Better

So I’m better.

Somehow solid again, more real. Somehow my feet planted firmly on the ground.

I don’t know how I got here. There was and is meditation, and psychedelics, but they all came as I was settling down anyway. Maybe they’ve kept me here, where better is. Maybe I would be fine without them.

I’m better.

I’m better and I look back on 2017, and it’s white noise, or a picture I can’t quite focus. A person I can’t quite remember being, tho I remember the things he thought and the things he did.

I’m better, and for the very first time I feel like I’m not just better, but wiser. More sure footed. I don’t know how I got here. Maybe it’s the meditation, maybe it’s the psychedelics.

I have regrets, you know? All these regrets, for how my life has turned out and the endless list of mistakes I’ve made. Frustration at not being where I’d hoped, the usual self recrimination and grief. Anger a how my mental health has disrupted and distorted my life, left me living far from friends and the city I loved and used to call home.

But so what? That’s life, and life is sad sometimes. That’s OK.

I have so many friends, and a loving family, and I’m healthy enough that I can go walk in the world, and feel the cold air on my skin, and breathe. And in that moment, there’s peace.

None of these things will last, and we have only a few heartbeats to call our own in this world. Life is sad sometimes, because life is loss. That’s OK. In this moment, there’s peace.

I’ve tried to kill myself. 3 times. I must have hurt so much, I must have been so lost and so afraid and felt so alone. Maybe I’ll try again, if I ever again get that lost and afraid and alone. I hope not. No one should ever feel that bad. I can’t imagine. I literally can’t imagine how it must feel.

The rain lashed down all night last night, hammering on my windows and keeping me awake. By morning, the exhausted sky was slate gray, and white water blue, ghostly. Starlings chattered in the park, gulls swept overhead.

The world is astonishing. I can’t imagine ever wanting to leave.

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Witold Pruszkowski - Falling Star

We all are Falling Through Silent Liquid Space

Preamble

My 2017 episode has resolved – and for once I think I’ve come out of the storm substantially stronger and wiser, and more able to navigate the seas. It was incredibly close at points – steps were taken with more than one suicide plan, and I probably should have been sectioned again but I managed to hide the depths of my despair well enough from medical staff and therapists. I was held through it by some incredible friends who were literally my lifeline throughout, and after months of depression by turns furious and hot, and empty lonely and cold, I finally found myself back on dry land in September.

Now, it all seems a crazy dream from somebody else’s head. Strange, to think I thought the things I thought, that I did the things I did.

I put this stability down to two things: Buddhism and psychedelics. Buddhism is an every day thing; psychedelics is a once a blue moon thing. One of the reasons for this is that psychedelic experiences are psychically exhausting; while they’re incredibly beneficial in ways I’ll never be able to articulate, they’re also intense in a way I’ll never be able to articulate.

I’m kind-of due another session, which reminded me that after the last one I’d written down this. The trip involved far more than is given in this, and probably far more than I remember, but this was the most intense… episode? Vision? Experience?

Anyway; here it is. It’s a bit muddled, but these things tend to be, and a bit hyperbolic, but, again, these things tend to be. Like I say – psychically intense.


I am falling

I am falling, we all are falling, through silent liquid space.

I am falling, we all are falling, through silent hallowed space.

This is not how it begins.

It begins with grief.


No, no not grief! My body wreaks up, hands claw my chest, mouth agape, no don’t go there, don’t go to death, the cold end of it all; the fear of my parents becoming one day only memories; I see the body, the coffin, the red red earth and roots and the cold cold hammer of loss, no don’t go there don’t go there, not to loss and regret over all the words left unsaid, I love you I love you I wish you knew how much, don’t go, don’t be lost, lost to the cold and the dark and the red red earth.

The horror of life is that in the end we lose everything we love, this horror comes it’s cold, rips through me makes me hollow my mouth agape I fall into black into nothing into silence.

I am falling.

I am falling.

I am falling now forever through silent liquid space.

Falling through water, falling through stars, falling soft and safe through silent sacred space.

Through dark red space.

Through blood red space.

I quake, jolt up again, rock up into a foetal pose, arms curled around my chest, holding a newborn in blood red space, and this love this love it is fierce, it is wild and it howls, it howls, and it will break me apart it is breaking me apart in agony and exultation and the blood red lust of this world for life, for life, for life. I hold a newborn close furiously close I love you I love you I love you, you will never know you will never know how much, this love this love this love,

I sob, body shakes tears burst from clenched eyes I rock I shake I sob, no no no you don’t understand I whisper, you don’t understand this pain this blood red agony, this howl is a howl of love, I quake, the love of life for life, 

I sob

gasp.

Fall back.

We all are falling.

Ice cracks and thaws and cold crystal water begins to flow in channels, babbling and bubbling between still-frozen blocks, and as they thaw, as they thaw, this love trickles into all, into all the frosty walls we build between us, in the end in the end it’s alright, we love each other and that’s enough, we know we love and are loved and that’s enough.

Hands clasped over heart, chest rising with gasping breaths, falls, rises. Heart beating inside chest, pulse beating through body, blood, red red life. Only breath. Only blood. Beating, in silence, in black space.

Through all the pain and loss of this world through all your cruelties and misguided deeds, regrets and misspoken words, there is this,

love

and that’s enough.

It will be enough.

In the end is only grief, wild and terrible grief, it will break you apart and it is love, it is only love, wild and terrible love, it will be alright in the end, just remember this pain is only love, the only pain is love, the grief life has for life


I am still, breathing, pulsing.

Still breathing, pulsing. I am.

Still.

Breathing.

Slow.

