Thursday, 18 January 2018

Rudely Awakened.

A loud buzzing on my door in the early hours was the last thing I expected when I went to bed last night. Through the medication induced haze of that time I was able to make out two police cars and an ambulance outside, flashlights and no answer when I picked up the entry phone. Whatever they were doing I seemed able to let them in and then went back to sleep.

Next morning there was no sign of anything untoward but my hunch is once again the people of the cursed flat downstairs attracting the angry response of the law.

Given how much I have been struggling the last few weeks broken sleep was not good. I can at least feel relieved that the inclement weather that wrecked power lines and roofs across the east of England did not impact on me here. Yet still there was an emptiness when I awoke.

Silly really as I had plans for lunch with Sarah today. And what a lovely lunch we had. A cauliflower and blue cheese soup followed by pork shin on a bed of lentils. Lentils are not something I eat often but worked really well. Add in a couple of glasses of Rioja and we had a great time.

Still though the underlying you're a fraud belief keep digging away at the foundation of my confidence and very being. I don't feel much at all today. Not low, not anxious but not happy and not relaxed either.

Back at the flat I'm listening to Beethoven's String Trios and thinking of a cup of tea. Beka just rang, I will call her back after this post.

However much I wrestle with mental deluge or mental nothing time marches on. Is another week really nearly over? This was not the start to 2018 I had hoped for. Lurking bleakly in my mind is the thought of many hundreds of e mails I will find when I go back. Doubt, always doubt.

Sensible head says don't worry, that is way off. Threatening head says you can never go back. But back I must go shortly. Why does life seem such hard work? I want for nothing yet still cannot manage the mental equilibrium I need. It is the curse of the indulgent west. And I am a child of that west.

I leave you now to return to Beethoven and make some Darjeeling tea. Take care out there.

I Heard a Voice.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Sublime Elgar.

You find me indoors this afternoon. The wonderful and sublime Elgar cello concerto is playing on the radio. The sun is shining at last. And where am I? Limbo land really.

Realising with the help of friends that I needed more time to get my mind working again I booked a GP appointment for yesterday morning then worried. Worried and worried. What if? What if? My untamed mind decided all sorts of nasty things. And with that came the guilt. I am a fraud.

As with most fears and anxieties what if came to nothing. I met a very kind and considerate GP who did what we both thought sensible and signed me off. So the plan such as it is is returning on Thursday of next week.

Somewhat liberated by that I forayed away from usual pastures yesterday afternoon and blew away some cobwebs. That was good.

Waking late today I am tinged with a sense of nothing. That trap posed by increased medication has come back. Empty but not as desolate as before. It is all part of the process. In retrospect I reduced the dose too early in the hope that I would wake up for work. But with that all the fear came flooding back.

I'm supposed to be making a shepherd's pie but my motivation is decidedly absent. It's not that hard to get the blender out, mince the leftover lamb and get cooking. But I can't. I did manage to make a chicken and preserved lemon tagine yesterday that was pretty good.

So I must think of alternatives. I have some crab meat, perhaps Singapore chilli crab. Not much to do with that other than some chopping. I already have leftover rice.

Should I be out in the sun? Probably but a warm flat, good music and little to worry about staying home seems a good plan.

I Heard a Voice.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Silenced and Ashamed.

It feels very much as if I tried to reduce my medication too soon. Yesterday was a complete write off, didn't manage to do anything other than spend money to stave off my fear. The loneliness of this setback is really hard. People are reaching out to me but I'm silenced by the shame of not being able. Able to do anything in particular.

Miriam said after reading A Pillar of Impotence that she didn't realise how ashamed I was not having a job. All these years later I have been employed since 2002. Mostly I function well but when my madness comes knocking as it has in the last couple of weeks it feels impossible.

I find myself on another dull overcast winter Sunday debating what to do next. It will only take a text to buy myself some more time. I feel I need more time but without purpose and structure getting well becomes harder. And guiltier. Although my anxiety has abated somewhat compared to yesterday, the void in my mind is now filled with thoughts of letting people down. And what people will say.

