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.

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.

 

 

The glorious fall

Every year I forget; but that only adds to the awe I feel – I love this time of year, I love it with a passion that I feel in every inch of my being.

It seems rather illogical, when you think of the cold, the shorter days, the dark, dark nights and even darker mornings… it would seem as though that should be detrimental to me rather than bringing so much joy.

Regardless, I love it because no matter where you look there is a riot of colour just waiting to grab your attention – it is almost as though the world is putting on a show; its like fireworks without the noise, like a painting, its surreal, its anticipation, its the visual representation of poetry, emotion and the hopeless romantic inside my soul… The crunch of those leaves under your feet is utterly sublime, many a time me and my children have played amongst them and doesn’t it just feel so magical with those leaves falling all around you, like a cascade of nature. I love that crisp chill that fills the air, its so fresh and clean and beautiful; it fills me with a child-like excitement that I can barely explain – I love wrapping up warm in a cosy coat, gloves, scarf and hat, I love hot chocolates and hot water bottles and cosy blankets while the world rages outside the windows and there is something fiercely delicious about the low autumn sun beating down on you as the bitter wind wars to chill your bones, it makes me feel alive. Walking is a sheer pleasure in this weather and somehow, despite the world dying to hibernate for winter, it feels more of a time for nature than any other to me. In fact, just a few weeks ago I spotted my first robin of the year and got so excited I think people were quite worried about me!!

Why is it that I feel healthier and happier at this time of year? All my research would suggest that the sun (or lack of) should play a large part in my mental health and wellbeing – but this is my time, this is when I thrive.

I must say that life is better than it has ever been for me and it just keeps improving as time goes on; though I still stumble and live through peaks and troughs, I survive, I carry on and nothing seems so impossible anymore, what everyone said would happen, has happened and now all my mental health management doesn’t feel as though it is such a conscious battle; more and more it is becoming second nature to me.

I’ve noticed that I’ve started practicing mindfulness a lot more – ironically, not purposefully, it is simply coming naturally. For example – when waiting to cross the road; instead of feeling the impatience at my wait and debating whether to cross early; I feel the wind, I notice the sky, I smell the air, I hear the trees rustle in the breeze, I feel my feet where I stand – it sounds almost silly but I truly believe it has been healing for my soul to find patience in my life and a sense of calm and peace. There is no rush; nothing will implode if I do not rush across the road – I have time to wait, I have time for peace. There are many issues that we with Bipolar disorder suffer and I would hate to narrow it down to one point and spout the lie that this is the cure because the truth is that it is different for everyone, we all find peace in different ways; but I do believe that we need to take more time to listen to what our own mind and body is telling us. If you have a million thoughts inside your mind and it will not calm enough to let you rest; don’t attempt to block it out or ignore – grab a pen and some paper and write each thing down; dissect why they are in your mind, embrace your feelings and calm that mind with time, show yourself the courtesy of listening.

I’ve also started noticing that nobody is as together as we all assume; I’ve started seeing people properly instead of seeing them all as above me and believing that they had something that I didn’t. You may not have a degree, but they don’t brush their teeth. You may not have made it out of the house today but they forgot to remind their son to do his homework. You may have had an argument with your mum/dad/sister/uncle but they have realised they’re unhappy in their marriage. Perhaps you have smelly feet, they have debts up to their eyeballs. You’re addicted to gambling, they’re addicted to online shopping. You didn’t iron your shirt this morning, they’re wearing yesterdays underwear; this is life, this is humanity… our problems are different but they’re the same because no matter the scale of severity they feel hopeless to us. This is ok; this is as normal as it gets.

This time last year I couldn’t have imagined being as healthy as I am now. I often say that to myself in times that feel dire and unbearable ‘this time next year it’ll all be different and there will be progress; things will be better’ and though it changes nothing in that moment; it gives me a goal to strive for and when I reach that year I can look back on all that I have done and see through clear eyes that yes, nothing is quite so dire anymore.

So much  has changed for me and yet nothing has really changed; it is almost an imperceptible change but it is there nonetheless. I have a job, I have a boyfriend, I enjoy life more, I am more positive, I am calmer and more accepting of others, I am more confident, I am happier, I am healthier and I know myself inside and out.

Perhaps that is why I love the autumn with such a passion. Because it mirrors my own sense of renewal; shed the old, the negative, the unnecessary baggage – spend some time, alone, bare, naked in the sense that you strip back the façade, the mask that says ‘I’m ok’ and then, when the time is right, bloom.

The chaos bubble *trigger warning*

I’m on my third day at work and it’s all going pretty well I would say; the work is simple – the people are friendly and my family has rallied around me to help with the kids. I’m being congratulated and told that people are proud of me and on the surface its making me feel pretty good.

If I think any deeper, scratch the surface of the chaos inside, stop and wonder at what I’m doing, then the screaming woman bursts from her chaos bubble of fear, terror and dread spreading negativity like the plague. It happened to me this morning… I was walking along the street to get a cup of tea before work and must have awakened the beast inside me because all of a sudden it seemed a wonderful thing that I might get hit by a car; a fleeting thought – easily shrugged off, but scary nonetheless! The screaming woman’s rationale was that we wouldn’t have to cope with all this if we were dead. You can’t fail her logic but why, when everything has been going so well, am I thinking things like this?!
It’s the pressure. The responsibility and change.

