First Step = Admission.

In the past week, I have gotten black-out drunk on three separate occasions, and have woken up the following day with no memory of the night before, and the taste of vomit in the back of my throat. Three days have been spent in a hungover depression, unable to focus on my work, and feeling shamefully self-pitying and gross. Three days I have spent promising myself I will never get into that state again; a promise I have made a thousand times, and a promise I have broken each and every time too.

The thing is, I know I have a problem with alcohol. I’m not an addict; I don’t get the urge to drink everyday, and I don’t get physical withdrawal symptoms if I go without a drink. But I do binge drink, even if I don’t need to get drunk (although, when does one ever ‘need’ to get drunk, really?), and it frequently ends in tears and puke. Not very pretty, I know.

I like alcohol, and that’s part of the problem. I like the way it feels when it rushes to my head and makes me all loose and giggly. I like that I become confident and sexy and wonderful, and that I do things that sober Molly would class as ridiculous. I become this happy, life-of-the-party girl, and I do crazy, insane things that I spend the next day embarrassed about, but equally proud and excited when I get to tell people all my wild tales. I become exciting; untouchable.

In this wild mania, I feel completely free. I feel like all my problems, all my depression and anxiety, disappear. I can just be Molly, Molly who laughs too loud and chats a lot of shit, but who is having the most incredible time and will never go home. Molly who is gleeful, and cool and interesting. An unstoppable, radiant girl.

And it doesn’t matter in that moment how it’ll make me feel the next day. It doesn’t matter that I’ll be tearful and low and hungover, full of regret. It doesn’t matter that all the things I do when I’m drunk will haunt me, and give me panic attacks. It doesn’t matter that I won’t remember the free feeling, because I know that the next time I go out, the next time I drink myself into a stupor, I will feel that good again. My chest will burst with light, and it will all feel dazzlingly brilliant once more.

It’s scary really. Because I know it’s bad, and I know I am only making myself feel worse in the long run. Not even just mentally, but physically too. And yet I can’t control myself. When the drink is there, or even the offer of a drink, I will go for it. Anything to escape my miserable self and become sparkly, fabulous Mols. I can promise the people I love all I want, promise them that I won’t drink, that I’ll take care of myself, but I always fail. I always end up waking from a night out feeling shit because I’ve poured litre on litre of alcohol into my poor liver and stomach.

But here I am, really trying to promise yet again that I will not drink. That I will, at the very least, stop after one or two. Because I know, even without the alcohol, I can be fun and happy. I can probably do it more coherently, and with more self-respect and dignity. I just have to be strong, for myself and for everyone else that cares about me.

It’s these things, these habits, that are the hardest to break when mental health problems cloud my mind and judgement. It’s hard because it’s so simple. It’s such a simple solution to cut out alcohol; to get more sleep; to eat healthily. But sometimes I just don’t want to. I want to do bad things, because it gives me a reason to feel sorry for myself, and it gives me an excuse to hide behind the veil of my mental health issues.

It allows me to stop confronting my demons, and gives me a break in the form of playing the victim. It’s pathetic, honestly. Pathetic that I don’t have the self-respect and clarity to realise how stupid all of those bad habits are. That taking drugs will, of course, make me feel far worse and not better. That relying on alcohol is surely the path to an early grave. And that beating myself up over it, when I could so easily just not do it, makes me a silly, selfish little girl.

But there’s just this voice in my head, this niggle of temptation, which wins out every time. No matter how many times I prove it wrong, it always succeeds in getting me to take that drink, or buy those drugs, or stick my fingers down my throat to puke up the contents of my stomach to allow for more drinking.

I realise I need to say no. I need to ignore it, and focus on my inner happiness. I need to listen to my heart (how very cliche of me), and listen to the good voice that guides me when I go running, or cook a tasty, healthy dinner, or stay in bed and read my mindfulness books. That voice of self-love and confidence, that warmth and contentment, should drive me. Not the creature of self-destruction that lurks within.

I think in writing this, I am externalising my fight against this inner, devilish demon. By setting it out in words, the ridiculousness of my drinking habits, and the need for change becomes easier to see and comprehend. It’s a matter of realising, and then acting on these issues that will drive me forward.

