I’m going to come clean and admit that the last few months have been a struggle. A struggle to understand where I’m going in life. A struggle to know what to do next today. And at times, onlookers would doubtless say too often, a struggle to raise a smile and feel happy. The worst part about it is actually thinking about the position I’m in. Once again I’m in a place where inertia takes over and creativity is suffocated by a seeming futility of what is so often called “life”.
I could put these feelings down to the absence of the medication. I’d told myself before stopping that it would be the next phase in recovery. I thought I’d squared that challenge in my head but I’m not sure I’ve really grasped the enormity of it. Whilst I tell others I have to put into practice what I learnt in counselling, MrsAB with all the best intentions reminds me that this is what I’m failing to do. This undermines my confidence: I feel like I’ve already forgotten what I learnt and I’m not comforted by suggestions in books that you only remember what is important to you. Does this mean my happiness is not important or is it, to use a more heartening analysis, a sign of continued stress? And if it is stress then how do I manage it when I’ve forgotten what to do?
The first step is precisely that, a step. One of the lasting memories of counselling was to approach life as a series of steps. You need to take the first step to reach the fifth. The problem is I’m a big picture kind of person, I need to know where I am going, I want to visualise what the destination is before setting off. And that’s where I’m hitting the buffers. In many ways I’m really not sure what my “life purpose” is at the moment. A few years ago I was going to leave my mark by helping develop better public policy, by adding knowledge to the world that could allow others to improve their communities, by (dare I say it) exposing unjust or just ineffective practice in regeneration. Realising I wasn’t doing this was part of my breakdown. Yet despite deciding to move away from this I am haunted by a need to leave a mark in other ways and that mark somehow has to be big. But the bigger the mark, the further the journey, the greater the fog in setting out on the early trek and the more demoralising it becomes. The path is not to success but to (inevitable) failure. So why bother.
Changing this mindset isn’t easy. It’s a crushing feeling which makes you abandon the first steps because they seem futile. It smothers creativity and robs you of the dreams you had and might still have. It’s been suggested I need a purpose in life, but where do I start especially when I have one foot in the old life and a tip toe in the new.
This post is less a lesson for others, though if they find it useful I suppose this is step, and more an aid memoir for me. I’m not comfortable with taking time to reflect and even worse at acting on the reflections I have. But by putting this down on paper it has helped the process of admission if nothing else. To know where to go needs some thought but also some passion, creativity and time. The passion and creativity have been diminished in part by the frustration of the need to get there. Maybe that is the lesson for me – dreaming a little dream of me is the first step on that road.