The second half of the last blog.
Updated: Feb 20
This is a continuation of the previous blog post now I’ve had a couple of days to process my own thoughts. It’s interesting using my website as a means to ‘keep in touch’ with anyone who follows my art work - I guess some people like to know about the actual person and some kind to detach the person from the art. Because of the way I live and think it would be difficult to keep much of the personal away from my artistic process. So here it is, in an unprofessional and informal way. On the website I use to promote my artistic skill and try to gain some kind of success.
I don’t think I’ve had SAD in the summer before. Always in the winter. I never understood what it was or why I felt that way, I just knew it wasn’t normal and equally not my fault. Knowing that the summer was always inevitable was and is the only thing that drags me through cold dark winters. Whenever I have felt this deep pit of darkness the doctors have always tried to make me take antidepressants. Despite feeling extremely low and wanting to cry at the snap of a finger, I am not depressed. This summer has felt anticlimatic. Where has the sun been? The heat? The gorgeous long days and sunsets. Instead, it’s been shivery jumper weather when I wake up and when I go to bed, with a hint of sun during the day. Nothing to look forward to.
This year (last week in fact) I was able to attend my favourite folk festival as an ‘artist’ rather than a steward like the previous two years. It was truly liberating. My friends were still stewarding so unfortunately I didn’t get to see much of them, so I made the decision to focus solely on my role. When I wasn’t capturing folky sways or sleepy camping chair slumps with pen and watercolour, I was painting tigers and unicorns on children’s faces. The energy was beautiful. I loved it. But I felt empty not getting to share the feeling with my close ones.
Needless to say the post festival come down has hit me really hard, despite the fact that I am going to another festival tomorrow. The deep dark feeling keeps whispering to me that once these festivals are over, the sun will disappear for another eight months and the light at the end of the SAD tunnel will be so far away the toll charge will be extortionate.
Death without dying
I’ve tried to talk to people about this in conversation but I can’t seem to convey the complexity and darkness that it carries.
Every single day, at least once, I involuntarily play out a scenario in my head of dying. It always happens while I am doing something else, and it is always so vivid that it feels like it is actually happening. It’s like being punched in the gut whilst crossing the road.
Sitting in my chair at the front of the classroom and the chair collapses or falls backwards, I bang my head, bleed a lot and die.
Whilst this thought plays out in real time, I feel the chair falling backwards, I feel the impact of my head hitting the table, and I feel myself falling to the floor.
However, this is all while sitting trying to talk to students in a lesson.
This used to happen to me almost everyday when teaching and led to the panic attacks that I used to hide in the toilet.
This one happens EVERY day.
Walking across the road and being hit by a car.
In real time, and I can feel the impact, I have to scrunch up my eyes to try to not see it happening, and to not be sick from the bile rising quickly in my stomach and throat. All whilst still walking trying to act like a normal person crossing the road.
Driving. Several scenarios for this, most of it involves impact of a car hitting the drivers side of my vehicle and me being thrown forward, my windscreen shattering and blood everywhere. In real time, whilst I'm still driving. It’s difficult to unsee this one, I’ve had to pull over a few times to catch my breath.
Walking down the street and something falling and hitting me on the head, this makes me really short of breath and panicky and happens A LOT.
Recently, since having a dog, I now visualise him being hit by a car. Very hard to deal with. I see it happening, I feel it, hear it.
These aren’t just thoughts that come and go, these actually happen. They fill every part of my sensory system. It’s like someone flicks a switch and a parallel universe starts running but I am experiencing both.
Another - my Grandad died of a ruptured aneurysm (also what I had, but had surgery for).
His aneurysm ruptured when he was on the toilet. When I am on the toilet sometimes I have to try and ground myself as I play this scenario out too.
This links to the next two -
In the bath, or a sauna, or intense heat, I feel my head overheating and my brain exploding. It is the most ridiculous thing, I am aware. But I feel it so intensely I have to try not to be sick.
This is the one I keep most private. That last one I mentioned, I also feel that during sex sometimes. Especially if I am hot and my heart is racing. It is a mood killer that I hide.
Whilst these happen, I carry on as normal.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the term ‘living on borrowed time’.
This is how I’ve justified being alive for the past 4.5 years.
I feel like this is all so boring to anyone who knows me so I try desperately to not talk about it and to not let it define me, but for my sanity that I feel I am rapidly losing I need to get it all out there.
I really did not expect to wake up from surgery. I woke up extremely surprised to be waking up. That feeling has never gone away. Not even for one day. It is my first thought upon waking every day, no matter who I’m next to or not. Total surprise, and guilt. The guilt sits in the pit of my stomach and makes me want to cry quite a lot. It’s the guilt that bases a foundation for me being grumpy, anxious, or sometimes so bloody angry that I see red. Completely irrational and mean emotions that don’t feel natural in me. They all stem from guilt.
I feel an intense need to squeeze as much as possible to every day in case it is the last. It’s like life is running in a hamster wheel, and the aim is to keep running at a certain pace. I feel like I jumped back into my wheel when I was told I wasn’t even allowed to walk yet, and have kept running non stop to try and keep up, not wanting to miss out. The problem is, the steam is running low and I can’t find the hamsters’ water bottle.
Excuse the bad analogies. I guess they are coping mechanisms.
I gave this the header ‘Death without Dying’ because I spend a LOT of time thinking about death. I wonder if I am dead like Patrick Swayze, I wonder what the meaning of life is. I wonder if I have no wish to procreate then really, what is the point?
I would love for someone to tell me the point, because I can’t find it.
I spend lots of energy trying to shake the thought that I would like to not be alive. Please don’t misunderstand, I am not suicidal. I don’t want to feel the process of dying because my brain already makes me suffer that with the intrusive thoughts every day. I have no interest in killing myself, but I would be happy to not be alive, to jump out of the hamster wheel, throw the towel in and walk away. But life doesn’t work that way, there isn’t a pause button, or a reset button. I really need one. By the way, there's an intense guilt that I feel because of this too.