Over the past few months there have been many occasions where I fleetingly felt what I thought was happiness – a break in the emotional pain in which the smile I wore on my face wasn’t quite as forced as usual. That was the feeling I aimed to replicate, that absence of the sinking feeling that has been dragging me down, a chance to breathe in the same sort of feelings as everyone else. I now realise that the feeling I had been aiming to someday maintain for longer than an hour or so, was not happiness, not even contentedness, but simply an absence of the opposite – a reprieve from the turmoil I often felt I was drowning in. How did this realisation come about? I was happy. Properly happy. I still am, I can’t stop it and not a single part of me wants to.
My health is still very much a major issue, a sinister monster that will try to tear me down again sometime soon. It is slightly better than it was, but the immediate future does not look good, and this is likely to have severe effects long-term, which should bother me but suddenly… Doesn’t. My health is still chained to my ankles in an attempt to stop me taking flight, and yet I have taken off, and simply dragged it with me. Even it, today, cannot hold me down.
I found a place to live. It isn’t ideal, it’s way, way above our budget, but I’m going to have to find a way to pay because I have been left with no other choice. I hadn’t realised how stressed and low the whole uncertainty about/ lack of accommodation for my second year of university was making me, until a couple of hours ago I secured a place to live. I was already smiling uncontrollably at the sudden increase of views on this blog, and the article I wrote for “The Mighty,” but the weight that had been crushing me and bothering me a lot was lifted with a simple phone call… And just like that, I took flight. My health hadn’t screwed everything up. I was ruling it, for a change. I didn’t need anyone else, I was paving my own way, and it felt good.
Instantly I wanted to move in, I wanted to be back in London, back in Mile End… I wanted to be in a place I could call home. I’ve been missing that city a ridiculous amount lately, and although it is less than an hour away by car, I feel so far away from the independent life that I had built there. The life that now, I can continue to build alone. There is of course still a huge question mark as to whether or not I will be well enough to continue my degree this September, but I am too determined to back down and delay proceedings now (unless I fail, in which case I will have no option other than to start my first year all over again).
A week and a half ago I couldn’t leave the house without a wheelchair, I was breathless just from standing, my body was shutting down and hanging around on the edge of a medical emergency that I was giving myself regular IV shots to stop it falling into. My blood was acidic, I couldn’t stay awake, I was seriously unwell and nobody had any idea how to stop it. They still don’t. I am still in a pretty rubbish situation, but compared to how I was before I ended up in hospital that week, I feel much, much better (and yet, I am so far below the threshold of normal health that I should not be able to call myself better at all). And I know this is a case of simply waiting for the grim reaper to come looking for me again, I know it won’t be long and I know that each time that particular health hiccup decides to slam me into my own mortality, it could be the last time I attempt to fight that fight… But I feel like I’ve come so far. I was broken by the reactions of a staff member who could help me but refused to listen (which inspired that article I wrote yesterday). Staff went on and on about how serious and how hopeless the situation looked, how there was nothing they could do to stop it happening again, something that should never have to happen if only my body could be abnormal in a normal way… But today I won’t be limited by that knowledge or by this body. And now that normal life and human selfishness has shifted out of the way a little bit, there is room for me to focus on my health.
I managed to walk around a shopping centre, slowly, but for the first time in a while. It felt like the achievement of the century, and not just because I emerged with some new clothes (there was a sale on), some awesome socks, a weekly food shop, and some notebooks.
For the entire day I have worn something new. A smile – and not just a little smile, a great big grin that I was powerless to stop. And the rest of me seemed to smile with it.
I felt I feel on top of the world. I am overcome by this overwhelming joy that makes me want to run around and shout from the rooftops… This is happiness, I now realise – this carefree feeling that I am flying. It is weird. It is alien. I’m not used to it. But I like it (and I wasn’t sure where else to share it so here it is).
Things got even better when I saw that Bastille have announced tour dates for the world tour of their upcoming album. If you don’t know the story behind why the music of this band means so much to me, you can find it here. The friend who is going on a road trip with me at some point this summer might be coming to see them perform in London with me, and at the knowledge of this my smile grew even wider.
Some may look at the things I am dealing with at the minute, and the state of my health, and think that I have nothing to be happy about. They are wrong. It is because of those things that I have so much more to be happy about. They make the little things absolutely huge. They turn tiny achievements into huge successes. Kind of like old fashioned camera film, I guess sometimes we need to be immersed in complete darkness in order to develop enough to be able to see the brilliance in what we were holding all along. To some, this situation is complete rubbish, I can almost hear them thinking: So what you wrote a thing and got a flat, right now you probably won’t ever be able to live there, you’re at least going to almost die again first, the next few months are going to be awful. How can you possibly smile?
How, today, can I do anything other than smile? Stress over the things that you can control, over the things you can change, and let everything else be or it will ruin the things that you were given the opportunity to shape for yourself. There is good in even the worst of times, it just whispers and is never acknowledged above the noise of the disasters that surround it. Somehow I’ve found a way to give the good a megaphone. It is tiny, but right now it is drowning out everything else. Who cares if it doesn’t last? It is here right now and I can ask for no more than that. Today, I have felt nothing but happiness. I guess my mind is reloading the empty barrel in the shotgun of its motivation and optimism before it hits the next rut. I am going to get much more unwell again at some point. But today that is a weight I can finally handle.
No way but through.