Spring forward

I wonder how often our lives fall into sync with the earth. The petals fall from fragrant cherry blossoms, flowers begin to bloom and leaves appear – animals prepare to bring forth new life and April showers leave the earth fresh and cleansed. How keenly the spring mirrors the events of my own life… The ending of things past and the beginning of new, fresh adventures; How difficult it is not to sully the now with memories and fears of the past.

Today I had my very last appointment with my support worker and a couple of weeks ago I was discharged from under my psychiatrist’s care. I knew this was coming and I know it is the right time to sever these elements of support – they have done all they can for me – and yet, it leaves me with mixed emotions nonetheless. I say goodbye to what was essentially a very empowering, yet difficult, piece of my life (seeking and seeing through the help I so desperately needed) with a heavy heart and move forward with hope and the faith that I am able to maintain this wonderful level of stability. I also hold a great amount of fear and doubt though… What if I fall once again? Do I have the strength to get up again? Would I even want to? I suppose my fear has heightened now because there is no fall back – I am responsible for me, I must manage this condition alone and that is a scary prospect regardless of whatever support I may have around me.

I was thinking just the other day about the difference a small passage of time can make to a person… I am well aware of the difference I have made in my own life and even my personality over the past ten years but even the past two years hold a great significance and many accomplishments – My life now, but my outlook on life especially, is vastly different to what it was then. In 2012 I was watching myself begin to crumble again – I had to give up my English degree and accept that it was just too much pressure for me at that time… I sought help for my illness properly for the very first time, I did battle with family members who weren’t ready or able to accept my illness and realised exactly who I could rely on. I was officially diagnosed with Bipolar disorder and sent into therapy… I was a mass of anger, bitterness and pain.

Life is eons away from that now. I hold no anger or bitterness – Its often hard to remember the massive strides I have taken into health and the work that it took just to get me to a place where I could get up and out of bed every morning – take pride in my appearance and really love and respect the person that I am. I may not have a big career, I may not have money or any of the other things that other people use to judge success and happiness by but I have health, stability, I have the support of those who love me, self respect, two fabulous children and a future that doesn’t look quite so gloomy…

And so, like the spring, some things must end and others are just beginning. I am in a new relationship – one that feels healthy and right and wonderful. I am looking to maintain my management techniques in stepping up my meditation times and keeping busy – among other things. I remain painfully honest about anything and everything; even within my new relationship… it is not always easy to bare your soul for others to judge but the liberation that comes with knowing that you never need to be anything less than your authentic self and nothing is ever going to crop up an ruin your happiness, that freedom, is worth any awkwardness.

I move on; to new challenges, new adventures – and I take you with me Bipolar disorder – wherever I go, but on I move regardless…

The end of innocence

*Trigger warning*

Tonight I watched a film; I don’t often watch much of anything but sleep was not forthcoming, loneliness permeated the walls and so I sought the company of the small screen – what I received was so much more than I bargained for.

The main story was not what caught my interest as much as that of a small backstory about a so called ‘mother who never should have taken up the job of being a mother’ – married to an alcoholic who cannot hold down a job, living in the middle of nowhere with three children and unable to cope. Her husband sickens and is on his death bed and one night she creeps into the bedroom of her children ‘I know you prefer your father… one day you’ll understand’ she states, off she walks into the night and wades into a river with the intent of drowning her sorrows – literally. Her eldest daughter, of around eight years old, follows her and pleads with her to come back until eventually the mother breaks into wracks of sobs and apologies.

I am captivated by this story and moved to tears. It hits me within my very soul and it seems clear to me that this is because it so keenly mirrors my own past experiences.

I was that mother. My husband was a good one, but immature and unequipped to support me in much the same way as the husband in the story and at 21 I found myself living in the middle of nowhere with two children and a house to manage and no idea of where to start nor how to cope. I had always suffered with what I thought at the time was a crippling depression but since the births of my children it had worsened considerably and as I strived to be all that, to my mind, a mother and wife should be I felt failure from every direction and judgement closing in. I could not keep up to the high standards that I had set myself and I struggled with my two young children who, due to my miserable state, preferred the company of anyone but me – and so I never felt as though I were doing quite well enough at being me…

I talk about many things to do with my illness and the dire moments within my most desperate times but there are some subjects I seldom approach… This subject is one that I haven’t gone near. Mainly because I was not in a healthy enough place to think through and share my experiences without spurring dark thoughts and dismal temptations. I have never really spoken with anyone about these times in my life, it is unpleasant for them to hear and still such a taboo topic that it is difficult to know where to start.

