In preparation for going legit and writing on my next passport application ‘freelance writer’ (yes, it’s happening), I visited my much forgotten blog – SPOUT. It had expired, a few days ago to be precise and with that expiration was the realisation of what 2015 had been for me and my long suffering family.
Once I paid my hosting fee to WordPress and took a look at my last entry, “Merry bloody Christmas’ December 2014, I read, not the end of a difficult time but the beginning of troubles which were to plague me for the last 14 months or so.
I thought in my naivety, that being diagnosed with a chronic blood cancer and then being lucky enough to have a pill which would help me stay alive would be enough. It wasn’t. All the anxiety and depression which had resulted from watching my mother die from ravaging bowel cancer was now compounded by the fact that I had a life threatening disease with a range of juicy complications. There is that horrible feeling of being cheated, of thinking ‘why me?’ Your anger simmers, your mood deflates and becomes withdrawn. You lash out at those you love, you become a hypochondriac (think a stockier, ginger version of Woody Allen and you’ll get somewhere near), you drink vats of red wine because you think you are a connoisseur but actually it’s to help you sleep and to stop you brain tick, tick, ticking. Life becomes an endless round of Doctors waiting rooms and health scares. Blood test, eye tests, heart tests and x-rays become the usual and throughout you try to keep it together, put your happy face on and go about your daily business.
Eventually you realise that something is not right and your reach out to get some mental me time. So that’s what I’ve been doing. It’s another Doctors waiting room, another payment to Medicare but in this more enlightened age of mental health, I wasn’t not going to do what I needed to do for my sake and my families. So every few weeks I go and see Dr.G and his penetrating eyes. I can’t say it was a particularly pleasant experience at first – I had a lot to get off my chest, but over the months as you take on board the counsel, talk things out and start to find some perspective, you get to a point of acceptance.
Acceptance how? :
1) Defusion: distancing from, and letting go of, unhelpful thoughts, beliefs and memories 2) Acceptance: making room for painful feelings, urges and sensations, and allowing them to come and go without a struggle 3) Contact with the present moment: engaging fully with your here-and-now experience, with an attitude of openness and curiosity
OK, honestly?, I’m still working on this, but I do find when those little fucking voices in your head start jabbering that just saying the mantra ‘acceptance’ is enough to keep the sods at bay for a time.
You may think that last year was a lost one, but that is not a true reflection. My boys continued to blossom and my wife continued to annoy, no sorry I meant, amaze me. We moved in to a beautiful new home and my undergrad study continued with success. We travelled to some wondrous places and enjoyed great times with friends and family. There was and is a tremendous amount to be grateful for and that for someone looking into our life, all they can see is a man with first world problems, but mental health isn’t that selective. Dark moments are very dark, your inward thoughts are hidden by your outward façade. It can be crippling and it certainly crippled my drive to bang on in this blog.
But now I’m back, feeling mentally better than I have in a long, long time. I’m not waiting to finish my degree (we’ll get there when we get there kids), I want to get back out into the adult world, earn a crust from writing and to start to enjoying life again, try to remember what happiness tastes like and forget what anger feels like. It’s not going to be easy, life just doesn’t work that way but I feel life will become an adventure again and not a chore.
PS: If you know of anyone who wants some freelance writing work done, just send them my way. Ta. B