Memory Lane Ebbing flow of joy deep Sorrow Words images thoughts Borrow When pain doubles us up Burrow Sometimes truth hard to Swallow But there is always Tomorrow
I read your posts full of anxiety, depression, loneliness, feeling unloved, misunderstood, unseen, unheard, unacknowledged, not validated, insignificant. You struggle to keep head above water, do daily battle with the demons in your head while outwardly you feign ‘normality’ and keep going. Attending school, doing your homework, working part time maybe, laughing and messing about with peers while inside you are dying and screaming for help. You really want to say, ‘I’m feeling shit, I’m not doing so well, I want to burrow deep under the duvet and never get up.’
When I taste and feel your pain and distress across cyberspace through the words on the screen my heart breaks a little. I wish I was there to give you an enormous hug and tell you it’s gonna be alright, you are going to be fine, hang in there kid. Hope there is always hope.
This is what I want to share with you. Like you I don’t have all the answers and I charge into battle keeping my demons at bay every second of the day: depression, negativity, hopelessness, self pity, helplessness, loneliness, not being good enough, not belonging, rejection … But I am older and wiser and I have been through an abnormal amount of shit in my half a century’s existence on planet Earth and so I would like to share with you the lessons learnt through pain and despair.
First and foremost be happy. Make a decision now this very second to be happy. Don’t instantly reject the idea, don’t think of all the excuses why you couldn’t possibly be, just be happy, as simple as that. I am not belittling all the obstacles and shit in your life but we all have problems. Nobody has an idyllic life problem and worry free. Nobody, not even the rich and famous. Look how many go into rehab or die from an overdose. The filthy rich worry they will lose all their money or that those who want to marry them are just after their wealth and not because of true love. They worry they’ll be robbed, kidnapped. They don’t know who they can trust. The poor struggled to make ends meet, working their socks off in some dead end mind numbing soul destroying minimum wage job.
Don’t compare yourself to others and think they have it all and am deliriously happy. Behind their contented facade they may be feeling just as if not more shit than you.
Life is too short, so live it to the full while you can. My dad has had diabetes since he was middle aged. Mum didn’t let him eat any sweet stuff which he loved and now he has suffered a major stroke and is paralysed from the neck down. He can’t swallow so eating is out of the question. Maybe he should eaten the stuff he craved when he could. Life is unpredictable; none of us have a crystal ball so do what you enjoy and will make you happy. With the proviso it doesn’t harm your body, isn’t illegal and won’t hurt others. Do no harm is a pretty good rule to live by and treat others the way you’d like to be treated. That is how I try to live my life and it works for me.
Be your own person, strive to be comfortable in your own skin. Perfection is unattainable and a delusion so don’t even try. We are all unique and by virtue of being human we are good enough and worthy of respect and love. You don’t have to try to be someone else, a better version, you are good enough being you. You don’t have to do anything, try harder, get better grades, be slimmer, more beautiful, have bigger breasts, perfect hair and complexion, fit bodies.
Life can be brutal, harsh, fraught with obstacles and shit but do try and seek out the good too. Nothing is all black and white, good or bad; identify the grey areas. it’s all about balance. Nobody’s life is all bad or all good and of course it varies at different points. The good news is the bad times though appearing hopeless will pass and things will get better. The good thing about having hit rock bottom is the only way is up. It can’t get worse, you have survived it so hang in there and be patient. Hope there is always hope and don’t ever lose it or give up.
The freedom you have even in the shittiest of times is to decide how to react. When you think you have your back against the wall you always have a choice. No choice is still a choice.
I hope this helps a little. I’d be interested in hearing what you think and for you to share your stories. Over and out Mama G.
What’s it like to be depressed, how does it feel? Everybody’s experience is unique but this is how it is for me. It varies. Sometimes it feels I’m in quicksand and the harder I struggle the deeper I sink and all effort is futile. Other times it is like drowning in the fierce currents of life and desperately grabbing onto any passing debris. At times it is like being at the bottom of a deep pitch black well with the lid firmly shut. Sometimes I feel nothing, absolutely nothing at all.
