When I am low, I think about the gulf that exists between the person I try to be and portray to other people, and the scared and vulnerable me who wonders whether I’ll ever be optimistic or confident about my future.
I used to be terrified of walking into a room full of strangers, whether it was a new school, job or even social gathering. I used to have nightmares for several days beforehand and I would enter the room petrified, absolutely petrified that no-one would talk to me, that I’d be standing there like a lemon, not knowing what to do. And of course, being scared meant that I seemed quite stand offish and unapproachable. It’s taken me years to move on from that. I still get nervous, but only a little for the most part, and now I accept that and try and relax with it, knowing that I will be all right.
Just as I used to walk out there holding my head up high pretending everything was fine, I pretend in real life. As do we all. When someone asks me how I am, I usually say fine. Very rarely do I say that life is a bit difficult, and even less frequently do I say that life is a constant struggle and that I have to fight to accept that I’ve done anything right. The major difference now compared to just a few years ago is that I do have friends who not only listen, but will understand and whom I feel comfortable telling. This is a major achievement that I still do not applaud enough.
I have also finally come off Income Support after being on it for several years. Going self-employed would not be possible without Tax Credits but it is a step in the right direction towards financial independence, an income, if not a career. It means that I can still prioritise my children while they’re young whilst building up a business as well. At the same time as arranging that step I was also contemplating getting my GP to sign me off as not being capable for work due to my own mental health as I wasn’t sure that I could really cope. I didn’t though. I’m close to being depressed; I can tick most of the boxes but don’t think I am quite there. I feel admitting that I am depressed equates to giving in, in my mind, and I’m not willing to go there. I may be deluding myself by saying that I am not depressed but I am fighting it.
I have many friends, acquaintances and colleagues who know nothing about this maelstrom of emotions and thoughts swirling through my mind, who think whatever they think of me, but know nothing of all this unrest. I am deliberately trying to put on a good act to the world in the hope that some of it will rub off on me, but there are times when the differences between that confident, outward going, balanced person and the shivering wreck inside seem too great.
That doesn’t mean I won’t carry on trying.
And for reference the title is from Matthew Arnold’s Dover Beach, “wandering between two worlds, one dead, the other powerless to be born” which represents well how I feel. I first came across this as a title to a book I read as a young child and still occasionally read.