Kat Atwell is a freelance writer, blogger & stage presence telling stories that deliver laughs, validation & community.

Mental Health | Wellness & Self Image | Experiential & Reviews

World Mental Health Day

I celebrated with a panic attack, Xanax, and all the naps.

He has so many beautiful monsters. | http://zestydoesthings.tumblr.com/

I can usually write about my struggles with mental illness after I’ve crawled out of the hole. However, to honor this day, I decided to write while still in the thick of it.

Last night, sleep was elusive. In addition to some nightmares and having gone to bed overtired to start, two of the three of our cats decided that my space on the bed was, in fact, their space on the bed. Oh, and politics. They’re causing me to fear the news, social media, all of it. The incessant ugliness is suffocating me. I wound up on the couch downstairs sometime around four in the morning.

When the alarm went off, there was an impending sense of dread. For those of you unfamiliar with anxiety disorders, the smallest thing can snowball. I tried to make a healthy breakfast and it was disgusting. I attempted not one, but two smoothies for my daughter this morning, both were awful. I lost track of time. I felt like I was slogging through invisible wet sand. When I woke up my daughter, I noticed she had some really bad dandruff flakes, which made me immediately think of head lice (we dealt with that over a year ago). Imaginary bugs appeared all over my skin, making me feel frozen. I started thinking I might have some kind of cancer. I thought back to the post I wrote last night and wondered if my hair would keep falling out until there was none left. Suddenly it made total sense that my family was going to wind up in dire financial straits.

I wanted to run back to bed. I wanted to cry my eyes out. I wanted to pretend today hadn’t even happened. However, I had to get my 9-year old ready for school and drive her over there. And I had to keep my feelings tamped down enough that I didn’t frighten her or make her think she needed to take care of me.

My daughter walked into her school a half-hour late. I had called the front office earlier to explain she would be late, and cried as I tried to tell them why. It was my fault. It was my anxiety. Please don’t punish my kid for my illness.

I drove away from her school, totally conflicted as to whether to go to work, or to turn around and go back home. The smart choice would have been to head home and engage in some radical self-care.

The tears kept coming in waves. I had to pull over a few times to compose myself. Driving while crying is not recommended. Did I wind up at work? Yep, sure did. Did I beat myself up for being there? Absolutely.

I lasted 90 minutes at work. A wonderful friend and advocate was texting me messages of support and suggestions on how to redirect my negative thoughts, but I could not unfuck my brain. My computer glitched as soon as I started working processes, and my brain told me it was because I was going to be getting fired and they’d locked up my system.

So, feeling defeated, I went home. I slept. I cried. I slept some more. I didn’t get online. I didn’t allow myself to to try to “use my time wisely” by cleaning the house or working on projects.

Hey. I’m writing now. I ate something. I allowed myself to take care of me. Am I totally recovered? No, but I’m calmer. I’m wrung out. And I’m going to acknowledge that I did the best I can.

So, if you want to understand mental illness better, I hope I was able to shed a tiny light on it today. Be aware and be kind. Thanks for reading this.

Moo(n)d swing.

Pineappling. Plopping. Plunking.