Thursday, 18 October 2018

Shades of Icarus?

Can any story of soaring arrogance and epic failure be more apt than the legend of Icarus? You may recall that Icarus made wings from wax and feathers so he could fly but his father warned him not to fly too close to the sun. He ignored the advice, the wax melted and he plunged to his death in the Aegean Sea.

I can recall times in my battle with mood when I have in my conceit and vanity flown too high and too close. And I paid a terrible price. Not sure if my old friend Zoe still reads this but if she still does I certainly do not equate my experience with the manic rage and genius that is a full on bipolar episode. A much lesser degree but I have been equally burned. The price of burning it is the depths of despair.

If you have followed my writings for the last few years you will know I certainly have knowledge of the depths of despair to which a mind buffeted by significant mood issues can sink. I was finished back in the depths of that terrible winter. I never believed I would see the heights of glory of yesteryear. Mine were I know now vainglorious. My therapist commented a while ago about the richness of my life.

As you read my musings today you can rest assured I'm fighting hard to stay grounded and not fly too close to the sun. But I'm coming home feeling triumphant some days, assured of my brilliance as a practitioner but still aware enough to keep checking with people.

My texts are more triumphant, funny and terse. People are smiling and laughing around me. At times I'm laughing at the foolishness of the world. I'm being indulgent, the very expensive bottle of Cote du Rhone I bought by accident is wonderful but I know I can't afford to do that often. Yet I don't care.

The excellent Nikki who lost so much to mania just text to say should I see the doctor. Jayne pretty much said the same. I have the weapons to fight back but I do not have the will to put the brakes on just yet.

For one night only I will bask in Mozart, indulge in good wine, defy the world and carry on. Then tonight the Risperidone goes up.

I Heard a Voice.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

On a More Even Keel.

The rain has been falling steadily down all day. I woke late, a little unsettled and tired. There had been two waking moments in the night. Ahead of me lay roast chicken, indoors time and coming to terms with the events of the last few days.

It has been a glorious wave to ride. The arrogance and dismissive mood has gone. I no longer fear annoying people. And I haven't had to increase my medication. I did not come crashing down as I feared I might. Just rode out the storm and the ship that is my life is now calm and on an even keel.

Despite my fear I did not cancel dinner with Sarah. The venison medallions were o so rare, the blackberry and port sauce was bang on, the dessert decadent and such lovely Rioja. So pleased I didn't cancel. Another reminder that my friends are so special in my life.

On the phone to Beka yesterday she told me I was speaking very fast. A classic sign. Now I'm not speaking at all. I'm listening to Handel's Rinaldo with a chilled glass of wine and basking in the laziness of a quiet wet Sunday, sated with wonderful roast chicken and putting aside thoughts of tomorrow.

Without looking at the diary I know it will be busy. But I think now I will not need to explain to Lena what might have been this week had the wave stayed high and my life riding it out. We can save that for another day.

Not sure when next sermon will be. But be assured I will be back, maybe in the week, maybe at the weekend. Until that return take care.

I Heard a Voice.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Impatient Irritability.

I knew it was coming. After a week of plaudits that I often dismiss my mood went through the roof last night. In pomp and arrogance I surveyed the surrounding detritus of cocaine fuelled idiots and looked on in contempt. It is great to be awesome.

Great for me that is. I'm very much hoping to have not offended anyone. With luck that is a sign I'm slowing down. In its stead comes impatience, irritability and elevation that made me dismiss the crowds in town, deny what I need to do in the flat and generally look down on what Bernie Rosen used to call the nitty gritty of life. I can't be bothered with that today.

That I feel a little hungover is leading to some confusion. One of those terrible hungry hangovers. I thought I was going to be sick as I tried to sate the beast with a fry up in Cafe Trio. Not my best idea.

The plan for tonight is to cook for Sarah. Not entirely sure she will appreciate my mental state so toying with the idea of cancelling. In truth though it is probably what I need to have structure, company and fun. I just hope I'm not rude to her.

Whilst I love the elevated mood I must be wary. If I go over the top I not only alienate people I also burn out. Having been struggling for so long it is good to be in open mental country. How long will it last? Will the plaudits of my work serenaded on the radio and in the paper on World Mental Health Day prove too much? I hope not.

Being back to where I once was does have its bonuses. I have more energy, I have passion and I have purpose. But at what price.

I will keep you posted in coming days. Have a fabulous Saturday.

I Heard a Voice.

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Seasonal Sustenance.

On a wet dreary October afternoon can there be anything better than to turn to the food of the season? I'm not always precious about seasonal food, don't really have access to all the materials I need, I'm not a fan of root vegetable options and the autumn would be very dull without some healthy greenery. But autumn is a time for game and blackberries. So on my trip to see Gareth the butcher this morning I was delighted to find loin of venison on offer. With some blackberries in the fridge it was crying out for rare venison medallions with a blackberry and port sauce.

So I'm under way in the kitchen, the cold is shut out and the rain falls harmlessly outside and I'm enjoying my Saturday. And I have rare roast leg of lamb to look forward to tomorrow.

The week was pretty chaotic, the ante climbed much higher on Thursday but my vast experience came through to shine in a way it hasn't for too long. As fear stalked the halls of our building and all around felt under pressure I came home feeling awesome. Not overly manic, not dismissive and arrogant but finally back to what I once did so well.

