It took me a long time to accept that I was actually sick. After months of telling myself to ‘get over it,’ I finally realised I couldn’t. Anxiety and panic attacks aren’t things one can just ‘get over’. Even the other day, at dinner, I was talking about this new therapist I’m seeing and how maybe things will be different this time and I’ll get better. Then my dad made a comment which sent me storming from the room in tears and in rage. He snorted and said “can’t you just get over it already?”
No Dad, I can’t.
If it was such an easy fix I’d be cured already. And yeh, maybe some days I only put 30% into trying to beat my anxiety, but that’s a hell of a lot better than the days I only put in 3%.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve given up. The number of times I’ve left the party, or the lecture, or even an untouched tea in a café to run out on the street, and away from myself. The number of buses I’ve sat on which couldn’t take me home quickly enough. The number of people I’ve scared away from me as I hyperventilate and scream and cry and curse god or anyone who might be listening that it isn’t fair and they shouldn’t have made me like this. The number of times I’ve curled up like a lost baby trying to find its way back to the womb, only to realise it’s not a new beginning I crave, but an ending.
Mild suicide ideation, I think it’s called. I’ve really thought about it and I don’t just mean ‘it’ in that abstract sense of the word; I mean rationally, logically. I’ve taken myself to the ledge of the building again and again. I’ve walked by the Thames a thousand times waiting for it to swallow me. I’ve imagined the number of steps it would take me to get there and how much momentum my fragile body would require for that fatal fling into falling. I think I’ve studied that brickwork so long I could draw it in my sleep.
I hope it makes you sick reading this. It makes me sick writing it. People don’t want to hear about things like contemplating taking your own life because that kind of rejection (or I suppose embrace?) of control terrifies them. We don’t acknowledge the terminally ill because we can’t save them, but I promise you, even the damned have hope they can still be saved.
Do you want to know why I never did it? Why I never made that fatal fling into falling?
I love it too much, life I mean, and maybe that’s why it scares me.
Maybe that’s why I tremble and feel my heartrate accelerating like a pop song remix on the dancefloor. Every time I have taken myself to the edge, there it is, that thought, a bad smell popping up again.
“I want to live,” it says, in a squeaky little voice like a burnt chip coming to life. Quite softly, but just loudly enough over the diatribe of self-hate for me to hear it.
“I want to live,” it says again. And it’s right.
Amber Sidney-Woollett is eighteen years’ old and studies English Lit at Oxford University. Her artwork and writing can be found at www.ambersidney-woollett.com. She misses her cat deeply.