New things!

Life has been moving and changing as it invariably always does. The most immensely sad things have happened and in equal measure the most beautiful and wonderful things have occurred.

To detail all of the pain or celebration of the past few months would be to spill the pain and joy of not just myself but also others; perhaps I have finally learnt that the world and all its misery does not revolve around me… So instead of deconstructing and analysing the swing of events, as I feel so compelled to do, I will simply say that I survived it all once again.

I changed my hours at work a few months ago, I felt ready for a new challenge and the monotony of what I was doing previously had me feeling dangerously close to destruction. My brain needed some stimuli and the Open University course that I am doing didn’t really feel like the right fit – though I am dedicated to finishing it.

When a position came up in work that meant I could take on some overtime I thought it would be ideal – I start early in the morning and can take on a later shift too. I thought it would be the perfect way to help me transition from part time to full time hours. I applied for it, had an interview and got the job. I was so proud of myself! I would never have had the confidence to even apply for something like this a few years ago let alone make it through the interview process.

Change is always stressful, management of my moods and the strategies I have developed rely on very little change happening – when I moved house almost two years ago it hit me hard and took me a really long time to re-balance my moods, my foundation and security had been taken away from me. Work is the same, it is familiar – the people mostly stay the same, the routine is the same, the building is the same… it is safe. I found moving my hours stressful but because the change was minimal, in that it was within the same building and with familiar people, I managed to balance myself fairly quickly.

It was not the wondrous thing I was hoping for though… I wanted to be challenged, I needed to feel as if I could progress but all I felt was a looming dead end. I was put in a small and isolated area of the store and once I had managed to tidy and organise it, there was nothing left to do. I am proud that I managed to run it so efficiently by myself but being isolated in a quiet area of a busy store is not healthy for me at all, my paranoia has blossomed in my time there and my social skills have declined.

This would usually be the perfect excuse for a downward spiral, a deep decline into woe brought on by the misery that, despite my best efforts, I have not managed to make anything better for myself.

I didn’t give in to the decline, this is quite a feat for me! As my moods started swinging a little more frequently and both paranoia and anxiety got bored of whispering and began to shout – I began to consider applying for something new and happened to see an ad for a job that seemed pretty perfect for me, I applied, I went through a dreaded and difficult group interview, I got the job and handed in my notice.

I start in just over a week and I am so excited about this new job, I really think it will be a challenge for me – it’ll engage my brain and hopefully boost my confidence. I’m proud of myself for grasping hold of this opportunity despite now also feeling utterly terrified of having to build a new foundation of security on which to build my management techniques and the inevitable swing of moods this massive change will bring.

I feel as though this is the start of great things for me, though I am sad to leave all that I have built and the people I have come to socialise with behind.

I didn’t give up when progression didn’t work the first time… perhaps I’m still learning after all.

Advertisements

Cold soul

When there was nothing life was simple.

When there is nothing I am content.

Maybe I am not made for somethings.

Maybe I am not equipped for happiness.

I see you. I see the good, normal person that you are and I cannot fathom why all the wonderfulness doesn’t make me happy – I don’t know why all the things I’ve ever wanted are not things I relish receiving now.

Maybe I am broken. I thought I was such an emotional, expressive soul but entwined with you I am cold, I am lifeless, I am barren.

I don’t know how to be the other half of you. I want to revel in the abundance of love you give me and the wholesomeness of you, but how?

I want to show you the plethora of emotion and love bubbling under the surface of me, but how?

What now?

Deserving

Do you ever wonder, when joy comes your way, if you deserve it. If perhaps the fates got it wrong and that eventually, like an errant payment to a bank account, it’ll soon be rectified and you will return to the monotony or misery of yesterday.

I wonder.

I wonder if I am allowed to be happy and who gets to decide either way. I wonder if I am in control of my own happiness and if so, is that happiness ever actually real if I am the one to allow it to filter into my life.

I wonder what happiness is and if I’m doing it the right way. I wonder if wondering that is the antithesis of happiness in itself.

I question whether I am good enough and with each slip up, episode or swinging mood, I wonder why others would go to the effort of being anywhere near me.

I feel as though I am constantly passing and failing tests simultaneously. As I please one so I disappoint another.

I feel as though I am the hard task for others to uptake. I just show up and spend enjoyable time with them and they work hard to be with me, to tolerate the many facets of me, to cope with me… Do they dread another slip into the darkness as much as I do?

