I’ll be ok, I always am

I wrote a text message to a friend yesterday that went something like this: “I have been doing it this way forever, being alone has got me this far. I’ll be ok, I always am”. The reason I say it went something like that is because I deleted the message thread straight after I hit send so I can’t go back and read it to see what I said word for word. I knew internally it was the wrong position to take, but sometimes we have to say what we feel at the time, right or wrong. One thing I have learnt, the universe always finds a way to sort us out. 

As an advocate in the wellness, suicide prevention and mental health space we always talk about talking. We say how important it is for people to speak up, reach out for help and not bottle it all up but how many of us practice what we preach? It’s the loneliest job there is. 

I thought I did. I thought I did until the universe heaped a whole heap of expected and unexpected pressure on my shoulders. I went into shutdown mode. It has been a coping skill for as long as I can remember since Aidon died. Disassociation at its best. I have it down to a fine art. Now this isn’t a good thing. Sometimes it is helpful to get us through those tough moments but prolonged disassociation of thoughts and feelings is not recommended. It will always find a way to seep out.

So why this blog? Well the universe wanted to remind me that I am not superhuman and I am actually going to have to find a way, a person or a strategy to make sure I acknowledge the pain & pressure when it comes. 

Setting the scene; 

I am on a 14 hour flight back to LAX. The whole process of getting ready to leave, packing, uber to the airport, check in, security and waiting at the gate are all a blur. I hadn’t slept the night before. I wasn’t functioning but most of all I wasn’t acknowledging it. Instead I wrote that text message above. 

I’m sitting in row 51H. We are 5 hours in. I feel the heat rise up my back, right up my neck to my face. It’s hot. Like oven hot. I take off my hoodie, still hot. It’s burning and now and I’m starting to feel light headed. My heart beat gets faster and I have this intense feeling that this is it. I’m dying. Except this isn’t how I’m supposed to go. I know how it happens and this isn’t it. What is happening. This can’t be happening. Can anyone see the panic in my face. Can they feel my energy levels spike and the unease I’m feeling. My breathing is erratic and it feels like someone is stepping on my throat. Apparently they can. The guy next to me grabs my hand and just says “you’re ok, it will be ok”. 

And it happens. I cry. I just cry. The tears fall and all that negative energy I had been holding onto this last 24 hours just comes out. The tightening in the chest is still there, the breathing is still shallow but I feel relieved and I gradually pull myself back to a normal level of breath. 

My new plane friend doesn’t ask me what’s wrong, it’s like he knows I’m not going to dive into the story head on but he makes sure I know he is there. It is by far one of the most bizarre experiences I have ever had. My first panic attack happened and I never anticipated it ever would. 

It has been a really tough 2 weeks but an even tougher past 48 hours and all I wanted to do was look up at the sky and scream. How much more shit does one person have to go through. The self pity is at a level 10. That is another aspect of being an advocate that is rarely spoken about. The ‘poor me’ feeling. We are expected to hold ourselves together and push through because we are the people who set the example and hope for so many others. But sometimes we all need to just look up at the sky and scream ‘why me’. 

We allow ourselves that because then we pick ourselves back up, dust ourselves off and take that next step forward. We are allowed to have those moments. We are human. 

Am I suddenly going to be an open book, talking about all my feelings? Most likely not, it is not who I am as a person BUT if the events of my plane trip taught me anything it is to take baby steps. Find people who I can trust and open up as best I can. It might not be what others are capable of or expect of me but if I can acknowledge it, it is a start. 

Life is only going to get harder in this next phase. I’m preparing as I do. Every fibre of my being wants to build up those internal walls and start the blocking process in preparation for what I know is coming but I think that might not be my best strategy. So instead I’m going with a half wall. Just a little protection, but with the ability to reach for that help when needed. 

Life lessons. I feel like I have had enough at 30 years of life. But as everyone keeps telling me, I have plenty more to come so I best equip myself the best way possible. 

Thank you to those people who challenge me to walk through the pain and feel it. Not just block it. And a special thank you to Mr Plane Dude. You are a special human and you were sat next to me for a reason. 

Life. It’s one day at a time. One step at a time. And that’s all we can ask of anyone. 

x LB