Tomorrow, I get up at 6am to go to a Hospital on the fringes of the M25 to have a Health Assessment. Primarily it is being done to check my level of physical fitness, to gain a V02 Max reading after a year of exercise. However, there is going to come a point where a doctor sits and asks me if mentally I’m okay or not, and up until about 3am this morning I’d have probably refused to answer, on the grounds I could seriously incriminate myself as being anything but. However, sitting in a lay by at 8.30am, crying my eyes out, there was a revelation of the sort I only thought happened in movies when you’re pressed for time and the exposition all needs to happen right now.
‘Yeah, I’m fine,’ I’ll say to the female doctor when she asks me. I’ll explain to her I understand why it’s important to talk about mental health, that I’ve coped with depression alone for many decades and now, as it happens, I’ve done the same again. Except on this occasion there’s been light shone in corners that were previously left dark by design, and what they have illuminated is important. I still don’t need drugs to function correctly. There is no requirement to talk to someone to understand what’s going wrong. I now know EXACTLY where some of my issues began, and that there’s not anything that requires a diagnosis. In effect, this is a surprisingly good place for me.
I am reminded this morning of the person who DM-d me in the early days of my life on Twitter and questioned my mental illness credentials. So many people lie for attention, she said, I want to make sure you’re not one of them. I know how desperate I’ve felt in the last few days, feeling the hole in my chest as I sit and type now, even though my brain is able to step back and allow words from brain to fingers to screen. Somehow, in my journey to make expression matter not simply as a storyteller but as an educator, I’ve developed a new and impressive means of internal separation. The panic remains but somehow I learnt how to cope with it and make things better.
Last night, I was able for the first time to tell somebody how much I miss them. Today, I was able to tell a friend that ‘yeah, I’m fine but I don’t want to talk right now’ and these things to individuals who are not my family are huge, enormous steps forward. The thing that snapped inside me on Tuesday night wasn’t a break, but a memory recalled from when I was very young, and the understanding that I’m not simply a copy of somebody else’s failings. What I have become is important, worthwhile and relevant. Most importantly, I am free to not repeat the mistakes of the past if I spend enough time learning to understand myself in the present.
After that, I don’t have time to spend contemplating my navel, mortality or indeed anything else. There is simply too much to do, that matters more. I don’t require the time to assess or understand, all that has already taken place. This, as someone said to me a while ago, is coming out into the light after having spent a long time only in darkness. I know I’ll end up back there as time goes on but this time I know where the exits are. I learnt the skills required to wriggle free of restraints.
I’m no longer lost when the blackness comes because I learnt to see in the dark.
You’re never cured of a mental illness. The bad shit never goes away, there is just an ability to cope with what is presented, and then deal with the consequences. Amazingly, nobody got hurt in this revelation. Everything is awesome, and that’s not hyperbole.
Yes, you really can fix things when they’re broken.