I think I need to balance out the scales a little.
Over the past few months my life has very much been a case of intense emotion, hitting rock bottom and also reaching highs and experiencing feelings I once only dreamed were possible. I can pinpoint these moments and I’ll share them with you in this post but I don’t want to focus on the details. It would be too mentally exhausting for me and not very comforting to read for the people who know and care about me.
It began with the passing of my dear Nan, Rose. She was a true matriarch in every sense of the word, caring for me and raising me when I was a kid and going through turbulent times in my childhood. She was and still is everything to me, a point of strength in my life that will never truly be gone. Grief is very personal, and on the day of her death, I did everything I could to help other people at the hospital because I didn’t want to wait around and watch her slip away. One of the last things she said to me was that she didn’t want me to give up. She told me I was so strong, and to have an attitude of ‘fuck it’, words she often liked to remind me of when it came to talking about my mental health. I love her and miss her terribly, but I feel her strength whenever I am weak or tired or want to give up. I fight for her memory to live on through me, I have her blood running through my veins, pushing me on when I feel I can’t walk forwards anymore.
I haven’t really taken any time to deal with my grief but I think I need to, because putting things in boxes and shutting emotions behind doors only allows the fear of opening them to grow. I don’t want to be worried about missing you, Rose, I don’t want to cry sad tears when I think of you not being by my side. I know you are with me everyday and I want to smile and cry tears of happiness and love when I think of you. I promise, I’ll come and visit you soon and bring you some flowers, I know how much you always loved flowers.
But this is why I won’t give up.
So many people have supported me throughout my life in every dark time, every storm, every flood. And I’m not saying that I feel like I have to keep fighting beacuse I fear I’ll let them down if I don’t, what I’m trying to get across is that I want to keep fighting. All of the love and compassion and kindness and empathy drives me on.
I love going to get my haircut. It always cheers me up, has done since the first time I got a proper haircut at 16 in a salon and got a head massage and all that razzmatazz. I think what I love most is that it’s basically a therapy session as well. The conversations I’ve had over the years with my local barbers and hair stylists have been so varied. Deep and meaningful one moment and light and playful the next. Today, I had my haircut and the conversation with my new local barber, Daryl, was the most important one I’ve had to date.
I recently completed a Tough Mudder Half for OCD Action. Now, if you know me, you’ll have seen how difficult this was and how much of a worried mess I’ve been over the last couple of months preparing for it. However, not only did I complete the challenge and raise over £600 for the charity in the process, I also experienced euphoric liberation from my mental health. Within 10 minutes of the 2 and a bit hour challenge, my OCD and Depression evapourated, leaving my brain free from the shackles it has been bound by for all of these years. At the time, I didn’t focus on this feeling because I was too busy clambering up pyramid obstacles and traversing muddy embankments. Yet today, in the barber’s chair, Daryl said something that resonated so deeply within me and it was like a gigantic hurricaine of fairy lights exploding in my mind (can you tell I was thinking about Stranger Things here?). I had already told him that I felt free of my MH issues after about 10 minutes into the TM and he said, so calmy and simply (and I’m paraphrasing here), “Well now you know what that feeling is like, and you know that feeling liberated and free from your OCD is possible.”
I couldn’t take it all in. I didn’t know how to process this information. He was right. I had, albeit for only 2 hours, experienced freedom. Something I haven’t felt since I was 15 years old. 9 years of being a slave to my mind and I had glimpsed what life could be like being free from OCD and Depression and the limitations I chain myself with. I want to focus on this new possibility. I want this flame to burn brightly and I want to use this to get better, to heal, to find me again.
My mind likes to jog my memory of every time I’ve failed, of every battle I’ve lost to my mental illnesses, of each day that I’ve wished to be anyone but me, to be anywhere but here. And it’s taken a really long time to come to the realisation that, I can choose to disagree with my brain. I can tell it to fuck off. I can decide to filter out the white noise, the mixed signals, the fearful nightmares that plague me. I HAVE THAT POWER. Is it hard to do all of these things? Of course. Is it worth it? Most definately.
Daryl, thank you. You’ll never know how much today meant to me. To my family and friends, you will never know what your love and support means to me. To you Mum, Dad, and to you Nanny Rose, I will always love you and draw from your strength and guidance.
And to anyone struggling and fight against thier mental health, recovery is not just a dream, it’s a reality. There is always hope. There is always a choice. There is always someone who will listen at 3am when you feel you’re alone in the world. You deserve life and happiness, even if you don’t believe it yourself. You’ve got to trust me on this one.
I love each and every one of you and I’ll always be here for you, just like you are for me.