Being Fucking Authentic

“You will have to be completely honest. You will bare yourself, and all of your feelings. Otherwise what is the point? Be fucking authentic!”

> Clementine Lloyd

(to herself)

sliced of citrus lemons
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And there I am. The sweary, punchy hippy. The random smash of different interests, moods, and outlooks. It is like Watch with Mother has been cunningly cut together with Withnail and I, and maybe a bit of Sex and the City. Not the good bits, the bits where Carrie gets all self-referential and makes sweeping statements.

Being authentic is difficult when you change dramatically from one day to the next. Ideas swirl in my head, like twirling tendrils that form another life, in which I’m happy and have it all. I swear at that moment, that one formulating idea is the thing. The one thing that I have been looking for, that will make me feel normal, or accomplished. Like my life isn’t a waste. The next day, or hour, that image will shift and something else will take its place. What does authenticity look like, day to day, for you? I witness an ever-changing sea, undulating with all the lives I could have lived. The fact that I am not living any of them breaks me a little. Depending on how I am feeling that day, of course. Then I think of all the places I have been, and what I have achieved, and I know I am doing OK. I seek new experiences and I live in them. I am not afraid of change, even if it can be hard in the moment. So I ask myself; how do you maintain a stable personality when you always veer wildly between disgust with yourself and pride in your constant search for an enlightened perspective?

Self-judgement is then layered with what other people might think of me. That, folks, is a judgment of myself based on what I think others think of me. Which is pretty fucked. Maybe no one gives a shit. That is supposed to be an age-old comfort but, as Oscar Wilde said, “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”

I can get behind this statement! But, on the reverse, as Emily Hahn said ‘I wanted desperately to be known, but equally desperately to be let alone”. And here I am again. Where satisfaction seems so out of reach. Because I want different things, all the sodding time! It’s a full-on battle in my head. I want to be known for what I do. I want to be recognized as a writer, and I want to use it for something worthwhile, but sometimes I just want to disappear altogether. I struggle with the idea that unless I achieve my goals I haven’t truly existed, and sometimes I know that none of this will matter until I am comfortable with myself.

I think of all the writers I admire; Wilde and Hahn, Hunter S Thompson, Elizabeth Gilbert, Lester Bangs. They all had shit going on that made them different, made them feel alone. They were better writers for it, they forged their own path. So maybe I do not need a stable idea of what I am, or what my life is. What is required is to be more aware of what triggers those moments of sadness, of stuckness. Those dreams where you are trying to run but can’t move fast enough bleed, unbidden, into the daylight.

It is all about awareness in matters of mental health. That curse of consciousness that is possessed by, and possessive of us.  For me, writing is a medium of escape, to the sanctity of sanity. So honesty in the face of (possible) ridicule or indifference is brightening, and yet frightening. What I truly want to do is to use this passion for good. I want to make people laugh. I’ve always wanted to make people laugh more than anything else. Always said I’d choose this, and a robust character, over good looks any day. Still would…

But this doesn’t stop me from losing my confidence. It doesn’t stop me from feeling hideous and disgusted with my face and my body, or comparing myself to everyone around me, and coming up short. It is crushing. Oddly, it is crushing not because I feel inadequate to others, but because my own thoughts drag me down this unwanted path. So at that moment not only is my body and the world perceived to be letting me down, but I am letting myself down. I am attacking myself.

To not love or nurture yourself is an act of self-harm. I say this not to dishearten those who feel it, but to draw a line under how dangerous it is. If you don’t value yourself, you are in danger every day. I want to reach out to anyone who has ever felt this way and give the biggest, warmest hug. I love you. I love you with more love than you can give yourself right now, and I want you to know you are enough. This is what I say to myself too. I say it to myself and I imagine big strong warm arms engulfing me. My arms, my strength, my love.

So, in forging my own path, I have uncovered a real interest in how we combat these voices. The ones that tell us we aren’t enough, to give up. My frustrations have grown fruit, and become a curiosity. I want to create a space where open dialogue around our mental health, allowing other voices to define their relationship to it. Colloquially, at length, through art and poetry, giving a humanist spotlight in order to understand, to be understood, and to heal. I want us to grow and laugh together.

