I've argued with myself for over a week about writing this. It's always been a very lighthearted and "arty" type blog with a touch of real life in it, but how far do you go with the latter?
I've been involved in forum discussions with other artists and designers enough to know that my problem touches many people, so I feel it's appropriate to talk about it here.
As regular readers know, I had to stop my full time artwork lifestyle last year and go back to work. I managed to keep up my painting on my days off and enjoyed the delving back into it once or twice a week. I'd been somewhat reclusive as a painter, which was a lifestyle I loved very much. I also enjoyed some aspects of being out at work, meeting and befriending a lot of really wonderful people and forming many great relationships on the outside, so to speak.
Almost a year on, I found myself another job, this time in a more creative role. I'm not sure if this was a catalyst, but the move coincided with a pretty horrendous lapse into symptoms I last suffered over ten years ago (though I have had the occasional minor blip here and there).
I've described it to my doctor as a sense of feeling so tightly wound for the past year and suddenly snapping under the strain. A lot of you probably know the scenario - you have a family, financial and work committments, a need to soldier on and make life right in as many ways as you physically can. Your needs come way down in the list of priorities, so you get on with it. This is me in a nutshell.
My husband is a truly remarkable man. Of course, he's known all along that I've been gritting my teeth and bearing up, etc. It's been partly for him that I've tried to carry on as normal, because he really doesn't deserve the upset that comes with me throwing a total wobbly.
Forcing oneself to be a certain way takes its toll. When you're being stoic and focussing on what is required of you, well it wears off the edges of your personality in a way. My husband has told me so many times that he wants his "wifey" back and I've called him a silly head, assuring him that I'm fine and he's imagining things. He wasn't though, he was facing up to what's been happening and I wasn't/couldn't.
So I guess it's obvious where I'm going with this.
Something silly happened; as simple as me laughing with abandon one evening the other week (for the first time in ages) and the next thing I knew I was having a full on crash into a thing I can't even describe. I imagine that allowing myself that emotional high of laughter facilitated the opposite immediately afterwards. That was me done.
There's so much I could write here to illustrate what happened next, but I won't. You've probably heard it all before. Most importantly, I have sought medical help, which I should have done a goodly time ago. I've known I needed this, but I have an immense fear of medication. Not for the reasons most fear it, but rather because I suffer quite serious side effects for the first month or so, and they scare the bejesus out of me.
Imagine being aware that in order to help yourself, you're going to have to endure the most dreadful attacks of anxiety, physical shakes and tremors, memory loss, dizziness and general stupid, mind-numbing oafishness. Your life will be on hold for that time. How will you go to work, cook a meal, answer the door or go to the shops? Life doesn't fit round this crap at all.
I'm writing this early in the morning before the major effects of today's pills are with me. I'll feel I've achieved something if I can just get my thoughts out there. Each day I've tried to do something worthwhile. Sometimes it's been making a cup of tea, other days I've managed to write an email. Over the space of a few days last week I worked very slowly on a painting that I'd started ages ago and already done the fiddly bits of. Yesterday I went with my husband and did the food shop, which was my biggest achievement so far. It pretty much knocked me out for the rest of the day, but I did it.
This isn't meant to sound melodramatic, though I fear it may. I'm not yet in a place to look back on it and assess my behaviour; I'm very much fighting the battle and doing what I can each day. I don't look ill, just a bit dishevelled and not quite myself, and I find it impossible to tell people what's going on. Writing it down is a lot easier, even than having to explain to my doctor what's going on in my stupid head.
Here's the bit where I tell you the good and the amazing.
My husband. He is a star. Even in my confuddled state I am aware of the things he's doing on the quiet; probably not everything he's up to, but some of it.
He has worked on a spreadsheet (that's his thing) and done a twelve month budget.
He's taken full control of all the finances, including the food and other bills, which have always been my responsibility.
I’ve been told in no uncertain terms that there’s no pressure for me to go back to work until at least March 2013, unless I should feel I want to.
Any money I bring in from my painting is a bonus, so he wants me to continue with that as much as possible, for therapy if nothing else.
He’s doing all the house stuff, refusing to let me cook a meal or wash up.
He’s spent countless hours writing letters, including the whole headache of form filling in order to claim back PPI monies for the past ten years.
I know there’s more, but he’s doing it all out of my sight and without comment.
In short, this wonderful man is working his socks off in order to give me the time, space and emotional peace to get myself better. I didn’t ask him to do this, nor did I for one moment expect it. Bear in mind that he works a forty hour week on top of all this and you’ll have some idea of what kind of gift he is giving me here. He jokes that he’s always wanted to be a superhero, but he already is, isn’t he?
Maybe in writing this I will strike a chord with others who are suffering similar. I don't know. Maybe I'm letting too much out, making me look a total idiot. Either way, it's been my project for today and I'll finish with a photo of the painting that I've completed in the midst of my crazy.