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.

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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.

Alone

There’s a melancholy stirring in the corners of my mind

A breeding swath of darkness

and its growing all the time

There’s an aching sense of misery

In the recess of my soul

I lost the will to fight it

or was it never my goal?

There’s a clinging sense of isolation

Within these barren walls

For there is only I

No other heart that calls

I thought one day I’d find you

The other half of me

but oh how I was mistaken

T’was nought but fantasy

Locked within my mind

With myself for company

What purpose does it serve,

this empty agony

 

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.

 

Selfish me.

Selfishness. I often wonder if I really understand what it means. Sometimes I think its very definition contradicts the things we are taught are right.

In my opinion and my personal experience, depression, Bipolar, and likely reams of other mental illnesses can be very selfish things; mental illness is the very definition of self-absorption in that it is all about you! and nothing but you – though not in a purposeful way, so does that make it something other than selfishness? There is generally such a negative aura around the word selfish, we hear the word and instantly assume it means that those people are also bad, but these things are not synonymous with one another, selfishness does not always equate to badness.

I believe that my mental illness can make me selfish, I don’t believe I have any choice over this matter nor do I believe I can change this but perhaps being aware of it is not such a bad thing, perhaps I can repair the damage caused if I embrace this inevitability. Bipolar disorder is such an all-consuming thing, it can sometimes take all of your mental energy to simply move from bed to the sofa and so of course there is not going to be room to consider others – during a severe low mood you can sometimes be so convinced that everyone hates you or that they would be happier without you that you treat them with the same contempt and disdain you believe they are bestowing upon you with little regard for what they have to say or how you may be making them feel. A high mood can perhaps breed even more selfish behaviour as you are so caught up in the mania that there is little thought of how your reckless actions will impact others.

I wish there was a way to help others to see that my selfish behaviour, if it can be classed as such, is not coming from me personally but from my all-encompassing illness and that the real Cheryl, the one other seldom see, would never treat you that way.

These past few weeks I have been desperately overwhelmed, I am trying to embrace a mother load of new activities at the behest of my OTA and it is proving difficult to maintain. I have been so absorbed in my over-activity woes, therapy, medication, social interaction, money woes, children… ect that I wonder if I am seen as selfish by those around me as a result. The view people might have of you when they do not understand the reasoning behind your actions can often be painful to hear; Do we need to hear these things? Does it help to hear the truth, however painful. A few weeks ago I would have said that honesty was without a doubt the best way to soothe your paranoia and fears of the misconceptions of others but then I received my own dose of painful truth and now I’m not so sure if it is helpful. I was told by someone close to me how they felt when I first sought help for my illness and their subsequent thoughts, feelings and actions since and it was debilitating painful to hear, it sent me into a huge depression and instead of soothing my paranoia it has only served to heighten it around this person. Is this reaction in itself selfish of me? Shouldn’t others be able to express their feelings and how I have made them feel?

Though there seem to be more steps back than steps forward at the moment, I soldier on because anything less would certainly be selfishness.