The Little Boat That Held On

I’ve taken to listening to podcasts recently which is something I had only heard people talk about and never really thought about doing myself and it has opened some door for me.  Hearing real people talk and share stories from their life is really grounding.

I was searching for podcasts about real experiences of mental ill health and to hear people’s stories to, I guess, feel less alone and to relate to them.  Coming from an outsider environment where I had always had this dark cloud hanging over me and never feeling quite right or understanding why I felt the way I did or why everything felt like a struggle (with a few exceptions when I felt like life was flowing through me), I have taken what has felt like a leap of faith for me and reached out for help with my mental health.  I can’t heal myself on my own.  I need to have support and to allow myself to be vulnerable and let people help me.  I can’t continue living my life the way I have been – in constant anxiety, having little to no energy, feeling like I have to handle everything alone and battling with the thoughts that tell me I’m not good enough, that I’m not going to get anywhere in life, that I’m a coward, that I should be ashamed of myself.  I’m tired of feeling guilt, shame, resentment.  I’m admitting it to myself…I can’t do this on my own.  I have strength, that I know, I just don’t feel it sometimes.  I tried to kill myself and made it almost 3 years living as if it didn’t happen.  I got a fucking job and a flat 1 month out of the psychiatric unit because I had no choice.  They were going to send me to a homeless shelter.  Luckily, my ex boyfriend let me stay at his for a month while he was back home.  That’s fucking absurd!! They would discharge me when I was still suicidal and essentially throw me out and onto the streets.  I was so desperate for help and didn’t know how to ask so I did what I always did…I just carried on.  In the hospital, I drew, I tried to read, listen to music, take my medicine, go outside, go to my appointments.  I tried to keep busy.  On the outside I probably looked ok, but inside it was completely different.  I was grey.  I was broken.  I felt my insides had been ripped open and I was frantically trying to find anything to stop it from spilling out.  I wanted the pain to end.  For the emptiness to be filled.  The voices to stop.  I wanted to crumble but I was afraid of the judgement.  They didn’t understand what I needed.  I didn’t know what I needed.  Now I do.  I needed love.  For someone to hold me and tell me that I’ll be OK.  That I’m not going to be alone anymore.  That they understand and that I can take however long I need and that they’ll be there for me.  I didn’t get that so I had to go it alone.  I packed my things and set sail on the high seas without any navigation or expertise.  I didn’t know what I was doing, but I sure as hell tried my best.

Inevitably, I ended up stranded.  My sails had huge holes in them and I was barely moving.  I was in a vast expanse of nothingness with no sign of land.  I didn’t know where I was or if I was anywhere near land.  I was stuck with no clue what to do next.  Rummaging around the little boat, I found a flare.  All my hope was in this little thing.  I held it up and prayed it still worked, that it hadn’t been damaged by the beatings the boat had endured along the way.  A red glow shot from my hand into the dark blue sky.  I pleaded and prayed. Please, please, please, someone find me.  I waited.  I thought.  What if nobody comes.  What if at the exact same time as my flare had gone up, the last member of the crew of a near-enough boat had ducked their head into the cabin, heading for dinner.  What if that was my only chance.  What if I’m stuck here until a wave comes crashing over me and I submit my defeat to the deep water?  Time was no longer.  The sun rose, the sun set.  The moon rose, the moon set.  The cyclical heartbeat of time.  Until, far off in the distance, a distorted shape disfigured the perfect lineage of the horizon.  Is it…?  Could it be…?  No…it can’t be.  It’s just my imagination tormenting me.  I stood on my boat and stared at the shape, eyes streaming, unwilling to blink for fear that the shape would melt into the horizon.  I pinched the shape and watched as my fingers grew millimetre by millimetre as the shape got closer and closer. It was real!  …but what if it turns off course.  What if it’s not for me?  What do I do?  Do I sit and wait.  Do I jump around.  Do I paddle.  Do I give up?

I paddle.  And I’m still paddling.  I have no idea what to expect, but I might as well see what happens.

And that is where I am today.  Paddling towards an unknown.  There is an opportunity to have my mental health taken care of as a horticulture trainee at a mental health charity.  I referred myself at a traumatic stress centre and to a woman’s centre and trying all sorts of spiritual healing.  I am so desperate to get well and end the tyranny in my mind.  I need time to heal.  Maybe this is my opportunity.

This podcast (above) has helped me in my assurance.  Medication isn’t for everyone and it certainly wasn’t for me. I’m not happy with how my life is and I am reaching out for help with that.  I’m poor, but I can survive on very little.  I need to look after my mental health and I’m not going to let anything get in the way of that.  In order for me to function in society and function as a whole person, I need my mental health to be cared for.  I don’t want to ignore it any longer, for it to grow gangrenous and infect deeper.

Have  I accepted that I have mental ill health?  I’m not sure yet, but I know that I feel a whole lot better when I hear people talk about mental health and the image in my mind’s eye of taking time to heal and getting help with it empowers me.

I have love in my heart and I have love for my mind.

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