The gifts we give ourselves

by Mhairi Simpson on March 31, 2014

In a world where everything, it seems, has a price tag, the gifts we give ourselves are often the most valuable kind. The kind money can’t buy.

Permission to be vulnerable. Permission to be invulnerable. Permission to be strong. Permission to be weak. Permission to stand alone and permission to ask for help. Permission to follow the crowd, permission to take our own path. Permission to forgive and permission to never forget.

I’ve been struggling lately with some old memories of past wrongs. I know forgiveness is key to moving past such things and yet, I can’t forgive. I mentioned this to a dear friend and she said, “Ah. Are you, by any chance, working from the principle that ‘forgiveness’ means ‘it’s okay’? Because what they did is not okay and you’re not expected to believe it is. But there are two kinds of forgiveness. One is where you say ‘it’s okay’. And the other is like ‘forgiving’ a debt. You admit it happened and that it wasn’t good but that it can’t be changed and it’s in the past and now you’re going to move forward.”

It was like magic, like flicking a switch in my head. It seems so simple, but acknowledging that it did happen and that it’s okay not to be okay with it but that it’s in the past and I’m not… this was the key. Maybe she just put it in a way that I could finally get my head round and that was a gift in itself. Allowing myself to accept it also brought me the gift of forgiveness, in both its forms.

Truly wonderful gifts indeed.

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Back on the shining path

by Mhairi Simpson on March 15, 2014

I knew I had to leave my current job but I didn’t realise how happy it would make me just to hand in my notice. The tragedy of my current role is that my colleagues are lovely, my manager is the best I’ve ever had, the commute short and cheap and the pay excellent.

But it’s not enough. The job itself is full-time and tiring and it leaves me no mental room to do what I really want to do. And I acknowledged that and found another job. Against all the odds I found a job with the right hours, pay and, as far as I can tell at this point, people for me. The three who interviewed me (and that wasn’t intimidating IN THE SLIGHTEST :S) are all avid readers and two are massive fantasy fans.

So I am writing today to tell anyone who will listen that you can control your life. You can. You can find those opportunities, those pressure points where an ounce of leverage opens up a tonne of doors. But you have to believe they are there, because otherwise what’s the point in looking, right?

That’s where medication came in, for me. As anyone who has known me for a while will tell you, I’m generally a very positive, upbeat, happy person. But chemistry is chemistry and sometimes life, circumstances, something, anything can tip your brain over a ledge it simply can’t climb back onto without help.

I am the first to admit that I’m the luckiest person in the world. I say it a lot and that’s because it’s true. But I make a lot of my own luck by knowing myself. By knowing when to fight and when to run, when to stay and when to go. When to say to myself, “just a bit longer,” and when to say, “no more”. It means that, as I look back at my life, I have no regrets because I love who and where and what I am now and I am the sum of my life to date.

Depression took that clarity away from me and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it. I couldn’t see, I couldn’t feel, I couldn’t think.

It broke me.

Medication put me back together.

The point I meant to make about being incredibly lucky (and this particular aspect really was entirely outside my control, absolutely down to pure, dumb luck) is that my doctor hit gold on the first try with the medication. I know this is rare and it’s a blessing I count most days. (Sometimes I’m too busy being happy about other things to remember.)

I feared the medication would rot my brain, destroy the pieces of me that remained, albeit shattered on the floor of my mind. I was wrong. It fixed them, put them back together so perfectly that only spidersilk lines of memory remain to show the breaks.

I have another two months of meds, enough to carry me over the initial transition into my new life of part-time working and full-time writing. I hope to start coming off them after that. There’s some fear there. Will I break again? Are the meds the only thing holding me together, protecting me from my own body chemistry?

I don’t know, but while I don’t look forward to finding out the answers to these questions, I do want to know what they are. So I will face the thing I fear and if past experience is any guide, find a whole new shining world of possibility and opportunity and, yes, happiness on the other side.

Life truly is a journey and I’m so happy to be back on the right path. There will always be obstacles but I’ve overcome those before. I can do it again. There’s power in that, pushing me forwards into the unknown to create my own world as I go, according to my rules, the only world and rules which matter, and I’m so glad and grateful to be creating my own once more. Thank you to everyone who stuck with me through this, which is literally everyone I knew before it all went pear-shaped. I am truly blessed in my friends and family. Thank you all for standing by me while I staggered back to the shining path of my life.

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Day 3 of anti-depressants

February 12, 2014

I meant to post this a few hours ago but got sidetracked. Fairly typical for me at the moment. Anyway, moving swiftly on… Today is, as you may have noticed from the on-the-nose title, my third day on anti-depressants. Well, one anti-depressant. Prozac. Also call Fluoxetine. Or rather, it’s called Fluoxetine and is also called […]

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And in the dark there are no stars

January 29, 2014

I’ve been wondering if I should blog about this stuff. It seems very… un-British… to lay out my soft innards so publicly. That said, if it helps even one person to know they’re not the only one to feel the way they feel, it’ll be worth it. Not that that’s any comfort. My (may it […]

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I love you and I’m sorry

January 21, 2014

Today I had a moment. I read Chuck Wendig’s post, It Takes The Time It Takes, and realised I’m guilty of sending stuff out 95% finished because I just don’t know how to get it up to 100%. So I flailed about that for a bit. Felt sorry for myself. Beat myself up. Etc, etc. […]

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In the quiet between the white waters

January 20, 2014

There’s a river in Peru called the Apurimac. It’s one of the few rivers in the world where you can raft class seven rapids. In case you didn’t know, rapids start at class one and you go up from there. Most white water rivers go up to class five. During and immediately after the rainy […]

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Submitting stuff: Shoot For The Moon – Day 19#

January 19, 2014

I submitted another novel today. There was swearing. There was shouting. There was remembering I needed to number the pages and rename the file before I sent it in. It was most eventful. In some ways I feel I haven’t achieved much this week. That’s not because I haven’t actually achieved much. It’s probably more to […]

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Is this the eye of the storm or the aftermath?

January 17, 2014

I got through work without shouting at anyone. There was a moment, at ten to five, when I gave a screech of frustration, but I didn’t really shout. Not really. And now I’m home and fed and rather surprised that it’s only quarter to eight and considering what to do with my evening. I think I […]

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In my hand there are no answers

January 16, 2014

I am at crisis point. You wouldn’t know it to look at me. Apparently this is called “walking depressive”. There are people who have breakdowns, nervous breakdowns, where they completely cease to function for a period of time. Whether it’s minutes, days or years, you can see something broke inside them. They’re depressed and you […]

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Rediscovering myself

January 14, 2014

There’s something about reading someone else’s writing, especially that of a new writer, that seems to stop me dead in my tracks, especially when they ask for my feedback on it. It’s not that it’s bad or good or anything else. It’s that I was there once. We all were. Some of us aren’t there […]

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