When Christmas and Gridiron Collide

 

The decision to continue my non-celebration of Christmas has already proven to be a wise one. I am struggling a little.

Because i’ve developed the habit of both preparing for the coming weeks and reviewing them after, i’ve been noticing a few things lately. I think about what goals i already have in place, and how other activities, including appointments and the day-to-days, may affect their furthering or accomplishment. For instance, while getting ready for the holidays, i thought about how i wanted to get through them without any crutches, including addictive behaviours and switching. I thought to myself, “It’s gonna be hard,”
And that’s it. That’s all i thought. I just glossed right over it and didn’t go any deeper. I mean, why would i need to, right? I’ve done all this work and i know myself pretty well. I know it’s going to be difficult.

It’s like running my fingers over the books on my shelves. As they run over the spines i remember each one’s content in my mind, and the general vibe briefly washes over me, like the breath of a lover between kisses. I’ve read it before and i know what it’s about, so why read it again? But it’s not like that with some books. Some i return to over and over, so many times that the spine is hopelessly cracked and flecks of laminate are missing from its paperboard cover. Some words are so beautifully, so importantly put together, that i must experience them many times; it’s simply not enough to know that they exist or to have visited them before. I cannot be satisfied with a fingertip-touch or a warm glance. And i should not be – some of the depth and the nuance and delicate intricacy is lost without at least an hour or two lost in its embrace.

Well, that was an interesting digression that i’m not sure fits entirely, but it is an insight into my mood most assuredly, so it stands.
I’m trying to relate it to my playbook for living with mental illness. I have a list of strategies and plays i’ve developed for handling what life throws my way. I don’t think sportsball teams simply commit the plays to memory and then just show up at gametime, ready to play. The players practise. They practise a LOT. They look to the coach for direction, for instruction, for guidance.
It’s a very good analogy because i’m multiple. I’m the coach, the quarterback, and the hungry rookie going slightly mad sitting on the bench, aching to get in the game. I’m the fans, both for and against, the colour commentator on the sidelines and the beloved announcer in the booth above it all. The opposing team is made up of people, places, and things, and the game is LIFE, of course.

Those players haven’t just memorised those plays. They’ve practised them so many times they’ve built muscle-memory reactions that work like breathing, so reflexive it’s like the OOF! that explodes out of them when they’re tackled.

Would a team that wanted to win against a tough competitor show up without practising plays designed specifically to deal with what that other team is known for being particularly good at? Hell NO.

I ran my fingers over the book on the shelf and remembered what was inside it, when i should have taken it down from the shelf, cracked it open, and read it again.
My players needed a coach to call them to practise, to scrawl the plays out on the board in class and to run them through on the field.
I wasn’t well-prepared so they weren’t, either.
This has been a rough game against a tough opponent.

I’m dealing with the depression part of living with Bipolar Disorder, which means i don’t have much energy or enthusiasm and i’m tired most of the time. Being depressed when most of the people, places, and things around me are happy and excited (or at least wanting and trying to be) saps what little reserves i have stored. And that makes me vulnerable. My patience is thin and my skin is thinner. My vision is blurry and my voice is a whisper.

What i mean is
**i can be easily hurt and i’m not great at interpreting what’s going on around me, and i’m shit at communicating what i’m thinking or how i feel**
That’s better. Sorry for all the attempts at various literary devices, as anyone reading this has certainly grasped more quickly than i have said – i’m still in the grips of all this.

So i let some things get to me that needn’t have, and i shut down a bit because of it.
Rejection is one of, if not the, primary issues/triggers i have. So i was worried and anxious and hurt and scared and it seeped into everything.

But here is where things get better, so don’t worry. There is no need to feel badly for me beyond this point. If you’re empathetic, you probably feel some sadness and anxiety for me, and thank you for that, but you can stop now, because i’ve developed coping skills and routines to help me live a reasonably happy and functional life.

While i do need to work on game preparation, i am already the queen of post-game analysis.

I’m a bit too emotional and that caused exhaustion, but i didn’t overindulge in anything and i didn’t switch. I slid around in the face from time to time, but i was able to tell my family that i wasn’t all there, and they know what that means. Looking back, even though i wasn’t fully aware of what was going on, my self-talk was quite gentle, and that is excellent progress. I didn’t tell myself i was being stupid or wrong for the feelings i was having or the actions i was taking – i just didn’t delve deep enough for full clarity. There were times i was irritated to the point where i could have spoken snappishly, but i didn’t. I had enough awareness that i knew the feelings were bigger than the situation, meaning something else was probably going on inside me at a deeper level.
I realised that whatever was happening inside of me wasn’t about what was occurring outside of me, and responded in a relatively reasonable fashion. I will take that, and any congratulations to be had go to the players.

