Betty was my black dog, my little cackling demon, the ogre clutching on to my back. Haven’t we all had a little of her from time to time?
The majority of us have suffered from moments of depression, anxiety or a combination of both. I had my fair share, yet whether mine was worse or not than anyone else’s, who am I to say? I had moments of feeling blue, but then don’t we all? Perhaps that’s all it ever was, just a little bit of blue.
Like all the evil bullies of this world, in the end Betty found me to be a rather repellent host and has consequently moved on.
The sun is shining, the world is a happy, if complicated place and I can see Betty and the bullies for what they truly are. Having used every resource available to me, (see my post Depression – A Multi-Pronged Attack ) I can confirm that this slightly unhinged woman has indeed killed Betty and moved on.
“Ha! Don’t you get so cocky!” I hear someone say with a smirk. Perhaps they’re right; but in truth I don’t want to be around that person. I only surround myself with positive people who like me want to live in peace, love and optimism. Yes, I have to be careful and keep an eye on myself, but that’s what we all do anyway.
Life is for living. But most importantly, life is for living in the light and not the darkness.
I’m not entirely sure, but in truth I think I’m a little bit scared. Finally. I guess it was bound to happen at some point, but with still twelve days to go until The Big Adventure, I’m hoping that this is just a case of reality and nerves catching up with me. It had to happen at some point. (Please note the attempt at a grownup attitude, I’m guessing that had to happen at some point also.)
Yesterday I did the final bits of shopping for the bicycling trip and now the kitchen table and floor are covered in practical maintenance and repair kits, first aid packs, and an awful lot of detailed maps from the north to the south of France. Quite how everything is going to fit into two panniers and a basket, well tomorrow’s packing will tell and that’s not even including a couple of extra clothes and half of the Clinique counter (did I mention that I’d been shopping?).
The Colonel is away for a couple of days so there’s a sense of quiet and loneliness in the house. ‘My Rock’ (what a ghastly cliche!) is on business up north so my stability and routine maker isn’t here. The time to behave like a grownup therefore is here. What I should be doing is rolling over and going back to sleep, but the child in me wants my thoughts bashed out here to you, you unfortunate blighters! Sorry about that.
I spoke yesterday on the telephone to my sister. My sister who has been so unutterably encouraging for me to do this trip. I had thought that she’d call me barking mad and try to persuade me otherwise. Foolishly, I had underestimated her knowledge of me. She understands my need to challenge myself and be finally free of my fears. And for that and for so many other reasons I love her. She has tolerated my past, my nonsense and my mistakes. Where we differ is that she holds her cards close to her chest whereas mine have not just been worn on the proverbial sleeve, but splayed out with garish colours across the street, with trumpets sounding and much hysterical wailing and despite it not being how she might deal with life’s ups and downs, she tolerates that about me too.
The love of a sibling when both your parents have gone is even stronger. She has looked after her irritating baby sister and together we have laughed, cried, occasionally squabbled but also coped together with the worst of emotions, grief. Grief borne from the deaths of our parents. And we have bonded again and again over shared memories that nobody else now in the world can possibly know of. Memories of parents, of childhood, of each other from times long since passed.
I shall telephone her again tomorrow and somehow and no doubt rather awkwardly tell her how much I appreciate her and then we’ll change the subject quickly and talk about our children and laugh about the adventures and journeys that their lives are taking them on. Night night …
I dislike the terms ‘Mental Heath’ and/or ‘Mental Illness’. Actually that’s a bit of an understatement.
For me, simply using the word ‘mental’ immediately brings images to my mind of the mental asylums of old, with padded cells, beds with wide leather straps and children being torn from the arms of their mothers. The film industry frankly hasn’t helped either. The pictures of a wife or husband being dragged away screaming, out of control, desperate. (As an aside …. And they wonder why we still hide our true feelings and thoughts?!)
I’d go as far as to say that I find it distressing. It brings fear into my mind. Fear that only a few generations ago, this could have been any one of us taken away by the men in white coats and having every element of control of ourselves and our lives taken away. And the realisation that in fact an understanding of this disease is so very recent. If we had been born a little earlier, we too could have been locked up, with no likelihood of ever seeing the light of day again. A prison.
I have been searching within the old grey matter for some time now for a softer phrase. A kinder term and finally I came across a fellow blogger (Lynda Estacio) who recently described her mental health as her emotional health.
My search is over.
I have thanked her, because for me, it describes the illness without any upsetting connotations.
My life is one filled with emotion. I am a person whose days historically have been ones filled with a zigzag of extreme highs and extreme lows. If I was happy, I was overexcitable and faintly manic. If I loved, I loved with an intensity almost beyond reason and with obsessive undertones. If I hated, I loathed with intensity. If I was sad, I was distraught and simply unable to understand it or come to terms with it. Grief from a death or the devastating effects of a divorce therefore almost destroyed me. Essentially, my emotions were too extreme. As per usual, there was no moderation, and never any ability to control them or even understand them.
Now, thankfully there is less of a zigzag of emotion day after day, and more of a smooth curving of ups and downs. And that is good. That gives me the space and ability to deal with the natural ups and downs of life. Sure I have my blips. We all do. I have my insecurities and that is acceptable and normal, completely normal. Yes, it is normal and good to have emotion.
But in excess, it is exhausting.
In excess, it is frightening.
But in moderation, as with most things, emotion is truly wonderful and completely natural.
So, thank you therefore WordPress once again for introducing me to a blogger who has given me a new way to think about this illness, this disease. I just have to care for my body and my emotional heath.
Emotional Health. I like it … very much.
How do you describe your depression and/or anxiety? Do you mind ‘Mental Illness’ or is it just me!