Another day skipped, another day writing. I suppose I’m not feeling the pressing need to keep my daily words threading across the bottom of my life like a safety net, like an extra layer of force and support, propping me up, carrying me through my days.
I’m suspicious of such thoughts of mine. How dare I feel okay. It’s hubris. It won’t be long before it all comes crashing down and then I’ll be able to see from that wisdom of distance and foresight how completely foolish I was to try walking without crutches.
It’s not just the writing. I’ve decided to take a longer break than usual in between therapy visits.
This time I’ll be waiting a whole month before I go again, and the last time I tried that it was terrible. A series of unfortunate incidents (long since evacuated from my mind) combined to shred the thin veil of coping I’d careful woven for myself over the course of the previous months. At that point I thought I was okay. I felt okay – and moreover I was invested in “being okay”. But it was paper thin and painted on. The deep calm I’d claimed was a mere blip of discontinuity. I was still riding the same continuous path of habit that I had been for so many years.
I’ve been asked to consider what Pointy Plague Doctor might look like now, if he’s softened somewhat. And I think he actually has softened somewhat. In the evenings now when I’m feeling tired out and debating how much more to attempt before rest, it’s less of a cruel whipping voice that pokes me into action, and more of a suggestion that I examine the longer term and what I value and what’s important to me. And I can have a dialogue with that voice and say “No, not tonight. Maybe not even this week.” and the voice answers “Okay. I’ll ask you again tomorrow.”
I think that’s occupying the space where I’m used seeing the looming shadow of my friend the Pointy Plague Doctor. I just don’t know what that apparition looks like. If I try to force the image, all I get is myself.
I get a bit worried that he may be gone without my getting a chance to say goodbye.
I can feel like that in real life too, about things, places and people that I’ve outgrown, or that were downright bad for or horrible to me. They may become so familiar all the same, and to move on from them feels scary. And a little bit sadness-nostalgia tinted.
I can mourn the loss of terrible things. I can mourn the changing of my life for the objectively better.
It’s all just change though.
The other night when I was thinking of brain-states and how brain chemistry can sometime be akin to having bad medication-related side-effects, that was the prevalent message scrolling across the back of my mind.
It’s all just change.
Change is the constant thing in life. Maybe the only constant thing in life, but I shy away from statements like that. They remind me too much of my bad teenage poetry and thinking that the “deepest” shit I could write was oxymoronic sentences. With no rhyme. Rhyming is for losers who don’t “get” poetry.
So anyway, I’m okay. And that scares me a bit, because in the traditional view of things – or at least in my own habitually disordered view of things – being okay is really bad for art.
This reminds me a little of my old view of alcohol and art. It was like this crazy tightrope walk – I believed that I needed to drink in order to draw, but then it was a race against the clock to get as much done as possible before alcohol stole my artistic eye and coordination.
So just maybe it’s the same with being okay in my mental health. Being not okay feels like it gives that boost of emotion where in order to cope with it, I have to create. I fear that the calm won’t drive me in the same way. But so often those hugely difficult experiences drove me over the edge, into paralysis or so much self-hatred that robbed me of any creative drive.
And here then is the hope in drawing this analogy. Maybe this calm I’m experiencing won’t drive me like a Red Bull into a Unicorn sea of creativity. But then it’s also not going to drown me in that sea.
Maybe this calm will give me the space to choose creativity instead.