IN REARVIEW // June 2017

Cactus family - June 2017

I fly back from Spain on the first of the month and as the plane descends, sadly, so does my mood. We land safely, but the world comes crashing down around me in the next few days.

I completely fail to see it coming and it has me in a headlock before I have the chance to dodge. For three long weeks it holds me in its grip. The darkness is a stark and painful contrast to the light and laughter of preceding weeks. Everything turns to chaos: I feel like another person; completely out of control and very afraid. 

I am lucky to be surrounded by professionals who try to support me - to keep me upright and steady - and to help me find my way, but the tools they have to offer feel like tiny teaspoons of water in the face of a roaring forest blaze. None of my usual strategies help to tame the flames. I am overwhelmed by them - overpowered - and I begin to self-combust.

Everything unravels so quickly. I fall apart.

I have an encounter with a paramedic who tells me I am "neither an accident or emergency;" that I'm "just getting myself worked up;" suggests I should probably get back out of his ambulance. It turns out he is wrong - people have died with better blood levels than mine - but his words take on new meaning and I hear them in my head, again and again, a constant loop inside my brain: "You are neither an accident nor an emergency. You are neither an accident nor an emergency. Even at your poorliest, you aren't important enough." His words become symbolic: a perfect illustration of how frustrated and fed-up with me everyone is. Believe me, I feel it just as much.

It is messy - as it always is - and this time I fail to hide it; other people caught up in the wreckage. It is like a bomb gone off with no warning, when everything had seemed so at peace, and we are floored by it - none of us quite sure how to scramble to our feet. 

But then, as quickly as it arrived, the turmoil seems to cease. I wake up one morning and feel distinctly more like 'me'. As unexpectedly as it appeared, the storm clears and the cloud breaks. The skies are by no means blue, but they have turned from thunder-bolts-and-lightening to manageably-grey. I go to sleep in the darkest depths of winter and wake up in the turning of spring. It is by no means perfect, but it is enough of an improvement to feel like a miracle relief after the distress of the last few weeks. I feel like a different person: one whose familiar coping strategies mysteriously begin to work; who has more tools than teaspoons to slowly fight the blaze; who suddenly has some sense of choice and control once again. It is a surprising transformation, but I certainly don't complain. 

The rest of the month is spent picking up the pieces: allowing my body to rebuild itself again and trying to be gentle with my brain. I struggle with sleep and another physically-mental problem that won't give me a break, but it is a world of improvement on previous weeks. I have energy; can think clearly; can go places and do things; can engage - truly engage - with people once again!

I go to my outdoors group: build camp-fires and fences and relationships in the woods. I reconnect with friends: drink cocktails; eat dinner; have coffee with a lecturer from my university days; see 'Wonder Woman' in the cinema and 'Videotape' on stage. I have a big, scary CPA meeting that actually goes okay. I spend lots of time with family - BBQs and Sunday dinners and Spanish-inspired feasts, marking birthdays and Father's Day and pretend-house-warming days. I go to writing group and feel like all I do is write for days: blog posts and emails; stories and poems; requests, applications and complaints. I go to a new church (using 'support' for something positive for a change!); start a new medication; meet my uncle's new puppy; discover a new cafe and visit it repeatedly for days.  

As the month draws to a close, things feel good - certainly better, anyway. There is a fearful sense of waiting-for-the-next-storm-to-hit, but I try to push those thoughts away. I focus instead on the here and the now; the present; today; try to cling on to the things that feel a little more settled; a little more peaceful; a little bit better; and, for now, a lot more 'okay'. 

Take-off over Alicante - June 2017
Hazelhead Woods - June 2017
Vegan birthday dessert - June 2017
Sensory modulation kit - June 2017
New spaniel puppy - June 2017
Vegan, gluten-free pancake breakfast - June 2017
Ice cream at Collieston beach - June 2017
10ft Tall Theatre's Videotape at UnderDog Aberdeen - June 2017
Branching Out - Kettle fire - June 2017
Bonobo Cafe Aberdeen - June 2017
Branching Out environmental art - June 2017
Awkward selfie - June 2017


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