Tag Archives: depression

A letter to my lover.

** This is the first letter of an ongoing series for my blog. I have decided to publish all the letters I have written and plan to write, with the consent of the addressee, right here. Call it cathartic or a grand gesture of letting shit go get lost on the web. Call it a moral journey in which I’m trying to help people going through similar experiences and recount my hiccups and mistakes. Call it what you want, but this is one of the most profound and indulgent things I have done in my adult life. I really do want to let go of bad memories attached to each letter and handle it like a rebirth. It is actually only for my own gain. Take what you want from the series.

Most people who read my blog are aware of my mental illnesses. I have decided that I am going to write letters to everyone who has impacted my life, especially myself. I wrote this to my partner when I was struggling to speak about my mental health on bad days in the hope that they would begin to understand. They did. ** 

When a person loves and cares for another, they deserve love and care in return. I’m writing out my thoughts in an attempt to articulate what my “lows” and “bad days” look like to me. I know that those days just look like vacant eyes and a desperate grapple for an explanation. I realise that I keep a lot of my thoughts to myself, and that in turn makes me feel desperately lonely. When I look straight past you it’s not because I don’t see you, but because if I look at you I’d have to confront some ugly creatures in my head that have been lurking in the shadows when you’re around.

Because there are days where I don’t want to live anymore. And no one but myself can change that. It’s not your responsibility to “save” me, because there’s no such thing as a hero in this story. This story is just one of an uphill struggle where I pray for a moment of peace to sit and rest. But believe me, when I’m silent I’m not expecting you to pluck the right words out of thin air. In fact, I carry the same fantasies from my childhood when problems would just magically fix themselves because there was always something or someone there to make it right. I don’t have that anymore and I guess I look for that in the people I love. But it’s just a childish fantasy, nothing more.

I’ve always been determined to get my thoughts onto paper and actually communicate something valuable so someone can understand my lived experience. I want you to know that when I lash out in the form of silence or frustrated tears I’m expressing frustration at myself for not being able to handle the situation better. I’m fed up of having these expectations that I didn’t ask for, rather these expectations that were built due to unfortunate circumstances that have shaped who I’ve become. I’m tired of never feeling good enough, like I need validation all the time just to know that I’m doing okay, that I can’t validate myself in the same way as a stranger can. I’m tired of feeling scared that something I love will be gone without any notice or care for my soul.

All of these are things I can explain to you. I can tell you why I think like this, how I can get better, what I’m trying to do to get better. Yet, I always fall short when the pressure rises and seem to fail myself. This sadness that I’ve kept inside me for so long is making its presence known, like a very toxic friend. It feels like a dead weight. It used to chain me to my bed and lock me in my room so I couldn’t escape, now I don’t have any chains on my wrists. I just stay in with the fear keeping me trapped. It’s a bit like Stockholm syndrome, where you fall in love with your kidnapper. I know I need to shout it away, but something is keeping me tied to it. I’m not sure if I like the ride or if I’m too scared to see the world with clear vision.

This depression makes me paranoid. It gives me all kinds of dysphoria. I don’t recognise who I see in the mirror half the time, I can barely look at my own body without feeling sick or guilty. I know it’s my relationship with my family and everything we’ve been through that has given me a warped view of myself. It affects how I have sex, how I interact with people, and how I predict lovers to treat me.

I have never been in a long term, stable, loving relationship. I’ve have pleasant flings, but the long relationships have always turned out to be toxic and abusive. In those relationships I’ve seen sides to my mind that I’m still too apprehensive to explore. I have a history of things abruptly ending with a violent bang. And I’m being honest when I tell you that I’m scared the same will happen again. I run thoughts thru my head all the time, thinking about how two people could potentially end up hurt. I always question if it’s worth it. And if it seems like I have little faith in you, and in me, then I want you to understand that it’s because the past has been so disappointing and painful that it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

But I want everything. I always want love and affection even though I have no faith in it. I’m so conflicted with craving love and then feeling sick at the thought of it being taken away. I understand this puts you in a difficult position. I have tried to be honest about my illness from the very beginning. In all honesty you gave me a bit of a drive to get better and get back out in the world because all you wanted was for me to be happy.

I can’t explain what it’s truly like to wake up and think you’re dead, and spend the next few days in a stupor where you’re debating internally if you’re dead or alive. I can’t explain what it’s like to go through that when you’re in the room. When you touch me, I feel it, but when you touch me and I’m not there, i’m almost on autopilot. And I hate you seeing me like this because I want to protect you from all the negative energy. Even when i’m frustrated with you, I know through all of the pettiness how wonderful you are. My depression means that you can make me feel like the most loved person in the world, to someone who isn’t given a second thought. I violently swing between the two because I’m so used to being shown affection and having someone be present for me, and then randomly not be there anymore. I can’t seem to have faith in anything because of it. It’s hard to love a faithless person.

