Today a round-up join the dots post is in order…a kind of “where summer’s at right now” post.
This is been building for a while. Lately my posts have usually been centred around an idea, quite small and quite specific…this is more a bigger picture type post, as the bigger picture is where my attention is lying currently. I also need to offload some emotional baggage type stuff that is weighing me down.
My mind is working and I am achieving things and I am doing plenty of stuff to be proud of…but I am experiencing them as discrete entities of achievement that are not at all joined up, mixed up with a background jelly of struggle.
My motto lately has been JUST DO ONE THING, and that is how I’ve approached life. I have done one thing….then I’ve done another thing….then another thing. All those things have been loosely based on the theme of achievement, because I am seeking distraction from some inner psychological shit that I’m trying to keep at bay.
I am missing out on the bigger picture though- missing out on the natural flow of things. My eyes are tired and my heart is tired so it takes a huge amount of effort to just look at one thing. This blog is my attempt to join the dots between the “just one things” and see myself and where I’m heading, in a full ideas joined up sketch.
But first, yesterday. Yesterday was a difficult day. I won’t mention what yesterday was, as it says in the last post and I’m allergic to the word, but people who read yesterdays post will know why yesterday was so personally significant for me, as a Christian festival day.
Blogging all that anger out helped. It really did. The rest of my day passed by ok, massively helped by a really gratifying run that I did. I was feeling low and in search of some endorphins and my run along the country lanes gave me exactly what I needed. Head space. Achievement. Focus. The soothing sights and sounds of nature around me.
It was an immersive experience.
Running in the countryside is like going to watch a theatre performance in the round. The countryside is all around you…there is no escaping it. You become quickly immersed. Because I choose to run mindfully, without music, I run with a Dolby surround sound 3D cinema real-life version of the best feel-good movie ever.
I run with my running app congratulating me every five minutes on my distance and pace. I like to hear the K counter go up and up. But apart from that motivational technological addition of the app, I am at one with nature, with the sounds, with the wildlife, with the sights of the skyscapes, the trees rustling near or far, the pheasants, the wild hares, the puddles glistening on the surface of the road, the awareness of the different road surfaces that I glide across, and the relative hilliness of the incline, whether up or down. And most of all I am aware of my breath. I am aware of my need to control my breath, and adapt my posture so I am running efficiently. I am aware of times my chest particularly heaves with exertion (the hills), and other times (the flat or downhill bits) where I run with more strength and cover more ground.
At times yesterday I basked thoroughly in the runner’s high. I basked in my aliveness. I basked in the glow of what my body can actually do for me when I tell it to. “Speed up to get the momentum up this hill” “Keep going” “Why not try for a sprint section” “You don’t need to walk, you can keep running”….all these instructions I give my body, my body obeys. Mind-set is everything.
Yesterday I had the words chiming of two of my running friends go through my head. I had told them I was due to set off and sent a pre-run selfie asking them to wish me luck. They said things along the lines that they’d be mentally running it with me. That was a great help. I imagined them coaching me along on the tired bits. I kept my average pace up as well as I could. The K’s disappeared under my feet….I ended at 11.2k….not my furthest distance, but a good achievement considering the absolute shitness of my mood yesterday.
As I pushed myself on and motivated myself I thought a lot about how running is a metaphor for life. A lot of my internal commentary that played in my head is similar to the encouraging dialogue I tell myself in my head about the challenge of living with mental illness.
“Just keep going” is a motivational life platitude I often tell myself. I say that when I run.
“Just one more hill” is a motivational platitude that could be applied to both running and life.
“The hardest bit is done now…it’s the home-stretch” I say on both runs and life.
“Look! you can see your house!”…is an encouraging running motivator when my house comes back into view…and that is what my dot to dot post is about today….
I am trying hard to get somewhere, I am trying to get to my mental health equivalent of home, which in my real-life case is MY NEXT THERAPY APPOINTMENT.
Without therapy, I am struggling to get the dots to join up.
Without therapy, I don’t even know what image I am trying to form via this dot to dot.
I have come to rely on therapy to help me figure out what is the picture of the box that I am aspiring to, and how exactly I can get these dots to form and join together in my mind to make sense.
