Original Manuscript

Sing. Sing, Sing.
Revealling, in a moment so sudden
That other, distant sound
Breaking softly, the glass cage
Of noise, to which you were bound.

It is melodic, and harmonious.
Serene, so as to distinguish itself
As being unique, and deviant,
Distracting, to behold.
Sing. Sing, Sing.

Amplified by recognition, it feeds
On realigned senses,
Inviting and enticing
Comprehension, of the proof
That there does exist, a brighter path

A different path, stripping out
The discord, the friction, the clash
With undeniable rhythm, it leads up,
Up. Up. Up. Up Up!

The refrain, the song, and the new
New, and the old, old harmony

Remembering,

Acheing muscles relax
Instructed by the compelling,
Those tones, those beats: Enabled,
You soothe and you slip,
Dropping into dance, allowing lost chords
To become your own teacher.
The song is reviving, the song
Is exciting, and you begin to remember
A Cappella, a cappella!
Where there was dischord, now hear
The choral rhapsody.

Settle back in,
To the symphony you created
In the beginning, out and beyond,
The tangles and the set-backs.

Original manuscript, so completely,
Totally,

Your own.


 

Contradictions

I know I need to write, to let off steam. If I don’t write, then i’ll just be left alone with the thoughts, and the thoughts are crap company. But when I do try to write, to vent and unleash, it becomes too much. As every sentence progresses, the thoughts and memories, feelings and fears progress mutually. But you need to talk, you really do, insists the inner voice of reason. Like a mother, she’s always right. Never dismiss or drown out the mother within your head.

Know this, however, that even following the right path can’t protect you from all obstacles, and hinderances. The right path may well definitely be the right path-far preferable to the dreadful alternate path. A route towards death and destruction, and immesurable harm. No, you do right to follow the voice of the mother of your own self, and take yourself away from those hazardous streets.

It’s like deciding to get a train home, because you’ve had too many drinks. So you leave your car parked up, walk to the station, get on the train. You give yourself a subtle little pat on the back for that ‘sensible decision’ you just made. Reassurance that you’re not irresponsible, but you can still have a good time. However, on the train, you encounter a group of young men, stinking of ethanol and yearning for a fight.

You witness them attempt to mug the only other passenger on board the carriage, besides yourself. So, driven by an uncomfortable yet inspiring surge of Adrenaline, you get up to intervene. But you end up opening quite the can of worms; they turn on you and begin juggling knives, amongst threats and punches, blows knocking you hard, into the window.

You wind up with a hospital stay, and have to learn how to think again, since you obtained a serious concussion, as a side dish to that feast of fear you ate.

How annoying.
When you do ‘the right thing’, the ‘sensible’ and the ‘what i’d tell my children to do’, thing, but you end up paying a punishing price.

That’s what’s cunningly strange to me, still. For some people it might just be black and white- you’re either going to be the bringer of your own death, or you’re not. You will wait for fate to tell you when it stops. If it just so happens to be that tomorrow, I go for a ‘revitalizing’ walk across the Peaks, and end up snatched up by the rapture of a stunning view, I plough forward without caution to ground me, and plunge via a slip against Lucky Heather, over the jaws of the rocks to my death, then fine by me. At least fate was so kind as to bequeath me a quick, surprising death. Among the roots of the Earth, upon which I once stood upright, for my very first time.

When I made the decision to ‘listen to my mother’, for want of a better phrase, and dialled the numbers on my phone for emergency, that miraculous interruption saved my life. I was already half way down the cliff to death, ready and willing to continue falling, falling and falling, until nullified. A flare errupted; I sparked a twisting tree towards the sky, begging for a lifeline. Then I got one.

The damn Crisis team had to see me, once i’d recovered from delirious doses of everything. I was given referrals, to this mental health team, and that mental health team, etc. From the day of the discharge, I have two months to wait it out, until my first appointment. That really is how worrying the state of Mental Health servces in the UK, are, by the way. You ask for help at your GP, when you’re well above that safety line, and then you’re inked into the 16 month waiting list for your initial assessment appointment, with someone vaguely qualified. You deterioate much more quickly than you’d anticipated, and soon your only true reprieve comes by imagining how you’d commit suicide. Then you get too carried away, etc.

Moving on though, and back to the point. I did the right thing, and I protected myself by going to A&E. Now, I find myself ‘sent off sick’ at work, because of course Confidentiality can be broken in such cases of ‘risk to self’. The first two weeks off probably did me good. I went to my allotment everyday, and gardened. I got the beds ready for planting out my seedlings this year, turned over loamy soil and gave the courting birds a very good incentive to visit the place with their ‘dates’ every evening, for the feast of upturned worms i’d incidently offered them up like a buffet.

