When I think back to days gone by — you know, the days before voluntary 10pm bedtimes, a strong aversion to teenagers, the discovery of more than a few grey hairs, and a tendency to feel every single ache under the sun — I remember being a 19-year-old caffeine-fuelled creative powerhouse who didn’t stop until the sun started to bleed into the night. Sometimes I was convinced it even rose a little later just to give me more time to myself, but maybe that was just me thinking the world fell at my feet whenever I willed it. That I could have anything I wanted. I was right, though; I could.
Unsurprisingly, it would take more than a spell of dizziness, a gnawing stomach, and tired eyes to break me from the almost physical connection I had to the keys on my laptop. Writer’s block? I didn’t know her. I wrote when I wanted to write, and my day ended when I wanted it to end. I was juggling a million different hobbies and somehow still able to squeeze twenty-five hours from a day for everything I wanted to do (and all the things I didn’t). My skin suffered, I was a little underweight, and everything I created was borne out of some sort of affliction, but I always had something to be proud of at the end of the day. That’s what kept me going – I was addicted to the dopamine I sorely lacked. In truth, I was never really living in the real world. I was living through each piece of art I created, and it showed, weighing heavy on my entire being, scrawled all over everything I produced. I lost touch with reality; it started with books, which plagued me with a billion different perspectives of the world and only managed to feed my cynicism, and then I turned to writing in an attempt to drain myself of all the excess poison in my mind. I’m not sure if what I wrote was good, or I just needed something to relate to – whichever it was, I made it appear, and it worked. I dare not revisit the things I used to create, but there was a lot of it.
Each time I think about that period of my life, it gets further and further away. The further it gets, the more bittersweet it tastes to know that I’m losing my grip on who I once was as she becomes but a distant memory. But there’s a reason you don’t lament the past. I stopped longing for a time where I was never present because the person I was before waited for days like this. It got worse before it got better – much worse – but it got better. The days where I wake up and I can actually feel things, the little achievements I can be proud of that don’t require mistreatment of my body and mind, of feeding my depression, allowing it to fester and rot me from the inside. Now I get my dopamine from ticking off stupid little checkboxes on my stupid little to-do lists every day. But it beats forcing myself to see the world as a miserable cesspit in which I was never meant to be happy just so I can churn out sad boi stories at 3am.
Waking up at the time I used to skulk off to bed with burning eyes, before the rest of the world has stirred; feeling stronger and clear of mind, feeling happy, sad, angry, excited, and everything else instead of numb; consciously setting time aside to read books I want to read and go on walks and run errands and watch TV. It’s all pretty cool. Marrying the person I could have sworn I wrote myself is even cooler (even though I have since learnt that marriage weight is a real thing that I am sloughing off before it follows me into my thirties). Being alive at all is alright, although questionable given the state of the world right now.
I had a spell in which I feared the artist in me was dead, time spent wasted thinking she was done. All I did was free her from the shackles she desperately clung to and now she doesn’t know what to do with that freedom. I am a much bigger critic of myself now than I once was and now it feels like I’m learning how to ride a bike again.
Now Playing: Just Pretend – Bad Omens