On Being on Holiday – Is this Normality?

Of course, almost by definition, being on holiday is not normality.  It is a break from it, a break from the humdrum everyday mundanity that is the rat-race in which most of us here in the West have to engage (or not if you’re a dolescum like me, but anyhow), not an experience we can hope to replicate as part of our ‘normal’ existence.

But I don’t actually mean the overall experience of having a break from it all, I mean the general emotions, behaviour and state of being whilst one is on said break.  I think, during my ten nights in the Turkish Republic, that I found something as close to “normality” in terms of these matters as I can ever remember.

I’d written here and here that I was manic the day we left, and the evening before that.  I’ve already offered my reasons as to how that differs from ‘excitement’, and it was certainly profoundly different from most of what I experienced whilst we were actually away.

I don’t particularly believe in ‘happiness’, not as a distinct emotional entity from mania, or at least genuinely-felt cheer, anyway.  This is not just cynicism; I really believe that the best any of us – mentals, normals, in-betweeners – can hope for is contentment in our lives.  If nothing else, the state of contentment conveys much greater connotations of relaxation to me.  ‘Happiness’ denotes a mood of elevation and excitement, which surely requires energy, and I believe that that can only be sustained for brief periods – ‘contentment’ suggests relaxed acceptance of life, the ability to contend with and combat any negativity in it, and that, I believe, can be (broadly) sustained over time – circumstances permitting.

So, I won’t say I was ‘happy’ whilst on holiday, with the exception of one manic episode (as A saw it anyhow), where I was randomly talking to the bar staff in a friendly pub we liked, and having my pictures taken with them.  This isn’t behaviour consistent with my everyday character, only my manic one, which is why A found it odd, but he let me continue experiencing it, as “normal people do it” and I was “having fun”.

By the same token, neither was I in a negative mood for the most part.  There was only one brief episode wherein I went mental – I broke a glass in our apartment which sent me into an insane rage at myself – but it was relatively minor and short-lived.  On the last day, I found myself quite emotional (I still hate that fucking evil word) and in tears quite a bit, as I didn’t want to leave.

The rest of the time, I felt nothing other than contentment.  I found myself constantly wondering, “is this what it’s like for ‘normal’ people, in the general course of their lives?” (of course whilst recognising we all have ups and downs, but you know what I mean).  Contentment and relaxation.  Both are so far removed from my version of normality that, despite the positivity of them, I found it all quite alien and perplexing.  But in a good way, I assure you.

Is this normal?  I’ve already questioned what the sodding hell ‘normality’ is anyway, and why I reject it, at least in part.  But if that’s it, then actually, I’d quite like some more, thank you very much.  Controlled madness, with this as my default mood, would be quite nice.  But maybe this is ludicrous idealism; perhaps my default cynic is right – ‘normality’, even for normals, is simply existence.  Achieving contentment, something akin to proper living, maybe – probably – takes a lot more work.  Maybe I’m wrong above and contentment isn’t a broadly sustainable state of being – perhaps a better way of describing a life that isn’t mental or shit in the long-term is to, paradoxically, say that one is “content with not-particularly-content”.  Content with mere existence.

Well, it may not be quite as enjoyable as what my perception of contentment in Turkey was, but it’s better than what I usually know.  Things have been shit (normal) since I came back, and it’s not just a case of the post-holiday blues.  Those of you that read the password-protected post will know the reasons, but in brief summary to the rest of you, the psychoses (auditory and visual hallucinations, severe paranoia and delusions) have been worse, I’ve got a fucking stalker through no one’s fault but my own and my mood cycles between depressed and mixed states.  I’m also experiencing the hallmark BPD traits of severe derealisation and depersonalisation at times.  I never like hypomania, because I know it ends (sometimes abruptly), at which which point you can crash and burn – but I’d rather have it than this.  Even more than that, I’d like to have my contentment back.

