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Creative Writing: Illness

Now as you might gather from the title, the creative writing that follows was difficult to write, harder to edit, and has been almost impossible to share. While I do on occasion write happier poetry, a lot of this writing was done, at least in draft form, while I was experiencing the worst parts of my illnesses. Which generally means I am not able to think of the positive nuances of being chronically sick. I promise to try to write more of that stuff soon as it’s not all bad I guess. Again,  I welcome critique but please especially with this, be gentle with the criticisms.

I will say that I was inspired to share this stuff because I finally watched the documentary ‘Unrest’ by Jennifer Brea. It’s heartbreaking, empowering…it might not be an exact match for my experience of ME but it’s an experience and seeing something so raw and true meant the world to me. So go and watch it, it’s on Netflix.

Filled

They say pain isn’t forever
Suffering comes and goes
But when hope fades and faith disappears
What else can fill me?

Symptomatic

Fog
It comes like treacle
Moving slowly, so slowly
Until suddenly
It’s swallowed everything
Fog
It devours
My memories, my speech
My own damn thoughts
My words
Fog
Closing in, growing thicker
It steals my understanding
Of how the world works
The very basics
I want coffee, but how do I do that?
How do I finish my sentence?
Was I even talking?
Fog
How can I find my way
When the shining guiding light
Is absorbed?
Fog
Chokes me
That goddamn fog

P.E.M

When it hits
And it will hit
It comes hard, it comes fast
The sheer weight
Drags you to the ground
Hooks and barbels
Pull
You should’ve expected it, should’ve planned
But fuck pacing
Push on
You can make it
The sofa is soft, cushions and blankets
Should make it better right?
That dead weight
Not just pulling now
But pushing
A collapsed ceiling, weighted down
It hurts, it aches, it kills

When it hits
And it will hit
It comes hard
It comes fast
Flare

(PEM stands for post-exertional malaise and is a driving characteristic of ME)

Chronic

Always there
I open my eyes and you’re there
My longest relationship
Never wavering
You won’t leave
Who am I without you?
These days I struggle
To even remember
My ever-present companion
I’ve tried to break up
But you always come back
I don’t fight hard enough?
Maybe
Maybe I’m tired of fighting
You’re there
Closer than my shadow
Growing larger
You strike my body
Inside to out
Inflicting
Chronic

Seesaw

I heard once
That bipolar is like a seesaw
Like in a children’s playground
I can see why they believe that
What goes up
Must come down
Hell, maybe I’d agree
If that seesaw
Went up to a burning star
And fell down
To the Underworld
Up. Down. Destruct.
Also
That seesaw?
Put it on a roundabout
That’s what they don’t tell you
It’s up, down, side to side
Loop the loop
Bipolar
It’s a whole damn fairground.

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Bipolar & Me: Part 1. Introduction

OK so this is not easy for me to do,  but I’ve been wanting to do it for a while. So I’m going to write a series of posts about mental health. My mental health. Specifically what mental health struggles I have.

First things first: surprise, surprise, I have bipolar disorder (or “manic depression”).

You may have seen Stephen Fry’s latest documentary on BBC “The Not-So Secret Life of the Manic Depressive: 10 Years On”. I watched the first documentary 10 years ago, before my own diagnosis. I’m trying to hunt it down to watch it again to see if my perspective has changed since receiving the diagnosis. From what I can recall, it seemed the follow up documentary was more of a depressing watch, there didn’t seem to be much hope portrayed for any of the bipolar sufferers depicted, including Stephen Fry himself. While I have only been officially diagnosed myself since ~March last year, I thought I would try and offer my own personal perspective on the diagnosis process, the medication, and the resources I’ve found available to me through a series of posts.

I have to admit, I struggled watching the most recent documentary. I found that a lot of what was said resonated with me and I understand that it needed to show the truth of living with this disorder. However, I think it really could have benefitted from showing just one person coping, one person managing their condition to balance out the rest of the quite depressing situations. I am by no means in control of my illness as it stands, and I’m still trying to work out how to manage it with my CFS/ME. It is exhausting. But I have found a medication that works for me, which is phenomenally beneficial (I will go into this in a later post). I’m able to stay more balanced and when I do have episodes, my lows are less low, my highs less high. I am considerably safer than I used to be. I am also fortunate in that it doesn’t make me numb, it doesn’t make me a zombie. I am still working full-time in a fast, stressful industry that I love. I have blogged before how I am so lucky because my employer is so patient and flexible in how they let me work.

I wish others with ME, others with bipolar could be able to do this. Many with these conditions have to work part-time, if they can work at all. I reiterate: I am incredibly lucky, and it is something I’m going to have to keep fighting for every day of my life to keep doing. But I am doing it. And I think that someone newly diagnosed with this illness would benefit from knowing that it can be possible. Hence these posts on “Bipolar and me”.

See Part 2 for my thoughts on the illness itself, dispelling some common misconceptions and just trying to fill you in on what living with bipolar really means.

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