“You know my feelings: Every day is a gift. It’s just, does it have to be a pair of socks?”
– James Gandolfini, The Sopranos
Here’s where I’m at. I relapsed recently. Over the course of nine months, I became increasingly erratic, emotionally charged, and uninhibited. I went days – sometimes weeks – without sleep, experienced manic highs and melancholic lows, and pushed so many boundaries that my innermost circle of supporters ran for the hills.
My mood disorder has since been treated, and I will likely make a full recovery. Now, I’m left to clean up my mess. I have to say, I fear I’ve spoiled some of the good I had going for me: opportunities, trusting and valued relationships, and a pretty solid street rep.
You can fall from grace relatively quickly; undoing the damage done on the way down, however, takes forever. So, rebuilding the ruins of my reputation and reversing the harm dealt to valued relationships will take time. I’m in this for the long haul.
This isn’t the first time I’ve relapsed, nor is it the first time I’ve had to start again from scratch. My last relapse and hospitalization (there have been many) was nearly four years ago. I remember emerging from the ward and telling myself, from now on, I’m going to appreciate life. For a while, every day was a gift. I cherished the little things in life. Hell, I was lucky to be alive, so every moment was precious – nothing was taken for granted. But this mindset lasted only so long, and moments that were once precious slowly became tedious and dull.
I’m going to get nostalgic for a moment. As a kid, there were two kinds of holiday gifts: Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots and tube socks. When asked whether I’d rather find toys or tube socks under the Christmas tree, I gave the predictable answer. Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots all the way! As I’ve grown, I’ve learned, life sometimes gives you tube socks. Boring, right?
Currently, I’m in the same honeymoon stage as I was following my discharge, four years ago. Despite having much damage to undo, I feel great, my outlook is positive, and I look forward to waking up in the mornings. But there will come a time when this honeymoon period ends. Life’s hassles will inevitably begin to weigh on me, and moments treasured during the early phases of my recovery will become increasingly mundane and tiresome. One day, I’ll awake to the gift of tube socks. I know it.
I suppose it’s all about perspective. Life is what we make it, but we need to accept that at times, life’s trajectory flat lines. With this in mind, perhaps it’s possible to embrace the mundane and tiresome with enthusiasm. I’m sure the novelty of recovery will wear off. But perhaps this is a sign of progress. After all, without the mundane, how would we ever learn to appreciate the special moments in life?
I try to practice what I preach. So, I look forward to a good pair of tube socks every now and then. They make the Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em moments all the more delightful.
About Andrew Woods
Having been diagnosed with Schizoaffective disorder and OCD at the age of seventeen (while attending the University of Victoria), my struggle with mental illness has been a full spectrum experience. I have made much progress since my last hospitalization (three and a half years ago). I returned to university, eventually earning a degree in Economics and a diploma in Business Administration. Today, I have aspirations of following a career in writing and communications. Currently, I spend my time as a mental health volunteer, working as a mental health navigator, exhibitor and communications support volunteer.