Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Heart Sinking Times.

By about 2 pm today I felt pretty dejected, demoralised and had a heart sinking feeling. Suddenly called to a meeting I knew nothing about I listened to 90 minutes of rehashing things that we have tried to implement and failed over the last decade. If they didn't work then why would they work now? In truth with mental health being on everyone's minds, the political pressure and the tidal wave of young people identifying themselves as mentally I felt pretty bleak for the future.

As an added complication I waded my way through a 27 page report that for the most part slated all the efforts I have made to educate people during that decade. Who wouldn't have a heart sinking feeling after that?

However as I waded ever onward the report finally mentioned what I have done over the years and was all positive. That righted the balance a little. Still I'm uneasy though. Feeling targeted by a barrage of negative publicity over support for university students I worry about what the autumn will bring.

Words and headlines can be cheap. I suspect the government will force us to talk to parents but what will that do? It doesn't solve the problem of ultra needy, ultra anxiety provoking, substance using, risk taking, self harm and tragically the suicides that do occur. Every bereaved family asks for more; and rightly so. But I am not a magician. Secondary services are overwhelmed. There are no beds. And still we cling to a recovery "model".

In all honesty the low death rate of people I have worked with has partly been down to that work but chance played a large part in that. And still each day I must go in and face the ever coming inflow of an overwhelming sea. I am not King Canute. And even if I were, he failed just as I do regularly.

So to my safety net, my old friends Mozart and Figaro, the ever progress on Waugh, a chilled glass of Chardonnay and an excellent supper of Vietnamese griddled marinated prawns with a salad of grapefruit, carrot, cucumber and chill dressed with coriander, basil and crushed peanuts and a little lime juice. A triumph!

See you all soon.

I Heard a Voice.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Martha's Harbour.

Way back in 1989 my school friend Robin introduced me to the band All About Eve. Completely out my comfort zone I was mesmerised by the haunting vocals and sense of the mysterious. A couple of years later as my life came crashing down around me I became tranfixed by the song Martha's Harbour. So much of my life I have taken for granted that the sea was just a short walk away. The seagulls irritated me as did the visitors. It was just so normal then. In my time living in Folkestone I so wanted to see the dawn rise over the harbour but had always been too tired or too lazy to make it happen.

Now in 2018 I have been away from the sea for eleven years. But this weekend I'm back and take in its full wonders as this glorious summer continues. Today I took the bus over and met my friend Marie. A long time since we saw each other. We went for lunch in a perfectly acceptable tapas restaurant. Long and leisurely, with plenty of Spanish beer, we had fun. Then to the harbour. And how glorious was that?

So much money has been pumped into Folkestone in recent years. It was a delight to see. And we sat overlooking the water with cold beer and enjoyed the sun. Shimmering on the water, it was the colour of freshly landed sardines, that greeny blue sheen that is only evident when the sardine is ultra fresh.

Memories of the sea sometimes haunt me and sometimes entice me. I lived a lot by the sea and a lot of it was bad. But I know now that surely one day I will return to the sea and live out what is left of my life in a land I once knew well but on the dark days is a dim and distant memory.

Dad has bought a goose breast for me to cook tonight. God knows what I'm going to do with it. So to google I go for inspiration. Have fun in the sun.

I Heard a Voice.

Friday, 13 July 2018

Cafe Culture on Sea.

Hello! Have you missed me? It has been a whole week since I came on here and only done two posts since July rolled in. The glorious sunshine in the main continues. The heat of recent weeks is not quite so prominent but will I understand build in the coming days.

You find me today by the seaside. An escape often feels good. I caught the train after work yesterday and will spend time here with dad until Monday. I'm doing okay. Work was quiet but manageable. I have so much leave to use up I have elected to book a series of long weekends. So here I am in the garden of England in summer sun and relative serenity.

There is a bit of an ulterior motive for being here. In 45 minutes I must catch up bus to Hawkinge to go to a funeral. My friend Helen is burying her mum today. My intention is to go up a little earlier to go to mum's memorial. A while since I was there.

