Oh dear, well that last post caused a bit of a reaction. My sister thinks I need medical help. She reckons I’m too up and down – one day I’m high as a kite and the next I’m in the depths of despair – and that it’s not healthy. Friends are worried too. On Friday I got a lot of concerned messages: ‘Are you OK? I’m here if you need to talk.’
I’m obviously coming off even nuttier than I realise.
It’s a bit embarrassing really but what can I do? I’m just trying to articulate my feelings honestly – including the bad ones – but I fear a picture is developing of my mental health and it ain’t pretty. More Jackson Pollock than a Vogue photo shoot.
It’s probably clearer to you than it is to me, just how much my mood goes up and down. One minute I’m crying with the beauty of squirrels the next I’m crying over decades old family crap. This is partly down to the intensity of what I’m doing this year but also, it is my natural tendency.
Years ago mum and I both read a book of letters written by the poet Sylvia Plath to her own mother (my reading tastes were more high brow than they are now). Mum told me Sylvia reminded her a lot of me. I was hoping that she meant on account of our great writing abilities, natural intelligence and beauty – but no. ‘You are both highly strung.’
Mum reckoned that Sylvia and I expect too much from the world, from ourselves and from others which is why we’d always be disappointed.
I couldn’t see what she was talking about at the time – no doubt I sulked – but now I can see that it’s true. I am highly strung and over-analytical and I probably do expect too much from the world.
But please be rest assured, for all my drama queen ups and downs I don’t have any thoughts of shoving my head in an oven (I don’t like cooking…. ha, sorry, bad taste) and I don’t think I’m going crazy. I’m definitely pushing myself close to it some days but I think it’s just the way this thing has to play out.
As my friend Preena said, I’m facing up to stuff that I spent most of my 30-odd years on the planet avoiding – money stuff, family stuff, relationships – and it isn’t easy. It brings up a lot of feelings but I think that overall that’s a good thing.
For years I didn’t know what I was feeling about anything. I just got on, working harder, drinking more, spending money, pushing everything down. I thought feelings were for self-indulgent weak people.
Now I’m feeling things all over the joint! Good things, bad things, happy things, sad things. Feeling my feelings seems to have become my full time job.
It feels like there’s a healthy purging going on. A psychological detox.
But this doesn’t make me easy to around. While my family and friends are getting on with normal lives of work/drink/sleep/eat, I’m in my permanent state of self-analysis which makes me highly unpredictable. Nobody knows what they’re going to get on any given day – will I be in the depths of despair over something that exists nowhere but in my head? Or irritatingly happy and spouting crap about believing the world is on my side?
I don’t think I’ve realised quite how unhinged I’ve become.
I need to keep it in check. While it’s good to face your feelings, there’s no point in drowning in them. There’s a very real danger I could become a self-absorbed loon, someone who can’t have a cup of tea without analysing my emotions around that cup of tea. Maybe I’m there already. Yikes.
My sister says I’ve got to tone down on the extremes – not just in the mood department but on the whole ‘I’m never drinking again’ stuff or the ‘I’m not buying another coffee ever again’ stuff. Because I’m just setting myself up for failure. Mind you she told me this on our fourth round of whiskey shots this Saturday – so in that instance we went to the other extreme.
Yup, this weekend I fell off the wagon properly. I’m sorry. On Friday night I went around to a friend’s house and we got takeaway, drank wine and watched ‘I’m a Celebrity’ and Graham Norton. It was so refreshingly normal. I didn’t think about my feelings or my blog once. Then on Saturday I met my sister for ‘one’ and ended up getting home at 2am, eating pizza and phoning my other sister in New York, before passing out at around 4am fully clothed with my make up on. I haven’t had that kind of blow out in a long time.
It was not remotely self-improving but I do feel much improved. There’s a reason this whole drinking business is popular – it really can help. Sometimes a good night out is all you need to shake yourself out a self-induced self-help manic depression.
That and I’m a Celebrity Get me Out of Here. I mean, how the hell do they actually eat eyeballs and deer penises?! And what is Michael Buerk doing on the show? And why don’t Ant and Dec ever age? These are the deep questions in life and I think I’ve been avoiding them.
So I guess I need to adjust the balance between deep thinking and shallow thinking. Sobriety and fun. Living in my head and living in the real world. I’ll report back but I’m warning you, balance has never been my strong point.
PS- I AM OBVIOUSLY A HIGHLY INEFFECTIVE 30 DAY CHALLENGE ROLE-MODEL. In future I’m going to nominate Sarah Frost to be the ring-leader for self-improvement challenges. She has stuck to everyone of her goals and has checked in every day with updates. A woman of commitment and consistency! Anyway, I did 21 or 22 days without drinking, which is still pretty good, and I’m meditated every day. I went for a walk this morning and I am just about to pay my tax bill, which means checking balances. They’re still F**Ked, by the way. Just in case you’re wondering.
PPS – I am going to put up a post tomorrow about anger – it was written when I was mid anger but I thought I’d give it a bit of distance before putting it up. Then on Wednesday I’ll be putting up my Mission Statement (Habit 2 of the 7 Habits). Just a reminder – the mission statement is the unchanging rules by which you want to live your life.
PPPS – I still haven’t written my eulogy. I just don’t want to do it. David Palmer, a reader of the blog and a Seven Habits expert, suggests that if the thought of your funeral is too maudlin, you could write about where you’d like to be on your 80th birthday, who you’d like there, what would you like to have achieved. So I’m going to do that instead. It feels much more positive. That’ll be Thursday.
PPPPS – I am behind schedule. As I basically have been since April. I’ve been beating myself up a lot about this all year but I’ve let it go now. It’s all playing out how it’s playing out. The way I’m going now, I have four more books to do which will mean the project ends in March. I keep thinking of that Susan Jeffers quote: ‘It’s all happening perfectly.’ I hope so.
PPPPPS – Thank you to everyone who sent lovely messages. In my own weird way I’m fine, I promise. xx