Today feels quite painful. It’s not a very catchy first sentence is it? Today isn’t hideous or unbearable or torturous. I don’t want to die. But it’s painful. And that is okay. Part of the normal human experience. A sure sign that I am still alive. I’m becoming quite the connoisseur of emotions, perceiving the nuances of the spectrum of feelings available to us. Apparently many people (presumably, from context, this applies particularly to people with psychiatric illness) fear feeling a particular emotion because it is too overwhelming. For me, I cannot bear the sadness of grief. But I am starting to. To allow myself to feel that emotion, whilst knowing I can survive it, that it will not completely overwhelm me. I think….. I hope.
In the last two or three months, I have experienced quite a lot in terms of endings, and hence of grief. My partner broke up with me. My year of intensive therapy (DBT) finished. I had to say goodbye to the people who, give or take, I have sat in a room with for 2 hours every week and shared my journey with. The final loss was rocking up to my occupational health appointment 2 weeks ago. I went along in a fairly mundane state of mind. I predicted that I would moan about my mental health, they would write a report saying that I have a long term health condition and recommending a stress risk assessment or similar and I would go on my merry way. However, having completed their mental health screening questionnaire, the OH assessor told me that I was severely depressed and sent me home for an early shower.
Hence….. free fall. So many important parts of my life gone. I feel……. it’s hard to describe. Like when a lift drops suddenly and your stomach seems to catch up with the news a fraction of a second later than the rest of you. Like the feeling when you’re falling asleep and are suddenly pulled to wakefulness by the plummeting sensation.
I don’t know what I have done in the last two weeks. Things have happened, I’m sure. I think I’ve functioned pretty well. I don’t recall being bored. But, essentially, I feel like a jelly fish (hence the picture). I have no fixed shape, I float at the mercy of the currents, without any obvious direction or purpose. I feel fragile, unprotected, translucent, barely there.
I am not, technically, a mentally ill person anymore. I am not somebody’s partner. I am not (at present) a teacher. So, to reinvent an Eddie Izzard quote, this IS a game of “Who the fuck am I?” [If you do not know this quote, or indeed if you are in anyway depressed whatsoever, please now stop reading and google ‘Death Star Canteen’ – your life will be enriched].
“Quick!” says one part of my brain, reading all of the above, “let’s leap into action and become a better person, live the life you imagine!” (and other naff inspirational quotes, which will at some point be turned into a decal stuck on a classroom wall). But another part of my brain swiftly counters with the reality of what I can actually manage right now…….and that is *sigh* not anywhere near what I would like.
So, what is the moral of today’s story? That things never quite end up how you expect. I didn’t think that DBT ending would be quite like this. It doesn’t feel triumphant. It doesn’t feel devastating. More a quiet sadness. Has it changed my life? The jury is still out. I don’t feel radically different to how I was a year ago. I still feel, fundamentally, like the same person. But it has changed me. Aside from the fact that I am now an annoying twat who makes all her classes start each lesson with mindfulness practice and keeps suggesting that people ‘radically accept’ things, whilst offering them ‘level 4 validation’, it has helped. A relationship ending tested this in one of the most brutal ways possible for me. And I survived. I cried. I ate chocolate (all of the chocolate). I drank endless cups of tea made by endless friends. I went to work. I went to Wales (the place I always run to – thanks, yet again, to G and to K for liking me when I don’t much like myself). I watched the whole of Cracker (again). I ate a fair bit of soup. And it was fucking desperate at times. But I survived, more-or-less intact.
So, without great fanfare, but with quiet satisfaction, I tick off #83: Complete DBT.