Do people ever get to the point in their lives where they have absolutely no insecurities? Is it possible to just be completely secure in your own being and not worry at all about the impact of your self on the lives of other people. What do I have to offer people? I have been empty, nothing but a vessel full of melancholy, for so long…

Happiness is seeping through the cracks in my emotional armour, unbidden and foreign to me. I don’t know what to do with the light that touches my soul but it warms me from the inside out and though I might question how deserving I am of it – I know I will hold on to it as long as it will have me. Security makes an attempt to follow but it will surely take time to penetrate my untrusting mind.

Is it time to admit that things are going well and stop looking for tragedy to strike?

Am I allowed to feel?

I find myself in new, unbidden territory; the world is awash with magic and I am sat in wonder inside the cyclone of emotion that is my mind. Just what am I allowed to feel?

I have never been here before. I have thought I was many a time but now the difference is stark and harsh.

The sweep of new emotion is so gargantuan that I would be remiss not to ponder the effect it will have on my mental health. I practice such careful management of my affliction that surely this newfound bliss will throw my stability out of the window? Am I allowed to feel this happy, is it ok to allow myself to be carried away in joy? Or in allowing this am I setting myself up for a deep swing into depression?

I find that I don’t care to know the answers to these questions. Logic tells me that these emotions, these feelings, are too full, too much, too wonderful for me to ever hope to cope with. Logic tells me that this is bordering on mania and that destruction and a fall will surely follow and yet this doesn’t feel like mania – this feels like a mutual meeting of destiny, is that the mania talking?

I am going to allow this wave of emotion, if I shut it down then perhaps I close the door on the future and what point is there in stability if I am too afraid to live? If only there were some way to look forward and see if it is worth the risk of shaking my slowly built foundation… but I feel, deep in my soul, that contentment lies at the feet of this choice and so I thrown caution to the wind and I live. I really live.

 

Reclaiming my soul

You should know that I’m a dreamer; I am whimsical and ever so slightly odd. I am woefully socially inept but I try hard to get involved anyway. I am passionate and probably a little too rash. I long ago banished bitterness, hate and negativity from my life and from my soul and I do not invite it near me anymore. I practice painful honesty because secrets kept do more damage than the momentary discomfort of truth.  I care very little for material possessions which is lucky because I’m abysmal with money. I love my children more than anything they are the reason I am alive and I have worked hard to be more deserving of their unconditional love for me. I don’t like confrontation and will always strive to treat people with kindness. I am a thinker, an aspiring poet and an avid reader. I’m a hopeless romantic but sometimes I struggle with emotional intimacy. I am flawed. I am me. 

I have not always been this person. In fact I feel as though I have lived a great number of lives, each equipped with their own persona, in my relatively short time on this earth.

Somewhere, in the mess of lives that I have lived, I forgot who I really was. Or perhaps I didn’t ever really exist. I have sculpted this person from all the experiences of my past selves, I have moulded the mistakes into lessons and fashioned lessons into blessings. I have not created a perfect person – I have become a real one.

Living with the weight of mental illness is not easy but I have learnt that though some things are always going to be out with my control, I cannot use this affliction as an excuse. It does not justify bad behaviour or selfishness and it does not give me reason not to try. These are beliefs easier said than put into practice but I have made it my mission to push through the instinct to fester, to recline and revel in the misery that is mental illness. It is, after all, far easier to allow yourself to remain stagnant than to fight against the swelling, impossible tides of despair and hopelessness.

I didn’t realise when beginning this quest for balance and wellbeing that instead of pretending to be someone that I’m not once again, instead of another front or carefully constructed mask – I would actually uncover the person I was always meant to be. It lends a certain vulnerability to be you in every way and that is what I both love and despise about it but despite my reservations and discomfort I will endeavour to never be any less than me again.

I have worked hard to reclaim my soul, to live for the first time, to breathe. It is liberating to finally meet the me I should always have been.

Anxiety

Anxiety has been eating me alive.

I was 21 when I had my breakdown. I was ill for quite some time before then but the breakdown is the thing that took everything from me.

Being in the midst of a breakdown is terrifying. I didn’t know what it was at the time and I’m not sure I’d have cared, all I knew was that the world was suffocating me, darkness was a closer friend than all those before and that I was lost; perhaps forever. I was a towering inferno of agony. I don’t remember great chunks of my life and I’ll never get those memories back; perhaps I don’t want to – I was not in my mind. I was gone, I was a shell and because I was not in my mind I didn’t learn how to function, how to live – I didn’t want to live. I never learnt how to cope with emotions, I only had a two of them and they were desperate misery and seething anger. I didn’t learn how to cope in social situations, how to behave – I isolated myself, I drove people away from me, I was not fun to be around.

