Today I am a prisoner to my own mind.
It’s a little cliche but its true. It’s been a beautiful day today, the first real taste of Summer. If I wanted to I could spend the day outside, with my dog. In the park.
I love the sun, I chase after it whenever I have the chance.
Unless I’m “having a day”. A day where it’s hard to leave the house. A day where I’m too caught up in my own mind to do much of anything, writing currently excluded.*
Outside, yes. That’s where I want to be, but it’s like there’s an invisibe force today that’s pushing me down. I’m anxious… about everything, I don’t know how many times I’ve got up to get dressed only to find myself sitting down again.
I keep telling myself I’ll get up, I’ll get dressed, I’ll go to the park. I’ll walk, I’ll talk, I’ll breathe, I’ll function, I’ll be.
It shouldn’t be this hard.
But it is, and that’s okay. That’s today. Today is not over yet.
Today doesn’t have to be a bad day. I’ll be kind and patient with myself but I have at least try. So I can go to bed tonight and say “I really did try.” So I haven’t cancelled my evening plans to go to the theatre… I’m sure I can get myself out the house for that.
The day’s note over;
*I’m actually quite surprised I’ve started writing again. I think I forgot how much of a relief it was to pull the thoughts out of my head and see them on paper. Maybe I have more of a chance of making sense of them then. And this entry literally is just a spewing of thoughts to text. No editing. Otherwise I overthink it and never post it.
It’s hard to remember, what life was like before a depressive episode. In that state everything is black and white and days pass in a slow fog… I remember when I first saw the Psychiatrist:
“Are you suicidal?”
“I have suicidal thoughts but I’d never do that to my family”
“How do you know you won’t act on them?”
“I keep telling myself I’ve got better before, and I’ll get better again”
Sometimes it was a fight to cling to that knowledge. It’s been a couple of months since I left the psych hospital and since then its been a bit of a bumpy road but I’ve been heading in the right direction all the same. Now, after completing my first month of DBT (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy) colour is flooding into my life and I feel myself waking up.
Everyday I have to work at getting better. I do my DBT homework, I follow my therapists advice, I take my medication. The work is paying off though, my motivation has improved, my attention span is longer, my mood is more stable. Suddenly I realise that I’m no longer enduring my life but living it.
Today, as part of my DBT homework I created a photo wall as one of my ACE activities (activities that give you a sense of Achievement, Closeness to others and Enjoyment)
I ordered polaroid photographs of my friends and family and strung them up as a reminder of all the positives in my life.
Remember to look after yourself and to plan things that will bring you fulfilment.
This is a list of my ACE log
invite a friend to dinner (or even just a phone call if you can’t manage dinner)
Do something kind for someone else
Sing along to music
Have a hot bath
Go for a walk
Clean and decorate around the house (best done in small chunks)
Meditation or Mindfulness exercise
Setting a side a time for ‘life admin’ tasks
I consider myself very lucky to have a supportive network of friends and family around me that have enabled me to never lose sight of what’s important. I wouldn’t have made the progress I have if it wasn’t for their help.
For any readers that struggle with mental illness please take that step to reach out and ask for help from a friend, family member, or you talk to your GP or call Good Samaritans.
Endnote: This post is slightly more serious than the usual banter and for that you have my most sincere apologies (soz, not soz). Please feel free to message me if you have any questions or want to chat. I hope that sharing my experience can help others.
Some of my most prominent memories of childhood take place in the airport , I remember squirming with impatience in the arrivals hall, my mother gripping my hand while craned my neck, searching the crowd of strangers for the hero of my story to appear, the moment I caught sight of him I would break free of my mother’s grip and go sprinting to his open arms and be lifted up into the air. He would then continue his stroll over to my mother to give her a big kiss before pulling my brother into a hug, this was my Father. Sometimes he would bring presents for us from the places he’d been, the best time was when I could see him coming down the steps of the plane through the massive airport window, I noticed him carrying something that must have been too big to fit into his small suitcase, it felt like forever, waiting for him to get through passport control and into the arrivals hall, but when he did I was ready for him. There in his arms was the a big brown bear, dressed in brown leather jacket with a sheepskin collar and big flying goggles on his head. My very own pilot bear.
In my head, my father was gone for months as opposed to the few days and occasionally, few weeks that he actually was. I’m now aware of how lucky I was that this was the case and that there are many others whose fathers were away more often than they were home, and some fathers who are never there at all. Still, I’d secretly sulk every time he had to go and wonder what he did while he was away, what awesome adventures he was up to and of course, how important he was that there were people on the other side of the world that needed him to be there. So, as if I had a choice, I’d let my Father go when they called.
In those days my world was small and seemingly perfect. I lived in a beautiful cottage and got to go on holiday to the coast to see my Mémé et Pépé, the first time we went there by plane was a momentous experience for me. I’d finally be able to know what happened after my Father walked through the departures hall for myself. Although I don’t remember the details I do remember the feeling, it was like magic. I loved every moment of that plane ride.
Thirteen years older and the idea of flying now makes me cringe, all I can think about are the cues at Heathrow, the cramped seat I’ll be strapped to for the next 12 hours, the rude flight attendant and of course flying 9740 km across the globe to see my parents in Hong Kong. I’m sure that somewhere in this world there is a frequent flyer (pilots aside) that still loves a plane journey as much as they did the first time they flew – this person probably needs to get their head checked. Call me spoilt, call me jaded, I just can’t get excited the way I used to. However the moment my feet touch ground in that foreign country that is now called home, I remember how amazing my life is, and how lucky I am to have experienced so much already. This blog is all about my life as the daughter of an expat. From that first move that changed my life forever to the present day. From horror stories to the experiences that films are made about. I hope you enjoy reading about my experiences as much as I’ve enjoyed living them.