June 11, 2013
It just occurred to me, why I'm mentally ill. I like how I don't dress that reality up, too.
I'm reading The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova (author of International Bestseller The Historian) and this passage here is the thread that has started my thoughts a-weaving:
“It was not illness to let another person – or a belief, or a place – take over your heart. But if you gave away your mind to one of those things, relinquished your ability to make decisions, it would, in the end, render you sick – that is, if your doing that wasn't already a sign of your condition.”
I have a lot in my head. If the things contained in my grey matter were transformed into a three-storey house, I would without a doubt be one of the people on reality shows to do with hoarding. They'd probably have to film through windows and send in fibre optic cameras on account of not being able to gain access.
I read regularly and on account of having studied Social Sciences, focussing on philosophy and politics for my degree, I have many questions wandering my neural pathways. I also have hundreds of random thoughts and feelings. I have dreams and ideas, stories and scraps, fantasies of other lives; a pile of broken hearts for characters that I've psychologically loved and died over (Robb Stark, anyone?) during my fictional adventures.
I guess most people pick a few things and drown the rest out. I'm not special for having all of this, plus more, crammed – suppressed – in my bottomless memory. But what sets me apart from most people is the same thing Kostova has described: stories have taken over my heart and I have given away my mind to them.
I came to this conclusion at 1am this morning, laying awake after a midnight stint of writing because my brain wouldn't let me rest until 500 words, no matter how bad, had been pulled into existence. The fact that I turfed myself out of bed at midnight to make a coffee and then go into another room to write instead of sleeping is indicative of me giving myself up to writing.
Before I put pen to paper (or fingers to keys), I blind myself to reality and embody the story. Kind of like Will Graham from Hannibal but without the corpses. I tend to work forward too, then rewind whereas Will traces everything back to profile people. But that's besides the point. What I mean is that I erase everything around me and then superimpose the fictional world I'm building on the remains and become the main character.
I experience everything I design for them, because I am them. I am walking through their environment. I have quit being Sam and become …
Writers do this, they must do. Some must do. It's a beautiful way of building an authentic world. I draw particular attention to my personal approach however because I give myself up completely. I did it the other day, during a stroll, and when I came back to the world around me, I was in a different place without any memory to tell me that I had arrived there. And then I quickly assessed which version was real: the place I'd returned from or the place I'd returned to.
Part of me wants this 'slipping' to calm down so that I may become grounded and lead something of a normal(ish) life. A bigger part of me is prepared to give up even more to be lost. I believe the only thing that prevents me from going the way of Robert Oliver, Kostova's suffering artist, is that I'm not 100% dedicated to writing. I'm not at that stage, yet.
And if I get there? I'll have a choice to make, I guess. What do I want more? Complete immersion or not? Do I want to give away that last bit of myself to the thing I'm obsessed with? Or, can I find a balance. Can I develop a way to be immersed and valued at the same time for being devoured by all of the things that are held in my brain.
Who will look at me and see a person in need of support, patience and love for life. I think those will be the things I need, the things I need now in fact, in order to survive the mental illness I now recognise as twin to my obsessions.
Photo by Paul G
June 1, 2013
- Go direct to the publisher and buy from them. It costs more but it also supports them and the authors they represent better than Amazon ever will.
- Use AbeBooks to get second-hand reads. You're supporting indie bookstores in the process and developing a taste for what books really are: beautiful, life affirming objects that stay with you.
- Pay promptly and wait.
- Read and enjoy.
- Recommend your places of purchase to your friends.
Not Using technology:
- Turn off your devices and go to a bookshop.
- Visit independent bookshops before heading to corporate ones.
- Don't haggle with the indies. It degrades the soul.
- Pay the price the book demands and pay in cash.
- Refuse a plastic bag. Buy a canvas one if you want.
- Read anywhere and enjoy.
- Recommend your places of purchase to your friends.
- Fuck eBooks.
- Buy more than one book if you want. You probably will want to.
- Pick up some non-fiction and learn something new.
