What of the elephant?

As the long sleep begins

and the snow hits the ground

The birds stretch their wings

and nothing new can be found

I wonder aloud

and I wander alone

What of the elephant, outside of your home?

Cradled in the arms of leaves,

Crisp and warm and brown

Hidden from the frost in a blanket made of down

But what of the elephant, sitting all alone?

What of the elephant?

Where is his home?

Not a tender heart in sight

Nor a helping hand

Off he wanders

Off to distant lands

A thought on the wind,

A whisper in the night

And on with your lives, living in the light

What of the elephant?

What of his woes?

Speak but a while

Wonder at all he knows.

On and on and on

I completed my two week work placement, I won an award for ‘most improved’ at a job agency, I have been out of the house every week day and at least once in the weekends for three weeks, I juggled kids and homework and my own work successfully and my self esteem has been given a nice boost.

Its been a tumultuous yet positive few weeks, surprisingly I’m not on my knees with all of the new organisation required though there have been a few hiccups in finding time to pick up my medications (Venlafaxine withdrawals are equivalent to hell!) and fitting in when to see my support worker… but I’m working on getting to grips with this and trying to stop double booking myself.

I think the thing that has surprised me most is that I haven’t stopped and reverted back to nothingness; my placement ended and yet I have spent this past week, that could have been filled with nothingness, moving and being productive (though still ignoring my housework!)

Another surprising revelation is that, when in work, my anxiety was less of an issue and my Bipolar was more of one… Nobody seemed to think I looked like I lacked confidence or had anxiety and after a few days I wasn’t all that anxious at all – partly owing to the kindness of the other workers there and the positive reinforcement they gave me but also because it became a ‘safe place’ for me. However, my Bipolar flared constantly; when I was working I was manic; fast paced and constantly moving – ridiculously over zealous and then when I would get home my mood would plummet into dangerously low levels… I tried to manage this by slowing myself down a little while in work but I think it is probably something that would take a lot of practice to get right and I realise that I don’t really know what is an appropriate level of work – as with the rest of life with Bipolar, it is either all or nothing.

Family and friends have been great lately but I think that has more to do with me than them because after this work placement I have a renewed vigour and belief in a different future that I had given up on previously. I was ready to throw in the towel; it isn’t the first time and likely won’t be the last.

Christmas is coming and though I do love Christmas, I also find it incredibly stressful. I have two children and very little money and so desperately trying to get them the things they would like is difficult; luckily they don’t ask for much but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to give them more…

The new people that I have met lately; colleagues in the work placement, job advisors…ect have all described me in the same way; Calm, polite, friendly and approachable… I’m both thrilled and angry that I come across in that way, thrilled because it means I can fake it well and people see me as more than I am and angry for almost the same reasons… I wear my mask too well, people don’t see me and I am hiding… but I suppose that is what management of this illness is; hiding the torment behind your eyes; living inwardly and yet putting on a good show for the world… Is management for the world around us? because all it gives me is work and the knowledge that I can never let go of the tight chains around my soul and really live as me.