Climbing out of the grave and into the sunset

About this time last year, I was in a horrible place with few safe spaces to turn to. My world was turned upside down and inside out. I never thought I’d climb out of the grave I’d dug for myself. But I have. And all the dirt has been wiped off. But the memory of the climb out, that dark, difficult struggle still surfaces from time to time and I have nightmares and during the day, zone out for minutes at a time, while memories clamber and struggle for space inside my brain.

Often, I’ll say things I shouldn’t share with the rest of the world, and other times, wish I could open up about the things that bring me down. Anyway, 2011 is turning out to be a brighter year. I’m laughing more, I’m much more in control of my depression, I’m loving the person I’ve become. Having left anorexia behind, I’m now able to go outside without three or four layers. I can wear short sleeved tops and leave my scarf on the back of my door. I am able to eat ice cream and enjoy the good weather, seeing it as an opportunity to enjoy myself, not an excuse to get out and exercise until my heart can’t stand it anymore.

The other day, Tom and I went out for a walk in the Cumbrian countryside, in the shadow of Skiddaw. It was one of those wonderfully clichéd spring days. The sunshine warmed out elbows and the back of our heads, as we hiked through moorland, woodland and alongside rivers and tight country lanes. Little lambs, spindly legs splayed, pink ears pricked, watched us intently, at that gorgeous age when they’re curious about everything. Their mothers observed our every move, puffing themselves up to appear bigger before turning around the running as fast as their heavy bodies would carry them, the lamb, plump bellies filled with milk, following behind.

Tom said, before we left for the walk, that we might see deer, and we did, two Roe Deer sprinting through a small patch of woodland. It was as if their hooves never even touched the ground they moved so fast. It really was a magical ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ moment, but one that you hold with you for a very, very long time. Like the occasion when I saw two deer in Billingham nature reserve when snow lay thick on the ground. Deer to me are such otherworldly creatures. An old housemate of mine was scared of them, the way in which they don’t make a noise as they approach. Almost like ghosts. I find this alluring and only adds to their appeal. We found the remains of three dead sheep as we walked, all in different stages of decay. I wanted to collect some of the bones, but Tom was pretty against the idea. They would have made excellent wind chimes and would have looked beautiful as part of spring nature table.

As we were coming to the end of the walk, Tom pointed out a tiny, paper airplane shaped bird called a Sand Martin, which winters in Sub Saharan Africa. It whipped through the air above the river. Dog owners were chucking a deflated ball into the middle of the fast flowing water, and a beautiful Labrador bounced straight in over and over and over. Each time as soon as its paws hit the water, its owners would turn their backs and walk on. I could just about imagine out shouting out ‘look at me Dad! Look at me!’ We gorged ourselves on Maggie’s (Tom’s Mum) homemade scones with butter and lemon curd and the most English of foods, salted pretzels.

Back in Cockermouth that evening, we were interrupted in the middle of a new American Dad by the most stunning sunset.

It looked as though it ought to be the sunset at the end of a magnificent American Western. We hurtled upstairs to get a better view, and were treated with the sight of bats; small and sharp angled they zipped past the house. One did some sort of a back flip, as though it knew we were watching.

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