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.

 

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

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Life is a minefield

I often wonder if its worth it; the eccentricities of everyday. Was life not simpler when all I did was sleep? Why worry my life away in a wakeful torture when my dreams await to soothe my aches and pain…

Now there are fights and battles galore. There are tears and feelings, cuddles and kisses and pain and emotion… There are others to consider when you’re awake to the world and their strategies at coping with the everyday are often different and foreign… It is rather ironic and very like me that I would not give myself long within a world of balance and peace before throwing in a load of noise and disruption to ripple the tides once more.

Is change a good thing? Or should we forever stick to the comfort of the status quo… Does change not enrich our lives and the people we become? Every battle I have fought, every torture that I have overcome has simply draped another layer over the person I am today, given my character another facet, enriched the mind I share here and with every experience, whether turbulent, pleasant, emotional, painful or otherwise; I become a richer version of me.

So again, I ask myself the point of all this… life, living and putting myself through so much change and upheaval… and I suppose the answer is a simple one. It is that there is no living at all in remaining stagnant, standing still… yes it is safe, yes it is comfortable but nothing will ever become anything more than it always was and for me, that will never be enough. There is power in standing alone and independent, strength in finding yourself and learning that you have worth all on your own… These past six years alone have taught me that. But I suppose there is also a great strength in learning to stand beside someone else. Finding that the world will not end should you let go of the reigns for a moment, letting another share in the person that you are to a depth that no other would dare to tread.

Its not all pain and torture in this new world of mine but it will take time to adjust to all that comes with sharing the complicated woman that I am… and then; regardless of the outcome of this new venture, I shall become a better version of me.