Even though it's Sunday, I decided to get up at 6am so I could squeeze in as much work as possible before heading to London for the afternoon. I was sluggish but incredibly proud of my motivation and industrious ambition. As I made my way to the shower, I mentally rehearsed the discussions I would have later in the day, boasting of my incredible feat and patting myself on the back while criticizing others for the opportunities they had wasted by sleeping away those few extra hours in their warm, cozy beds. Then I reached the end of the hallway and discovered that anything not permanently affixed to a wall or floor had been removed from the kitchen and bathroom and were now occupying a significant portion of the living room. Turns out my father had taken it upon himself to execute a thorough, and in his words, "much overdue" cleaning. He was even rearranging some of the furniture to optimize space. He smiled and wished me good morning as I, wearing my boxer shorts and a dubious look on my face, struggled to remain upright - still half asleep and barely able to string together enough words to be coherent. Seems he had been up since three and was still going strong. Now he is outside shovelling the driveway. Touche, old man. Touche. He stole my thunder but proved once again why I continue to be inspired by him. I love you, you old bastard.
Sunday song of ambition: The Irish Rovers "Wasn't That A Party".
After forty-four hours or so of being awake, I finally crashed last night. Fully dressed in underwear, socks, jeans, t-shirt, sweater, and even my slippers. It must have been a restless night because I had to untangle myself from the sheets and blankets which had me trapped like a cocoon. Similar to a fever, the unbreakable grip of constant fear and anxiety has broken, but it's not all clear skies and rainbows yet. I am now slipping between multiple states and have already had one panic attack and broke down crying twice, overwhelmed by unprovoked bouts of grief.
For the most part, I haven't left the house all week unless I had to, and I couldn't motivate myself enough to change my clothes (except for throwing on a different sweater when I took photos so people wouldn't notice) or shower (very, very yuck, I know) and I drank when I shouldn't have. I did all the things I'm not supposed to do if I want to maintain positivity and balance, and yet I've felt powerless to do otherwise. To many, I'm sure this must seem a ridiculous excuse. Just don't do it. It should be that simple. I wish it was that simple. If it was, I wouldn't spend so much time disappointed in myself.
But I'm making this morning different. I showered and put on new clothes and I'm about to focus on catching up on some of the work I've been neglecting. I don't know if I'll make it outside but at least inside, things are different. It's another start. The key word being "another" and it's a word that will be in my vocabulary the rest of my life, at least if I want to continue having one.
There is a quote by Naoki Higashida which goes "Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight" and I believe it's a sentiment that can make all the difference for anyone living with a mental disorder. I also just decided that the number eight is now my favourite number (it used to be 42, for any Douglas Adams geeks out there).
So what have we learned on a Saturday morning? Life can suck, but most importantly, it can also suck less. I know, not exactly a stellar inspiration for most, but for those who share some of my same challenges, I think you know exactly what I mean.
Saturday's sing-a-long as picked by my father: Don Williams "I Believe In Love".
As a contrast to the tone of my latest posts, I thought I would share a new poem. Something lighter and a little different than my usual fare. It's titled "The Zoo On The Bus" and I'm toying with the idea of turning it into a children's book one day. If I'm lucky, some kid might enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
It's Friday and day two of my mixed mania, anxiety fueled mini-marathon. I haven't slept since yesterday morning and my insides are in a constant state of compression, like my entire body is a damp hand towel being aggressively wrung without release. It's the same sensation I've felt lying on a hospital cart, with each passing minute of apprehension and anticipation feeling closer to an hour as I await my turn in the operating room. The difference is, these episodes don't come with a scheduled timeline. No opportunity to comfort myself with thoughts of "Just think, by this afternoon you'll be through it and it will all be over." It's more of a grin-and-bear it situation, managed as best as possible with self care and patience, until I come out the other side. I try hard to remember that I always do - or at least I always have. I remind myself that I am strong enough.
Dealing with extended periods of heightened, unrelenting anxiety is exhausting. It takes a terrible toll on your body and your mind as it wears you down from the inside. My particular affliction is commonly referred to as "rapid cycling bipolar", which means I can switch moods and states swiftly, drastically, and often. As frustrating as this can be, there are times I'm thankful I'm not locked into only one condition or another and sometimes during a transition, I occasionally catch a moment of calm and a chance to catch my breath.
So since I expect today will prove to be just as stubborn as yesterday by refusing to stop long enough for me to get my shit together, I suppose I'll have to be just as stubborn and push on. Besides, it's Friday and I prefer to reserve all my surrenders for Mondays when the very thought of the day itself can be daunting enough to drive me back into bed.
Today's song for the haven't yet slept: Creedence Clearwater Revival "Have You Ever Seen The Rain".
Woke up this morning with a lot of anxiety. Edge of panic attack type stuff. Bad dreams all night, upset stomach, the world is out to get me. OK, granted, the last one sounds kind of paranoid, and it is. My life isn't always just a coin toss between whether I love or hate myself, luckily I get a break once in a while when the anxiety becomes so overwhelming it locks all such debate out of my mind, just as it screams at me to hurry and lock all the doors in my house.
For me, there are few words in the English language that carry as much weight as that eight letter 'F' word. I have failed. I failed myself. I failed the ones I love. I failed those who depend on me. I failed to live up to my potential. I failed to be responsible. I failed to be smart enough or strong enough or even to be someone who could be loved enough. I am a failure. I tell myself it's all in my head (literally), that I am trapped temporarily in a skewed state of perception and it will pass. Ride it out and hold on until it does. Still, those thoughts of failure inspire so much fear and dread in me that sometimes I'm positive my heart is going to stop, and I'm not convinced I wouldn't welcome it.
