I mean, I’ll be honest, when I started this blog, I was thinking of it more as a social experiment (of course I was, who wants to admit to themselves that they are writing a blog). I imagined it would capture the Raw Truth of Living with a Mental Illness. That after a while, depression would return, I would be too depressed to write, and I’d have to cry into my inbuilt camera instead, looking beautiful, like Beyoncé in that documentary that she wrote, directed and produced about herself. And that together we would marvel at the depth and unpredictability of human emotion.
But, I’m like, still fine and stuff. It has been about 6 weeks now. I don’t know what to do about it. I’ve had a few wobbly moments recently: explaining to the 7th passerby of the day that no, I don’t empty my toilet “into the river”, realizing that boat people love to party into the night (good) to blues music (not good), eating tuna, mayonnaise and sweetcorn from a single can for dinner, and feeling crushing Loneliness for absolutely no reason, and dropping everything to crawl back into the bosom of my loving friends with houses, lovely dirty noisy houses. And televisions. But when any potentially destabilizing thought or feeling (no matter how completely normal considering I am a human not a robot) creeps into my brain and my belly, I just do my mantras: “I have to be strong” or “I am strong” depending on how confident I’m feeling. Seems to work.
Most of the time though, I feel really lucky, like I used to. I used to feel somehow immune to the tribulations that others had to face, like I was running through a Gameboy, collecting mushrooms and hearts, riding phoenixes, dodging weird meat cleaver things being thrown by giant clowns, never getting hit. I would often marvel at my luck – I have had perfect physical health my whole life, I have had an incredible formal education and could have more if I wanted, I have total freedom over my life, I have never been hungry for longer than the time it takes to get to a fridge, I love my family and they love me back, I have seen the Red Hot Chili Peppers in concert 5 times, I have and always have had the most fierce women around, to cry with and to laugh with, I found a perfect boat to live on the day after I decided to live on one. I’ve always felt that if I want something, I’ll be able to get it. Maybe luck isn’t the right word for that.
So being incapacitated for 6 months, and entirely reliant on other people, left me feeling like I’d dropped my Gameboy in the swimming pool, you know?
My mum used to tell me off for describing myself as lucky. It’s diminishing – it doesn’t acknowledge the hard work, the sacrifice or the good deeds that may have led to where you are. She believes that if you do good things, they come back to you, at some point, in some way. I believed that too – I mean, who would want to live in a world where that isn’t true? That’s why when I was dealt a rotten hand, I would often wonder, deep down, what I had done wrong. I took it as a signifier that I wasn’t good or special anymore. Not only did I feel pretty unlucky, but I started to see an unlucky past, mired by mini-tragedies and potential traumas. And that’s what the people around me were reinforcing, which makes sense, because if they had all sat around telling me why I was actually very lucky, I just wouldn’t have been into it. Isn’t it fascinating and terrifying how one life can be seen so differently through the same set of eyes? Hiya depression.
Once comfortably settled into my recent period of illness, I had stopped wondering what was wrong with me, and I spent almost every second of my time awake obsessively thinking about what was wrong with the world and everyone in it. I was working with the same karmic idea, that we get what we give, but this time I wasn’t following it through. I have given stuff, I kept telling myself. I have given stuff directly to people and I have given stuff to the forces that challenge structural bullshit in this world, and no-one or nothing is giving me anything back, when I so desperately need it. Despite my mother who didn’t sleep for weeks, despite my friends who lived with it and through it, despite the NHS, despite the best man I have ever known, that is genuinely how I felt. That anger, that bitterness, is what nearly drove me to the edge. Hiya depression.
So basically that is a very long-winded way of saying I am so lucky to feel lucky again. And for the time being I don’t care why – maybe someone has lent me some of their good juju, or maybe it’s all completely fucking arbitrary or maybe I’m realizing that my madness makes me lucky – or “charmed” as my good friend who also has bipolar put it. These thoughts were inspired by a conversation we had, sitting on the pavement outside a pub in Soho one recent Saturday night.
Her: Don’t you think sometimes, this is cool. I mean, obviously it fucking sucks, but it’s also kind of amazing. We experience so many things that other people never will.
Me: Yes. That is cool.
Her: I wouldn’t like to do it without meds though. Thank god we weren’t alive 100 years ago.
Me: Yeah. We would have been burned at the steak in no time. We are those women though. Now. We are the witches.
Her: We are the witches. Lucky witches.