By my bed I have a book I call my “Bedtime Rant Book.” It was my mum’s idea, thanks mummy. Whenever my thoughts plague my sleep she has always told me to write them down before I go to bed in the hope that it will free up some space in my brain so tiredness can take over that space and ensure a restful sleep. You know what? It works! Well, most of the time; some of the time.
Sometimes it’s nice just to write down my thoughts and the next day look over them and say…
“Yeah, today isn’t as bad as yesterday.”
“Today is worse than yesterday, but now I know why.”
“Damn I’m such a drama queen!”
“You were right to be mad Kat! Watch out world there’s a hurricane a comin!”
I know I’ve written some raw material here on this blog, probably some of which has never left my lips before because sometimes writing is easier than speaking. Sometimes when I’m “not so good” I will send Matt a text message from a different room in the house to tell him I’m not coping, sometimes that’s just the way it rolls.
The piece I’m about to share I wrote last weekend and I know it’s raw and I know it’s close to the bone but it’s something I want to get out there, maybe people can identify with it, maybe it will just open a few eyes; or maybe…maybe it will just smack me in the face as a massive error in judgement.
Whatever this turns out to be, it will be exactly what I promised this whole blogging idea to actually be…
My truth, my undeniable misfortune and if it’s not a lesson I can learn from myself, maybe it will be a lesson for others to not be afraid of the darkness; because the only way to face any kind of darkness is to admit that it’s there.
It’s common knowledge by now that November 2019 was the start of a ridiculously long Bipolar episode. Ten months that thing went on for! It wasn’t my worst but hell it was lengthy, I won’t bore you with dates, times and symptoms but, when I was all caught up in my musical delusions and my sleepless – and I mean really sleepless nights, to the point where watching Kenneth Branagh’s four hour long Hamlet was a decent way to pass the time – I had only one other vice…
…my creative brain…
My brain tells me what to think, the creative side of it tells me what to write for one reason and one reason alone…
From the 11th May 2020 until this very day, and probably for some time to come; “Dancing in Puddles” has been my air, my release and as cheesy as it may sound, my saviour.
I don’t know what I had in mind when I started to write it. All I know is I was resurrecting a bunch of characters from my childhood novel and recreating the pain I inflicted on them back in 1994.
In 2018 I spent a year writing a novel with another group of resurrected characters that I made sure felt pain and turmoil. But when I finished it I needed more. It’s the burden that comes with having a creative mind.
Back in 1994 I called my novel
“The Waste of a Person”
…because that was me.
I thought if I wrote about a girl who tried to kill herself multiple times, then I wouldn’t want to do the same. When my life didn’t get any better I renamed it, quite simply…
…and I made terrible things happen to that girl because I couldn’t do them but I could write them.
Poor Shebah Hamilton (my lead character) and I guess her friends too, I may have given them a rest for twenty-two years but bringing them back to life was easy.
Last year I felt pain and I didn’t know how to channel it and writing was my only vice. I’ve had virtually nothing that I gave to Shebah. My dad isn’t dead, he didn’t have cancer and he wasn’t killed by my mother with a pillow over his face. My mum didn’t abandon me at the age of sixteen and my older brother didn’t follow suit because I don’t have one. I haven’t tried to kill myself eighteen times even though I may have wanted to, maybe even planned it.
I gave Shebah a group of male friends because when I first created her I didn’t have any. I gave her visible panic attacks, horrendous scars and a long sheet of silky, beautiful hair because mine is thin, frizzy and turning white.
She might not know it but she’s beautiful and I’ve always wanted to be able to sing so I gave her the voice of an angel. She’s a performance poet and performs like an OSCAR winning actress who can give Meryl Streep a run for her money.
I brought Shebah back to life because even though I’m happy, sometimes I’m still in pain…
I’m in pain because I’m not normal. I wish I was but sometimes life is just too hard. Sometimes all I want to do is close the door and walk away because trying to be a better person just isn’t possible. Sometimes changing my behaviour is just too difficult.
It’s hard to explain to people how hard it is trying to be normal or trying to make life less difficult and believe it or not when you’ve achieved the things people said you never would; trying to keep up the mirage of normality is even harder than it is living up to the expectation of nothing.
Sometimes writing is like taking a pill for something that hurts. It’s like paracetamol for my words. If I have a bad day so does Shebah. I can make her cry at the drop of a hat because there’s no plan, no plot, no formula. If I hurt so does she. I can give her a panic attack on her best day and I can make her fall to her knees in invisible agony because that’s just how I feel inside.
“The waste of a person”, “Life” kept me alive in my teenage years and the I guess “Dancing in Puddles” is my survival technique right now.
I started it because no one will see it. I write it as an outlet. I feel it because sometimes I think, when I’m gone maybe someone will look inside the chest my notebooks are housed in and they will understand how hard it is to constantly feel abnormal in a normal world.
People always say…
…but come on, we know the simple answer to that question. Normal is acceptance. Normal is doing the things you’re supposed to do. Normal is achieving the things that are laid out by everyone around us. Normal is not feeling different. Normal is not having to make a up bunch of characters to inflict emotional torture on to because you can’t deal with your own.
When I started writing “Dancing in Puddles” I wasn’t sure how long it would be, but so far it’s filled nine notebooks and it will probably fill many more.
At this point, if it’s the only piece of fictional writing what comes out of my pen then that’s just fine and I’ll attempt to give off the illusion that sometimes life is only slightly difficult and I get through it by only getting my toes wet…
…but that’s not true. Sometimes I’m not dancing in puddles…
…I’m drowning in them.
When I speak to an audience I always end with the same sentence…
“…life doesn’t end because of mental illness; life starts the second you take control of it.”
In our lifetime there will always be quicksand that we have to wade our way through. Some of us just get a raw deal but it’s not about sinking, it’s about how we deal with it that really counts. Even on my darkest days, I try to remind myself of that one sentence because I know that it will pass and it will pass because every day, every single one of us has a…
…dance in puddles…