Expiration

What a travesty it would have been

If wishes had been granted

If you’d listened to my aching pleas

Before they were recanted

 

What torment to ponder

The times that I would miss

The smiles

The tears

The laughter

That moment when we’ll kiss

 

Perhaps I’ll wish again one day

I hope that when I do

I’ll turn to you and realise

I can take a different view

 

Reminiscing

I quite often would describe myself as an open book – if I am asked a direct question I would certainly answer it honestly and succinctly and I lay myself bare here often; but I am learning that in fact I am not an open book – I am an intensely private person, closely guarded.

I have been reminiscing of late. Someone recognised my accent (which is the amalgamation of many an accent!) as that of the place I grew up and it set my mind whirring – am I happy or sad that this piece of history still clings to me?

I don’t reminisce about my childhood often, there is nothing there that I haven’t long ago processed and dealt with in my own way and it is no longer a subject I really discuss with anyone. My father and I did not have a happy relationship. The older I get the more I understand about our skewed existence alongside one another and I hold no bitterness or hatred but regardless we brought each other only negativity. It was a toxic union. I used to dote upon him though, I thought he knew everything (as we all so often think of our parents) I craved his attention and the affirmation that I was good enough – I rebelled too, horribly, but mostly I sought his approval. So, when he began to make fun of my budding Devon accent I set about changing it. In my effort to change my accent I became a magnet for those of other people and now, subconsciously, I draw upon the accent of whoever I happen to be talking to at the time. Though, recently, I have noticed that when I’m at my most comfortable this doesn’t happen and I use what I assume is my actual accent… though I don’t really know if that is true.

So, when someone heard my childhood home in my accent I was instantly happy – I hadn’t lost that sliver of my younger being – I hadn’t fully succeeded in changing myself to meet some impossible expectation that in reality I created for myself as I’m certain my Father’s intention wasn’t to have me change it.

After the elation came the inevitable sorrow.

Life has moved so far beyond the endless feeling of loneliness and desperation. The growing tendrils of deep and deadly depression. I miss the childhood I didn’t have – because I lived too far inside my mind to grasp it, I miss the home I didn’t value or feel at home in. I miss the friends I didn’t cherish, I miss the moments never shared.

I didn’t live a day in my old home.

After another milestone event last week I realised that I don’t need the approval of anyone. I don’t need the attention of anyone and I can be content in my own self. I changed myself before because I didn’t value myself, I didn’t believe that I was enough and so it was easy for others to make me feel worthless. I am not that insecure girl anymore; I will never change myself to meet what I perceive to be the expectations of others again. I like who I am. I am enough.

And so whether I feel sad or happy or indifferent at holding on to a tiny piece of my childhood, processing it has been another life lesson to tuck under my belt, another moment of growth, a realisation that only I can give myself the acceptance I crave and that surely, is a good thing.

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.

 

1D Me

Ah, the first gleaming post of a new year… Full of hope and high expectations, just like all those before it – though my heart isn’t quite in it; I want so much more than the empty promise that this year will be bigger, better and more successful than all of the others. I want more than to get to the end and have to steel myself against the bitter disappointment that I am still merely human and no, I have not yet put an end to world hunger, found fame in a travelling circus nor brought world peace about with nought but a smile.

This year is about realism. January was shit. It is always shit. I forget this every year because it is easier that way than to be honest with myself. I flounce extravagance throughout November and December – it is a hub of social activity; if not with family , then with friends. Money flows through my fingers as though I were manufacturing it and as if that wasn’t enough to overstimulate and push ever closer to the clutches of mania, it is also all glittery, shiny and twinkly!!

January is the hangover month. Money is tight, because the me that existed at the end of 2016 couldn’t care less about the feeding and housing of the me of 2017. The last of the glitter has been cleared away and the family and friends have all retreated into normal routine once again – likely recovering from similar afflictions to mine.

And thus, here I sit – pondering. It is February and the hangover is receding yet hasn’t quite left the room but despite its lingering presence I feel more like my self than I have in a very long time. I don’t think I am myself very often – I don’t think I even know which version of me that I present is the authentic version of myself. I was with friends tonight and I recognised myself whilst there – I was relaxed, calm and simply spoke all of the things in my head with very little editing. I have realised that I don’t share myself with people. Most of the people who would claim to know me actually know very little about me or the things I have experienced in my life; they share personal details with me and I give a little in return but my stories are the edited version – they portray the me that I would like them to see or the me that I feel most relates to them. I am not every facet of myself with very many people.