- Avoid mediocrity. This is usually most of what's in the 'Best Seller' section.
- Read a 'Best Seller' and make up your own mind.
- Don't waste your time on parodies.
- Waste your time on paradox.
- Buy bad fiction and read good poetry alongside it.
- Read the blurb.
- Read the first page.
- If, after having done the previous two things, the book has coloured you in, buy it.
- Read local authors.
- Buy a book with this thought in mind: you and the book are going to give mutual homes to one another.
- Let a book choose you.
Image by Glamhag
May 23, 2013
- There's an ulcer on that taught strip of skin, the bit under the tongue? Yeah;
- A duck may have abandoned her NINE INCUBATING CHILDREN for a booty call;
- I stepped on a large stone, twice;
- No matter what I do, I can't drop one stupid pound in weight;
- The above is a result of chocolate cravings;
- The above is a result of depression;
- People's voices are much louder than they need to be;
- I forgot to make myself a brew upon waking;
- I keep having 'Game of Thrones' themed nightmares;
- People all over the world insist upon murdering one another;
- Women are still being treated like cattle;
- Each time I sit to write my brain releases the 'shit' valve, filling my head full of useless things and rendering me unable to focus;
- Writing and I are experiencing a fucking great speed-bump in our marriage;
- The Hobbit is shit and I'm reading it;
- I've managed to kill a succulent;
- Being in the same room all the time;
- Being uncomfortable out of the room mentioned above to the point of severe distress;
- The physical presence of another human. Any human; *
- The physical presence of myself;
- DVDs that I allowed folk to borrow that have become damaged since they were loaned;
- Thanks a fucking bunch for the above;
- Credit Card debt;
- The supplier of above card cold-calling me to try and sap me of more money;
- The same supplier not believing I'm the card holder;
- The amount of fat and salt in everyday foods;
- My novel;
- All the short stories that either won't work out or are rejected;
- The thought of getting accepted and recognised as a writer;
- Healthy, happy people living their lives;
- The same people telling me to go out there and 'get it';
- The same people again telling me 'everything will work out';
- Lacking a pug;
- Having no real purpose in life other than to feel angry about everything;
- Lacking the capacity to develop and maintain relationships;
- My washing;
- Having Fibromyalgia;
- Being sleepless;
- Temperatures below 18 degrees C and above 19 degrees C;
- Being alone.*
May 18, 2013
I did something very rash this afternoon. I paid to take Dad out to the local cinema to see the new Star Trek film. For those who aren't already aware, I hate public spaces. I hate the noise, the crowds, the mess, the stink, the brightness, the speed at which everything moves and well, everything about it.
It's not a mental condition to be scoffed at because it ruins your life and that's before agoraphobia has crept in through the back door.
Photo by MGL
I took it upon myself to do this today not for myself but for my Dad. He wanted to see the film but didn't want to go alone, and I felt bad for grumbling 'no' when he asked. I was also spurred on by Matt Haig and his blogs on Booktrust, which revealed what it's like to live with mental health problems.
After reading what Matt had to say, I did something that I find difficult; I thought outside of myself. I come across as a narcissist but it's not an option. I have hard time connecting to my feelings and understanding that people have feelings too, and how that feels. The will to empathise is there but the capacity isn't, not in its entirety.
So I paid a stupid amount of money for cinema tickets, packed my bag, dosed myself with Vallium, wrapped myself up (cinemas are always fucking cold), and donned my shades.
I made sure to book the seats just where I needed them too, just in case I needed to leave. We settled into the screen room with a drink and popcorn (I wanted an authentic experience for my Dad because it's been so long) and sat through the film. I'm sure he enjoyed it but I spent most of the time fidgeting and flinching. It was too loud, too bright and the things on the screen were too big and moving too fast. I'd forgotten my earplugs so pulled my hood up to muffle the sounds, intermittently plugging my ears, and distracting myself with a Chunky KitKat whilst trying not to vomit, and figuring out where I could vomit should the bile arise.