Now it’s going on too long. It is becoming counter productive, and I am driving myself insane, playing this waiting game, for Occupational Health to chase up reccommendations from my GP, review my ‘fit for work’ status, relay relevant information to my managers, and give the go ahead for me to return to work, and get on with life. Normality is what I need right now, routine and purpose is what I need back in my life. The longer I go without it, the harder it will become to return to this.

I sit here, silently begging for them to hurry up and just let me come back to work. I feel like i’m being punished, although that may sound paradoxical, given i’ve been given this licence to chill, because just doing nothing is completely defeating. Like a short prison sentence.

Bring me the plantpots, quickly!

Remembering the route towards the ‘up’

Over this last week, it became increasingly apparent that I was moving forwards from Depression. I suddenly had feelings again, I wasn’t under a bell jar, my surroundings were inviting me to recognize and enjoy them, again.

It is now, I am reminded by a former version of myself, that the truly hard bit starts. I’ve done this before and I can do it again, but i’m under no illusion that it won’t involve some effort. I seem to have emotional reactions which are proportionate and in sync with actual triggers.
This is a good sign, a very hard-hitting but good, sign. I realised I really do want to get well again, and re-kindle the fire of the ‘true Ellie’. Which is laughter, dancing, giving, caring, hoping, living.


So that’s why this bit is the hard part. Before, you’re under a weight so impounding, and so consuming, that everything which exists beyond that weight, becomes impossible to recognise. At least with Depression as commander-in-cheif, your thoughts were predictably nullifying, smothering and entirely negative. No unexpected, imcomprehensible language on the outside had any chance of getting past this brute of a dark cloud, filling every part of your body with sinister roots.

When it starts to shrink, you are suddenly reminded about all this other stuff on the outside, including the bitter medicine of reason and reflection. You start negotiations with Reality again, which includes what you have experienced, what you have done, who you have hurt, how did you get here?

Reality is a bit pissed off with you, as a matter of fact, because you have consistently ignored  it’s metaphorical e-mails and phone calls. It has been trying to get hold of you for months now, and its’ patience has worn thin, so it is not best impressed. You get a bollocking from reality, for being so bloody rude and dismissive. It is extremely frustrated with you, and so you have to allow this frustration to pour out. Guilt and shame rain over you like a storm.

Reality is so pissed off, in this instance, that it needs to rant and rave at you angrily for days. You’re made to ‘atone’ for your doings, and to recognise intention behind the actions of others. See things how they actually are. It isn’t amusing, by any stretch, but my God, is it SOMETHING.

bollocking from reality


Healing is hard, and daunting. But you will find a way to do it, because you genuinely want to now, and soon you will reunite with your old friend, ‘stubborrness’. This re-found friend will give you a great deal of ‘NO, ONWARDS AND UPWARDS, SOLDIER’ type reminders, and it is perfect for this kind of work.

I’ve found a video on YouTube, which is turning out to be surprisingly useful:
Heal


I thought I may as well include it in the on-going blog stories, for future reference and for potential help to others. When you want it 🙂

Two worlds in one hour

A bell rings. As if suddenly startled back into an on-going moment from his dream, Toby feels the surge of adrenaline sending his pounding chest into a fury, as he recalls he is in the middle of being robbed, again. What had him so distracted, he astonishes himself for allowing such a sheen of vulnerability to envelop him in a moment which requires the utmost attention. The immediate urgency of his situation regains supremacy of his immediate thoughts, naturally, yet the undercurrent of his mind smothers in a self- scolding pit of shame and anxiety, for what does it imply for one’s mind to slip away this easily?

He feels stubborn in his own self reassurance; ‘It never used to be like this, life has never taken so much effort to reign into focus before. The film reel of his life memories suggest nothing of having been anything other than sharp and responsive to circumstances, in fact he recalls been renowned for his quickness of mind, others would remark; ‘Toby’ll be right in there with his counter-strategies before the enemy even knows what they’re planning!’. So, when did this suddenly become a legend of his own reflection, rather than something taken for granted and thus never missed so urgently before?

But right now the musing was merely background music. The charcoal dusted fist of his assailant clenched dry and knotted into a twist which made it look like the man was holding two huge lumps of rugged coal in his hands, ready to smash them together into a flammable gong.

As for the robber, he existed and acted in man’s state of nature- the nasty, the brutish and the short, was in the driving seat. To cut to the chase, Toby knew that his opponent was catatonic enough to forget who he, and everyone else meant. What morality was worth. So indeed, the stranger made his moves towards knocking Toby to the ground (he missed), in pursuit of coin, drink, self-preservation and escape.

What could Toby realistically be expected to do?  He retaliated, struck dumb by his own flash of red fury which anonymised the ‘fellow man’ before him. He struck out, punched and kicked and throttled. In sheer self-defence; immeasurably guilty yet locked into blind fury. Auto pilot.

