Don't despair, we're nearing the solstice. Only sixteen days to go before the days begin to lengthen. This is what I tell myself as I pop my tiny white tablets - one a day for anxiety.
Here it should be pointed out that anxiety isn't something you can always recognize. Especially if you have lived with it your whole life. The thoughts in your brain are your thoughts and therefore they are familiar and commonplace and it's easy to believe that everyone's brain works the same way. It's only as you begin to explore these things, you discover the truth. (Matt Haig is very good on this subject. If you haven't read Reasons To Stay Alive, please do.)
I remember once during my early career that I was supposed to be at a meeting at a studio at 9am with a client - it was a big filmmaker meeting with the whole marketing and distribution department. My boss wasn't going and wanted to make sure that I would be there. I was maybe 28 years old. I was running late and the parking was difficult and I didn't look good (looking back I always looked good at 28!) and I decided just to miss the meeting. I didn't call. I didn't tell anyone. I just didn't go. Though this term had not been used at that time, I ghosted them. My boss was furious when he found out. How could I do such a thing? I didn't have an answer. I didn't have a clue what an adequate answer would be and "I just didn't want to go" sounded like a petulant teenager. But I just didn't want to go. I couldn't go.
Yep. This, I discover all these years later, is anxiety. I am not lazy. I am not irresponsible. I am anxious.
I have bought a house. I am going to be careful saying this because it isn't completed, but I shall say with caution, that there is a lovely house with a walled garden which I hope will be mine. Believe me, the most important things I need to get right in that house is heat and light, because without those two things (and there is very little of the latter during the English winter) I would probably dig myself a hole and hibernate. The house isn't a supermodel, but the thing it has that many English cottages don't have, is lots of big windows, with views across the Berkshire Downs, or toward the tiny Norman church next door. Every window is a landscape, something I discovered when we had a beach house near Derek Jarman's garden in Dungeness. Every big oblong window had its own picture.
Here's my advice for this next cold week:
- Eat oatmeal (porridge) with flax and berries
- Remember the healing power of a warm bath
- Drink lots of water - when it's cold you will think you don't need to
- Spend time with animals
- Walk in nature
- Channel your art, somehow