Thirst

DON’T DRINK THIS WEEKEND!

DON’T DRINK THIS WEEKEND!

DRINK DRINK THIS WEEKEND!

DON’T DRINK THIS WEEKEND!

DRINK DRINK THIS WEEKEND!

DRINK DRINK THIS WEEKEND!

DON’T DRINK THIS WEEKEND!

DRINK DRINK THIS WEEKEND!

DRINK DRINK THIS WEEKEND!

DON’T DRINK THIS WEEKEND!

On and on and on and on,

Pimms on the peripheral,

Gin in the genes,

Vodka in the vortex of my inner cortex,

Dry turtle mouth snapping,

Never too far from my psyche,

Thirst.

Alone time.

I hate being left alone. Sometimes it feels as though I will never be found again, that whoever is missing will not return to me. It is quite an irrational fear given that I am nearing 30 and have a phone, a mobile, a laptop, a loud voice and a pair of legs should I need to reach anyone and ask them to come and save me.

But then when I am happy I love alone time, having the house, the bed, the space all to myself, it is like a blank canvas that I can fill up however I want to, without judgement, without grace or manners or having to justify or explain myself to anyone! I don’t want to share it with anyone, it’s mine all mine! I can stretch out and dance and tidy and clean and sing and mess it up again and paint and sprawl and make noise and mess and I don’t have to worry about anyone else but me!

I would be lost without my cat. Sometimes when I am really lonely I go looking for her. I search in drawers and under the bed and in the garden and on top of the washing pile and in her special place in the warm, humming, boiler cupboard. I don’t want to disturb her. I want to shrink myself down and curl up in there with her all safe and sound and protected. Maybe she would even groom me with her rough, fishy tongue.

And then my partner comes back and I feel surprisingly cramped and annoyed at his presence. It’s not that he isn’t lovely and kind, it’s just that I don’t actually want company, I just don’t want to feel lonely any more and I’m tired of feeling afraid.

Assurance

I saw her there, sheltered under the tree, hunched over and twisted like the gnarled tree trunk; shoulders shaking like the leaves, shimmering and waving in an Autumn breeze. I felt compelled to approach the vulnerable woman so small was she that I felt she must surely need some help.
As I got closer I saw a heavy, wet tear roll off her cheek and onto the ground, a miniature lake no bigger than a daisy head and yet one which contained a depth of emotions incomparable to sea level.
I wanted to scoop her up and hold her in my arms and pull her into my chest until she could feel the hypnotic tune of my beating heart chanting ‘It’s okay, you’re okay, you’re safe, everything is going to be okay.’
I wanted her to know that no matter what had been before and no matter what she had yet to face, that I would be there for her, that she wouldn’t have to suffer alone and that in amongst the darkest of days, there I would be to hold her hand, to guide her, to reassure her, and that somehow, together, we would be able to find the light and laugh at the strangeness of it all.
But as I stepped closer and closer still, she began to fade and then the bright rays of the sun flashed in my eyes and I blinked once more and when I opened my eyes again it was I who was sat under the tree.
There I was hunched up, vulnerable and small, my face sodden with tears and my arms tired from gripping so tightly at my knees, pulled close into my heaving, tight chest. Within that chest lay my aching, broken heart but somewhere deeper still I began to understand that I do carry that rhythmic primal beat of survival and strength.
‘It’s okay, you’re okay, you’re safe, everything is going to be okay.’
No matter what has been before and no matter what I have yet to face, I will get through it.
I won’t have to suffer alone and in amongst the darkest of days,
I now have the wisdom and strength to protect and guide myself and feel certain that somehow, I will be able to find the light and laughter in amongst the strangeness of it all.

Depression: A purge

Three words I have come to dread,
more than any that could be said
‘How are you?’: and queries to that effect,
I turn my head and look away and change the subject.

See I would rather be in bed
and I would rather not have raised my hand
to brush my teeth today.
I would rather have not have dressed myself
and I haven’t looked in the mirror for days.

I paint myself on, my health, my face, my ailing courage;
my clothes become layers and layers of armour.
In which there are chinks,
Named Doubt, self loathing and disgust.

I practise and rehearse ‘normality’,
I try to smile but my lips crack and bleed.
I can taste blood, it feels like this final feat: To smile and lie,
will be the end of me.

