A Tear

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A Colour Image of a Sunny Day on a Beach with a Black and White Person - A Visual Metaphor for Depression

I am sad because I long for those fleeting good times and I wish that I might get them back, so that I could make them better, stronger, happier – anything just to show how much I cherish them.  I wish I could bottle them up and just live that life.

But the most precious things are not easily replaced.

And every time the world tears, I am reminded, abruptly and painfully, of that fact, that there goes another chance of replicating a good time.

It’s like my photograph has been set on fire and all I had was that photograph.  A flimsy, trivial and oh-so-easy-to-damage photograph of something long ago.

My hope is in the past.  A world, a life, a moment that cannot be repeated.

I wish for the impossible because I regret so much, because I fear so much, because I have lost so much.

The world tears.  And I weep.  For all that was lost and for all that could have been.  The world tears.  And I weep.  For I am lost and I do not know what will be.  I weep.

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A Year On

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Cold Blue Stare - Face of a Painted Gorilla Sculpture

This wasn’t what I was expecting.  It was meant to be all done and dusted by now.  Over it.  Getting back on with my life.  And it didn’t work out that way.  A whole year.  Where did it go?  What have I to show for it?  I don’t even think that I’ve made any progress.  A whole year.  Where did it go?  A whole year that I will never get back.

Pieces

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It’s two in the morning and all I want to do is get out, go for a walk, find fresh air.  I want to clear my head, try to make sense of what I am feeling.  But I’m not feeling anything;  I am numb and empty.  And my body is too weak to go anywhere.  I just lie here, hoping that this too will pass.  I don’t even have the strength to hope.  I just lie here and wait.  Sometimes tears escape my eyes then they backfill, stinging.  I have no strength for this pain.  I feel nothing; just suspended in time.  Lonely, disconnected from everything around me.  Some things never change.  I am lost.  I am broken.  And too afraid to feel.  I will be ripped open and there’s already nothing left of me as it is.  I am broken.  I cannot be mended.  And my body has given out, given up.  I don’t know which.  The pains, they never leave me alone.  I grieve.  I have my slumps.  But this feels like some deeper monster about to burst forth.  And I’m scared.  I want to be done with all that.  I am broken enough already.  And if I cry, who will stop the tears for me?  I can’t.  I don’t want to be brave and I have to be if I go outside so I will just lie here with my pain and weep.  I don’t have the strength to fight it or to make sense of it or anything.  There are too many exhaustions.  The night is very dark.  But there will be a morning.  One day.

It is Time

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Arum Lily in Black and White

~ Trigger Alert ~

 

I have never feared death.

But yet I fear change.

I feel the pain of loss and mourn those who have passed.

Some I wish were still here.  Was it really their time to go?

Death, our attitudes to it, well, that’s a curious thing.  We like to pretend in our sophistication that death does not come to us all; we like to believe that we can hold back the inevitable like Cnut or, more successfully, the Dutch dyke boy.

Yet death comes.

There is this bleak realisation that slowly come into my mind a few months ago and has never really left it since:  I never planned on getting old.

It is this thought, this feeling that now often surfaces, an unshakeable, disquieting companion, in the lonely or painful or sleepless or dark moments that I pass through.  Yet, I don’t really have the words, or even the consciousness, to describe it.

There have been moments in these last few months when I have faced the bleakest moments of Old Age; my physical body is failing me terribly (ironically at just this time when my psychological self seems stronger than ever) and I struggle to do the most basic of things.  At times, everything is so difficult and painful.

So I ask myself:  Why am I still here?

Actually, more often, I ask myself how.  How am I still here?

You see, I never planned on being a grown up, I couldn’t envision such a distant, alien time.  And now, apparently, I am one.  Due to years, at least.

And this year I have found myself feeling like a grown up, or at least, like what I think feeling like a grown up feels.  I am old and weary.  And I don’t like this feeling.

What happened to all the time between here and there?

Since when did that inconceivable there get so close then arrive?

I don’t know.

I never thought that I would be a grown up.

I thought that I would die young.

