My mum has found boxes of my old diaries in her loft. My first thought when she told me was ‘I hope to fuck she hasn’t flicked through them…I’ll be MORTIFIED if she has.’ One of the two she handed me today was from my second year at university in 2009 when I’d just had a breakdown. On the opening page of the diary, I’d listed ‘Handy Numbers,’ which include: Mind, Sane and the Crisis Team.
On the back of the front cover of the diary, I’d glued a letter that I’d had published in Writing Magazine. The letter was about my horror of returning to university after the summer to go into my final year, to find that there was no longer a library on campus. It had been an excellent library. I spent as much time there as I did at home.
I would show you a picture of the letter, but 95% of the text is just full-on CRINGE.) Though I’m alright with sharing the last bit, it’s probably the best of a bad bunch of lines: ‘The library has stood as my pillar during this time of higher learning and self-discovery, and I feel myself struggling without its support.’ My letter won Star Letter, which will forever baffle me. The subject matter was worthy of a star letter, but the text was not.
Below is a line of the first entries. The medication I’m referring to is citalopram and quetiapine, which I was put on after being diagnosed with bipolar and psychosis following a full-on mental breakdown (which I believe was) triggered by the falling apart of a long-term relationship and almost a month of migraines.
You don’t need to be on this medication for a long time.* You’re not a lost cause, remember. Yes, okay, shit has happened; we can’t deny that, and losing your notebook is like losing an organ or a limb. People don’t understand…*
I go on with this entry about being ‘strong’ and ‘capable of moving forward’. It isn’t all that engrossing.
*I’d first been offered medication at the age of fifteen and pointedly refused and continued to refuse it until my mid-twenties when I knew that if I didn’t accept the help, I wouldn’t be around much longer. I was taken off quetiapine a few years ago, as the combination of the medications affected my heart. I’m still taking citalopram to this day.
*I am trying to remember losing my notebook. It’s one of my worst fears, though. I fear losing my notebook more than losing pretty much anything else. I must have blocked out the memory.
A few pages later, I’d written in massive block capitals in my diary: PEOPLE WITH ANXIETY DO THE BRAVEST THINGS. I don’t know who said it, as there’s no citation (which is unusual), but I doubt if was me.
I also wrote: WHAT MATTERS IS YOU PERSIST, and PERSITANCE WILL ENSURE YOUR SUCCESS. Then there’s a sketch of Homer Simpson by my brother on an adjacent page, and he’s signed his name and the year, which I love. I’m unsure why that’s there (I probably asked him to draw something), but I’m glad it is.
I’ll keep trawling and see what else I can find that’s worth sharing.