But I cannot bare to see your face,
if in honesty the truth slips out in haste.
I cannot bare to hear your pity, your surprise,
your glib cheery advice.
I do not wish to open you up, for you to confide,
In me, an ally, things that you also hide.

It would destroy me!
If you should look me in the eye and FEEL me,
and hold me to you
so our hearts beat chest to chest
and soft warm breast to breast.
It awakens in me
a feeling that I could be real,
that I matter.
For such humility I will surely fall to the floor and weep, at your feet,
I cannot open the cracks from which the sadness seeps.
I cannot risk it falling out in one giant, messy heap.

We are all human, we all bleed the same,
but to reveal the beast before it is slain?
Is Social Death.

So I lie.
I say ‘I’m fine. I’ve been better, but I’m having a lovely time.’
I’ve had years of practise,
I’m like a pageant queen, a pro at this,
all teeth and glitter and sweetness and light
and air for brains to get me through this night.

You squeeze my arm,
throw a knowing glance,
but leave it,
You too are well rehearsed in this dance.
I sigh a tired sigh of relief, of shame, my breath quivers.
I die a little more inside each time.
So it’s easier to avoid the question,
the people, the situation, the interrogation.

Understand: I’m just trying to find the best of me.
and if that means hiding from the world?
Then just please let me be.
It’s not about running. It’s not about anger.
It’s not about rejecting the world
and regretting all that I have seen.. and been.

It’s about being real and saying ‘This is WHAT, but not WHO, I am right now.’
It’s about being vulnerable
and letting wave after wave of crushing self realisation wash over me,
Testing my own mortality,
resetting my boundaries,
It’s about safely setting free,
the raw beauty within me,
and self accepting and protecting who I AM,
not just projecting,
who I want to be.

This is witnessing my hopes and dreams,
Washed up and wilted
and re-assessed and second guessed.
It’s about owning your process.

It’s about saying I will not be defeated.
This is not the end of me.
But to carry on regardless is futile!
Saving face= denial.

I am not wallowing!
I have not been complacent or gleeful
as everything around me has fallen apart!
Don’t ever make the mistake in implying
that I am not doing what I should to help myself.
We all know not to take a drag on that,
or to eat that second slice,
We all know we have to exercise, compromise,
practise gratitude and charity as a way of life.
So excuse me whilst I shut the door,
on those words that patronise.

See, I am still alive,
I am fighting suicide…. and that will do.
That is enough for today!

So please don’t be offended if I smile weakly,
and turn down your offer of yoga and change of scene.
I am tired and I just need to sleep.

This is the stop and start, the stop and start,
the practising the art of trying to do things right,
By me.
Of failing and learning and reaching and clawing
and finding truth and honesty and dropping all the bullshit.
It’s about unleashing the rawness
that lives just beneath the surface,
the kind that makes you want to SCREAM.
I’m rearranging the furniture in my head.
And turning away from mindless distractions,
Excelling by nurturing myself.
By letting it all just ‘be.’

I do not live in the past, instead the past lives within me
and I must seek a new way to make peace, to find ease,
in accepting and not rejecting that hand that fate has dealt me,
I cannot own my future if I am unwilling to own my past!

I am coming to understand,
That what has been bestowed on me in misfortune,
was not deserved,
it was not earned,
and that is the cruel thing,
about life sometimes,
some people don’t earn it,
they chose not to learn from it,
and they float through,
they are just passing by;
At least on the outside.

But I just can’t!
the depth to which I feel
means I cannot help but cry.
I will carry the burdens of the world
on my shoulders
but beat myself up
for the weight I carry on my hips!
Such is my privileged life!

I will think long and hard to ensure,
that I mean what passes through my lips.
I will assess my opinions regularly,
and refresh my ideas accordingly.
For knowledge and wisdom are two separate things indeed.

I am learning to distinguish between opinion of self; and fact.
I’m practising the same kindness toward myself,
that I allow others without a second thought.
I am growing by not comparing myself to other people,
and saying
THIS is okay.
This DAY is okay.
This day IS..
it just IS.

