‘Who am I’ is a question I often ask myself. My answer to that has always been ‘well….I’m not quite sure’.
The reason being, far from being a cookie cutter human who ticks particular boxes and follows what society deems ‘convention’, I’m a bit different to that. I’m a human shape shifter-a chameleon- a plume of flour in the air, right after it’s found it’s way through the latticework pattern of the finest sieve.
I’m both weighty and mighty, whilst utterly substance less and weak. A collection of atoms adrift in a crammed galaxy of stars. Just one person, in one strange universe, feeling pretty much like the strangest person out there.
I’ve lived my life not really belonging anywhere, but always clinging to somewhere, or someone, somehow, waiting for that elusive someday, when it all finally makes sense. But I’m coming to the conclusion that I will never quite make sense, and ‘it’ [life and living] may never make sense, but still I go on and live it anyway, because I’m a mum, and I have no choice but to make the best of the gifts in life that I’ve been given.
I’m a dreamer, a thinker, but importantly also a doer. I’m a strange mix of formidable and frightened, freakish and fantastic and fabulously shiny, except for the days when I’m shit. I breathe through those, sitting them out and feeling them blowing through like passing weather storms.
I know the lows and crisis points are getting shorter and shorter these days. Yeah, the mood swings are still erratic, but the lows are not as low, and for not as long.
I am mentally ill. Have I not told you that yet? Sorry, I though it was obvious. I’m damaged. Truth. I’m broken and bruised and in bits. Truth. Life and living terrify me, and so do people. Why?…….Because people can hurt you OR they can heal you, and no fucker ever gave me the hand book to work out which type of human is which. I’ve had to learn lessons the hard way- or maybe easy ways to learn have never existed, and that’s just one of the many lies we get told?
To be honest with you, I’ve never found life easy, and don’t know if I ever will. It’s not easy to live with a broken mind with wonky neurological wiring and a world view borne from relentless bone-crushing and soul shaking trauma. If that sounds too moany, overly dramatic or too ‘woe is me’ for you, I’m sorry, maybe this is not the blog for you.
The way certain aspects of my life to date have turned out is patently unfair and there’s no two ways about it.
BUT, in the interests of journalistic balance, my life has also had moments of brilliance that have to reside in the upper most percentiles of shiny brilliance. I spend my days with a man I love, and have loved since he walked into that pub on that life-changing night. I have also milked every scrap of euphoric brilliance there is, during hypomanic episodes that were so good they almost compensated for the nagging, dragging and near-relentless lows that characterise the majority of my pained existence. In those moments of what some people might call “madness”, I caught glimpses who I really am, or more accurately who I might have turned out to be without my history of childhood trauma.
But trauma happens, and breakdowns happen, and recovery is something doggedly fought for by me and many millions across the world every single day. I’m not alone in finding life this difficult.
Lessons I’ve learned: Recovery following a significant mental health breakdown has no definite beginning or end. There are no rulers to measure our successes or the relative extent of our relapses. Sometimes just crawling through is ok. Sometimes curling up into a ball on the floor, bawling our eyes out and not budging, is about as good as it gets, and all we can manage on that particular day. Sometimes meetings are cancelled, friends lose out on visits, the house stays a wee bit dirtier than we’d like, and blog posts are left unwritten. I’ve had to learn that’s all ok and acceptable, and all part of the epic messiness of this bastard thing named ‘invisible illness’. Not easy for a perfectionist though.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) are my labels, and the manifestations of those invisible mental illnesses are very raw and very real.
Don’t ask me to prove that I’m ill. Trust me, I am. But you know what-despite whatever a psychiatrist tells me I am, (or I’m not), I have far more fire in my belly, and grit and determination to shine brightly as a direct result of the epic grimness of my formative years. I promise you, I’m here and I’m ready to give any “well person” a run for their money.
My eyes have seen things no-one should see. I have felt things many of you have never felt. I’ve had secrets and threats whispered so close to my ears that every individual hair has stood on end. Five years ago, the dissociative walls of psychic protection crumbled, and I began to remember all the shit that went down. That remembering came in stages, and sometimes in uncontrollable torrents. I’ve gradually unpicked all the threads of it. I’ve walked through mess and counted the dead bodies. I’ve had the therapy. I’ve weathered the repeated crises and suicidality, and I’m still standing here in the storms, dancing in the rain, singing my own tune, marching to the beat of my own drum, and managing good as gold.
Trauma made me, but it won’t break me. I am summer, and I’m starting to shine, but like a british summer, I know not to expect sunshine everyday. I do what I can, when I can, and slowly I am having to perfect the act of self-compassion, embracing the realism that that somedays I just can’t, so I don’t and I won’t.
My personality is composed of a kaleidoscope of multi-coloured, multi-faceted human brilliance, riddled with flaws but beautiful in my vulnerability. Like a survivor lighthouse, I am aim to beam out my post-traumatic strength, to help those of you still stuck on the rocks, getting battered and tossed by the waves that are constantly trying to pull you under.
I’ve been there. Trust me. I don’t want a.n.y.o.n.e else to experience what I’ve gone through. It’s hell. If your traumatic history is what’s led you to my blog, PLEASE don’t let trauma rob you of your future. Seeds of shine will grow, if nourished and watered by our attention and the love and nurturing friendships of other humans.
The shit is over now. So now the shine is all mine, and all yours too, if only you can believe the truth of this within your heart.
Welcome to summer starts to shine X