What fresh hell is this?

Don’t worry, that’s actually a misleading title. In fact, things are pretty good and have been good for quite some time. Well, I say good. My bank balance is currently on minus and my relationship has seen sunnier days, as has the actual world outside our windows, but in terms of the landscape and weather of my mind, I am pleasantly surprised to say, I am actually stable.

“But, Ida. It’s the end of October”, said no-one, but I’m going to pretend you did and reply accordingly.

Yes, believe me, I know. It’s in the middle of autumn and I should be nose deep in the liquid fog that is depression right about now. But, for whatever reason (possibly my brain having finally re-wired itself back to normal after our vacation down the Rabbit Hole of “giving anti-psychotics a go” for a couple of years and then going off them again a bit too suddenly, or generally being in a better place in my life with actual prospects that can’t all be dismissed as pipe dreams), I’m not.

I’m slightly low, mostly in energy and stress sensitivity. My actual mood flitters between happy to be experiencing a non-depressed autumn for the first time in years, anxious that that will change at any moment and physically tired as my body has gone into battery saving mode. I’m extremely unfit and not even a little bit pregnant (long story…) and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the fact that my relationship is teetering on the edge of tepid closure, plus I’m in London so it’s grey and cold rather than colourful outside.

But.

my mind: stable. Crying: controllable and barely ever happening at all. Suicidal thoughts: none. Self harm urges: none. Future: constantly on my mind as a very real thing. Cat: existing in my life. Projects: in actual pipelines.

I wish there was an answer to how I got here that could easily be reduced to a single paragraph, so I could go: this is what I did to get better, why don’t you try doing it too! you know, if only all of my ups and downs and suffering and coping strategy trial and errors could somehow be condensed into a quick fix for me to pass on, so that you could try it, and it could be helpful, and maybe this blog (which just auto renewed and put my bank balance in overdraft) would serve some kind of purpose.

But, you and I both know that’s not how it works. Even if I am in fact better and stay stable for the rest of autumn and winter, or indefinitely, if I actually did “fix” myself, even if I only fixed myself enough to not be riddled with crippling anxiety and nearly uncontrollable suicidal impulses for weeks and months on end… there was nothing quick about it.

It’s been a long, arduous journey of: mood stabilisers (the kind that comes in a pill form and the kind that comes in the shape of binge watching youtube videos of your latest obsession or submerging yourself in some kind of creative process), self-medication with alcohol and socialisation, self-harm in the form of afore-mentioned alcohol and socialisation (read: sex) and other inventive ways that lead to cuts and bruises and the fit of your wardrobe fluctuating, healthy coping strategies involving certain types of diet and exercise regimes involving cross fit, yoga, weight lifting, long distance running, swimming and martial arts, healing, therapy, bottling everything up, letting it all out, acting classes, ending the unhealthy relationships and nurturing the healthy ones, going out of your comfort zone and pushing yourself, be told you can’t do a thing and do the thing anyway, anti-psychotics, teaching yourself cognitive behavioural therapeutic techniques and eventually getting rid of several phobias because you’ll be damned if you’re going to let yourself be limited by fear, moving houses, moving cities, moving countries, having a breakdown, eating through your savings, running out of medication, going crazy, getting through a week of severe anti-psychotics withdrawal symptoms including debilitating chest pain, getting on a bike and somehow riding for an hour to get to a supply teaching job despite afore-mentioned chest pain, slowly but steadily working enough to afford meds so that mood goes back down to depressed but body functions properly again, weaning off meds, really intense hypomania with anxiety and suicidal ideation for two years, drinking more again, starting therapy and sticking with it, infatuation, more projects, less sleep, worsening anxiety, hypomania finally replaced by severe depression but still with intense anxiety and suicidal thoughts (including two almost-attempts and one half attempt) for about a year and a half going on two, support of partner, support of family and friends, more therapy, changed lifestyle, lots of meltdowns, self-harming, painting, recovery college courses, online mental health community, working (writing, filming, hustling), bloody breathing exercises and more yoga.

And here I am.

If there is one thing I’ve learned throughout all of that, it’s that whether you’re riding a polar bear into battle, cuddling up with a huddle of penguins or just cruising along the equator, shifts and changes always happen slowly, then suddenly.