Slam. Through a sheen, thick as a hospital curtain, Toby hit hard and cracked knuckles against the blindfolded skull of his attacker. It had been a stunning strike. Adrenaline fuelled, and knuckles resonating from the impact, Toby found darkness, and it swallowed him like a Slag landslide from the hilltops of the valleys.

All was black. But then it was sharp white, blue, beige. There was an incessant ringing in Toby’s ears- maybe from the adrenaline, the slap. Flashes of street lamp Orange hounded his peripheral vision, blinking into his eyes sporadically as though having just being lit, at the beginning of an evening. That indecisive period of the street blinkers- as though reluctant to rise from a daytime of slumber, ready for the night shift which lay ahead.


Switch


There were patients up and out of bed everywhere. Our nurse was tending to one of the three out of a possible ten bays allocated to her care that night, and all eight in this bay were up; demented by condition and frenzied by confusion and a full moon. It was about 5am, ten out of twelve and a half hours of the shift down, and our nurse was running on that last reserve of adrenaline which emerges only to those who have forced their body to smash through the great wall of fatigue, and have nothing left but to cover the final laps of the night’s obstacle course. She had energy enough to focus on beginning the drug rounds, alright. Somehow, the brain has magic tricks saved for enabling Olympic champions to pull through for Gold in the sport of endurance concentration.

Imagine then, the fallout which becomes the athlete who treads the tightrope for an outcome of the whole race, when unexpected flying obstacles are thrown into their track, causing a devastating fall which costs them the race. This happened in for form of an almighty blow to the back of Nurse Alice’s head. There was a sudden onset of an electrical thud to the base of her skull, followed by the feeling of a strangely refreshing coolness to the left cheek, and the world on its side. Which is certainly not where Alice had left it.

Suddenly she was cheek to cheek with the face of the cold floor, and there were red and white slipper socks dancing around her nose, as if threatening to kiss her. The confused chaos of startled patients, sung like two poorly tuned instruments; battling with the air, were above and around her like a sudden choir.

This ward had been nicknamed The ‘mad house’ by most, or ‘purgatory’ for others. Like the holding cell for those human shells; which were once the chariot within which consciousness and a person’s soul could ride.

Dementia, however, had somehow managed to capture fragments of a person before their body was necessarily ready to call it a day. As if memories- the essence of a person’s identity, sense of self and understanding of the world they were conscious in- were akin to Iron filings, and Dementia a terrible magnet. It would hover over the person, occasionally passing them by and sparing the fragments, but all too often, snatching up the Iron filings like an impossible black hole.

So a person was trapped in a kind of Purgatory, in this sense. Since they were no longer completely alive as themselves, but were not yet dead, their mind snorted away like dusty powder, bit by bit, just waiting to die so as to enable the pieces of mind to catch up and meet the rest.

Alice battled with the acknowledgement that she really, really, did not want to get up off that floor. To lay there horizontal, and just to sleep instead of stand, was such a convincing argument. Especially as the back of her skull began to burn with a sharp flame, where the blow had landed.

Above her, however, reality pressed on- surreal though it was- two out of six beds out of the bay were emptied of their contents, and the patients like the linen, sprayed out along the floor. The other beds were beginning to shuffle. Obscenities- muffled by the chewing of blankets and the burial of heads under pillows- were starting to pass between the beds, as though beds themselves had begun their own private conversation of curses among one another. The twist being that none of the beds were actually engaging in such a thing as a straightforward string of conversation with one another- they were all chattering to themselves, seemingly drunk.

There was medication to administer- drips needed attaching to flimsy cannulas. Bedside cabinets craved the turn of the key to release syrups, pills, tonics and false teeth. For no nurse was there ever such a fine reality known in the solace of the floor.


Switch


 

‘Attach pads’. The radio was annoying Toby’s brother, sat in the passenger seat of his older brother’s car. ‘Why is it speaking in an American accent!? It’s supposed to be British Broadcasting Company, not chuffin’ Brooklyn Bolton Canada!’

‘Canada is not part of America, Michael, you can’t use Canada for that. California. That’s American, call it Brooklyn Bolton California if you need to repurpose the BBC algorithm. To fit with the America thing, the wrong accent, like you say. I do agree with you though, I want to hear the weather forecast in my own British accent, where it’s actually relevant.’ Toby interjected.

For Toby, this was an entire new day, in another era. Where and how the transition from one scene to the next had taken place, it would be impossible to tell. It would also be completely irrelevant, for in this moment Toby lived, and sensed only the surroundings of this reality. The attempted robbery, prior to the new scene, had not even happened yet, not at this age. The here and the now was the truth, and that’s all there was to it.


Switch…

 

The Paradox of Recovering

massive trail of destruction
I’m talking about Depression, and mental illness, in this case.
What is the meaning of all this? How did it happen!?