Maybe it was the morbid fancy of youthful depression and too many romantic concepts of invalidity born of stories.

Do the good die young or is it more just for the wicked to be allowed to leave before too long, before too late?  Is death a punishment or a reward?  Is death a climax, a culmination or is it an excuse, an easy way out?  Is death for the brave or for the cowards?

I still don’t know.

I didn’t fear the evil word that is Cancer, I am pragmatic about such diseases and their outcomes. I feared earlier evils in my naïve, backwards mind: consumption, perhaps; unseen, little understood spectres that took without discretion, who wreaked havoc in swathes and left no survivors.

(Even as I write this, Beth’s words from Little Women echo in my head still).

I feared hospitals.  I still do.  Hospitals are places of suffering, in my mixed up, dark mind, where everything is taken out of your hands, out of your control and given to nameless, shapeless deities, revered by some in society.  I fear them.  Hospitals are dark and dirty, hospitals are places of other languages and other worlds, hospitals are places of loss, hospitals are a place of another kind of death, the loss of self.   I never want to be in a hospital.

I had no dreams for the future, just this certain, unshakeable belief that I would be gone.  But now I find myself here and I ask why and I ask how.

Do I want to die?  I still don’t know the answer to that.  I just know that I do not want to be here.

Do I wish I was dead?  I still don’t know the answer to that.  I just know that I do not want to be here and the future, well, there is no future, just a continuation of days, of months and of years.  This is not a future, I have no more hope.  I dream and wish for nothing.  At the very best, I survive.  And I’ve had enough even of that.

Am I Depressed?  No more so than usual.  I would not call myself suicidal; I know and recognise the tug at my heart that comes briefly when the Depression is not so bad and my mind is clear, determined and resolved.  A reactive Depression that still has the motivation, the willpower to act.  I know too that suicide is not the worst of feelings because most often my Depression sinks far, far lower into a never-ending, murky abyss.  I don’t fear feeling suicidal either.  There is worse.  Much worse.

I have, as with so many things in life, two standards.  One for me, one for the rest of the world.  I’ve always had this dual outlook.  I will stand by your side through all your sufferings; I will not leave you.   Death is not something that anyone should face alone.

I fear endings just as I fear change.

It was me and my father who took our dog to the vet’s one early morning when I was still a teenager.  I understood that the others had duties, responsibilities elsewhere and I respected that.  It is only within the last few days that a passing remark on a television programme made me think again, review this episode.   Apparently, most people don’t want to watch their pets fall asleep.  Well, of course not.  I understand that much.  But to not be present?  I don’t understand that.  I had no concept of it then and I struggle to comprehend it now.  I am not a macabre, sick-minded person who takes pleasure in viewing the end, a end but rather, I see quiet respect and dignity in accompanying someone, something at that moment.  Even just an animal.  Maybe it was duty or responsibility that kept the others away.  But maybe it was duty or responsibility that prompted both of us to stay in that room to the very, very end and beyond.

(We went home and poured ourselves generous tots of brandy to steel ourselves and never spoke of it again).

I feel sad that I was not up in the night for the myxy rabbit which passed in our care.  We had brought him home late one night as he was too ill to get out of the road and fixed him up comfortable quarters but knew there was little hope.  I felt I had abandoned him in his hour of need when he passed whilst we slept, unconscious.  But hopefully, not uncaring.

But for me?

I want to go quietly, as in alone.

I don’t want any fuss or spectacle.  I don’t believe that I will be missed.

I just want to slip away, somewhere quiet and lonely, away from everything and everyone and for it to end.

I don’t even know if I want to be found.

(I don’t know if I can be found).

Since I barely had double figures, I have always written a Will and in it I have stated that I do not want a funeral, I want to be chucked in a river and forgotten about.  Although I am pretty sure that the Environment Agency would have something to say about that.

Is it Depression?  Is it morbidity?  I don’t know.  I am weary though and not getting any younger or more well.  I am not likely to ever be well again.  And happiness has always been the most fleeting of experiences in my life.  I have survived until now and now, I don’t want to anymore.

I want this to end.

