My mental health has been pretty damn naff recently. There have been horrible days and even worse hours. Mental health has stopped me doing many of the things I wanted to do. It's paralysed me at times. It means that instead of going to Sussex for 11 days I have had to stay in Newcastle. I've cried lots, broken down very publicly in the city centre, hurt my head through banging it, had a constant headache from sensory overload, and really struggled to keep going at times.
Yes. I could look at the last month and choose to say that it's been a terrible time. I could focus in on the bad things. I could focus on the painful meltdown on Tuesday and the way I stopped being able to function when sorting things for refugees and the way I had to walk out of my mindfulness session and cry in the corridor. Or I could focus on the good.
I could focus in yesterday on how awful I felt in the morning, how I didn't even have the spoons to get back on the metro and come home from town. Or I could focus on how good the day got when it became a surprise.
I have a choice. To focus on the bad and the pain. Or to focus on all the good things, accept the bad, and move on from there. Because the bad is bad. And the pain is pain. I can't deny it. I can't pretend that all the rubbish isn't there. But I can choose to focus elsewhere and see that, even with all the rubbish, life is a wonderful thing.
Because there is so much good and so much hope and so many good people. Taking - as examples - my Saturdays:
Four weeks ago I danced with a new and very valued friend, barefoot in a thunder storm at Autscape, a conference/gathering run by and for autistic people. Four weeks on I know that Autscape was very important to me and there are things that happened there and things it taught me about myself that I haven't even begun to process. In some way Autscape will affect the rest of my life. That weekend I met awesome people.
Three weeks ago I went to a barbecue from which arose decisions that are majorly affecting my life. Majorly. Three weeks ago I found somewhere that has almost become my second home. Somewhere that I hope will become a big part of my life. That barbecue was just a barbecue and the person who invited me was really just inviting me to a barbecue. Neither of us knew that it would lead to so much in such a short space of time. That weekend I met awesome people and because I met them I went on to meet more awesome people.
Two weeks ago was a day I could say was rubbish. Because the first half of it was pretty bad in terms of mental health difficulties. I wouldn't wish those difficulties on anyone. But then there was a wonderful message from an awesome friend, a message that really helped me face the day. And then on what had been that rubbish day I had a surprise meeting with another awesome friend. We pretended to have an appointment at the optician in order to help ourselves to hot chocolate (my awesome friend does things like that!) and then we sat in the street drinking and laughing with each other.
On the worst days there is good. On the day I broke down so much in town my friends came to the rescue - especially three wonderful people from Autscape who stayed with me as much as they could through constant text messages until I was recovered enough to get myself safe. I count myself as massively fortunate in the people who have come my way recently, some of whom I've met in surprising ways. It's like I suddenly have this brand new extended family of people who I love, who love me and with whom there are all kinds of unexpected connections.
A week ago I belatedly got involved in the work going on in solidarity with refugees. It took seeing people and donations in my new second home before I finally decided that I couldn't stay away from giving something to the cause. It's entirely possible that the future will see me continue to be involved in that in bigger ways. And I've met awesome people. It takes a lot for me to stand up and do something positive. But I think right now I am standing and I don't want to sit down again. The work is there and will continue to be there and, if I allow it and choose it, there is space for me to be useful.
And tomorrow I go to a meditation group for the first time. The start of what will be a weekend I am really looking forward to - though a very different weekend to the one I would be having had I not had all the mental health issues I've had recently. There will be awesome people there too and awesome people throughout the weekend.
So. My life has been a mental health hell. And I could choose to see it that way. But it has also been a time of massive and unexpected blessings and of meeting the awesome people - many of whom I would never have met had I not experienced the mental health hell. For the future I can only see more blessings and more awesome people even if the hell continues.
I had an hour this morning when my head was not hurting from sensory overload. The first hour in a few weeks. It was bliss to not hurt. And sometimes it hurts so much and that pain inside my head falls down and across my body too. But in this life, painful life, I rejoice and in the last weeks have become more and more thankful and more and more able to see the light that comes from without and the light that I have been becoming from within.
My painful life is one of positivity. And overall, I love the way it is becoming.