Being looked after by the brother I seldom got on with as a child
It’ll probably go down as one of those moments in life that will transform my relationship not just with my older brother but with the rest of my family too…as well as learning a few home truths following being observed by someone who for better or worse I grew up with. So I should start off by thanking my older brother for looking after me for the past few days – making me breakfast & dinner & generally tidying up everywhere whilst I slept. I use the title “Brothers in arms” title because when we were younger, he was in a band that played lots of Dire Straits numbers from their album with that title.
He said that it was a high level of self-awareness that arrested a further spiral – that despite all that was going on I was able to say “I need help” and get it. The short-term medication has helped calm me down – and knock me out too. Unfortunately this has meant I’ve been a useless blob for the past few days as a now fully-domesticated older brother started sorting through all of my stuff & tidied up everywhere. I had no idea he was doing any of this – I was asleep for most of the time. A case of “I’m just going upstairs for a nap” and waking up seven hours later. Ooops.
Wake up call on how I use social media
I’ve acknowledged I use it too much. March was a particular hive of activity in both tweets and blogposts. I only need to look at the analytics of March’s figures on the latter which show nearly double the amount of views I’d normally expect. This is also combined with a number of days where I was putting out two blogposts a day when my intention was to go in the opposite direction.
There’s also the addictive tendencies of social media – constantly looking to see who’s retweeted your tweets, who has responded, who has mentioned you, whether certain people you like, rate or respect have tweeted that day and what they’ve said or what articles they’ve linked to…it can all get a bit too much. Which is why I’m trying to tie myself down to checking & messaging once in the morning, at lunchtime and in the evening until after the Easter break. It’s not as if anything majorly newsworthy or conversation-forming is going to emerge in the meantime…is it?!?
Worrying about losing friends I’ve made
I can’t pretend this doesn’t petrify me – it does. Over the past six weeks as I started spiralling down I couldn’t help but feel my behaviour was becoming more erratic than it otherwise would have been. Mainly around insecurities more than anything else – should I have said that? Should I have texted this? Should I have turned up later or left earlier? The reason for this is that in previous crises in years gone by I have lost friends, and really don’t want to lose any more as a result of my inability to cope. Especially now as there are a number of people who I have grown to like immensely and hold in very high regard.
It’s one of the reasons why for the next couple of weeks I’m letting social media things take a back seat (thus giving some people a nice break from the constant twitterstream!), and allowing myself to be supported by those who have very kindly offered it to me in the form of meetups and other activities. (A few of us are heading off to a comedy night at The Junction tonight). Basically the more time spent offline, the less is spent online.
It’s also meant more reading time too as I plough through the pile of books that has collected over the past couple of years. Part of the challenge also is to find stuff that won’t trigger off things. Thus trying to keep away from things that involve historical figures with mental health issues, to fiction (or non-fiction even) that is particularly violent (e.g. that book on the Reformation) to love stories. Yeah…it doesn’t really leave that much room for anything else. I’m also trying to keep away from politics and current affairs for a bit – the whole thing has become quite depressing of late, which really doesn’t help the mood.
“I needed to go through this”
For a start it brought my older brother and I closer than we’ve ever been. We’re actually a lot more similar than we realised disposition-wise (even though he’s about a head taller than me…& likes rowing on cold rivers at stupid-o’clock in the morning). It’s why part of my ‘rational’ mindset has been along the lines of ‘Okay, let’s embrace this spiral & see where we come out at the end of it’ – sort of no longer trying to fight the pull of the black hole but going headlong to see what’s on the other side. (Knowing it’ll be a bit of a squish in the process, but hey.)
There’s also my realisation that there are a number of things not yet in place for me to come off the medication in the way I had hoped. In a sense I got the actions correct but the sequencing all wrong. Working-wise, certain things need to be in place – and ditto with family & stable friendships too. Currently things are not there yet – though I seem to be on the right road.
My older brother has told me a lot of these over the past couple of days – both good and bad. Having grown up with me and being of a similar disposition, he’s probably the only person who is in any position to be able to do so. It was both good stuff and bad stuff – good stuff being underestimating and underrating my own achievements, & the bad stuff being carrying far too many chips on my shoulder & being too intense about things. They are both things I’ve been aware of for some time, but I guess it carries more force when someone else tells it to you – someone who has an insight into all the childhood issues too.
Intensity of personality is less of a problem than it was now than in years gone by. In part this is due to no longer feeling the need to prove anything to the Life on a piece of paper mindset. It’s like when I wander around the place with Puffles. I’m not too bothered about what people think of me. Puffles charms some people and alienates others. I can live with that. The people who have taken to Puffles are those who I am developing strong friendships with – people able to engage with (& differentiate between) a Twitter persona and me as a person. e.g. Switching from “Can I have my picture taken with Wuffles?” (Yes, some people have a ‘pet name’ for Puffles) to “I want to pick up on something you said/wrote…”
On being zombified
The worst thing about it is not really being able to do much that is useful during the day. It’s the continual “They are all out there doing fun stuff while I’m stuck in here being miserable!” mindset that in years gone by would get me down until I started being proactive about life after university. Obviously it means no exercise. Falling asleep while cycling, swimming or doing weights in circuits is not a good look. But then with many places having strange opening hours or being full of kids on Easter holidays, this may be no bad thing.
Anyway, Spring is here!
Whatever you are doing over the next few days, I hope it is filled with both fun & rest. For those of you celebrating it: “Happy Easter!”