Daily Prompt: Glaring

One glaring omission from my personality seems to be a naturally happy gene – it’s not that I’m never capable of feeling happiness, more that it requires a deliberately proactive shift in my internal emotional mechanism for me to seek out those rare moments of satisfaction and joy and contentment and truly appreciate them for what they are – it feels to me like happy is just not my natural state of being.

I once began studying for a Master’s Degree in Applied Positive Psychology, and in spite of really looking forward to the academic challenge, emotionally I struggled with the troubling feelings it raised within me right from the very start. Sitting in a class of bright, cheerful, positively motivated people, it soon became clear to me that – just as I’d always felt in childhood – my brain simply didn’t function in quite the same way as everyone else around me.

We completed a lot of personality tests and suchlike as part of our course, and as usual everything we explored seemed to indicate towards me having a depressive personality with bells on. It was as if my brainwaves resonate on a completely different frequency to the rest of the class – no matter how hard I tried, I just didn’t fit in to the prescribed mould for successful students of this subject. And the more time passed, the more depressed I felt about it all, so I chose not to study my Master’s degree to completion – I gave it up for good, only one third of the way through.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I sit around all day permanantly wringing my hands in an oh-woe-is-me kind of way, or can’t function like any other adult in the outside world when I have to. It’s more that where the general level for feeling happiness sits flirtatiously within comfortable reach for the majority of the population, for me it remains consistently and tantalisingly elusive, well beyond my natural grasp, and can only be reached after a concerted effort on my part.

It feels to me that at heart my parabolic range of everyday emotional peaks and troughs plots overwhelmingly below average on a regular basis. In a world of Winnie-the-Poohs and Piglets and bouncy Tiggers, I’m definitely one of life’s Eeyores – but I suppose at least now I’m an Eeyore with a Post-Graduate Certificate in Applied Positive Psychology… 🙂

Daily Prompt: Glaring

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Writing Bravely: A Day in My Life

Inspired by Damyanti’s post on the Daily (W)rite I thought I’d share a day in my life just now, with the idea of writing bravely however much it hurts to admit to…

A Day in My Life…

Life does not come easy to me right now. I’m doing my best to struggle through my myopic misery by dealing with it all the best way I know how – I deliberately reduce what’s required of me with regard to daily tasks to the barest minimum for survival, and forcibly push my creativity to balance out the myriad greyness of it all with whatever miniscule splashes of the brightest ribbons of colour I can find.

I make sure we have food and clean clothes and a reasonably presentable home; I put on my public mask and go to work with a smile; I cry a lot in private. And I make myself take photographs, write poetry, crochet, draw – I keep my blog going and hope, know, deep in my soul that however low it gets this particular dismal trough in the constant parabola of life’s ups and downs won’t last forever – they never do. Always, in time, I know that this too shall pass.

It never ceases to amaze me that in one sense I am at my most creative when mired in the unfathomable depths of despair – it’s as if I cling on to life’s fragile beauty in the only way I know how, by holding on to the hope that exists in giving life to images and words, if not drawing myself upwards out of depression then at least stopping myself from drowning in it. I feel the oppressive weight bearing down, the dense pressure crushing my chest, but as always I focus on my brightest hope and just breathe through it all as best I can… ❤

In Need of Understanding…

In Need of Understanding…

When depression feeds dark thoughts of dying

Fills my days with exhaustion and crying

And I’m struggling so bad

Give me space to feel sad

Understand that I really am trying…

I’m not someone for whom the art of living comes easily, and have struggled with recurring depression on and off since childhood. I’ve seen one psychiatrist (after surviving an overdose in my early twenties) and have visited countless psychotherapists over the years since, but however much I struggle to search out solutions to try to increase my psychological understanding (including earning a degree in Psychology and Sociology as a mature student), I still don’t feel any happier at source about life.

When it comes to medication I’ve tried multiple variations of anti-depressants since my teens and was even on valium for the longest time (when my children were small and I was stuck in an emotionally abusive relationship with their father, who I have since divorced), but I find that although chemical sedatives in general do tend to curtail the worst of my negative emotions, they also flatten out any slight spark of positive emotions, too, leaving me a bit like an inert zombie. So medication for me really is a last resort.

Instead these days I find it better just to sit tight through the depressive episodes when they come, whenever I can, knowing that however bad I feel it does always get better in time even if I do nothing – no medication, no therapy, just let it work itself out. But I do find it exhausting, trying to continue to behave as far as possible like a ‘normal’ adult in public for the duration. And I find I’m always really tired and emotionally drained at home while I’m feeling at my lowest.

So when I start to feel the familiar feelings gnawing in my gut I’ll try to fight it for so long, forcing myself to do those things in life I know I enjoy in the hope of avoiding falling in too deep. But sadly there usually comes a point where I have to just accept it’s upon me once more, and I go into a kind of emotional autopilot. I function as far as possible, and then I fall temporarily into limbo until I have to function again, and this pattern simply continues day in, day out until I start to feel properly human again.

The thing is, so many people try to tell me if I feel depressed I should be going to the doctor to get some medication, or be referred for therapy to ‘sort myself out’, but the trouble with that is that it feels like they’re telling me I need to be fixed, that I’m not good enough as I am. Because at my core this is who I am, who I have always been – I simply don’t know anything different, know no other way to be in the world. After all this time I know my own body, and more importantly I know my own mind – I know what works for me, and what I need most is understanding, and for people to trust me.