I know this isn’t any kind of way to live permanently,
I know this isn’t the beginning or end of me, my destiny.
But I don’t want to be walking this same well worn path when I am 40!
I must make peace with myself.
I must be relentless on this quest of self discovery,
of recovery,
allow myself this luxury.
I must LISTEN to myself,
in a way I’ve never lent myself to such an indulgence before.
I must cultivate my roots in order to flourish.
I must first dig them up and expose them
and embrace their weakness
AND their strengths.

Gov bless the NHS and the welfare state,
for allowing me this mental health break.
I will be back and I will be stronger
and with me I will carry the wisdom that I have come to know,
I will reap and grow from all that I have sown.

I find myself wrapped up and held in the constant cushion of compassion,
mine and yours, forever more,
for ALL the people, who are struggling,
for those of us with the misfortune to feel this endless,
reckless abandonment;
of hope.

We CAN be rehabilitated,
set free back into the wild.
With prozac and self help mantras,
on good terms with our inner child!
But please let it be safe,
let it be on our own terms,
Guided nudges, good intentions,
loving hand holds are welcome of course,
But do not expect me to walk before I can crawl!

I have learned thus far:
That my outlook is not stagnant, it is ever changing and open to interpretation,
Anger is sometimes best served through the medium of dancing in the face of adversity,
rather than on the face of your adversary.

EVERY tear is cleansing,
It is your pain trickling from you and wearing down your defences,
a flood that brings with it, sweet release,
no matter how trivial or pointless it feels,
be self indulgent whilst the gates of emotion are open.
Because you never know when you will find yourself empty once more.

Do not fill the empty void with crap,
let it sit, let it act as a filter, let it dilute your grief,
enjoy the calm,
before the inevitable storm.

Be whimsical!
Not everything should be taken as seriously as your recovery.
Live safely but playfully.
Curiosity is a sign of life.
Listen to that curious voice within no matter how quiet,
and welcome its hunger as a sign that you still care.
Even if its just a little bit.

I am learning to accept that my limitations are as fluid as my feelings.
That nothing is final, not even death,
that this too shall pass,
so when you’re trudging through the treacle like sludge of despair
and you feel almost content at the idea of suicide being an option…
remind yourself that you just never know what change might occur,
what might stir,
inside you; A beam of light, of clear insight,
a really great wank, a breath of fresh air,
a picture, a sound, a chocolate eclair,
A (((HUG)))
or a friendly smile and a cup of camomile
with an old friend who remembers you from ‘before the war.’
And please note that 2 o’clock in the morning is ALWAYS the wrong time to start asking ‘what am I going to do with my life?’

Learn to say each day that what is eating at me, this cloud,
it is not WHO I am!
and it is unfair and it isn’t right but I will fight
THIS
even if sometimes it feels like battling myself.
Sometimes you have to stand side by side with The Darkness
and play football together on no man’s land
in your own secret truce;
and repeat the well worn truth,
I AM Okay,
I am ….
I just AM.
And that’s okay.

Dreams

I dream of my childhood home all the time; almost every night, only now it is always in the garden, by the river, out in the wilderness and I wonder why that is.. why has that changed? The house is no longer the focus, the place I haunt.. now I am within the earth, the roots, and I wonder if the house represents my brain and if now I am getting beyond the man made structure and reaching right into the roots of me, my connection to the earth of that time, the real emotional ecosystem and it feels like progress. It kind of starts to feel like things are evolving mentally, spiritually perhaps.. and I wonder if it really is a personal revolution or maybe SSRI’s really are just bizarre chemical weapons used against sanity and maybe it is all just bollocks.

A while back I kept dreaming intensely and it was starting to blur with reality and I was freaking out about it quite badly. But then I wondered if it was actually a sign, for me to challenge my idea of reality that my perception could be changed and then I could take some control back in terms of my my mental health or beliefs about myself. I didn’t have any solutions or goals or decisions to make, but it just opened me up, something shifted.. and for some reason things became a lot easier.
There has been a combination of things over the last year that have helped me to move forward and it will always be a combination of things that keep me healthy and stable, I know this, but just the freedom of knowing that it can change has helped me to actually see change, experience it and now actively seek it.. enlightenment of sorts..

My good old brain keeps ticking away, solving its own riddles. Maybe I am curing myself on a subconscious level without trying, only with a deep recognition , self determination and acceptance. And maybe trusting in the process that little bit more. The universe, the truth, is bigger than my own deluded/narrow thoughts, that much I know.

