I’ve been showing petrichorals around my small corner of South Wales these last two days and I don’t know if it’s seeing it through a stranger’s eyes or maybe just because London is over and this is home again (for now, briefly), but everything seems different, softer, less terrifying. Today we drove to the coast, still wild and craggy and covered with gorse flowers that you crush coconut-smelling in your hands, just as it was a hundred, three hundred years ago, up past Sgêr house that’s yellow too like another eruption of hardy shrub on the treeless land (have you noticed how all the flowers by the sea are yellow; and their leaves so dark green; and how they stand up against the wind and seem to grow from nothing?) And in the rocks below the crannies where Elizabeth, ghost who haunts that yellow building that stands where no building reasonably should - there, where she would store her most precious things (and in those same rocks smugglers would have hidden treasures; and on that sand ships were wrecked and jewels sunk beneath stones). It smells of factories, that coast, that air - it has for eight, ten generations, since Elizabeth’s time. And now in the night you can see the plumes of smoke lit up bright like a sleeping dragon’s nest and you can smell the same air: salt and steel.
The train conductor called me bach yesterday, speeding across the Severn Bridge. It’s Welsh for small, a bit like love, and makes me think of wooden chairs and hearths. There’s a warmth in Welsh words; the warmth of words being raised from a cooling grate, the warmth of disturbed sparks and old fire stories. A few hours before I’d been watching Pride in an almost-empty cinema in England, gone in without realising where it was set, and when they drove into the street my heart moved because those are my streets (grey on grey on grey against a mound of black; a country more defined by what’s inside its ground than on top of it). And when they sang Bread and Roses in the workingmen’s hall I couldn’t stop crying and Katie asked if they still do that in Wales, all sing like that and I said “Not any more, not since the mines closed.” I don’t mean to sound so sentimental, so reverent and nationalistic about a time that I didn’t see but I’ve seen the rubble. I’d never seen what came before: the dying breaths before it got torn down and left the land with open wounds and the people, too.
For readings on the correlation in horror between puberty and the monstrous, see:
let’s congratulate the people who made it through school but let’s also congratulate the people who knew it wasn’t right for them and got out.
I blogged all through the worst of my depression and I’m glad it’s there because I have a slightly morbid curiosity with that time, particularly because I don’t remember any of it. I think it’s in the nature of depression to make you forget about it afterwards, and if you’ve been there for a long time, yeah, it feels like a big part of your history has been ripped away. I think it’s worth remembering, though, that the bit that’s missing wasn’t you anyway. it’s not your history, it’s a period of time that you were ill and the illness was almost everything you had. you lost a lot of who you were because of the depression, not because you can’t remember.
I think one of the hardest things about recovery - from any mental illness - is figuring out who you are afterwards. you’ve got to construct a whole new person from the ashes and there’s bound to be a feeling of discontinuity and loss, but you can’t get back the person you were before. I’ve tried, but it’s impossible and stressful and in my case usually makes me dissociate. so maybe it’s a blessing that you didn’t keep a diary. start one now, maybe - write about the present and the future and work on making yourself feel whole without your depression. I think if you live in fear of relapse or you’re always thinking about how it happened and why, you’re more likely to find yourself back there.
thank you kind anonymous person I’m going to try to believe you (and sleep… how is it 5am…)
I’m having one of those 3am skin-crawling panics where everything feels uncomfortable and wrong. I’ve deleted lots of recent posts on my blog because they didn’t look right and were making me anxious. Sentence structure is making me anxious. (I feel completely ridiculous, I’m sorry. I’m panicking about whether to use capital letters or not. I’m panicking about parentheses.) Rambling: