Coping strategies. There’s something inherently wrong with that expression. Strategy, well, you need a clear head and a good idea of what the playing field is for that. Coping, well, that implies a little too strongly successful management. But the reality is that coping is just another word for surviving. We bury our heads in the sand ostrich-style; we duck behind parapets; we get on with life. Because that is what society expects of us. And what we expect of ourselves.
I cope. I survive. Why?
Whose expectations am I trying to meet?
Only my own.
But coping shouldn’t just focus on success, that sets the bar too high.
A forest can be destroyed by fire. Yet it survives. In fact, it can come back stronger.
That’s bounce-back-ability. (Yeah, I’m sure that one’s in the dictionary, dare you check).
Fire has its uses. It refines; it strengthens; it can actually promote growth. Many valuable things are proved by fire.
I don’t know whether or not we need it, but we do have fire in our lives. And sometimes that can be a good thing. As the song says, it takes a little rain to make the grass grow.
Sometimes the fire comes from other people, people who may even be trying to destroy every fibre of our being, crushing us physically and psychologically. But to them, I owe a debt of gratitude. It is because of them that I am who I am today.
I think that I have to conclude that my stubborn streak is one of my best qualities. It keeps me alive. It keeps me fighting. It keeps me coming back.
I doubled my medication, then consulted the doctor, who also switched me to the tablets. I’ve had some rough days of nausea but there have been definite benefits. The tablets are more effective, if I thought I felt good on the same dose of liquid then the tablets make me feel even better. I am confident in an assured way even if I can’t be in a hopeful way just yet. I sleep well. I can cope. Everything has been like water off a duck’s back. Breezy, my style is breezy.
It was very strange to start with. It was like being someone I didn’t actually know, like not really being myself. I’ve grown up with Depression; I’ve never been an adult with clear thinking before, a clear mind. It’s very strange. At first, I felt as if perhaps I was still a child in my mind, living in an adult body and an adult mind. I had to get used to being a ‘normal’ adult, free from all that distorted, negative thinking. Free from constant, continual guilt.
It’s the guilt that has made the biggest difference, or not feeling it. I have more time to do things; my mind has more time to concentrate on other things. It’s like having a massive weight taken off your shoulders. You kind of stumble around for a moment, missing it, having to steady yourself but you adapt. I adapted and I’m getting used to it.
The silence in my head.
I can’t remember a time when my head was silent.
I don’t blame myself. I don’t let others blame me.
I don’t agonise for hours about things I have may have said or done wrong.
Things happen, I deal with them, I move on.
Isn’t that strange? Or maybe you take that as normal.
I’m getting used to it though.
However, medication can’t make all the problems go away. They are still there, a billion and one different issues and worries that I have very limited control over. I don’t like that because I always want answers and solutions. And for all my love of nuance, I like the black and white. I want things to be clear, I want there to be just one option, just one outcome. Life is far more complicated and complex. And sometimes it can be hard to deal with.
So I freeze up.
I stop, numb, overwhelmed. I withdraw from creative processes and I shy away from writing. Maybe I’m just not ready to face the issues, expose them so clearly by the written word. I stay still, meditating, dwelling on them in an absent-minded way. Chewing the cud whilst pretending that I’m not. Distracting myself with tacky television. Sometimes I can’t even knit, it requires too much of me, sometimes I don’t want to put where I am and what I’m feeling in the stitches. As if they could be tainted. Or a permanent reminder of something that I may late wish to completely forget. I freeze up, do little. But slowly I find my feet again, I make a little more sense of the riddles that are playing through my head and I decide where I stand on issues. I come out of it stronger, ready for action. But I shut down, giving myself the energy and time for psychological matters.
Is that coping?
Perhaps not. The washing and the washing up pile higher. I don’t engage with the things that I enjoy doing. I do little.
Maybe I need to find another ‘strategy’, maybe catatonia doesn’t help. I don’t know. Or maybe like fire, I just haven’t learnt to appreciate it just yet.
With fire, I know that I will survive. I can and will come out the other side a better, stronger person.
It turns out that I don’t need to find myself after all. I was there all along. Buried under the debris and chaos that my life and illness have brought but still there. Existing, alive, breathing. Just like a small patch of blue sky behind the clouds, I have had glimpses of myself. Now I know that there was always enough to make a sailor man’s trousers.
I am me. I always have been. And I always will be because I will keep surviving, whatever happens.