I lived a good deal of my life in a pressured way. It’s very hard to put into words, but because of manic and mixed and psychotic depressive episodes my brain trained itself to never enjoy anything. I have spent a couple of years trying to counteract this. When I was high, everything was fast, pressured, I had no time for anything, everything irritated me. Even if I was euphoric, it wasn’t as though I had the time to enjoy it; I wanted the next thing and the next thing and the next thing. Chronic agitation made it hard for me to do a lot of things, including just sitting and watching a film. I couldn’t enjoy just sitting and just being. I couldn’t enjoy having a conversation with someone because my speech was pressured and I needed to say more than the other person. I couldn’t enjoy my food because I just wanted eating to be over, so I could get on with something more important, though that something more important rarely materialised.
I found though, that I could write. I could use the pressure of language and speech and tune into something acute, something real and structured and permanent, and I enjoyed it. That was what I had. That was my pleasure and even though I felt I rarely got it right, I could use it at times as a process, working through the feelings that were so hard to contain, so hard to do anything with.
Now I have to try to remind myself to enjoy things, and keep talking to myself in my head, talking myself through the senses and my experience of things. The medication doesn’t help. I feel distant. I can’t describe what it makes me feel like, in fact. I have to take it. It stills the pressure and the despair and the agony of it all. A junior doctor who took one of my appointments on my doctor’s behalf told me recently that I’d have to come off the medication (that I was told I would have indefinitely), because of cost, and that I could try one of any number of oral medications (all of which I’ve tried to no avail). I have an appointment coming up, in which I am sure they will break it to me, that I have to stop the medication which has finally given me a life. But it’s difficult really because as much as I need it, I also hate it. I hate the way I am and the way my writing has changed. I would say on a good day that it has ‘developed.’ But sometimes I question that.
When I see people cheering for their life during a football match, I envy that. I don’t live in the moment, I experience things as though on the other side of a sheet of glass. I wonder if they stop the medication, would I feel any different, better? Would I be able to cope? I went a day over on my weekly medication recently and immediately my thoughts began to race. I think that what I’m heading for is very frightening, because in reality I know that it’ll be the hospital trail again if I come off this drug.
Now I enjoy things better, after training myself to. I love a good cup of coffee. I can enjoy every last sip. I can enjoy talking and playing with the children without my thoughts racing and preoccupying me. I like to be outside walking, though I still find if I don’t listen to music on a long walk that my thoughts become unbearable. But I can cope, and these are the best years of my life.