In addition to this massive sensory overload, I was sitting in a big, loud room surrounded by strangers. I found this abnormal as opposed to a natural human thing to do.
The film finished and to top off the day, I got Dad and I some nosh from a fast-food place. The whole experience, film, food and all, was hard. It was uncomfortable. It was something that I never want to do again because I gained no pleasure, confidence or strength from it.
There are many, including the mental health folk who presume to know what's best for me, who will argue, until the cows come home, that this exposure is a triumph. It's a great leap, a step forward, the beginning of my recovery.
No it's fucking not.
I'm exhausted. I'm stressed. I'm traumatised by having to be around people in the dark for that long.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is all about taking gloomy, negative thoughts, challenging them and turning them into life-affirming, positive components for the recipient to absorb and live by. What I did today is a typical exercise: face your fears, challenge them, destroy them. The only problem is, it's not that simple in my case.
Assessments for my mental health have been inadequate. There are things that haven't been explored that should have been, which makes for an incomplete and messy picture of what's going on. And in the meantime, I'm following the CBT rules because they're the only thing I have. Only, they're crap and don't work properly. I spend hours every week challenging my negative thought processes and, yes come out with more helpful alternatives, though I remain haunted by one thing.
It all feels wrong.
I've tried challenging this but the result is the same. Why isn't this working? This article explained a lot. Basically it says that whilst CBT can be really effective, it can sometimes leave a patient in disarray. Mental health issues might be too complicated for such a straightforward approach or the individual may have most likely been misdiagnosed. The therapist might not be looking at the bigger, humane picture. Psychiatrists might decide that an individual isn't 'suitable' (awkward, unpredictable, unwilling) for CBT; other conditions can also impact on the effciency and success of CBT, both mental and physical. For example, I'm totally confused as to how I'm meant to work within new cognitive parameters when my social phobias, agoraphobia and other health problems not only contradict the therapy but outright subvert it.
How is it possible to sit in a cinema and be happy, relaxed, feel safe, put your fears in place when it all feels so wrong? And why isn't it okay for all these things to feel wrong? Where are the rules, written in black and white, enshrined in law, stating that I am legally bound to be happy about situations I dislike with all of my heart?
Why is it so hard for people to accept that we are not all the same, that others thrive on things that a lot of people would lose their sanity over?
I don't want to be an isolated recluse for the rest of my life. I would like joy and close friends, a partner, a safe home and activities which both challenge and stimulate me. Oh, and a pug named Horatio. And a small, manageable garden.
I don't want loads of money, a flash car or fame; I don't want to go out drinking in crowded bars or eat at fancy restaurants; I don't want to be directly in the public spotlight; I don't want to go to the cinema again (seriously, I paid over twice the price of the DVD which will be out in a few months, on the tickets alone); I don't want to be part of the massive global world because I don't believe in it (I believe in small communities); I don't want to have the same cultural interests as everyone else, or the same sense of humour, or the same outlook on life. I don't want to fight or be manipulated.
I want to be me.
I know that I have conditions to manage and that their certainty is a matter of opinion. I'm prepared to explore these conditions within parameters that stretch me but don't endanger my stability. I'm scared. I know what I want but everything that's meant to be helping me get there is leading me in an unsuitable direction. All the professionals in the world can insist but if what they say feels wrong, if my solar plexus aches and that voice in my head says
“uh Sam, buddy. Nah…”
I'm not about to do shit that I don't want to. Anything or anyone that states I have to and is not within moral and ethical standards, or within the law (this one worries me because mental health law disables more than it enables) for insisting that I should, can jump ship. They're breaching my human rights, that fundamental right to say 'no'.
I won't have that taken from me. And that attitude feels so, so right.
May 6, 2013
I think change is a beautiful thing. I’d hate to be stuck in the same pattern and denied variation.
March 19, 2013
February 12, 2013
The more I think about my circumstances, the more I am unnerved by how much they're costing me.
