Posted by: Jack Hope | Tuesday April 3, 2012

Mirror in the Storm

Dear Terry,

It’s 1:44am and I can’t sleep, so I’m writing you.  The wind is howling outside.  I never thought the windstorms on the Coast could be just as powerful as those back in Alberta. But listening to it now, I know better.

The wind roars in off of Georgia Strait and across the city with enormous force.  I wonder if the tree outside will stand up to it.  Last year, a tree down the street from my old apartment was destroyed in a windstorm.

The turmoil outside certainly matches my inner turmoil.

These days you can usually determine my mental state by looking at the condition of my kitchen.   If its neat and clean then my state is good.  The messier it is though, the worse I am.  Today it’s okay. The breakfast dishes haven’t been cleaned and the counter should be cleaned but it’s not a major mess.

My anxiety about life bleeds through into the state of my kitchen.

I have to see my Doctor again and I’m nervous about what it will mean.  I think I am slipping again. I hope I am wrong.  Either way, tomorrow’s appointment means my life is going to start changing again.

Maybe I am afraid of change.

These are the nights when I look in the mirror and I don’t even recognize myself.   I see a stranger looking back at me.  A man who’s been to the very edge of the abyss and managed to step back.

These are the nights when it seems like I can see my nightmares etched into my face.  The lines of age that have been worn in from the stress, the white in my hair and beard.

I shouldn’t complain, you know me, I’ve been going grey since I was 20.  But not like this either.

I feel so much more fragile on nights like this.  Life feels so much more  tenuous, like I am being held together by scotch tape and twine, tied to life by a frayed piece of string.  One false move and I’ll come completely unglued.  One snip and thus ends the story.

Breaking this holding pattern I’ve been in has been a lot tougher than I thought it would be.  It’s been brutal actually.

I’ve really created for myself a nice comfortable little place to be in.  I don’t feel sad or down or blue.  I don’t feel suicidal, which is always a bonus.  I struggle with a sense of isolation but when I do see some friends, it seems good.  I take long walks and I don’t watch much, if any television.  I write, mostly on my cellphone of all things.  It’s amazing, but with a little practice I can easily thumb 500 words or more in a single sitting.

Most of my writings have been focused away from my personal life though.  Writing these letters is a lot more difficult than I had ever expected it would be.  When I finish, I feel that they have helped, but getting to that point is proving to be a challenge.

Still, it’s also a positive sign.  I haven’t written this much since I was 21.  That’s a pretty amazing change for me.

Maybe that’s what I am scared of too.  Changing things, branching out further may disrupt this nice little equilibrium I’ve established.  I may have more down periods, more stressed periods, and a loss of creativity.

Or maybe I’m just letting my anxiety work me up completely.

That seems to happen fairly easily.  It doesn’t help when I can remember myself walking through life like a ghost.  I am grateful that no longer happens.  Everything around me now has that crystal clear sharpness of reality, even when I feel down.

And other times I feel almost irrationally good.  Fortunately, we’re confident that I am not bipolar.  That’s another thing that I don’t need.  Not that anyone needs bipolar disorder.

Now that I think about it though, the last time I was stuck and I mean really stuck like this, was around this time last year.  It was a different stuck, in the sense that I was stuck in a deep dark hole, which is nothing like my current situation.  But it was the same in terms of being in this holding pattern.  I just kept going, waiting for something to change.

In reality, I had to make something change, it wasn’t going to happen on its own.

The last time a visit to St. Paul’s Emergency was the change that I needed to make.  I had to have Andrew take me into the Emergency room but it was still the start.

Now maybe I should look upon this Doctor’s visit tomorrow as an opportunity to make the same sort of start again.

Starting my next phase of recovery.

I am going to go do my dishes now.  Perhaps forcing myself to do them will turn out to be an effective sedative tonight.

I hope wherever you are, whatever is happening in your life, that you are a happy and well.

Love Always,



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