Having a drinking problem, or hiding behind my mental health – it doesn’t make me interesting, or ‘quirky’. It makes me cowardly. It makes me ungrateful for my opportunity at life, and it makes me selfish to all those I hold dear. That’s the truth, whether it seems harsh or not.

Now I just have to act on that truth. I have to work towards being the girl I know I can be, without using booze or drugs to get there.

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And a one, two, three…

It’s a weird feeling, when you start a new relationship. It’s like rehearsing a dance that feels slightly familiar – the tempo, the beat, the skill – but it has completely different steps and moves and even music, and most significantly, a different partner.

Sometimes you misstep, and find yourself anticipating a move that never comes. Sometimes you tumble and fall, and want to give up. And other times you realise you’ve been dancing the wrong routine for a very, very long time. Like having danced the tango your whole life, only to realise you actually prefer ballet.

Now evidently I am no dancer, and I know little of beats or tempos or any of those dancery things. But I have been in a few relationships, and I am currently in a relatively new one, just a few months old, and it does feel like I’m dancing on some wonderful, light, fluffy clouds, being spun around by my new handsome, tall (6 foot 3, golly) companion.

He makes me laugh, and he buys me flowers and cooks me dinner (of course, I also help cook him dinner too, all about give and take!). He does silly things, like quoting the lines from Chicken Run whilst we watch, and says even sillier things, like about how infectious my laugh is, and how pretty I look when I’m not paying attention to anything in particular (which, not to sound vain, happens a lot…). He loves what he studies, and could spend hours explaining his work to me because it makes him so excited, and he has so much passion and drive to do wonderful things with his life.

He listens to all my endless ramblings, even when I’m spouting rubbish, and he gives me the biggest hugs just because he can. He hums under his breath when he plays his music, and it’s just the sweetest noise I’ve ever heard. His lips are softer than butter, and his arms are carved from godly stone, and his eyes are just the bluest, kindest things I’ve ever seen. And he cares, he cares so much, about his friends, his family, and, at least I hope, me.

I completely and utterly adore him. Not even adore, I just love him.

It’s taken me time to feel like this, and taken me moving on from previous relationships to really appreciate just how wonderful he is. But slowly, and very surely, I have reached a moment now where I just can’t imagine things without him. Well, actually, I can. I can imagine going about my day and doing my normal, boring old routine. I can imagine the dullness of it, and the quietness of my day. But I don’t want that. I don’t want to be without him, because he makes me happy. Happy in a complete and utter way, with no pesky drama or unnecessary emotion.

And the best thing is that he knows me completely. He knows about all my baggage, and craziness, and drama. He knows that I’m not completely stable, that I’m depressed and anxious and a little bit on edge pretty much all the time, and he’s okay with that. More than okay. He’s there for me. He’s supportive and loving and kind, and he’s gentle with me when I feel like bursting into tears. And saying that shouldn’t make him a wonderful person; your partner should always, of course, be understanding and loving and kind to all your needs. But he is rare in his patience and strength, and he is extraordinary in his constant support and love. No one has ever made me feel so warm when I have felt so crushed under the weight of cold, painful depression.

I’ve realised over the past few days how lucky I am to have met him and to have him around. I am very lucky. Lucky that he is a sweet, gentle giant; lucky that he loves me regardless of some of the hurtful things I can say or do; lucky that he tells me he loves me every day, and most lucky of all because I get to love him too. It’s taken me too long dwelling on the wrong people to realise that he is the right one. Not The One. I don’t believe in The One, because I think you can find plenty of people who are suited to you in one way or another. But I do believe in him, and happiness, and love. I really, really do.

Bleugh.

It’s not often that I struggle to write, or to come up with something to post. Often, the thought comes first, and the blog post swiftly follows in quick succession, but the past week I’ve just felt a grand total of no motivation to blog or write or do anything really. Even this post is taking more energy than any other I’ve written before.

I don’t quite know why I’m struggling with this, or what I’m really feeling. After my mini epiphany post-counselling last week, things on the ex-front have all but disappeared. It’s just a lulling silence, that sporadically sends my heart racing when I see him (which thankfully, has not been often), but goes back into hiding when he’s out of sight. My new boyfriend makes me happy, and I am finally finding real love with him. I’m managing, slowly but surely, to get the miles in for my 100-mile challenge. My work has been rocky, but I’ve met deadlines and have a solid plan for the production of my 12,000-word thesis over the course of the next two months. My social life is averagely good, and I’ve been taking all my happy tablets with no qualms. Sure, I just got a rejection from the job I really wanted, but I’m not too heartbroken and am keeping my mind open for opportunities for next year. Everything is fine.

