I would like to write to comfort you and provide solace, and wisdom and yes, hope. This doesn’t come easily to me as my brain’s neurons are trained to misfire in cognitive distortions such as black and white thinking and catastrophizing and that is when I am low, never mind when I have been ‘high’ and I have been reckless, impulsive and yes, deluded… hurt and traumatized too. My diagnosed illness as such does not entirely make sense to me. I will come back to that. But there are times when I am in a good mood, sensibly so, and I am light and make jokes and just warm up around people.
I can find joy in tramping around fields and forest paths, soaking in the fresh air, the birds singing to each other, the immense verdancy of my surroundings and my attempts to identify the flowers… ‘Are they bluebells.. or not?’ I ask myself, leaning in and photographing them, hoping to get the depth of field just right.
I want to celebrate existence, the fact that any of us exist at all is so incredibly low and that meaning-making is always worth pursuing, elusive as it can appear to be on times, you know those times when you feel as low as the depths of this earth of ours in the pitch blackness of another almost sleepless night. And I know that what I am describing are experiences that millions of us share, even the manic highs where you are convinced you are made of rare earth material and your fame travels continents…. Even THAT – the very definition of madness – or some variation of such delusions of grandeur – are known to something near 3% of people, give or take. We genetic curiosities are human too, trying our best to navigate ourselves in a bewildering traffic of emotional turmoil on overlapping motorways of experience, hoping against hope not to be written off as simply the ‘severely mentally ill’ by those we wish would befriend us instead.
I would like to write free of self-pity and with dignity and grace. Be able to say ‘I am free of depression … the dull melancholy …. The thoughts that I am alone and trapped’ gone, with the YouTube therapy videos having successfully done their work on me. I want to remember myself laughing and joking, vivacious and gregarious, making other people feel good, with a strong sense of my own value, a strong sense of self-worth, ready to live life and embrace it and at peace with the fact that sadness and pain are inevitable features of our existence but not all of it, no not at all. I like to remind myself that I am loveable and worthy of love, respect and appreciation. Believe that I can heal and that aging actually has benefits and that turning forty is something to welcome and embrace with my still young-ooking features and greater skills and experience.
I believe that one day, one day I’m going to find a way to write about my experiences in a positive, constructive way; see the light coming through the cracks with all of Rumi’s wisdom and yes, have the courage to be disliked by some whilst feeling nurtured by those who encourage me and believe in me, despite the fracturing of my mind, the malfunctioning of my brain. I am going to find the ability to focus on the positive, on those people who care and filter out the rest. I’ve always had courage and I am now courageous to assert that I exist, I have value and the one day – one day soon – it will be enough for me to know this in myself, for myself and that your validation – whilst welcome – is no longer essential. I will relish that day.