Does that make me wicked?

I don’t know.

Does that make me selfish?

I don’t know.

Does that make me weak?

I don’t know.

Death comes.  But it hasn’t come to me.

And I don’t understand why not.

 
 

Related Posts:-

 

(I only recently came across this post and I feel terrible for not reading it at the time.  I hate not being there before people).

A more recent post from another blogger on a similar subject.

Before My Time

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Flowered Too Early

I gasped, trying to clutch reality, trying to stop the world from completely slipping from my fingers.  I can do this, I tell myself.  I cannot believe otherwise.  If I do then where will it end?  The world, my world, my life, everything will fall away, it will be the crash of a tower of bricks, a slight wobble here and there, the slow bend of the tower  but then the inevitable crash.  It will fall.  And all will be lost.

I tell myself to hold tight, I grip my hands tightly,  cramped-ridden knuckles that rarely seem able to straighten anymore, as if life, health, self, world could be something tangible, something that could be grasped, something that could be kept held of.  I can’t keep hold of them; they’re more slippery than fine sand grains.  And the tighter I grasp, the faster they are squeezed from my grip.  I cannot win.

I gasp, every breath is a struggle.  The physical world around me swims.  The ridged concrete path swirls in a blur of motion.  The metal fence posts alongside do tricks that no fence post should ever be able to master.  The world will not stay put.  It will not allow me to get a handle on it.  I cannot keep it still.  I grasp out at it but it moves, slippery and fast, and unreachable.  Everything is beyond me.

You’re not meant to get motion sickness walking.  But I do.  It’s not like I have mastered some locomotive state.  Or maybe I did once.  Once upon a time, I was able to keep up.  Keep up with what?  Life, self, health, world.  No more.  I am slower than the World’s Slowest Walkers.  I know.  They keep overtaking me.

I struggle to breathe, like an asthmatic at the end of a sprint.  But I have gone nowhere fast.

My body ridicules me.  Me, that self I dream of being.  I cannot be.  I am crippled and handicapped and fighting a body whose war I barely even understand.  I am conspired against daily.  I lose daily.

I no longer feel safe walking by myself.  I don’t have the breath to think let alone scream in defence.  I feel shaky, vulnerable, weak, frail.  I am not myself anymore.  I can’t walk out into the world with the bravado that I used to.  I can’t take the time to enjoy a moment of solitude or the world around me.  I am too busy fighting.  There are days when I walk so slowly past front gardens that I get to know each and every blade of grass by name.  I don’t admire flowers, they get boring when you’ve spent five minutes walking passed the same one.  They taunt me, moving free in a breeze.  They have more speed than me.  They move whilst I am motionless.  One day snails will overtake me.

I muddle words and can’t remember whether I had conversations out loud, in my head or in my sleep.  I can’t remember what needs doing or even what I have done.  I forget where I am halfway through a recipe.  I forget ideas halfway through sentences.  I forget.  I forget.  Me, who has always been a memory keeper.  Me, this is my role, this my usefulness in the world, because I can remember.  And I can’t.  What have I left?  I console myself with sarcastic humour, reminding myself that at least at some point I will forget that I ever even had a memory.  But at the moment?  Oh no, I remember.  I remember the glory days.

The glory days that never were.

A golden age only exists in nostalgia, a better time compared to current woes.

And I do remember that there have never been glory days for me, I have never succeeded, not even at being myself.  And now I feel perhaps I would have a chance but it is all being dashed away from, like that tower of bricks.  I cannot stop them falling, I cannot stop the present and I dread the future.

My hand shakes.  I am weak and vulnerable and pathetic.

This is not me.

This is not who I want to be.

This is not who I should be.

I forget names, faces become foggy.

I mix up all my nouns.  If I can even remember any.

I get my sentences backwards.

More vicar, tea?

I don’t know if the world notices but I do.  I notice.  I see every single mistake, every single failure.  I, who have tried so hard my entire life to hide my weaknesses, my problems, now have them writ embarrassingly large across each and every conversation and each and every day.

This is not me.