But I feel chronically, painfully anxious. I’m waiting for shit to hit the fan, for something to go awfully wrong, and for everything to go spinning out of control. Instead of being out of control, like I was towards the end of last year, I’m now in a constant state of anxious paranoia that it is suddenly going to creep up on me and swallow me whole. Not being dizzily disastrous is almost just as anxiety-inducing as the whole walking chaos thing was.

I guess this is life, though? All the quiet bits between the drama? The highs and the lows, and also the flat-line of normality? I just feel on edge and unsure, and there isn’t really anything going on that should make me feel like that. It just does. I’m not quite sure what to do with that, but I guess the answer is, as Dory would say, to just keep swimming. To live with being fine, without being in fear of the not-so-fine.

And yet, here I sit, chest tight and mind baffled, wondering what disaster will sink my little brain into another ocean of suicidal depression.

I think part of me feels guilty at the moment. Guilty for the way I acted in my manic Molly mindset, and guilty for not being okay when everything is so bloody alright. Like, how ungrateful am I? I have friends, a warm home, a loving family and nothing remotely bad in any tragic or abnormal sense has ever happened to me. My life has been pleasant and lovely and indulgent and good, so why am I so ungrateful for it? Why am I not thriving in the blissful peace of normality and steadiness? Why do, even after one failed attempt, I still have suicidal thoughts? Why would I think like that when so many people care?

It’s a cycle of worry like this that keeps going and going and going round my brain. I’m tired of it now, exhausted in fact. But I’ll keep living, I know I will. I know I won’t act on this depression, at least not in my sober mindset, but I just don’t know how to shift this feeling. The strain on my chest and heart and head that I wake to everyday, and that I go to sleep to every night. It’s exhausting.

What scares me most is that I know I have created this negative cycle in my head. I’m making myself anxious and sad, and if I just stopped doing that, it would probably go away and I would be fine. I guess that’s easier said than done. Like, I wish I could just shut it off like turning off a tap or something. Like, click my fingers and poof, the anxiety and depression just vanishes. That would be great.

I’ll keep running, writing, meditating and yoga-ing. I’ll keep working and socialising and doing things. Maybe it will get easier in time. The depression is there, but maybe it will lessen, and maybe one day, I’ll be able to appreciate being normal. I’ll wake up in my bed and feel reassured that everything is just as usual; steady and safe and warm. Maybe one day, being normal won’t be so scary. For now, I’ll just tread cautiously.

Down…and Up.

I was right about Monday. That I’d drop back to low. I did. My thoughts were racing so much that I had a panic attack whilst in the middle of Tesco and had to go and stand in the corner and remember how to breathe.

And then, when I finally got back to my desk in the library, staring blankly at my work, I thought over and over and over again about the ex I’m still stuck on, even though I know it’s so over, and I don’t love him anymore and he wasn’t the one. It’s not even about that. I’m obsessing about me. About what I did wrong, and whether I’ll do it wrong again in this new relationship. About whether I’m inherently unlovable, and whether he ever loved me or he just took pity on me, and was secretly impatient to throw me off. I can’t seem to stop circling.

Circling the idea that somehow, for whatever reason, it was my fault. I broke it all up, and I am this nasty, selfish person. And even though I know it was not a good relationship, I can’t help the circle of thoughts that gathers at the corners of my mind and points out every possible reason it was me that wasn’t good, not the relationship.

I then cried in my room because I finally plucked up the courage to ask for help from my tutors concerning my mental health, and because they were so kind when I felt so weak and pathetic. I cried because I can’t seem to stop thinking about him, and I cried because I’m no longer his girl, or his best friend, or his anything. I cried because he’s replaced me, and she seems perfect, and clearly I’m just not. And I cried because I don’t know how to stop my brain from circling, or how to move past him, or to be his friend when it’s just so painful.

