About a year ago, I made the decision that I was too ill to continue to live independently. I moved out of my student accommodation in London and back in with my parents in deepest Cornwall. Shortly afterwards, I also decided to quit my degree. (Fortunately, despite not submitting assignments worth nearly 30% of my final mark, I had enough credit to be awarded a 2:2.)
I’d like to say that I’m someone who sets goals for myself. But if I’m brutally honest: I haven’t for years. I have wishes, hopes, aspirations – but for a while now it has not been realistic to set myself deadlines. But even as I write that, I’m berating myself for it. Perhaps I should have set myself some targets. Perhaps I didn’t because I’m too lazy. Perhaps I’ve failed, and wasted time. Am I being too hard on myself? Let’s be brutally honest again: I don’t know.
I’m very much in a trough at the moment. Perhaps in a few weeks I’ll be over the hurdle, or perhaps in a few weeks I’ll be increasingly convinced that I’m not getting better after all. I won’t list all the new problems and symptoms. Instead, for so long I’ve been saying that I’m only just managing to hold my body together by my fingertips. But now my nails are starting to break. Now my seams are starting to burst. I have a false memory of doing hurdles in PE at school, and knowing I wouldn’t be able to jump over them, so just keeping running and smacking into them instead. But if I’m brutally honest once more: I neither ran nor jumped. I stopped short.
This. Cannot. Be happening to me. Is a year the wrong stage for youth’s disbelief and invincibility to kick in? Why is it hitting me now? Why am I only just in shock? Like it or not, a year is a milestone. A year is ‘oh crap now I’m nearly 24 and things still aren’t much different’. Inevitably, ‘what have I been doing all year?’ is followed by ‘what about in another year?’
What have I been doing all year? I moved home. I’m a little better. I have a diagnosis now. I finally got rid of two wisdom teeth. I dumped my boyfriend. I tried my best with my friends. I travelled to Scotland once, and to London lots of times. I wore a silly hat to collect an eye-wateringly expensive piece of paper. I have a manuscript of a novel ready to send out, and 10,000 words of the first draft of the sequel. I’m still writing my blog sometimes.
What about in another year? More than anything, I want not to still be living with my parents. I doubt I’ll have the energy for another relationship. I want to get better at keeping in touch with my extended family and friends. I’ll most likely go back to London to visit, and I really hope I can also go on holiday somewhere hot this time. I’d like to be in some sort of paid work, even if only a few hours per week. I’m going to try to get my driving licence at last. I hope to either have a book deal, or be in the midst of self-publishing. I want to have a go at writing literary fiction. And I’ll probably still be blithering on about stuff here.
If you ask me how I am, I’ll probably tell you I’m plodding along. This translates as: ‘I don’t have the energy to explain to myself how confused I am right now, let alone to you. But I’m trying to keep going.’ I want to be ambitious, even if that means setting myself up for disappointment. But I managed to end this post feeling hopeful, even though last night while I was drafting it I mostly just wanted to be dead.
Mornings like these, I feel almost normal. What was all the fuss about? My psychology teacher in sixth-form made the terrible mistake of telling us that depressed people see the world more realistically, and since then I’ve never been able to shake the idea that perhaps my optimism, when I wake up and feel ok, is a delusion. But if that’s true, I want nothing more than to be deluded. I want nothing more than to be blithe.
Photo: Penrose Water Gardens, near Truro, Cornwall, May 2017