Oh, Sweet Life! By Cate Eaton
I am drowning
In my tears
In my tears
That run so quickly
Like my own
That has no existence
In my own mind
That is twisted and tainted
With so much hate and anger
That is never expelled
But locked tightly away
I struggle wildly
With the eternal question
My sweet life
My sweet death
Oh sweet life
Sweet, sweet life
Come to me
With warm, loving arms
Caress my child-like soul
Set me free
To love and live
I was five years old when I found my father dead. That traumatic event set the scene for all the struggles in my life that followed me. Haunted me. My life was shaped by this experience.
I had lost part of my identity when Dad died But he stayed with me like a shadow. He was my life and love. I protected him from an angry wife. I believed that I was the only one who loved him with so much intensity. Mum was so scary and I felt no connection with her emotionally. That was because she was left with two children to provide for. This was in the sixties when there was not much support for solo parents. On looking back, mum did her best. But when I was growing up I felt abandoned. Isolated. I was in a balloon, floating, floating. All alone in this big alien world.
I think I lived in a depressive state all the way through my childhood and beyond. But I had my love of music which helped me through. I loved to sing. Entertain people. Music saved my life over and over throughout my life.
There was something odd about me. I felt this so acutely. I didn’t know what it was but I never fitted in anywhere. I could never pinpoint why.
My doctor prescribed me Valium when I was 14 as I was so anxious. I never took it as I didn’t think I needed it. It was over the top. Valium? Really?
By the time I was in my twenties I was diagnosed with a Major Depressive Illness compounded by an Eating Disorder and Post Traumatic Disorder. Quite a heavy load to carry.
Turning 60 years old this year has been a turning point for me. I have rediscovered myself! I am a poet and fashionista. With an infinite love of music. I welcome feeling different. I am not afraid to stand out in a crowd. In 2015 I married Sue. We have been together for 20 years! I know, amazing! Especially so because for many years I couldn’t decide where I belonged. With a man or woman? There was such anguish over this issue. I have decided that I don’t fit in a box. To be contained is unpleasant for me. I don’t feel free. For me, it is about who you fall in love with.
Sue has her own experience of mental distress. So we are each other’s rock. I am so lucky. She brings me a love that I have never experienced. before I never had this security and love before. My past relationships with men were usually abusive in some way. It wasn’t a good way to live my life.
We have a French Bulldog called Yoda. He is my love. Dogs are such wonderful little beings as they bring unconditional love into your life.
It was my destiny to speak out about my own experience of mental distress. Because, only now, do I have the inner strength, and resilience to carry out this mission. Therefore I am contributing to help to break down, even minutely, the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness.
In this capacity, I have been courageous and sharing my experiences with some media outlets. I have written a book too about my life. I am in editing mode. Hoping to find a self-publishing company to print it. The story is very confronting. I have written it in a collage format, creatively. I am praying that it will be understood! At the end of the day, I have written it for myself to obtain self-acceptance, healing me along the way.
There is a lot more discussion about Depression on social media. For me, it is all about the “degree” it impacts your life. Some people have a predisposition chemically. One of many psychiatrists explained that I fall into this category. Plus it genetically runs in my family.
My illness doesn’t define me. Once it did but it is only a small part of who I am. I choose to live life in the present. Live my life to the full when in stable, happy times.
When I am getting unwell I become more irritable and grumpy. My mood is low in the mornings. Before I know it I am slipping into a black hole filled with quicksand which pulls me down. My demons are back, dancing around me. My head becomes full of voices, taunting me. I want to die, to be out of this world.
I have attempted suicide twice. On reflection, I think they were a call for HELP! I can't cope with myself and my pain any longer.
My eating disorder rears its ugly self. I purge more. It is self-destructive behaviour. A way of harming myself. I want to wipe myself out. This condition has left me with long term medical conditions. I have Gerd a reflux disease. Also, my teeth have deteriorated. I have a very special dentist who looks after me. She doesn’t judge me.
I battle my eating disorder every day even though now I am a “healthy” weight. Still, I feel fat.
Last year I had a major depressive episode which lasted for seven months! I have had many such times in my life. There have been periods of happiness, and joy. That is why it is so important to remember these times and grab those times. Though these dark, devastating times have made me the person I am today!
It is so important to have strategies to help manage my illness. For myself, I have a Wellness Plan. It includes landmarks when I am living in recovery. It highlights early warning signs when I am getting a bit wobbly. I am so grateful that I have access to a wonderful, fantastic psychologist plus an excellent G.P. I would say that this is vital when you have a long term psychiatric condition.
So, there is hope. Never stop believing this. It in itself has helped me hang on to the thread of life. Finding something to be passionate about. I love clothes and dressing up. It brings me a sense of power plus it is a way I brighten another person’s day. I often get comments on the street. Go me!! No, I am far from being big-headed but it gives me a warm fuzzy when it happens all the same.
Of course, I have my love of music. Which has been compromised through my eating disorder. You will have to read my book to hear all about this!
My writing has always helped to sustain me. I have always had a journal where I write about my days and throw in poems. It is all about self-expression. All of these creative modes are about expressing. Getting it out. When I was a child I was repressed. Not allowed to speak of emotions. Cry. No one spoke of my father again after he died. It was so cruel. Now I am all about expression! A proud creative!
Towards the Light
Here it comes
Embracing the Earth
I can see it
So far away
Here it is
Spreading its light
Like an Angels wing
It reaches out
To me alone
It is my perfect
Peace of perfection
I am joyful
My body stretches
I am in ecstasy
Longing for forever to
Hold it close
I am happy
Walking this land
I know every day
But I remember
Towards the Light
Watch out for my book coming soon: “The Breath of a Rose”