“Some people have a legitimate reason to feel depressed…It’s weird for people who still have feelings to be around depressed people. They try to help you have feelings again so things can go back to normal, and it’s frustrating for them when that doesn’t happen. From their perspective, it seems like there has got to be some untapped source of happiness within you that you’ve simply lost track of, and if you could just see how beautiful things are… ”
( Source, and must read to this text.)


Once you begin to move away from a situation, and are no longer therefore blinded by the immediacy of it, you reflect. It’s perfectly obvious that humans should do this, once they’re out of the danger zone, we need to formulate a plan and learn how to avoid facing that danger again. It is so important to us that we can trace back to certain events which led up to the danger, so we can avoid them. It’s an essential ingredient to intelligence, and our ability to survive as a species, against all odds.

If we ventured into some unknown territory, for example, and found that we were not prepared for the climate, or the presence of new predators, we would reflect that maybe it would be wiser to bring different tools, perhaps a bigger group for safety in numbers, etc.

But sometimes, trying to understand how you came to be in such a threatening place, is not as crystal clear and quantifiable, as we would prefer. Sometimes you can’t explain it, to yourself and/or others. This is yet another challenge, dealing with not knowing. Because when you can’t pin point a particular cause, it’s frigging scary, and damn frustrating.


“We’ve all heard the typical sentence of “how can he be depressed, he’s got everything one could ever wish for”. Unfortunately, clinical depression can affect anyone, sometimes without any triggers if the person is particularly vulnerable to it.”



This above quote is extremely fitting to my own conundrum, now. How, despite being so lucky in all you have around you, can you actually find yourself so depressed that you no longer want to live!? I am a lucky one- I have a wonderful partner who I adore, and I have the most fantastic friends surrounding me. I have a roof over my head, don’t (usually) have to go hungry, am in good physical health, have a job which I genuinely enjoy. All the right things in life, so I should want for nothing. I feel so guilty, for having obviously lost sight of all this somewhere along the way, and become a shadow of my real self.

“It’s disappointing to feel sad for no reason. Sadness can be almost pleasantly indulgent when you have a way to justify it – you can listen to sad music and imagine yourself as the protagonist in a dramatic movie. You can gaze out the window while you’re crying and think “This is so sad. I can’t even believe how sad this whole situation is. I bet even a reenactment of my sadness could bring an entire theater audience to tears.”

But my sadness didn’t/doesn’t have an obvious purpose.

My friends have all reminded me about everything I have going for me, which is well-intended and completely benevolent. But in reality, I suddenly find myself feeling even worse, because I somehow ‘didn’t deserve to breakdown’ in such a way, ‘I don’t have half of the stresses which other people have to contend with’, so why, why, why, have I overreacted to circumstances in such an intense way?

I knew before my mental health even started to slip down the slope, that I had everything around me to cause ‘happiness’. I never stopped knowing that I had all of these things, even (and especially) when my mind was at it’s utter lowest. This is why it is so hard to understand mental health, and to accept it as what it is. The whole meaning of being ‘mentally unwell’, is a testament to the fact that it doesn’t make any sense.

When you know, but cannot physically feel, the reality which exists, and therefore you cannot believe it. You can’t see it, because the emotions which we normally take for granted, are all fused and out of order. The neurotransmitters in your brain are behaving completely paradoxically- They are far from balanced or proportionate to real events.

Where normally, for example, Dopamine triggers a physiological change of state- feeling fulfilled, physically experiencing the urge to smile, to laugh, to move. Usually, Dopamine can be relied upon, particularly after exercising. It is the ‘reward’ chemical. Similarly, Noradrenaline commands your body to respond in certain ways- rapid heartbeat, sweating, suddenly experiencing a surge in energy so intense, it is near impossible to contain, which is why it’s so reliable for ‘flight or fight’ circumstances.




When communication between external and internal events, becomes contradictory and totally out of sync within the brain, that, my friend, is ‘mental illness’.
That is why your situation becomes such a confusing and nonsensical place- because it is a paradox.



This is the difference between mental health, and mental ill-health. We can all relate to being depressed, or anxious, in the usual and healthy way. Where there is a trigger, and the emotional state is just the appropriate response, kind of way. So no wonder it is so imcomprehensible to both sufferers and observers of mental illness, no wonder you cannot ‘justify’ it.

Please don’t ask me to explain ‘the reason(s)’. I’m sick of feeling sorry for confusing and worrying everybody, including myself. Now that I am finally beginning to ‘see’ again, I can’t let the guilt stage get me. The guilt for upsetting my friends and loved ones, and for alienating people. I feel perfectly bad about that already, so I don’t need any ‘help’ with this particular area.


DEPRESSIONTWO45

Allie Brosh‘s blog, Hyperbole and a Half, NEEDS reading. She explains her own experiences with depression, in a perfect way. A way which constantly reassures me that i’m not just pathetic, and in a way that sheds some light onto the illness, for other people who haven’t experienced mental illness in quite the same way. It enables much more understanding, which is really useful as someone on the outside looking in, say if your friends/loved ones ever come down with inexplicable ‘Fluenza of the Mind’, shall we call it?

