Reflections from a difficult couple of weeks:
It’s been three times in my life now that my mental health and ability to function have fallen dramatically apart: when I was 19, when I was 31, and with Matthew’s death when I was 39. Each time I have clawed my way back to a standing position and started the climb to regain my life. Each time it has taken years of immense pain. The deepest scar to my psyche is that in summer 2019, just as I was celebrating near-full recovery from the second breakdown, Matthew died and I tumbled down again.
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It never did go silent where I live. The trains kept running and there were ambulances. Both though stuck out in the otherwise quiet early days. For a period the trains were hooting more than usual. A deep slow minor third every time, and every time it set off in my head the organ notes that opened Matthew’s memorial service.
Then men in orange jackets arrived to build a cycle network. Through those weeks, still with no traffic to speak of, my soundtrack was a pneumatic drill. Every time I went out to visit the mini supermarket, the barriers (also orange) had progressed along the road. There were holes, and then kerbs dividing new lanes, and then a strip of glistening black asphalt stark against the patched grey of the main carriageway.
Now normal noise levels have returned. In the background trains shriek on their rails. If they are still hooting then I cannot hear it. There are traffic lights below my window and I hear the rumble of engines, the kick of motorcycle exhausts. The drill still comes in bursts. It’s a different sort of drill now, I think, one with the rhythm of a strimmer and not the pounding relentlessness of one breaking up the ground.
Part of me loved the quiet while it lasted. Quiet empty city. Quiet empty flat. Quiet empty brain. The city broken by sirens and the spectre of death. The flat just the flat. My brain, also sitting with the spectre of death, calm only when it was not overwhelmed with waves of grief.
This new normal, noise-wise, is much like the old. The sky today as well is a typical summer’s grey and not the clear blue glare that showed up every speck of dust and seemed to signal the end of the world.
There’s been a winnowing that has gone on outside. In parallel, one going on in my brain. The one in my brain will stay, I hope, however much I’m again surrounded by noise.
Just to say that I’m quiet on the blog at the moment as I try to balance writing, reading and, well, life. But I’m active on Facebook and on YouTube so come find me there if you want the latest thoughts and news.
I’m late to the party on feminism. Obviously I’ve never believed in inequality. Of course I’ve always nominally been a feminist. Yet only this week have I realised that by being born a woman I’m on the losing side of life. (Yes, I know I have other privileges.)
It’s taken me thirty-eight years. I simply haven’t seen it till now.
Largely because I avoided the issue.
In my teens I was apart from the crowd, too deep in depression to be part of the feminine stereotypes that went with being sixteen. And academically I was way ahead of both girls and boys; there was no sense that boys had it easier. Continue reading “My Perfect Feminist Storm” →