This week is not going to make things any better, I fear; it all starts when I have to see the VCB in the morning.  She has it in her power to change my mood right round, but she has let me down so many times that I simply do not trust her nor expect that.  I would not be surprised in the least if she actually exacerbates things – but if that’s the case, she better be prepared for some extra attention from the media, the voluntary sector advocacy services and high-ups in the NHS – I’ll write to the Minister and Permanent Secretary of DHSSPS (essentially, the NI Department of Health) if I have to.  But it’s all too stressful to think about now.  I hate thinking about it.  I hate thinking about her.  I hate thinking about that building, her office, the other mentals, the car park – and the fact that there’s a bin and a day-bin right beside it.  Bleugh.

Then I have to go to occupational health on Thursday, which is especially shit as even though it seems to be with the nice OH doctor, things simply haven’t changed since I last saw him.  That’s largely because VCB has neglected to see me, so I don’t have anything/anyone other than C (and frankly, not at the moment him either) to help me to control my all-over-the-place moods, other than stupid practices of ‘mindfulness’.  So yeah, I have to go there and say, “well, aside from the wonderful further development of psychoses [most notably Tom, the voice], things are exactly the same, so this meeting is fucking pointless and you should just tell them to fucking sack me and stop this silly little dance of procedural ass-covering.”  Meh.

Sorry again for whinging.  I seem to have been doing quite a bit of that this last week.  On a brighter (?) note, I said that I might share a picture with you from the holiday.  I have decided to do so, though obviously you won’t be able to identify me from it (or if you can, please let me know as that would be unacceptable!).  Below is SI…but what is that she reads?!  She lies on the beach of a remote, idyllic, tiny and largely empty cove, on the shore of the clearest water she has ever seen, basking in the beautiful warm sunshine…

How SI Spends Her Leisure Time

…and she is passing her time reading Social Factors in the Personality Disorders: A Biopsychosocial Approach to Etiology and Treatment.

This picture was not a set-up.  I really did spend most of my time at the beach reading it.

Well, as if you needed it, there is proof that I’m a freak.  It’s a really interesting book though, so thanks to beautifulstones, one of my blog readers, for suggesting it.  It came on a great journey with me 😀


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12 Responses to “On Being on Holiday – Is this Normality?”

  1. Haha! You wear sunglasses. I think that narrows it down quite a bit 😛

    • I dunno; the only one I didn’t see wearing sunglasses there was A, and he’s half-fucking-blind!

      Besides, I can’t reveal my eyes to you lot, can I? Apart from the heavily Photo-shopped one in my avatar, of course 😉

  2. Interesting post…I know when I went on holiday to Egypt whilst in the midst of anorexia and bulimia it was almost like I was 90% eating disorder free while I was there. I still experienced anxiety around food but not as bad as how it was when I was at home. I guess getting away from the stresses of being at home can do us good.
    🙂
    x

    • It’s weird isn’t it – it must be something akin to familiarity breeding contempt. It would seem to suggest that a lot of issues are environmental. Well, of course I knew this, but I always was of the belief that there was quite a strong part that was biological too. I guess it’s hard to judge on how things are over such a short period though.

      Glad you had a lovely time in Egypt – a place I’d love to go 🙂

      Take care hun, hugs xxx

  3. I definitely agree. What is it they say, a change is as good as a rest? Hopefully you can take something from your experience of your holiday and change some things at home that would make things easier for you
    x

  4. That photo made me smile a lot. I can understand how you feel about contentment, that’s what I think is what normals see as happy. A period of nothing being particularly wrong. Is it achievable? I dunno.

    I’m glad your holiday went well – you deserved it to. Please take care of yourself and don’t let the VCB overwhelm you.

    Hugs xxx

    • That photo made me smile a lot…I’m glad your holiday went well – you deserved it too

      Thank you pet. I am glad that something was able to make you smile.

      I’m interested that your voice is called Tom. Why is that? Mine is God and I don’t like him

      To be honest I have no idea. It just seemed to fit him. Other things that I thought of were George or Ernie, but ‘Tom’ just seemed the most appropriate (he sounds younger than an ‘Ernie’, but not young enough to be a ‘Jack’ or ‘Tyler’ or something). He hasn’t told me his name or anything. He’s so far been friendly and benevolent, but I know enough about voices to know that that may change – I hope not 😦

      I’m sorry about God. God should be taking care of you, not torturing you. What does He sound like? (Apart from scary, of course). Would you considering contacting your psychiatrist to discuss this? Even good GPs are out of their depth with things like this, I think, and it sounds like the one you were seeing today is a total twatbag (especially if he denies the existence of mental illness – this is one of my pet fucking hates).

