Thursday, 28 August 2014


This is a currently link up with Ot and Et and Harvesting Kale who every week provide inspiration in the form of 5 words. This week, the words are needing, missing, reading, hoping, playing.

I'm needing to find some emotional stability. I'm all over the place, out of sorts, grumpy and grouchy and horrible to be around. Except not all the time. But some of the time, at the moment, I'm just not as nice a person as I want to be. It's mainly my poor family that get it. I'm trying hard to shelter them from the worst of myself.

Earlier today I was listening to a song by The National (of course) with the line "I hope you don't remember me, and I hope you're not alone", about a lost love. There is someone who I would be happy not to remember me, someone who I don't ever really want to see again, but who I am still capable of missing in a strange way. I really just want to know that he's still alive. Also, missing a time when films were a sensible length. For the second time in a couple of weeks I went to the cinema last night thinking I'd be home at a reasonable hour, to find that I'd signed up for 3 hour film. Actually, last weeks film was a 1970's production so I cant even blame the modern age. Tonight we saw Boyhood. There's lots I could say but the main thing is, why boyhood? The stories of his mother and his sister were at least as compelling. Good though, I thought. if you happen to have a spare 3 hours.

I'm reading A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bray. Also, re-reading How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran for The Ladies Who Book Club and looking forward to The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton for the in the pub book group.

It's been cold the last few days. Even though this has been a good, hot summer by UK standards, I'm hoping for a bit more heat and a bit more light before winter. A warm September would be massively appreciated. And then I'm hoping for a good winter - proper cold, crisp light, some snow disruption.

I've been trying to imagine some of the jobs that need dong as playing, to make them more bearable. Painting the woodwork in the bathroom, with thick, gloopy paint. Shovelling handfuls of beanbag stuffing from the floor of  Goldie's bedroom. It's the level of absorption that changes, the engagement. And the potential for mess.

Next weeks themes are loving, craving, demanding, questioning, worrying.  

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Shallow frame and shaky sticks (I know there's a river in me)

It's coming up to the end of the school holidays and it's suddenly colder and darker. I need to consciously remember it's still summer, still August. The project at work is gaining momentum, becoming more real and a whole lot more scary. I'm alternating between freaking out about our financial situation and having a totally who gives a shit response. I'm feeling like I'm withdrawing, but have been out every night for a week. It's all sort of ok and/but a bit precarious and I need to make a little more of an effort to keep things upright and on track.

We had a few more days on the Suffolk coast, thanks to Ms M. My favourite parts were the sneaking out of the sleeping house alone at 5am and heading down to the river bank to watch the seals and the bird life and the sun washing over the landscape. On the morning Snake was there we sat outside and drew pictures of the Wild Man of Orford, using mud and pastels and laughter to bring him to life. 25 years from when he first made me laugh, Snake is still the funniest person I know.

Some people we know - friends of friends, and children of friends, and partners of friends - put on a weekend long music festival just a few miles up the road from home. We went along on Friday to see Thy Last Drop, who once played for us in Ms M's back garden, and Dingus Khan, who created the sweatiest tent in the world at Latitude this year. For Dingus, we put 11 year old Cam, Ms M's boy, right at the front, protected by Snake from the wilder elements of the crowd. The Mick Hucknell haired singer, in his A line black dress, jumped off stage and handed this small boy his guitar, to his bemusement and pleasure. We kept going back over the weekend, in between meals and decorating and Snake's shifts and Goldie's football training, to say hello to friends and listen to more music and to appreciate the effort that had been made to create the event. On Saturday night, a band made up of people at various stages of their recovery journeys played magnificently, wildly. One of them, a good friend of Snake's, threw himself into his part and then got a lift back to the hospital which is keeping him safe just now from old demons that won't leave him.

There was a mother and daughter night out for cocktails - Ms M and her girl, me and my girl, and Ness, who has just moved here, and her daughter. Zel was there too. And a night for real life book group. And this evening a film I want to see.

I went for a walk this morning, a long walk like the ones I was doing daily at the beginning of the year but haven't found time for recently. It was good to be out and it was good to feel that ache and stretch and heat of exertion. I was focussed on reaching and spending some time on what has come in my head to be the mental health bench - the place where I sit to contemplate the state of the landscape and to assess it's affect on my mind. But when I got there someone else had taken possession, so I kept walking. I sort of know without looking that things are getting a bit darker, less vivid, that we're in the waning bit of the year. I'm trying to think of a way to make that less scary, less of a threat, but it's like that bit of my mind isn't working too well right now. I think probably one step at a time is the way to go. 

Perfect Song - The National

Thursday, 21 August 2014


This is a currently link up with Ot and Et and Harvesting Kale who every week provide inspiration in the form of 5 words. This week, the words are calling, lighting, making, watching, planning.

Last night we went calling on some friends who have just this minute moved here from hundreds of miles away where we didn't see enough o them. In fact we've never been near enough to see enough of them. They've lived in the Netherlands and New Zealand and Birmingham and Devon, and so it's only right that now they are here. Then we called on Goldie's football coach to sign things and pay things. That whole season of weekends being given over to training and matches is starting again, and I need to get my head round it. I can see it as a gross erosion of my free time, or I can celebrate the huge benefits it has for Goldie, and our luck that possibly the only feminist, vegetarian, atheist, green voting football coach in East Anglia found us and has put so much in to his teams development over the last 3 years.

We are back to the very beautiful Suffolk coast tonight, the girl and I. We were there last weekend, and we left Goldie there with Ms M and her two in a lovely barn they have rented. It's close enough for us to go back over today and soak up a bit more wild, and help pack up and get everyone home tomorrow. And while I'm there I'm hoping for a cloudless night, so I can make the most of the (nearly) zero light pollution, and see the stars lighting up the sky. I tried when we were there before, but that time lying on my back in a field just got me a wet back, and a bruised knee from walking into a low wall on my way back to the barn. Please no clouds tonight.

All week I've been making lots of plans at work for a project I've been asked to be involved in, and now we have a date to put it to my team and ask for their involvement and cooperation. It's exciting and scary and could go horribly wrong. I think it has the potential to be amazing, at the same time though I'm hyper aware of how much we're putting our staff through - increased demand, slashed resources, tough daily emotional slog trying to keep people safe and do the right thing. It's hard to convince them that THIS could work, let's make ANOTHER change.

I have been watching the longest film in the world ever. Except not, actually, but still, 3 hours is too long, isn't it? Snake persuaded me along to the Arts Picturehouse to watch a 70's film he remembered with great fondness, called O Lucky Man! It was clever and shocking and sort of beautiful and compulsive, but I'd been counting on getting home by 9.30 to get another bit of the bathroom painted before bed. I feel I should have been told the level of commitment required before I entered the cinema.

We're not doing the planning, but next weekend we're going to The Royal Festival Hall to a huge wedding of many many couples, and this week we received the plans in the post. It looks very, very good. Some friends are going to get married along with several hundred others in a big, camp celebration of equal marriage laws. There will be all manner of dancing and frolics and I intend to throw myself into the opportunity to be in the middle of what should be a very joyful party.

Next week themes are needing, missing, reading, hoping, playing.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Is there a powder to erase this?

It's never a good time to say anything that stops people getting help for depression. Maybe especially now, in this week. Very few people read what I write, but still, statistically the likelihood is that some of them (some of you) experience depression. So I wanted to say (following today's Currently post) that I believe that anything that helps is OK. Some meds are difficult to come off, but when you need the drug to keep you functioning, to keep you alive, to keep you whole, coming off is not an issue. Worry about the coming off part later.
I'm hoping not to go back on the medication because it feels uncomfortable to me to rely on it long term, but it undoubtedly was effective. They made me feel a tiny bit not like me (I think I generally didn't care as much about anything when I was on them - what people thought of me, whether jobs got done. I could shrug things off a lot more easily). But when I started - very reluctantly - to take them, I needed to get out of a real hamster wheel of sad, dangerous thoughts. And I think they had a big part in that - but so did psychotherapy and time off work and a lot of support. It's hard to know what did what but the pills were definitely part of that good mixture.
 (I was very lucky. I was paid a full wage while I was away from work, and I could also access psychotherapy through them. The NHS meant I had unlimited access to experienced and expert practitioners and to medication at a standard prescription price. I know that those factors aren't in place in the same way for everyone. I wish they were).
I think I've come off too quickly - right at the beginning the practitioner I saw warned me that I needed to be aware that I'd have to come off very carefully, and I only sort of listened. So there's different ways of doing it, better ways. But my experience is that about 10 days ago I stopped taking the daily pill, and since then I've have had a few days of deep despair and lots of weeping, I've been extremely reluctant to see anyone socially (I've been functioning at work), and I've had some negative thoughts that wont go away, stuck, ticking, in my head. Also, today, a flash of anger had me throwing my computer mouse across the kitchen.
(As soon as it left my hand  I realised it was going towards the shelf where I keep the china my grandmother collected and left to me, and lots of other china and ceramics that mean a lot to me, and I was already furious with myself for being so stupid when it hit a fairly non descript jug that Snake had put on there, and shattered it. I am so lucky it didn't hit something I loved. Weirdly, we couldn't find the mouse anywhere, until finally it turned up in the cat basket that was under the table, That felt sort of poetic. I didn't deserve my momentary tantrum to result in such a low material cost, or to have a poetic ending).
The thing is, I think my true nature IS anti social, with flashes of stupid anger and a tendency to low mood. So do I medicate that for ever more, or do I accept it and try and learn ways to live in this world as I am?
And the answer is  - I need to do what I have to do. I need to get through the now. I am (was) so wrapped up in this idea of my own self reliance, the belief that I could think myself out of anything, that it took me too long and too close to an edge before I realised I needed help. What I experienced was that when I was depressed, asking that  I got myself out of that place was ridiculous, meaningless. The illness stripped me of all the resources that I might have called on to make changes. I needed help. Part of that was the medication. I am extremely grateful for it. But for now I'm going to try some other stuff - eating carefully, walking as frequently as I can, saying no to social demands that feel too much and building in time alone, choosing to be with people who have shown an understanding, a kindness - and I am going to see if I can find a me that I can live with. 
But I will go back to medication if I have to in order to allow me to live my life - to relate to and support my family, to work effectively and safely, to be able to comfortably spend some time with friends, and to be able to think clearly and calmly.
Do what you have to do. Use any raft that you can reach. Through the really dark days, prioritise keeping safe. On the worst days, the priority might be staying alive. Worry about the rest (the being med free, the working on the character flaws) later, when you've found yourself again, when you trust yourself with yourself again.