I need to watch more games, both ours and theirs. I’ve got some great plays and some smart strategies, but we need better preparation and more practise. I’ve got this playbook, and i’m going to use it during practise, and the way my brain works (i.e. my Peanut Gallery) is the home team. They can split up and practise against each other. (Trust me – they already do, heh.) Upcoming situations will be the next visiting team and we’ll get together on practise days and watch footage of how those guys play before we show up, so we’ll be as ready as we can be to compete.

And we’ll still play for fun. It’ll be more like weekend flag football and all the players on the other side of the scrimmage line are my family and friends – it won’t be like the Grey Cup or anything.

This is a very weird way of saying that i wasn’t as prepared as i could have been for the Christmas season this year, but i will be next year.
I think. Heh.

 

Love and Peace,
~H~

Hey You. Yeah, YOU.

Hey You.

It’s been a while since i addressed you directly, but that doesn’t mean that i don’t think about you. I wonder after you just about every day.

I think about you a lot, because when you’re like me, it seems like you’re all alone. It seems like i’m the only crazy person i know. I mean, there are social misfits and weirdos aplenty – but crazies? Once i accepted myself for who i am, i was met with radio silence.

It’s not cool to be cuckoo. You can be weird if you’re a nerd or a geek; a certain amount of social awkwardness is a prerequisite for the label. And if you’re rich or famous or some sort of celebrity or great artist then you can be as off as you want to be… They’ll call you eccentric.

Usually there is someone, though. Someone who gets us, or at least they try to. Or maybe they don’t try and they merely accept that they don’t understand and that’s okay with them. Their lack of understanding is not an impediment to them being in a relationship of some kind with us. There are some out there. Sometimes only one, but often more than we think. Experience has taught me that i just have to get through those tough times when i can’t see. Just because it’s dark doesn’t mean there’s no light. I know eventually the light will come. Maybe it’s just the cycle of light and dark, or maybe i’ve pulled down all the shades and just forgotten that i’ve done so. Maybe if i look hard enough i’ll see a dim glow seeping out around the edges…

But those of us who leave a trail of wreckage behind us: hospital stays and rides in police cars and enforced social service watchdogs and destroyed relationships…

You know, those of us who have done things that no one can make poetic.
Those of us who’ve been screwed up in ways not immortalised by some well-loved actor in an Oscar-worthy performance. Those of us who have a stink on us that we can’t shower away. When everyone you know for long enough -whether a minute or a year- knows that you are different. And not in the cool way.
For us, sometimes it is hard to see the light.

I want you to know that i’m thinking about you.

This is a hard time of year to be crazy. There’s family and expectations.
And family and expectations.
If you’re crazy and you’ve made it through any of these blasted holiday-gauntlets then i say Clap yourself on the back my brother/sister, because you are amazing!  This time of year turns solidly sane people into lunatics, so if you’re a whack job like me and still in one piece, congratulations.

And hey, if there’s some wreckage around you, it’s okay. Some broken relationships, some 911 calls, some final notices, some vicious rumours… If you’re still breathing, you’re winning. Even if you’re wearing a sweater with extra long arms that tie up in the back.

I know it’s about to get more intense. More family and more expectations.

I want you to know that you won’t be alone.
I’ll be thinking about you; wondering how you’re doing and if you’re all right.
Even if we’ve never met and i don’t know your name.

I don’t celebrate this time of year. I’m not religious. I’m not spiritual. I’m not going to church, i’m not opening presents, i’m not making obligatory family appearances.
I have no problem with anyone else being any or doing any those things, it’s just not me.

Whether you are or you aren’t doesn’t matter to me. What matters is, if you live with mental illness i want you to know that i’m thinking about you this holiday season. I know how hard it can be, and i just want you to know that you aren’t alone.

I have no step-by-step plan. I’m not selling anything, neither a belief system nor a product. I just want you to know that someone gives a shit about the real you. The you that doesn’t know what the fuck you’re doing, and the you who’s terrified that they’ll find out who you really are, and the you who’s so freaking tired of toeing the line, and the you who doesn’t even know who you are anymore, and the you who has NOTHING left to give, and the you who has never been yourself with another living person, and the you who is afraid all there is is this and all you’ll ever be is who others think you are…

I have been able to create a safe place, with safe people, where i live the life i choose.

Some of it took so much strength and commitment i should get a parade, and some of it was a beautiful fluke.
Regardless, i have this life now and i’ve been thinking about you a LOT. I know how hard this time of year can be, and i want you to know that i’m thinking about you right now.
I don’t have family obligations or company parties or peer group expectations.

I will be thinking about you and wondering if you’re okay and hoping that you’re all right.
So, if you have to be around people that make you feel things you don’t want to feel – i’ll be thinking about you.
If you’re spending the holidays alone and wish you weren’t – i’ll be thinking about you.
If circumstances have made it so you can’t be, do, or give what you’d have wanted to this holiday – i’ll be thinking about you.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE. 

Hang in there, okay?

Lovelovelove and Peeeeace,

~H~