Plus, she tells it with pictures. Way more effective I think!
Hyperboleandahalfblog

hyperboleandahalfhyperboleandahalfdepression1hyperboleandahalfdepression2

Top tips for people in dips

This post will constantly be subject to additional tips, as they are acquirred through the process of living, and learning new survival mechanisms. Please feel free to add any of your own tips in the comments box!

Mental health- it is completely synonymous with physical health. The mental is the physical, and the physical is also mental. So just to get this straight, everyone alive has mental health. Therefore, everyone alive exists in a constant flux of good health, poor health, and the bits in between. Mental illness can happen to anybody. Just as illnesses like Flu, or Tonsillitis, impact on our livelihoods, due to a dip in ‘good health’, so too do Mental Health afflictions affect us. Some perhaps, more than others, but all the same, any stigma needs to be stamped out, before anyone can engage with this post meaningfully, and benefit from it.


Crisis- how to save yourself from suicide

Speak
Write it down, tell someone, send out your distress flares before you become unable to ask for help (because by that point, you’ve already finalised your decision, haven’t you, so if it’s going to be a success, it will have to be a silent one).

Change your surroundings
So if you can get yourself to a safe place for a night, even if it’s completely the harder thing to do, then you can think again. Also, actually ending up in A&E with ‘Suicidal Thoughts’, isn’t at all uncommon. You won’t be the first, and you won’t be the last person to go there, believe me. It’s through A&E that there is a guarantee (unless you make a dash for it) you will have to be seen by the Crisis Team at some point, and thus help speed along referrals for proper mental health intervention and recovery.

But you can change your surroundings in other ways of course. Go to a friend’s, or a random place, wherever you can. Because you need to remove yourself from the area in which you were imagining, plotting, and preparing for a suicide. You can still go back to it, but you need to escape that area, and put yourself in a different area, for at least the time being.

Call for help
I know that in reality, this piece of standardized advice doesn’t necessarily give you any answers. In the middle of attempting to take your own life, or before you begin to, ringing 999/911 (or whichever the relevant area code may be) doesn’t instantly throw itself at you as a plan of action, does it!? But you always, ALWAYS, need that one extra sleep, just one more day, to actually know you want to do this. For real.

Get lost on purpose
Even if you are literally on the way to the place you have decided to die, take a new route. Know that you can still get to where you want to be, to finalise the act still, but you may as well go an unusual way, so as to see just a few more scenes before you can never see them again.

This saved my life once. I drove out to the place, and I had a CD on in my car. I had the ropes, the scalpel, the cocktail and the note. But I took an obscure route, and during this journey, I managed to realise that now was not the time. Plus, it was already getting dark, so by the time i’d reached my destination, i’d not be able to see what I was doing properly anyway. So I had to find my way back, and thus had to think outside of ‘the plan’, to figure out my bearings, and which roads looked most likely to take me back home.

Pointless Walking
Even better if you can get lost while walking. Going for a pointless walk, or even the last walk of your life, it will never fail you in its ability to allow you to think of other thoughts. Take you to ‘imagination land’ or whatever you want to call it, whilst simultaneously exercising and therefore stimulating endorphins and those neurotransmitters- sweet Serotonin and Dopamine- which seem to have gone AWOL, pre-walk. They will at the very least, give you some form of release from the emotional trap you were in before you started walking.

Music is truly a saviour
Get a sound happening. Any sound. Music you know you enjoy, or might enjoy, or perhaps suddenly realise: ‘I guess I may as well listen to that before I die”, when it comes to venturing into a new realm of sounds. Listen, dance, sing, do whatever you need, just let the music have a say first. It is truly a magnificent drug.

Play an instrument
If you have the luck of knowing how to read music, and have an instrument to hand (remember, your vocal chords are an instrument too!), then play it. Make yourself play it well, and concentrate on reading the notes, follwing the rules of timing and intensity, if only to challenge yourself. It will distract you.

Find an animal
Get your pet, if you have one. Go out and find a field full of Sheep, or anything, and just watch them do what they do for a little while. Know that they aren’t thinking about you, and your desire to die- they are just getting on with it in their own way. But animals are therapeutic just to watch, or to touch, and they are wise beyond words for transmitting their silent reflections.

Medicate
Now here’s a controversial one. There will be countless screams of ‘you can’t advise someone who is that vulnerable to go and take medication/drugs of unpredictable side effects’, or whatever. Drugging yourself is definitely not ideal. No shit, Sherlock. But if you are about to take your own life, then the outcomes of both dangerous decisions are not ideal. One is final, the other perhaps not.

If you know of a thing you can take, or get hold of, which will change your state of mind, then get it. I know I should not advocate the misuse of drugs, or doing things which are ‘illegal’ (more on that subject matter later), but mind altering substances can save your life, too.