      Hope you’ll get some peace soon honey. Take care, big hugs x

  5. I’m interested that your voice is called Tom. Why is that? Mine is God and I don’t like him

  6. Your thoughts on “contentment,” “happy,” normality,” etc., were provoking. I don’t think I’ve experienced “happy.” I know manic, and, ironically enough, when I am manic, most “normal” folks think I’m “happy.” God, if the world could only get a grip on BP and BPD. I can’t define “normal.” I’ve quit trying. I just know that it doesn’t apply to me…LOL :).

    “Contentment,” however, is a state of being that I’ve come close to on rare occasions. For me, it is when I am not manic and when I’m not spiraling into my pits of dispair. I have stolen moments of lucidity when I feel nothing. Not numb, mind you, but the lack of torn emotions. Times when I can exhale and not have a fear of taking the next breath.

    I envy the time you took for yourself to go on holiday. I can’t remember the last time I did. Hell, I can’t remember the last time I did anything nice for myself. For such a long time, now, it has been an environment of just trying to scratch out my day-to-day existence doing my job, and then dealing with what to do with myself when I’m not on the clock. I spend such long hours Mon-Fri @ work (luckily for me, I work out of my home office), that by the time I log off from the network, I am toast. It’s all I can do on most days to force myself to eat some dinner before I hit the sack only to wake up and do it all over again.

    • I can totally get what you mean regarding most people viewing you as “happy” when you’re actually manic. That happens to me quite a bit. As it happens, A’s family and friends always seem perplexed by the fact that I have any type of mental illness at all, as I always seem good fun and in a good mood. A has tried to explain to his parents that it’s part of the illness, I’ve kind of indirectly let some of his friends know via the internet – but I don’t think an awful lot of people ‘get’ it.

      It was sad to read that you never take time to do anything nice for yourself. I rarely do too, I suppose, but it’s perhaps less pronounced in my case because I have been off work for such a long time. In that respect, I envy you, as I so desperately want to be able to work, but I can’t. I also highly respect your ability to continue with work in the face of considerable adversity. You should be proud of that at least.

      But I am sorry work and sleep seem to be the two main things in your life. BPD and bipolar can be so incredibly exhausting and isolating. I hope it is not naive nor idealistic for me to hope that maybe you will find more of the ‘contentment’ type of status over time.

  7. I am actually doing something nice for myself today and tomorrow. I am taking two vacation days from work. I’m not going anywhere, mind you, but most importantly I am NOT going to work! I finally passed my Six Sigma Yellow Belt certification (part of a job requirement…all about process theory regarding project management/process improvement) which was grueling. The final exam was a killer. All of the questions were formatted as “select the best possible answers for the following question” and then I’d be looking at 5 or 6 selections. Any, all, some, one could be right. It was a nightmare, but I passed with a 92% whoo-hoo!

    My plans for today and tomorrow? I actually made lunch plans with an acquaintance from church. She has been after me to spend time together. She knows what I am going through and she is trying to understand it all, but she is young. I do enjoy her company, and she is making a concerted effort to reach out to me and be supportive. On Friday, my one friend (you know, the one who threatened to come to my house if I ever speak again of suicide) and I have made plans to see a movie (haven’t been in a theatre in so long, don’t even know what’s playing) and do an early dinner. It’s a shame about this friendship now. One more person with whom I will have to put on my façade. At least it’s time out of my house and into the real world 🙂

    Take care, SI. I so enjoy our dialog.

    • So glad to hear that you’re doing something nice these couple of days, and many congratulations on the exam result – that’s fab 😀

      I hope you enjoy meeting your friend and seeing the film, as well as a few days off. I know things have been rough recently for you and you deserve a break.

      I enjoy communicating with you too – long may it continue 🙂

      Take care of yourself and talk soon.

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