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…
…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 😀
This entry was posted on Monday, 28 September, 2009 at 6:13 pm and is filed under Everyday Life, Moods, Random Mental Health Related Philosophising with tags anxiety, bipolar 2, bipolar 2 disorder, bipolar disorder, bipolar II, bipolar II disorder, borderline personality disorder, bpd, clinical depression, cutting, depression, hypomania, insanity, insomnia, madness, major depressive disorder, mania, manic depression, mental health, mentalhealth, panic, panic attack, psychiatry, psychology, sadness, self harm, social anxiety, travelling, turkey. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.