I have soared through cerulean skies Catching my breath on the peaks of mountains With the warmth of the day on my face I have watched the clouds unfurl their stories before my greedy eyes. I have inclined my ear to the music of ravenous thunder My feet have danced to the beat of the rain. I have tumbled in the arms of the ocean as it rolled out it’s lofty promises to dry in the midday sun. And when skies grew inky cold I set my course by the whims of the wind And hung my hopes on the shining stars
In a world that abounds with infinite possibilities You Are my truth.
Occasionally, when I am in the midst of a bout of depression there come odd bursts of anger. Sometimes these are nothing more than the irritability that many experience as one of the symptoms of depression, or a result of the lack of proper sleep, another all too common symptom. Sometimes they are outbursts of cathartic rage against the injustice of mental illness. On rare occasions they are my brains way of saying “Enough’s enough! No more! No more hiding, no more apologizing, no more feeling sorry for myself. It is these outbursts that act as a catalyst, pushing me one more step along a journey of change, of better self understanding, and hopefully a step towards freeing myself from depressions’ grip.
I have had enough of cowering cowardice Of having so much to hide Of clutching my mysteries so tightly I have almost engulfed them in my very flesh And have shrunk with the weight of them. But no more curling my defences around my core As you creep advancing. I will open up, I will Unfurl and stand tall. I will lift my head high and Throw wide my treacherous arms. And as I grow taller with each breath I will let all who would see all. For through exposure I am Emboldened Enlarged Empowered And when I stand full free – Tall as the sky and naked as a babe You will have hold of me no longer. And I will smite you.
One of the strange things about depression is the effect it has on my relationship with my reflection. How I feel inside is often not obvious in how I look on the outside. Sometimes when I look in the mirror and see someone who looks like they’ve got it all together, someone who is doing life successfully, I am amused at how well camouflaged the truth is. But other times it catches me off guard, I catch a glimpse of my reflection and think ‘who the hell is that?, that’s not who I feel like today!’ On the worst days it scares me, I look in the mirror and know that it is not me that is staring back, and i feel lost. Like the real me is invisible, is disappearing. Thankfully those times are usually short lived and I reconnect with my reflection pretty quickly. I think it’s so important to remember than you really cannot judge a book by it’s cover. There is absolutely no way of knowing what is going on inside someone by looking at them, and the most confident, together looking person could be crumbling and fearful inside.
Who is this person before me now?
A familiar face worn by a stranger.
Tell me if you know her, for to me she is an imposter.
She hides the truth and assumes what she is not.
Her smile is a lie and the curve of her cheek a deceit
I cannot escape her for she is my reality.
Tell her to leave,
Command her retreat.
She is not welcome!
She makes a mockery of my pain.
She belies the truth of my self doubt.
How dare she confront me with the truth I would not hear!
Leave me to struggle with the demons of my choosing,
But for pity’s sake,
Take her away!
Fog. It is not something we see an awful lot of. I always find it a little exciting when we do – it lends an air of mystery to even familiar places. There’s a certain romanticism to it too, conjuring up images of misty moors and half hidden landscapes obscured by fluffy whiteness.
Brain fog, on the other hand is ghastly. Unfortunately it is all too common a symptom of depression and can be horribly debilitating.
At the moment I’m finding it so hard to write. Impossible even. It kind of feels like that part of my brain has been switched off. I can only barely deal with the factual and any sort of creativity is just beyond me. I think this may be down to a medication ‘blip’, meaning I am having to go through the initial side effects that I got when I first started taking it. I know that it will settle down in a few weeks but in the meantime I am frustrated, headachey, struggling with blurry vision and can not get my foggy brain to do anything useful despite my endeavours. I am annoyed that I have not been able to post anything for so long, so I have been looking back through my old stuff and thought I’d post some old poems. Hopefully the fog will clear soon and I can get back to writing some new stuff.
The silent depths of very night.
That’s how it was when first you came to me.
Out of the shadows into the silver patch of
moonlight on my carpet.
You startled me
I had thought of being alone,
but instead you were here –
an intruder on my solitude.
The anger flash in my eyes yelled
‘Do not disturb!’
The threads of my thought so fragile
I feared a misplaced word may chafe or tear.
So you sat there silent
in the still of very night
and when the morning sun crept stealth-like
through the darkness
I sent you out to capture for me
the dawn chorus.
Where did the music go?
Music was always a part of my life. I grew up in house where people sang. My parents were both in an amateur operatic society, and later in a choir which I also joined in my teens. I started piano lessons at 4, I learnt the violin at primary school, and at high school switched to the oboe, which I played in the church worship band. I did dance lessons for a while. In my teens I had a record player in my room, and eventually a CD player. I listened, I played, I sang, I danced. Music was everywhere, adding colour and extra flavour to my life.
Somewhere along the way I lost it.
A friend on Facebook recently asked people to post which songs they listened to for different moods. I was stumped. I realised I couldn’t remember the last time I actually bought any music. My life hasn’t been silent. It’s just that none of the music I’ve listened to for a long time has been of my choosing. When the kids wanted to choose the music it was easier to just let them, especially on long car journeys and I just sort of gradually forgot that I had a choice too. That might sound silly, but I think one of the characteristics of depression is a sense of unworthiness. Why would anybody want to speak to me, spend time with me, listen to me, or to my choice of music? So I got used to listening to the kids choice and my husbands choice, and kind of forgot about the music that I would choose.
Also, as seems to be the way lately, my phone had it’s part to play too. Previously there were times, especially when I had the house to myself, that I would have put on some music and danced or sang around the house. Maybe doing a bit of housework as I went, but enjoying the music, feeling it. Now I can’t help myself, my phone demands my attention, and once I give it I am drawn in, and have no concept of passing time.
