Today I have a paint headache. I did yesterday too. I have been painting all kinds of stuff in my house over the last few days and have now been forced to leave, as I was starting to feel pretty sick with the fumes.
The reason for this intense activity is simple. My house is a scruffy mess. Walls and doors are shabby and shameful. Furniture scratched and unfit for any nice thing or person to sit upon. The last two days of warp-speed activity was long overdue and – because I am me – and I have tried to fix a million things all in one go rather than take a planned and steady approach (like a normal human being might), this has caused some considerable upheaval throughout our home. The living room that I am currently hiding from, is this very minute strewn with newspapers covered by various bulky items of furniture gently emitting their evil post-updo fumes (hence the headache).
Sitting with my husband at the weekend (prior to me having thrown the house up in the air and trying to catch it all with my trusty paint roller) we were listening to somebody else discussing some upheaval or other in their lives. My husband noted …
“You never hear much about ‘Downheaval’ do you?”
Hmmm, interesting – Is that even a thing? I quietly pondered this for a little while and realised, well of course it is a thing! Not only that, but one I have some experience with.
Everyone has experienced and could describe an episode of (or many … or perhaps endless?) upheaval in their lives. We all know that feeling when things feel chaotic, out of our control. We may be in the process of moving house, or ending a relationship, or starting a new job or any number of other changes that happen throughout our lives. Such episodes can make us feel off-balance, anxious, perhaps a little excited? Perhaps curious about what comes next? Wondering if we can cope – either with leaving what is coming to an end or meeting the challenges of what is about to unfold.
Many people, if you asked them, would describe upheaval as a negative feeling for them. It is very common for people to fear or try and avoid significant changes in their lives. For sure, when we are in the middle of some giant life kerfuffle, it can be a very uncomfortable, uncertain place to be. However, upheaval can also have some very positive aspects attached to it. At the very least, it means things are moving, there is momentum of one sort or another. And, though being in the centre of this storm may be terrifying, what lies beyond when the gales die down may be even better than what we have known before.
Downheaval on the other hand is something quite different in character. Downheaval is when there is no movement at all. Everything stops. There is no momentum. The person at the centre of the downheaval storm feels just as out of control, but does not feel able to move out of the cyclone that encircles them. Just trying to continue to breathe in that vacuum may be all they’ve got. They may in fact crave some form of upheaval as a counterbalance … for any damn thing to happen in order to kick-start some action. But they may be entirely unable to manifest this for themselves.
Downheaval creates just as much chaos in a person’s life as its more familiar disordered sibling, but without any of the payoff of moving things forward. The downheaval storm just takes what was already there, throws it high in the air and summarily lands it back down on the owner’s head. Who – now trapped by the splintered and smashed remnants – can only sit, and look, and think “Fuck”.
People who have experienced depression will likely know exactly what downheaval looks and feels like. And it is not just the person experiencing depression who feels the wind blow. Those standing too close can become sucked into the vortex too. And the whole bloody shebang stops moving … for however long it takes for the storm to pass.
And this is why my house is so scruffy. Oh, there are other aspects of my life that I left to become very scruffy too. But we’ve covered some of those before, and I will cover some others in time.
But for today, it would appear that at long last my own downheaval storm is receding. There appears to be some momentum building where before there were only splinters. And, though I have certainly created disorder in my living room (and I have a headache), I’ll take that upheaval any day of the week.
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