Away Days

Last Saturday’s gig was a rare moment of raising myself above the turgid surface of my drowning depression. Tomorrow I’m challenging myself to do rise again as I hope to spend a couple of days away on a mini-holiday. 

In a bid to test how my body might respond to the demands of coach and plane travel en route to Ohio in July I am coaching across country and staying in a small B&B for a couple of days. No I’m not telling you where, you’re not invited. Unless you have cake and cocaine, obviously.

Yesterday I wasn’t even certain I’d be able to get out of bed Friday morning, let alone get to the coach station and head off for my little break. I’d been meant to have a friend stay last night but had to postpone that fun time because I was finding breathing and being upright a real problem. I’ve seen the doctor today (not my own GP because apparently that’s now about as impossible as being seen by the same dentist two check-ups in a row) and he didn’t seem adverse to my experiment in travel. It was also an achievement just getting to the surgery so as long as I move about in the same slow, steady manner tomorrow, I should be ok.

And then I can look at different scenery and lie down in a different place. That’s my kind of mini break. Dull, huh?

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Head & Hearts & Bones

Yesterday I spoke at length with my therapist about the growing despair my physical problems have been causing me these past few months. The work I do with her is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy which has various levels and multiple benefits for many people. Just last year I felt that the work I did with the same therapist was very valuable and productive.

I’m not feeling the same lift or sense of progress this time around, however and I’ve begun to identify why in recent days. CBT is most effective when it enables a person to consciously redirect their thought patterns away from more negative pathways or associations. The practice – and it does take practise – is intended to allow for a more deliberate focus on positive aspects of one’s life, and to break up habits of rumination.

This year’s despair has been triggered by the extreme low in my physical health that saw me hospitalised over Christmas and New Year, a low from which I have not yet returned to what I consider more normal levels of health for me. It is worth acknowledging that the main physio nurse who runs the rehab I’ve been attending told me that my winter dip was pretty much pneumonic and that even healthy people without underlying respiratory conditions can take between 6 to 12 months to fully recover from pneumonia. I was not aware of this as, while it’s not the first time I’ve suffered from ‘the old man’s friend’, it has not taken me so long to get back to normal in the past. Maybe I’ve forgotten just how ill I was in December and January?

Anyway, that acknowledgment is something I can try to bring more positive thought to but the inescapable truth of my body being permanently compromised by my health issues is not something I feel I can simply retrain myself to feel more positive about using only CBT. To this end my therapist is going to discuss my situation with a clinical psychologist I saw in 2014, with a view to seeing whether he might take me on again.

The work I did with that psychologist laid some of the groundwork for the travelling I’ve done over the last few years as well as helping me find more self-compassion about my limitations. When I first went to those sessions I was even more depressed and despondent than I am now so I believe it’s something that might help me pass through this lengthy period of concern if there’s any chance of me returning to that work.

In a fortnight I will also be seeing a pain management consultant. Will they have any useful insights into ways I can come to terms with, or counteract the constant levels of pain I now live with? Recent law changes around opioids seem to have made my doctor’s surgery paranoid about giving me too many prescriptions for the one pain killer that grants me any real relief. I really do need the GP to understand that the life I have lived means I am less likely to develop recreational addiction to such drugs, not more likely. It also needs to be recognised that my health conditions mean I am not going to live as long as other people of my age so even if I did become addicted to opioids it still won’t be them that kill me, my broken body is already working on that one quite sufficiently without need of pharmacological assistance.

Meh. This stuff bores me as much as it terrifies me. Why in hell would anyone else want to read about it? Piss off and find some celebrity gossip.

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Fail To Plan…

Oh yes, of course, it’s the second day after any kind of physical exertion which really beats out an agonising rhythm of ouch on my ridiculous body. Should have remembered that instead of congratulating myself yesterday for feeling pretty intact and relatively unharmed after Saturday’s gig.

Optimism is overrated anyway. So is breathing. And walking around without having to stop every ten paces to try to cope with pain and breathlessness.

This year’s therapy is really helping, then? Now read that deceptive little sentence again only make sure your internal voice drips sarcasm over every syllable like the blood of an only wounded alien dripping down all over the head of its next human victim.

