Today, I got up at 7.30 a.m. after about 3.5 hours of sleep (3.5 hours, because I had gone to bed at 11.30 pm, woke from someone walking around on the floor below me, triggered me, I was wide awake for another four hours straight – a typical situation for me among many more symptoms, of course). I was due for a “crib hunting” appointment (I’m trying to move back to the area I had lived in before until October 2015). When the alarm rang, I wondered for a moment whether I should just stay in bed and try to sleep in. But the sun peeked into my room so nicely, I didn’t feel all “shattered”, I was curious to see the advertised appartement, landlord had gotten up, too, no chance of finding sleep, so I decided to get up. Right after I did, a friend calls me on my mobile phone and suggests we get together later in the morning for a cuppa Joe in the place I needed to be to check out the appartement. Perfect! Done deal and one more incentive to get up, beat the “black dog” to the curb and get going with my morning routine. (You see – willpower, discipline, positive outlook and overcoming what can be overcome – I don’t have a problem with that. I say this to the CBT-ers/DBT-ers… no offense 😉 )
90 minutes later and after having treated myself to coffee, a shower, fresh clothes I’m in my car and on my way to that place where I’m to see the flat and later that friend. It is a sunny day, the temperatures will be mild considering the time of the year, I’m not exactly “leaning all in”, but fairly o.k. with myself and the world as I head towards my destination. I had gotten up early enough to have some mild headroom in case of traffic congestion or getting lost. So I arrive at the meeting point exactly on time, get the house hunting appointment done, run a few errands and then my friend calls again to fix the meeting point. I get there some 20 minutes later, sun is blazing down now, temperatures rise to all-springtime levels and we sit outside and have our second, third and fourth coffee while meeting people, who were perfect strangers until just minutes ago as well as running into friends of hers and casual acquaintances of mine. An elderly lady makes room for us and while doing so, another casual, but soon meaningful conversation ensues. This will be a good day!
You see – why am I sharing this? Because – now, after having returned from some 12 hours of conversing, strolling along the beach, soaking up the sun, having a snack here and there, having more encounters and run-ins with strangers, acquaintances, friends, I have no doubt that this particular friend saved my life today as she reminded me of this simple thing: Despite the major, major adversity I’m engulfed in right now and have been engulfed in for years – I still seem to have a zest for life, curiosity, wanting to be healthy and better. I was at the brink of my personal ground zero after a long winter with no light, extended sickness and – so far temporary – immobility, becoming totally demoralized, depressed, devastated (for the umphteenth time b.t.w.), hopeless and maybe for the first time – it feels like the 1,000th time, thought… – really on the verge of possibly taking my life in a moment of being impulsive and this from not only not seeing a perspective any longer, but from years (!) of continued failure and rejection in all those critical aspects that living with C-PTSD robbed from us from the get-go: Basic trust, feeling safe in the body, self-confidence and self-reassuring ourselves that we got the tools and devices to handle the situations life will throw at us. And now I’ve been living under circumstances for years, which mercilessly pound on those very soar spots that have been screaming “I need to be left alone in order to heal!!!!” next to forever…. And in addition to this, I had scouted out and then immediately lost options I thought might alleviate things for me, possibly cure me. This is what the situation was like, when this friend called this morning. I was all spent, finished, done. Really done this time. That last ember I’ve been burning for years, seemed to have finally burnt out for good.
So after … well years of almost 100% isolation that is not within my control to end any longer from the situation that disability has landed me in, all of a sudden I find myself surrounded by intelligent, warm-hearted, friendly, good-spirited people, I am made feel that I am a part of society again, that I’m a real human being connecting with other human beings, they make me feel like a friend of theirs and conversations range from the mundane to complex to political to personal, basically running the gamut of human conversation. And given the response and without meaning to be immodest, I don’t seem to completely suck at doing this.
The day further unfolded with chatter, walks along the beach walk, conversations with my friend, her running into friends of hers, all of whom express genuine happiness about seeing here, we sit by the lake, we have drinks, snacks, listen to music, her kids join us, we visit an artisan market nearby, sit right at the lake, talk, snooze, smoke, laugh, all the while the sun showers us with her spring time abundance….
I think her and all the people we met saved my life today. Living with depression, bi-polar condition, PTSD and/or C-PTSD… and just about any so-called “mental disorder” is likely to isolate you and make you into a ghost by removing you from the very access to all those “mundane little” things that make the bulk of the entire human experience to begin with…. and with this we’re not only getting near-infinite “bench-time” and get pushed to the sidelines, but we also lose access to the very glue that holds our (western) societies together: Sharing and feeling connected over basic, “little”, maybe mundane things. She gave me an opportunity to find out about myself – and hopefully this is you, too! – that I might not be all hopeless after all. I don’t think you are. We aren’t! For the proof and as a reminder to you, too – these days are still possible!
Update: I feel nothing but deep, deep gratitude for yesterday’s outing today. I’m fairly sure it is the same or at least a similar depth of gratitude one might feel when getting saved from the gallot.