Two perspectives are obvious: the personal and the financial. How much is living with mental and physical illness really costing me? How much is it costing the services that support me?
On a personal level, the cost is enormous. Apart from missing out on all the things that a healthy individual my age would be engaging in today, like socialising and going to the gym, the deeper deficit comes in forms of things that are mostly undetected: my crippled self-esteem, the lack of motivation, bouts of confusion; the long-term effect of medication on my organs, the emotional damage that comes when another treatment / doctor / approach fails to deliver.
That's a mere handful which can be plucked from the pile. Other things too, things that we all take for granted, are missing. Smiling, for example. Feeling happy. Even when I do manage to muster a laugh or a grin from the depths, it's underpinned by the sensation that it's not the done thing – I feel like an outsider for expressing a positive emotion through muscular gestures in my face. Sometimes it's because I don't believe I should be smiling but mostly it's because there's more to be anxious, worried and depressed about.
My favourite 'positive thinking' fact that's been slung at me over the years is:
“You know, it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile.”
Yes well, my face gets a better work-out than yours. And there's another few pennies thrown out: optimism, empathy and gratitude. And these pennies all add up in the end.
I recently did a quick psychology measurement scale to give a general idea of how much stress I experience in my life and thus how susceptible I am to potentially developing chronic illness. A bit of a no-brainer considering I already live with chronic health problems but I took it anyway, being geared toward bettering myself.
After tallying everything up, my score came out at a respectable 1,198 points. Then I read what that number meant and almost lost control of my bladder, partly from panic but mostly from amusement: scores over 300 are a general indication that the individual will probably develop some form of chronic illness in their lifetime.
Well blow me down. And the scale whilst you're at it.
It turns out that life experiences are stackable, which accounts for my high ( LOL, high) total. I'm pretty much up to my eyeballs in Stress Debt, which makes my overdraft look like a fluffy, goose down duvet. I'm not yet thirty – what is the interest on all of this? What is this going to continue to cost me and are the bailiffs going to come round any time soon?
I expected this revelation to cause me even more problems but it's done the opposite. Like my Mum who quit smoking immediately after her first major heart attack (she wasn't much older than me), I've taken hold of the situation and started rethinking how I live, breathe, eat, walk, talk and think.
Change comes with a price but if it means I can settle some of these massive personal debts, I'm willing to spend a bit to save a lot. A lot being my life.
Stress and all of its associated diseases, kill.
On a strictly financial front, the cost of my being in such a mess is just as impressive. I'm not about to present a firm, sociological dissection of my care, treatment and support but instead, state a few realities and ask some questions about them. I'll start with something basic.
In an unfortunate twist, I take minimal medication because I can't tolerate many of the options available on the NHS. My most recent foray into chemical rejection has left me heart-broken; an anti-inflammatory finally helps me to feel a bit more human but causes undesirable complications, meaning I have to stop taking them and go back to being in constant pain.
I hardly made a dent in the prescription meaning that at least three weeks of pills are now to be returned to the pharmacist and destroyed. What a waste. Although my other meds are basic, they still cost a bundle to have them prescribed and I take them every day. I renew my prescription every three to four weeks out of necessity.
I wonder how much money it takes to fund such a basic set of pills and then how much more is thrown away when left-overs have to be destroyed because they're not suitable for me. How much money could be saved if:
- My doctors made a conscious effort to make sure drugs they prescribe me won't destroy my innards or send me off on a psychotic trip. Okay so they'd have to spend more time getting to know me and reading my notes (doing their job?) but those are short-term chips compared to the long-term mess of dicking around;
- More research was done see which chemical-based treatments actually work.
Every time I go to my GP or to see consultants, they get paid. I don't need to mention the scandals surrounding pay, do I? No? Fabulous.
When I do pay a visit to these people, and it's a regular thing, not a lot happens. There are no real developments, just the same old questions and techniques born from a lack of medical understanding and, I sense, a certain degree of unwillingness to take on board the criteria of another impossible disease.
Cancer used to be impossible. Now it's getting its arse kicked.
