The Quiet Voice

So… in response to social media asking what’s on my mind. Here we go. A difficult truth.

My illness means that there’s a constant background hum in my head. A voice (or voices), on repeat, telling me You Can’t Do It. You can’t go on, there’s no point, just stop, you’re the worst, nobody cares.

Sometimes that noise becomes loud, overwhelming. Physical action (hiding, or at least getting to a place of safety) is necessary.

Right now, it’s telling me that nobody wants to see this. It’s not helpful, it’s just whingeing. Oh great, she’s off again. And that famous old retort known to depressed folk everywhere: Just Wanting Attention.

No.

This is how my mental illness manifests. People have asked, and some don’t believe it, but it’s true, and very real for me.

But…

If I’m able to cut through the noise, to listen carefully, there’s also a quiet but determined counter-voice. It just says ‘You Can. Keep going.’

It doesn’t always win. But I’m so glad that it’s still there.

My inner self hasn’t given up on me.

Still here.

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The Journey

Yesterday and today I’ve been away from home, ensconced in a lovely manor house with a group of friendly Pagans, learning about Chaplaincy. Much laughter but also seriousness, shared intention and determination.

Coming home this evening I felt empowered, as if another level had been reached through the unity of our work and perspective. I wanted to drive for miles to explore, or to go for a run when back… To Do Something, to hold on to that energy!

Of course, that wasn’t to be. I set my course and returned safely, to a quiet house with just a sleeping kitten and myself, pondering the adventure.

We set the foundation, charge our energy and prepare our focus. When the time is right, we will be ready to move – but not just yet. Enthusiasm isn’t fuel enough, not quite! 

We’re still in winter. Finding inspiration in the dark, the peace, the planning and story weaving. 

The journey has begun. But first gear has to be the starting point; or the prologue before the action. 

I will do my best to hold on to that laughter and determination, moving forward.

Brimming Over with Wrongability

Like everyone, I’ve been told throughout my life when I’ve been at fault, whether it be by family members, teachers or friends. Nothing wrong with that – it’s how we learn, after all.

Except… for those times when your secret self cannot possibly believe it. Even if you can see why the other would call your thoughts, words or actions ‘wrong’, the determination rises to prove yourself right. Sometimes this is a battle. There can be casualties.

I’ve been seeing evidence of this in various places lately, contemplating the balance that is needed but often thrown askew by limited perspective or information. Notably in the rhetoric of politicians versus the op-eds of the Press, and the sound-bites of social media. Those who don’t want to see the full picture, because it would clash with their agenda – far easier to call ‘true/false’.

But it’s the voices of the artists that resonate most strongly with me. Those with fire in their heads, often called mental illness; I recall hearing once that the poor man is mad, while the rich merely eccentric. I may be somewhere in the middle, myself.

My fire isn’t stoked by madness – the black dog drags me away from the creative flame. But then from that darkness comes the determination once again, to strive forward and prove myself. I might not be ‘right’ (I’ll be the first to admit that!), but I want to explore the journey, the reasoning, the full story in each of its’ multitudinous hues. By burning your hand, you learn not to touch… but you learned this yourself, through truly feeling, experiencing, knowing that truth.

I’m not advocating attempts to fly by jumping off a roof to see if you can. As the late, great Bill Hicks said, ‘Start from the ground!’ But do start… and keep striving on. Because if we don’t, if all we do is believe the voices of others, then we surely lose our own.

‘Some day I must make a list of the reasons for which I have been thought mad and by whom: it would make such an amusing medley.’
(Explorer Dame Freya Stark, writing in 1930. From ‘Passionate Nomad’, by Jane Fletcher Geniesse)

‘The contrariness that others saw was really just the persistence of longings too important to let go of: images in his head kept alive by a fierce imagination that overruled an increasingly contrary world.’
(From ‘Van Gogh: The Life’, by Steven Naifeh & Gregory White Smith)