Six years ago, I was in the midst of what I am now told was a complete psychotic break. The name does it more than justice; I was anger personified, rage and misery. I was not in control, I seldom slept leading to near insanity and as far as I was concerned the world was against me… There was no logic to my actions, no reason for the way I behaved or felt or thought… no excuse good enough. I don’t remember many things about that time, times with my children are lost forever and any experiences I might have had in those years are also lost to me… I do remember being an abysmal human being, I remember the hatred and the absolute frustration. Some moments stand out more than others, above all, I remember clearly my strong and passionate desire to die.

I made many attempts to end my life and spent many a day imagining ways to do it, even so far as researching ‘easy ways to die’ online… if it wasn’t so painfully pitiful it would almost be laughable. I felt strongly that everyone, but most importantly my children, would be better off without me… I imagined, in my twisted and illogical way, how happy they would be when I was out of their lives – as far as I was concerned, I was a burden, a plague… worthless. I used to try and get my husband to take the children out alone often so that it would give me a chance to devise ways of dying, I felt that it was ok as long as they weren’t in the house – as though it would not affect them if they weren’t there to see it.

I even remember one day writing out my suicide notes; one to each of my children – I don’t remember much of what I wrote but I do remember clearly one line ‘…This world was just not for me…’ as if that would make it alright, as if that explained it all. I don’t know how serious I was in my attempts to die – I never really got close to succeeding and so I wonder if, in some place within my mind, I knew it was wrong.

I remember a brush with someone’s attempted suicide when I was a little girl and my mother describing it as ‘such a selfish thing’ I was never convinced – it is my life; it will better others lives if I were gone and so surely it is almost selfless to die? Oh, the flawed and self-serving logic of someone on the lowly track to doom.

I have often looked back upon that time in my life but never as clearly as I do now and I suppose that can be attributed to the fact that suicide is not an option I even consider anymore – my mental health is such that I am content in the knowledge that I am wanted, loved and needed and that regardless of those facts, I am worthwhile. Death holds no appeal anymore… and so, now when I look back on that time all I see are my children. What if I had succeeded in my plan to rid the world of me – where would they be now? Who would they be? Why did I think I had the right to end their magical innocence – did I truly believe I could remove myself and leave them unscathed. Yes, it is indeed a selfish thing.

I think of them one day opening those letters full of empty words that I wrote in an attempt to redeem and excuse myself and I break inside at the thought of their reactions and at the thought of inflicting such pain upon them simply to run from my own agony.

I was not a natural mother and still now I need to work hard at being the best I can for my children, as we all do. I was a dreadful housewife and I still am; I wish someone had told me that some people are just not made to keep a perfect house and that in the grand scheme of things it is of little importance how high your washing is piled and how long it takes you to wash a dish… Life is about more. I wish I had known that it was ok that I didn’t immediately bond with my children – that it was normal for it to feel akin the banging my head against a wall the majority of the time… I wish I had let life happen instead of trying to mould it into my perception of perfection because when perfection didn’t come I felt personal failure and misery.

I wonder when I lost my innocence. When did I lose those rose tinted glasses that never left my face as a child and start seeing the world in tones of grey. I don’t remember when it happened or why… I wish I did, merely so I could avoid doing it to my children.

I am always so happy when something prompts me to look at things from another angle and so I am grateful to this seemingly innocuous film that has brought about such a new tone of reflection for me; I am grateful that I did not steal the innocence of my children and that I get to see them blossom and grow into young people that I love with all my heart and am proud of with every inch of my soul. I am grateful for the life lessons that have taught me that perfection and whether or not the carpets have been hovered are not what children remember of their childhood nor what is important.

I am still learning; aren’t we all? I am learning to let life flow – a difficult lesson… I am learning to love, to care, to notice and feel joy… learning to live within the moment and cherish every day. I hope to always be learning.

Back then, in my darkest days, I felt incapable. I never dreamt that I could do what I do now. Be a single parent, provide and care for my children alone – make them happy all by myself, keep a functioning (if not always clean) house and feel healthy and content in myself… feel pride in myself. If these things felt impossible to me then I wonder what is to come in the future – anything might happen, dreams might come true.

And so now, this version of me, will strive to preserve innocence where the me of the past once sought to eradicate it.

Liberation is love

It was the night of the new year; 2010 and a very inebriated me declared ‘Liberation is love!’ as the bells tolled the start of new beginnings.

The saying has stuck with me ever since but only recently have I truly begun to think about and to understand its full meaning. When I first coined the phrase, I had not long left my husband and moved myself and my kids into my mother’s very small flat. I had met a friend who was kind enough to envelope me within her social circle, I was single for the first time in over 10 years and my mental health was in a dangerous place (though not quite at my lowest point) – At the time, all Liberation is love meant to me was how I felt in that moment – I was recklessly happy, it was my first real taste of what a social life might feel like and I felt free – I felt like I was in exactly the place I was supposed to be at that time; surrounded by the drunken, merriment of some of those who have become my closest friends within these past few years.

