I have fallen in the forest
Did you hear me?
In the loneliness
Oh the loneliness and the scream
To prove to everyone that I exist.
Frightened Rabbit – The Loneliness and the Scream
Yesterday I thought I was okay. I wasn’t as well as I had been the day before, or the day before that. It was maybe a week of wellness. I wrote and felt that I had a purpose, something which I hadn’t felt at all during the lockdown, the quarantine the self-isolation the whatever it is now.
Depression is cruel like that. It gives you these moments where the sun comes out for you again, when you look at yourself and think, Hey, there you are. Where have you been? I missed you.
I’d been writing again. Exercising with regularity. Trying to eat well, though my appetite has gone and so has my thirst, like a cat in old age, looking scruffy, no energy to make myself look good. Why bother? I try to remind myself to drink but the water bottles stand three-quarters full of lukewarm water while I lie staring listlessly at the television or scrolling through my phone, ordering stuff, so much stuff in the hope it will fill the hole I feel widening inside me.
I can barely concentrate on anything. I have wanted to write this blog long before I briefly felt better again. (I feel better and better and worse now then better, than ever, than ever. I feel much better and better and worse and then better – Frightened Rabbit – I Feel Better.) That’s the ride. Though the balance keeps shifting and I’m afraid I keep falling into the shadows. Much longer periods of awfulness, of a pain so bad I find myself slapping my face, banging my head against the wall, or sinking an exacto-knife into the deep, fatty flesh of my hips. Fantasies about how I want to go, when, where. Precise. Playing the video in my head of how I want to go again and again, like the VHS tapes of Disney films I’d watch on repeat as a child.
I wake up one day and realise I am not crying. No, I’m doing better than that. I’m getting up and I’m cleaning up after Henry, who is sick and keeps losing control of his bowels in the kitchen and the bathroom. I can crush up Sheldon’s antibiotic and give him his painkillers (we are still waiting for an x-ray and then for the surgery.
Some days I just lie in bed, eyes closed, listening to Audiobooks or the playlists I’ve made which are quiet enough to sleep to or Sleep by Max Richter, yet another gift gained from Scott Hutchison’s recommendations, I lie there, and sometimes I find myself surrounded by cats. Zola, lying over my head on the pillow like a hat, his deep purr sending tingles over my flesh. In these moments I think I am loved. Sometimes Henry jumps up, always announcing himself with his meow. He will fuss and paw and eventually find a place to lie down. Sheldon appears like a ghost, I see him only when my eyes open and he is there, often on my chest or next to me, wide awake. It’s…weird.
But I try to get up and exercise. I always get dressed. I have signed up to a new gym.
Trying. I am always trying. I do this so no one can ever say I didn’t try to get better.
I’ve eked out my book so far in excruciating writing sessions. Then I had that week of wellness and the words just seemed to write themselves. I had ideas. I wanted to live to see them through. Sometimes I wonder if narcissism is going to be the thing that keeps me going. When I imagine dying with two books under my belt it seems insufficient and wouldn’t really show my full range.
Other days, this doesn’t matter at all. All that matters is that I can make it so I never have to wake up another fucking day ever again. Because waking up is like being torn from the womb. Again and again and again. Most days I do wake up crying. Some days I call out for Zola, who chirrups, sometimes popping his head up from the bottom of the bed where I didn’t know he was and he clumsily purrs and stumbles his way to be near my face, his breath comfortingly stinky, his whiskers tickling my cheeks. Should I get up? I’ll ask him but that’s up to him. He sometimes curls up into the space near my stomach. He is so soft. When he exhales it’s a sound of pure contentment that’s contagious. Sometimes he wants to share the pillow, sometimes he kicks me in the head until I’m on the pillows next to his. Sometimes it is time to get up, so he chases my feet and pads at my face and makes it impossible not to get up and open the patio doors so he can continue collecting sticks in the garden.
Anyway. This isn’t the half of it. But I probably don’t need to tell most of you: lockdown has fucked with my head. My finances. My creativity. My relationships. My independence. Everything.
My therapist asked me two weeks ago to list five things which make me happy and I could only get to one. I’ve thought about it. Maybe they aren’t as simple as the examples she gave but here they are.
- When it’s dark and the fan is on and I’m reading a book I love.
- When I’m running and it’s tough but I know I’m doing it anyway.
- Dancing with Turn’d Up Fitness.
- Being surrounded by my cats.
- Listening to Frightened Rabbit on my headphones so everything else is blocked out. Eyes closed. Knowing Scott is still here because of the love that won’t let him go, his family, friends, the fans. Hoping one day I’ll see him again, ‘And God’s got his dead friends round. They’ve painted all the walls in red, to remind them they’re all dead.’