I am falling,

up; flying up, into cool crisp air into the big blue, until I no longer am, up into the big blue into the night, streaming white stars flow from endless space into me, I am endless space rippling with streaming white stars, faster now faster, up into ruby red space, out and up and beyond, space and starlight dropping away from… from… I… away from… I…

and I vanish, and you vanish, we vanish, and this and that vanish, and words and the shapes around words vanish, and suspended outside time all that is left is the infinity of the universe


Until, again, I am falling

Falling, swift and gentle back into me, finally, white streaming stars become crisp streams of water flowing back into me, making me me again; breathing, pulsing. Gasping.

On the shore.

Lapped by warm clear waves.


We never stop falling; graceful and slow

through sacred silent space.

Rice paper

I’m not doing great. The world’s a scary place and right now I keep thinking of the kids, keep getting scared for them, for the future, their future.

Being scared don’t do anything, does it? Silly Phil.

Nor does ignoring it all. But at least ignoring it all you get to live a happy life. Get to live a life.

And I think too much about these things, get to thinking what’s the point, get to thinking those same old dark dark thoughts. Who wants to watch the world burn, after all?

I shouldn’t think those dark dark thoughts, I’m told.

How is it life can be so brutally real yet so rice paper thin?

In the terrible dawn of grief you see the world stripped bare of stories, stripped bare of distractions and you want to laugh, or scream, or beat your fists against the chests of other humans and howl that it’s all dust and whispers and all these lives we build up and tear down and worry and fear and hope over are just stories we tell ourselves to distract from the gaping truth that we’re all just words spoken briefly by the world then lost with breath on the wind.

The world at once so brutally real yet rice paper thin.

I worry over things I can’t change, I’ll never be able to change, watching a humanity careening closer and closer to environmental ruin and social destruction and I worry, I worry over the future my future, their future. Silly Phil.

Sometimes I can blot it out, it takes effort and a few magic tricks but sometimes I can, but not right now. Not as the world looks set to burn.

I’m not doing great. The world’s a scary place right now and I’m not doing great.

Why I meditate

zenAs I say, I’ve recently taken to meditating; every morning, sometimes in the afternoon, evening.

It’s been a month, more or less. Who knows if I’ll keep it up? I don’t even know why, initially, I started. I sure as hell wasn’t expecting it to do anything other than give me half an hour relaxation a day, half an hour ‘me time’. Half an hour sat like those slim white women (always slim, always white, always women) on the covers of books and magazines and in all the stock photography, with closed eyes and that irritatingly beautific expression beaming from the shelves and the screens and the pages of Yoga Today.

OK. I don’t sit like them. I am in some ways preternaturally flexible (hello boys), but I can’t quite comfortably manage a full lotus position – feet on thighs, pelvis square on the floor, stable, strong. I can drag my legs most of the way, and hold the pose out of sheer bloody mindedness while my  feet slide down and my ankles end up twisted at an angle that can’t be healthy (and certainly doesn’t feel it), and maybe even stay like that for a full 10 minutes while my legs go numb and my upper back starts to howl, but eventually I have to admit that I will never be a slim white woman.

Besides, I meditate zen-style. Eyes open.

Continue reading

Other plans

It’s easy to get upset about things.

I know this is hardly a striking insight from someone prone to profound, paralysing depression. Still.

It wasn’t meant to be like this. And it’s easy to get upset about that.


It was meant to be redundancy, complete MSc, new and exciting job.

No, no, it was meant to be BSc, quit job, MSc, more interesting job.

No, no no no. It was meant to be move to London, get a job, have fun.

I mean, after the original plan had failed, that is. BA, job.

It was meant to be different, it wasn’t meant to be this. It wasn’t meant to be unemployed and skint and living with my family in my mid 30s. It wasn’t meant to be directionless and purposeless.

I didn’t mean to waste all that time and effort. And it’s easy to get upset about that.


Understandable too, I guess. But many understandable things are nevertheless unwise.

I think of suicide – when I think of suicide, which these days is rare but it’s a peculiarly hard habit to break – I think of suicide when I consider how much of my life I’ve wasted, which is a morbidly absurd line of reasoning. Life streams by, gentle, terrible, a single impossibly slim moment which somehow extends on forever.


I’ve taken to meditating.

I’ve dipped my toes into mindfulness based cognitive therapy before; that’s mindfulness rather than Mindfulness(TM), the latter being today’s fashionable false hope. But before mindfulness therapy was even a glimmer in Kabat-Zinn‘s eye, I was drawn to Zen Buddhism.

You try on personalities as a teenager. Try on beliefs and hobbies and ways of being, see if they’re comfortable. Drop and forget most of them, and I mostly dropped and mostly forgot all that hippy shit.


I meditate in the mornings, sometimes in the evenings. Sometimes my mind settles on my breathing with relative ease, other times it’s a butterfly in the wind. Sometimes I get frustrated at how I don’t settle, other times I don’t mind. Sometimes I breathe in and out, and in, and out, and it’s like I dissolve, the world blossoming and falling at once, every moment, endless. Other times I think of shopping lists. It doesn’t matter. The point of meditation, I’m beginning to realise, isn’t anything to do with meditation.


If only I’d been diagnosed earlier, if only they’d initially given me lamotrigine instead of citalopram, if only I’d taken my mental health more seriously, if only if only if only. I could have got the qualifications and the job and the money and the life you’re meant to have and enjoy rather than had years of tears and failure and now this, this, drifting, skint, jobless.

I walk in the park, most days. Pausing sometimes to look up at the ever changing sky, gulls wheeling on the wind, playing. Directionless. An impossibly slim moment stretched somehow into forever.

There are so very few ways, I think, that you can waste that moment. But suicide is definitely one of them.