January is what it is. In the colder parts of the temperate world not only does it bring a post Xmas crash, and a slew of resolutions that are destined to be broken, but also it is the coldest time, and will still be dark in the afternoons. No one loves that, and people who are on the knife edge of physical or emotional suffering just break.
A couple of days ago on Facebook I posted a link to this link about how if you clean your house you might alleviate depression. I post a fair amount of links about invisible illness and mental illness and they often get a few likes and the odd comment, but this one got a lot of people talking. On the one hand we we agreed that a bit of a tidy does you good, on the other we we felt patronised if we were immobilised by our clutter.
It’s something I’ve been in both camps on. Four years ago I made a suicide bid at this time of year. Yes it was that bad, and if you don’t want to hear about it don’t click through, but if you are interested here is the link to the post I wrote on the first anniversary and there is a further link within that post to a time when I was ready to ‘show not tell’ about it.
When I read the thing about cleaning up I thought ‘Yes – I can relate to that’ which is, of course, why I posted it. I am actually someone who equates tidiness with a readiness to create, so that is a positive association for me. When someone commented negatively about it though, I remembered when I came out of hospital and had home visits for six horrible weeks. They would have been a lot more horrible if I’d had to stay in mental hospital but they were bad enough. The team was, lets say, MIXED in terms of giving an actual shit.
At one point one of them suggested I tidy up. I’d moved from a spacious flat to one that was more meanly cut, and I hadn’t really even unpacked. Everything was in chaos and I really only heard scolding. So be careful how you advise people who are depressed. My advice is don’t give advice. Unless specifically asked.
It’s at times like this that I like to remember a blog post by Hyperbole and a Half called Hyperbole and a Half’s “This is Why I’ll Never be an Adult” in which she expounds upon the push/crash nature of heroic efforts in housework. Give that a click through. If you have never heard of Hyperbole and a Half you have a treat coming, and if you’ve read ALL THE POSTS you’ll probably want to click through anyway.
The next day we were greeted with the news that David Bowie had died and although I can’t credit the writer, this turned up early and often on Twitter and Facebook;
I’ve watched a couple of people vow to start a blog with the turn of the year. Good on them. I wonder how many people start a blog in January? Lots, probably. Perhaps fewer than those who start a gym membership that will languish in a drawer, but if you don’t start you will not eventually have a body of work, and unlike the gym you don’t have to go anywhere to do it. Except the internet, and that is close.
I’ve been blogging for over a decade, but last year only managed a handful of posts. Illness takes me and wraps me in her ether. I won’t make any promises, but this is my version of a creative life, although I do take pleasure from cleaning my kitchen sink.
May you do what you can to express yourself in 2016 even if it is only to make your bed with a flourish. Do it in the style of Bowie.