Not hiding myself away in my flat is imperative but going out means seeing people. And people ask questions. Questions I'm too ashamed to answer truthfully.

On balance I'm leaning towards sending that text. It will mean trying to get a doctor appointment and they are really hard to come by. I do know that time and medication will kick in. I have upped the dose again after yesterday. If I take time now then that may reduce time later. But it leaves people in the lurch. And stores more to do when I do go back. O what to do?

By tonight I will have decided one way or the other. And have to live with the decision I make. Now I return to Don Giovanni and bid you all a happier Sunday than I am experiencing.

I Heard a Voice.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Hiding in the Darkness.

A few summers ago dad and I went on holiday to Spain. Madrid, Salamanca and Toledo. On that trip I read the wonderful book Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig. On the face of it another man battling with depression. Someone close to home once wrote a very similar book; me. Unlike me Matt Haig is a successful author and his book was a bestseller. A worthy book though. In it he described adding anxiety to depression as like giving cocaine to an alcoholic. I've never tried cocaine but I get the message. It is crippling.

The recent downturn in my mental state has in large parts been without that anxiety. True when I last posted on Tuesday it had been very bad but in the main it has been conspicuous in its absence. But just as I thought I was getting better it comes and blows me away.

Waking late I was overtaken by terror. What of? I do not know. All I wanted to do was hide in the darkness under my duvet and run away from the world. It was huge fight to get up but eventually I did. To what? Another grey dank day and not much cheer.

With the exception of bumping into my old friend Michael and having tea at his house today has been a complete write off. And the prospects do not look good. The thought of an alarm going off on Monday morning, getting up, going in and ploughing through the hundreds of e mails I will find is absolutely overwhelming at this point.

It seemed so much better yesterday. What will the rest of the weekend bring? I had made it back into the kitchen but can think of little worse than doing that now. When I stop cooking I know I'm in trouble. Perhaps last night was too early to reduce my medication back to normal levels. Will I have to go to the GP next week? If I do what will I say? Mentally despite my ongoing fears I have done quite well in recent months.

Once a service user always a service user. Anyone in the business that I tell I'm on Risperidone always says "for how long?" Why is that relevant? I need it. And today I need lots of it. Go away world I don't want to see you today.

Alas I cannot just switch that off however enticing it seems. Life goes on hour by hour, day by day and week by week. I will fight back but today goodness and happiness seem a distant memory.

I Heard a Voice.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

They Came in the Night.

Having spent several days enduring the desolation of nothing and emptiness my mind decided to explode back into action just as I went to bed last night. Fear and worry with a cascade of thoughts. What followed when finally I went to sleep was violent terrorising dreams. Dreams of destruction and torment.

The following morning when I woke late there seemed just ruins. The mind has slowed but the wreckage of bad sleep pervades my waking. My mood remains low, I have to force myself to cook and eat, the thought of structure and purpose is sadly lacking.

Running short of a few things I headed off to the Oriental Store in Hatfield to resupply. An over eager traffic warden tried to ticket me in the two minutes it took me to get to and from the ticket machine. They didn't have all I wanted but there was sufficient.

Back in the home town I was tempted by that old fallacy that spending will bring me happiness. I didn't and it doesn't.

At the flat Haydn plays and I recuperate from my exertions. It is cold, grey and miserable out so will be in for the duration. My mental outlook seems cold, grey and miserable. I look in the mirror and see a ghost, worn, grey, haggard, a personality and life rubbed out by the eraser of depression.

I know that given time I will get better. I just do not want any more of those terrible night time challenges. In daylight however dark it seems so pointless. How can a mindset of despair ravage a middle aged man in the privilege of the West? Why, why, why? I keep asking myself that.

