One day you finally knew

What you had to do, and began,

Though the voices around you

Kept shouting

Their bad advice‚

Though the whole house

Began to tremble

And you felt the old tug

At your ankles.

“Mend my life!”

Each voice cried.

But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,

Though the wind pried

With its stiff fingers

At the very foundations‚

Though their melancholy

Was terrible.

It was already late

Enough, and a wild night,

And the road full of fallen

Branches and stones.

But little by little,

As you left their voices behind,

The stars began to burn

Through the sheets of clouds,

And there was a new voice,

Which you slowly

Recognized as your own,

That kept you company

As you strode deeper and deeper

Into the world,

Determined to do

The only thing you could do‚

Determined to save

The only life you could save.

The Journey,
Mary Oliver

My Journey

Strange times are upon us, all of us. None of us can accurately predict when this will end, how our economies will react, what our final mortality rates will be and indeed whether the virus will mutate and increase its potency. I guess all we can do is follow the prescribed guidelines and sit it out whilst trying to retain our health as best we can.

I think it’s quite easy to feel sorry for ourselves in these circumstances. We are after all a species that, for the most part, thrives on socialisation. To have our contact with people so drastically cut can be a daunting prospect.

The last few months have been a turbulent time for my head and heart. The breakdown of a relationship, attempting to sell a house, a job that has become a steadily increasing source of anxiety and stress, a lack of direction for my future and no small amount of soul searching for answers to the aforementioned problems.

After the initial anger at the inability to be able to conduct anything resembling a normal life, it becomes more about changing what normal is. Although we’re a sociable species, we have technology at our fingertips to allow us to stay connected, albeit digitally, should we need to.

Conversely, it allows us some time to get to know ourselves. For some I guess this can be a scary prospect and indeed sometimes painful. Although the times of spending time in my own company being something I would actively avoid have passed, the decision to take some of this time we find ourselves with to really have a look deep inside isn’t something  that came easily to me. We all have our demons, some of us choose to bury them, so deeply that perhaps they’ll never resurface, others live in fear of them reappearing at any time, whilst others face them head on. I think I have learned that burying things is not the answer, but similarly, simply talking about them doesn’t elicit the answers/remedies I’m looking for. I think the only route for me to take in this journey to mental/emotional/physical wellbeing is to allow myself to venture down the various rabbit holes that exist within and find a way to confront what I find so that I may freely move through the maze of my mind comfortably and know that I can always return safely.

Unpicking mental health issues has been variously described as peeling back individual layers or removing spaghetti from a bowl piece by piece. The more I look inwards, the more I realise how apt these analogies are. Mental health is so multi-faceted and there are so many interwoven ideas, beliefs and thought processes to be dissected in order to rebuild a more stable foundation from which to grow.

I guess there’s no time like the present to dive into the abyss and explore what’s in there in the hope of resurfacing with more knowledge and understanding of me. I think I have reached the point where I know that no matter how dark it may seem, taking a seat at the table with my demons is really the only way I will get the most from this one, oh so precious, life.

I’m writing this primarily for me, to help me process my journey inwards. If you want join me, comment, observe or merely see that right now, if you are not feeling at the top of your game or are starting out on your own journey of self-discovery, then there is at least one other person on this fair planet who is doing the same. You are not alone. That has been one of my biggest learnings in life so far. The more honest and vulnerable we make ourselves, the more we see that so many people have felt or are feeling that way.