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?

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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.

It’s a relapse

There are times when you must accept the painful, unwanted and difficult truth. Though it may be tempting to carry on regardless – for oblivion holds less sorrow – there is no health in ignorance.

I moved house a little over a month ago. Around a year ago the end of another in a long line of troubled relationships gave me plenty of fuel for self pity. Then, just before Christmas, money became an issue and I thought I had hit rock bottom and reached the limit of what I could cope with – apparently not though because soon after that situation was resolved, in February, I was told that I would need to move out of the property that I have been living in for six years. I wrote before about the almost ridiculous sense of grief I felt for the loss of this, the only home I had ever really cared about, my sanctuary. I lived there, as an adult, longer than I have lived anywhere and for once I felt no need to run from it.

I wish I could say that I coped well but I did not. Though I am assured that nobody copes well with such occurrences. I tried to find a new home for myself and my children but it appeared nigh on impossible… I had agencies that would not even let me view homes, some that let me apply only to turn me down in favour of a more suitable person. I had agents just not bother to turn up and all of that on top of the crippling anxiety that plagued me in having to do any of these things. I had, as always, a fantastic support network who fought alongside me with a mass of strength, practicality and understanding. I am more grateful than it is possible to convey.

I got so ill and despairing during this debacle; it is the first time in a long time that I have actually felt concerned for my wellbeing; I was not safe in my own company and with no end of circumstance in sight I felt I had no choice but to seek help in coping. Truly I did not realise how dark and dismal my mind was until I sat in my GP’s office and sobbed about suicide and frustration, anger and terror.

My GP offered medication (what else I expected her to do I don’t know) – I have been medication free for around two years now and though I credit medication for a lot of my health – I did not go and pick up the prescription she gave me. I felt that this blip was due to circumstance, that had I not had to break up a relationship, had less than no money for a while and been in the midst of losing my home and facing the potential of homelessness then I wouldn’t feel so despairing – I would be ok, wouldn’t I?

My GP also referred me straight back to a Psychiatrist and I went along to see him fairly quickly. As luck would have it he was a consultant and very helpful. This time I went in with enough knowledge of mental health to offer my own take on what was wrong with me – he listened, I cried, I poured everything out because painful honesty is the only way to go when you need such help. He recommended medication… Though he accepted my argument for this being a circumstantial relapse he also brought concerns that made sense to me; he said that depression can change our brain chemistry and if you let a depressive episode go past a certain point it is much harder to bring the chemicals back to a neutral point. This appealed to my sense of logic and I said I would consider his advice. I came out of the appointment feeling lighter and better than I had in a while. Then, shortly after, a home was found, we moved and all manner of stressful, but essential, tasks were completed without much of a hitch and I decided I didn’t need to consider his advice because I would be ok now – it was done.

So this is it – I have been in my new home for a little over a month now. It is beautiful, spacious, I am familiar with the area and have friends nearby. It is close to my family and the children love it too. So I should be better now? Shouldn’t I? The dust has settled, our things are unpacked and there are no more difficult circumstances to blame – but I’m not ok. If anything I am more unwell than I was before and only getting worse.

I have Bipolar and I have to manage my illness daily but this is a depressive episode, this is a relapse into oblivion. I don’t like the person that I am at the moment; it isn’t me. I am angry and bitter. I am paranoid and insecure and anxiety tortures me daily. My management techniques don’t work and I don’t have the motivation to try harder – I am sinking.

It’s time to face the truth. What may have been circumstantial is not anymore. I need to accept help and the advice of my doctors – though it feels like a great leap backwards, things will never get better if I embrace oblivion.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Fear to spite its owner

This time last year I was set on a crusade to enrich my life. I was tired of waiting for the future to find me and had decided to reach out and grasp at the potential happiness I felt I could see. Of course, what you think you want isn’t always what is best for us, I put myself out there and I failed; but I also gained so very much. I gained patience, self esteem, a better understanding of what it means to be loved, a closer relationship with my loved ones and a higher standard for who I allow to entwine themselves so deeply into my life and the lives of my children.

I am in a pensive and emotional sort of mood, one that analyses every facet of life, inspects every feeling and prods at my precarious hold to positivity and stability. I am a little cowed by recent events, new experiences and challenges bring panic in the realisation that as my life grows, so diminishes my control on the situations I am faced with and the judgement I must deal with.

When I was just beginning to take control of my mental health I removed all negative influences in my life and kept only a very few people around me, these people I trusted with everything I was – both good and bad. I let nobody else in and though it wasn’t really a fully conscious decision it is obviously one that was pivotal to my debatable success in learning to manage my health. Now; my life is moving forward in great strides and getting a little harder to juggle. With but one or two people of trust there are no secrets, no intrigue, no gossip or foot-in-mouth moments. With few people there’s no awkward clashing of events or excuses and explanations needed. The people I held around me were so trusted that I could tell them anything and receive no judgement but now I must mind my words, I must remember the lessons in social interaction that I have rushed to learn over the past few years and I must listen to my instincts as to who to trust with my most inner-workings; sometimes those instincts will be wrong and my faith will be placed upon someone who will pass judgement and create situations that seem dire and again I am left in a position that is beyond my control and painful to traverse.

How much simpler life was when only my mind created havoc for my soul.

Of course there is some good in embracing new people and experiences and there have been comments from people I have known for some time about how much more sociable, open and easy-going I seem now.

One woman who I met only recently upon finding out (beyond my control) that I have Bipolar commented that she couldn’t believe I had a mental illness because I ‘seemed far too calm and positive for someone with Bipolar’ I wasn’t sure of how I felt about her comments, though written now they seem fairly tame… at the time I was both insulted and pleased, I suppose. Insulted because of the ignorant stigmatic view of Bipolar that she clearly holds… Her comments also made me feel very anxious, would she treat me differently now? Her only reference to Bipolar is a few episodes of Eastenders (which I haven’t seen) where a girl with apparent Bipolar is seen having a breakdown and while I have certainly lived through those devastating stages and may very well one day return to them, I doubt the drama of a soap opera compares to the reality… My fears however were unfounded as she hasn’t treated me any differently at all but I never needed to feel that kind of fear of judgement until I started living again. What risky business it is to be alive. I was also pleased by her comments because I am both of those things now. Calm and positive, but not without considerable effort and thought so if that is how people see me then all this work is not for nothing.

There have been epiphany’s aplenty in recent days and yet more grim acceptance of my flaws. Despite my negative experience in grabbing the bull by the horns and attempting to move life faster than it was willing to go – I am not adverse to moving forward and I refuse to shy away from new experiences, friendships and relationships for fear only spites the owner and I didn’t work this hard to live only to die in other ways.

I cannot control every situation for the rest of my life, I cannot control the actions of others, the judgement they pass or the poisoned words they might spread but I can control how I let those things affect me, how deeply I let them wound and so I am going to continue to be me; I am going to stop feeling the need to hide my more eccentric idiosyncrasies and I am going to move forward with my head held high knowing that those who love me do so unconditionally and that anyone who doesn’t is not worth but a thought let alone my fear.