Well, yet again it’s been a while since I posted. There are reasons for that. Some better than others. The eve of my 34th birthday seems like a good place to pick up again. Usually, I dislike my birthday far more than I dislike New Year’s Day, in terms of punitive self reflection and acknowledgments of my year of fail. This year I’ve been making a very conscious effort not to do that. It’s not generally like me to be relentlessly positive about the (fairly) arbitrary passing of a year. I’m sure a couple of my friends are actually pretty sick of hearing that it’s my birthday tomorrow. I haven’t even attempted to organise a celebration for a couple of years, but this year I am. THere’s a reason for that…
I haven’t posted for a little while and things have been sparse. I think that’s mostly because I started psychotherapy and have been engaging with it as fully as I can. When I have to spend that hour a week being as gut wrenchingly honest with myself as I have to be for it to be effective, it gets harder to let it all out on here I guess. Some of it’s so private and difficult for me to talk about that when I say those things to my psychotherapist I can’t look at her. A lot of the time it’s the first time I’ve ever said those things out loud. I can be pretty blasé about the historical facts with people, but talking about how those things have made me feel is another story. This time around psychotherapy is a lot more helpful. My therapist challenges me and helps me to reflect, but she has empathy. She reassures me that the way I feel is valid and understandable. That my shame is something about the way other people have made me feel. Sometimes she closes her eyes while I talk and there’s a sharp intake of breath. The first time it happened I thought it was boredom, or that I’d said something stupid but she explained it was because she understood the pain I was in. That it was so intense that it was hard for her to try and feel it herself. Despite how difficult it is, I am feeling the benefit of understanding how I’ve arrived at this place more easily. In time I’ll start to accept it. It’s already helping me take control of other parts of my life because I’m starting to understand why I feel the way I do more.
I’m still attending my art group and my creativity is moving in the right direction finally. Still no massive masterpiece to show, but I’m inching towards it again. I’m drawing more, and it’s not such a grinding chore to get started. Being around creative people on a regular basis is helping so much with that. It’s not just creativity, it’s support and the quiet calm of gentle socialising. In my darkest days, I was so isolated. I wouldn’t see anyone except doctors or support workers for days on end. I rattled around in my personal prison without the means of liberating myself. Now, once a week, I get to go and sit in a room with lovely people and paint. It doesn’t matter if my drawing isn’t perfect, or if I’m not feeling so awesome and just want to sit in a corner with my headphones on and have a battle with my sketch book. The comfort of being alone but still around company is immeasurable.
It’s been a year of such change… some of it has been really difficult. With my increasing emotional fortitude I’ve been able to get rid of some of the more dysfunctional relationships I have with people, because I no longer feel grateful if someone deems to be my friend. I’ve put up with a lot of things that have made me feel like shit, because, well, I’m me and I’m pushing my luck having friends. It’s still something I have to actively remind myself isn’t a valid or helpful way of treating myself. It’s keeping me in a cycle which makes it harder to handle my depression. It’s work, but it’s going to be worth it.
In short, yes I am celebrating my 34th. I’m not looking back on this year and rueing my lack of a university place (yet) or being back at work (yet) because I this year I have battled benefit sanctions, crap medication, bad friendships and the level of self-hatred that stopped me looking in a mirror because I wanted to cry. I have engaged in therapy, kept a regular attendance at an art group and survived it. My bed has stopped being my permanent place of residence. When I put makeup on at the moment, it’s not because I have to see normal people who I know and worry that they’re going to know how are I’ve fallen. This doesn’t work all the time, but these days or strength are becoming more frequent. I still have a long walk ahead of me, and there will be times I stumble, times I relapse. I am celebrating my 34th because for the first time in years, I’m not drowning in what could have been, I’m fucking proud of what I’ve done.