It is the fact that everything feels such a chore, the simplest of task like getting out of bed, having a shower seem to take such will power as if I am running the marathon. It is as if your feet are stuck with superglue and it takes monumental effort to prise one foot off and then the other, leaving you wasted.
On top of that is an overwhelming sense of futility. What is the point? Of anything? Why get up at all? The meaninglessness of life. The trials and tribulations endured, what for? Why are we here at all? Every day is exactly the same; a struggle to stave off hunger, to answer the call of nature and battle insomnia and to persuade yourself to hang in there, to stay alive because maybe just maybe it will get better.
You don’t really believe it, you can’t imagine it ever being any different. You can’t enjoy anything, not even the stuff you used to. You don’t notice the sun is shining, that the daffodils herald Spring, that life is going on outside the prison of your mind. You don’t care.
You hibernate, isolate, burrow deep into your warm cosy safe duvet, refusing to tunnel out unless absolutely necessary when your body screams food and your bladder is full. You build a formidable fortress all around with a moat that even the closest people to you cannot scale. It feels secure; nobody can disturb or ask you awkward questions forcing you to face harsh reality but neither can you reach out and it kinda feels lonely. You feel unloved. You have friends but disappear off the radar; you don’t want to be a burden, you know you are bad company, you are sick of yourself, why would anyone want to spend time with depressed you?
I used to really hate the term ‘mental illness’ and that I was a sufferer because the word implied I was a nutter, crazy, mad, insane. I resented it cos I knew I wasn’t. Now I realise it means that depression is ‘all in the mind’, that is why it is a mental illness.
I decided to make a new life in Hong Kong because I wanted to leave the scene of the crime, there were too many painful memories that I couldn’t leave behind physically and mentally. Why HK? Well it was where my life began but more importantly I associate the city with happy memories. The three years of university followed by another three in the 80’s teaching English there were the happiest, most carefree of my life. I wanted to return and recapture those happy thoughts and rediscover that optimistic, sociable, innocent me. I remember loving and being loved. Friends, colleagues, pupils, my first boyfriend liking me for who I was. I was very popular. They appreciated my sense of humour, naive enthusiasm and openness. I was young, in my early twenties, beautiful, hopeful, the world was my oyster, I could be whatever I wanted to be.
Then I hadn’t suffered years of being put down and criticised; made to feel inadequate just wrong. Not good enough, that I did not belong, however hard I tried. I had not become a doormat, lost my voice, to keep the peace, for the sake of the family. I had yet to become a martyr, sacrificing my own needs, very own identity and scrimping and making do so that my husband could indulge in his ever changing expensive hobbies and that my child was not the poor kid on the block. In the end that man whom I love for 18 years evicted me without any notice from his heart, mind and life. Just like that.
Yet I have to take responsibility. I have learnt not to keep playing the victim. I allowed it to happen, the emotional abuse, the lack of respect, the being shut out, not listened to, the feelings disregarded and mocked. I sold into the romantic myth hook line and sinker and was prepared to pay the price however high. Losing your identity, very being is too high my friends. That’s why it took me so long to get over the divorce. No longer a wife I didn’t know what I was anymore, that was my role, identity and life. That family unit of 3 was my world. We were going to grow old together. That was the plan. But as you know plans are for fools. Life is what happens when we are busy looking the other way. I think Lennon said something along those lines.
For Jade my beautiful adopted daughter
I am aware that my posts recently have been quite heavy all about depression, suffering, tears, cancer, divorce, heartbreak etc. But to set the record straight my life hasn’t/isn’t just filled with misery. That would have finished anybody off, even a tough old bird like me. I used to be Jonathon Livingston Seagull, the rebel, black sheep, refusing to fit in, follow the crowd. Slowly but surely I am becoming Jonathon again but an older wiser version.
Let’s talk hope because that is what has kept me alive and my daughter and the kindness of strangers and good friends which I can count on one hand that have stood by me and not dissolved into the ether. And family of course, my family, not his. They don’t want to know me, not even when I was supposedly part of the family and certainly not now. I have no significance whatsoever, not as the woman in their son’s life for 18 years nor the mother of their first grandchild. I am not important in my own right, as a separate being. But that is fine because the best thing about the divorce is I need never have anything to do with them ever again.
