Hello Storytellers, and welcome to the 2017 edition of the end of year reviews. Every year for the past six, we have gathered to sit down with each other and unpack the year. This year is no different. For the next 30 days, we will gather to read stories of love and triumph and loss and despair. And as a community, we will give thanks for another year.
On this, the first day, as always, we have Moyin, telling us the honest story of her year, and inspiring us to hold on even in the darkness and to seek healing in the love and light of friendship. Please, read.
“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”
– Zora Neale Hurston (Their Eyes Were Watching God.)
How do you judge a year? What is the trick, what is the parameter? I don’t deal with abstract things because my scientist brain can’t handle it. What’s the game here, Zora?
Is it how many nights you spend unable to sleep and just staring into space? Is it the realisation that six months have passed without you noticing? Is it the number of mornings you’ve spent paralysed in bed by anxiety? Or is it the amounts of nights you’ve woken your entire flat up screaming because trauma has decided to build its home in you for the night? Is it how many meet-ups, friends, phone calls you forgot? Or ignored? Tell me, Zora, tell me!
The thing about having a mental disorder is in the name: it’s a disease of the mind. So, for people like me who are typically called functional, it’s even worse. Because how do you let people know that everything inside you is broken and nothing in your head works? How do you explain that your body, this physical body they see does not have you in it? How do you explain that you’re sitting in front of them but you’re watching yourself float in the room? How do you communicate that inside of you are ruins and you’re being powered by dust? How do you explain these things without seeming mad? Do you even want to seem not mad?
The first day it sunk in that I was in the middle of an episode this year was the day I found myself on the floor in my bathroom, razor in hand hiding from the fact that my flatmate was banging the door to see if I was okay cos I’d been in there for almost two hours. She saved my life that night, I hadn’t even realized I was going to do it. Next followed some of the darkest days of my life, I voluntarily checked myself into the deepest corner of a hospital. I cried the entire time I was there, but that’s what you do when you can’t trust yourself with your life.
Healing is a fascinating thing. Medically, it’s a process of getting better, taking your medicine, changing your dressings. It’s a very linear process and most of the time it works just like the doctors say it will.
Healing mentally and emotionally is a whole ‘nother issue. No one can assure you that whatever you’re doing will work. It will not work until it works. You gently, tenderly must put yourself together piece by piece. You will drop pieces you thought were already put back together.
After being in hospital for a while, I desperately from the depth of my heart, cried out asking the doctor if this new thing would work. He looked me dead in the eye and said ‘I can’t guarantee anything will work, this is trial and error and we’ll keep trying to find something that works’. Two months later, we’re still trying.
But I guess Zora kind of knew what she was saying because even though there were a lot of questions, they opened room for answers. Here’s a few:
Should I still be here? Yes, absolutely.
Am I happy? Not quite but there are ‘pockets of happiness in my general drama of pain’- Thomas Hardy.
Is there something to live for? One or two.
How do you judge a year? What is the trick, what is the parameter? I don’t deal with abstract things because my scientist brain can’t handle it. But what’s the game here, Zora?
Is it the days you spent having lunch at the Tate and walking down the river? Is it by the number of nights you’ve spent eating chicken shop chicken and drinking water because you can’t afford wine with your girlfriends? Is it the Netflix bingeing sleepovers in onesies? Is it going on random walks with your crazy ass flatmates? Is it getting drunk on shitty beers with your colleagues after having a bad day? Is it hanging out with your niece and nephews in the park? Is it going camping in the cold and wind with your friends? Is it seeing your family for the first time in a year? Is it watching one of your best friends get engaged (after scheming) or witnessing your best friend and actual babe- Moyin get married? What is it Zora?
That has been 2017.
I can never finish this without thanking everyone who made it a year: my sisters (Ds)- you manage to make me laugh all the time, thank you. My best friend Moyin, who sometimes doesn’t understand but is there in everything, you are a light. Family- Tee, Gb, Lolly, ‘Rimi, Mikey and Gabe for feeding me and the hugs. My friend army, too many to mention but I’ll try- Jack, Anthony & Lydia for saving my life. Claudia, Jess and Jonny G for the distracting phone calls and the Tate. Sarah Jones for being my unofficial doctor. The Huttons for housing me on the weekends that were difficult. ‘Rayo, Eloghosa and Tobystic for hope. Kovie, ‘Pemi, Tobi Sabirah, Chioma, Ashiwel, Mimalee for Nigeria and for checking in. Bule, Toxic, Sawyer for the missed calls and memes. Ayorinde for the music. Efe for the ‘knocks’. My internet friend Justin for giving me space to rant and rave. These people love me and mean it.
And finally, Abba- it has always, always, always been you. Thank you.