I feel, sometimes, devoid of enough tools to cope. I feel uncertain of the accuracy of my actions and that induces crippling anxieties which only serve to make me more socially inept; stumbling over my words and offering a nervous giggle when no giggle is necessary. Saying things that are inappropriate – or not saying anything at all and still spending the rest of eternity living these inane conversations in the vain hope that eventually I will get it right and have cracked the elusive code of conversation.

I have come so far. I don’t strive for isolation any more, yet I still find myself isolated. I do partake in conversation instead of shying away from it – no more the silent mouse in the corner. I speak to people every day now, I laugh and participate and there is seldom a day where I don’t have to talk to someone new or cope in some form of social setting but still anxiety plagues me and it frustrates me that I can’t move past it. Some days I’m not sure I can push through it – but I do, I have and I will likely continue to. Still, what is so difficult about being around people?! What am I afraid of? Why must I seek acceptance in every facet of my life? Does the approval or disapproval matter when coming from a relative stranger?

Sometimes, though less often now, I wish I had let the breakdown have me. It would have been so much simpler, easier and less painful if I had just let it win and embraced the darkness. I would be done now. Free?

There are so many things that I had to learn to do – I had to learn to function, to sleep properly, to wash, to organise, to talk, to share, to live, to breathe… and so many of these things come so naturally to me now – perhaps one day I will be able to interact with others without anxiety and paranoia. But for now, I’ll keep trying, I’ll strive to be more transparent and less defensive and perhaps I’ll just embrace my woeful social ineptitude.

 

Depressed, not depressed.

When will I learn that circumstance does not make for depression?! Exacerbate it, perhaps. It fuels, aids and abets depression but it is not depression – it is not misery and thus when circumstance is gone it does not take misery with it…

I am not within a depressive episode to rival all that have come before; not even close. But I am not happy either. I am lonely, numb and yet morose. I am tired. I know that I don’t need to be happy all the time – that in itself would not be a normal temperament but I would like to find a sense of contentment, I would like to lose this paranoid anxiety that hangs over my head each day. I would like to feel… I would just like to feel.

Mental illness is such an inward thing that it is hard to see when I am truly in need of something and lacking in what I deserve and when the ‘woe is me’ selfish streak of self-pity is rearing its head. I feel unappreciated in so many ways and I give and give and give and feel like there is no two ways to this street. I am giving too much and have less than nothing left, my arms, my heart, my mind are left barren, abused, used, spent… is this real? Or am I simply of the mind-set that the world is against me – it wouldn’t be the first time.

I keep thinking about what my life encompasses. I have good people around me – I am lucky but if you strip my life away I am work and children. If my children were to leave, which they will one day; I am work and nothing more… My life is empty, save the grace of loving and living for my children and eventually I will need to live without the drive that loving and living for them gives me – I can’t imagine I shall even find a reason to leave my bed. Perhaps I should begin to address that sooner rather than later.

I ask myself more and more often why I fight this vicious affliction that is Bipolar disorder. Far simpler to lay down and let it feast upon me.

One day I’ll find a reason for my fight – a reason for me, my soul, my needs and not the world surrounding.

 

2016 and fighting regression

2016 has been an awful year for me, there have been moments of light in the gloom but overall the darkness has pervaded so profusely that it has encompassed most anything it came across. Only now; in October, am I starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and enjoying the race to the end of this year of regression, loss and massive change.

I had taken myself back to my psychiatrist after some of the worst regression since my breakdown this year. People think that I am so strong – they tell me as much, they worry but in the same token they do not… and considering I am still here and fighting I suppose they are right to do so but during this episode I really was concerned, terrified even, about whether I would make it out of the other end and if I was capable of enduring, it was a struggle even to  get home safely on some days after work and how I even continued to go to work every day is beyond me.

I have now been discharged from my psychiatrist again – no doubt I will be back but I hope that it is in the distant future and that now I can begin to rebuild my management structure and find a new sense of contentment. I am pleased that I did not take the offer of medication this time – even though I was in some desperate situations and faced some tough circumstances once the circumstance was removed the depression was not so dire that I can’t fight my way out.. though had my circumstance lasted longer I am certain medication would have been invaluable to my staying mental wellbeing.

Having to move home 4 months ago played a large part in my regression and struggle and since moving it has been hard to follow the management techniques I once used to stay stable. I have realised that moving into a new environment has negated a lot of the methods I used to use to find calm and restore order in the cataclysm of biology that is my brain. I have lost my ‘safe place’ lost my anchor and place to hide. I feel vulnerable here and as though I need to face the world a little more than I did previously. I was angry at first – furious, in fact, that my previous years of work to find the ever elusive balance meant nothing in the face of these new challenges and that I was essentially thrust back to square one, back to being lost.

