I bought the first piece of new furniture for our flat since we finalised buying it: a standard lamp with shelving. It arrived today and I spent a quick twenty minutes or so assembling it – and then clearing a space for it to live.
This meant steeling myself to start digging into the huge piles of cds and dvds that had taken over a corner of the living room. Many of them were items I’d bought when I wasn’t well, and I compulsively bought a great many things at the time.
There are items we’re keeping, certain classics for example, and comedian sets, but there are many more that neither of us have looked at in ten, or in some cases, twenty years – so in the bin they’ve gone.
I could have sold them on in non-lockdown circumstances, but I needed them gone – and it’s been oddly cathartic to get rid of impromptu reminders of painful times. There’s still more to go through, so that’ll keep me busy spring-cleaning tomorrow.
A year ago I was reading reports of some new virus that was starting to spread, and felt that we’d probably be okay if we were sensible. I never dreamed that a year on I’d be wearing a mask nearly all day as a key worker, and as of this morning breaking the news to staff that another colleague had lost a close relative to covid.
Sometimes I’m numb to it, sometimes I’m angry. I’m grabbing humour where I can find it. Sometimes I wish I could work from home, but most of the time I’m glad I can get out of the house. I remind myself I’m very privileged, even as I want to curl up and hide under the blankets.
But hey, someone yesterday asked to buy the original of one of my sketches, so that’s a nice thing.
I have so many things I want to do, and feel inspired to do, and yet amid the day to day requirements of work and keeping the home I’m unable to complete many of them.
It’s not so unusual, even with my grasshopper mind. I currently have two stories that I’m transcribing, as well as a third that I’m editing in the hope of it being the opener for a series of short stories via Kindle and the like. I also have tee-shirt designs to tidy, some graphics for a friend’s Twitch channel, a number of half-done sketches, and of course there’s posting here on a semi-regular basis and the D&D sessions on Sunday evenings.
That’s not even counting paid work at the library, regular counselling, games, reading, the washing up, hoovering, and other minutiae of daily living.
No wonder I feel exhausted, and why I struggle with feeling guilty when I do none of the creative things when I get home or, like this morning, have a few spare hours.
I know plenty of people who will say that I shouldn’t feel guilty, and one or two who would say that guilt is just a mask for anger. I know that in an ideal world I would apply myself to one thing, and then another thing, and then another thing in turn – but my brain and heart aren’t cooperating. I’m like the dog in Up who is constantly shouting Squirrel!
I’m focusing on being positive this week, what with the anniversary and my brain’s attempts to continue to sabotage me. For the most part this has manifested in new writing, new items going up in the shop (180 odd designs and rising as of time of writing), and going through old backups to find the graphics that time forgot.
Oh, there are so, so, many. I forgot how prolific I was when I was ill back in the early to mid 2000s. Some of the archives have aged very badly, others look amazing, and others are currently inspiring new works as a revisit.
Its interesting to see how I’ve progressed in some areas, and what looks familiar even now. More than anything else it has got me wanting to spend more time pushing to rediscover digital art techniques.
I’ve just sent off my draft to my counsellor talking about my most recent experience of suicidal thoughts and actions and of the journey back. Unsurprisingly it has raked up a lot of thoughts, emotions, and memories.
What has surprised me has been how much more difficult it has been to get it all down on paper rather than talking about it. It has done more than just make me stumble over those words, and had me in tears in the kitchen this evening.
Quite impressive for something barely over 900 words long. It took me five attempts to start, and in the end bluntness was the only way to make it happen. It mirrors the process of taking these things into session – building up and digging over implications and deductions to work out the whys and connections.
I may post it here at some point. If I do it will be heavily marked with warnings.
If you are in that dark lonely place, dare to reach out. Don’t let go. People will listen and care, and they may be the people you least expect. Don’t give up. Talk.
So my weekend started today after working my Saturday, and I’ve been quietly enjoying the sunshine, that and the knowledge that I’m also off on Monday. I’ve been mostly just enjoying being in my own head after a week of being around people at work – and I definitely plan to spend some time quietly by the river tomorrow – mostly reading and writing.
And following my most recent counselling session this evening, I’ve got an interesting challenge. I’ve been asked to write a piece that can be used in a training session as a testimony – in this case to talk about when I’ve been suicidal: both in terms of lead up and what came after on the counselling side. I’ve agreed to do it, so a quiet spot by the river without interruptions sounds a good spot to have that introspection.
It’s not the first time I’ve written about my “journey” for use in a class. It’s been a while though. The last time was more focused on recovery from self harm and was both challenging and rewarding to be able to be a coherent voice speaking to people directly and give a perspective on what they may encounter. It’s the same reason I’ve agreed to do it this time – because I want to talk about how I didn’t make it obvious to people that I was in a spiral, but also how it felt to be able to talk about it in counselling once the crisis moment was past. If it helps someone with a future client its worth it.
With the weather a bit cooler today, its made me realise what about the steady heat blanket of this week has had me struggling a bit.
Essentially the lack of breezes had brought a heaviness that was reminding me of the dissociative parts of my depression. Everything was feeling dull and distant and my head was responding to the familiarity of those sensations.
Being a reasonably smart cookie, I recognised this on a subconscious level at least, because I’ve been making efforts to drag myself outside the flat in search of light and sound, and at least hints of moving air. Being around people, talking online, keeping busy, these have all kept my brain shaken from the old tracks. So thats a good thing, possibly even means I’m learning to look after myself.
That said i didn’t really put it all together until counselling this evening, but then that’s what its there for.
I probably spend far too much playing around with the silly filters on social media – mostly as we send updates to each other to put a smile on each others faces.
What I find interesting is to see how much fun I can have to produce the more unusual poses rather than just the stereotypical straight to camera glares. It appeals to me on an aesthetic level, and can be a fun way of practicing for the cosplay photos.
While that may seem of limited use – it a) is something that makes me happy and b) means I have more confidence when more official photos are taken. I recently had a shot taken at a work event to go on an ID card, and was able to pose enough within the limits that I actually appear to be full of life rather than sapped of the will to live.
Being able to have confidence in my own appearance is a relatively new development. My weight gains due to disordered eating while depressed were huge – at one point I weighed over twenty-one stone (135kg) which played no small part in my developing type two diabetes. I came to loathe images of me, especially when I compared them to the slim and athletic appearance I had when I was younger.
It has only really been the last couple of years since I’ve started cosplaying that I’ve begun to be comfortable with having my photo taken. Dressing up and putting myself in the hands of photographers keen to help me make the best images has both boosted my confidence and given me practical guidance in how to hold myself in healthier and more flattering ways – and to stop caring about looking silly along the way.
Discarding the voice that cares and frets about not looking ridiculous has been a freeing experience and helped me feel more comfortable in my own skin. It has helped me in my own journeys to know myself, and it has helped reduce my retention of stress.
And that’s why I love playing the Fool for selfies. I can let go, laugh at myself and with others. I can welcome the silliness and feel both childlike and more adult in my appreciation of using my body with at least a little less shame.