t is fair to say that I have been trying to write -well anything- for the last couple of years. This isn't just a severe case of writers block, this is full-on guillotine - noisy French peasants calling for my blood and my powdered wig wilting in the fetid city summer.
The reason I have written anything, is because of this post. It’s re-taking the first step doing something I knew I could -and previously loved - to do. Its sitting down and trying to condense, what essentially amounts to a shit, few years into a few lines: To have to admit what has happened and to write about it in is such an open way, was too hard to bare. I couldn't lay myself open and emotionally naked like that when it was all I could do to function on a daily basis. I tried. I tried many times and every time I opened my laptop, with a blank page in front of me, I would just feel the weight of it all crushing me. I just couldn't do it. However, I felt I had to, before I could write anything else.
The last couple of weeks have been an eye-opener for me. They say depression has a horrible way of creeping up on you. You don't realise how low you are until you come out of the other side. You never see it coming and it always hits you slyly, no matter how familiar you are with it. I have experienced a few deep lows in the last twelve years since I was first diagnosed and again my ‘black dog’ blindsided me. Depression comes from many different sources - this time around, my depression came from grief.
I didn't realise until now, that I was using this post as an excuse. I wanted to wallow in my own self pity. I needed to flagellate myself for all the mistakes I have made over the last few years. I somehow felt I needed to be punished, and stopping myself writing was a way to do that. I was grieving the loss of my home, my family, the sense of myself, and I was blaming myself for it - when in fact its just the natural bumps and fallows we all get in life. I was regretting everything I had done wrong, because I knew there was no way to change it.
I had felt that, when time came to write my return post, I needed to re-hash everything that had gone on before - that somehow I needed to announce all my woes in some catharsis. As if showing my emotional scars and having everyone announce how sad, proud, relieved, that I had written all of my blackness down, would make me start writing again. Now I have come out of my darkness, I realise that I didn't need to do anything of the sort.
People who know me -either via social media, or dare I say it, real life- already know what has happened over the last few years. I have had all of the actual and virtual pats on the backs and hugs. I have had my time to grieve over the loss of my home in Canada (something I didn’t realise that had affected me so much) and the dehumanising decline and eventual loss of my father. I have battled educational departments and solicitors and estate agents and I have finally found a home and a school my son finally feels settled at. I have fixed myself emotionally and physically. My work, for a while, seems done and I need to appreciate the lull.
One of the problems with depression and grief is that you become self-absorbed. You become so self-involved that -even though you acknowledge others are struggling- your full heart doesn't go out to comfort them. You are always holding something back for yourself; giving yourself extra cold comfort. There has been some interest from groups for me to resurrect ‘The Run Smiley Collective’ blog that I helped found years ago. Since I left Canada it has fallen to the wayside - a victim of my self-pity. When I look at all of the fantastic authors I had helped convince to write for the ‘collective’ I realised we have all had shit to process. It made me realise that I wasn't the only one who had suffered a huge change and was grieving a fundamental loss in their lives. I knew in my head of course, I am still friends with many of them, but I didn't fully connect emotionally. I had said all of the right words, but I wasn’t fully in the moment when I said them. Depression and grief does that. Its a disconnect. I distanced myself emotionally from every connection, no matter if it was good or bad. Even during moments of joy and happiness, I wasn't completely engaged.
A couple of months ago, I decided that I had enough. I was going to be active in bringing myself out of my depression and grief. I started to -very gradually- reduce my anti-depressants, I ensured I challenged myself in learning new skills; who knew I could crochet cute voodoo dolls?. I forced myself to get outdoors in -what is loosely called the British sunshine- and do hard physical work. I started to take care of my appearance and the environment I lived in. I am being kinder to myself. It seems basic steps, but it is unbelievably hard to do.
The last couple of weeks have seen the fruits of my labour. I have started laughing so much my cheeks cramp up. I have started considering writing again. I am taking pleasure in the small things and my heart is softening where I feel I can fully begin to give to others.
The last few weeks have been a reboot. Like a failing computer system, I was crashing and failing. I was incapable of running the most basic processes and I had become so unreliable that I was next to useless. Instead of limping along, I have taken a dramatic step of a wipe, reinstall and reboot. My life feels a little more stable now and I feel as if I can actually be productive now.
My time of mourning is over, and it’s about time I got on with the job of living. I am pressing the shutdown and restart option in the menu, lets see what programs boot up when I next log on.