Whilst down though I intend to catch up with whoever is around. Quaint relatively well heeled towns like Hythe have a high concentration of cafes. Not quite like the continent, they are more coffee and food places than beer places as one would find across Europe. Pleasant none the less though. So this morning took me Le Salamandre to meet my old Cambridge singing friend Juliet, then on to The Nutmeg for brunch with Beth. What a lovely morning.

It is a shame that England's unexpected World Cup adventure has come to an end. But it was fun while it lasted. In a way I'm slightly relieved as I would have been here for the final rather than back in The Hedgehog. My intention is to head back home again on Monday.

For all of you out there working take heart from the fact that it is Friday, the weekend beckons and the world for a short while is yours to play with.

I Heard a Voice.

Friday, 6 July 2018

Puccini Over Football, Tosca Over Brazil.

According to what the TV tells me Brazil is playing in a World Cup Semi Final as I write. But I'm not watching. Instead I am seeking sanctuary in Puccini and listening to Tosca. I've been buffeted by some emotional and professional waves this week which hasn't been nice.

Realising after an outburst of internal fury I needed to say something. It also made me realise I'm still quite vulnerable. Better yes, sorted no. Life can remain a battle that needs to be fought rather than as I'm wont to do to fight myself. After two and half days of shit come the end of play today I was in a better place.

Two things happened really. I spoke to the person who pissed me off which I don't normally do. And secondly I had the most kind and supporting e mail from one of my graduating students. Writing in carefully chosen words what struck me was when he said (sic) "thanks to you I'm walking out of here with a degree rather than not walking out at all". Moved and stunned I wanted to shun away from such powerful words but realised I could and should use them in my current battle. I do do some good which I had lost sight of in recent months.

During the week I reflected on the last decade. Saw e mails from the early days. Glanced at Charon's Ferry. And looked back on posts from earlier this year. What a buffeting I have had in that time. I must convince myself and accept that I'm not just being self indulgent and lazy but that my history of mental ill health is real and recognised.

On many an occasion like this difficult week I would have been ordering ribs, going to restaurants and eating crap. But I didn't. I cooked all week. And pretty successfully. From roasted belly pork strips to Chiang Mai pork curry-that was fiery. And twice cooked Szechuan pork to Thai stir fried chicken green curry. A fine Bangbang chicken yesterday. And tonight chorizo with sherry and a salad made from fennel, orange, pinenuts, parsley and pomegranate seeds. So I'm sticking with what brings me happiness. To the kitchen must be a well-being mantra.

Having opened with a mention of football I go back to it. What a night on Tuesday as The Hedgehog erupted in pandemonium when England scored the final penalty. If it was like that then God knows what tomorrow afternoon will be like. I hope to go over to watch and see what happens.

Enjoy the makings of hot and sunny weekend. Rarely do such weeks last this long.

I Heard a Voice.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

The Voice of Reason and Reality.

For a long time now I have been concerned about and have spoken out against the mentalization or medicalisation of perfectly normal human behaviour as mental illness. Why are the young so keen to brand themselves mentally ill? I don't know the exact figures but the number of young people applying to university and declaring a "mental health difficulty" has rocketed in the last five years. Wave upon wave of anxiety. Depression and self harm, eating problems seem never ending now. The applications for extenuation in exams and course work continues to increase every year.

My recent battles with darkness and mood and the overwhelming sense of anxiety are part of a wider whole. Devastating as my anxiety has been it is not in my eyes a mental illness. That is partly why I have agreed to go into therapy as I realise Risperidone alone will not save me.

The Conversation that surrounds us at present with everyone and his cat standing up to say they are mentally ill is misleading. Many of those who come to me for help as disabled would never get anywhere near secondary mental health services. Less likely to be admitted to a psychiatric ward. And certainly would have no chance at getting Personal Independence Premium. Yet we modify so much for them.

Whilst I do not know how to deal with this current trend I have long felt that the so called Conversation did not reflect the lives of people I met in the 1990s, on wards, in asylums and the numbing boredom of every day life on benefits. Yet my warnings have fallen on deaf ears. The reason is I'm a nobody, famous only in my own little world.

