Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A year of false peaks

It is nearly a year to the day that I started this blog in an attempt, so I said at the time, to discover whether 'I am still me'. I will always be me, but I am certainly different. Apart from my grumpy, snappy, anti-depressant withdrawal days, I think I am different for the best.

I have discovered new abilities over this past year. One is the joy of writing. For although I have let this blog drift of late, I am constantly composing in my head. The other is something which has taken me by surprise and that is the ability to act. Not up on stage or in front of a camera but just throughout every day life. I have found the strength to put on a show, to smile and entertain and put on a very convincing act of being alright.

There are only a few who can see through this screen and they are not necessarily those who know me well. But mostly I have them fooled and duped and sometimes I actually enjoy the performance! I know that beneath the smokescreen of withdrawal there is an ‘alright’ me hiding inside. I know I have to sit it out and patiently wait and the horizon will eventually clear. This is not sickness I am dealing with now; the PTSD is something I have learnt to manage. The hell of getting off these pills is not something, I think, that anyone could manage or control. It is something I am learning instead to blag my way through.

But all the while I am learning. Seeing and feeling the world anew. I feel stronger and wiser (and much much wearier) for having weathered this particular storm. It has been a year of false peaks for me. I was there, I was better, I was floating on air and so I came off these pills. Then bang, out of the blue, there was another peak creeping up from behind the first. I wasn’t there at all. So I replenished my supplies, threw on another layer and continued my climb up the rocky slope.

This slope is rockier but more regular than the first. A drop in medication is followed by a gentle hill. 3 weeks of ambling comes to an end as a craggy cliff presents itself ahead. A week is spent climbing this wall, all the while the mania rising inside me. By the end of the week I am ready to explode, I reach the peak and collapse. A heavy sleep is woken with relief at the lack of mania, there is no cliff ahead. A day of rest and revelling in normality as I wander along a flat green plateau. It is a short-lived moment, and now I have learnt, it will always be followed by a fall. A deep and crumbling ravine into which I tumble. Rolling, bouncing and spiralling out of control. It is a canyon whose bottom is never reached, for that would be the end. You get caught on a ledge which holds you from the depths of the abyss. You lie and stare, hypnotically, into the blackness. It holds you and tries to suck you in. You can see no way you can climb off this ledge, you wonder if the only way is down. A month or so after skipping across the plateau, the mist begins to lift. Suddenly you see a way, a route out of the hole, there is an escape after all. So you reach the level play ground of life and marvel that you ever found it again. But you can’t stay long, the job is not done, it’s time to reduce the medication again.