The thing you have to recognize about fear, or any challenge you face in life, is that it can't be conquered through avoidance. You can't dig under it or sneak around it. You can't climb over it or hide from it, hoping it will pass you by. Even if you do manage to slip past it somehow, it will latch on to your back and stay with you. Wherever you go, no matter how far or how long you last, it will always be there, growing larger and bolder each day it remains. Eventually the weight of it will bring you to your knees.
Many days I like to go walking. Today I want to run. As much as I know being out and active help me both physically and mentally, I have learned that sometimes the best thing I can do is plant my feet firmly in one place and stand my ground. Tomorrow I may go for another walk but it won't be with anything clinging to my back and whispering threats in my ear.
If you are feeling overwhelmed or facing something you don't believe you can overcome, if you feel inadequate to the task at hand, then hear what I have to say and do your best to believe it. As strange as it may sound, your brain isn't always your best friend. It can deceive and mislead you. It can have its own perverse agenda and want to take control. Believe in yourself, even if it has to be the self you remember from yesterday, and stand your ground. We'll get through today and we'll do it again tomorrow if we have to. It's your brain and if it can be strong enough to bring you to your knees, you can be strong enough to stand up again.
A tune for conquering: Nine Inch Nails "Head Like a Hole".
Tiny, terse, and to the point for a titular (tee hee, I said titular) Tuesday. Not much to say, but not much is needed. At least I don't believe so.
Be good to others. Be good to yourself. Be good enough to be someone to look up to. Be someone others want to know. Be a better person. A better father, mother, sister, brother, friend, lover, husband, and wife. Do it in small ways if necessary, but be someone who tries. Believe that sometimes trying can be more important than succeeding and be prepared to fail. Be prepared to not give up. Be prepared to try again. And again. Be strong. Be truthful, especially when you know a lie would be easier. Be the person you want to be. Be the person you wanted to be at seven. Be thankful. Be respectful. Be someone who makes today a good day.
Most important of all, don't try to be someone else. Be you and be confident it will always be enough. It's where it all begins and it's the way you'll get to where you need to go.
A song to be a Tuesday: Electric Light Orchestra "Don't Bring Me Down".
Good morning, people. It's Monday and we're off to another splendid start to another splendiferous week. Actually, I have no idea how this week is going to go. I'm not even sure what splendiferous means but it sounded, well - splendiferous - so it won the description lottery this morning. Granted the other choices were "dingdackly" and "pop-poop-a-licious", both of which aren't even considered real words according to dictionary.com, so it could be argued that the whole debate was a non-starter.
But I digress.
The upcoming week is a mystery, but that's OK. Don't panic. We'll get through it together. Not knowing what's coming can be a scary thing, I know, I deal with the dread on an almost constant basis. Still, we need to remind ourselves the unknown can also deliver great things - new discoveries, pleasant surprises, and even solutions to problems that threaten to drag us down with despair, believing we're trapped with no way out. The unknown can reveal the door that leads to freedom from the pain we battle but believe we can never escape. Without the unknown, there would be no hope.
So, it's OK to be scared, but like a roller coaster, you need that moment of apprehension at the top to make the thrill of the ride possible, and if you knew what was around the next bend, you'd lose the edge it takes to make the trip worth taking. That's life. The climb to the top can be a long and tense-filled journey but it can also be one hell of a ride if you hang on.
Today, let's forget about knocking Monday and be splendiferous instead.
The song for a new start: The Pogues "Fairy Tale Of New York".
Tis a Saturday for the ages. Well, probably not, but I always look for opportunities to say things like "tis" and "for the ages" and it seemed as good a time as any to go for it.
We voted to brave the cold and make the trek to Tim Horton's for a caffeine boost and launch the morning properly. The best part is, I get to spend the day with Cheryl Holroyd, one of my favourite humans in the world. She is one of the strongest people I know and I'm thankful for the opportunity to have her in my life.
It's a Saturday, so let's start Saturdaying people. We all know how quickly Monday sneaks up, so every minute counts.
Cheryl's morning musical pick: Tina Turner "Proud Mary".
It's been a frustrating week so far but it's sunny this morning and I've already cleaned up and thrown in a load of laundry before I sat down to work, so I'm giving it my best start. Your turn Friday. Don't be a dick.
Speaking of work, I often get asked what it is I do and I usually respond with something along the lines of "consulting development websites copywriting proposals reports..." and so on, until the other person falls over drooling. I doubt I'll ever be able to succinctly relay the range of work I take on but here's a photo to show that, at the very least, I can pretend to work. Except for what is going on in the left monitor. That's "for real" work Heather Church. Promise.
And speaking of pretending, I find it ironic that considering its meaning, the word "lackadaisical" is both so long and difficult to spell.
Have a great Friday and maybe get out for a walk. I'm going to try to.
Friday's musical contribution: Roy Orbison "You Got It".
I have been trying out some different writing styles and subject matter and have at last posted my first short story online. It can be found under the aptly named Short Story section of this website and is titled "Intimate Encounter". Of course, being the literal person I am, I may have taken the "short" part a bit too far, but it's a start, with longer works yet to come.