Imploding

In October last year, I had a breakdown. It came following a 10 month battle with anxiety, that led to depression, and ultimately a physical and mental breakdown.

This is what happened that day…

After spending most of the year in Vancouver, I landed in Melbourne for one of my best girlfriend, Dani Wales, hen’s weekend.

It was to be the start of six weeks of travel in South East Asia, and then back again for her wedding around mid-November.

We checked into our airbnb, just the bride and her bridesbabes, and spent the first evening drinking champagne, eating platters and doing facials. It was fun. I had anxiety, but that was a familiar friend I’d been living with for the past 10 months or so, and the booze helped to numb it out.

I managed to stay up until midnight, and took myself off to bed at that point hoping I’d beat my jet lag.

Nope.

As tired as I felt I couldn't fall asleep and as the hours rolled by, I eventually accepted I wouldn’t be getting even a wink of shut eye on this evening.

Laying awake around 7am, staring at the wall, I was fighting off a familiar deep sadness.

No time for that, I told myself. I’ve got this. Positive thoughts, positive mindset. I can do this.

Desperately pushing down the overwhelm of the day planned ahead (people arriving, winery lunch, bus travel, dinner, party later on), I forced myself to shower, and went and got coffees for us all.

I even let the makeup artist in. All bubbly and light. Dying inside.

Everyone started arriving and I mentioned to a few people how jet lagged I was feeling. Was the truth for sure, however also a good cover for how sh*tty I was feeling inside.

The deep sadness within me wasn’t new, although on this day it was as though it was beginning to devour me from the inside out.

I sat alone on the bus ride to the winery, trying to nap. Mostly I just stared out the window blinking back tears, as I listened to the joy and lightness going on around me.

Joy and lightness I just couldn’t feel.

Sitting at lunch I ordered a bottle of red to share with a girlfriend and preyed to the wine gods it’d take the edge off, and I’d liven up.

I so desperately wanted to be there, to show up for Dani, but inside I wanted to be anywhere but there.

My eyes kept filling with tears, and I couldn’t engage in conversation. The darkness I’d been feeling for so many months, was threatening to swallow me whole. I was scared and alone, and stuck in my own internal prison.

My face went red.

It was the third bought of hives I’d had in two weeks. I’ve never had hives in my life (when I’d walked into whole foods the week earlier to ask about it, the naturopath looked at me and asked if I felt stressed. I’d burst into tears, knowing intuitively and instantly that no amount of supplements, vitamins or minerals was going to fix this.).

Light was streaming in through the winery windows, it was a warm day. I was freezing.

I grabbed one of the blankets and went and lay under a tree outside while everyone cheers’ed and snapped photos and boomerangs for their Instagram.

Meanwhile I’d taken Instagram off my phone a few weeks earlier because, for the first time in my life, social media was making me feel terrible. Something in seeing other people’s happiness online was like a knife into my own unhappy heart with every scroll.

The allergic reaction was another good cover to just lay low, and avoid everyone’s questions and conversations.

When the bus returned to take us back to the city, I hightailed it for the back seat, still wrapped in the winery blanket, and curled up in a ball. As I lay there sobbing as quietly as I could, an utterly desperate thought entered my mind…

“I can’t go on, I want to evaporate. I don’t want to live anymore”.

The voice inside of me was screaming for help, for relief, for it all to just end.

I’d never felt so hopeless. The darkness I’d been living with for months had finally engulfed me. I could see no way out, there was no future like this for me.

In the moments following that thought, I really felt out how bad this all was. It wasn’t just another rough day, another moment in time I had to push through as I’d been doing all year.

This was the real f*cking deal. I was imploding.

We got back to the airbnb to get changed for dinner and party time. I was suffocating with the thought of trying to be social.

I went straight to my bed and lost it. It’s wasn’t pretty, I was shaking, snotty nosed and heaving, loud sobs were pouring out of me uncontrolably. It was as though every tear I’d never cried was forcing it’s way out and there was nothing I could do about it.

I felt completely empty, hopeless and alone.

My girlfriends saved my life that day.

Dani and Ash came in and, despite it being one of the most important weekend’s of her life, Dani sat with me, and helped me figure out what was next.

She was the one who said you have to stop. You’re not coming out tonight. You have to stay here. And then you have to go where you need to go. She helped me figure out I needed to be with my little sister, Em. We called Em and she booked me the earliest flight she could for the following day to Hobart.

I stayed in while the hens party carried on without me.

Somehow I survived the night, starting with many more tears on the floor of a hot shower, and ending by wrapping myself tightly in the blankets and crying my eyes out until I eventually fell asleep, scared, alone and completely exhausted.

I arrived in Tasmania the following day, a f*cking shell of my former self. I had no idea what was next, all I knew was I couldn’t keep going and I needed to be with my sister.

So that’s what I was doing.

Making my way through, one moment at a time.

Feeling blue?

You’re not alone, and there is hope, even though it may not feel that way at times. Talk to someone, a friend or family member and let them support you. Reach out to a professional. Do whatever you need to do to start your journey back to feeling good.

Here’s some resources I found on google (because I am not a professional, these are not recommendations, just suggestions with love and empathy from me to you):

Lifeline (Australia): 13-11-14 is a confidential telephone crisis support service available 24/7 from a landline, payphone or mobile.
Beyond Blue (Australia): 1-300-22-4636 OR chat online between 3pm & 12am 7 days a week
No Shame On You (USA): 1-800-273-(TALK) 8255 OR text 741741 for a 24/7 crisis text line (a live, trained crisis counselor receives the text and responds quickly) OR visit I’m Alive for 24/7 online crisis chat
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (USA): 1-800-273-8255
Crisis Services (Canada): 1-833-456-4566 OR text 45645 between 4pm and 12am daily

Sarah Riegelhuth