So now I go to Tottenham once a week and talk and talk and talk. I sit in a sparsely furnished room in a community centre and pour my heart out to a total stranger. Thank goodness I really like my counsellor, she's honest and sensible and I trust her advice. We talk about why I measure myself against everybody else in the world, all the time, and how exhausting it is. We talk about how I'm ashamed of my mental illness, she referred to my depression as my 'mad old lady in the attic', which I really liked, as I am embarrassed by it and afraid of it in a mildly gothic way. We discuss ways I can try and let people into my life when I'm afraid, instead of pushing them away.
It's working. I feel less scared all the time, and am starting to push myself to make some positive changes in my life. Most of the thinking goes on after the sessions, when I digest everything we've said on the bus home. Every twinge of neurosis has been discussed, even the stuff I'm mortified about discussing, like my sociophobia and hypochondria. And while I'm not battling these full-on, every second of the day, just being more honest with myself about everything (and feeling less guilty) is making a huge difference.
I've made some big decisions. Last week I told my work that I would like to reduce my hours to 4 days a week, as I was finding it difficult to maintain a work/life balance and my mental health was becoming difficult to manage. This has been apparent for some time, but I'd been struggling against it. I agonised for days over the wording of the letter - should I mention the D word? In the end I did, and I'm so glad. Work have been awesome, and from September I am going to have a little more of my life back.
Life is okay. I really am so lucky. My fiance is amazing, my family and friends love me unconditionally, and my work are supportive of me - all of these things have given me the courage to be honest. Being brave doesn't come naturally to me, but I think I'm learning...