Hopefully time is the cure. When that which was change becomes the norm, is it still frightening?

The land of the living

Tomorrow I enter the land of the living. Yes people, I have actually managed to get myself a nice little job that works out nicely for family life. There is a lot to organise in this situation and I am sort of fumbling my way through it… How will the kids cope? How will I cope? What if something goes wrong? What do I do with the kids during their school holidays? What if, what if what if…?

I have to keep within my anxious mind that this is a massive step into positivity for me and that even just a year ago this would very much have been beyond my ability. I have to keep praising myself for those little inconsequential things that are so huge for me – making it through an interview, attending my first day, asking for help, accepting help…

I also need to keep within my mind that I am incredibly lucky! I have a vast amount of people around me; helping me to cope – helping with the kids and helping me prepare myself for what will be such a great leap in my progression into the real, functioning adult world.

I have done so much to be proud of lately; I attended many job interviews but none more scary or intimidating than the group interview of last week – We had to do a few role-play games including creating our own song and singing it in front of around 50 other hopefuls and our would-be employers!!! Scary stuff! But I did it and I obviously did it well because I managed to get a call back for a second interview with them!

My medication is also being slowly reduced. I don’t really know how to feel about this. I think it could be a great thing; I’d love to be medication free and for my physical health I’m sure it’ll be a good thing. I am also cautious about it; because I’ve come so far and I’m so stable right now that I’d hate to set myself back… I’m also having a few unpleasant withdrawal symptoms (to be expected since my doctor reduced my medication by a whopping 75mg!!!!) I’m clenching my jaw again which is making my jaw ache and giving me a lot of headaches, I have muscle pain – which I had when going on this medication… Things are settling down though which is a good sign that it may well all be okay.

So often in the world of Bipolar disorder and really I suppose in the world of anyone; we forget to discuss the good that is happening in our lives and when we talk to others, or write or even spend thoughtful moments alone – we circle around only the bad, the dank and depressing, the gloomy and unpleasant… Take a moment each day to be mindful. Find one positive and cling to it… it will grow, bloom and blossom until it fills your entire heart, your being and soul with that pleasure and joy. It could be something as simple as an unexpected kiss from your child or as mundane as the bus turning up on time… but don’t neglect it, let it grow.

And so that is why I have written today, because though there is much to fear and fret about – this is also a huge positive for me; life is moving into a new chapter and I intend to let it grow.

The media circus *Trigger warning*

I am loathe to write this post; I almost feel as though in doing so I am adding to the very problem I am about to complain about and yet if ever I needed to write something; this is it.

It has been a tough week in the world of Bipolar disorder. I’m sure we have all been struck by the untimely death of Robin Williams; it is a tragedy. My online support group has been finding the whole thing incredibly difficult (as have I) not only the way the way the media has spun the story in as many ways as possible to make reading it all unavoidable but also the apparent ignorance in claiming he suffered with depression when it is widely known that he was a fellow Bipolar disorder sufferer… (a very different illness)  I believe they reported it this way because it is a more widely coined term and they believe more people will understand this; however, many within my support circles believe it is a missed opportunity to discuss Bipolar disorder in a more open forum and perhaps attempt to de-stigmatise what has become a disease that is so widely ridiculed.

I do find it incredibly sad that this apparently effervescent man found that he could no longer carry on and as a person with Bipolar disorder it fills me with dread and sadness; is that my future? You always hope you’ll have it all figured out by the time you get to that age; this somehow just confirms that it will always be a struggle – there will always be a fight to be fought.

It is hard to explain in a way that the everyday person will understand but the constant publication of details of a mans downfall, leading to suicide which is explicitly described in several publications is very dangerous to many with Bipolar disorder; it plants the seed of suicide – which then has the potential to breed within your mind. I have a very visual mind and when I was in the midst of my biggest suicidal period, hanging was an obsession of mine – I can literally picture myself dying that way; from finding a rope, to the actual act itself and all the motions in-between… I realise that will be disturbing for some to read – so imagine what it is like to have that image on a loop within your mind; meaning that even if you aren’t low enough to contemplate suicide ordinarily, reading about it described so thoroughly means you are still at risk of obsessing about the act and then potentially following through with those obsessive thoughts.

My Facebook is literally filled with tributes and news stories about him and his death making Facebook a dangerous place for me at the moment. My Bipolar support group is all suffering in the same way; we cannot seem to stop reading and we cannot seem to stop discussing it all… does it mean the same for us? Are we bound to reach the same sad fate? Even as I sat on the bus two days ago I was faced with multiple images of his face and headlines of a provocative nature from the many strewn metro newspapers. There is no escape and no reprieve from this story and so it is all consuming…

I think the ignorance of the media is that they believe in publicising his suicide in a sensitive and understanding way, they are not causing damage; I do not think they are aware that a whole massive community of people are potentially on the verge of copycat action because of the sensationalist and relentless way in which they have approached this.

