A couple of Fridays ago, I fell down a flight of stairs outside 5 Degrees West – a pub in Falmouth. I bent back my thumb nail and bruised my knees and shins pretty badly. Sufficient time has passed that I can now think about it without a shudder. My bruised have almost healed and I think I have managed to halt the tide of irrational thoughts that were washing around my brain.
I remember talking to my friend at the top of the stairs, and then next thing being at the bottom of the stairs on my hands and knees. In the doggy position to be precise. Like I was waiting to be fucked by the stairs.
I was fine at first – adrenalin – but after a few minutes my legs started to really hurt, but that was not all.
I have a phobia of falling down stairs – Climacophobia as it is known. It is not your usual phobia of snakes, heights or spiders, but there it is. As the pain increased I started feeling really scared. I ended up at home in drunken tears wailing at my boyfriend. ‘See I told you. I was right to be scared of stairs, THEY ARE OUT TO GET ME.’
Realising that I was being completely irrational did not stop the feelings. I could feel my sanity bend; my rational self, literally losing some of its grip on my mind.
Due to my sisters illness I have been around a lot of crazy people. Not just ‘We drunk a whole bottle of sambuca’ crazy, but ‘God told me to jump on the bonnet of that car rip off the satan’s eyebrows (aka windscreen wipers) ‘ crazy.
This has had its effects, some good, some not so good. I do fear having a breakdown, but it also means that I know mental illness is just an illness and one that people can recover from. It has taken me quite a few years to get my fear of a breakdown into perspective and the way I look at it now is that it could happen to me, but I don’t think it is likely to.
It also means that I look after my mental health as seriously as I look after my physical health. If I have been working too hard and not sleeping and start getting a sore throat – I will take action – early nights, lemon & honey and heaps of fruit & veg.
If I start thinking stairs are REALLY out to get me, I take action. And in this case the action was to come straight home – spend time with Kai, relaxing, reading, sleeping and funnily enough lots of fruit and veg.
There is a big stigma around mental illness and I think this stigma has a lot to do with fear. People fear those with serious mental illness as they can be scary, irrational, violent, and extremely sad. But I think the fear also comes from a horror of ever being like that themselves.
But one thing I know is I’ve got to get over my fear of stairs – they aren’t really out to get me.