The slow, painful steps that I am taking through life and the world.

This is not me.

I sit motionless, lost, unable to find the strength to do anything.

This is not me.

I cannot form sentences.

This not me.

I cannot remember.

This is not me.

But it is.

It is who I have become.

I didn’t get a choice.

I would have liked a choice.

Because I would really like to have life back.

I want another chance.

But something tells me it’s too late.

The sand has tumbled from my hands, I never had much anyway, and it cannot be found again.

I have lost.

Everything.

I have lost me.

Becoming a Parent

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Green Jelly Heart

When do you become a parent?  Some go through heart-breaking agonies over countless years pursuing that very dream.  To others it’s a surprise revelation, a shock, maybe something that they weren’t planning on.  But most parents have a time period before the arrival to adjust, to plan, to adapt, to prepare.  For mammals, it’s called pregnancy.   These days parents can clutch a hazy, grainy photo and say that’s my child.  But are they parents in that moment?

I don’t think you become a parent until you have that small, fragile, vulnerable life form in your hands,  until you can feel the tiny, delicate heartbeat, until you have a life in your hands which is depending on you.  At that moment, two souls meet and join, a relationship begins and  every instinct and fibre of your very being swears an oath of protection and care to this small, fragile, vulnerable life form.

Being a parent isn’t just about having physical charge of a child, it’s not even about bloodlines or looking after one of your own species.  It’s about a very special bond between two beings, two souls, one dependent, one caring.

Even when that little one grows, leaves, fledges, matures, however they progress, that bond will always be there.  Your heart is joined to theirs and you simply care in the truest form.  Their well-being is intrinsically tied to your own, their pain is your pain, their hopes your hopes, their achievements yours …  Your heart soars with theirs.  And sinks too.

You can’t ever lose the emotional tie of a child, of being a parent to a little one.  It is more than memories.  It’s not facts or even really feelings.  It’s two hearts, two hearts that cannot be separated even when that little grows, leaves, fledges, matures.  And when the little one is lost, it is a heart that has lost part of itself.

Loss of Self

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Arum Lily in Black and White

(Can I tell you a secret?

I grieve.

There are moments when I am broken in spirit and overwhelmed by a profound sense of loss.  I try to remind myself that there are countless thousands, if not millions, of people who are in a worse position than I am but my heart won’t listen.  I put a brave face on to the outside world, set that stiff upper lip but all the time my heart is breaking.

Most people feel that it’s handing over your self-care to another person that causes a sense of loss, a sense of shame and a complete loss of dignity.  But the reality is that illness, chronic illness, will have robbed you of every last shred of dignity long before you get to that stage.  That dignity comes from our identity, our sense of self.

I cannot think of anything worse than anything to abandon self-care to a stranger, someone appointed by a remote, impersonal power through a collective, communal sense of duty to look after those unable to look after themselves.  There is perhaps slightly more grace in being cared for by loved ones but maybe that’s the point and I speak too rashly and harshly.  Think of just the nursing profession, strangers who dedicate themselves to the care of the needy and vulnerable.  Sometimes we do have to hand ourselves other to strangers, to specialists and to experts, who are best placed to help us.  I think what is needed is trust, we need to be able to build relationships, to connect and to trust, whether that person is a stranger or not, when we hand over the very last vestiges of our dignity and identity.  Perhaps the sense of shame comes only from myself.  A sense of failure too perhaps.

There is that moment where your life divides into two parts, the before and the after, that moment when a doctor or other medical professional gives you that diagnosis.  Perhaps you only hear incomprehensible medical names and terms, perhaps you only comprehend that sense of fear, dread and threat.  But what is lost, and will be lost, is your identity.

If illness only deprived us of being able to climb Mount Everest, of running a marathon every week, of being able to run six international businesses at once … well, wouldn’t that be bliss?  Few of us really would be impacted after all.  But illness, chronic illness, is so much more than that.

I don’t have that clear demarcation, I don’t have the privilege of ‘having been’, I have been ill all of my adult life and in some ways I know nothing else.  That makes me sad, sometimes I feel cheated of my potential, of being able to have a life that I choose.  I’m not one for self-pity but grief doesn’t always rationalise, it is a tidal wave of loss, from which there is no escape.

