The last few weeks I have been focusing on organising everything in my studio. I bought a second-hand chest of drawers, shelves, boxes and more. Going through the room and fitting everything in each drawer – like playing Tetris – was more overwhelming than I thought it would be. But I knew that making a huge mess was a necessary step of putting everything in its perfect spot. I was embarrassed whenever Cass checked in on me, like I was a naughty kid caught red handed. Since I seek approval from everyone including Cass, I felt like I had to reassure her that I was not finished. Looking back, I feel like the process of taking everything apart to move it to an organised and better place is something we all (should) do many times in our lives.
Just before I chose to attempt suicide, nothing fit in the box of my old life. It felt like I was cramming all the new things – depression, PTSD, anxiety, things that hurt me – in it. But there was no room. A while after my suicide attempt, I chose to stop trying to cram everything in the old box, but rather invest into something new, for the new me. It was a strange time for me in those days in a psychiatric ward. It felt like I was wandering around like a ghost, as if I was no longer attached to my old body, but when I decided I’d pursue art, I felt my heart again. Me choosing to work on me and my life was me pulling out all the trash, broken bits and priceless treasures from that old box. It’s overwhelming at first because so many things need attention. Do you throw out the trash first, or try to fix the broken objects? Or perhaps putting away the treasures is the most important thing to do? There’s no right answer.
When I got out of hospital I had a lot to deal with and I didn’t know how to face it. I was introduced into rooms like a new cat, because certain memories in a room were so strong and made me have a panic attack. I wasn’t ready to face anything yet. And that’s the way most people are when you choose or are forced to demolish and rebuild your life in its past rubble. What I did was paint, paint and paint. I painted all day, everyday and it was the most therapeutic thing I could have done for myself. I think if you are going through something similar, get some paper and draw or paint (if you haven’t already). I will die on this hill! I also watched cartoons, because they calmed me. I am a huge supporter of watching cartoons as a viable way of coping, especially with anxiety. Adventure Time has saved me from a lot of panic attacks. You just need to find something to do that soothes you too, like reading, writing, sport, gardening, music or something else, and do it as much as you can.
The first steps of rebuilding your life are usually quite painful, so don’t expect too much. As long as you are not hurting yourself or others, you are succeeding. And it’s okay to not succeed all the time too, because the important thing is to just continue to the next day. Keep living, doing things that you enjoy and that help you, and soon you’ll include more and more things. You’ll become strong enough to face more and more of your monsters until everything fits together in its right spot. That’s a lie. Well, it could be the truth, but for most people, it takes many tries until you feel like everything fits together in your new life storage. It’s hard, but it is possible, so prove to yourself that you can keep going – make it a game if you need to – because you are worth the trouble. Focus on how you can take care of yourself and if you are in need of some organising, I am sure you can do it.