Poorly Tuned Radio

This week has been long. I crashed again. It seems to be that I have one good week followed by one bad one and then round we go again. I suppose that’s still progress. My patchwork for the week is a mixture of black and white, days where I tried that didn’t work out and days where I didn’t even try. Still, even my bad days are better than my bad days of a few months ago. It’s difficult for someone as impatient as me to focus on that. I want all my days to be good, for bad days to barely even be blips on the radar.

It is safe to say that I have spent this week on my living room sofa hiding under the blanket. I don’t want to look at anything. There is a poorly tuned radio playing in the background, occasionally I can make out snippets of meaning. At first, it seemed to be rather random, I’d hear little bits about university work. About getting a job. About spending time with people. As the week has gone on though, the thing that has come back time and time again is write. I’ll hear one or other of my fictional characters crying out for attention that for months I’ve been too afraid to give them.

For this next week, that is the thing I want to focus on. I need to write. Above everything else, that is the thing that helps me. 

Curled on the Sofa

Two key features are different this week. The first is that it is indeed a Friday. The second is that I have had a really good week. There are six coloured squares on my patchwork and tomorrow I’ll be able to add a seventh, it’s a new record. I like the patchwork, it helps me take things a day at a time and keeps everything in perspective a little more. Besides that it gives me an excuse to listen to music for a few minutes every day while I sew.

As I said last week, I have decided to stop worrying about the glass around me in favour of exploring the snow globe itself instead. Inside my snow globe cottage there is one room with which I am familiar, the library. Even within the library, which is a vast tunnelling network in the basement, I still tend to stick to the same cosy corner reading stories that are simple and require little thought. Occasionally I’ll tiptoe across into the fantasy section and lose myself for a while in somebody else’s universe. Once those times were a common thing, now they’re relatively rare. It’s only now that I’m pushing past some of the fear that I can let myself miss reading.

It is fear that holds the doors of my cottage closed. I stand outside them trembling, my fingers curling around the door handle then, sometimes after moments, sometimes after hours, I run back to the sanctuary of my library.

This week I pushed past that. I chose the easiest door, the one with the least resistance when I touched the handle. The door to the living room. I have been in there before briefly. But those times I remained huddled by the fire, too afraid to turn and face the window. Inside the living room are thoughts of now, but also thoughts of tomorrow. The living room is a place to simply be, to think about life as it is now and the direction it will take. It is a place of observation.

I linger in the doorway filled with trepidation. On stepping inside, I take a breath and allow the door to fall closed quietly behind me. The fire is a light. A think red rug covers the old oak floorboards. Opposite the fireplace is a bay window, the curtains of which are drawn. I’m not ready to look outside just yet. Being in here is enough. The sofa is low, dark in colour and cushioned. A fleecy blanket hangs over the back of it. I sit down and tuck my feet up under myself. The living room is an open space, there is nowhere to hide.

For the first time in a long time I am open to the conflicts and criticisms in my mind. A hundred ‘not good enough’s’ a thousand ‘could do betters’. It could be overwhelming but I find, as I pull my blanket close around me, it isn’t. The reason for this is another voice, a quieter, kinder one. This is the voice that reminds me just how much I have learned in the last three years. Perhaps I’ve learned little academically, but I have learned much about mental illness. But also I’ve found Buddhism. I have learned a lot about compassion. A lot about kindness. I’ve learned more about my own ability to cope. I’ve learned to recognise that the walls fear puts around me aren’t as solid as they seem. That time was not wasted. I may not yet be where I want to be, but it is still reachable and every day I can move closer. 

Reverse Compass

I shall endeavour to update this on Friday this week as once again I missed my self-imposed deadline.

The week has been long and the white squares on my patchwork mounted up rapidly. What I am trying to focus on is that the last two squares were coloured. The streak of bad days has been broken. Of course it went on longer than I would have wished for. I dream of a time when I can go weeks on end without having to add a white square but I suppose I have to have patience with myself. One of the quotes I want to ink onto a white square later is this one: It doesn’t matter how many times you fall, what matters is how many times you get back up.