Even waking up today, having used sleeping tablets to finally get my insomnia of worry to shift, I feel the exhaustion of these thoughts burgeoning at my mind. They’re crippling me, breaking me up. I can hardly think straight.

***

So, halfway through writing this, I had to go to my counselling session. And so, I got all of this off my chest. All the thoughts and the words and the worries that have been circling and that made Monday so bad. And my counsellor was brilliant. Her words were the boost that I needed, a music to my ears.

You see, my problem is, the reason the thoughts about him won’t stop circling, is that I haven’t really listened to how I feel about the situation. Because we share friends and we live close together and we agreed to stay friends, I’ve had to swallow down all the anger and hurt and upset I feel towards him and grit my teeth and smile. I’ve had to act like everything is okay, even when it’s not. Even when I hate him, or am mad at him, or sad at him. Wouldn’t possibly want to make things awkward for him or anyone else, golly gosh, no.

Because the truth is, if you ever dump someone, you can’t do it nicely. You can’t just break up and say “let’s be friends” and expect the dumpee to feel all merry and happy with that. It simply isn’t possible. It’s a complete oxymoron. A friendly dumper? Really? Just no.

Because if you’re ending that relationship, then that’s it. Done. Final. You have chosen to step away from that person as a girlfriend or boyfriend, but you can never keep the friend part, because it will always be a question of “why not more? what’s wrong with me to not date me? why aren’t we together?”, and because, even if they don’t say it, the dumpee will always feel hurt and pain at the decision of the dumper to leave them. Unless it is completely mutual (which I highly doubt it ever is), you simply cannot maintain a friendship.

Brutal, I know, but that simple truth is actually something I really needed to hear. To hear that what I’m feeling, this pent up hurt of being replaced by a new girl, and even about being ditched in the first place – this hurt and anger and sadness – it’s legitimate. It’s allowed. I’m allowed to not be okay. To not want to see him strutting around with his new lady, or to not want to reply to his ‘friendly’ messages sent just ‘as a friend’. I’m allowed to be pissed, even though part of me knows he’s not awful, or nasty at heart, but I’m allowed to be pissed because he dumped me and it sucked. It hurt. It still hurts. Maybe it’ll always hurt a wince.

And to friendly dumpers out there – whilst what you think you’re doing is lovely and kind, “hey, I don’t love you in that way but let’s be friends?”, you’re actually doing a very mean thing. Because what you’re doing is breaking someone’s heart, and then denying them the right to feel upset or angry or sad or anything about it but fine. Because it means that you still are a nice guy, and so they can’t outwardly despise you because you’ve been so nice about it all, but actually, what they need is for you to be blunt and mean and unkind so that they can hate you. They need to hate you. In order to heal. They need to feel the searing heat of anger to seal the wound you’ve made.

And it might seem dramatic or unfair or frankly uncalled for, because sure, dumping someone doesn’t make you a bad person. You’re allowed to not feel it, and to want to find someone more suited to yourself. But it means you will always be, at least slightly, a bad person to the brokenhearted person on the receiving end. Always. That is an inescapable truth. You’ve broken their heart and their trust and their love, so it seems only fair that they should be able to hate you, even if it is just a little.

So, realising this, I finally understand my head. I finally understand where these thoughts are coming from, and they’ve finally slowed down. Because instead of having to swallow down this anger and hurt and pretend it’s all fine and dandy, that we’re all fine and dandy, I can finally just accept the fact that we’re not. That no, we can never be friends like we once were. No, we can’t meet for lunches or do face masks together or any of that nonsense. Because we can’t be close like that. It’s simply not fair – you can’t have your cake and eat it, pal.

Sure, we can be civil, say hello, be at the same gatherings, but we cannot rely on each other like we did. We can’t gossip or share secrets or spend endless hours messaging like we once did. It’s not right, and it’s not good. And it’s okay that right now, I want to kick him really hard and scream at him for all the misery his measly breakup brought me. Don’t worry, I won’t, but in my head – those thoughts are okay. They are totally, 150 percent natural. Being angry is fine. Pretending to be fine is not.

Run, Molly, Run.

Today I did the first run towards my 100-mile goal.

I ran 3.4 miles in 37 minutes and 36 seconds.

