‘Yes, they’re sharing a drink they call loneliness But it’s better than drinkin’ alone’ Billy Joel

I never thought that finishing a mental health group program at a local hospital

Would remind me of a challenge I’ve often faced in my life

It’s called ‘loneliness’

One I’ve struggled with throughout my life

‘Loneliness is often defined in terms of one’s connectedness to others, or more specifically as “the unpleasant experience that occurs when a person’s network of social relations is deficient in some important way”.’-Wikipedia

I can’t recall the first time I felt lonely

I remember watching home videos of me as a kid at a birthday party

I was standing by the wall

Watching as all the other kids played and ran by me

I wonder know if that little girl felt lonely

Even in a crowded room with other kids laughing and playing

The last time I can clearly remember not feeling lonely was when I was a kid and I had two cousins who would sleep over for days at a time

Even during the school week

We went to school together too

But it was over too soon

Because when I became a teenager everything changed

Adolescence was a fucked up time for me

I felt like an outsider who didn’t really belong anywhere

And I don’t think I ever really found my niche

Until recently that is

Until the group that I was in at the hospital

The misfits

I wasn’t alone in the group

Even lost in my own thoughts

There were people beside me

Who knew

Who understood

There is nothing as intoxicating of a feeling as being understood

Of course we exchanged numbers with promises to stay in touch

But promises don’t always last and we all forget

Anyway that the group is over

And I’m not working

I find myself alone a lot

Being alone isn’t a bad thing per say

But it does give me too much time to dwell in the feelings that being alone brings

It’s empty and hollow

Like a cave

And sometimes I just want to leave this cavernous space

And be around people who get me

But I’m sort of stuck in this time and place

And I’m worried that if things don’t change

That lonely small little girl who watched the world go by

Will become a lonely sad old lady

Who is watching the world go by…

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Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundum-The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood

The last 4.5 months have been filled with things I was too scared to do, things I thought I’d never be able to do again and things I fought to be able to do again. This was one of them. ‘Don’t let the bastards grind you down’ means more to me now than it did when I initially wanted this done. Thank you again to the incomparable @xmarks for the tattoo, the chats and the comfy chair.

‘In the blink of an eye, everything can change.’

Sometimes I’m scared to blink

Im afraid that this current edition of my life

Will suddenly morph back into the one I was living 4 months ago

Although living seems like far too grand of a word for what I was doing

Existing maybe

Barely

So now even going to sleep is a gamble

Which version of myself will I be when I wake up?

It seems like far too big of a risk to take

And I’m not that much of a risk-taker

Not with my life

I don’t want to lose this stranglehold I have on my life right now

I’ve worked too hard

Struggled and fought too hard

To lose it all

In the blink of an eye

Me n Robert Frost and a room full of strangers

Three people graduated from the program today

The facilitators spoke about each of their accomplishments

The rest of the group was invited to share with the graduates our own thoughts and well wishes

Three strangers were moving on

To different stages of their lives

They looked relieved, scared, unsure, happy and apprehensive

They spoke about fear of relapse and of isolation and of the unknown

My peers talked about their wisdom, bravery and relatable experiences

I shared the only thing I could

‘In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.’

And there’s something that’s both so reassuring and terrifying about that

It just all depends on the day that you wake up to

I looked around

And I just knew that each of them understood exactly what Robert Frost meant

I could see it in their eyes

That reminded me so much of my own

‘Expectation is the root of all heartache.’ Shakespeare

I’m starting a program tomorrow at my local hospital

It’s teaches coping skills for people with anxiety and depression

It is half days on Tuesdays and Fridays for 12 weeks, with a minimum of 5 Thursdays

It is a group format, run by a Social Worker, Registered Nurse and Occupational Therapist and overseen by a Psychiatrist

I’ll have a primary worker and access to the Psychiatrist during the program

At first, I was really intrigued and almost hopeful

Until I went for the info session

It was a few weeks ago

It was run by the OT who was jet lagged and seemed like she hadn’t a clue in the world of what she was talking about

I felt some of my balloon of almost hope deflate

I then went for an assessment last week with the RN, who sat impassively while I cried as she asked questions from her computer

I felt foolish and disappointed when I found out she would become my primary worker

I was accepted into the program and given a start date

Tuesday March 26

Tomorrow

I’ve promised myself that I will give it an honest open-minded try

After all, everyone has bad days and all that

And it would be reckless to throw away an OHIP covered 12 week program off of two measly meetings

Right?

Tomorrow, I’ll be there at 8:45 AM to start my first day

So maybe my balloon of almost hope won’t inflate

But maybe my ballon won’t pop either

And maybe

For right now, that’s good enough

‘And if you look at your reflection…is that all you want it to be? What if you could look right through the cracks? Would you find yourself afraid to see?’ nine inch nails

My greatest fear is similar to that of being forgotten

But it’s more about living with the knowledge that when I’m gone, I’ll be forgotten

Maybe that’s why, when I was younger, carving things like ‘Angela was here’ on desks, felt like such a necessity

This great fear of mine

It’s not that I won’t exist

It’s the that I will have left no discernible mark on this world

Other than my carbon footprints

I wonder if that’s the reason people have children…

To ensure a piece of them lives on

It’s like a taste of immortality

I’ve got no delusions of grandeur

I won’t have discovered some new disease or uncovered some brilliant theory that will propel my name forward

There’s no legacy to leave behind

One day…

Who knows when?

My life will end

And that will just sorta be the gist of it…

Seems anticlimactic after everything, doesn’t it?

It’s the thought of having endured so much and then one day, it’s just *poof* over

And there’s nothing to show for it

It seems like such a waste of time

Time wasted throughout a lifetime

Time eaten up by anxiety and panic attacks and Optic Neuritis and depression

Time that I can never get back

There’s nothing more fear inducing than running out of time

On a test, in a race

Needing more time

But looking up at that damn clock

And seeing the seconds tick tick tick

It’s like Tyler Durden says in Fight Club:

This is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time’

That realization is supposed to motivate you

To change

To live fully

But what if all it does, is leave you paralyzed in fear?

What if it just haunts you?

Always reminding you

That time is slipping away

And you haven’t done what you were supposed to?

What you were meant to do?

What if it just reminds you that what you had, you simply wasted?

I hate the idea of leaving behind a gravestone with my name

And yet I am even more terrified of the possibility, in which that might be the only mark I’ve left on this earth