We survived and although I was tired when I woke today it is so good to be back. The break is well earned, there is a long way to go but my fear that built the closer we got to term and the anxiety has retreated to the shadows.

I have to see my consultant on Wednesday. Part of me thinks I no longer need him. But the shift is still in its infancy so better to stay attached to the support I've had and try and bed in the change rather than go off on my own. That time will come.

Not sure yet whether to watch a film or listen to opera tonight, decisions to make. Both would be good but I'm not always good at making decisions. And with that I bid you all good night. See you soon.

I Heard a Voice.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Amongst Friends?

For many years I detested the mental health system and despised and ranted at those who ran it. I was an angry young man. But who wouldn't be after being locked up despite committing no crime? To be told over and over again this is what you must do then blamed when it didn't work? I was also a very ill young man.

My time in the mental health system was torrid to say the least. That I didn't always do myself any favours by raging against a system that I couldn't change is clear to me now with the wisdom of age. Yet the system was one based on a kind of bizarre hierarchy of need where a diagnosis right or wrong determined someone's path not his or her need. The saddest thing about my story is that they got it very wrong. And I still bear the scars of that to this day.

When I was writing A Pillar of Impotence between 2002 and 2005 I wanted vengeance and I wanted the truth about an utterly flawed system to come out. Did I achieve that? I guess you have to ask those who have read it.

By the time I wrote Charon's Ferry as a follow up my life was very different. Having sworn I would never work for the enemy I had done just that mainly because they gave me a job when no one else would. I was living in a different place and thriving in the main. Respected...so I'm told...my name is widely known in mental health circles around here. I never felt I would return to the bleak darkness that enveloped me earlier this year. But it did.

Through all that I was stunned by the response of my friends. And I have friends in many places. For the last few weeks I have been walking into the building in town that houses local mental health services as a patient.

Today I walked in with my working hat on. And I was greeted warmly by my colleagues and peers. And in fact my friends. I have come a long way from my hate and fear. Today reminded me that however little I think of myself on the days when my mind betrays me others do not though. I have made friends with the enemy and they are no longer my enemy.

So reflecting on opera night with Handel's Arminio I raise a toast to all my friends wherever they are.

I Heard a Voice.

Saturday, 29 September 2018

Calm Waters, Glittering Sunshine.

Hello out there, how are things? In my part of the world it is a beautiful day, mild and sunny, no wind, leaves turning and the serenity of a calm day pervades my life. It is all going well. Given how hard the last few months and if I'm honest last few years have been at times it is good to find calm waters.

Two weeks into the new academic year my anxiety free, mainly, experience continues. There have been no catastrophes. A lot of people have come forward but in the main they seem in better shape than in recent years. Of course a storm will brew up sooner or later but I'm enjoying a new found freedom.

My self belief is finally returning. I'm not getting carried away just taking each day as it comes, doing the best I can in the circumstances I face and coming home to be me again. That has been a long time coming.

The autumnal love affair with the NFL is keeping me going too. And the Rams march on, unbeaten after four games and surviving an epic shootout with the Vikings on Thursday night. Whilst I say survive they never really looked like being beaten. People are talking Super Bowl but there is a long way to go. Injuries have hit them and there will be more but for now I'm delighted.

Domestic things have taken up part of today. So hard to motivate myself to do all that tedious stuff but feels okay when under way. To the kitchen I go later, stir fried Hunan beef with red and green chillies and black beans. Tomorrow I will slow roast some belly pork. So long since I did that. Will cook on a bed of fennel and flavour with thyme. Maybe also roast some apple slices to go with it.

Now that I've been paid I look forward to the week. Always good to shop but will stay restrained. Except in the kitchen of course.

May your weekend be relaxing and the coming week productive. Autumn will roll ever on and winter will come. For now though happy days.

I Heard a Voice.

Sunday, 23 September 2018

A Gentle Sunday.

The heavy rain of this morning has dissipated. The sun is out. Although it is not very warm it has turned out a much better day than I feared.

I hosted lunch today for friends. Roast gammon, roast potatoes, vegetables and a touch of mustard. They brought a nice bottle of South African Cabernet Sauvignon. Not something I would buy normally but it was beautiful.

Much to my surprise a week on from my optimistic last post I remain in a good place. There was a significant wobble on Wednesday, getting given seven different answers when seeking advice on a role for which I've been given virtually no training was not at all helpful. But we resolved the issue and the serenity of recent anxiety free days was restored.

I sometimes wonder whether it is possible to be anxious about getting anxious? I guess a lot of it is like that. That this state of serenity will be threatened in the coming weeks is a given but I must make hay while I can. The feared mania has not materialised. I don't think I've pissed anyone off yet. And I think I gave some sound advice to those who have sought it.

Following an afternoon of Mozart and Beethoven, tonight my thoughts turn once again to the NFL. I get to see my Rams team play twice this week, against the Chargers tonight and the Vikings on Thursday. The NFL can bring some sort of equilibrium to my troubled mind as mainly I cast aside worry when watching. And when the season is on with five games televised each week it is easy to immerse myself there. When it stops in February the darkness and cold can get to me. Most years I re-emerge in the spring. Of course I couldn't have predicted what happened this past year though.

Enjoy the rest of Sunday and for those who go back to work on Monday have a good week.

I Heard a Voice.