Obviously, there will most likely be a comedown. Once you’re free of in-toxification, your mind will indeed be vulnerable. You may feel worse, even. But you will still be alive, and live that extra day before you do it. Try and allow yourself to change your mind.

At least plant some seeds before you go
I mean, it’d be almost rude not to. You’ve benefitted from the Oxygen needed for Respiration all the way through your life up until now, so you owe it to the plants and trees, to at least give them more life, before you take your own.

Amazingly, the planting of these seeds is a perfect way to self-soothe. Gardening, soil, seedlings and engaging with nature, is therapeutic and distracting beyond mere words of my testimony. You can perhaps say to yourself, ‘i’ll let this seed sprout up above the soil, and help it become strong enough to plant it out’, before you end that opportunity. Gardening saves lives. I genuinely know this.

Lash out
Preferably, not against yourself. I don’t care if you have to punch walls, smash plates, scream at the top of your lungs and/or run for your life. Physically do SOMETHING. Please don’t hurt others, but please make sure you engage in something physically relieving (or challenging), if it can stop you from the act of Suicide.

Dance it out
Again, humanity’s most loyal and beloved friend, music, comes into the play here. Listen to some rhythm, and then close your eyes, and let that rhythm lead your body into shapes and movements like it is a puppet, played by a sound.

In the words of Friedrick Nietzsche:
“We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.”

Seek out words of wisdom

“Kiss a lover,
Dance a measure,
Find your name
And buried treasure.

Face your life,
It’s pain,
It’s pleasure,
Leave no path untaken.”  – Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book

Contradictions

I know I need to write, to let off steam. If I don’t write, then i’ll just be left alone with the thoughts, and the thoughts are crap company. But when I do try to write, to vent and unleash, it becomes too much. As every sentence progresses, the thoughts and memories, feelings and fears progress mutually. But you need to talk, you really do, insists the inner voice of reason. Like a mother, she’s always right. Never dismiss or drown out the mother within your head.

Know this, however, that even following the right path can’t protect you from all obstacles, and hinderances. The right path may well definitely be the right path-far preferable to the dreadful alternate path. A route towards death and destruction, and immesurable harm. No, you do right to follow the voice of the mother of your own self, and take yourself away from those hazardous streets.

It’s like deciding to get a train home, because you’ve had too many drinks. So you leave your car parked up, walk to the station, get on the train. You give yourself a subtle little pat on the back for that ‘sensible decision’ you just made. Reassurance that you’re not irresponsible, but you can still have a good time. However, on the train, you encounter a group of young men, stinking of ethanol and yearning for a fight.

You witness them attempt to mug the only other passenger on board the carriage, besides yourself. So, driven by an uncomfortable yet inspiring surge of Adrenaline, you get up to intervene. But you end up opening quite the can of worms; they turn on you and begin juggling knives, amongst threats and punches, blows knocking you hard, into the window.

You wind up with a hospital stay, and have to learn how to think again, since you obtained a serious concussion, as a side dish to that feast of fear you ate.

How annoying.
When you do ‘the right thing’, the ‘sensible’ and the ‘what i’d tell my children to do’, thing, but you end up paying a punishing price.

That’s what’s cunningly strange to me, still. For some people it might just be black and white- you’re either going to be the bringer of your own death, or you’re not. You will wait for fate to tell you when it stops. If it just so happens to be that tomorrow, I go for a ‘revitalizing’ walk across the Peaks, and end up snatched up by the rapture of a stunning view, I plough forward without caution to ground me, and plunge via a slip against Lucky Heather, over the jaws of the rocks to my death, then fine by me. At least fate was so kind as to bequeath me a quick, surprising death. Among the roots of the Earth, upon which I once stood upright, for my very first time.

When I made the decision to ‘listen to my mother’, for want of a better phrase, and dialled the numbers on my phone for emergency, that miraculous interruption saved my life. I was already half way down the cliff to death, ready and willing to continue falling, falling and falling, until nullified. A flare errupted; I sparked a twisting tree towards the sky, begging for a lifeline. Then I got one.

The damn Crisis team had to see me, once i’d recovered from delirious doses of everything. I was given referrals, to this mental health team, and that mental health team, etc. From the day of the discharge, I have two months to wait it out, until my first appointment. That really is how worrying the state of Mental Health servces in the UK, are, by the way. You ask for help at your GP, when you’re well above that safety line, and then you’re inked into the 16 month waiting list for your initial assessment appointment, with someone vaguely qualified. You deterioate much more quickly than you’d anticipated, and soon your only true reprieve comes by imagining how you’d commit suicide. Then you get too carried away, etc.

