beautiful monsters: Eating greengages

August 25, 2008

Eating greengages

When I started taking lamotrigine, it didnít just feel like some of the symptoms of bipolar were repressed. It felt like I was myself again for the first time in about 12 years. I canít describe how amazing it was to be given back my life like that.

It was like Iíd been drowning for all those years. I was constantly struggling against waves of utter despair and agonizing emotional pain. Finding the right medication was like being lifted back onto dry landÖ being able to walk, and breathe, and enjoy the sunshine again.

An unexpected side effect of getting my life back, is that it comes with all these memories.

When I was unwell I couldnít connect with the past or the future. I couldnít remember ever feeling better, or imagine things ever being different. And it was hard to have a sense of who I was. The intense despair was stronger than anything else. I felt like I was a terrible swirling darkness barely hidden under a human-shaped shell.

When I looked back on my childhood it was like remembering a movie Iíd seen a long time ago. I didnít remember actually being there. I could have told you a lot about my childhood because I had a lot of photographs, and because there were stories my parents kept telling. But it didnít feel like me, it was just some girl in a photograph.

The memories are not at all profound, they are just random moments of childhood. But it feels so good to remember.

At primary school we could order lunch before school, and one of us would go and pick all the lunches up in a plastic crate and bring them back to the classroom. I often had a sausage roll and a caramel dairy food. I liked peeling the layers of pastry off the sausage roll and eating them first.

My favourite colour was opalescent. I wanted to be a volcanologist when I grew up.

At FRI (where my parents worked) some of the corridors opened out into this round room with a wooden pillar in the middle, and a sort of bench around the pillar. The room was all glass and wood and lino, so sounds reverberated. It was great for singing in, and there was a section of the bench that you could lift up and then drop with an almighty crash.

I remember the soft mossy grass of our lawn, and the ponga edging which had hollows where dolls could hide. I had a swing set, and I would spin around, twisting the chains, and then let go and spin back, jerkily, in the opposite direction. And sometimes my fingers got pinched in the chains.

We had chooks, and sometimes when I gathered the eggs they were still warm. And once, briefly, we had a pet lamb. When I fed him he would tug so hard at the bottle he almost pulled it out of my hands.

I loved brussels sprouts, and rolls made with grated carrot and cheese wrapped up in a lettuce leaf. When I was sick my mum made me celery soup, and jelly made with freshly squeezed orange juice (it didnít taste like proper jelly, and it had pulpy bits in it). My dad made bread, and showed me how to poke the kneeded dough and see if it sprang back.

We had records of Bad Jelly the Witch, the Barrow Poets, and Peter and the Woolf. My parents helped me make a model volcano, and gave me a real microscope. I cut up bits of plants so I could look at the cells. They read me bedtime stories every night. My mum read me The World of Christopher Robin, and my dad read me The Hobbit.

In summer I could dance under the sprinkler to cool down.

We had a greengage tree in the garden. I remember eating the greengages Ė they were so green and sticky and so sweet.

Posted by Fionnaigh at August 25, 2008 11:25 PM

What a lovely piece of writing! Welcome back, Fionnaigh, in all sorts of ways.

Posted by: Tim Jones at August 26, 2008 11:23 PM

Great to hear you enjoying yourself :)

Posted by: Giffy at August 29, 2008 10:04 AM

Brussel sprouts! Ew!!! :p

Such a cool post. We miss you.

Posted by: Ryan at September 14, 2008 09:47 AM

you are my legend. this is such an inspiring blog. thank you. you've reall opened my mind.

Posted by: Kelly at November 2, 2008 06:05 PM

Wow, Fionnaigh, thanks for sharing this. Although my experience of depression has been nothing like the intensity of bipolar, I too feel I've 'got my self back' since starting to take prozac. And yes, memory is improving - though age is taking its toll there!

Thank god / universe / humankind for refining and creating substances to restore our balance. And for brave and creative women like you who share your gifts in so many amazing ways.

Arohanui, Bronwyn

Posted by: Bronwyn Angela White at September 22, 2009 09:14 PM

Ever tried homeophatic treatment? Could work for you and rid yourself of synthetic drugs.

Posted by: John at February 16, 2010 01:18 AM

Love Brussel Sprouts. Mix it with beef stew and some spices. The beef should be cut to bite size pieces and eaten with the sprouts. Yum!

Posted by: Bianca at March 19, 2010 02:23 PM