Over the weekend we went camping in Lytham. The campsite was a little run down though had a lot of character, with a saloon-style clubhouse with live proper Americana country music playing; musicians in cowboy hats and boots. We drove into Lytham and walked, had coffee and ran around with Charlie, and went into St Annes on the promenade on Sunday, pub lunch and Luke won and lost a fortune in the 2p slot machines. I cooked al fresco, a lovely veggie curry on camp stoves on the first night, and the kids were happy, and we were happy.
We played cards until late under darkening skies and I drank too much Amaretto and fell asleep warm and contented.
While I was away I read Adam Fould’s The Quickening Maze which was a compelling read. I read it by torchlight in the night on an airbed snuggled in a duvet, rain pattering down on the tent.
I have been struggling at home to cope with severe agitation, though while I was away I felt a lot better. I felt free and occupied and there was always something easy to do. Sometimes at home I want to do too many things at once and put enormous pressure on myself to get too many things done, chastising myself when I can’t meet my own high expectations. Sometimes I wish I could just ‘be’ but I find that incredibly difficult.
I’ve been trying to focus on one thing at a time and experience one thing, and music has always been my crutch as I can really tune into sounds and distract myself with it. Yesterday whilst unpacking I listened to a version of this: Substance by Girls and I had a real rush; I sometimes feel so overwhelmed by music that I feel myself tingling all over and feel absolutely blown away, and sometimes by songs I’ve maybe heard a hundred times before that have never affected me before. Sometimes I just hit on the right song in the right mood and it is sweeter than a drug.
I think sometimes my mood disorder puts me in a heightened state of awareness that I know helps me to write, and understand my own psychology and helps me feel compassion and empathy in a way I possibly wouldn’t know how to. If I could erase my mental illness then I would in a heartbeat though because I can’t do this and may never experience stability in the way others may experience it I do try to at least make the most of the sensitivity and the way I can tap into euphoria and in a way use my mood. It’s not often I can do it but occasionally being high makes being sociable a hell of a lot easier. Sometimes I can write when I’m high and I can reach for things I simply couldn’t reach for stable or depressed, and I rarely feel any real in between with my moods, I’m either agitated, elated or sad and slow and depleted. I have been asked a couple of times recently why I think my moods are so difficult to control and I know it all inside and out and understand it all better than anyone but still, to my great frustration I can’t rein it in. I’ve just learned to go with it.
I’ve had real experiences listening to music that I could never really put into words because they are quite apart from language. When Radiohead’s Hail to the Thief came out I was in a psychiatric hospital and in my deep psychotic mania absolutely believed, and believed is a light word to use in this case, I understood that this album was somehow so in tune with my own real world, and my own imaginary world, that I was inseparable from it. Intrinsically, I was this album. I remember the first time I heard Sit Down.Stand Up I was sat in a room with a dozen other women, all sat around the outskirts of the room, and it began to rain and thunder outside; the medication trolley was wheeled into the centre of the room and each of us went up in turn then sat back down – desperate, silenced, alone, beyond repair and beyond hope. I had the album on in my headphones and I cried, silently, full of grief so immense I couldn’t be reached by anyone. Here is the album in full: Hail to the Thief, Radiohead
I can still listen to this album and I feel on another plane. It has never lessened in intensity for me.
I’ve lost my thread again. I feel subdued, and the sun has gone. I have never been able to get used to the fluctuations. I know they come but they come unpredictably; all I can do is let myself be taken by them and know I will come through it maybe soon, maybe not, but I will come through. It is hard for anyone to understand as no-one can see what is happening to me; people who have known me my whole life are still no nearer to understanding. I often come across as capable and motivated and just…happy I guess. It’s not easy to explain.
I’m just so glad I experienced so much inner contentment over the weekend. I really feel incredibly lucky at such times and immerse myself in those feelings. I have so much to be grateful for in this life. It was so good to wake to birdsong. I feel strong again and so long as I can try hard not to tie myself in frustrated knots and do too many things at once I know I can come back to those feelings when I’m with my family again and again.