I realise that I have grown to do this for a reason – it must be some form of protection that I have learnt along the way. I spent most of my childhood being judged and criticised for the person I was developing into; anything that was ridiculed, I changed it (even so far as changing my accent – to rid myself of the Devon lilt of my home that I was told made me sound as though I lacked intelligence) I would agonise over what was wrong with me and how I could fix it – I spent a long time believing that the true me was not interesting enough to be liked and lying to create a ‘better version’ – I made a conscious decision not to lie anymore when I was in my early twenties, the lies were growing and causing trouble and hurt feelings but I can see now that where the lies stopped, the evasiveness began. This is not something that I particularly want to continue… I am lonely. People can’t get close to me and nor will they want to if I continue to present this one dimensional version of me. I am so much more than you see – I am so much bigger on the inside.

This year I am not going to make empty promises to myself. I probably won’t significantly reduce the mammoth size of my bottom or win the lottery or get a job as an astronaut. But I will promise myself that I will try harder to be present in my own life – I will try harder to share the many weird and wonderful facets of me; to lay myself bare to the possibility of ridicule and rejection and just see what happens.

This year is not going to be any different than any others than have been before nor unlike those that will come after but I will be different, I will be the more that I have been looking for.

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Hallmark

These few months have been a trying few. I admit freely that I hold responsibility, at least in part, for just how difficult it has all been and I hold on to the knowledge that the end of chapters seldom fly by without issue.

I like to pull the positive from every situation; even those most dire and depressing and so in this dreary time I have found a plethora of things to be grateful about and to celebrate!

My health is not as unsteady as I would have believed. I have been completely without medication (at the advice of my doctors) for around six or seven months now and while it was certainly not an easy transition it has shown me that with the right self-management I can cope with a lot and feel emotion without allowing it to cripple me. That is not to say that I would be adverse to taking medication again one day should I need it; I am not so delusional as to think that I will absolutely, without doubt, maintain this relative stability and I truly believe that medication played a heavy part in keeping me alive. There is far too much rumor and stigma associated with anti-depressants, anti-psychotics and other such drugs and this is mostly due to the fact that everyone is different and it can take a long time to figure out the right drug or combination of drugs for you. Many of the drugs I was given have left me feeling zombiefied and unable to function but with good doctor and patient communication it is possible to make them work for you and though I’m sure not all doctors are as co-operative as mine have been, I have not yet met a doctor that wishes to purposefully impair your ability to function or think for yourself.

Something I also found difficult in regard to medication was realising that the thoughts and ideas that disappeared when I was medicated were in fact a symptom of hypo-mania and not my creative self beating her wings. Find yourself, learn what is healthy for you and acceptance will follow.

And despite being un-medicated I am not on my knees after recent events. I am hurt and upset and all of those normal things of course but I am functioning and I am coping. This is absolutely incredible and so much more than I could have ever expected of myself!

I am incredibly thankful for my resilient, loving, compassionate and incredible children. They are my every reason for living and in every dark corner and deeply depressing situation all it takes is one thought of them and my vigor to fight is renewed. I feel blessed to have them and very proud to have had a hand in the people they are becoming.

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I am thankful for friendships that last through the toughest times. My recent actions might dictate that I don’t deserve such loyalty but it is a testament to the people around me that they are still here and they never give up on me even when I was not the best version of myself. When you live in a positive way and maintain a good attitude, practice patience and embrace love you absolutely do get it back tenfold. Yes, that sounds like a particularly cheesy greetings card but it is so also so very true. I feel as though the world saved up all of its wonderfulness and is doling it out to me as and when I really need it and it is a great feeling to have people to catch you when the world crumbles at your feet – even if they saw it coming three million miles before you did.

