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Coming Out of the Dark

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How will I know when I'm better?

I had a lovely wander around Central London one evening this weekend. I'm a big fan of pretty lights and it really doesn't get much prettier than the view of the buildings by the river in December, on the South Bank. Everything is covered in light. Everything is illuminated on the outside and seemingly lit from within on the inside.

How will I know when I'm better?

On the surface it probably seems like a bit of a strange question. Some people feel silly for even asking it. Don't. It's something we all wonder about. Chronic illness can last months, years or even decades. Most people struggle to remember what life was like before. And we learn to put blinkers on our vision of other people fairly early on. We use it as a coping mechanism to dealing with how crappy our own life has gotten. So if we're avoiding looking at the people who are well, and sticking our La-La fingers in our ears and having a good old sing-song whenever someone tries to tell us how awesomely full their own life is, well, we become somewhat self-absorbed don't we? Nothing wrong with that. It's just a case of doing what has to be done in order to survive mentally intact. But when we ignore other people and fixate on ourselves, it's hard to collect any information on how a well, fully functioning individual conducts their own life.

How will I know when I'm better?

I'm not talking about the basics here, I've covered those a lot in other posts. I'm sure we are still all in agreement that being able to feed and dress ourselves is a good indicator things are on the up. Leaving the house everyday is also a bonus. Leaving the house everyday and going to work is also a strong indicator you're doing fine.

How will I know when I'm better?

So you can do all of the above, and on the outside you're even starting to look like everyone else right? How weird that the same question is doing the rounds in your head. Still needs to be asked. Still bears repeating. Why is it that you can do all of these things, and more, yet still know something isn't quite right. That you aren't there yet. Even when you can't quite place what there actually feels like.

So how will you know when you are well? Really well? Finally at that place no one has a map to?

How will I know when I'm better?

You stop existing.

It is entirely possible that you will spend the first 18 months of being out in the world again just existing. just surviving. Going to work, coming home and that is it. I know it too well. I did it myself. Step-by-step you will make progress, seeing the odd friend here and there, (clock-watching the entire time, looking for the first excuse to leave, counting the amount of steps from where you are sat to the nearest exit so you know what is physically required of you when you are allowed to go. Faking a gossamer-thin veneer of calm whilst you pretend to listen to them talk) going through the motions of being with them. But then going back to the safe, known, normality of doing the bare minimum. Back into the dark place of simply being alive. Getting through the day. Only just. Putting one foot in front of the other. Step-by-step

How will I know when I'm better?

You"ll know you are better when moments become wonderful again. When you are in a conversation and really in it. When you are able to finally become absorbed in an activity without constantly stopping to check you are coping. When surprises are a moment of sheer delight, instead of panic at the thought of the unknown. When you can work as many hours as you want to- and then spend the hours you don't work playing. You'll know you're fine when the only time you are in your house is to sleep before the next day begins and you do it all over again.

How will I know when I'm better?

When life becomes exciting and full of variety, new people, fresh places and things. When the people that surround you are also excited by life, by newness, by dreams and possibilities. That's when you know you've come out of the dark. When you make plans in advance, When you are the one to actually instigate days out or activities then you know you are okay. When life is varied and easy and fun. Then you are okay. Then you're there. Then you've come out of the dark.

Then real life begins.

How will I know when I'm better?

I had a lovely wander around Central London one evening this weekend. I'm a big fan of pretty lights and it really doesn't get much prettier than the view of the buildings by the river in December, on the South Bank. I felt covered in light. I felt illuminated on the outside and seemingly lit from within on the inside.

That's how I know I'm better.

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