No-one else does this quite as well as my psychologist does. She knows me well. She knows how I think. She knows my typical way of emotionally reacting. She knows my psychological motivations, and she also knows what is sensible, when sometimes I struggle to see it myself.
If my dots are in the wrong place, she will point that out.
Until I have spoken something over with my psychologist I am usually unsure if I’m on the right track. Usually these days I am on the right track, but having been on the wrong track for so long prior to that, I have not yet established my own confident self-assured instincts about absolutely everything.
I am well used to being constrained and held back and warned. I am used to Dr Cautious, my consultant psychiatrist warning me about exercising caution. It is not often I am told to do more….usually to do less. But those parameters are shifting and drifting over time. the stabilisers are being loosened by the profs as trust in me is building from them. Soon I will be riding this mentally ill bike alone, without mental health professionals running by my side ready to catch me.
I haven’t had any major mental health wobbles for ages. I have low periods, but I manage them essentially unaided. Because my psychologist is uncontactable and on holiday right now, she asked if I wanted a named person to speak to while she was away. I said, no thanks…I think I can manage…and manage I have. But managed with difficulty.
I would much rather have a psychologist on hand 24/7 to consult on all matters psychological. But of course, that is unachievable and unrealistic and inappropriate. But as the gaps between appointments steadily lengthen, I get more and more of a taste of life without the stabilisation of mental health professionals and therapy.
The thing I am adapting to is the necessity for me to have to tolerate life and it’s difficulty, without chatting things over with a safe person.
My psychologist is my safe person-the safest of all. With my friends, I sense that even though they know me and love me as well as a friend can know and love me, that they will never have the same psychological understanding of me as a human as my psychologist does. She is a psychologist. Therefore she does (as you would hope) understand me psychologically very well. If my friends understood me more I would be worried. With my friends, if I tell them how I feel, I always feel I have to furnish them with a full psychological explanation of myself too (because I appreciate I am not usual, typical, or easy to understand). There is a lot of knowledge that even my friends don’t know about me, because I am a complex beast, and being psychologically trained myself I get frustrated with people’s responses to me sometimes. It ends up making me feel mis-understood and lonely and frustrated.
My high standards of the subtle nuances of communication about human psychology make most conversations about my mental health and feelings with friends lack lustre and disappointing, and that is across the board, so it is better to just say a global statement of “I feel shit, but I’ll be ok”…than try and explain myself accurately to people.
People DO want to help, and that desire is genuine and sincere. Their care for me is very real and evident and appreciated. But what does a complex psychologically trained perfectionist do when she feels she can’t adequately explain themselves and her deep psyche to the people who care for her? She thinks she won’t bother. Because it is less frustrating to not even try to be understood, than to try and be understood, for people’s reactions to convince you that you have failed in that goal.
The downside of my complexity, intelligence, knowledge and insight, is that I can only converse and be understood by other psychologists.
I should maybe change my Facebook status to
“…you don’t have to be a psychologist to be friends with me, but it helps”
I feel lost without my psychologist. I feel lost without the ability to speak on a high level to someone who fully understands me. As the gaps between therapy sessions lengthen, I am having to learn to adapt to the greater loneliness of that.
If I don’t have her, I realise how alone I truly am.
I have lots of friends who I value deeply, yet I feel lonely.
Learning to cope without weekly therapy, having 2 to 3 week gaps every time, basically amounts to me to having to learn how to tolerate feelings of the loneliness of being mis-understood.
I am misunderstood. I found someone who understands the picture of the box and helps me join the dots to enable that picture to form, but I am losing that connection.
Life without stabilisers.
Life without being understood. Not by your husband. Not by your friends. Not by your children. Not by the people you communicate with and work with everyday.
It hurts to be misunderstood.
Maybe this blog has to be the only place I can be me. Maybe I should cut out the ability for people to comment. Maybe I have to accept I won’t be understood.
The loneliness brings on suicidal ideation.
I’m on my own.
Until I see my psychologist again, this is how I will feel.
I am not sure what motivational running platitude would help in this case.