And yet; I cannot tell you how they could have done it differently. He deserves the many gleaming tributes; he had a massive impact on so many lives – the way his children have paid tribute to him is heartbreakingly wonderful and a glimpse into the man he truly was – he has played part in many of my favourite films… yes, he deserves to be mourned.

And the truth is; I wanted to know how he died and the news that he was also suffering with Parkinson’s disease makes sense to me; for dealing with both this illness and another is something I’m not sure I would stay to weather either… I don’t now how we fix this damaging age of media sensationalism and propaganda; I certainly am not one to suggest the censorship of media and the truth is that it has always been this way – only in the age of the internet, mobile apps and all manner of other instant communication it is a lot harder to avoid reading this kind of hype. The really harrowing thing is that we all want this information – we seek it and feed upon it like the vultures we so often are; but just because we want something does not mean it is healthy for us – it does not mean we should have such instant access to such a font of information…

If this week has brought anything to light it is that we still have a long way to go before mental illness is understood or at least de-stigmatised within the public domain. One day we will get to the point where ignorance does not prevail; maybe one day it will not be too much to ask for all provocative media publications to carry trigger warnings as food would declare its potential allergens… at least then there is an element of choice for those of us at risk… something to make us stop and think before we read/listen. And maybe one day it won’t be too much for the media to state the correct mental illness rather than using a blanket term for ease of understanding…

To all my fellow Bipolar sufferers I say, be cautious – be mindful of the things you read and expose yourself to; pay attention to how it makes you feel before your mood/obsession has leave to get out of control; talk to those around you or failing that, find an online group of people who understand that you can vent these emotions to – the therapy in talking through the way you feel is bigger than you can imagine; communicate with medical professionals – stay open, stay honest; however silly or illogical it might seem.

To those who do not suffer with Bipolar disorder; I hope this has at least given you a small insight into what I am sure it is hard to fathom… and I hope that you too will be mindful of the content you share, knowing, now, the potential effect.

 

 

Perfection

Nothing will ever be perfect. And yet, we all strive for perfection – we carry on until the day we die, accruing possessions, furthering careers, furnishing rooms and gilding nature… There is no end to it because it is never enough. How ironic then, that so many of us seek reprieve from these never-ending tasks in the wiles of nature – unblemished, untouched nature; where the sky and the sea meet in a silent confrontation of wills, where bird song reins supreme and instead of the choke of pollution, the breeze carries the smell of life in its wake.

Why do we build these fences, just to sit outside of them for a sense of peace?

Almost every thought I have lately is about the future – betterment and contentedness. How do I reach a point in time where I feel as though I am being all that I can be and doing all that I can do? The answer, I now realise, is that it will never happen – I am chasing nothing… an impossibility.

I will never feel as though I am all I can be because there will always be more I want to achieve or more I feel I could have done; and that’s ok… but it doesn’t mean that I am failing and it doesn’t mean I’m not doing enough, it doesn’t mean that I am not enough.

Mindfulness is a wonderful tool that I learnt to use during my CBT – cognitive behavioural therapy –  It is essentially, as I understand it, the art of being present in the here and now. Feel what you feel today, see what is around you right at this moment… live today. There will always be the stresses of tomorrow to contend with or the heartaches of yesterday but why ruin this day with thoughts of what if or bitterness over something that isn’t happening right now. When we hold on to pain we only punish ourselves and fill the rest of our days with agony that only grows in strength and aggression… When we worry or plan for things that are out of our control we only ruin the time we have… we miss the positives of the now – I dread to think of the smiles of my children that I have missed while consumed by depression; but instead of dwelling upon those dreadful times I choose to notice and appreciate every smile in the here and now… I cannot correct the past or map the future but I am the master of the now, I control today.

As I sit here I can practice being mindful… I can feel the tap of my fingers on the keys of my laptop – feel the breeze from the open door next to me and smell the night air that I love so very much and find so fresh and crisp… I feel the music I am playing as I write this; I feel it in my very soul – as it surges, so do I; as it calms, I follow suit. I do not berate myself for any negativity that might cross my mind – loneliness permeates the night… I feel it and then I let it drift away on the beautiful night time breeze… for I have my words for company and my mind to fulfil me.

It is time to start appreciating the things I have done, the good I have around me… Time to let go of feeling as though I am somehow failing at life. It is not time to stop the climb to betterment or contentedness for why wouldn’t we strive for more positivity… but it is important to remember that no matter how far up the ladder to peace I reach, I am worthwhile and I have done all I needed to.

I have so much more than so many other people and there are so many things that I will never know what it is like to do without… I have my health, I have two healthy, sassy and independent children, I have family, I have acceptance, I have budding possibilities… my life is full.

I know that I will not always be able to think this way – that is the inevitability of living with Bipolar disorder; things that seem like common sense today will tomorrow feel like impossibilities… but I hope that I will look back on this and that even in my darkest hours, I will strive to be mindful of all that I am and all that I have accomplished.