Where to begin, I find this the hardest part. What opening line to use? What’s the attention grabber? Invariably I use the word ‘So’, as if you've been waiting in anticipation of the next thrilling installment and now you can expel the baited breath you’ve been holding for the last four months.
I thought of using an overused quote, something pithy like “the reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated” but then those who see my life played out in pictorial form on instagram would see the quote as pointless.
I think my favourite quote would be “I told you I was ill”. It pretty much applies to my whole life and attitude, as my nearest and dearest will attest to. If I were to have a headstone that would certainly be on it but, as I don’t see the point of being buried, it can be written on a post-it note and stuck to the beer bottle placed upon the fireplace in which my ashes will sit. A reminder to the family of the grumpy old bastard who used to inhabit the chair by the fire.
Wow not even two hundred words in and I’ve shuffled off this mortal coil, cheery as ever, Levine! Obviously the phrase ‘mortal coil’ would suggest there is another coil that we shuffle on to. I'll clear this up for you, there isn’t. However, we won’t get into my or indeed your existential crisis now.
My ability to witter on really does astound me at times.
So *massive expulsion of breath around the world* what’s been happening in the last few months and why the sudden impetus to update you all?
I’m no longer a dinner lady, rocking the tabard look has gone; I’m now assistant manager at the bar I was doing a few shifts at. I’d like to say that my meteoric rise from having never pulled a pint before September to a management position was down to some innate ability, a genetic disposition to the hop and not just drinking it. The truth is less inspiring, everyone pretty much left and I didn’t. Last man standing and all that.
I was signed off from the doctor and therapy, no longer a mentalist...and then I was signed back on again, a mentalist once more. A temporary blip people say, the increase in my medication a preventative measure they assure me. Internally it’s a failure and a realization that I’ll never be ‘better’ or ‘normal’. Don’t get me wrong, I have no yearning to be normal. It’s not me. And, as I’ve discussed before, I have no idea what ‘better’ means. I’d just like the waves of uncontrollable sadness and emptiness to fuck off.
What I struggle with most is that things are pretty good at the moment. I really love working at the bar, although I find having to ‘act’ constantly upbeat tiring. I’ve never been upbeat about anything. I’m naturally dour and morose.
Home life is good again. It goes without saying that we all do each others heads in, argue, fight, make up but what family doesn’t? You try living with my lot for 24 hours!
The main canon of my therapy was that it’s ok to feel sad, low, and miserable. We all do - events happen and you will have emotion. It’s your reaction to that emotion that can lead to problems. You feel low so you shut yourself away and spiral. We all have our own patterns of behaviour. I do shut myself away - as I’m writing this I’m meant to be at a brewery I was invited to. I made my excuses but the truth is I can’t face people today.
What’s happened then? What’s the X that’s led to me feeling Y and behaving like Z? The answer is nothing, I can’t explain my current state and it’s pissing me off.
It all leads to the question of why can’t I be happy? What’s wrong with being content with what you’ve got right now?
*No Spoiler alert* The next part will give you absolutely no insight or answers to the above questions.
Happiness – a mental or emotional state of well-being, characterised by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.
Sounds just like me.
Have I ever been happy?
I’ve certainly felt warm and fuzzy inside, albeit fleetingly, but I do think that part of me is missing at times. When I’m on form I’m really on form, I find myself a rather witty and charming character, fun to be around.
These times are just infrequent, highs of being out with family and friends to massive lows within the space of days. I made a throw away comment to the doctor that I’m probably bipolar, she agreed!! And put up my dose. Well, at least it filled some time for me, researching the symptoms of being bipolar and also the side effects of the medication.
There are things that I enjoy and derive pleasure from but these are tinged with a massive fear of failure. It's not that I have to be the best at something - above average will do fine - I just don’t want to be shit.
I’m the same in whatever I do, whether it’s sport, baking or my new addiction to painting.
I don’t like getting things wrong; some of you will remember the time I decided I was going to make macaroons. I couldn’t be satisfied with a good attempt or those that tasted good but looked shite. Nope. I made the fiddly little bastards for five days solid until they were to an acceptable standard. The house was full of them and Mrs. L hasn’t eaten one since.
It’s like the painting now. I’ve never painted before but I expected to be able to do it. The first day I sat in front of a blank sheet and couldn’t bring myself to put pencil to paper for 30 minutes, the fear of producing something utterly appalling was crippling. I eventually produced something and although it sounds pretentious, which I am, I do enjoy painting. It lets me switch my brain off and get lost in it for hours.
Maybe it's age, the illness or the medication but the list of things I enjoy are diminishing. Currently I have to abdicate my title as king of ‘self abuse’, as the pills leave me chemically neutered. Now that was something I did enjoy. If knocking one out had ever become an Olympic sport I'd have been captain of that team. My record is seven in a day; I was 15 and had taken the day off school sick. Why seven? That’s like asking someone why they climbed Everest? The answer - because it was there. Though I have to admit the climax (see what I’ve done there) to the seventh was more a puff of exhaustion rather than the spurt of triumphalism that the feat truly deserved.
Anyway, away from such base things. As I said I have no answers and part of my problem I know is the constant search for the answers.
I'll just have to accept that I feel a bit shit at the moment and plod on. I’m sure it's what most people do.