Hospital appointments get me thinking about how much time, money and resources would be saved if the doctors I saw went just that little bit further in trying to get to the bottom of my conditions. Late last year, one doctor did just that and I got some results which was fantastic until another doctor shrugged the new findings off as 'marginal' and sent me home in a bubbling pot of misery and pain.
Since then, I've requested a second opinion because I don't believe that dismissive consultant was right to leave me 'as is' and wait for things to develop beyond their criteria of what they clinically believe to be significant. I'm talking about a number here. What they're missing out in their opinions is my quality of life, the test results that all support one another and my roaring family medical history.
If I were a doctor presented with a case identical to the one I, as a patient, am facing now, I would throw the 'criteria book' out of the window and tend to the patient. Not every patient needs the same level of care and that's my point. Averages have turned specialist consultants into glorified GPs who do little more than order blood tests, recommend more drugs and then send you home.
Tests and Treatment
I lost count of how many blood tests I had last year. So far in 2013, I've had a routine check of the standard stuff: cholesterol, vitamin levels, liver function, and a specialised request to check my rheumatoid factor and for any rogue anti-bodies. I have these things checked every four to six months because things need to be observed. I have an illness of some description, after all.
After giving what I imagine to be nearly a pint of blood for such tests in 2012, I started pushing for more proficient investigations and got them. That's how I found out my thyroid gland is doing fine – an excellent thing to eliminate in the game of 'Guess the Mystery Illness'. At the same time, I discovered something that would have remained buried had it not been for my insistence that they check.
When you have a condition that can't be directly diagnosed, you do things in reverse. You make sure all other systems are functioning before sliding into acceptance. It'd be stupid not to but that's what my doctors have so far done with me.
It's only down to meeting an excellent GP who listens, and pushing consultants to their patient etiquette limit, that I've been able to get specific areas of enquiry addressed. How much have these hospitals wasted on pointless tests when they should have been honing in on trace abnormalities?
Yes, it must have cost a fortune to have an isotope scan on my thyroid but it doesn't matter; I have a prolific history of it in my family and to have found no hint of disease in that area is a blessing. A potential candidate for my trashed health has been eliminated and psychologically, I have been lifted from the folds of worry. Debt = settled.
That's only one example of the numerous avenues I'm exploring in order to find out what is going on with me. It could be that I have all of these other tests done and they still find nothing, but I'd rather just do it and know that my heart has no defects or blockages (again, this sort of problem is a good friend of my family. A lover, in fact) and be certain that I'm not walking around with a treatable condition that could be prevented from doing even more harm the older I become.
As for treatment, it's hard to see where to turn when you don't know what's wrong with you, which is why proper investigation is so important and why doctors shouldn't be so dismissive of approaches that fall outside of a fringe department, the ones specifically designed to send people like me to when a doctor's face hits a brick wall e.g. pain management clinics.
I had a physiotherapist declare outright that no amount of massage therapy or acupuncture will help with my lower back problem, or any of my other conditions. I didn't get a say in that announcement which was a shame because had they let me, I would have explained that:
- Previous acupuncture therapy had not only helped my bad back, it had also eased the pain I was experiencing throughout my body and induced positive outcomes with my mental health. My nerves had been soothed, my muscles relaxed and my depression alleviated. It wasn't a cure and it didn't happen overnight (it took around four session until I noticed how well it was working) but it was the best two months of treatment that I had ever experienced. It still is.
- Deep-tissue and muscle massage has been shown to help reduce pain, inflammation and and stress in a variety of illness. It's particularly promising in my own conditions.
I state again that alternatives to drugs and clinics are not cures. What they are however, are a different attitude toward chronic illness. They manage conditions instead if dumping them in the corner until the next appointment comes round. I think that, despite being sniffed at still, these forms of treatment, at the very least, freeze the interest on the growing debt of failed medical care.