And maybe the drugs work too.

Over

Our relationship exists like background noise. Like a black and white film playing in the background. The sound not quite right..a distant humming, something lacking, all the colours drained from it.. having to fill in the gaps inbetween the fade in and out scene changes. Colouring in our characters, willing yourself to overlook the obvious crumbling scenery in the background, the fake horizon, a bright but false promise of hope, the wilting leaves of a potted plant, under a lamp for so many hours of the day, take after take, trying to create the perfect moment. Trying to perfect someone else’s dream, their vision of what it’s trying to portray.

Desperately trying to decipher meaning and find deeper feeling in the pained expressions of the classic feverish heroine; delicate, malnourished, bewildered little woman.

Credits roll, orchestra plays.. still nothing, no conclusion, no ending, ongoing frustration, speculation. Death.

January

It is 3 am on a Monday morning, but it is still my Sunday night.

I have been more or less living in my bed for the last week or so, apart from leaving the house twice, I get up only to go to the bathroom or occasionally fetch something to eat or fetch a drink of water.

I have been sleeping; Lots. I feel jaded, overwhelmed by the simplest task, heavy.. of heart and mind.

I am questioning my own reality, how solid the world is, that existence is. I feel like I am morphing in and out of black holes. I am on the brink of a spiritual and mental revolution, or a personal tsunami where I am stripped of everything that I am certain of.

Politics are wearing me thin, the world is toxic and spiteful, there are too many disasters and recklessness from men who do not care for anything other than greed and their own pull of power, they are all tugging their corners of the carpet of the earth and they are not afraid to destroy it.

I am sedating myself with television programmes and movies, reading lightweight fiction and dosing myself with the occasional pain killer just to take the edge off, to create a fuzz, to confirm a physical illness exists instead of just a weakness of the brain.

I stink; really bad. I haven’t washed for over a week and I went to two exercise classes last week. They were obligatory, I am helping a friend launch her business and I attended and did my duty and upon my return I got back into bed, exhausted. There was no usual exercise high, no ‘better for seeing people’ or feeling any sense of achievement, just relief that it was over; and dread for having to attend again next week.

And he still loves me. He brings me food and cuddles and soothing words. He offers me a shoulder to cry on, an olive branch that can be relied upon, gentle reminders that I have someone to talk to, he is stronger than me, in all my love for him I know I could not be that same support that he is to me. He is consistent and patient. He strokes my hair and brings me silent affection and trickles of encouragement, just enough that I do not feel pressured or over whelmed. He is a hammock, thought I  entrusting the weight of my world  on something seemingly flimsy, he is there, bearing the weight of it; the trees, the mesh and the gentle breeze. He compliments me, not glibly, not out of kindness or duty but because he sees me.

Underneath it all, he still sees me. Even when I cannot find myself, towering above a stormy sea spliced with jagged rocks, he sees my beacon of light and rather than swerve to avoid the dangerous ground that I am stood upon, he boldly, gracefully, makes his way towards me, neither martyr nor mother, but the gentlest soul I know, ever loving, ever calming, ever here.

I am astonished, humbled. I have been told to be careful of too willing partners, of co-dependency, warned of placing all of my hopes in one place, metaphors of eggs in baskets and cliches of blinding love and white knight and helpless princess syndrome.

But here he is and here I am and he loves me.

I have tried, intoxicated with my own putrid self loathing, to push him away, to block him out, thought of schemes to test him, adorned a cloak of selfishness, but I cannot commit to these fully because I have worn this path down before with lesser partners and I know that it is the last act of a desperate soul on a sinking ship, trying to convince the one he loves to take the only lifebelt; sacrificing myself so I can crawl to the corner and die, so that I can spare them and prove to myself that I am not worth the trouble, that I am un-savable and unlovable.

I have convinced myself that I respect him less because he is some sort of push over, that he has not given up on me and is blinded with a need to be needed, that he wants to keep me here in this place so that he can kind find purpose and so I cannot rise to wellness lest I over shadow his own beauty.

