Oh, 2017. You have been an adventure.
It’s been months since I have been able to even think about living let alone writing. I have been going through the painful process of healing my mind, and although I had long ago come to terms with my depression, what I had never faced were my actual emotions. I often struggle to identify them and have always just labelled things as ‘depressed’, ‘mad’ or ‘okay’. Now I am coming to terms with the fact that depression is clinical, not emotional. That it masked many of my feelings and that in combination with my neurologically atypical brain I never learnt to properly identify, nor separate, different emotions.
These last few months I have been actively taking the time to assess my thoughts and feelings, and what I have discovered is that beneath the chemical imbalance (that is now nicely controlled with medication) was sadness; a deep sorrow that steams from a place of hurt and regret.
Misdiagnosed mental illness, undiagnosed autism, abuse, loss and trauma have all played a part in my past, but, clouded by the label of depression I never had to fully experience nor begin the process of healing from them.
With my depression controlled for the first time in years the emotions that were attached to my life events came flooding into my mind and come February it was all too much to handle. For the first time in my life I have been unable to hide behind the depressive fog, cloistered in anxieties, drowned by self-destruction.
I have had to face the regret of not speaking out, and the sorrow of not being able to. I thought that maybe keeping a journal would help but I found myself unable to find the words. It was as though every time I attempted to reach for a memory it would dive deeper into my subconscious and further from my reach.
My dreams became vivid and scary. I spent many nights, in months past, waking myself up in a terror – not quite able to remember yet having a heady sense of despair and the sticky cling of fear.
In my waking life I felt stuck.
School was pushed to one side, therapy felt incomplete, my mind was restless and my soul refused to be nourished. Then few weeks ago I was going through one of my many piles of books. These particular books were hidden away not because they were ‘bad’ but because they represented failure; the second degree that I did not complete.
The second chance that slipped away from me.
Seeing those books hurt. The regret had me in tears, anger (an emotion I have felt overwhelmed by in the past) pushed up and once that had passed I felt broken. But I decided that I could not keep avoiding what these books represented, and sifting through them – placing them on a shelf – I remembered the classes that they were purchased for. One particular class focused on the writing of memory and trauma in French literature including autofiction. Through this medium Hervé Guibert was able to explore living (and dying) of AIDs, Annie Erneaux could examine abortion, her sexuality, and complicated family relationships, and George Perec the uncertainty of memory and the trauma of war. None of these are light topics and yet each writer was able to use fiction to brutally examine reality. They pushed at the boundaries of what is real, of what is truth and how that changes and evolves.
The idea of autofiction is one that appeals to me and it broke through my post-NaNo writing slump. My memories are still unclear, my emotions are not all identified and yet healing is happening. Through the creation of characters I am experiencing my past. It hurts. My God how it hurts. I have to take regular breaks and I am being extremely careful with what memories I am interacting with, but I finally feel like I am engaging in the idea of radical self-care that led me to creating this blog.
As with my memories my writing is fragmented, and not all of it is for others to read but it is all a part of my personal exercise in healing. Within these words a story is beginning to develop. It is a creative means to explore the inconsistency and unreliable nature of memory, but I also want to look at the hereditary nature of secrets, and the legacy of trauma through at least three generations of women.
I am energized to be writing again but mostly I am ready to use my words to heal.