There’s tedium in a life like mine, and banality and the everyday, but I have grown to work with that at times. This is not the life I always hoped for, but it is the life I want and deserve. No matter what happens, I came to this point naturally and without kicking and screaming. This is also wellness, or what that means to me. I understand that I am a sensitive and private creature, I seek out isolation and I feel lonely even when I’m with others. I used to wonder how on earth I was going to survive in this world when I absorb so much of what is around me and I suffer sensitivity so acutely. I often feel quite fatalistically that here is where I must be, and this is the life I was meant for. I only think that casually of course.

The sun is beaming. The house is cold. The kids are at school, I’ve been writing a new poem which I can’t seem to inject any life into. I get asked what I do for a living. I say I’m unemployed, and then a hosuewife, and occasionally I tell people I write. It’s always the same reaction, as though I’ve said something terrible, like I am inferring that I am more intellectually adept than the other person. It’s very odd. Some lovely people yesterday said some positive things to me, that I should be proud of my writing. I wish I was getting more into the magazines, I seem to be having a difficult period with my work. I keep writing anyway, everyday, in a disciplined way. Most of what I write is awful and I generally just discard it, but sometimes, I write something I feel is authentic and interesting. This is the best feeling in the world to me.

Round here, life goes on in a very humdrum way. I’m a long way away from the city. People here dress differently, they walk slowly, they talk slowly, there’s time to spare. I walk to re-stock the well, I stargaze, I overhear conversations, I imagine, most of all, I have room to imagine. Really I feel like a failure most days, because I don’t write anything successful and nobody’s been in touch to tell me they’re interested in my work and I haven’t managed to draw on my resources very convincingly. There’s the endless pile of washing and cleaning and I take good care of the kids, like I said, I can feel alone even when the house is full.

 I think that it is easy for people to see me as a melancholic, someone who listens to too many sad songs and watches sad films and reads sad books. I like the sadness, I can relate to it more than anything else, I have the lived experience to be able to connect with sadness and grief and despair. I find it life affirming at times, to be presented with something someone has had to live through. Or something with magnitude, I find strength in being confronted with things I can’t imagine and I love the way music and art tempts your emotions, makes you feel alive. Even when it’s dark, sad, strange, troubled. I know people who only listen to ‘happy’ music and will say that they are easily brought down by anything else. I imagine it’s helpful to be able to block out unwanted emotion and stay up and ‘happy.’ I can say now that I am happy for the first time in my life, that’s been the case for the last six months, but I can’t imagine what it’s like to not have been depressed and manic and ill for the majority of my life, to be able to make simple choices that steady emotions, like what not to read and listen to and watch. Or what not to confront as the case may be. I take it all on, head on, because I have always been this way, a hunger for truth perhaps, and nothing like any of my relatives, I appear to have decided to be this way all by myself, or if I haven’t decided, I wasn’t influenced. And there is no telling why I am a manic depressive either. It’s simply the case, I can’t change this.

Would I want to change anything, that it the question. I was asked recently if I would change being a manic depressive and I answered yes. All that pain, all the terrible terrible hours and days turning into months and years, the pain you can’t express at all. I said I’d change it. But not just to be someone who couldn’t face the truth. I would still want to be attuned to the world and all its intricacies. Is it the mental illness that makes me the way I am or is it just something that exists alongside my personality?

On a lighter note, Steven and I actually got out the other night, drove to Liverpool, which I love, has a fantastic atmosphere, and watched Siddharta Bose’s one man play Kalagora, a performance of poetry with real soul and charisma. I love the book, his debut poetry collection available form Penned in the Margins or Inpress books online. Siddharta was brillantly energetic and vibrant, the audience giving little ripples of laughter here and there, and he really took you somewhere, incredible storytelling and a captivating performance. I thought now here is a man with real experience, with real creative intuition and invention!

His show is playing at different venues around the country until April 16th so book your tickets now! Don’t miss out!

Much love to all and thankyou for taking the time to read,

M x


10 thoughts on “Melancholia

  1. Mel, I am so happy to hear you say you are happy for the first time in your life. And do not feel you are in any way odd for seeking out sad books, films, etc…, I do it too. I want to be made to feel, made to ache, that’s what these things do, they make me feel alive. I like to laugh as well, but only as a distraction. Glad you and Steven got out, and may this be a year of happiness for you, and a year of recognition for your work, and satisfaction. You are writing every day, I am incredibly impressed by that. Lots of love.

  2. Oh thankyou Tania! I am ‘happy’! And yes, writing every day, mostly (and I mean this) mostly junk, but writing all the same. Well wishes and high hopes for your literary year too T. We’re nothing without the capacity to reflect and to empathise are we? Sadness is necessary. Going to have a cup of tea now and watch telly, can’t all be intense all the time! xx

  3. “Is it the mental illness that makes me the way I am or is it just something that exists alongside my personality?” You make your mental illness the way you are…it is the sideshow. Sure, I would like not to be in the leaking boat. Is mental illness everything? It’s nothing, really. It hasn’t stopped me doing any of the things that have mattered and continue to matter to me. It thinks it’s important. It wants love. I can’t get there, to loving it. But at least we understand each other…

    • sounds like a good place to be, understanding each other, the sideshow…I can’t say that I have been able to do the things I’ve wanted to, I simply haven’t, and it has to an unbelievable extent wreaked havoc on my life, bringing about a lot of trauma and awful situations, so I’m not so accepting as you seem to be. This past year I’ve seen stability and I can see all too clearly how ill I have been all my life and all the bad things that have happened, some because of my mental illness. I’m glad J that you can be in that kind of place. I’m getting used to my personality, but my illness is nothing but a cruel aberration. x

    • I haven’t seen the mentalist, I know what you mean though, we don’t watch much telly in this house but when I do I pretend I’m studying plot and character development too! I watched the whole six series of Lost recently!!! My husband was not that into it at all. 😦 But I just sometimes need some relief from all the darker stuff.

  4. There’s that Saul Bellow quotation about death ” … the dark backing that a mirror needs if we are to see anything.” And I guess you could apply this to sadness, melancholy or any of our darker emotions – without the one you can’t fully experience the other (happy) state. The great thing is that you seem to have made an accommodation with yourself in an extremely productive way. Don’t let up! x
    P.S. It is now February – watch this space …

    • What a fantastic quotation Jeremy, and yes, I don’t think you can fully appreciate the happy, the good, the joy, the elation without the darker stuff. But what amazes me and will never cease to amaze me is that I know a lot of people who just don’t know what it feels like to be depressed, they just stay is stasis somehow, living day to day not suffering from depression at any point. And you can’t explain it to them, and sadness never opens up and stops them in their tracks. Sure, if they have bad days they get down, but I can’t get my head around that other people have not suffered in this way. Of course there are plenty plenty of people who have but I just have no concept of a person who can live their lives without ever experiencing proper clinical depression. It seems so unrealistic. But it happens. I’m rambling on, yes; February, I am watching this space indeed. I won’t let up Jeremy.

  5. Liverpool is soothing. Let us know when you’re around and we could meet up there. It’s not far.

    Nothing wrong with being raw. Nothing wrong with distraction.

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