But he looks at me and his eyes sparkle, he looks at me the same way as when I have dressed for an occasion, all make up and sparkle and jewellery and smiles. And I see truth in those eyes. I try to squeeze out an emotion, most of the time, and yet here I am, faced with the most beautiful man in the world and he is doting, asking nothing from me and leaving me enough space to work through this. He does not enable, but he reminds me that I am not alone in this world, or indeed this void, that my life is sometimes pulled into.

And I cannot say that I have ever pleaded for a hero or for a saviour and I share my weakness with no one but the four walls, but he lets me be this, I don’t have to pretend, I don’t have to be anything for him, but he will not let me become nothing at all.  He places value on me when I am fit for nothing and no one. He is my back bone, my organ donor if the organ is a wounded spirit or addled brain, he is a surrogate for my broken heart, he grows me new hope, plants a seed and nurtures it to full growth, even when I turn away from it and will it to shrivel up.  Plants like to be talked to, it gives them the air it needs to help them grow. So if I become rooted to the cesspit of my bed or I become part vegetable, he still talks to me, a breath of fresh air, his whispers ripple across my naked vulnerability and it tickles me gently, enough for my senses to be awakened and the tiny hairs reach up to reassure me that I am still alive. and where there is life, there is hope.

I assume that he is mad of course, that he is sucked in by false sense of who I am. At times I become suspicious, that maybe he needs me this way, that it helps him to thrive, that he feeds off my weakness and it somehow makes him stronger, but then I am reminded of his own vulnerability, that his empathy reaches every being that he comes into contact with, he is forever helping where he can, he does not seek it, he merely sees it where others would walk by or turn the other cheek. For him, the other cheek holds as many tears and it would be dishonest of him to pretend to be anything other than warm of heart, it is effortless, but not compulsive.

I feel apocalyptic waves lapping at humanities feet and I cannot save it, nor should I try. Perhaps I am giving in to that, perhaps I am a new kind of crazy, perhaps there is something dark waiting for me, perhaps I have carried it with me all along and it is revealing itself to me only now, at my weakest point, perhaps it is feeding off me, draining me before filling me up with something more toxic. Am I building walls as flood barriers, to keep something out, or to hold something in.

I am a control freak with no control and I am spiralling… the danger is that if I fold too tightly in on myself, before it snaps and I unwind like a fire cracker, in the limitless outside world where I can do some real damage. Am I normal? I am not questioning things on a philosophical level, I am realising that I am believing in things that I am not acting on in everyday life, that I have been trying to convince myself of this wisdom where they are not yet true for me. Am I losing it or finding it? Mentally purging to make way for more, is my brain so full because it is expanding, because I am waking up or is it shrinking, like the walls closing in on me, am I expanding my knowledge and finding myself or am I dying.

Is this killing me or am I killing myself. If I type kill yourself, is it me or is it a part of me that wants to actually kill myself, am I making choices here or a victim of circumstance, why is my brain firing on all cylinders, do I need to do more, use my mental energy more, am I am genius or a fool, an intellect or an imbecile, am I shockingly average and that is what is leaving me feeling empty, I am losing my dreams and grandiose hopes and fantasies. Am I losing hope or just hours of my life.

I dream every night, a side effect of medication and my overly imaginative brain, which has always plagued me, long before I had tv to kill my brain with. I dream similar dreams, always of breaking my sobriety, of having ruined my life and plaguing the life of others, with my chaotic, destructive drinking. I wake up, feeling some sense of relief, but always with The Thirst,the longing doesn’t last for long and it is far away, a fantasy of liquor being the answer to all of my dreams, some exotic mistress that I will never be able to obtain, let alone tame.

Last night I dreamt of heartbreak and a vicious jealousy and of disappointing my mother, always we have shared the same heart, and although I know there are no favourites among offspring, I am her spare organ, the one who took away a bigger piece of her than the others did. She has never been overly demanding, or lacking in caring, perhaps, in the dreams where I am losing her, to my drinking, she is a symbol, a sign that I am losing the biggest part of myself, my centre, my anchor.

And I dream of losing my partner, I cannot find him, he has just left or disappeared, sometimes I have cheated on him, he has given up on me. I wake up chasing him in the night, not metaphorically or in the dream realm, when he turns over in bed I follow him, I cling to him and his warm contours, his familiar soothing scent, his reassuring breath.  Perhaps the dreams are playing out my own fears, perhaps they are reminding me to stir in my sleep, to follow him, to cling to him as the last piece of driftwood before dry land.

