Fighting Back The Tide
Last week was one of the most boring and uneventful weeks in as long as I can remember, and I loved every second.
For a while, life didn’t seem so loud. The noise that has been an ever-present feature of my mind dulled slightly and for a few days it became easier to sleep. More importantly, it became easier to be awake.
With this reprieve gratefully accepted, I put about 20 or so hours’ worth of work into my course, and generally felt about as normal as I ever get to feel. Following another day of work, I felt a little more tired than usual and ended up falling asleep in the middle of the day. Only for a few hours, but sometimes even that can be enough to rock the boat.
I awoke with the familiar feeling of unease that often greets me when my eyes open at a strange hour. The noise began to ebb and flow a little more violently than it had been, and I felt the tide of anguish steadily rising. The side of me that understands this illness knows that tides rise and fall, but that knowledge doesn’t do you much good when you’re worried that you’re about to drown.
I sat for an hour, working through the existential jetlag that hits you when you wake up at an unfamiliar time. The lights don’t appear from the same places, and if you sleep for too long you can wake to find that you’re met only with shadows.
When that happens, you have to find a way to make your own light. I’m getting slightly better at this than I once was; though it’s still not easy, I cope better now.
I wrote a few years back about the idea of “soulmates”; specifically, the concept that humans are incomplete from birth and can’t be whole until they find that person who completes them - the missing piece of the puzzle.
I thought about that today, as I often do. Is it true? Do we all live with a void that must be filled by another?
Perhaps it’s this idea that keeps us clinging onto people we should have let go a long time ago. Perhaps they never filled that void at all and were simply a square peg forced into a round hole.
Or maybe, the only person capable of filling that hole is you. As much as I love the idea of being in love, I’ve come to realise now that it makes more sense to be complete and then find somebody, than it does to find somebody that completes you. That way, with or without them, you’re always the same person. As are they. After all, two is better than one, isn’t it?
I suppose the point I’m driving at is this - I believe that it’s better to be sure of who you are, than to allow somebody else to tell you.
At this point, you might well be wondering how this relates in any way to me waking up and feeling anxious. In truth, it really doesn’t. It’s bigger than that. I’m realising that being alone is okay; that for as fucked up as the last two years have been, I’ll come out the other side stronger for them. The tide will always rise from time to time, but likewise, it always falls. I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t need anybody to keep me afloat anymore. I’m still struggling to swim, but my head is above water.
I don’t think I’m ever going to be happy that I lost two years of my life; it’s stupid to expect something like that. But hopefully I can at least look back on it at some point and know that things will never be that bad again. I’ve lost friends over the last 24 months, but I’ve also gained new ones. I’ve lost jobs, but I’ve worked hard. I’ve learned new things about the world, about myself, and about other people. Maybe this hasn’t been a complete waste of time after all.
I hate that I’ve been through this, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t have some value. I know more now than I did then, and I guess that’s what I have to take from all of this.
I begin therapy in 41 hours; tomorrow I have to write a list of everything I need to talk about and I’m really not looking forward to it. I’m digging up skeletons I buried a long time ago, and I have no idea how they’re going to look when I see them again.
But I’ll still have my head above the water. I’ll still have air in my lungs.
I’ll be drifting, but I’ll be alive.