All my life everyone has told me to slow down. Yet I feel like I have so many Lost Days I’m constantly trying to catch up with everyone else.
As a teenager everyone was always telling me I did too much,. At first drama classes twice a week, then dance class twice a week, plus homework, then socialising, it didn’t leave me a lot of time for me. Then later on in my teens it became working the night shift, school through the day, homework somewhere in between. The only socialising I was doing was in a pub on my nights off from work. I grew up so fast. Then after the car accident, I wanted to go a million miles an hour, against everyones pleases I did as much as I could before falling back down. If life was going to taken away at any moment then I wanted to do was much as possible in the time I had. At this age I just seemed to get kicked in the stomach time after time by life and I was done. I burned bridges left right and centre, I ran off down a path that would take me so far from who I wanted to be, that I’d loose myself completely.
This momentum carried on for a short while, but when the college I was meant to be attending in Manchester informed me that they didn’t think it was advisable at that point for me to start the course due to my current state of health, (the near fatal brain injury I suffered just five months before), I went off the deep end. I had convinced myself that despite having to leave home, despite the car accident, that I’d be able to move to a new, exciting city and start over, at just 16. But that wasn’t meant to be. I proceeded to get a job and blow all the money I had on drinking and inebriating myself to the state where I would wake up in someone else’s house and not remember how I got there. I was in so much pain and had no support network that I trusted to turn to, so I switched off. I allowed my emotionally abusive partner to convince me to stay, I kept working jobs I hated just to pay our bills because she didn’t work, I was numb to people when they wronged me, I lost all sense of myself. I made very few friends during that time, not really, just lots of acquaintances, and only one that I still know. Disassociation. I checked out. I auto-piloted my way through three years, including travelling around Africa, although that really
helped me recover. I look at photos of my from that time, although there aren’t too many thanks to a dodgy 2005 external hard drive the size of a computer, and I don’t recognise myself. I remember events and cannot answer why I did the things I did because I don’t remember much thought going into any of them.
I listened to music silently everywhere I went. Just getting through it.
I felt alive for the first time in a long time in Melbourne, and it’s probably why it will always be very special to me despite how things turned out. I found myself again. Or parts of myself. Or maybe even just found bits and pieces that I for the first time really connected with, sparks of life and imagination filling the city. A city so far removed from everything that I was, everything that had happened to me and I just start over, as me. I experimented with styles, with music, arts, theatre. I danced in dark halls to live eastern european bands playing the tuba, fiddle and accordion. I tried Chai Lattes for the first time and found my forever drink. I was enjoying life.
And since then I’d kept my Lost Days at bay, limiting them to hangovers and snuggle days, bar a brief tumble back into the black pit when I first returned to the UK (I really didn’t want to leave Melbourne).
Now, when I say kept them at bay, it wasn’t that I lived my life well enough that I didn’t need Lost Days, more, I just refused to have them. I would power through illnesses, over-book myself consistently, take on far much more than I had the time for, while also trying to get a degree and have friends and two relationships. Everyone just kept telling me I was doing too much, that I should slow down, after all I had the rest of my life to do all the things I want. But in my head there was just too many things I wanted to do and not enough time. I always felt so behind, I still do. I walk around with this feeling like I purposely hit the snooze button and missed meeting a friend who then died that night. Guilt, remorse, shame, constantly berating myself for not being good enough. I should just do more.
Then my world broke. I have had an endless sea of Lost Days. It will be three years this summer since I got too ill to continue living as I had been, complete overhaul, everything went. I’d say over those three years, which is 36 months, okay 30 months as it’s not quite yet the 3 year mark, I’d say, if I pushed all the Lost and Active days together, at least 21 of those months comprised of Lost Days. The majority of my 9 good months, and I use that term very loosely as what we all define as a good day will be very different, but the majority of mine have been in the last 8 months. Right now, I have what resembles my past life, it’s still a bit of a shadow, I can’t dedicate quite as much time or energy to things but it’s getting there. The issue is that because I still see it as a shadow, constantly comparing, then I’m still pushing. Ignoring those Lost Days that lurk nearby, trying to hint that I should just take the afternoon to rest. To just be. Whether it’s binge watching Netflix or falling down the internet rabbit holes those days can be good in moderation. But I don’t feel it. On every one of those days I spend like that, no matter how necessary, I feel this heaviness of guilt, that I should be being productive. And I know that rationally, taking the odd Lost Day, even having one a week, is good for me in the long term, and it will prevent longer stretches of Lost Days. But, Life is for living after all.
It frustrates me to be someone who feels so far behind from where I initially thought I’d be by now and to always be told to slow down. I know the problem lies in my own thinking and that I’ve never been very good at walking before running. And I know that it will be so much healthier for my mental as well as physical health, but my brain isn’t quite there yet. And I say Yet with a positive nod, I am a work in progress, as we all are, and I need to cut myself some slack.
Thanks for reading,