This is a currently link up with Ot and Et and Harvesting Kale who every week provide inspiration in the form of 5 words. This week, the words are searching, wearing, needing, moving, eating.

I have been searching for some emotional solid ground. I think I'm getting there.

Most of what I've been wearing  has been black leggings, black tunics, black vans. I do have colours, but it's been a hidey sort of week for me, and since age 14 most of my wardrobe has been black.

I decided to come off anti depressants without too much planning, and I did all my research about how that might be after I'd taken the step, and as a consequence I have been needing a huge amount of reassurance and hiding time. It was a quick plunge back into that winter of tears and terror and absolute hopelessness. I needed reassurance that the person I was being wasn't just my pre meds me (with my impaired, grief soaked thinking I thought that maybe I'd just forgotten and despairing and weak was my default when I wasn't taking citalopram, but Snake said no), and I needed reassurance that not the whole world is evil, and that the despair would pass, which it seems to be.

A good friend, a really good friend, is moving with her family to live in this small town. That is the move that it on my mind, in a very happy way. And Goldie and the girl and I are off to the coast tomorrow with Ms M who has asked her to join us in a barn she has rented. Moving to the seaside for a few days of walks and air and an intention to swim in the sea. Not something done lightly on the East coast of England.

We have been eating whatever we can find as a result of not getting it together to shop, which has been fine, in fact. There are usually lentils and tins and some frozen stuff. Tonight we're going to scrape together something that looks like a meal people eat, because Peel is coming to join us.  Whatever, it will be fine.

(This morning, for the first time in a while, it really does feel like things are going to be OK).

Next week, the themes are calling, lighting, making, watching, planning.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

daughters of the soho riots

Even in your mid 40's, being a daughter can be hard. Still sometimes I am catapulted into childhood by the weight of my parents disapproval. At the moment, they are disapproving of my stance on the Gaza massacre, and because of my involvement in trying to remove a man with a history of abuse against his partner from public office. My father cites my Jewish heritage, and my mother tells me it's none of my business what goes on behind closed doors and I know that if I engage in any sort of discussion they will see that I am still a child and we will all have to confront all the ways in which I wasn't heard and I wasn't protected, and they are old and frail and I can't do that to them.

So I let them think what they want to think, and recommit in my mind to being available for them if they need me, and walk away from a confrontation, knowing that there is no point in saying what they aren't willing to hear.

Being the mother of a bright, intuitive, loving and happy 19 year old on the other hand is very easy. Over the last week she has come with me to social events where I didn't want to be, spent hours scraping wallpaper from the bathroom wall and painting them a bright, clean cream, and has come to me to London to march with 150,000, to show our dissent. I haven't asked her to do these things, and she hasn't indicated that she knew I was particularly in need right now for a hand to hold, but she has just been completely and quietly and cheerfully there for me

And I just wanted to record how lucky I am, and how thankful for my loved beyond measure girl. I hope that in 25 years I have the opportunity to engage with her ideas still. Not necessarily to agree, maybe, but I want one of the lessons of my experience of being parented to be that I keep listening and listening and trusting that there are sound reasons for the things that she does. I hope I can give her that.

 Daughters of the Soho Riots - The National


(If I thought they could listen, I would show my father this

Barnaby Raine - I'm here today because I'm Jewish

And I would show my mother this.

Domestic Violence Statisitics.)