I had a breakdown in November and was diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety. My illness has been full of images and metaphors that haunt and help me.
During months of being suicidal the image of a gun to my temple was the most prominent and most disturbing. It's strange, as it was not a way of killing myself that I ever thought about but it kept coming back and back. Until the medication kicked and I got some support the image was constantly in my head and was very vivid twice, once when I was hospitalised and the other when I spent time in the Maytree suicide respite centre in London. The image still comes up from time to time but thankfully less.
The illness, especially initially was like being lost at sea, being able to see the shore and trying to swim forward to safety but being pushed back by wave after wave. It seemed relentless, it was exhausting and I never felt like I was getting closer to safety, although I was. Keeping my head above the water required faith and hope which was in short supply but somehow I did it. Being in the sea was terrifying, I hadn't chosen to be there and was being engulfed.
Being on medication was like walking over a rickety bridge to get to the other side of the ravine; a necessary evil and full of side effects. I had no problem taking the medication when I was fist ill it was the only hope I had then, so I headed off onto the bridge and half way through felt dizzy and strange. I know that the medication has helped massively and now that I have changed my medication to something with less side effects I am much happier; the bridge is swaying less....
Recovery is like building a house of cards. You have to take it slowly, you have to realise that sometimes the cards will fall down and if you rush the process there is a danger of needing to start all over again, pace is everything. Building a house of cards is a delicate process that requires patience and trust and you need help. I have had very mixed experiences with formal support, some great workers who cared and others who didn't help at all. The main support came from friends and family who demonstrated their care and love and told me they wanted me to stay alive; they have added cards and glue with care and commitment. It has helped to see other houses that have been built and are still standing in the wind; hearing people say that they've recovered and hearing how they have come through has been hugely beneficial when I can't see how my house will ever be built. It's not built yet, there is a lot of work to do but there is finally some light coming in through the windows, thank goodness.