For all my bravado about being honest and open with work/family/friends, I still get nervous the stigma attached to mental illness. After being off all last week, I made it into work today (despite the temptation to simply ride the bus all the way to Heathrow and back). The anxiety I am feeling right now is unbearable, overwhelming and frustrating.
For starters, nothing seems to be working. When I got in I found all my cables had been unplugged and ‘tidied away’. My little turtle picture has been taken down and hidden away beneath my monitor riser. It was unsettling and – my brain being the beast it is – I jumped to the worst case scenario; they want me gone. It all got worse when I finally got in; I can’t access one website, another appears to have lost all my work since July and even my laptop is rebelling – it keeps crashing on me.
Even on a normal Monday morning this would stress me out. On this Monday morning it is almost-too-much to cope with. I was on the verge of a panic attack before I even swiped myself into the building, and it’s gradually worsening as the minutes tick by. I don’t know how I am going to cope with this till 4:30 – I am telling myself that I will hold out till midday and then re-assess the situation, but I know full well I will only worry endlessly about letting my boss down if I do head home for the afternoon.
The problem is; no one can see what I’m putting myself through just to be here today. Maybe if I allowed myself the luxury of a public meltdown, then they’d understand it better. This is where mental illness gets super-tricky because essentially it’s invisible – it’s ‘all in my head’. It’s impossible to verbalise just how awful I feel. To anyone looking at me, I am working and I look exactly the same as I do every other day. I feel like a fraud (actually, if I get Freudian on myself here, I feel like other people think I’m a fraud – I’m projecting my insecurities onto the people around me).
I’m trying to reassure myself that nothing bad is going to happen, but that mean little train of thought is running amok and somehow I just can’t stop listening to it. I wish it was easier.