TL:DR Grayson Perry and Mental Health
Thank you for sharing. I found your posts entirely by accident rather than algorithm, and they/you are a delight. A very close family member went through a major mental health challenge this summer. Our family is slowly learning how to make our way through the -- well, it's not even a system, so how can it be broken? -- 'poo pipe' that is the American mental health catastrophe. Reading your words is helping. Also, I haven't been able to visit London in person for too many years, and now thanks to you I'm taking a mental trip around the most wonderful new areas with a perfect guide.
"When you have been left on the netball bench while both teams shout; ‘You take her.’ ‘No, you take her.’ sport stops being about wellness. There is only humiliation and the ever present fear of the showers to contend with." Sounds exactly like my school sport experience in East Anglia in 80s.
I'm hardly an expert, but all the way through this I was nodding at every single experience you had right from childhood PE and showers, through people-pleasing and fitting in so hard you almost become invisible, to well-meaning advice-givers who think that because gardening, yoga and 'just stop overthinking' advice is helpful for them then it must be a universal cure-all; and I think you're neurodiverse.
I learnt during lockdown and through extensive research why I 'behave' the way I do and have always done (I am a twelve-year-old in an oversized, wrinkled body suit) and it happened when I simply could not shake something upsetting that had happened to me years ago. And although it doesn't seem like it, I DO live in the present. Only not in a Pollyanna way. Because everything from the past and into the future, also lives in my present at the same time. Hence the constant chattering in my head which means I don't know what to listen to first.
I took an ADHD test online and aced it. About twenty times, because in my head I imagined I must be 'cheating' - I'm always a bad person to my mind. And when I was assessed I learnt that I was ADHD and when I started titration on meds I always assumed were for kids who couldn't pay attention in classrooms, I was stunned at the difference it made to my head. On the fourth day-- I'll always remember the 4th day--I was sitting in the garden and realised something had changed. I could hear silence. Where before there was a constant low-level hum of everything everywhere, all at once, now there was calm. I almost cried.
I was diagnosed autistic a year later and although these diagnoses don't mean I'm cured by any stretch of the imagination, they do mean that now I give myself less of a hard time when I realise life is crashing around my ears; I don't blame myself anymore.
Thank you for sharing - all of it. The boat feels like a very good place to be.
👏👏👏 take a bow xx
“What I am learning is that I don’t need to feel grounded when I can feel buoyant. I don’t need the earth when the water is a far gentler companion.”
I love the idea of feeling buoyant. Being grounded means being rooted (which is not necessarily a bad thing). But does it lead to feeling stuck or trapped? I see being buoyant as floating through life, hitting an obstacle and then pushing off against it, bobbing away.
Thank you for this essay. 🙏🏻❤️