Last night my friend Lucie whom I'm known since those days posted on Facebook a brilliant piece from The Guardian on Friday. Finally someone telling the truth and shining a light on this strange phenomenon that is the self stigmatization a whole generation of young people. Have a read https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jun/30/nothing-like-broken-leg-mental-health-conversation?CMP=fb_gu .

Rant over, back to normal. The heat wave continues. I spent a splendid afternoon in London with Kiwi Sarah eating Vietnamese food and catching up. The trains didn't quite help our cause. How is halving the number of trains to London and doubling the carriages going to help me? I expect standing room only when Arsenal are playing at home but not a hot last day of June Saturday.

Today I have just listened to Choral Evensong on Radio 3, wonderful to hear Mendelssohn's Hear my Prayer, saw my friends at The Waggoners and I have some belly pork strips for supper. Tomorrow I start week five back at work, going up to six hours a day this week. The heat will I'm told continue. I wonder how long this will last.

Enjoy the rest of Sunday.

I Heard a Voice.

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

What of Tomorrow?

A full moon awaits us tomorrow evening. England clash with Belgium in the World Cup. And the weekend is nigh. I look forward to all three in a way. We are coming to the end of my first month back at work. Four weeks completed when I head home on Friday. Not without incident although nothing major I have none the less stuck with it. The plan has not quite gone to plan and we are a little behind in timings but I haven't run away in terror.

Terror did strike me with its callous cruelty the moment I woke early on Sunday morning. It was a very difficult day on which I was convinced all that I have achieved had come to nothing and the end is nigh. But I forced myself to risk seeing people at the football in the pub and by throwing caution and fear to the wind and inviting friends to dinner. Hard though it was it helped.

That fear is back in the shadows now. The fierce heat and glorious sun of this week continues. My mood is around neutral which whilst I don't like it is safer than the heights of Friday evening. That lasted but a few hours sadly. Sadly for me but perhaps not for everyone else.

Sussex Sarah flew back from Florida today. Kiwi Sarah flew back from Finland on Monday. I hope to catch up with them both soon. As Kiwi Sarah said in a text it has been way too long. My attempts at frugality this month on the face of it have paid off although the proof or otherwise will reveal itself tomorrow. For after the full moon comes pay day.

For now though my thoughts are on Verdi, Waugh and the delights of my kitchen. Simple tonight, a rare venture into pasta with a leftover tomato sauce, a little parmasan and parsley. It was pretty good. The next question is do I pour myself a chilled glass of Chablis and retire to the balcony? I will still be able to hear Falstaff out there although I will have to improvise a chair.

Have a great evening everyone.

I Heard a Voice.

Saturday, 23 June 2018

A Fleeting Glimpse of the Heavens.

I have waited so long for it to happen. Despite recent improvements I have never got to where I want to be. Oh mood, why do you let me down? Why can't I fly again? See the heavens and top the world. It has been so long that I'd forgotten what it felt like. Until last night.

Yes it came out of nowhere. A soaring, heavenly sense that once again I was flying. The world was indeed my oyster. My voice became louder. My thinking faster. My tolerance diminished. And I was back. It was but a fleeting few hours after such a long absence. But it was wonderful.

Aware that I needed to keep a lid on things and avoid alienating my friends I fought to keep it under control. Everyone said how much better I was. Thank God I finally made it back to the promised land. I have dwelt in darkness oh so long. And now shining, glittering light.

So with a heavy heart I realised it had gone by morning. And I spent a gloomy couple of hours mourning my loss of contentment. It's not that today I feel depressed. I'm tired but not depressed. It is just that my buzzy times are so wonderful it was a way to fall.

Back in reality I did the washing, the shopping, the mopping and the sweeping. A light salad for lunch and now Classic FM. I bought some beef to roast beautifully rare tomorrow. And for tonight skate. I'm quite a fan although I've only ever cooked it once and that was years ago. Do I do traditional brown butter and capers or to Spain with sherry vinegar? I have the afternoon to decide. Let's hope I sleep better tonight and that wondrous illusion that is my good times returns. Well as long as I don't piss anyone off.

I Heard a Voice.