Yesterday was rather dreadful. I was morose and moody all day and it culminated in a big argument with W in the car. We spent much of the drive in silence, which I preferred. I don’t especially like conflict or shouting because I feel I’m not very good at it. I’m not secure enough in my own judgement to think that I’m right and I don’t see the point in speaking. There’s also things that I don’t want to talk to him about and so I talked to my mum. My mum is quite standoffish about the bipolar whole thing, not because she doesn’t care but rather she’s worried about saying the wrong thing, but she was really helpful. She told me to hang in until my appointment and then I’ll have some help figuring out how I feel. I have no idea what’s me and what’s me being ill. I’ve lost my thread completely. My entire narrative, of which I used to be sure, has fallen to pieces around me. All the shards are jagged and cut my fingers as I try to pick through them and stick them back together, reliving some dreadful memories. And I’m still terribly angry about losing my independence. It’s a feeling I’ve often felt in relationships anyway, that I end up losing part of myself because I need so much looking after, and now it’s justified by letters from doctors. I also struggle with boundaries because of my flurries in mood, one day wanting to be together forever let’s get married and the next repulsed by the woebegotten creature who I now have to deal with. My relationship history is very, very painful.
Last night I slept terribly. I awoke repeatedly between nightmares – there was general fear, dread and a sensation of falling, plus something about having to report a safeguarding issue regarding obscene photographs being coerced out of patients by GPs. I’ve always struggled with sleep. As a very small child I never slept. My mother recounts the years of endless screaming which progressed to locking myself in the bathroom in hysterics. She said she kept getting phone calls from the bank about the credit cards she’d lose because she never slept as a result. She’d also often find me sleepwalking or having nightmares. I used to insist on going to sleep in their bed and being carried through to my own room after – I don’t think I fell asleep in my own room until I was about 9. I remember my dad saying that people would think they were abusing me because of the dark circles permanently etched under my eyes.
I was a very strange child. When I was little I would only talk to men with red hair – I was terrified of any other blokes, including my dad. We couldn’t watch ITV for a year because I was petrified of a particular washing powder advert. I had (and do have to this day) a huge sensitivity to caffeine, resulting in migraines and utterly appalling behaviour on the comedown, and it took my parents until I was two to figure it out. They think that might be the root cause as they said once they weaned me off (which involved me hanging on to my mum’s leg screaming ‘no, mummy, no, don’t take my cocoa away, what will I do’ like a little junkie) I became much more pleasant. It took several more years to realise that pink food colouring also has the same effect and sneaks into a lot more unexpected things.
For a long time my mum genuinely thought I was mad. Maybe she was right. I was certainly very emotional. She caught me stealing once when I was about eight and told me off. She said that I was hysterical and completely overcome with guilt in way that she’d never seen and she found quite disturbing. I also remember lying in bed as a kid and becoming inconsolable about the thought of my parents dying. I couldn’t bear to be separated from them, even on trips to my friends’ houses or my grandmother’s, but I think some of that was from my nana’s bullying and manipulative behaviour. I was left with her a lot as a kid when my mum went to work and she fucked with my head something rotten. Nana would feed me sweets, praise me for cleaning my plate and then tell my mum what a horrid fat child I was when she came to pick me up. Not good for the mind or body.
I was also very funny and lovely and extremely bright, of course. I did often manage to be nice even if I was a bit weird. I’ve always been loved by my parents which I think inoculated me against a total mental breakdown. These stories are part of family legend now anyway, we trot them out and recount them to guests who look on in puzzled semi-horror as we laugh. It is all rather funny really. My teenage years were more complex and involved Very Bad Things that mum and dad don’t know about and hopefully never will. Perhaps another night.
Still, today I’ve been in a good mood. I think I can see that the less sleep I get, the more likely I am to be a bit manic. I’ve also been overjoyed to be back at uni, even on about five hours’ sleep, and we had a very interesting day. We had to make a timeline of our lives, some very intricate and others sparse, and present to the group about times when we’d felt empowered and disempowered. People shared the most incredible stories: births, deaths, carjacking, suicides, helping people, loving people, kicking a dog in the face jungle style. I talked about my bipolar (of course) and how disempowering and emotionally disruptive I’ve found my diagnosis, particularly when psychiatric teams write to you but put the wrong name on the letter (unless I’ve also suddenly developed multiple personality disorder, of course). I also talked about my love of performing in front of an audience and working with people with learning disabilities, two things which give me genuine joy. Then I came home and cooked in a distracted fashion which ended up with sardines all over the kitchen wall. While it was messy, it made me acknowledge that my thoughts were racing (which doesn’t help a raging identity crisis in the slightest) and I’ve also been angsting about a couple of extra pounds that have appeared due to recent kummerspeck (German for “grief bacon”). So I did the unthinkable: exercise.
I started with a few of my old yoga poses just to see how it felt. A delicious heat seared through my limbs, all useful and taut, and I felt sweat bead on my forehead. I panted and glowed. Then, feeling cocky, I began to look up other exercises I could do. I settled on the Angry Birds Workout Plan which I’d seen some time ago but never quite got round to doing. It’s a dead simple combo of four movements using your own bodyweight to build strength. It’s designed for people with neither time nor space so seemed ideal for me – astrophysicists use at your own discretion. I gave it a whack and, after some sore reps in my pyjamas, got that wobbly orgasmic feeling I didn’t realise I missed so much. It was definitely a cheap kneetrembler rather than the spiritual earthshaker I used to get during dynamic balance classes at uni (I often had to refrain from blissed out giggling at the end of every session) but it did the trick. I was surprised at how average I was as opposed to the complete wreck I’d expected. It felt really, really good. Let’s see if this is another flash in the pan or if I can have another blast on Wednesday.