This rambling statement of intent, this welcome to the Blognitive universe, is my truth. I dislike myself, a lot of the time. I have attempted to change this with good things: exercise, hobbies, reading, meditation, healthy food habits, trying to be funny. I have also covered these feelings with drugs, alcohol, anger at the world, denial, weird food habits. Yes that sits in both camps. I have oftentimes seen through the shit into the light and have been allowed peace. Sometimes I am on the brink of tears all day. When I have these days, I don’t even allow myself the freedom to feel it, because there is always someone out there worse off than me, putting my problems to shame. So how dare I?!

But here is the thing: Allowing yourself to feel your feelings, to sit with them and view them for what they are, create space to understand, is magical. Your brain, an extensive array of molecular machinery, creating mental chatter. To undermine their power, making them less daunting, changes and improves your relation to them. Sometimes thoughts can be so disarming it is frightening. This is where being gentle is key.

So, how dare I? If I don’t allow myself to catch a break, how am I ever going to heal? Hating myself for not being perfect is never going to make things better. So talk. Talking about these feelings can make you feel lighter. It is fucking scary don’t get me wrong. But there are people out there for you, Professionals or friends and family. Someone you may not even expect. Maybe you can even be that person to someone else! Look them in the eye and ask earnestly “how are you, really?” Choose the right moment obviously, but go through with it. Allow that space for honesty.

To be able to say this openly, without fear of being seen differently, is difficult. A million voices in my head are saying ‘who gives a fuck about what you have to say?’. But you know what? Care of the mind is such a massive deal, something that isn’t given enough credence in our material world. I want everyone to know that we are not alone. So while I start with my own personal viewpoint and experience, I’m keenly aware of the huge landscape encapsulated in this simple phrase: Mental Health.

Those who speak publicly, about living with anxiety and depression, amaze me. Their resilience and bravery is astounding. I have never identified as someone with anxiety or depression. I am not even sure now whether I avoided these labels because it made me feel weak and ‘other’, or because I assumed it was my fault. Because I was dissatisfied with my career or my choices, and that if this changed I would feel better. Either way I have been regulating with self-help books and eastern philosophy since I was about 21. You know what, it has fucking helped! It has taught me that there are ways of coping, of looking for positives, turning a perceived weakness into a strength.

Yet, I have still struggled with talking about it and asking for help. As I got older, I felt so ashamed of these feelings. Alcohol made those feelings surface and the unlucky few of my wonderful friends have had to endure the inconsolable me who drapes herself across doorways or under lam-posts at 3am. I am so thankful for them, for sticking with me, for seeing and remembering the good in me.

Alcohol isn’t the root of it, though that doesn’t help. It can be nothing but a deep existential crisis when everything feels bleak and pointless. It is that swelling in your chest that feels like something is trying to get out, and you aren’t sure just how to get it out.

Personally, I am a massive advocate of exercise when feelings get to me. It’s a release of energy that I sometimes need, burning off the tension. But there are people out there who won’t have the time, energy or physical capacity to be able to do so. And to be quite frank, exercise can be used like drugs or alcohol, as an escape or cover up. I myself have only realized recently how reliant I am on exercise to feel good about myself. I am also aware of how this can be spurred on by the pressures of advertising to reach the perceived paradigms of beauty. Yet this is only one small piece of the puzzle that can affect mental health.

So! Let’s get our pressure valves going! A great phrase I have borrowed from the amazing Deborah Frances White of The Guilty Feminist podcast fame. Like that amazing podcast, I want to use every weapon we have; art, words, dance, music, laughter, as a release. I want to explore, to know how you struggle, how you make it work, and what helps make sense of it all.

I hope you have managed to stay until the end of this ramble. If you have, please continue to join me. You have seen enough in my truth to know that I am done with being hidden. I want to talk, I want to share, help and understand. This is my mission statement, and I am going to need some mental-health missionaries

LOVE

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Keep being brave enough to share! 🙂

    Like

    1. Clem says:

      Thanks so much! I think I will 🙂

      Like

  2. Bago says:

    Your honesty, realism and deep truth has over me to tears. I for one am lucky to know you, to have read your truth and to be apart of your life however far. I love you ❤️❤️ you are love xx

    Like

  3. N J Ray says:

    This is fucking amazing. I’m not sure how I stumbled across this in my reader, but…thank you for saying what needs to be said.

    Like

    1. Clem says:

      Hey! Thank you so much! I am glad you enjoyed it- new one is up now ☺️

      Liked by 1 person

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