This is my first time asking the internet for advice so apologies if I screw anything up and for the novel-length post.
I’m not at immediate risk - things are getting rocky again but I have already made appointments to see a doctor and therapist.
I would appreciate any feedback, comments, similar experiences, or being pointed towards useful resources.
In terms of background, I think things went a little off for me around 13. My sleep has been shoddy since. When I was 14 for a year I barely left my room, didn't go to school (not a country where it mattered), would occasionally run away, punched walls and experimented with various forms of self-harm, would spend most of my time in bed staring at the ceiling, often very badly wanted to end it but couldn't inflict that disaster on my parents who then bore the brunt of my anger when I decided that they were to blame for standing in my way. So I thought often about killing them too because that's logical. In retrospect a pretty classic case of angsty teenage depression.
At one point my sleep was very disturbed for almost a week. I went downstairs to get a yoghurt and insects started crawling all over me and I saw lots of blood. I very vividly remember that I used my fingers to push through my eardrums into my head and then pushed out my eyeballs from behind. I was terrified but internalised it and was probably in denial that it had happened or that it was me who saw that (if that makes sense). I’ve never watched horror films, have never witnessed a car accident, or in fact had anything traumatic happen to me at all. Who knows.
I eventually got over the worst of it and aside from occasional periods of depression and self-harm nothing much happened until about 2013 when things went south a little bit.
I felt like I was moving through slush and that people were talking to me underwater. It took a little bit of time, probably around two weeks, for me to get myself to a doctor (I’m stubborn and I thought I might be getting sick again and I was scared I would end up like a close relative whose mental illness has turned her into a zombie). I was immediately diagnosed with depression and prescribed ssris that I took at best sporadically, since I had a deep-down belief that relying on them would mean I was weak (more logic).
From there on things degenerated somewhat. I began to hear the radio, or someone slamming the door and moving around, but I would head on over to switch the radio off or say hello to my roommate and the radio would already be off and no-one had come home. Then I began to have episodes where I would again feel my hands were pushing through my ears to pop out my eyeballs, and I would dig holes in my chest til I could see my exposed ribs and snap them, and mushy bits would ooze everywhere and there would be a lot of blood and a lot of pain. Seeing this would often trigger a panic attack. I sometimes had panic attacks without images but never images that didn’t trigger absolute panic, since they were fairly terrifying things to witness. Once I had to be physically restrained because I was trying to scratch something out of my arm with my fingernails and by the time someone noticed I had scratched a deep enough wound to leave a pretty gross scar that won’t go away no matter how much bloody bio oil I massage into it. During another episode my boyfriend at the time had come up for a cup of tea or something and I apparently told him things were coming and that he had to take a knife and kill me before things happened. Sometimes I had to self-harm quickly because I could feel things coming and if I could see and feel my hands doing something like that then it was easier to believe that they weren’t doing something else, if that makes any sense.
I was hospitalised twice in crisis situations but the psychiatric wards were mindnumbing and I was scared that being surrounded by people with serious issues would somehow trigger or emphasise mine so I always got out as soon as I could. I was variously diagnosed with severe anxiety with intrusive thoughts, depression, bpd, psychosis, or preschizophrenic symptoms. At the time I didn’t read anything on the internet or in books as I thought I might be influenced by what I read so I let the doctors do their thing, but at a later date I started reading around and although I identify strongly with descriptions of depression and anxiety (then again I already knew that) and partially with some descriptions of psychosis, I think the diagnoses of schizophrenia or bpd were patently bollocks which has shaken my trust in doctors a little. I was prescribed with anti-depressants, benzodiazepines, and anti-psychotics but even aside from my inherent stubbornness against medication I was in no fit state to stick to a treatment plan so took them erratically, I wouldn’t take them and them someone would notice and force me to take them for a while and then I would stop again etc.
At some point I moved home and got a very manual job which left me physically exhausted and with no free time so I was in a comforting cycle of work sleep work sleep etc. I was screened again for psychosis but the symptoms had begun to subside and I found that recounting the experience was very distressing so didn’t take any form of treatment further - I was just grateful that it seemed to have stopped and that the whole thing was over.
Things have been alright for a long time now but I’m having some wobbles and in any case I can’t keep working to the point of exhaustion just to keep from spiralling. I want to be able to have free time and enjoy it without immediately sinking into a cycle where I feel happy and energetic and then flip flop into comatose and then when I get energy again I can’t enjoy it because I have to catch up on everything I didn’t do when I was comatose. I want to be able to do things that are intellectually demanding without grinding to a halt and have happy, fun relationships and most of all I want to seek treatment and finally fess up to what happened and do everything I can so that it doesn't happen again because it's terrifying and it's kind of bollocks that the fear I have of these images is enough to trigger a panic attack because honestly the way these things feed off each other is fairly toxic.
I know I’ve got depression and anxiety and panic attacks and I’ve read many accounts I identify with and that have helped me consider these things difficult but approachable and certainly not the end of the world.
It’s the episodes I’d appreciate talking through. I’ve read accounts of intrusive images in relation to OCD and anxiety and I think it must be that, but these accounts haven’t quite rung true in the same way that accounts of depression have with me. I suppose they’re not psychosis or delusions because it’s pretty obvious after that they didn’t happen (or I’d have spent a lot of 2013/14 just splopping my eyeballs back into their sockets like some deranged bungee jumper). Also they just sort of went away after a while but these recent wobbles have me paranoid that they’ll come back.
Please help me pinpoint what happened so I can try and fix it.
And if you've made it this far, thank you for taking the time to read.