In terms of my Mental Health, I feel I’m in a cycle that has probably repeated itself a couple of times during the time that I’ve been writing this blog. From that point of view, there’s not much more I can offer (unless anyone reading this has any ideas?…I’m open to suggestions!) as regards my own experiences. And I have enough humility that I won’t attempt to write anything more objective – I strongly believe that Mental Illness is something unique, and very personal, to each and every person unlucky enough to go through it.
That said, although my absence from here might suggest otherwise, I’ve continued to write regularly. My writing has become so important to me since I’ve been ill. Never a ‘talker’, I quickly had to find other ways in which to express myself. Writing was the most obvious of these, and in the early days of my illness (or at least when it became an apparent ‘issue’, as opposed to a case of someone who was perhaps just a little socially inept) I merely made lists. Lists of symptoms, lists of thoughts and feelings, lists of what I wanted from people, lists of reasons to live, lists of reasons not to live. Only later, did my writing develop into this blog, something a bit more therapeutic, cathartic.
Anyway, in an effort to improve a massive breakdown in communication between my Mum and I, I’ve started sending her an email most days. Sometimes I ‘just write’. That is to say, I empty my mind on to the ‘page’. Sometimes I ask her things I would struggle to say aloud. Sometimes I just attach a link to something light-hearted or funny I’ve seen that day on Facebook, or Twitter. Most of the time, she writes back. We’ve called this newfound dialogue between us ‘The 9pm Letters’, mainly because I tend to write my emails around this time each evening.
I’m not willing to post on here anything my Mum writes to me, but I thought it’d make for a good running theme if I were to post some of what I write to her. So this is the email that was the birth of ‘The 9pm Letters’ (note that, when a third party comes into the letter, I’ve protected their identity by inserting their relationship to me between square brackets):
16th March 2016
Thought I’d try writing to you as a distraction this evening.
First, I want you to know how much I love you. I know I’ve not been easy to cope with in recent years, and there are no words to describe how much I appreciate everything you have done/continue to do. Although Dad has always handled the practical issues a bit better, he lacks any kind of understanding. You’ve always been more ‘aware’. Maybe its a Mum thing, but you knew when I was SHing in the early days, and what was happening when my weight fell off, and you know what is happening now. As far as that is concerned, [sister] suggested making an appointment with [Dr], since these things are a bit easier understood by women…maybe she’s right…I’ll see what tomorrow brings.
Despite what is happening now, I think I’m more productive than I’ve been in a long time. Studying has given me something to focus on and added a bit of structure to my days…perhaps its what I’m using to avoid dealing with other things, but maybe that’s the way it has to be for now. [OU tutor] told me yesterday that, should I continue with my studies next year, I’d be eligible to have her support again which reassured me as I had been wondering about that.
And then there’s Henry! I never thought I’d ever love a dog as much as I love him. Although hard work, he is the best company I could ask for on a day to day basis. I love taking him to the beach, and running on the sand with him, and I love cuddling him while he sits on top of my legs, chewing on something.
I’ve been speaking to [good friend] about basing myself in London for a few days, and travelling to them from there. I think being somewhere familiar will make it a bit easier to be ‘away’ and I also think it would be nice for you and I to have some time together. She thinks that its a good idea…we just need to decide when would be best. Realistically, I’d say the back end of the year (at the earliest). Between the Baby, Diamond Wedding Anniversary and [cousin’s] wedding, this year is pretty full already! I’d like to add that this is precisely the sort of thing I have a rainy day fund for, so it would be of no cost to you.
I can’t think of anything else I have to tell you at the moment.
Mail me back, if you feel like it.