An advantage of being at home though is that I can see re runs of Rick Stein's French Odyssey which are playing. Whilst French was far from my greatest skill at school I have learned to love France from afar and how food is central to their culture. I have been many times, twice to sing, once on an exchange at school-I hated it-and also for a holiday that fateful summer all those years ago when my life fell apart. There have also been many trips on ferries to buy cigarettes when I smoked. Perhaps one day I will go back. Ros speaks very highly of her trips to Brittany.

I retire now to my Haydn, my silence and my untamed mind. Please enjoy the day despite the gloom, one day the sun will come back.

I Heard a Voice.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Desolate and Empty.

The view in my world today is not good. Emptiness and desolation pervades all I view. The darkness came back in force last night. I thought I had beaten it but it was a temporary diversion from where I was. My medication is a powerful force in my life to use wisely. I have needed it the last few days.

The price to pay though is a mental knockout that leaves me with nothing. Nothing to see, nothing to hear, nothing to feel. And that is a difficult place to be.

Waking late and un-refreshed I toyed all morning with what to do on the morrow. The original plan was going back into the fray to keep going. But it was clear by mid afternoon that was just an impossible dream. And so I sent the e mail and text that keeps me in my emptiness for a few days. The response was mercifully positive. Take that time.

I don't want to speak to anyone today. I will only eat because I have to. The Magic Flute plays at its normal level but is largely unheard.

Some time was taken watching the Rams from last night. Their first playoff game since 2004 ended ingloriously with a defeat at home. I am not surprised. I never bought into the Super Bowl hype. A big learning experience and given the futility of recent years a triumph none the less.

In the morning I have to put up with another visitor, an electrician coming to do a check. It has been done twice in two years so why again? Couldn't they instead send someone to change the boiler? That would be far more helpful. So I limp on on this cold day not knowing if and when it will finally give up the ghost.

My last year promise of limiting my posts has not quite carried on. I blog more when things are amiss. And amiss they are. Thoughts are with dad and his recovery. But it makes me feel a fraud. Why does it do that to me? Conning the world with self indulgence crosses my mind many times a day. But it is real just as the last 27 years have been. Mental illness can be so callous and cruel. May it go as rapidly as it came.

I Heard a Voice.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Glimpsing Inside the Gates.

I once read somewhere that depression didn't exist in India until Western companies decided to locate call centres there and local people were exposed to the folly and arrogance of the West. Is depression indeed an invention of lazy self indulgent people who live where I live? Is it just an excuse to opt out of obligations? Given all the horrors of the world, and there are many, how can this be?

For the last two days my mood has fallen through the floor and I find myself felled once again by an old enemy. My mood is low, I have no motivation, I'm desperately tired, I'm challenged by every little problem and I feel like a big fat fraud. That's called being depressed.

That it has come now seems a little bit of a mystery. So my break did not quite go according to plan but I was away from the chaos, dad is getting better and there are no major clouds on the horizon. Yet still I feel like shit.

Bronwen told me last night I looked like shit. I certainly felt it. In dire need of sleep I maxed up my medication before bed and slept the sleep of the dead. But to no avail. It is not shifting.

As I left to go home after seeing my friends that old familiar, the one whose name we never mention started whispering again. Not the voices of my deep despair when psychosis hits but that friend who is not my real friend. My safety net. For briefly I glimpsed inside the gates of my own created hell and saw only one option.

The thought did not last long but I was reminded that I was once where many of my students are. And sometimes I'm dismissive of them. We always forget how dark the dark can be when we have emerged into the light. Even in the twilight of coming disaster that friend usually remains silent. The mind will not let me remember the darkest times.

The glimpse was just that. It moved off in the night. Lacking in any motivation I shambled around in town. I spent some of my voucher in the hope that it would lift the gloom; it didn't. My travels ended in The Waggoners where I ate little but enjoyed the company of Gary and Ali who had been out walking.

Tonight seems empty. I do not want to cook. I do not want the morrow. I want to switch off and immerse myself in nothing. Maybe the extra medication will help me with that.

I Heard a Voice.