Hope. My favourite poem in English is by Emily Dickenson which starts, ‘Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without words, and never stops at all …’ Look it up, it is a beautiful poem and very meaningful. I know it by heart and in my darkest lowest grimmest moments I recited it over and over again to remind myself that even this hell will pass though I didn’t believe it.
I tell you my friends out there across cyberspace and behind the screen, however bad it gets it will pass. All things do, the good and thank goodness the bad too. Time is your best friend. And time really is a healer, cheesy but true. Time brings about change. Three things we can be sure of in this life: Death, Taxes and Change. Nothing remains the same, we grow old with time and constant change challenges us throughout our lives.
Survival of the fittest – those who can adapt to change survive those who can’t wither. Have you ever read Primo Levi’s writings? The Italian Jewish chemist who survived the concentration camp but sadly could not rid himself of the horrors and committed suicide by jumping down the flight of stairs in his apartment building in Paris? In his writings about his experience during the Holocaust he said something along these lines, ‘The only freedom left in such horrific circumstances is how you decide to react’. The ones who didn’t simply give up and lie down to die were more likely to come out alive, as he did. Hope.
Hope and Love the most potent forces in the world. Only hope and love can defeat Hate and Evil, put an end to hostility and war. Words too. ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’. It is true. Only when we start a dialogue, a genuine one, an open one can there be a possibility of peace in the troubled areas but those in power need to have the will and sincerity to want it; instead of sending youngsters to kill and be killed. That I think amounts to crimes against humanity. It is murder because you have actively sent them off to war knowing there is a high possibility they will die. Some as young as 18 with all of their life ahead of them.
What inspired me to write this post was Jade’s comment about how my posts though full of pain endured still offers hope and that we can come out the other end, not unscathed but stronger and wiser. Look, if I can survive all that within the space of a few years so can you. I am just an ordinary human being, like you. I have no secret powers, magic wand, formula. I tell you the human spirit is resilient. Courage will come when you need it. When you don’t think you could possibly cope, you do, because you have to. There is no choice. Well there is. The choice is brutal but a choice nevertheless: lie down and die or fight. Fight and flight trigger when confronted with crisis, something that threatens your life, very being. The will to live is very very very strong.
Those who commit suicide must be in an extreme dark pain place where they see no alternative, way out, exit from their pain. Some call them cowards. They are wrong, I think it takes great courage and determination to extinguish the flame of your own life. I am not advocating suicide by all means and those left behind have to live with that grief all their lives. Others accuse them of being selfish but I think if you are in that much pain you are obviously not thinking straight. If you have the presence of mind to worry about what it is going to do to your friends and loved ones then you wouldn’t be contemplating suicide or going through with it. At least their suffering is over. It is what they wanted. We have no choice over our birth and family but we should over death. Likewise with euthanasia especially as the person desires it.
Sorry I started off talking about hope and it has got heavy again. But without the dark shades how can we see the light tones? Without the stormy threatening clouds how would we appreciate the blue skies and sunshine? Without despair euphoria? Without chatter silence? Without the shit in my life the new beginning? Knowing who are the people who love me and stand by me come hell or high water, however difficult, crazy I got, how impossible? I am blessed, beyond measure.
Love and hope have kept me alive. Not the love of a man which is what all the love songs on the radio glorified. That love broke my heart, caused me to cry oceans of tears for 5 long years but no more. Enough is enough. It is time. Family love, daughter, sisters; platonic love from friends and strangers. Love from a stranger?? Any acts of kindness however minute is a display of love, of concern, of care, of wanting to ease your pain, of reaching out to another human being. Empathy, compassion are under-rated whilst romantic love of the fairy tale happy ending kind is dangerously over-rated. It is the biggest lie of all times, since records began.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that genuine long lasting love between the sexes and the same sex doesn’t exist, of course it does, I have many friends of whom I am very envious. And I am very happy for them. But it really is sold as the superior brand, that without it you couldn’t possibly be happy and fulfilled which is blatantly untrue.
This post has been truly rambling and no doubt from a disturbed mind.
Over and out Mama G.