But, I don’t want to patronise you by assuming you can’t “handle” all of these things. I don’t want to offend you by assuming you don’t even want to. I do, however, want you to understand that this might not bear a reflection as to who you are, but minor things you do can trigger this. Like when I need to be loved in a certain way (i.e – being told comforting things or being held) it’s hard for me to state my needs because I fear rejection. As you might know, people with mental health issues can tend to put their partners on a pedestal. I’m aware of this and while I feel that this relationship is special, i try to remember you’ll fuck up just as much as i will, and we’re just two ordinary people trying to figure each other out because there’s something in the other which lights a fire within us.

When I was a little girl, I had no expectations of the world. My dad gave me everything I needed before I realised i had even needed it. I had hay fever pretty bad when I was in primary school, and he’d wrap a wet wipe really neatly in some foil in my lunch box. My mum would be stunned that a little girl could turn a hardened man like my father into the gentle giant i knew him to be. When he died and my brothers left, my mum found a new community, and i was alone in a big house in south London. All my friends were in my old town. I had nothing. I think that programmed how I navigate relationships. I get into them, make an explosive ending, leave, and start again. New. Nothing ever lasts with me. Or rather, nothing has ever lasted with me. A few things have, which I’m trying to hold onto dearly, but there’s always that voice in my head warning me that this too will fail.

I won’t lie, I day dream about beautiful partnerships. Obviously with you. Lounging by the lake, smoking on a balcony, lying in bed with the sun shining on our bellies. I do hold onto those moments, where i can feel your eyes looking into me. when i know i’m on your mind, and when i see you becoming happy when i get excited about another boring academic thing or tasty cake. When you’re just as content as I am in silence, being alone, having our own understandings in public. Being considered in your life. they come crashing down by a kick to my throat and i’m back on the floor wondering what I’ve done to deserve this literal illness that is rotting my mind. I think about my desires to be seen and held – and to have someone present for me. Like, what does that even mean? Does it mean phone calls in the form of, “hey, how are you doing?” or a message “thinking about you. if you need anything just say,” “i can see you’re in pain. you’re more than your pain but your pain is beautiful.” That’s how I show love and care, but it’s probably not how a lot of other people do. I have felt your care. You lifted me to the shower and washed me when I couldn’t look after myself. You’re a physical person, you show love in practical things. Practicality is probably what I need right now. I show love with poems and letters and grand spontaneous gestures.

What a beautiful thing those two things merged together could be.

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A Radical Softness

I attempt to ascertain my sadness as a form of productivity because it’s been drilled into my head I am worth no more than the fruits of my structured labour. I cried on the phone to a friend of mine.

Why are you Crying?” He asked me.

I told him I was ugly, I said I knew not why I wept and that I wish I could stop

This is when he taught me about this “radical softness.” A state of being in a harsh and brutal world where one can open up their petals for the chance to be kissed by the sun. Call it escapism, but it made a lot of sense to me. I staggered my thoughts to articulate them in a fanciful web of utterances which wouldn’t communicate how it is I feel. To feel weak in a powerful way. To radiate your sensitivity through a hardened exterior, shining forth to blind others as they squint away. To cry for no god damn reason.

Why do you think you’re ugly?” He asked me.

I told him I’m ugly because of my skin, because of my identity, because when people get too close to touch me they flinch and recoil.

This is when he assured me I was one with the earth. If I wasn’t in such a state I probably would have hung up the phone because who has time for this hippy bullshit? But I was in a state, so I heard him out, I heard what this friend of mine on the other side of London murmured as I curled up under a blanket, my once white pillow turning a blotchy black. My brown skin wasn’t to be hated, but nurtured. To bloom. How can I bloom in the dark? Can any of us bloom in the dark?

I dunno, trying to write about a thing that is uplifting seems to go against all the nihilistic tendencies of my mind. It doesn’t seem it, it is it. I want to write about happiness but whenever I want to write I am unhappy. I want to communicate the speck of hope I often examine on the tip of my finger but then I ponder, “what’s the point? This happiness or unhappiness is mine and therefore I cannot communicate it to anyone because it is mine and it is mine alone.” So aside from being selfish in my own unhappiness, the only logical thing to do is be generous in my happiness.

Can I take this happiness as something to be found within my tears, within this radical softness? Flowers will bloom because what the fuck am I going to do about it? I’m going to bloom because what the fuck are you going to do about it? After embracing my radical softness (don’t get any ideas because I’ll still cut a bitch) I found a strength. Not only am I soft to others, but I am soft and gentle to myself. And in doing that my regimented self care came to fruition.

I envy your tears,” I recall this provocation as I sit in this pub nestled in a South London town completely on my own. This place doesn’t serve food, only liquids. It would be a bad idea for them to serve food, there are so many places on the street that offer cheap and hot food. It would just cost them money. My tears which have been since elated are in a bit of an uncertain position. They’re not used to gentle treatment. Now I idolise them in their happy bountifulness. They’re not used to a confrontation without the stigma of manic depression. I always precariously gift my mental state to others, like a cat who brings home a mutilated creature. I thought I did good to bring home my prized possession! I hunted my mind, won’t you examine it? Commend me for my agility in its entrapment, let us dissect my brain and dance in its blood. And so on, and so forth. Perhaps cats know just how hideous their prey is, and that their masters will recoil at the offensive smells. But what else can kitty do, it must bring home something. It can’t simply be an elusive “thing, object, pet” with no substance. I cannot go on with no substance! Here, I thrust my rodents under your nose. Smell the decay and through the decay you shall smell the roses.

