“A diamond doesn’t start out polished and shining. It once was nothing...
Recoverynoun: recovery; plural noun: recoveriesa return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.
Remissionnoun: remissiona temporary diminution of the severity of disease or pain.~ OED
So, I mentioned the other day that I’m feeling better, and that unlike last time I told you I was better, when I was actually mistaking mania for genuine happiness, I think I can be more confident that it’s real this time. That’s because where before there was euphoria and a whirlwind of activity this time there’s only a decidely unexciting feeling of stability.
Unexciting is good. Unexciting is healthy, realistic. Regular people don’t go through life being overwhelmed with excitement every hour of the day and night. ‘Normal’ life is actually quite boring.
I think I’ve finally arrived at a realistic level of expectation of what this ‘getting better’ process involves and how much I can realistically expect to acheive. I know it’s taken me a while to get here but in my defence I’ve been somewhat handicapped by the fact that I didn’t really have much appreciation of what I was aiming at; having experienced no periods of ‘wellness’ in living memory, only being extremely high or more frequently extremely low.
For the longest time I thought the goal of ‘recovery’ was to hit the highs again, to go back to being filled with boundless energy and enthusiasm and running around like a crazy person. Even after I realised that state was just as unhealthy in its own way as the depression I still found it difficult to let go and accept that if I wanted to be healthy I needed not to feel that way again. I found the idea that mood/mental state is a spectrum pretty much like any other and that all the healthy bits of this particular spectrum are in round about the middle to be incredibly depressing in and of itself.
Having experienced manic ecstacy a humdrum, average stability didn’t seem like a sufficient reward for the Herculean effort of pulling myself out of the pit of my depression.
To move on from this I’ve had to learn a whole different way of looking at my mental illness. I’ve had to come to truly understand that my conditions are just not sick/well type of things. I’m not aiming to get better and then never have to worry about any of this ever again, I’m learning to manage health, mental and physical, and my lifestyle in a way that keeps my depression, anxiety, trauma, and personality disorder in check so that I’m able to carry on with the rest of my life alongside continuing to deal with them.
‘Recovery’ as I’ve always understood it to mean is not an option here. My mental health problems haven’t gone away, they’re just not getting in my way anymore. Continuing to keep them in check will be an ongoing process of monitoring and managing, learning and healing. And it would still be unrealistic to assume that they’re never going to overwhelm me again.
So, I think what I mean when I say that I’m feeling stable is that for the time being my illness is in remission.
I’ve been saying that I was going to post something here for almost three months now, and then never quite getting round to sitting down and actually writing anything. So, I’ve decided, as I have an unexpected afternoon off, to just post a, well, post, so that I’ve finally done what I said I was going to do, and started the process of getting back into the habit of blogging again.
Then I can worry about writing something coherent and worth reading for my next post.
It’s not that I don’t want to write, I do, I’ve missed it. It just feels a bit awkward to come back to after more than a year’s absence.
I stopped blogging mostly on purpose. I was poorly, and busy, and miserable, and overwhelmed, and something, lots of things, had to give, and one of those things was blogging.
It was a decision made easier because I wasn’t sure exactly what I was trying to say anymore. I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. In addition to all the other things. And took me a long time to process that one.
Being diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder came as something of a relief to me. It meant that there were things that were wrong with me, things that could presumably be fixed. Until that point I’d spent years believing that I was the thing that was wrong and that this couldn’t be fixed.
Being told that I had borderline personality disorder, a personality disorder, that my personality was disordered, undid a lot of that relief for quite some time. It sounded to me as though if we were blaming my illness on my disordered personality we were back to saying that I was the thing that was wrong.
Which seemed contrary to the people with mental illnesses are just people with illnesses message that I’d started writing to convey. So I wasn’t sure what I had to say anymore, and whether anything I might say could be of any use to anybody else.
I don’t quite feel that way anymore. I’ve had some therapy, read some books (about 157 of them so far this year, mostly about psychology, culture, gender, and sexuality), changed my medication again, and managed to create a bit more stability in my personal circumstances. It’s still a work in progress but I’m feeling a lot better about the idea of my illness.
I’m feeling a lot better generally. Like, actually better, not like last time where I thought I was well and happy when in reality I was just high as a kite. This time better looks more like a boring, routine stability, which, combined with a medication that is finally working, seems to be keeping me off the emotional rollercoaster. At least for now.
I’m also feeling better about my life. I’ve found an amazing flat in a perfect location, I’ve started work on resurrecting my social life, and I’ve fallen in love.
