It’s been a long time since I have felt this bad for as long as I have (eight+ weeks now). A good six years since I was this depressed.
But I guess it’s accumulative. I think the sleeping ugly beast has woken angrier and hungrier than ever.
It wants to devour me whole. I need to say this now. I am not a victim (I am very much a survivor) and I am not crying poor bugger me. I am merely trying to make sense of the journey to date and writing about and sharing my experience helps.
Life hasn’t been entirely fun since 2012. It’s been a series of recoveries and traumas, but in fact that could be argued for my entire life (and it is the same for many of us humans).
In 2013 I was raped. It wasn’t the first time that had happened to me and I was too afraid of him to report it. Sexual assaults within relationships were not foreign to me either (on two other occasions).
I got on with things. I have so normalised sexualised violence in my life that I don’t allow myself to process it properly.
I just opened an internet browser before publishing this – and the article said “Why Fifi Box went public about sexual assault”.
Why do we need a reason? Because we are ashamed of what someone else did to us? I am sick of this and feeling empowered by the current wave of women speaking up. I am not ashamed, it was not my fault.
My relationship with my then 16-year-old fell apart and he went to live with my mother. What had been a great relationship flew into emotional stand-offs and seething resentment. I was so damaged I couldn’t be there for him and I didn’t want to damage him more in the process – his life has been tough enough.
It took a good two years to recover emotionally and in the middle of that I had a relatively healthy (compared to my past) relationship that failed. I think I, at least subconsciously, decided I couldn’t love again.
I finished the book I have been writing in 2016 after returning to Alice Springs via China (teaching English) and Darwin. I’ve still got edits to do, it won a publishing mentorship with Hachette. I should be so proud of that, but the woken ugly beast consumes me.
I am exceeding frustrated with community service work (my day job) where I find myself trapped. It isn’t that I dislike the work, it’s the politics that frustrate me. Neo-liberal clap trap that means a small percentage get rich and the rest battle. I need to do something else.
Earlier this year I was assaulted trying to lock a gate at work by a drunken, exceptionally sleazy man off the street. It was a “low level” assault, but it was creepily sexual in intent (words spoken, parts of me grabbed). I managed to use the gate as a weapon and he took off.
I have not quite been the same since.
It resulted in a simmering sadness, that when my job wasn’t refunded (it was a temporary contract) recently, became a crescendo of pain. If you can’t find love (and perhaps I have replaced love with work), but all you can find is violence – there isn’t much in the way of hope, at least that is how I feel now.
There has been a brief hospitalisation and I am on day five of anti-depressants. There is no way I can keep pushing myself.
As for strategies; I’ve read, I’ve studied, I’ve exercised, I’ve meditated, had a perfect diet, lived like a machine, then lived like an artist. All in different combinations and intensities and had long periods of peace and long periods of darkness. I’ve always refused the self-medication of alcohol or drugs but have dabbled very occasionally – it doesn’t feel better, it just makes me numb and makes me push myself more.
I will continue to do combinations of the above approaches, but I know I need more help at the moment. I have severe hypertension that is linked to old traumas and injuries and it is responding accordingly, with massive blood pressure that I struggle to control, even with the right BP medication. I also know it will come back to more manageable when I start becoming well again.
As an artist, primarily a writer and storyteller is where I am most happy. But it is a never-ending fight with “day jobs” and I can’t yet seem to get the right writing job. I will eventually.
Whilst I am not a fan of pharmaceuticals, I know what happens to Cheetahs when they can’t run. They die. Now I feel like a wounded animal waiting for death. But I am also very much wanting to keep living, so at the psychiatrist’s command (and my request) I committed to the wee chemical beastie.
I still feel I have something to offer the world, however my mind tears to shreds everything I do now and sends me mountains of negative feedback. This woken beast hasn’t killed off my self-love yet and I am hanging onto that little bit of something I have left.
So now I let the internal battle be waged between the woken ugly beast and the wee chemical beastie.
So, I’m wishing the wee chemical beastie luck because the ugly beast is large and fearsome. I’ll hand it the tools and weapons that usually work for me to assist as best I can. It’s all I can do now.
Relapses are places for learning, for healing, and a redirection of sorts.
I declare today day one of recovery.