I don’t know how that compares to other people, and I don’t know how it compares to my own, slightly-fitter-and-younger-self when I actually used to be alright at long distance cross-country. Frankly, I don’t really care. Because what I do know is this: Me, the girl who used to hate any form of exercise, ran the whole way. I ran the whole way without pausing or feeling overly sweaty or exhausted or completely out of breath, and without so much as a twinge of a stitch, which is far better and far stronger than any other super fast-paced running I’ve been doing recently. Instead of pushing myself into pain, I breathed deep and controlled my legs and relaxed my shoulders, and I ran the whole way steadily, at a point that was just about comfortable and controlled. And I did it.

I did it.

The relief I feel with that – the happiness that brings me – it’s the spark of a feeling I thought I had lost. As I finished the end of that run, rounding the corner from the beach to my house, I just knew that I had done it. I had run 3.4 miles without dying, or someone pointing at me and laughing at my attempt to (which is probably worse), and in that second where my legs just moved, I knew that if I just try, if I really try, I really can do anything.

It sounds so small. A run going well. But God, it feels so good. To sit here and feel like I have earned the right to sit on my butt and spoon down a bowl of my delicious (vegan) ice-cream. I feel sparkier, brighter, and my brain feels like it’s had a fresh trim; all sharp and focused. I feel like the smile is breaking my face, and sure, I can still feel the twinges of anxiety in my chest and the knots of stress in my back. But, I don’t care. Because tomorrow, I will go for another run, and the next day, and the next. And this feeling of pure euphoria, it will keep coming.

I feel good. Good in a hopeful way, a feeling that edges on happiness, and that takes me one step outside of that horrible darkness that keeps trying to eat me up. It really is going to be okay – not fabulous – but not horrible. Just alright, and that is so much better.

And I’m not fixed. Not even close. Hell, I reckon by Monday there will be another tragically sad, depressing post on here about how much my legs ache and that the nothingness has returned to eat out my heart. But right now, in this moment, I don’t feel that. I feel balanced, ish. Those dizzying thoughts and that spinning has calmed down just enough to catch my breath.

It’s these moments I need to work on, not the depressing ones. I need to focus on these moments where it’s okay, and I need to use this warmth to fill the nothing up. Stretch it out into the vast expanse of depression, and scream “No more, negative thoughts! Get out of my head, and go bother someone else! I’ve got happiness now, and he’s much better company!”.

We’ll see. But for now, I’m feeling one step closer. Yay.

Something.

So after my last rather depressing, mopey post, I have tried to have a change of heart and approach to myself and my feelings.

Instead of wallowing, which as much as I hate to admit, that post was, I am picking myself up and putting myself back on the big ol’ tracks of life. I’m not okay, sure. But I’m also not going to let that negativity determine my life, because that’s lame and pathetic and it won’t get me far. What is Beyond Fear if it isn’t learning to deal with the crushing worries and fears that plague me? I’m just giving into it when I write stuff like that.

So instead of not trying, because it’s “too hard”, I am going to try even harder. I am going to try my hardest to find the Molly I am, because I know she isn’t lost, and she isn’t really a terrible person. She’s just depressed. She’s just anxious. She’s just majorly out of it. But she isn’t gone; she’s merely hidden.

I have a knack for doing this thing where I cry and whine and throw my toys out the pram because that’s what I feel like, and yet I always do what I have to. I always suck it up and wipe the tears away and do it. Whether it be an essay, or going for a run, or even something as simple as getting out of bed and having a shower. I just make myself do it.Which is what I have to do right now – make myself happy, even if it’s the most difficult thing on the planet. Even if all I want to do is scream and cry.

I must smile. And laugh. And love.

So I’ve signed up this month for RED January, a one month scheme designed to encourage exercise everyday (as much or as little as you like), and have set myself two goals:

  1. Run 100 miles by the 31st of January.
  2. Raise at least £100 for Mind (the Mental Health Charity) while doing so.

It’s going to be a challenge, I realise. But a worthwhile challenge, and one that will make me take action, both physically and mentally. I will not hide away from this depression and I will not let it take all the parts of me that I love. I’m going to find them, all those tiny pieces that make me, me, and I’m going to never give up trying.

I’m finally doing something.

Nothing.

