Sunday, 4 October 2015

How are you?

How are you?
Three words repeated over and over again, a platitude - learned behaviour. I’ll tell you what I do. I put my smile on and I say
            FINE THANKS
            and keep moving if I can.
            OR I sigh lightly and laugh a little and say surviving. I’m surviving. Like I’m some kind of creature whose out in the woods and getting by although it’s dirty and mucky and sometimes cold.
            Then I always say “How bout yourself?” and they say something similar although maybe there’s too much work or something going on with their Mother-in-Law and they’ll fall in to telling me.
I tend to keep the things that I actually want to talk about until I actually want to talk about them.
            This greeting isn’t meaningless, not quite. Sometimes it can have huge power. When my close friend came round to see me, after her husband had been diagnosed with a chronic illness I asked her how she was and she wept, saying no-one had really asked her. I thought maybe they had but you wouldn’t want to open up about that to just anyone. 
            The thing is, actually, probably the most important thing you can do is ask your very own self - “How are you?” and if you’re good then great - if you aren’t then you should give yourself a hug and ask why not and is there anything you can do to help.
            Deciding to be a friend to myself could be the best thing I have ever done.

            I encourage to do the same and remember that at the very crux of it - YOU ARE NOT YOUR EMOTIONS. YOU ARE ONLY EXPERIENCING THEM.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

A Positive Case

Yesterday I left my suitcase on a train. It doesn't have lots of valuables (doesn't rather than didn't, the recent nature of the loss means I keep it present) - it's the suitcase that my mum and dad gave me for getting a permanent job, it has clothes and a Murakami book I was in the middle of reading and shoes I bought for my friend's wedding. Little things that are important to me. 

When things like this have happened in the past - when I was in the throes of my depression I wouldn't have been able to step back. I would have stayed in that frantic moment, when you feel so electrifyingly alive it's impossible to think straight. When you can't quite believe that it happened to you and you go over your own idiotic behaviour again and again. When you say to yourself forever that it's all your own fault.

Don't get me wrong I was there for a bit. I'm up at a ridiculous hour because I can't get back to sleep. The important difference is I know if I don't get it back it won't be the end of the world. I can get myself out of those negative spaces I used to roam around, back hunched, crying in the gloom. I can breathe and understand sometimes things are beyond your control but - pretty much always - it's not the worst it can be.

The things that have helped me to do that have been having an amazing therapist - who I saw for only a few months last year - mindfulness and the support of my friends. Sometimes I think that it's amazing I managed to stop pushing people away. More on that to follow. 

In any case (ha!) I hope to continue like this, this me that can lower her heart rate when stressful things happen. 

Love and hope from a person who is still breathing. 

Miss D x 

Monday, 20 July 2015

Waking up

My eyelids crinkle
and crumple in protest.

My body is sunken - still sinking,
deeply heavy.    

Light somewhere
and a muffled alarm ringing
abrasively in my ear.

Not again.

Write Now (Part 2)

Hello friends,

A little while ago I wrote about the barriers to writing that I believe my depression - and to some extent my personality - cultivated. Now I am setting myself a challenge - a week long writing course where I have nothing to do but write. Of course I am excited, exhilarated, wondering where this great adventure will take me. Who, out of the fourteen other people might become my friends. What my week will hold - and what I can create. The place I am in is stunning, rolling mountains - peace and quiet enveloping the overawing grounds.

It seems a bit luxurious doesn't it? So many other people, other writers, just got on with things - writing at their coffee tables, on trains, in every free moment. I don't have that kind of personal motivation. I get stuck in the uselessness of how it feels to be me. This for me is an opportunity to push myself beyond the what ifs and how comes and why don't yous. I am grateful and lucky to have it.

Writing is the way that I express myself and I believe that whatever medium you are naturally drawn to is important to nurture. I have wanted to do this for a really long time. Now what's stopping me? Aside from the fact that I am currently writing on my blog instead of continuing a short story?

As ever only myself.

