In the sidebar on the right, I caution that posting may be patchy. If you wish to follow what I write here, you may wish to subscribe. And it’s true: there was a period of frenetic activity in July 2017, before I nosedived. I returned briefly, in February 2018. I’ve been trying again this past month.
But that leaves an awful lot of gaps. More silence than words. So I wanted to attempt to unpack why I often find this exercise difficult.
My go-to answer is usually that the meds, combined with low-level depression, made me drowsy or sapped my creativity. This is partially true. There have definitely been days – weeks even – when a superhuman effort was required to hold down my job, keep my children and myself clothed and fed, pay the bills, and deal with whatever other shitty and complex things I had going on at the time (buying out my husband’s share of my apartment! divorcing!) I focused on doing the minimum required to survive, then collapsed into bed to Netflix and chill with myself. So while I’ve seen every decent TV series made since my diagnosis, that doesn’t make for exciting copy.
For the past three years I also let my day job – which I loved – eat me alive. At first, doing so may have been a way of skirting the issue that my marriage was imploding. But once that became a reality, staying late or bringing work home filled the void left by first one, then another of my children moving into shared custody with their fathers, leaving an alternate week of emptiness to be filled.
The idea of being alone filled me with dread. My daughter, my eldest, was the last to leave, and she put up a fight, at first. Her therapist explained to me, gently, that it wasn’t because she didn’t want or need to spend more time with her father. She was afraid to leave me, worried I might harm myself. The timing wasn’t fantastic, admittedly, as I wasn’t long discharged from hospital. We managed to defer the change for a couple of months because it was just too soon. Don’t make this look like a punishment for what I nearly did. Please.
But clearly I had no choice but to parent-up and convince my daughter that I was not her responsibility. She could leave me alone. I would be alright. And it’s true, now I look forward to my child-free weeks. But fuck me, it was not easy at first, when I was feeling so shitty, after fourteen years of us always being together. The apartment I love, that I hung on to by my fingernails when I divorced, felt oversized and wrong.
I spent most of the time, as I do, sitting on my bed with my computer in my lap, thinking that I could easily live in a studio apartment the size of my bedroom, really. Sometimes I would force myself to sit on the sofa, trying to reclaim my own living room. But during that time, I was mostly working, which I now realise was unhealthy. And also unpaid. I have a new job now, a much less busy one. It’s like 2005, all over again and I rather like it.
But having no life, or working too much is not really the crux of the matter.
The main reason I have often begun posts, then deleted them, is because when I started this blog, in a state of hypomania, I told my parents, my friends, even my daughter that I had done so. Oversharing is what I do best during this phase of my illness-existence-personality. Boundaries become porous. Things seep through, that shouldn’t.
So while this space may be anonymous – which I think is important, as I don’t want to share my diagnosis with my employer unless I choose to do so, for example – I have effectively hobbled the freedom that it could potentially give me to truly speak my mind.
Imagine, if you will, unleashing your self-hatred onto the page on a day you are visited by your demons, knowing that your sixteen-year-old daughter might swing by at any moment? Lifting the veil on your most unsightly insecurities when you are also trying to seduce someone you really want to impress? These are familiar problems I encountered in a previous blogging existence – because I always did get a perverse pleasure out of painting myself in an unflattering light – but multiplied two hundredfold, because mental illness has been thrown into the mix.
At the back of my mind is the thought that if I get too carried away, write anything too melodramatic, it could – conceivably – be used against me in a court of law one day to remove my children from my care.
I’m still not sure how I’m going to navigate around this, but my brain sure is noisy – the picture above represents me on a good day – so I’m trying with every post to break the silence.