Psychological therapies cannot cure my physiological problems. Last year they did help me become a little more acceptant of those physiological problems to the extent that I became more hopeful that my future could include love and adventure and renewed enthusiasm for whatever lies ahead of me. Currently I feel like those hopes were more a matter of self-delusion than of realistic appraisal of my life’s possibilities.

Adventure I can manage in small bursts, I guess, but when even leaving my apartment to get a few things in town becomes an ordeal it’s pretty difficult to imagine larger adventures than sitting in buses, trains, cars and planes which merely ferry my broken physics form from one location to another. Whatever the location I will continue to be in pain and in despair.

Each plan I make thunders with the echo of the thought I cannot suppress – this one may be the last. This isn’t life, it’s torture. I am my own personal Torquemada.

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Time Isn’t After Us

…and you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack…and you may find yourself playing to an appreciative audience in the local arts centre…as part of a day of events and workshops to mark mental health awareness week…and you may say to yourself “Well, how did I get here?”

And then you remember that your lovely friend Clare gave you a lift and then you fast forward a day to the morning afterwards when you feel very full of ouch and lung creakiness because of the singing in public thing. But you’re also full of happy and a little bit of self-pride because of the managing to sing in public. And then you need bacon.

Vegetarians need not apply.

And by ‘you’ I mean me. You knew this. That time around ‘you’ actually meant you, the reader. I need bacon. You might need bacon, you might not. It’s not my concern. You’re grown up enough to sort out your own dietary needs. And so am I.

Many days go by, water flowing underground, many days go by, where the fucking hell is my bacon? Oh it’s here now.

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Eight-Size Foward

To sleep beneath contrarian skies, blind to the celestial ride for just a little while. It was not meant to enlighten but the sun broke through and the civil war of grey on blue is over. For now.

One stumble-scuffed shoe steps out before its brother, eight-size forward scout about to make the walk of slow, self-conscious shame. Again and again they swap painful strides and stories: feet of derring-do daring one another on.

I do not swagger nor even move with purpose; I inch and stop and go and inch again from here to almost here to home. The confines of my enclosure made of broken body parts and fear. One day I will no longer be here and you’ll forget I ever was.

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That Only Leaves One More Person For Me To Introduce

Blah. Blog. Blah blah. Blog blog. Health stuff. Blah blah blah. Blog blog blog. Wild anxiety. Blah blog blah blog blah.

Holy titknockers 2018 is pulling me apart. I can’t recall the last time I felt like I could just make moderate plans and get in with them. Yes I’m aware that in spite of this shite I did manage to spend a couple of days in London at the beginning of March. I’m also aware that sitting down was the predominant theme of that spell, whether to eat and drink and catch up with Tim or to be prepped and then photographed by Charlie. Any actual walking or other forms of walking were difficult, draining and left me quite panicked. Fun. Blah. Blog. Meh.

I’m meant to be playing some music in public in Saturday, as part of a a huge event across two venues to promote World Mental Health Awareness Week. I really, really hope my body is up to it as it’s such an important cause to me. I’m already terrified I’ll have a physical and mental meltdown in front of other humans, which will be somewhat degrading. Blog. Blah di meh di fuck Doo dah Doo dah day.

Go away now. I’m rather pointless.

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Who’s The Reflective-iest Of Them All?

Mirrors and shallow pools. These are places for reflection. And so is the mind. I have done some mind reflecting and I am now of the opinion that I may have had a more than just vomity bug last week. I think I had a make the chest tight plus painful coughing plus vomiting bug. The pukey bit was only a day or two but the rest was virtually all week.

I reason this on reflection because today I didn’t have a tight chest or a painful cough and I managed to walk around in the sunshine a bit. Slowly, always slowly, but what began as a short experiment in going round the block became a decent walk amidst birdsong and coated in warm.

Tomorrow I shall test my reflective hypothesis by heading for physio. I missed both sessions last week. If I’m up to it tomorrow then it bodes well for my mind being a place where I sometimes think up right conclusions.

Apart from imagining naked Pokemons circle jerking one another, what else is a mind for?

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