Miss D xx

Friday, 26 June 2015

What I Want What You Want it Kills Us

This morning, awake at 5am I read two pieces on touring as a musician and it's implications on mental and emotional wellbeing. The first, written in The Guardian  includes standpoints from many well known names, the second is an articulate piece by an creative and intelligent woman who experienced the touring lifestyle from the sidelines and had a full psychotic breakdown. It affected me personally.

Both pieces talk about the highs and lows of touring, the wins - travel and the exhilaration of performance and the lows - erratic schedules and a distorted sense of reality amongst them. I've never been on tour, never played an instrument competently in my life so that isn't my point here. What I can relate to it is my former career, working in PR. I wanted so badly to be part of the media, to work in the music industry, to write and create and learn. I did all of those things. I had big moments. I wrote press releases knowing my words would be replicated in the paper the next day. I supervised interviews. I stood at the side of the stage while bands I loved performed. I scheduled journalist meetings. And, although not to the extent that I craved, I travelled. 

I worked in the industry always thinking the next big thing was around the corner. What had begun to take it's toll with me was the insecurity of it all - working for days or weeks on a project, planning the release, hounding the media only to open the papers the next days with a heart sinking feeling as you found nothing. Some accounts were of course more reliable than others. Some I was even really good at: setting up media partnerships, running successful campaigns. After each win I'd coming crashing down - realising that clients and journalists would always want more. In a day I could be shining from getting coverage to Tatler then crying in the toilets because I knew it was not enough - and not enough was never ending. In our tiny office I'd feel like I was coming out of my skin, restless to not be sitting at desk anymore. 

When I landed a dream account working on a film festival I thought I was made.  That account broke me in so many ways - shitty press calls, demanding distributors, clients who dropped bombshells like sweeties.  What it made me realise more than anything was that it wasn't worth it. It felt like you could flog yourself to death and no-one would blink. Hyperbole of course. It wasn't what I wanted anymore. It wasn't what I needed. 

Fast forward to now. I teach English to teenagers and I love it. I laugh so many times in a day. I come home and cook watch TV and movies. I love my friends and family and spend time with them as a much happier person. I write stories. I do yoga. I want a puppy more than anything. I'm still on my medication. I actually realised that I needed medication, that I wasn't just fighting in my own head. I was only able to do that when I became more grounded and I was only able to become more grounded when I left the industry. 

When I think about my depression and how long it went undiagnosed for I used to wonder how I stuck at it PR as long as I did. It was for the highs. I'll always remember them. That's why I can understand the touring lifestyle, it makes sense to me. Just like PR people are eager to see the glamour, the privileges, the big moments. And just like PR those come at a price. 

Personally I have another investment - I am completely in love with a wonderfully talented musician who is going to spend a lot of the next year on tour. Unlike my own experience of misguidedly working in an industry that wasn't right for me I know that music is right for him. Love makes me feel like I want to hug someone all the time to make sure that they are ok. I want him to have the things that work for me. I want to cook him nice food, have a nice place to live, get proper sleep and fresh air. I also want him to play music and be happy, I just worry that those two things pull each other apart. 

I know one thing though - I'll be here. I hope that my own experiences can keep him grounded in reality. 

I also hope that some of that at least makes sense. 

Miss D xx 

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

The Everyday Yay!

Hello friends. We all need cheering on a daily basis - that's not something I just attribute to anxiety or depression or another mental illness. It's how we are. We need to support each other.

Here, everyday, you can find something to be happy about. This is not trivialising the anguish you might be in - simply taking a moment to reflect and relieve it. 

Today's daily YAY! 

Replace this: 

With this: 

It's ok to not be ok.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Write Now

I have a complicated relationship with writing.

Right now I'm trying to write a new short story and the trouble is, the trouble has always been, that it has to be bad before it comes good. This is why, for many years in the throes of depression I wrote diaries by the ton load, but I hated my own words. Sometimes I would scribble them out just so I wouldn't have to see them. Now it's the most useful thing, because I can look back and understand how I was feeling given my mental state. I don't feel angry at how poorly expressed my thoughts are, I feel sympathy for my younger self and sad that it took so long for me to get the help I needed.

Whoever you are and wherever you are, writing helps.

As for my story? Never confuse a single failure with a final defeat.