There are days,
There are days when your life clouds over
and the world gets so dark
that all at once you can’t tell night from day.
There are times
when your heart cries ‘this isn’t happening’
but the truth is cold and real
and I know this storm won’t go away
‘It’s her or me’ from Miss Saigon, by Boublil and Schonberg
I’ve been quiet on here for the last few months. I know some people have dropped by to see if anything has been written and I have tried to, but it’s been a difficult end to the year.
Not many people know, but I’ve been off sick from work for 2 and a bit months. Mental health issues are still quite taboo in our society and I don’t really understand why. It’s something that can affect anybody and yet still it’s not something we feel confident talking about. I have depression, which I think is something that I’ve been battling with for a decade and it’s dreadful. This bout has definitely been the worse of the lot. A stressful job, moving to a new area, not having much if a social life, various things that have happened in the past, lack of money all building together until I essentially cracked. I couldn’t get out of bed, I couldn’t go outside without having a panic attack and I couldn’t go to work. It’s such a difficult thing to describe. I get frustrated with myself because I can’t physically do things that I want or need to do. I can’t get out of bed. I can’t speak to people. I don’t have any outward physical manifestation of this, there is just this mental block, a cloud, a haze that won’t let me through. Then I spend time arguing with myself in my head – you know what you need to do, just get up, just get up, just move yourself, just stop wallowing in self pity and get up and do something. But it’s no good. There is some chemical imbalance at the moment. There is something just stopping me whether I want to or not. Ruby Wax says it better than me, so here she is:
‘I remember why depression is so awful now that I’m back in that land; there is no specific sharp, jabbing or throbbing pain, there is no feeling. This is the sensation people are after when they take certain drugs to forget but even then they know it’ll wear off. This isn’t recreational it’s terrifying. There is no one in your body to even register pain. There is nothing, empty space, whoever you were who lived in your skin has left the building, vanished. I can recall back in a fog that I had a fast mind, a quick wit, insight into others; it feels like I’m talking about a distant relative. People remind you that you’ve accomplished things I’m sure it’s true but then I was someone else not this thing. That what it feels like in reality I know it’s not true but this again is a symptom of the disease.
This new me can’t read, isn’t funny, can’t really speak, get up or take a walk. This time I’m not fearful about having the actual depression. Having studied it, I know this is what it is. I’m not fearful that I’m making this up and I can ‘snap’ out of it. That said, fear is a symptom of the disease; I feel I’m in full emergency mode because my chemicals are in full emergency mode, not dependent on any outside stimuli but because they have started to flood my brain and cause havoc.’
You can read the rest of Drowning, Not Waving here. This was such a useful article to read over the Christmas period.
Things are a little better, but I’m still not back at work and actually, I’ve resigned. It was a lovely school, but I can’t do the work that they need me to and I don’t feel right dragging things on. Resigning seems like the right thing for me to do at the moment. So now I’m back on the job hunt. Which in itself is awful, but also a little exciting, because I can do anything. I don’t have to apply for teaching jobs.
So how have I approached my illness? I’ve been back and forth to the doctors and they have been brilliant. I’ve had an assessment with the counselling service and am on the list for further support. I’ve got some medication to stop me feeling like I have to curl up into a ball in my bed and cry for hours on end. I’ve spoken to members of my family, to friends, about how I’ve been feeling and what I think I need to do to improve things for myself.
In the time I’ve been off I’ve learnt to crochet a bit better; thanks to the brilliant tutorials from Lucy at Attic24 I’ve almost completed a single bed sized blanket. It’s the cosy blanket, if you want to look it up.
Here it is over new year, when it was well on it’s way.
I made a hat. Look, I made a hat. Where there never was a hat.
It may not be particularly classy, but it’s warm and got me through 5 or 6 hours.