I realise that I've given less attention to the personal costs of living with chronic mental and physical health problems. There are some things that I don't want to bring into the light just yet, perhaps because I'm ashamed or because I'm frightened of what they entail. I'm not ready to explore the price tags that are tied to all aspects of my life.
Though I'm inclined to dismiss my inner Drama Llama, I have to acknowledge the creeping dread that this kind of oblivious secrecy produces: not knowing who you are and what little buttons that, when pushed, set you off, is a state of being that all of us should be weary of: ignorance is bliss. So is sleep until carbon monoxide comes into the equation.
If I've decided anything after thinking about all of this, and more, it's that I'm going to make sure that I'm not side-lined any more. Speculation aside, I am living with chronic illnesses and they are preventing from living a fulfilled, purposeful and productive life. They are degrading me both mentally and physically. I may not be dying but I'm not exactly living and life is about living, or so I believe.
I'm going to invest in my future. I'm going to refuse compromise and 'come back in six months' in favour of commitment and 'do your job right'. Professional will baulk at me, some will probably tell me I'm being paranoid, but they're not the ones who have to pay for all of this in the end.
February 10, 2013
I'm a scatty writer. I have around 150 words on a sheet of paper at the moment, a piece of flash fiction under construction for a competition. My bid to fulfil a promise to myself this year: get some fiction published. Anywhere.
I'm not lacking in opportunities.
What gets at me is that when it comes to sitting down to write, I dedicate myself wholeheartedly to doing so. But then I end up doing this – distracting myself with some other medium – instead of focussing on the goal.
It's no mystery and nothing to worry about. What I'm doing is simultaneously discovering and destroying the self-imposed myth that writers sit down and write, like a river cuts a path and flows, unrelenting. Now when I get into a groove, the words come quick, but most of the time I start off doing something I imagine to be the staple of most writers: staring into space.
It's my bread-and-butter, watching everything and nothing in my peripherals whilst fragments of what I'm writing float about and join up, decide they're not right for each other and break up. Between those thoughts are other things: this post; which vinyl album I'd next like to invest in; whether I've messed up a quest on Skyrim; how can I connect two elements of a story to make them symbiotic; I'll email about that short course to give me a leg up; what should I write for this bit now that I can't identify anymore rogue thoughts.
And whilst all of that is drifting and colliding, the story I'm working on is fermenting. I don't believe that procrastinating (as I am now) is detrimental to my writing. I think, without it, I'd write a lot more crap than usual.
It's a trick though, to find the balance between procrastinating and doing nothing.
I blame a lot of my inactivity on my health. It's true: some days are just nasty and those are the days where I need to pea-bug in order recover and prevent myself from getting worse. That sort of behaviour becomes tattooed onto me and results in days where I 100% believe that I can't lift a pencil, that doing so will be pointless because whatever I put down on the page will be empty and worthless.
'Pea-bugs', by the way, are what I used to call wood lice when I was a kid because they curl up and look like peas when threatened.
No writing is worthless. All writing, whether it grows and is sent out into the adult world of scary, discerning readers or is screwed up and tossed away after five minutes, has value. It has value because of the effort it contains, the thoughts that have happened around it and the decisions that have been made about its future. These are all essential processes with which, at least for me, writing would be dead without.
I welcome distraction but am vigilant against despair. One stops me from being too serious whilst the other makes me so serious, it disables me.
If there is one thing I can do, it's find a pencil and a sheet of paper, and commit acts of words. That ability is open to the elements of life, like everything else, which is why I always take the time to follow a stray thought, avoid the issue at hand and spend some time exploring so that the creative brain in me can bubble unconsciously.
Watching a kettle boil doesn't make it boil any quicker or better.
December 31, 2012
I have completed reading thirty books and have thumbed through twenty or so more. I spent two months bed bound because of Fibromyalgia and ME. Those were pretty miserable times. At one point, I got carted off to A&E because I was having real problems breathing.
This year I have become more of a hermit than I've ever been and experienced some of the worst episodes of anxiety and panic than I have in my entire life.