In fact, it’s when things are going better mentally, when I find a focus that I feel this loss the most strongly.  I cannot be who I want to be.  I cannot be who I am.  I disappoint and frustrate myself.  When I can see so clearly what I want to do, what I want to be and yet this mongrel-beast gets in the way, refuses to let me be, never mind achieve, I grieve.  I have found my feet in one sense but cannot crawl from the bed in the literal.

It’s absolutely crushing.

I don’t want to climb mountains, or run marathons or international businesses, I just want to be me.  All those things that I have worked so hard to achieve, I have worked so hard to find myself and to be comfortable in my skin, to have that dashed away from me, it’s heart-breaking.

And so often it’s the trivial things where I feel that sense of loss so keenly, the sort of thing that you wouldn’t ever think could really matter or be important.  Things like being able to cut vegetables properly.  But when you think about it, it is a skill and one that maybe you had to work at.  It is something small that says a lot about us, whether we cook, whether we enjoy cooking, whether we’re any good at cooking … Instead the sharpest knife becomes blunt and clumsy in uncoordinated hands, food mushes rather than slices, there is no technique and if half the pieces are of similar size, well then, that’s a miracle in its own right.  And all the while, there is that voice inside your head that tells you ‘this isn’t me’.

But it is.

Illness isn’t a straightforward, downward slope to the total loss of dignity either.  It often ebbs and wanes.  Sometimes this can be more painful; you can’t accustom yourself to a level of loss before proceeding, or descending, to the next.  What you can do one week, one day, one hour may quickly become impossible.  You can’t take anything for granted.  Each new setback is enough to make you howl.  If you had the energy.

Our sense of identity is tied so closely to the things that we enjoy.  Not being able to do the activities that we enjoy, not being able to eat the foods that we enjoy … illness leaves no aspect of us, of our identity, untouched.  But it’s not just about not being able to do the things that we enjoy, take for example my knitting.  I love knitting.  It’s one of the few activities that I can consistently manage, although in varying proportions.  But it’s so much more than just a simple activity; it’s so much more than just one of those things that I do.   It’s an expression of personality, of creativity.  It is the way that I express myself.  When a week goes by where I physically cannot knit, I feel that loss keenly.

I don’t know if illness, personified perhaps, does target those specific skills and those things that so clearly define us as us, sometimes it feels like it does, or if perhaps we just feel the loss more in those areas.  If you never had a particular skill or talent then you probably don’t notice or feel that loss so much.

I know that there are people whose memories are bad, totally fallible.  I live with one of them.  This means I have even greater responsibility as a memory-keeper, I remember my memories and those of others.  I’m known for my memory abilities.  I am a guardian of family history and stories.

No more.

I cannot remember what I did yesterday never mind last week.

I cannot remember words or dates or things that I need to do.

Someone will tell me something and I will wonder out loud how they know that.  They then tell me that I told them, just a week ago.

Behind me there is a great void of nothingness, a black hole where memories could and should exist but I remember nothing.

I feel a great sense of shame, embarrassment when faced with the reality of this loss.  Actually, it frightens me more than I care to admit.

In so many ways, this is a loss of self.  I’m losing a skill that I am proud (!) of and I risk losing my history.  In a way, I become homeless, that sense of belonging comes, in the greatest part, through memories and remembered connections.

I have a fear of losing things, my biggest fear is forgetting.  It is why I write, it is why I photograph.  I’m terrified of forgetting.  I always have been.  Memory, remembering is important to me.  And now I am faced with blank spaces, black holes and that nagging feeling that there really is something that should be in my head right now.

And it’s becoming more obvious.  It’s hard to hide your memory problems when you can’t remember anything.  I’m oblivious to what has gone before, I risk repeating things or putting my foot in it, like the example above.

Illness takes everything away from you that is precious, independence, skills, talents, memory.  There is no dignity in being ill, just a profound sense of loss.

I grieve.)