May 2014

I’m not sure that I can explain to you just how bad it feels.

It’s an emptiness like nothing you’ve ever felt before. Not like hunger. Or thirst. There is no longing, just emptiness, never ending, bleak and foreboding. Such basic commands of hunger are barked at you from a life long, biological/ primal master creating an urgency that causes you to reach for external resources, for it knows that you cannot satiate this sensation within the borders of your body. This parasite is a new, untameable and inconsistent beast of another nature. It tinkers with those basic functions that we so often take for granted, the will to sleep, the reminder to eat and drink and all of the hard earned survival tactics we’ve learned such as not to step out in front of incoming traffic or cut ourselves with sharp knives.

Everything outside of your own mind is a distant foreign land. So far out of reach. It is nigh on impossible to appreciate the beauty and craftsmanship of the world around you, not even nature can clasp your hand reassuringly and guide you into the depths of its warm bosom, for you are no longer a creature of this earth, you are not even alive, nor are you human.

It’s not even your mind that you are occupying, this may well be a disease of the mind but it’s not all experienced ‘up there’ and it certainly it eats away at some of the minds best work such as remembering things and being able concentrate on both menial and sophisticated tasks. It’s a sort of zoning out, a swift but hard to navigate zoom function which sort of sucks you out of one reality and leaves you hovering there, refusing to drop you in a new one. So you take on the impossible task of trying to figure it out on your own, which of course results in a complete breakdown in communication between your mind, body and ego and an identity crisis.

I decided long ago that religion could not fulfil me nor could it explain the meaning of life or the universe any better than a 5 year old on e-numbers could with access to a jumbo box of Crayola crayons and unlimited paper resources. In fact I quite smugly basked in the essence of not knowing, having given up the arrogance to believing that I had a right to know such things. But the meaningless and pointless nature of existence is gnawing at me today, cutting through to the bones of me. 

You’ll notice that today my fingers can type, that my brain is able to engage enough with my body and my creative juices and somehow accessing its inner thesaurus and its deepest emotions all at the same time. It all feels rather indulgent. Still I must pounce on these moments and ride them out until they filter away as they can be so few and far between. With no inner sat nav or trust in yourself it can be a lonely journey.

One cannot connect to the things which once brought us great joy and comfort. Indeed we can stare at the same walls for hours and still not recall a single thought or feature from that which we studied so greatly. Contrary to what we have known since we were 5 years old the thigh bones are not connected to the knee bones. Instead they are sand bags, heavy and dull and cumbersome to control; what once took great strides and skipped and jumped soon became unwearable and detached somehow.

To say you are haunted, may sound cliche’d but when you have seen into the eyes of a haunted man, woman or child you see just how powerful our unfinished business and unresolved spectors can be. The ghosts of our past outlive our ability to function on a day to day basis.

Clothes go unwashed, unworn. Food sits, picked at and rotting or sometimes shoved into our mouths and into our bellies as a substitute to fill that void, that longing, to lubricate and soften that knot, that niggle, that doubt that we were ever really meant for this life at all.

Life becomes existence. Death becomes a more rewarding temptation than that.

Did I get dropped off at the right stop? No matter I shall drift on regardless.

I have heard of survivors, traded like animals to satiate the sexual urges or lust for power over others. I have heard of heroes who overcome a life so filled with loss and grief and those who rise from the ashes and battle on with a sense of purpose from whatever their darkest times brought too them. And yet I cannot find the first rung of that ladder, nor dare I seek it, lest my foot be too fearful to rise from the ground. Perhaps I have not yet suffered enough!

Some like to think of this as a privileged, western disease. The weakness of pampered fools. Others would have you think it was fashionable, a lifestyle choice if you will. Yet I can find you fistfuls of names who have taken their own lives rather than face the consequences of trying to fight with themselves for just one more day, all hope trickled away, their last remaining ounce of energy drained from tear sodden pillows and scattered throughout private journals stashed with well thought out suicide notes and research on the least messy methods of the day.

This darkness is no more a choice than the rising of the sun or the falling of dusk. And I rise and fall with it, head just above water, fighting for breath, kicking, fading..fading…