For years now I have been in a battle with Her, the dark side of my mind. The side of my mind that is full of negative thoughts. Throughout this time I have thought of this side of me a bit like a different person, like an evil twin. There’s the real me and then here’s Her. I always worried about describing it as a person in case everybody got the wrong end of the stick. Everybody might have thought that I was seeing things and hearing voices, which I am not at all. It’s just the best way I can describe what it’s like. It wasn’t until I had my CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) a year ago now that I realised it was ok to think of it like that and that other people do too. I have heard of people describing it as the black dog and the unwelcome visitor. I think everybody who struggles with their mental health has their own way of describing what it feels like for them. My therapist asked me if I think of that dark side of my mind as a person, and I do. She’s me, but she’s evil and she’s twisted, just towards me and if she is left to do her own thing she will take over. She did take over nearly a decado ago.
Eight years ago my mind was in a really dark place with drinking and depression and I didn’t realise at the time, but I wasn’t me. Sometimes things happen and you don’t realise how much you haven’t felt yourself until you start to feel better. This was one of those times. Over around four years I think, she had slowly chipped away at me. Chipping and chipping and chipping until eventually there was nothing left. I wasn’t a person anymore. I was a total mess at rock bottom and even then she kept pushing me further. Every time I tried to get back up she was there to kick me back down and stand over me laughing. I wasn’t me and I hadn’t been for a long time. I was the wreck that she turned me in to. She wanted me to lose everything. I even lost myself through her twisted mind games.
I ended up fighting for my life, which was also the ultimate battle between me and her. She was there ready to see me off and out of nowhere the real me started to appear. The real me that I hadn’t seen in years, the real me that I didn’t even know was still there. The real me got bigger and stronger and finally over powered her. Finally I was me again, the strong, happy, totally random and bonkers me.
What I didn’t realise then though is that she’s still here. Lurking in the shadows, just waiting. Lockdown has been the perfect opportunity for her to grow a bit stronger. I haven’t been able to do the things I need to do to keep her quiet. I can’t go out and see my family or friends, I can’t go volunteering, I can’t go trampolining and so many other things that help me to keep her out of the way.
For a few weeks now I have had a Zoom spa evening planned which I have really been looking forward to. The day before this was due to happen, She turned up. I didn’t even realise at the time. But she was filling my head with everything that could go wrong with the spa evening. I would get my sample pots mixed up, I would get all stressed over it and show myself up, I wouldn’t enjoy it. The amazing thing is, my boyfriend knew by how I was talking that it was her. He knew how much I had been looking forward to it and he did everything he could to get me to go. Then on the day I was even more nervous, on the verge of chickening out at the last minute. Again my boyfriend knew it was her and did everything he could to make sure I went. He knew how much I would regret it if I didn’t go. in the end I did go and I loved it. Afterwards my boyfriend told me that he had picked up on traits of her with how negatively I was talking and thinking. He said that he was making it his mission to make sure I went and didn’t give in to her. I didn’t even realise myself that it was her, I was so absorbed by what she was making me think that I just didn’t realise.
The day before the spa I also had a few hours where I felt completely hopeless. I was talking to my boyfriend almost convinced that I would never see him or my friends in person again, because of the pandemic. I really had started to believe that life would never get any better than this. That we would never be able to socialise in person again, and that we would be forever just an image on a computer screen. My boyfriend kept trying to talk me round, but it wasn’t working. I was convinced. I couldn’t change my way of thinking at all, but I did trust that he was right. Over the years I have learnt that sometimes my judgement can be very clouded and my mind can be very set by Her. I have had to learn that sometimes how I am thinking and feeling may not always be as it should and that I have to trust the people that I am close to over myself. At that moment I may not be able to believe what they are telling me, but I do trust that in a few hours or days I will be thinking more clearly and see that they were right. The day after I often think, what was all that about? ??
Part of me does still think that about the pandemic, but mostly I believe what my boyfriend was telling me. That things will get better, it’s just taking a lot longer than we all hoped and expected. Later on after the spa he told me that he had noticed her because of how anxious I had been about the spa evening. I think now that the feeling of hopelessness was her too. She had spent two days filling my head with negative thoughts. She made everything feel so much worse than it really was. When I come out of these negative patches I realise how much she has been controlling me and the way I have been thinking. She twists everything to make it feel so much bigger and so much worse than it actually is.
I am sharing this with you all for a few reasons:
- To expose Her – She doesn’t like being noticed. Quite often if I notice her, or if my boyfriend does, she will start to go.
- To help you to understand – Sometimes I have said quite negative things that seem completely out of the blue to whoever I am talking to. This will be because She has turned up and made something quite small feel huge.
- I won’t let her completely take over – Eight years ago I made a promise to myself that I would never let myself get like that again. So even though she’s still here, I’m still winning. She can play her silly little games, but when it comes down to it I’ve got an army behind me. An army of family and good friends. So even in my moments of weakness I’m not alone, she is. She’s little and pathetic and she will never beat me again.
- To help others – As I said at the beginning. It used to worry me describing how I feel in this way. I thought everybody would get it all wrong and think I had problems that I didn’t have. But if something similar to this best describes how you feel, then just go with it. I would make it clear that you are not seeing things or hearing voices, but if you think of the dark side of your mand as some kind of character, then you’re not alone. Other people do too. Don’t forget though, if the dark and negative thoughts are controlling the majority of your life or making you think about harming yourself or others then you really do need to tell somebody and get urgent help. Don’t let your dark side talk you out of getting this help, fight with everything you have got to ignore it. Because that dark side of your mind is clouding your judgement in so many ways. And you can get better from this.
Help and support
Click the button below to see the NHS Every Mind Matters website. Here you can access information on how to improve your mental health and wellbeing during these unpredictable times. There is also information near the top of the page of how to access urgent support.
xx ❤ xx