I’ve been to the library a lot as libraries are fantastic, free and I’ve been pouring through the textiles and design books. I’ve got back into sewing. (Basically I thought since I have a limited budget of, oh about zero, I may as well use up some of the stuff I have already got.) I’ve made two presents for my little brother – one is a wedding present and so will have to wait for 6 months until it is unveiled, but the other one I’m just finishing. It’s home made felt with buttons and embroidery, all done by hand. I used a few of the photos I took at the Hobbiton set in New Zealand and created a little hobbit hole. It’s almost finished, so here is the half way stage -just after felting. Picture is not great, sorry.
Here is the very nearly finished product…
A bit fuzzy, but the light in here is a bit rubbish and i want to get this done.
And with some great books from the library and a small palate of water colours, I’ve been designing some new broaches that I’m going to make, based on UK garden birds. If people like them and perhaps buy some, I might make some based on the beautiful birds I saw in the Kuala Lumpur bird park.
I also found a bit of blue based felt I made a few months ago and cut some random shapes out of it, which resulted in this new whale. I might make an underwater themed mobile or something using him.
So I’ve been making things, including coffee cakes, probably three coffee cakes is too many when I’m mostly eating them on my own. I made gingerbread, chocolate orange brownies, lots of guacamole and fajitas and some soups.
I’ve also read. A lot. I think I’ve read about 14 novels in the last 2 months. i’m going to write a mini review of them in the next post.
But mostly, whilst crocheting and watching TV (done A LOT of that too) I’ve been thinking. Thinking about who I am and who I want to be, what I want, what I *should* be doing, which is how I’ve decided to resign. I don’t know about teaching. I thought I would love it. I’ve loved parts of it. Some aspects I’m brilliant at, some I’m ok, but most of the time it makes me feel like I’m failing constantly at everything I touch. It’s not that I’m getting that feed back from it, but having that feeling constantly, feeling like I’m always running up an escalator and that any time I stop to catch my breath I start to fall behind. It’s not something I want to be doing anymore. I feel so guilty about it. The school gave me a great opportunity, the families have entrusted their children to me but I can’t do it. It’s been chipping away at me, along with Dad’s death, the repercussions from my last relationship – actually probably all my previous relationships – and I just need to take a breath. So I will and try not to feel guilty about it.
‘Cause you can’t jump the track, we’re like cars on a cable
and life’s like an hourglass glued to the table,
no-one can find the rewind button girl,
cradle your head in your hands and breathe,
just breathe, oh breathe, just breathe.
4 thoughts on “‘Cause you can’t jump the track, we’re like cars on a cable”
Hi Ellie, so eloquently put, so easy to read but I can imagine not at all easy to write. You’re so incredibly creative. Really hoping you feel better soon and find something wonderful to do that appreciates all your creativity. x
Having been in the same position a number of years back, and finally resigning from teaching after 6 months off sick, I completely understand how you feel. Keep on making things (I started my card-making when I was off sick).. Loving the Cosy blanket – that is one of the things on my list for when I have no orders to make (and have money to buy the pack).
You need to find a job where you can use your squillions of creative skills…. easier said than done, I know, but in the interim, and if you feel able to return to work now (and if you do, well done… getting out of the hermit stage is not easy) then maybe something in an independent coffee shop, where you might be able to bake your amazing cakes, for example.
Anyway I hope you are starting to climb back up the hill now. I’m battling it a wee bit again myself for various reasons, but I do manage to recognise when it’s happening these days, and try to stop it before it hits. Getting out of teaching is the best thing you could have done at this stage otherwise it would have wrecked you for a long long time.
Keep plugging away, keep making (LOVE the hat), and keep accepting help. You are on the way back up. I hope you have some friends around as well?
Love to you
Oh Ellie, I’m so sorry you’re feeling so bad. Depression is an awful thing. You know I’m here if you want company, or a sympathetic shoulder to cry on. Even if you don’t take me up on it, you know I’m thinking of you.
Pingback: Song of the week: Chasing the Sun – 6th March 2015 | Over hills and far away…