In my inner circle I have tried to bring together images and words that express how I feel in the here and now. Basically, it is about accepting what I have got to accept, and accepting what is going on even though I feel lost. I know I need to have some determination and ride the roller coaster and I also need to challenge my thoughts and take control of my feelings. That’s me saying I need to do something about how I feel, about this gloom. I put ‘you’re never far from a good thing’ because I know I am but it can be hard to find the right words or the right way. So my Mandala is about change and wanting to change and take more control over what is going on in my head.
In the background I have put tranquil and relaxing scenes like the beach, the northern lights I have always wanted to see, and mountains because at times it feels like it’s a mountain to climb. The watch is to say that it feels now is the time to change, the time to try and help myself.
The outer circle is about the people around me, my two daughters, my partner, my parents and my friends who anchor me. I have a couple of friends I communicate with through Facebook as they don’t live in Coventry. But otherwise I have only my family and I don’t really see anybody.
The spirals are about how my mind feels sometimes a bit chaotic, a bit off and on its own tangent. The tree is about autumn, a time for change, shedding leaves like old thought patterns and behaviours. I am trying to develop new ones but I don’t think you can that until you get rid of the dead ones. This is a very difficult time, like winter, where it feels nothing is happening but maybe it’s about gathering the strength to move on. You just have to stick with it and wait for the strength to grow again.
My parents, partner and close friends do stick by me through dark times. One of my friends speaks to me quite regularly over the phone and my other friend runs a support group over Facebook. They are both encouraging me and they are just there for me when I need to talk. They both understand how I feel what I am going through as they both have mental health conditions themselves.
To someone who has never experienced these depths of darkness I would like to say ‘Don’t try to understand, you can only fully understand if you have experienced it yourself but hopefully you never will. It’s like telling someone who has lost a leg that you understand what it feels like while you are standing on both of yours. It doesn’t work.’
Just being there for that person can be enough because that’s when you don’t feel quite so alone. It is true, sometimes when you are sitting in your darkness you feel like you don’t want anyone there but in truth you do wish that somebody was there holding you. I can look back and see that I have pushed people away in the past, and understandably not many did stay.
Don’t take it personally if you are pushed away. You might not be the person to help but you can help them to find someone who does. Let them know that you have not written them off with the occasional text, card or phone call, let them know that the door is still open when they’re ready.