I’m at the edge. At the very edge of something dark and big and catastrophic. I can see that I’m slipping; can see that I’m so far from okay, but God knows how I can stop it, or how I can feel any better. That dizzying spinning wheel has a G-force that’s hurtling me into the centre, and pushing me right down to the ground. To deep, dark rock bottom.

How do I get up?

I am so very unhappy. I jump from mood to mood, emotion to emotion, from thought to thought, and all that is left behind is this exhausting, draining, awful numbness that has my insides screaming and my mind cursing me and my body just so very tired. But I can’t stop. If I stop, I don’t think I’ll ever pick myself up again. If I stop, I drop. Drop, and drop, and drop.

How do people live with this pain? The past few days have been so fucking awful, I haven’t even been able to put them into words. I can barely keep myself together, can barely feel who I am anymore. I’m a living, breathing disaster.

I didn’t want this blog to become a stream of my incessant moaning and depressing crying about how bleak I feel. I wanted it to be positive and full of life and full of me, but what if this is all I am? What if all I am is this terrible, tangled ball of worry and fear and depression? What if the person I thought I was has upped and left, and all I’ve got are these terrible thoughts and words and feelings?

I am so wrapped up in this nothing that I can’t find myself. And the attempts I’m making are wrong and nasty and mean to people who don’t deserve it. Like this lovely, kind boy I’m seeing, who treats me like an angel and buys me beautiful flowers without being asked and the shoes he knows I’ve wanted for months, just because. 

And yet I can’t feel anything for him.

I can’t feel what I should, what I long to fucking feel, and yet I pretend I do. I say those awful words of “I love you” when I’m drunk, or depressed, or lonely and wanting to feel that something, so I lay there and whisper that lie that I love him – that awful, terrible lie – and it feels like I should, it feels like it should be right, like he is so fucking perfect but it isn’t true and it’s so fucking cruel. It’s so horrible to try and make myself okay by using him, by pretending to feel something more. But I’m so lost, and I don’t know how to stop myself. I just want to feel something, just anything except this aching, lonely nothing.

Where has the me I was gone? The girl who was kind and loving and clever and funny? The girl people used to call the ‘smiley’ one; who laughed so loudly her stomach ached; who stared at endless, blue skies and felt full of bottomless wonder? The girl who would never have led someone on like this, or cheated on their loved one, for that matter? Where is the girl who used to think everything of the person she loved? The girl who believed in happily ever after? Where is she?

Because at the moment, I feel like this terrible impersonation of her. This impersonation that talks like Molly, walks like Molly, sort of looks like Molly, but has been gutted of anything inside that was at all Molly. I can’t find that deep, aching laughter, or that smile that used to make my cheeks sore and pink. I can’t find that love and wonder and hope that I used to feel for the world. I can’t find that feeling I used to get when I wanted something, that drive of passion, the burning delight of a goal in life to keep me going.

I can’t find anything.

It’s like clasping at the sides of a deep and dingy well, unable to pull myself up, or find anything in the walls except mud and grit and blood from my bleeding hands. I feel like my chest has been blocked off from the rest of my body, and with it any kind of feeling that makes me a good person. Where has my compassion and warmth and love gone? All the things that made me kind and joyful and lovely – where the fuck have they gone? I’m like a clean and polished morgue inside. Bleached and shiny, and full of nothing but empty, dead things.

I know all this lying is wrong; all these made-up feelings, and empty plans, and meaningless words. I know that I’ve done some fucking terrible things in the past few months. And it eats me up and makes me feel bad. And yet even then, all I can think about is how it makes me a bad, horrid, terrible person. Not about how it could devastate other people, or how others might feel. How fucking selfish is that? Wait, no, sorry – how selfish am I?

I don’t like myself. I don’t like who I am becoming. It isn’t the person I want to be, or the person I know I should be. And I know that I need to pick myself up and pull myself together, but it’s just so fucking hard. Not hard; it’s impossible. I really just can’t do it anymore. No mindfulness, tablets, yoga, running, meaningful books or wistful quotes are going to save me. Not even I can save me.

And sure, I sound like a whiny, self-pitying, boring, moaning fool. So fucking what? I’m so fed up of trying when all I feel is nothing. When all there is is exhaustion and emptiness.

I may as well be a rock. An ungrateful, stubborn, cold, nasty little rock.