If things get bad enough for me that I need to seek medical help again, trust me I will. But the only person who knows when that point is reached is me. Luckily for me my husband is very understanding, as is my GP – both have put their trust in me, allowing me the space to feel whatever I feel, preparing to be my safety net should I fall unexpectedly but otherwise letting me try my best to get through it all in my own organic way… ❤

Folding Out the Light…

Folding Out the Light…

I feel my life is closing in on me

Like origami folding out the light

Forever turning inwards, silently

I sense my shrinking soul fade out of sight…

Depression makes an unrelenting thief

Steals everything but hope time and again

I let it be, held fast by stagnant grief

As soothing tides of tears wash through old pain…

But given time my sun does shine once more

Hard shell of bleakness cast off like a husk

As day by day life feels less like a chore

Bright dawns replace the monochrome of dusk

Till once again I feel life’s vibrant smile

And know I’m whole again – just for a while…

Discover Challenge: Speak Out

reflection

On the surface, at a quick glance, we see nothing but what we expect to see, a shallow millimetre or so of rainwater pooled into a puddle. We know this is what we are looking at, and can even see the pavement texture mottled beneath the water, so we walk on by, untroubled and unconcerned. But if we were to stop to look again, looking beyond what is immediately visible, we may be able to see so much more reflected back at us, however elusive and intangible that reflection may be.

Sometimes I feel a bit like that puddle in the road, non-descript yet so much more nuanced than at first I seem to be. On the surface I look like any other middle-aged mother and grandmother, and indeed in many ways I am just that woman, so easily passed by in the street like so many others. But look beyond the shallow surface view and you may just see a shadowy hint of the drizzling depression that lurks constantly in my depths, its long sinewy tendrils reaching up out of the darkness, always threatening to pull me down again, drowning me, choking me, suffocating me.

I live with those fluid fingers always beckoning on the farthest edge of my peripheral vision, watching and waiting for me to falter in my daily life, and I am wary and watchful in return. It has ever been thus, I know nothing different. Sometimes I speak out about my demons, brave and defiant, and sometimes I remain silent, cowed and shamed. There is often no rhyme nor reason to how I feel about it, I simply choose to drift on the breeze and flit this way and that, either floating with the winds of change or fighting them as I see fit…

Discover Challenge: Speak Out

Discovering a New Path

abstract-train

Once more in my life I feel myself to be fluctuating emotionally in a difficult place of transition, flitting hither and thither through erratic highs and lows, fully formed neither in one place nor another, torn in two, pulled apart by conflicting desires. I feel confused, on the cusp of depression, teetering precariously on the brink.

At this moment my personal path forward into the future is not clear. Its outline remains as blurry and unrecognisable as this abstract image of a moving train passing in the night, taken from another moving train passing in the opposite direction on a parallel track as I was travelling from one end of the country to the other.

But nevertheless there is often an unusual beauty to be found in the abstract if we stop looking only for what we know as recognisable and familiar, and instead simply accept what is unfolding in front of us in all its conceptual glory, discovering new perspectives, inevitably seeing the world through new eyes…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Path

Daily Prompt: Discover

 

Daily Prompt: Unfinished

Unfinished Symphony…

Psychology flawed

Raw and roughly hewn in parts

Mind marred and distressed

Unevenly unbalanced

Emotionally jagged…

Sometimes I feel that if anyone were to look inside my mind, instead of seeing smooth symmetrical curves of brain matter all tidily folded in place there would be a lumpen mass of unfinishedness, all sketchy rough drafts, crossed-out phrases, and incomplete loose ends going off at all sorts of dysfunctional tangents leading to who knows where.

There’s enough there to make me a recognisable person on the outside, but nevertheless on the inside I still feel like an unfinished symphony, incomplete, flawed…

Daily Prompt: Unfinished

Discover Challenge: Open-Minded

As someone who has been judged and found to be lacking all my life due to being different from the norm, I try hard to be tolerant myself of all kinds of difference in others. It’s not always easy, but I do my best. I’m a natural introvert at heart, and have spent a lifetime struggling with recurring bouts of depression that remained undiagnosed until my early twenties yet caused a lot of upset and distress within my immediate family during my teenage years and beyond. Growing up I was always labelled ‘the difficult one’ because I simply didn’t fit in with everyone else’s expectations of who I should be.

And it seems that once you’ve been labelled as lacking by your family, that label sticks no matter what comes afterwards. Even now there’s a better understanding within my family of depression and just how debilitating it can be, no-one has bothered to update the labels of ‘difficult’ and ‘awkward’ as applied to me. So although others within the family who are suffering from depression are now given some basic level of familial understanding, and more importantly allowances are made for their fragile mental state and the sometimes erratic behaviour that arises from that, it seems that basic understanding is not to be applied retrospectively.

I do try to correct that misjudgement whenever possible – my mum will be recounting a family tale and will say ‘Well of course, Ruth always had to be so difficult’ in her usual indulgent smiling-but-disparaging way, so I pull her up on it and remind her that I was depressed, not deliberately being difficult. But it seems it doesn’t suit mum’s life narrative for me to be anything other than the teenage thorn in her side of her memory, so sadly I’m still remembered as being a recalcitrant and badly-behaved child rather than a young adult who was struggling emotionally, completely out of her depth.

Anyway, the point of this post is to explain why I try so hard to be as open-minded and fair as far as possible, and not to be immediately judgemental of others straight out of the box. I always like to get to know each individual or group’s invisible back-story before I make any decisions on their actions or their worth. The bottom line for me is that I truly understand the unfairness of difference being judged as being deliberately difficult and by extension dangerous, and I understand the frustration felt by (through no fault of your own) being deemed a potential threat to the status quo within each familial, cultural and societal norm so many of us take for granted every day.

Discover Challenge: Open-Minded