However, once I had accepted that I needed to start again and build new management techniques and find new ways to cope I began to see a change – it is gradual and I am still woefully depressed, my anxiety is higher than usual but I can feel the control returning to me and logic is beginning to come in to play where it had no power before. Frustratingly it even seems that I may be building a stronger foundation of coping mechanisms than I had hastily constructed before and so it would seem that all things really do happen for a reason and that there is a positive to come out of all that has happened this year.

I now just wish for a little peace in what has been such a riot of storms.

Tired

 

I am tired of the sorrow

and the thoughts within my head

Tired of displacement

and words, already said

I am tired of the torrent of miserable news

I am tired of the abhorrent, sickening views

 

If I tire of the sound

What must you feel as you listen

Do you cringe when I’m around

Do you grimace as my eyes glisten

Tears on your shoulder

all tinged with endless pain

Oh how do you bear me

as here I go again

Woe, woe, misery

I cannot stand the sound

Of little drops of despair

As they pitter-patter upon the ground

 

Do you wait for the sunshine?

Is that why I’m still here?

For nothing in this shell of me

Is something to hold dear

The cut and run

I have spoken about the phenomenon that is the cut and run before. It is this habit that I have had, through my years of illness, of simply removing myself whenever a situation got a little too intense. Its a subconscious habit and one that was hard to both recognise and then begin to break.

I first realised a few years ago, whilst going through therapy and taking a hard look at my life, that there was a pattern forming; friendships and relationships never seemed to last any longer than three years, if they even made it that far and then after that they would either dwindle into nothing or I would remove myself completely from them – even moving countries twice and avoiding the aftermath of the end of two relationships. Obviously I didn’t do this on purpose but I do believe it was possibly a self preservation technique and was likely borne from many feelings of inadequacy and a deep fear of abandonment.

Knowledge is always power. Recognising and accepting that I do cut and run has given me the power to begin to combat this behaviour. I have friendships with no sign of ending no matter how hard I might seem to try to destroy them or how self absorbed I might sometimes become. I dealt with the end of a relationship in a healthy way – I was shocked at the aftermath and emotions that came with the end, having never had to deal with picking up the pieces before, but I stayed and I coped and I moved on a bigger and I think, slightly wiser, person. I have a job that I am settled in and there is no desire to run, it has become a safe and comfortable place to be and brings me very little anxiety even in the face of new challenges. I socialise in a more fluid and calm way; I feel less desire to put on a show, I feel no need to perform because I am enough for the people I find myself with.

I have been living in the same home for almost six years. It has been a very happy, healthy home for me. My children have grown from the ages of three and five to eleven and nine in this home. I have healed within these walls and found a sense of peace and health that I thought was lost to me forever. I have laughed, cried and loved and lost and I have met and conquered many milestones here. Now, I have to move and not through choice, but circumstance. My landlords, who are lovely people, are moving back into their flat and so I need to vacate – they gave me a plethora of notice but time is running out and I am getting very ill and not really progressing very far in finding solace from this life circumstance. I feel as though I am grieving the home that is the only home I have lived in by myself, the home I have felt the safest in, a home that has brought me such a wealth of positivity; though I do know how ridiculous it might sound to grieve for a home…

I had, in the past, only ever attributed the cut and run to friendships and relationships but, in dealing with this new situation, I am slowly coming to realise that actually I have been running from all of the intricacies of life. I have never had to deal with finding a new home under a deadline or loving one enough to feel sorrow at it’s loss – I have only ever moved into homes already made with people who were there to take on the responsibility I had no idea was there or no inclination to look for – I have only moved into new homes with established partners or friends who did it all. Even this home I didn’t find, I didn’t call to make an appointment for a viewing, I didn’t search for it, I did nothing … other people did it all. I have always cut and run before things got to the point of ending. I have always been somewhere else, had something to run to.

So here I am. At a pivotal point. I am standing at the end of one adventure, never having made it all the way through one before and instead of the elation I know I will feel once all is right with the world again, I feel despair and I have fallen very far into depression. There is but one place to run and its a choice I will not make and so I am left standing on the precipice of beating the cut and run, in this game at least – though I am sure there will be more games to come…

I know that this is something that we all must deal with. It is not some special evil created to make my life miserable and I am confident that whatever we move on to will be better than what has been but I am finding it very hard to find positivity or the faith that it will all be alright and more than anything I want an end to the continuous battle to be well and to simply find a little peace.