When the post came up on Facebook the first thing I did was to open up Spotify on my phone and look at the music I had downloaded. Most of it, un-surprisingly, was stuff I had downloaded for the kids, some of which I do quite like, but I am unlikely to listen to the soundtrack of Mary Poppins Returns or Trolls when they’re not around. I also had a couple of my husbands playlists and the song list for the choir I sing in. The only thing I had downloaded because I actually wanted to listen to it was the soundtrack to the True Detective series and a Sia album from 2014. I listened to both that day. I sang along and got nothing else done. And then I was sad that something that had previously been a big part of my life had been so constricted.
I am apt to brood on things and not actually do anything to improve them, but I am in a better place currently, so I have been trying to rectify this. I was already on the path – having joined a gospel choir in September, I am at least singing again. But I have been choosing to listen to music this week, when I might otherwise have scrolled through my phone. And, when the chance arises I am choosing to just listen. To let the music wash over me, and to hear the melody, the harmonies and allow myself to feel the music. There is great power in music, and I could really do with some of that in my life!
I didn’t realise that you’d gone
I don’t know when you went
I am sorry that I let you go
You crept away so slowly
You stole such pleasure away
You left a hole so glaring
It is only in hindsight that
I realise what joy and beauty
You took with you
One of the things I struggle with most about depression is the effect it has on my sleep. As if my emotions weren’t already all over the place, everything seems worse when I’m tired, especially when I’m exhausted. My energy levels are lowered anyway, and then lack of sleep sends them to rock bottom. Trying to motivate myself to do anything seems nigh on impossible, even if my mind is willing, my flesh is certainly not up to the task. It can feel like I am trying to swim through treacle. Retaining information becomes troublesome – I am usually a quick learner, but in the middle of a period of insomnia I struggle to hold on to anything new. I forget what people tell me and can seem uncaring if I fail to remember something a friend has told me. Work can be challenging as getting my head around some of the maths and frequencies required can be an uphill struggle, when ordinarily they would all just slot into place.
But the worst thing is the irritability. Every. Little. Thing. Is .SO. annoying. I forget where I’ve put something down and get all snappy and accuse people of moving it. Strangers step in front of me in the street, How dare they! I can’t get something to work properly and it ends up flung down in anger! I can almost shake with the adrenalin pumping through me at the slightest provocation. At home is where it hurts most though, my husband is a saint for putting up with me. But it is when I find myself snapping at the kids for doing nothing more than being kids that the guilt starts. I hug them, I apologise and then I worry. Worry about the effect this is having on them, worry that I should be better able to control my irritation around them, and worry again about how this is all effecting them. The kind of worrying that keeps me awake at night . . . And so the circle continues.
Thankfully, these periods don’t last forever. There are periods when I do get some sleep. There are also some nights when I am assisted by a small pill, although this can result in severe grogginess the next day, and induced sleep does not refresh in the same way as natural sleep. I have just had to accept that this is something that will happen from time to time. Nights spent tossing and turning with a brain that just won’t switch off can be painfully long, and what helps me one night can have no effect the next. Sometimes getting up and doing something other then trying to fall asleep can help, other times I sit up all night writing poetry .
I'm currently excelling at insomnia. I've got to say I really am the best When it comes to lying fretful in the darkness While everybody else is getting rest. Some would say they do not understand it – I really do not need to worry yet, About the problem that I'll have a week next Tuesday With somebody that I haven’t thus far met.
I'm currently excelling at insomnia. It’s great to say it really is a strength. When it comes to stopping me from ever sleeping My brain will really go to any length Even though my body is exhausted My brain, it seems, would like to tell a tail About everything and anything and nothing, The narrative I just cannot curtail.
I'm currently excelling at insomnia. It's something that I really do quite well While everybody else is deep in slumber I'm fretting in my own personal hell. I don't think this can go on for much longer Another night I really can't endure. I've spent the week resembling a zombie A good night's sleep I really must procure.
I do not remember the first time I wrote. It is something I have been doing as long as I can remember. At primary school I remember writing adventure stories, which were probably inspired by my love of the Famous Five and Secret Seven books. I remember one story I wrote about a hidden cave with a tunnel to an island and the smugglers who used it – inspired by Kirrin Island no doubt.
It was in my teens that I started writing poetry. Obviously for school work to start with, but I was soon hooked. At the time I didn’t know why I loved it so much, but looking back I think it was the freedom it gave me to express myself, especially as someone who was so painfully shy. I wrote a whole series of poems entitled “Adolescence” covering such topics as boys, exams, identity and annoying parents. Typical teenage issues, but I would have struggled to convey my feelings about these vocally, and writing poetry helped me to not bottle things up or dwell on them too much.
In adulthood I have written a lot of poetry inspired by life events and big emotions; love, birth, death; joy and sorrow. But a significant amount of my poems have been written when I was at my lowest ebb. I was 16 when I was first diagnosed with depression. It was to be the first of several bouts, including 2 lots of post-natal depression. When I am depressed there are times when the words just flow out of me, but they are not always pretty! I have written some very dark verses during these times, but they have been a way of getting it out, helping me make sense of the turmoil in my head. A release. Writing at these times can be cathartic, but also quite revealing, as I get to know myself a little bit better through the words I string together.
Sitting bent over my notebook. Scribbling, scrawling, words flowing from my mind. An unending stream of verbs, adjectives, nouns. Telling their story. Sharing their knowledge, their understanding, their insight. Opening to the world my innermost secrets. Displaying my private pleasures and pains for all to see. Once started they spill on out a continual cascade, try as I might to catch them with my hands. So slippery, they slide through my fingers onto the page, and I am forced to confront this truth in black and white before me.