn't living.
It was a combination of everything that got me there. Work and personal stresses, others' expectations of me and the expectations I had for myself.
I knew I was dealing with something I never had before and the feeling of not being in control was frightening.
I could identify that I couldn't even recognise myself anymore but had no idea how to get out of the slump that had been created.
I no longer connected with those closest to me because I no longer connected to myself.
"Just doing a bit of a welfare check. You all good? … I worry about you," that message was the start of what helped to pull me out of my funk.
The message wasn't invasive or overly sympathetic but it was real, and the acknowledgement was exactly what I didn't realise I needed.
I cried. And with tears streaming down my ugly cry face I replied with a message of appreciation, while also changing the subject.
I didn't need to continue the conversation at that point but it really made me aware of the difference showing up for someone rather than offering to help someone can have.
It's the difference between relationships with conditions and relationships without conditions.
People have good intentions but asking someone struggling with their existence to let them know if they can help with anything is unlikely to make a difference. It might make the person offering help feel better knowing you've done your part but the person that needs that support is unfortunately, highly unlikely to reach out or take up that offer.
Showing up, whether it's physically or emotionally, is powerful. It might mean helping to cut down the tasks your loved one has on their plate, it might be doing something to allow them some 'me time', or it might simply be a cuppa and a chat.
For me, a few genuine messages were all it took to help guide me back on track.
A few months later I received another message from the same person. It read: "You are definitely not yourself." A little while later was another: "Please don't forget how amazing you are. I'm incredibly lucky to be able to call you a friend."
I still get a bit teary-eyed reading that back, knowing how much of an impact they had on me at that time.
I've never said anything to the sender but those words helped me more than they could ever imagine. I'm not all the way healed but I'm getting there. If it wasn't for that friend, showing up, I'd probably still be in the same situation and for that I'm incredibly thankful.