But I will tell you about all of these things individually at other times. The goal for this afternoon was to write something down and then post it.
And now I have.
So I bought this new Maybelline eyeshadow in On and On Bronze on Saturday, mainly because I was bored waiting for my friend who was running a bit late.
I thought it would be handy to have a relatively neutral eyeshadow to keep in my bag for the mornings when I’m running too late for work to have time to do my makeup before leaving the house. Or for if I want to freshen up my face because I end up making last minute plans to do something after work.
It cost me a fiver. I wasn’t expecting great thing from it but I thought it would do.
Now today, after a day of eye watering allergies, a torrential downpour, and an early evening nap it still looks EXACTLY the same as it did when I put it on this morning.
Colour tattoo indeed.
I’m impressed. I recommend.
“Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the ‘Titanic’ who waved off the dessert cart.” ~ Erma Bombeck
On Thursday while I was at work I ate a sausage sandwich for breakfast, some chorizo and tomato soup and a chocolate bar for lunch, and a packet of ready salted crisps later in the afternoon.
On Friday while I was at work I ate a sausage sandwich for breakfast, a jacket potato with baked beans for lunch, and most of a packet of skittles later in the afternoon.
Thursday and Friday were the only days that I worked, I was off with flu the rest of the week.
I spent both afternoons listening to a chorus of women, and it’s always the women, remarking incredulously on how ‘you don’t feel guilty about eating that at all do you?’
No. No, I do not.
It has never once in my life occurred to me to feel guilty about eating food.
I don’t consider eating in and of itself to be a moral act.
I mean, I think it’s important to try to be aware of where my food came from and how it was produced. I try as much as possible to buy my meat from local butchers who know the farms that supply them and can verify the conditions the animals were raised in.
Although sometimes I just don’t have time to get to the butchers while they’re open and I end up buying from supermarkets instead; and sometimes those supermarkets are Tesco supermarkets, so I could realistically be eating pretty much anything. And, well, sausages.
I feel a bit bad about that.
I try to be aware of the air miles of the fruit and vegetables I buy; but then I can never decide which is better or worse between only eating things that are in season and locally grown, which is probably better for the environment, and supporting farmers for whom the export market is their livelihood. And I keep meaning to take the time to read and learn enough to make a properly informed opinion one way or the other but then there’s always something else that I ‘ought’ to be doing as well.
So I feel a little bit guilty about that.
I don’t do nearly enough about the fact that there are other people in the world who don’t have enough food options to have the luxury of worrying about the above. People who just don’t have enough food full stop.
That’s something I ought to make more time for but haven’t so far and I feel more than a little bit guilty about that.
But the simple act of consumption food; why would anybody bother to feel guilty about that?
I’m not on a diet; I’m not trying to lose weight, and even if I was I wouldn’t go on a diet because all the evidence that I’ve seen suggests that dieting isn’t a healthy or effective way to go about it.
The weight-loss industry makes me very angry when I bother to think about it because it makes multi-billion dollar profits from exploiting people’s insecurities to sell them ‘solutions’ that don’t work. If they actually ‘worked’ people wouldn’t have to either stick to them forever or carry on repeating them ad nauseam, all the while continuing to pay more good money to whichever weight-loss club they’re signed up to.
But even if I was on a diet I wouldn’t waste my time feeling guilty about eating a packet of crisps and a chocolate bar – because, why? Because they have ‘too many’ calories in them I’m assuming?
Here’s everything that I know, or think I know, about calories: a calorie is a unit of energy; there are fewer calories in a stick of celery than you burn in the process of eating it; you burn roughly the same amount of calories in your sleep as there are in a Mars bar; there are 20 calories in a jelly baby; and calories are morally neutral.
No, what I’d do it that I’d eat them and then refrain from eating any more crisps or chocolate bars for the next few days, or the rest of the week, or however long it is that you’re supposed to keep up with the self-denial.
And save the guilt for actual things that are worthy of feeling guilty over; like snapping at someone because I’m over tired, or disrupting other people’s lives with my mental health problems, or forgetting to do that quite important thing that I said that I was going to do for someone within the period of time that I said that I was going to do it.
And don’t even get me started on how all these women came by the idea that we’re all under some kind of obligation to eat a certain way and to conform to a set of pre-determined feelings about our food on the basis of our gender.
Because I’m here to tell you, as someone who has been clinically diagnosed with a problematic excess of anxiety and an unhealthy lack of interest in my own longevity, that life is just too fucking short for anyone to be wasting their time feeling guilty about eating a chocolate bar.
*That’s a picture of what I had for dinner last night – it was AM-AZ-ING.