With every passing year Liberation is love has taken on a new meaning; letting go of blame – both toward myself and toward others, letting go of fear and negativity (I’m still working on this one!), saying goodbye to negative influences and embracing positive ones. It has followed me through all of my milestones and all of my stumbling points…

Liberation is a beautiful thing but when I spoke those words, felt that phrase, I did not understand quite what it meant. Liberation; letting go? Setting free? Must I wait for someone else to do that for me? Or can I liberate myself? Can I find the help and support I need for my mental illness and liberate myself from suffering? Can I remove the people from my life who bring nothing positive and liberate myself from negativity? Can I love myself enough to work towards liberation?

Nobody set me free, released me from my cage or liberated me. There were helping hands but I had to reach for them and allow them to grab hold of me – I liberated myself. Liberation is love. That is what it means to me now, that I finally loved myself enough to let go of all the hate and blame eating at my very soul; that I love myself enough to be true to myself and live a life I feel is worthy and be a person I can feel proud of. I have many more things to accomplish but I have never been more content with my life than I am now.

I used to wish for someone to come and rescue me; from within the darkest recesses of my mind I would scream for help and wonder when someone would notice, when they might come for me – I thought a man was the answer, I thought a marriage was my salvation… I never thought to look inward first, never held enough faith in myself to believe that I might hold the key to my own happiness.

And now, embarking on new ventures into love and romance I can finally say that I’m in it for the right reasons – I don’t need love, I want it and there is a vast difference between the two.

Liberation is love… and you hold the key.

A cacophany of life

A cacophony of life

How sweet the sound

Of children on the outside

Parents on the ground

Of tears and hugs and happiness

and all the love we’ve found

Of all that makes us human

Take stock, look around

 

A cacophony of life

And nought but a whisper

To the man in the darkness

Nor his black-hearted sister

To the people with nothing

and those with more

Think of all that’s inside

and you’ll know the score

 

All around the days will weave

In black and blue and gold

A giant web

Of all we are

To complete as we grow old

If only we would listen

To this cacophony of life

The love around us glistens

like the sharp end of a knife

But its all we have, all we’ve got

Love every moment

Before life is what is not

 

 

Sink or swim?

Tonight is a night of nights past; it is a night of worry and fear, a night of overthinking, of loneliness and regret… I have not had a night like this in a long time and I despise it – it fills me with dread because I am aware that it could well become the decline into abyss and the start of so many troubles once again…

How do I stop this from happening?

I have been so well, so happy and yet tonight is heavy, tonight is nothingness once more.

Life is moving on as it always does and on the 22nd of April I will have my last appointment with my psychiatrist and a couple of days after, my last appointment with my support worker and to be frank, these things don’t bother me – although I thought they would, I feel I have moved so far into health that, in my mind, that chapter of my life is closed already and I am within a moment where I must try to recapture and rebuild the elements of my life that had to be dropped in order to drag myself into wellness… and so I have been dating, though I will keep the details of how that is progressing to myself but suffice to say it seems to have been a worthwhile jaunt into the unknown… I am applying to continue my degree which I dropped when I decided to seek help because of the mass of stress and anxiety it brought me – I know it still may prove to be too much pressure for me and so I enter with that at the forefront of my mind; knowing that this will ultimately be my last attempt at completing this degree but that it is worth trying whilst I am feeling in reasonable health… I am still searching for jobs but with no luck as yet… Still playing mother with no idea of whether I am doing it well or poorly, still getting out of bed each day which compared to six or seven years ago, is a massive feat in itself… How difficult it is to remember how far I have come from those dreadful years.

Will I always have to live with this sense of fear, this blind panic that any moment now I might become the mess of mental illness that I know I am capable of… What if I spend all my energy building this new future and then succumb to illness once again; how many lives can I inflict pain and worry upon this time?! Is it hopelessly selfish of me to seek a partner when I may well end up being more burden than lover?

What tips the scales here?

Why do I feel this way tonight?

Where is the reason to it all?

I love being such an emotional and expressive person; I worked hard to free my feelings in this way and it is to great benefit of my health that I allow myself to fully leak every feeling into the world and yet it leaves me so painfully vulnerable to others… I have been lucky in life, I have found a great many people who embrace and love those things about me and yet there are always some who seek to ruin and sometimes I wish I could express myself and yet still be protected.

Does the open nature of my emotions and feelings lessen or increase the risk of decline and regression?

I think perhaps I need to be proactive about this dip in my mood; end the dwelling nothingness and tears – meditate to cleanse and sleep; tomorrow will be brighter.