Moving on though, and back to the point. I did the right thing, and I protected myself by going to A&E. Now, I find myself ‘sent off sick’ at work, because of course Confidentiality can be broken in such cases of ‘risk to self’. The first two weeks off probably did me good. I went to my allotment everyday, and gardened. I got the beds ready for planting out my seedlings this year, turned over loamy soil and gave the courting birds a very good incentive to visit the place with their ‘dates’ every evening, for the feast of upturned worms i’d incidently offered them up like a buffet.

Now it’s going on too long. It is becoming counter productive, and I am driving myself insane, playing this waiting game, for Occupational Health to chase up reccommendations from my GP, review my ‘fit for work’ status, relay relevant information to my managers, and give the go ahead for me to return to work, and get on with life. Normality is what I need right now, routine and purpose is what I need back in my life. The longer I go without it, the harder it will become to return to this.

I sit here, silently begging for them to hurry up and just let me come back to work. I feel like i’m being punished, although that may sound paradoxical, given i’ve been given this licence to chill, because just doing nothing is completely defeating. Like a short prison sentence.

Bring me the plantpots, quickly!

In case of emergency, break glass

It’s a sentence we’ve all found ourselves assimilating: ‘In case of emergency, break glass’, the very serious seeming red pockets, dotted around walls within schools, sports halls, libraries, gyms, workplaces, and so on. Red framing the dreaded, yet tantilizing, blackness underneath the glass, where there lies a button, to be pressed ‘only in the event of a fire’. In a glass coffin.

The only chance it will ever have, of the sudden gushing in of Oxygen, the release from that vaccuum, is very likely to be the last, should the building it listens out for succumb to flames.

Breaking the glass means danger, it means fear, and decisive action. You never really want to be the person who has to take the plunge and crack the surface open like an egg.

Because once it’s done, it’s done. That glass has broken in it’s own unique way, patterns of shards splitting, which can never be the same again.

It is the same with the scars on your skin, which crosshatch the forearm, like it has been deliberately shaded by the pencil of some artist, trying to persuade an unknown viewer of depth, dimension and shape. They want to make the picture seem more real. Contrary to the illusion of glass- the sheen which polishes the emergency button, giving it a glimmering surface, like invisible skin.

It is always the same- you never really knew what was there until it was lost. Never saw what was so perfectly intact, and marveled at it for being so, solid. Until you ripped it to ribbons, and couldn’t go back.

 

The growth of March


Started off seeding the Sunflowers, Artichokes and Little Gem Lettuces about 10 days ago now, and i’m pleased with their progress! Nature is utterly exciting. Magical, really!


Meanwhile, at the allotment, we continue to dig and turn, dig and turn, extrapolate the roots of all those determined Dandelions (sorry guys, but you’re in the way of the Broccoli beds!), and get the beds ready to grow a floral, vegetable feast in them.

With the addition of Gladioli bulbs, wildflower seed mixes, forget-me-nots, and the odd Dutch Iris bulb buried here and there, within that soil (so far), hopefully we can inspire a Spring/Summer of vibrant colours too.


 

Shadows

She lives in you Twiggy, and she lives on in vibrant, bold and sparkling memories, imprinted upon and wrapped within the minds of her many, many friends.

There isn’t a day go by when I do not think of Emma, and I only had the joy of knowing her for a short while. Yet she is woven into the fabric of my brain like a song. It makes me think- if this is the effect she has had on me, from knowing me only a couple of years, then I can’t even imagine how brightly her flame burns in the memories of others.

Those who knew her longer, knew her deeper, knew her as you do, as family! My brain can’t even comprehend it. I feel almost like a tresspasser in my grief, because it is so intense, and feels so close, almost like the ‘volume’ (don’t know if that’s measurable) of grief carried and poured out, matches the level I have felt throughout life, for my own intimate family.

I question my right to cling so hard like this, to memories and photographs. If I am affected, so strongly, by her imprint upon my life’s story, then how (really, how!?), do her family… Remember, and live?

She is woven into the minds a hearts of anyone and everyone I think she ever encountered. She exists for ones who lost her, as a thread with the strength or a spider’s silk, spun beautifully all over the world.

I wrote this about a month ago

Winking, the night drives on

What with it’s charcoal reprieve and

It’s cradling of our;

My, Yours, Whoever’s mind.

 

Absence of light is great

For the fermentation of

Seeded secrets we keep, buried in deep

To the earth.

 

Never mind the stars, they’re

Not listening, anyway.

I am the night, and it’s

Absence of light, which makes

The poor things glisten, as though…

 

In wake or through sleep

It’s your secrets I keep, invisibly inked

Then stitched in, over

Again.

 

I know that you know,

That I know what you know.

 

What I don’t know, you

Know of neither. Those questions

Barely even yet thought through,

So as to be assigned a number.

 

This is why, it is preferable

To sleep; the night needs no

Distractions. From the insomniac

Minds, like children asking, tugging,

Sobbing. No, the night is not some

Sitter. You must find a way to sleep.

