It's almost a year since my life got flipped-turned upside down.
But this isn't the Fresh Prince, and a stint in Bel Air wasn't what was needed. Unless Bel-Air is code for all expenses paid psych hospital. In which case, sign me up, baby.
If I could share one thing about this whole time, it is that while I may seem perfectly fine these days, there is a lot going on behind the scenes to make me appear that way. Like the old man standing behind the curtain, furiously pumping levers and spinning dials to keep up appearances as the Wizard of Oz, I'm behind my own curtain squashing down negative self-talk and assumptions that everyone hates me, that I don't deserve to live, to look somewhat 'normal'.
And I tell ya, all that behind the scenes work is fucking exhausting. It's a daily run uphill. Through quicksand. With concrete boots on. (My knack for hyperbole seems unaffected)
The 'spoonie' theory of chronic illness (which I'm well familiar with, thanks to a chronic pain condition I've had since primary school) can be applied to chronic mental illness, too. I only have so many spoons of energy to use on a particular day and some days, just existing takes up all of them.
Some rare days, I have spoons to spare. Sometimes I'll save up all my spoons, and even do a sneaky borrow from the next day to have a night out. It means I will spend most of the next few days in bed, and parenting with the help of Netflix parental controls, but you gotta do what you gotta do.
If I talk to you and seem distracted, or I don't remember something you said a few days ago, it's because at the same time as trying to focus on you, I'm trying to ignore my own automatic thoughts that pop up. I'm working away behind the curtain. These shoulder devil thoughts intrude on the most mundane of conversations.
Chatting with a school mum about the weather:
"She doesn't really like you. She is just talking to you because she has nothing else to do."
Tricky or Bobbin become upset at something minor:
"You are a terrible mother. Your kids would be better off without you."
I forget to defrost meat for dinner:
"You suck. You are the worst person to have ever lived."
Filtering those messages out isn't easy, but I'm getting better at it. I do a quick fact check (all the while hoping I'm not missing too much of what you're saying): Does it matter if this person doesn't like me? Am I shit mum if my kids are fed, bathed and loved? Am I the worst person to have ever lived? Really? Have I considered genocide? No, then I'm not the worst person, let's move on.
I can feel myself coming back more and more in some areas, but not in others. The urge to write again has been stewing for a while, but so far every time I sit down and bang out a few sentences on the keyboard those intrusive thoughts come back.
"Why do you bother to write when no one will read?"
"This is terrible. You can't form a sentence."
"Just don't bother. You can't fuck up if you don't try."
And I've been listening to those thoughts a lot, as the dozens of half finished blog posts languishing in my drafts folder can attest.
But this shit is not linear. Just as everyone has ups and downs, so too does this recovery process. Don't say journey or I'll vomit.
So I keep trying. Pulling the levers. Spinning the tops. Pushing the buttons. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain, it's still me. I'm working hard.