Through these tears I wiped away the dirt and uncovered my self! I sit here in a cheap fur coat, too broke for a beer and I could easily scream “I exist!

I exist!

I am a fog

A selfish fog

A fog that wants to encompass everything

And smother your sight

Your breath

Your voice

I am the fog which is the only thing everything can see

There is nothing

Nothing, besides me

But, like all fogs

For I am no exception

We fade away

Slowly, the mist evaporates

My self dissipates

Then you’ll see

You’ll see beyond me

The veil is lifted and I,

Well I, I am no longer a fog

You can see now, with a forked tongue and eyes alight

I am a fire

My colours they dance!

They dance, they sway, they flicker, they beckon

My colours, they dance

The fire that I am, I want you to come closer

Move away from the fog and touch the shrill blue

My beautiful blue that truly

Encompasses everything I do

Recoil! Shudder! Move away!

The blue, this blue that wants you to stay

But you run, you hurt

You’re in pain,

I’m sorry that this blue

Was misleading in its hue

My rain comes forth and smothers this fire

Killing this pain and in turn

Nurturing you higher

This is my love, my love for you!

And I will water it, all the way through.

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I didn’t quite know what to title this piece of writing. It’s difficult to pigeonhole tumultuous thoughts invading your body and mind into one or two words in the hopes it aptly describes one aspect of this shit storm of depression and anxiety you’re going through. The past few months have grown increasingly difficult to cope with, so much so mental health awareness week or whatever wasn’t even on my conscience. What was on my agenda was staying alive and being okay with it.

To write about mental health is a tricky area as it may invite unwanted phrases such as “but I thought you had this going for you,” or questions such as “so what?” perhaps those people are right, maybe it’s not such a big deal. I’m not here to list out every single one of my woes and concerns to justify my state of mind. Before I write anything, I go through something I call my “paranoid session.” I fret that maybe these words and sentences don’t actually have any intrinsic meaning to them, that there’s no point for me to write about experiences. To overcome this session, I just have to acknowledge that it is indeed the truth. There is no intrinsic, profound meaning to my words, that yes, this blog post won’t change things. I’m not about to wrap a thin veil around my justification and say I’m trying to raise awareness of my “psychological problems” as my doctor phrased it, and to perhaps encourage others to reach out about their own mental health.

As a side note, speaking up about your emotional state is of great importance. There is a big reason for the existence of mental health awareness week, no matter how flippantly I mentioned it. Doctors and campaigns are only the start of recovery or a better life. In short, they enable change for the better, even if it hurts. I told my therapist that talking to them felt like an open wound, that even the slightest breeze would make me wince. My temporary and unsanitary bandages would previously come in the form of destructive self medication. But now I’m keeping the affected area clean and applying the right ointments. I have accepted that the scars I’ll bear from here on out will not always be visible.

Rather “selfishly”, I have this condition where writing about my “self” and putting it out there for the masses is so much easier than having an intimate discussion with a loved one. After my first session in a while I remember calling up a friend, I was desperate to talk to someone, to spill everything out and just tell them “you know what, I’m having a nervous breakdown.” I heard the comforting and familiar voice say “hello?” to which I felt myself completely shut down. I just did the usual act-like-everything’s-fine-and-deal-with-it-later and cut the conversation as soon as it hit a minute and a half. It was awkward, it was strained, it was unhealthy.

I’d been lumbering around with endless responsibilities on my back, far too “grown up” than I had ever anticipated upon entering my twenties. When I had the first moment in two months where I didn’t have to send an email, go to work, to lectures, to meetings, to figure out if I can afford my education, if my education was even worth it, if I’d even succeed in it, I’d sit down and feel like I had entered a vacuum. You know, everything was eerily quiet like my mind had been converted into a lynchian ghost-town where the spirits of admin lurked around every corner, ready to pounce as soon as my alarm went off. It was all or nothing: either I be thrown into a pit of duties I had no profound interest in, or I strapped myself into a rocket and launched myself into space without a helmet. Sitting down and writing this feels alien. I’m not meant to express myself, not in this position for sure.
My doctor told me they wouldn’t officially diagnose me with anything because chances are it would put my future career aspirations in jeopardy. I’m not too well versed in how mental health works with “work” but I didn’t want to take a chance. I just nodded and took whatever prescription was being offered to me. I’m on mood stabilisers without “officially” being unstable. Go figure. Without knowing what to completely expect, not having a single word to define my “psychological problems” feels much like not finding the right word to title this piece.

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