Venturing Outside

This week has been a strange one, I ventured beyond my snow globe cottage and walked as far as it is possible to go without breaking the glass wall between myself and the rest of the world. I had enough energy to venture into the woods at edge of the glass and to explore places I had previously only visited in the safety of my library.

While I still feel disconnected from the world outside, I feel as though the walls inside my mind are at least beginning to thin. Rather than being a mind that has a body, I am a mind within a body. I feel more connected. My emotions might not have completely escaped the jar in which I keep them, but are at the very least leaking through. I am no longer numb. I am no longer adrift, I am anchored to my physical self if not to the world.

I started Jujitsu. I took Arlo with me, although I’m not sure he’ll be going back. In a way I was grateful for my snow globe in that scenario, despite being in physical contact with other people, I still felt disconnected and as such the anxiety was less than it might have been. As was the self-consciousness. I enjoyed it as much as I am capable of enjoying things in this muted state.

ACT therapy was the other new addition to my week. It gave me a different perspective that is for certain. I have some hope that given time, with ACT and my list, I will begin to dissolve the wall between myself and reality. Then when I step outside the safety of my snow globe cottage I’ll be able to walk without hitting a barrier. I’ll be able to care.

Much as I have hope, I am still afraid. I am afraid because I feel okay, because I have some energy. I am afraid to hope because I have been here before. It is reminiscent of being on a ledge part way up a cliff. The slightest breeze could tip my snow globe back over and send me tumbling down into darkness again. In the past, that is exactly what has happened. There is still a long way up before I reach level ground. If I move too fast, the harnesses won’t be secure, the snow globe will slip out and I will end up falling with it; I’ll be back to being both disconnected and lost at the bottom of a deep pit. 

Letter to my Travelling Companion

Unusually, rather a lot has happened over the past week. I have ventured out of the safety of my snow globe cottage in order to meet my new ACT therapist. For the first time I think I have found someone I can talk to easily so I have hope that maybe this will work. While outside, I also made arrangements to start jujitsu with my brother next week. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for the past three years. Back in the living room, I started sketching out some designs for a ragdoll faery I want to make. My days are slowly filling up and even though I am still trapped inside my snow globe, at least now not all my time is spent in the library.

There are bay windows in the living room of my snow globe cottage now. I am sitting on the window seat and if I look out, I can see straight through the curved glass to the outside world. I am still isolated, but it doesn’t feel quite so far away as it once did. Looking out, in this moment, I feel some hope. So I’m going to do something a little bit different, I’m going to write a letter. A letter to Arlo, who knows better than most people how lonely it is to live in a pocket universe.

Dear Arlo,

Nearly two years ago Tamlin told me that when he grew up he wanted to be you. When I told you that, what I didn’t say is that I do too. You always had a different kind of presence to most people, especially people our age. Like you knew exactly who you were and you completely accepted it. I know I’ve joked about how you’re better than everyone else….it isn’t a joke. With you there is no pretence, there is no self-obsession, you have nothing to prove. You are effortlessly good in a way that other people can only aspire to.
Most people aren’t like you. They don’t think like you. For a long time it didn’t seem like you noticed that, or if you did it never bothered you. I envied you that. Living in a different world to everyone else is lonely and sometimes it hurts. Sometimes I wish I could trade in seeing the world differently, trade in being ‘special’ just to belong. I know how it feels to sit in a room full of people and feel like you’re completely alone.

Our world is so different to most people around us. Mum, Tim, Narnie, Dad, all of our siblings and cousins, they are all unique, but they still belong in a way that we don’t. I doubt we see things exactly the same way, but I think the format we’re written in is the same. We’re digital, everyone else is analogue, they just haven’t caught up yet. I know that’s no consolation when you’re feeling miserable and wishing that you could find a world to belong in because wherever home is, it isn’t here.

Once you’ve finished school, you’ll have a chance to meet more interesting people. Chances are some of them will live in our world. A lot of them won’t, but of them, some of them will still recognise how special you are and the differences won’t matter as much as they do now. Besides, you are not alone, we belong together. We can navigate this world together and for sure we’ll pick up other people on the way.


With my Nose Against the Glass

New Year has come and gone, everyone is slowly coming out of the post-Christmas lull. It is supposed to be a time for new beginnings and resolutions and moving forward. To me it doesn’t feel like that. 2012 I was determined would be better than 2011. I was disappointed. 2013 I didn’t think could be worse than 2012, I was determined to get my life back on track. That came to nothing. Last year I was supposed to spend New Year’s Eve doing all night Tara chants at the Buddhist centre I then lived in. I managed one session before hiding in my room and falling asleep. Having expectations seems to only end in disappointment.

This time of year brings home just how much time I’ve lost to depression. I should be graduating this year. Instead I’m taking another year out and still have three years left of University if I ever want to get my degree. A New Year is supposed to be full of hope, but I feel hopeless. I can’t get that time back. It would hurt less if I felt like I had achieved something, but I haven’t. I’m no closer to clawing my way out of this pit than I was three years ago.

I ventured outside of my snow globe cottage, I pressed my face against the glass and saw what I was missing. Somehow that still isn’t enough to give me the energy to pierce a hole through this protective bubble and clamber out. 

Living in the Library

Inside the cottage within a snow globe, there is a library. That is where I am now. The laws of physics don’t apply to the insides of the insides of snow globes, it’s a huge library. The kind of library that even if you read every day of your life for twelve lifetimes you couldn’t finish all of the books. Like every library it’s divided up into fiction and non-fiction. Into classics and thrillers and chic-lit. I’m not devouring Biochemistry tomes. I’m not in the classics section either. Nor am I located in the fantasy isles. I’m sitting on a bean bag cushion skim-reading my way through thousands of shelves of young adult drivel. Or I say drivel, some of it is rather good, but the vast majority is overdramatized, poorly written nonsense that I’m reading simply because it’s easy.

Here I don’t even have to think. It’s relaxing, but without the happy connotations. In this corner of the library immersed in words and easy to follow plot-lines I can just be.  

Occasionally while I’m reading, my mind does begin to wander. Not too far or too deeply, just a little bit. Enough to return to the idea that I am not a Main Character. I am a badly drawn character, the kind that never had a chance to come alive. I know characters like this, I’ve written them. They are made up of a handful of ‘supposed tos’ and ‘traits I want them to have’. They’re clunky, they never have their own voice, they never choose their own direction and they never feel three dimensional. I have to make all their decisions for them because they’re not real enough to do that for themselves. I am that kind of character. It is as though someone has written a list of ‘likes’ for me and I have just passively accepted to them. I am the kind of character whose interests the author would mention in passing but never delve into or develop. I am the kind of character whose emotions are called out by name but never fully experienced. I am the kind of character essentially used as a plot device in someone else’s plot.   

I don’t know if I like biochemistry or if it’s more that I want to like it. I don’t even know if I like to write, it’s more that I have to do it because the words demand to be released from my head.

Perhaps in the end, the reason that I am a badly drawn character is the same as the reason I am sitting in the young adult section of my snow globe library: it requires no effort.