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

 

If

If now is not the time

If your heart is not yet mine

If you need to take things slow

If I let you run the show

I’ll dream a dream of you

and dream again tomorrow

Hopefully the truth will be quick to follow

 

If it was never real

and all we are was lies

If I imagined what I feel

If the budding bloom soon dies

I’ll dream a dream of you

and hold it in my heart

and tomorrow perhaps

True love will start

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.

 

 

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