I’ve not been in a great place for a while. Sometimes I find it hard to tell at the time, not so good at that insight thing the professionals bang on about. I’ve particularly struggled the last couple of weeks since finding out my probation is being extended. If it was about mistakes I’ve made that would be hard but tangible. This is more about who I am, it’s like trying to catch wisps of smoke. Looking at the minutes from that meeting, it seems to be about agitation and anxiety being visible sometimes. Popping out in ways that others don’t really get.
I’ve struggled since then because that’s exactly the person I do not want to be. I want to be calm and collected and I’m not, no matter how hard I try. And I want to be someone who can think clearly, but I’m not, not about myself anyway. So for the things I don’t like about myself to be the exact things that are holding me back at a job I love, well, that’s me good and triggered. Argh, why can’t they just accept me? Fair enough in the last job, they were a bunch of ignorant wankers who just couldn’t seem to understand mental illness, no matter how hard I tried to educate them. But now I’m surrounded by people who should be better able to understand.
Round and round I go, is this about me or my mind? I’m not even ill, am I ill? Do I need these pills, maybe I should come off them, there’s nothing wrong with me anyway, I’m just a bit more intense than other people, there are good points to that, I just need to squash the bad points. Seems a bit of a small thing really, is it really enough to warrant extending my probation, what if I can’t overcome it and then don’t pass probation in three months? I’ll lose my job and what will I do then? They’re just being overcautious, boss said in the meeting that I’m on target for everything else, no one’s perfect. So what if I get a bit agitated sometimes, from their observations it seems like that always happens in a safe space, never in situations that necessitate calmness and clear thinking. Why can’t they just accept that they have a slightly unstable person in their crew now? Am I going to be met with this hypervigilance wherever I go? I need to get better at hiding emotions.
Easter came along. I was tired, fighting off illness, surrounded by memories of Easter two years ago, of being deeply suicidal, not knowing where this whole death on a cross thing fits, what it even means. Sometimes faith just doesn’t mean anything, not when faced with life.
At a church service on Good Friday, as we meditated on the death of Jesus, something struck me. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Good forsook Jesus on the cross, he turned his face away from him, when he never had before. Jesus didn’t deserve it, he’d never done anything wrong. What pain, I can’t imagine what it must have been like, but sometimes I can imagine it a little bit, like on Friday night. I knew with absolute certainty, so rare for me, that God will never forsake me, he’ll never turn his face away from me. That knowledge touched the raw parts inside me that feel like I’m wrong, I was made wrong. I can stand in church and it doesn’t matter what I’ve done wrong – my bad attitudes, my flared temper, my increasingly paranoid conviction that I’m being watched and judged, my confused thoughts, my nervousness and doubt – I can stand in church, I can stand in front of the cross and lift my face and I don’t need to close my eyes or hide in the darkness. I can stand in the open and know that my God’s face smiles upon me.
Tomorrow I have a probation meeting. If I weren’t unstable I’d be being signed off as a fully fledged member of staff. Instead, my boss will be addressing some of the issues that stop that happy moment. I want to fight it, or to run from it. To defend myself or admit defeat. Either one or both reactions could show at once, proving everyone and myself right, that my reactions can’t be assessed or relied on. I want to be calm and collected and if I can’t manage that then this cycle could begin again.
Some acceptance crept in yesterday though. I was at church again, feeling happy there, which I haven’t for a while. I love singing and Easter is great. 🙂 And it dawned on me, I’m not stable. Whether you conceive of it in terms of mental illness, Bipolar, anxiety, depression or just general eccentricity, I don’t know. Either way, I’m not mentally stable. Living with mental illness involves struggle every single day, and being happy and settled in life makes not a tiny bit of difference. It’s not a realisation I like, neither is it a new one. But it’s one that needs to be accepted, over and over. The therapy I had? I’ve been trying to wrap my head around that again recently. I’ve been wishing I could talk to my old therapist, but I’ve had my allotted NHS time. What does it mean, what does it mean? Well, it means that. Accept myself, the way I am, whether it’s ill or healthy or just a bit less stable than other people, the whole of me. Very hard to do. Very hard for other people to do.
Easter came along at a good time. After trying different ways to sort out my perspective, Jesus did it, when he looked at me from the cross and said, it is finished.
The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face towards you
and give you peace.