I'm having a glass of wine to celebrate... a glass of wine from a bottle I was given on holiday in Crete nearly two years ago from the loveliest restaurant owner I have ever met. We do that thing that people with no money do with wine; we put it in the cupboard and save it for a special occasion and then spend years assuming that nothing that happens to us is special enough to deserve that wine. So the bottles accrue and suddenly we have all these bottles sitting there; waiting for our lives to get good enough to drink them.
I certainly didn't think I'd be drinking this bottle on a Wednesday in January whilst building my dream house with my husband on Sims. A project that's now in its 12th hour and really does answer the question of what childless couples do when they've run out of sex to have. I have to say though, this house is smashing. It's really cool. I'll DM you some photos if you're interested.
We didn't open this wine to celebrate the house... we'll get a Sim bottle for that. Feels appropriate. We're celebrating that today, I finally finished my course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and am released from Wednesday sessions until further notice. This bottle of wine feels appropriate because without a glimmer of exaggeration that holiday in Crete is the last time I remember feeling like little old rock solid me before everything broke.
When I last wrote about being put on medication and starting therapy a lot of people got in touch to say it was helpful and I liked that; I don't really like publicly grieving as it's not useful to me but publicly sharing information I do enjoy. This, by the way, is in no one to put down the experience of publicly sharing pain for other people; fuck no. Do what you have to do by all means and if anyone has an issue with you, wonder why it's easier for them to vocalise their complaint than scroll past and get on with their lives.
I debriefed with my CBT therapist today and we looked at the difference between the crash and now. It was really quite astounding. I had always previously downplayed my problems and my struggles for the big reason; I am not destructive. Other people with issues like mine turned to alcohol or other things and addictions to get themselves through and their lives suffered as a result. I am not like that; I'm not a particularly addictive personality. Obsessive; yes. But not addictive. So, in the maelstrom of everything going on in my head my life was continuing as normal and I really did just get on with everything. I was able to tell myself things couldn't be that bad because I wasn't losing work due to my drunkenness, I wasn't cheating on my husband to get a buzz, I wasn't anything; I was just broken.
On this side of the therapy I am able to see that those destructive behaviours are not depression or anxiety; they are symptoms that one may or may not have and the fact that I didn't have them did not make me faking in any way. If you feel similar; it's ok to be broken but not breaking anything.
The other thing masking a problem was stand-up comedy... somewhere along the line my life had boiled down to pretty much nothing except the pursuit of becoming a comedian. I had no hobbies, no interests, no pets, no children, and a fear of putting anything in my diary that wasn't comedy in case comedy came up. I would cancel any social plans for work and only travel to see friends around the country if I already had something in the area.
This level of dedication is possibly necessary to make it in comedy, but it doesn't make for a healthy human being. The difficulty is, a career in comedy is so varied and lively looking from the outside that it masks the unhealthy nature of being obsessed with your job. If I had been in an office and disappearing in to the office at 8am, coming out at 10pm, answering phone calls during dinner, leaving social events to deal with clients, not booking holidays in case work came in then it would have been easier to see the problem. Comedy masks that by looking fun. It's not even a case of working myself too hard, because let's face it; I'm hardly on Junior Doctor levels of exhaustion. It was about not being able to see that I had systematically removed everything except comedy from my life.
Even if you like your job, like I do (I love it) for me, having one thing be everything can't be right for a healthy mind, can it? I have had to comb through my time and try out some hobbies to see if I like them; nothing with targets or challenges or anything like that. Just out and out hobbies.
When I have finished this bottle of wine, I'm going to book a holiday with my husband to go somewhere and get given another one. I'm going to get a dog this year and look at houses and go horse riding and book tickets to things on a Saturday night and so fucking what if I'm offered a gig; I have plans. Plans to build the best goddamn house the Sims has ever been seen. They'll name Sims 5 after me. Sims 5: Lexxpansion Pack. Nailed it. Plans to play with the Magic: The Gathering cards I got for Christmas... sure, it sounds like most of my hobbies were plucked from the mind of a 15 year old, but THAT WAS THE LAST TIME I HAD HOBBIES so it's all I know ok? No judgement thanks.
I have a lot more to say on the subject of anxiety and depression and I'm going to keep writing it down here. Hopefully in a way that is fun in places. If it is useful or just interesting then I'm very glad of it and please feel free to point it or me in the direction of anyone else it might be useful to. Here is a link to my experience with anti-depressants in case you know someone who might find this anecdotal information helpful, or it's good for you:
I am also currently putting together a new solo stand-up show that touches on these experiences in a definitely funny way and if you're interested in seeing it, head to my website for details: www.lauralexx.co.uk