I've spent days thinking about quitting my novel and hours writing crappy short stories. I've had an article published in InkSpill Magazine, something that I'm really proud of. I've had three rejections. I was hoping to have got myself out there a bit more but considering my circumstances…
After my time stuck in bed, which lasted from the end of July to the first two weeks of September, I found my mobility to be less than ideal. It was less to do with muscle deterioration and more to do with the Fibro relapses which have become more potent, resulting in me moving around less and when I do, having to use a stick to give myself some extra stability.
Since September, because of the relapse, I have been undergoing as many tests as possible to find out if there's nothing more to this Fibro / ME / CFS lark. Turns out there's something concrete going on after all and I still have further specialists to consult. Bases = covered.
This year I've gone mad twice and suffered from serious bouts of depression. I've put on weight due to not being able to move about as much and comfort eating because I feel terrible.
Speaking of food, I've adapted my diet. It conflicts with my ideas but I've taken to eating meat produce again to see if it helps with my conditions. It has and it hasn't. I've discovered a possible sensitivity or intolerance to wheat and gluten which comes with the job description when you have what I have. Yesterday I found that quickly cooking up diced mushrooms with cumin seeds and layering them in a whole capsicum pepper with brie and a bit of seasoning, then baking the lot for ten minutes, is an awesome dinner.
I turned 28 and enjoyed my birthday for the first time in over a decade. I've spent Christmas with my Dad. I've lost friends, realised acquaintances, made new connections and seen for myself who my true friends are.
I've given too much of myself to others and am yet to develop the ability to create stable boundaries.
I've seen complete crap on TV and read some utter tripe. But I've watched the Harry Potter films over a dozen times, and fallen asleep to the sound of Brian Cox talking about the universe more times than I can recall.
I survived the end of the world, along with the rest of the world.
A woman in a hospital waiting area made a comment about my being in a wheelchair on my way to the outpatients area, and 'clearly having nothing wrong' with me. I took that one to heart.
I've looked in the mirror and seen myself as what a heroine addict might look like in a film: pale, bloodshot eyes, black rings, miserable.
Two of my dogs have passed on.
My Dad and I have spent a lot more time together and had some real laughs. We switched rooms so that I have a warmer environment. Not that the room I was in was ever cold; it was me – the ME. Dad has gone above and beyond his mortality to be there for me.
I've found my way back into therapy and watched it fail because of conflicting requirements.
I busted a gut for one of my dearest friends and helped her reach the first stage of her dream. Because to me, that's what friends do.
I've met my great-niece and fallen for her even though I'm not a 'kid' person. She's just like her Mum.
Despite all of my efforts, the calls to the Samaritans, the drive and desire to learn, write, improve my lot and get my life back, I have never felt so isolated, frightened and dejected.
These are the things I can remember about 2012.
What do I want in 2013?
Treatment. Friends. A new home. A fresh start. A finished book. A published story. A pug. The ability to walk for more than ten minutes before feeling extreme pain and exhaustion. Decent nights asleep and pleasant dreams. Love. Recovery. Privacy. Books. Knowledge. Memory. Self-security and confidence.
That and probably some more. A handful are material.
I was in a local coffee house with my Dad the day before Christmas Eve. We overheard a conversation where an individual was describing exactly what they were getting for Christmas: very expensive, pointless items basically. I turned to my Dad over my cup of mint tea and said
All I want for Christmas is my health back.
I'm grateful for everything that I have and all the things that have happened this year, both incredible and difficult. Everything has helped me grow and decide my path for not just 2013 but the rest of my life. My life.
This year I lived to the best of my abilities and to my own standards and ideals.
Photo: Copyright by Moyan Brenn
November 15, 2012
For some reason, I'm doubting everything. And I mean everything. I don't want to name the root of this feeling because that would bring it into the realm of the real – I'd rather it remained a thought-form so that it could sink back down and become buried.
But wouldn't that be worse? It'll be there, ready for another time and place.
No. No names or specifics. Just, I'm uncertain. It's deeper than you assume. And I'm not panicking.