 

I need perfect quiet, when

Sewing these seams. Not

Un-picking the stitches. More

Embroidery over these glitches. Psychedelic tiger re-design in oils

 

Alcoholic Summer

sheffield beauty in natureA winter once

Upon a time , there was

Hypertension in the contracted

Ice fractures

Enveloping the sleeping twigs

Slept not soundly

Did the bulbs on the back

Of an Earth, harassed

Spun like a cart wheel

Tattooing the soil with the last seasons’ tracks

Carried forth by an anonymous wind

Winter, she whipped no slack

Biting, she sugar coated in blankets,

The sun to its heel, begone

Begone! The Soil shall endure

The cold pin pricked recoil

The alcoholic’s cure

Abstinence; it’s for your own good

You drunkard Earth, stupefied by sunlight

Merriment will kill by eventual

Overdose of gladness

Remember to revive, the feeling of sadness

If you ever want to sing hazily

Through thick pollen once again

So the soil was placed on the program;

Rehab for the intoxicated Chlorophyll

Those leaves drank in such volume, their sweet sunny cider

They were beginning to show discoloration

Sallow, over nourished skins

In the shape of old stars, curling at their edges

Solitary confinement and sedation

For the Earthen organ

Until the blue, beautifully blue

Yellow centered, Spring scented

Forget-me-nots push through

The night shift bell rings out

Unleashing new Earth, re-invented

By sleep and blistering atonement

For over-indulgence in summer’s tonic

Skeletal, thirsty- a short lived moment!

When Earth thought it was going to change this time,

For good, it promised, to the void of the heat! Never

Again will I slip into old habits, indiscreet…

Said mother Earth, with a grin on her face

At the crack of May’s dawn

She was back on the gear

Birds merely singing; Summer’s here, it’s here!

Drunk again, the Bees get back to work.


How to become an Artist

I have just realised how much of my life so far, has been stretched into a shape and road to come; wondering about what it actually is I have always been so fascinated and captured by which constitutes ‘Art’.

I won’t launch into any kind of really distracting life story for context here- I will simply get straight to the point today- I think that in order to become an Artist of what you do, you have to deeply burrow into something about the human soul which is secret and disturbing. You have to admit to yourself that you ‘know about the dark place’ and can see the significance, the compelling, of the grotesque. Then, you have to explain it back to yourself via a process of translation.

It is then that you have to decide what to do with it. Do you blatantly declare emotional and psychological war upon it? Do you divert from it, finding from that darkest inner realm, your own steps for ascension, and how to reclaim yourself?

For your own sake, can you sing it, write it, sketch it, sculpt it, bake it, compost it? The real challenge comes with having to explain it back to others.

Art is the pleasure, the language and the song which emerges from the soul, it is like a photograph of one moment lived. And in that one moment of living, a thousand battles were fought, a slick skin of emotion and association was peeled back, to reveal the insides of a mind through which a single truth could be found.

chest of drawers of geology and weather

Momentary meltdowns

So I ended up getting ‘sent on sick’ leave at work, due to a climaxing of several momentary meltdowns, into a longer, more insidious one. One which took me to the edge of the cliff, and had me dangling off there with just my bare hands to muzzle deep into the chalky periphery, and claw into the Earth for dear life.

All metaphorically speaking. It’s a way of conveying speech which I think is one of the only ways you can explain, and illustrate, mental health, and how it happens. It is just so much easier to paint a picture via metaphor, when trying to find the shapes which define your mental world, and narrate it’s story.

Trying to be fair to the recipient of your story, which includes yourself and those you voice it to, or those you don’t, it enables some kind of structure for understanding.

It is hard to talk about mental health.

The judgement which you (human), cast down on your own thoughts and feelings, suffers from it’s own distortions. How can you ‘diagnose yourself’ if you don’t know all your own mental parts, which of them you like, and those you don’t (and why?).

This is incredibly difficult to do objectively, when the ingredients of the ‘self’ come so many different sources. It comes not only from our historic, biological DNA and organs; that physical and’see-able’, quantifiable, human blueprint. And it comes from what our senses made of the environment, from birth to now (and counting).

There can be no such thing as a self which can replicated, because the variables, which shape it are too rich in their diversity, and all the odds are against the idea of there ever existing another self, which is identical in it’s on-going crafting, of your own.

So, returning to applying judgement- It’s fair to say that all of us can only use the tools for understanding which we have. Which is the condition against which we struggle, trying find the words to talk about mental health. We find that the words we have to work with, to describe and to think in the language of, are too ambiguous, too contested and too ‘sticky’ to talk with easily, about mental health.

When it comes to how people, including myself, can express and communicate matters of the mind, it’s almost like we’d need a whole new language to do so in a way which does it justice.

I myself can most certainly not be arsed, to embark upon threading some new complications and intricases, into our already infamously complex English Language.

So thank the weird minds of us all, for metaphors.