Unpleasant as it has been, this week has brought my attention back to the snow globe. I spend so much time wishing myself out of it, but still it serves a purpose. It keeps me safe. That is why whenever I get too close to shattering the glass I run and hide. This week turned my attention to the fact that I have barely explored this snow globe of mine. Most of my time is spent cuddled up in the library within my snow globe cottage. Hiding in a safety net within a safety net. Perhaps before I can shatter the glass around me, I need to explore the snow globe itself.

Lee’s exercise for this week will help with that I think. It is called ‘Reverse Compass’ and consists of me going in the opposite direction to the one my mind pushes me towards. Thus far it has made me feel on edge and uncomfortable, but unless I step out of the comfort of the library, how can I expect things to change? Until I have explored the dark and hidden places in this snow globe of my mind, how will I ever be able to face the outside? To stop hiding from the world, I need to stop hiding from myself. 



Stumbling

Again not Friday. This time my only excuse is being at low ebb yesterday evening. Today has been long and rather unpleasant, though that is no one’s fault but my own. It is however the only white square to be added to my patchwork since last week, so I shall try to focus on that instead.

Although there was no vanishing glass this week, things have slowly been improving. I have more energy, but choosing where to direct it has been something of a challenge. I am trying so hard to keep a middle ground and not to swing to the extreme of needing to do anything and everything I’ve ever dreamt of right now. It is more difficult, some of the walls in the maze of my mind have crumbled and I am flooded with ideas, but even simple ones like the books I want to read are overwhelming because I simply cannot get through them fast enough. There is still a gap between what I now have the motivation and desire to do and what I have the capacity to do.

Lee is helping with that. In the last two therapy sessions we have picked an area of my life to focus on instead of trying to rush and cram in everything. To some degree that has succeeded. Last week’s area was family and I did make more of an effort to engage with them. This week’s has been education and I have given some time over to looking at my notes. At the same time I have been wildly overtaken by the ever growing list of things that I ‘should’ be doing. Things I want to be doing. I suspect that is the reason why today I have ended up calling a write off. I crashed, so today I am letting myself feel rubbish and tomorrow I will pick myself up and continue. Perhaps at a slightly slower pace if I can help myself 

Vanishing Glass

It isn’t Friday. Admittedly I was busy on Friday and then I was in Suffolk for the weekend with Dad and Miranda. So despite the break from routine I don’t feel too bad, partly that is my emotions still being somewhat divorced from my mind.

I’ve had a long week and felt pretty lousy for most of it. Unusually lousy in this case is in physical terms rather than mental terms. Despite that, with the exception of Monday, I have been up every morning and done some things. I think my mind automatically focuses on the things I’ve left undone or the things that I could have done better if it weren’t for the snow globe. I haven’t done a lot of biochemistry. I also haven’t done that much writing. I’m still failing at keeping in touch with people and spending quality time with Arlo or Pearl and Tamlin. Those things sit like a hard rock in the back of my mind, the snow globe protects me from being overwhelmed by the feelings of not being good enough.

On a more positive note, I have started making myself a recovery patchwork blanket. Every good day I’ll stich on a colourful square and every bad day I’ll stich on a white square. I think I might add quotes to the white and plain coloured squares in fabric pen. The idea is that I’ll keep going until I’m ready to go back to university. That way I’ll have a cosy blanket to remind me how far I’ve come and to keep me warm when the heating breaks, as it’s bound to do.

I might not have been fully present with Pearl and Tamlin, but I was there. There was a moment when all five of us were standing inside a hollow tree, winter sunlight shining in through round holes where branches used to be, that I did feel really there. It was like everything suddenly sharped and all the colours grew more intense. As if in that moment the glass of my snow globe melted away.

I am still on a ledge part way up a cliff, I am still crawling slowly upwards and maybe those moments of the glass vanishing will happen more often.