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

 

 

 

Daily Prompt: Drive

Drive…

I sometimes wonder where I find my drive

When empty misery feeds on my soul

On days I simply struggle to survive

Sit floundering in deep depressive hole

I wonder what it is that keeps me strong

When everything feels helplessly adrift

And melancholy carries me along

Through feelings I seem powerless to shift

But somehow I just soldier through the years

Still trudging forward, silently I cope

Try hard to smile while fighting back the tears

I keep on going, holding on to hope

Depression dulls the edge of my desire

But does not douse my belly full of fire…

Daily Prompt: Drive

Daily Prompt: Guest

My depression sits on the periphery of my vision; dull and opaque like a sulky ghost. We’ve been shackled together for so long now within the shadows of my mind I have no idea what it’s like not to have its watchful eyes on me, always waiting for me to falter so it can swoop in and sweep me up once more in its suffocating embrace. It has always been an unwelcome guest, but as the years pass and it still shows no signs of moving on, I’ve simply got used to living with the natural ebb and flow of its recurring darkness…

Daily Prompt: Guest

Daily Prompt: Empty

Sometimes I feel so unbearably full of overwhelming emotional turmoil I find myself just switching off automatically, temporarily, a bit like a safety valve on a pressure cooker releasing, or an electrical fuse blowing. And it’s a strange empty sensation that follows, a dramatic deadening of my soul all at one stroke rather than by my usual depressive incremental notches.

All the emotional stresses are still there inside, exactly as before, but somehow contained at a managable distance behind an invisible barrier. So I’m both empty but yet not empty all at the same time, on hold, in limbo. I find that I function but I don’t feel for the duration, however long it may last, existing on some kind of robotic autopilot until I can once more be safely reunited with my overloaded emotions…

Daily Prompt: Empty 

 

Journalling, Blogging, and Coping

Long before there was blogging in my life, there was journalling – I’ve been keeping a personal diary for so many years now I can’t even remember when that first started. My version of a journal is not the common-or-garden dated variety of printed diary with set evenly-spaced pages allocated to each day to be filled in religiously, regardless. It’s more of an open book, literally – sometimes I cover pages and pages of A4 at a time, every day for weeks, then nothing at all will appear for a month or so.

Journalling has certainly helped me through some really difficult times in my life – especially during my darkest depressive episodes. Writing down my innermost thoughts at the height of emotional angst over the years has clearly shown me (albeit later more often than at the time) where repeating patterns of behaviour may have become a pivotal sticking point for me. And once I can see them, I can start to change them, slowly but surely. Not only does journalling help through the immediate offloading of raw emotion in real time, but also helps soothe and salve the painful healing process long afterwards.

Ideally, I’d want to be recording everything going on in my life, both good and bad, creating an overall balanced view of life when looking back. But inevitably I journal most prolifically when things are hurtling downwards emotionally, and I simply don’t have the same need when things are happily on the up so eventually it all starts to look a bit skewed. And so it appears that my focus is always on the negative aspects, because ultimately it is those particular thoughts that remain so resoundingly recorded for posterity.

But now there is blogging to add to the mix. I originally began blogging in order to share with others some of my most introspective thoughts on living with recurring depression, but as I was also still journalling too I found that as well as twice the release of emotion, there was also double the focus on  all the bad stuff. All too soon my miserable feelings became further amplified rather than pacifed – and that ultimately started to make me feel worse, not better. What was begun initially to be so liberating became in the end too limiting, and I decided to change my blogging focus from negative to positive.

So blogging became instead purely my online creative outlet, my personal creative space for sharing my growing passion for photography as well as expressing my love of writing poetry. And nowadays I deliberately keep a clear demarcation between what I write in my journal and what I post on my blog. The darkest and worst elements of my daily life go in my journal, and the brightest of the best shines on my blog, confusingly often all at the same time, and sometimes even about the same subjects.

Thankfully the combination of using both together helps balance it all out for me, however odd it may appear at times when I read both journal entries and blog posts for the same day. Overall I’m pleased to report it’s that equitable balance between recording both the good and bad aspects of everyday existence that actively helps me cope so much more favourably with the ever-present trials and tribulations of daily life right now… 🙂