One small step; one giant leap!

IMG_8485This time last week I was still flying high from the joyous celebrations of my book’s official launch. I’m glad to say that although I have come down (a little), I have not come crashing down – rather; I am still gliding back to reality and normality (my version of it) gently and calmly.

At the launch in Oxford Waterstones I was joined by friends, family, professionals and publishers – all of whom have, in some way, played a part in me being where – and who – I am today. It was as much a celebration of these relationships as it was the publication of my book. These are the people who have believed in me when I could not believe in myself, who had hope for me when I was (in every sense) hopeless, who have taken me for who I am – no questions asked, and who have loved me when I was at my worst and surely was unlovable. They have been my strength when I have been weakness personified, my light when I was suffocating in the dark, my reason when there was no other reason to keep fighting. And these were the people I wanted to celebrate alongside and to thank for their part in my journey.

The morning after the launch I woke early, still buzzing and reeling with excitement, and still there was the niggling threat of gloom hovering over me and trying to find a way to dampen my spirits: the party was over; the unlikely gathering of an eclectic mix of wonderful people had been dispersed and I would never again experience the unique sense of pride, confidence and joy that I had at the book launch. IMG_8529

So often for me an extreme high is followed by an unrelenting low. It is as though a good day gives me a taste for something that I never quite fully experience, and merely tasting it leaves me dissatisfied and hungry for something that seems close enough, but actually entirely out of reach.  A day where I feel ‘special’ is invariably followed by a day where I am back to being a nobody – about as unspecial as they come, and I feel foolish for believing any different.

The book launch was in some ways no different than any other high, with the risk of of crashing back down to earth a real possibility. Usually the memory of the night would have disappeared already like sand through my fingers, in typical borderline fashion (if it’s not happening now it might as well have never happened, kind of thing). But on this occasion, the unique sense of pride, confidence and joy is precisely what is keeping the gloom and despondency at bay, and the memory is, so far, alive and well.

For me it is a huge accomplishment that I am able to look back on such a great night without feeling like I have somehow been cheated of the fullness of what it was meant to be. It was, for me, a complete experience and against all odds I have managed to maintain a balanced perspective from then till now.

For me it is proof that colour can exist within the black and white thinking that is so inherent in BPD. It is something in between the all-or-nothing that my world generally consists of. It is a first for me that I have drifted softly down to earth after such a big high, and I have not crashed.

One small step; one giant leap for a borderliner! IMG_8569

It’s all. Or it’s nothing

Dream Big

They tell me to dream big,

To reach for the stars

Believe in yourself –

They say you’ll go far.

 

Well, my big dreams are the biggest

The closest star is also the farthest

I do not believe, but for a moment I did,

I was foolish to think I could do this…

If it hasn’t happened yet

Clearly it never will.

It is nothing

If it is not monumental.

I have failed

If I did not succeed overnight.

If nothing is said

There is nothing to like.

And it honestly always is

This black and white.

 

They tell me to dream big,

To reach for the stars

Without understanding

I will take that one step

too far.

 

So here’s the deal: I wrote a book (I believe I have mentioned this a few times) and I found a publisher (even more noteworthy I think). I was beyond excited. I have always wanted to ‘be a writer’ and finding a publisher felt like validation – I progressed from merely writing to actually being a writer. I joked with my wife that we would have to celebrate every single step along the publishing process. Joking aside, when my book was assigned an ISBN number – we cracked open the bubbly. The first proofs were sent through – it would be rude not to celebrate. My book appeared on Amazon, available for pre-order, my book was sent to the printers, my copies arrived in the post – all causes for celebration, and so I was true to my word after all; many a true word is spoken in jest!

For each milestone along this new road, I climbed a little higher up the ladder of happy, giddy, gleeful, exhilaration. Don’t get me wrong, I had my moments of doubt and worry but on the whole I was floating in an unsustainable bubble of euphoria. You see where this is going yet?

I had no idea what to expect, either from the publishing process itself, or from the ‘aftermath’ of having been published. I have never done this before, and I didn’t have a clue. But I do have Borderline, and when I hope for something, I do so with every fiber of my being. I don’t do much in half measures.

What goes up, soaring to giddy heights with great speed and gusto, must at some point come crashing back down with heartless and indecent force. As I said, I didn’t know what to expect, and I don’t know what I did expect, but I expected a little more than what I got!

The day after the publication date I was still riding strong on my proud-cloud. Still disbelieving but euphoric that could have achieved what I had. I went into town with Dawn, buzzing with anticipation and exuberance, eager to see my book – finally – in a book shop. After all, isn’t that where books go? Isn’t that what book shops are for? Not necessarily! My book was nowhere to be seen. Dawn asked at the desk where we might find the book, assuming we were looking in the wrong place, but not only was the book was not in stock, it was not on order either. After repeating this conversation in the second bookshop, I found a quiet corner and broke down.  I sobbed uncontrollably, feeling utterly devastated, humiliated and betrayed: It felt personal. SO fucking personal. And I felt like the worlds biggest idiot. Such a damn bloody fool.

What did I think was going to happen? I have no idea, but I expected something. I certainly was not prepared for nothing.

I felt stupid beyond words. I felt like my face was pushed back in the dirt where I belonged – how did I ever think I had the right to shine? For days I was inconsolable. One minute I had been riding high, the next I was falling so fast and such a long way down I was more scared of the ferocity of my emotions than I had been for a long while. I felt as though I had let Dawn down: I had contributed nothing to our home, and now my book has done nothing but suck my life and soul into its empty voracious belly, and I felt utterly unworthy of her love as a result.

People have asked me, in jest, what it is like to be a published author. For the record, so far, it is pretty much the same as not being one, only much more disappointing.

I am not writing this to illicit pity – far from it. I am writing this to encourage people, myself included, that there is always hope. With regards to my book I am completely in the dark. All of the fears, suspicions and paranoias that I feared would assail me this side of The Big Day have indeed done so, and they have done it with aplomb. Bar the odd feedback (for which I am incredibly grateful – don’t get me wrong!) I have heard nothing so far. I have no idea what people think about my book, and just as importantly (I think) about me. If I thought the waiting game had been bad before the publication date, it was nothing compared to this side.

And yet, I have navigated my way through these treacherous waters and no matter how foolish I may feel about my book, I can hold my head high and say that I managed my BPD these last few weeks, and I managed it reasonably well! I talk about management, rather than recovery throughout my book and this is a case in point: I still have all the irrational, illogical thoughts along with all the wild, intense, extreme and often terrifying feelings and urges, but I have learned to manage them.  I have not come through this episode entirely unscathed, but I have come through it, and I am stronger for it.

When I could finally put into words what I was actually feeling, the relief was palpable. For me, if I haven’t sold a thousand copies, I may as well not have sold a single one. If I haven’t had any feedback it is because there is nothing nice to say – or nobody read my book (because I haven’t sold a single copy!) It took me several days of wading through the sludge of these feelings before I was able to articulate them to myself as well as to others, but I found my words and I found my voice. And it took some time, but eventually I found my feet again.

PS: In the continuing absence of any substantial feedback regarding my book I am trying with all my might to Zen my way through – if nothing ever comes of the book, pre-publication surely was one hell of a ride!

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The Interesting Thoughts of Edward Monkton