My family, but in particular my long-suffering mother, who has grown, alongside myself, into the acceptance of my illness and the nuances of the management of it. She is my rock and when I stumble, she is always there. As I’ve gained more independence and confidence she has adapted along with me and her support always reflects just what I need. She also happens to be a wonderful person, full of love and acceptance – in whatever way you might need it. She brings the fun that I so often forget to indulge in and the comfort that no other can offer quite like her.

My brother is also a great source of strength and drive for me – his own journey is not mine to tell but it inspires me greatly and has shed enlightenment on many a grey area of my life. He is supportive and frustratingly, he is often right! I value and treasure his friendship immensely.

I have also managed to maintain a job (and be pretty awesome at it) for an entire year. It is exactly a year today that I started work and I am so proud of myself. It has not been all plain sailing – there have been times that I wanted to give in and that I felt it was all too much for me but it has developed into something that has boosted my self-esteem and makes me feel worthwhile in a way that I haven’t in such a long time; if ever. It is an incredible achievement for me.

I am healthy, I am beautiful, I am good, I am honest.

So what is the point of this gush of a post? Simply to dwell upon the amazing facets of my life. Yes, this is a hard time but if I continue to focus upon that I will drag myself down into a pit that I have visited before and quite frankly is not somewhere I want to return. I don’t hate anyone or anything. I don’t hold grudges and I refuse to be bitter about my own failings and the failings of others. We are all human, some things work and some things don’t. We all err and we all fall but I will see the good and I will move forward in positivity.

 

She is not her, she is not me…

I haven’t written in a while and when I have written it wasn’t me, not really. I have been avoiding writing because if I write then I must accept and really process that reality and if I accept it, then it is done and there is no power that can undo it – but it is time to face the writing. It is time to be me once again.

I think I got smug in my health, I got too comfortable with being well and I suppose, in all honesty – and with hindsight, that it was a false kind of wellness in the end because no matter how hard I might strive I can’t be the ‘normal’ that people want, that I wanted… The universe serves to remind us of reality and so it has for me once again for my feet are firmly planted on earth once again. When did I forget all that I have learnt? When did I decide it was time to drop all of the management that saved me?

My relationship of a year and half has ended. I don’t want to air my dirty laundry here – this blog has never been for that – and so I won’t share the details. I will say though that he is not a bad person and nor am I and that I have faith that he will turn his life around and become the magnificent man I know he can be. I’ll tell you that I love him very much but that love simply wasn’t enough right now and so the painful decision was made to end things and move forward. I have been trying to remind myself that relationships end for people every day this pain is not some private one created solely for me and that my hurt is not so much to bear, that this is life, this is reality and its never what any of us wants but it happens… where is the line between genuine ‘normal’ pain of the loss of something and the melodrama and extreme of Bipolar disorder? Emotions are so hard to fathom…

I always strive to take lessons from everything that life throws my way – I feel that I have become a bigger and better person for all of the things I have been through and that if you choose to see life in that way and to avoid bitterness and hate then you can truly find a happiness that others miss… but I must confess that I am finding it difficult to find my lesson from all of this self-inflicted mess and I have been wracking my brains looking for it. Though, writing always makes things seem a little clearer and I think I see now that this was my warning to slow down, that I had fallen into my frequent trap of looking for perfection; striving for that family unit that I seem to think is ‘normal’… this experience has taught me that the family life, traditions and everyday fun that me and the kids have is pretty near perfect in itself and that its going to take something pretty special to blend into that. It has shown me that what is really important is us three and feeling happy, comforted and cared for. It has shown me that I have created a pretty awesome family environment for my children already – they feel secure in my love and really that is all I have ever wanted…

So I’m hurting again and I feel as though I have messed up. I have hurt and let down some people that are very close to me and I will bear the consequences of that. I have shaken the already shaky financial foundation from under my feet and I will also deal with the ramifications of that particular bout of stupidity… I have neglected my health, I have neglected my very self… She is not her, she is not me… But no dwelling and no wallowing in the misery of what I have done and what I have not – no more punishing myself for not fulfilling some destiny that I have decided is imperative to my being.

No more. The lesson I take from this and will plaster all over my stubborn brain and broken heart is that I AM ENOUGH. I am enough, I am enough, I am enough…

This time will pass and I will work hard to find my level ground, I will rebuild what I have broken and she will be me once again.

I’m not OK, but I will be.