Daily Archives: April 15, 2015

Again and Again and Again



Recently I tried to teach someone to fix a puncture via Skype. In the interests of National Security I will call this Student of the Dark Arts of the Inner Tube, Princess Consuela. Regular readers may be somewhat surprised to hear this. Whatever my cycling skills may be, getting a tyre on and off the wheel rim is not one of them.

Princess Consuela, never having fixed a puncture before, was undaunted. In her relaxed hands the tyre slipped off first time. I decided to keep it to myself just how much bad language I need, and how sore my fingers become, in order to perform the same activity.


Now for the easy part – or so I thought.

So, now to locating the pinprick in the inner tube that had caused all the bother. Having failed to locate it by inflating the tyre to hear the tell-tale hiss, his eponymous member of royalty used her own wits  and without a word from me, immersed the tube into a bowl of water.

The next part wasn’t quite so simple. She had all the equipment required – self – adhesive patches. After having taken off the tyre, extracted the inner tube, located the puncture the hard part was over. Not quite. This sort of thing should take one patch, a little patience while waiting for it to stick to the inner tube, and then the small matter of easing the inner tube and tyre back on the wheel rim. Not this time. Hopes were raised with the first patch in place. But the air was still escaping from the edge of the patch. A second patch seemed to have fixed the problem until she heard another hiss, a third patch, a fourth and still no satisfaction. It was at this point that I offered her the sum total of my experience in bike repair. Go to a bike shop and ask them to fix it.

She didn’t do that. She fixed it herself.

When she told me what she had done I remembered Moshe. Moshe Teller was my first mentor when I first had the temerity to secure a job as a mental health worker back in 1995. Hang around me for fifteen minutes or more and you are bound to hear me explain that not a week goes by without me relying on lessons I learned from him. What lesson did I recall when she fixed the puncture herself, finally?

We were sitting in a an office, with the manager and one man who used the mental health service, that was really too small for the four of us. We were gathered there to tell him that we had to bar him from the Day Centre for intimidating some of the women who, along with him, used the art studio. They were not alone in feeling nervous around him. Add a few kilos and a paunch and you had an older version of the Argentinian Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara who was killed in 1967 aged 39. I don’t recall the details of what was said other than the outcome which was that he was not to attend the Centre until we met him again some weeks/months hence to review the situation. no gunfire was exchanged, he left the building quietly and I cannot recall ever seeing him again. Once he had left we sat together to discuss what had happened. We talked about what we would require of him if he was to return. We talked about the behaviour that had led to him being barred from the service. I cannot now remember if it was me or the manager who asked the next question. Actually, I  draw a blank as to what that question actually was other than it was something to do with Che’s behaviour once he was allowed to return. With his customary brevity Moshe observed: ‘that’s for next time.’

Over the years I have been on various interview panels when recruiting mental health workers. The question I am always itching to ask is: ‘are you a patient person?’ Princess Consuela was more patient than me about the puncture. Moshe taught me, time after time, that before we can embark on the road to mental health recovery we face a series calamities that repeat, revisit and walk with us every day. They damage and dispirit us – and some of us they destroy.


I many times thought peace had come,

When peace was far away;

As wrecked men deem they sight the land

At centre of the sea,


And struggle slacker, but to prove,

As hopelessly as I,

How many fictitious shores

Before the harbour lie.

Emily Dickinson (1830 – 1886)

21 Years Old — A Self Portrait


I feel as though this was written about me; perhaps you will too. Well worth a read and Zoe’s blog is well worth a follow if you aren’t doing so already.

Originally posted on VOLATILE STABILITY:

I tend to downplay my issues and act more positive than I am. I can’t be sick, so I pretend I’m not. I’ve pretended for so long that I’ve fooled myself into believing that perhaps my problem is a faulty thought process. If I can play the part of the woman I am beyond the weird things in my head then I’m obviously okay, right?

It was easy to delude myself in those thoughts — a jumbled mess of words spat on me by others, like friends or family. Only people who end up in psychiatric wards are truly sick. They have serious problems. I’ve never been hospitalized. I’ve never hurt anyone. I’ve been able to live thus far. I’m fine. I can do this thing called life. I don’t need help. I don’t need medication.

I’m not sick.

I’m just a bit strange.

Artistic people are strange.

View original 1,031 more words

a-z challenge: n

He: What’s the matter with you?
Me: Nothing.
Nothing was slowly clotting my arteries. Nothing slowly numbing my soul. Caught by nothing, saying nothing, nothingness becomes me. When I am nothing they will say surprised in the way that they are forever surprised, “but there was nothing the matter with her.”
― Jeanette Winterson, Gut Symmetries

N is for nothing. The Jeanette Winterson quote sparked this post off. And herewith the playlist, songs about nothing, yup I know my taste in music is all over the place.

When you’re inside a mind like mine, with pathologically extreme empathy and rumination,  simple questions become ridiculously loaded. How are you becomes incredibly complex, what’s wrong contains too much intensity. I can’t resolve any of those things for myself in any great hurry, and so I do my best to lighten the burden on others. That way I can feel that I did one decent thing that day.


Sometimes it’s way simpler to say nothing’s the matter, thought it can result in frustration on both sides. Nothing can be something good. And the following exchange is excruciating, I’m sure I look like a mangy rabbit in the headlights when it happens.

Them: What’s wrong?
Me: *agonising about what to say*
Them: …
Me: Nothing.
Them: C’mon, you can tell me.
Me: *uncomfortable as fuck*
Them: …
Me: Problem issue confusion pain hopelessness and so on
Them: *doesn’t know wtf to say*
Me: *wishing it’d been left unsaid*
Them: *wishing they’d never asked in the first place*
Me: *Feeling small and stupid*
Them: *Feeling helpless and inadequate*
Me: Oh look! A butterfly!

See, even when it isn’t situational at all, one can always come up with justifications and explanations for depression – but they’re the wrong answers, inaccurate too.

Them: What’s wrong?
Me: I’d rather not talk about it.
Them: *taken aback and probably offended*
Me: …
Them: *trying to ctrl+alt+delete out of the situ*
Me: Oh look! A butterfly!


I find it hard to say I don’t want to talk about something to acquaintances, but I can do it with good friends. And the good friends just respect it and we chat about something else. I have one sort-of-friend who I have told very clearly, that I will not talk about certain things. No point saying I don’t want to to her, because it just spurs her on to do her best to make me change my mind. Then she brings up whatever I didn’t want to talk about at the drop of a hat, until the only way out is a rather fierce bluntness. Well, some people have hides like a rhino. Is there a more tactful way to put it?

The next one is humiliating. Weeping is not a comfortable spectator sport.

Them: What’s wrong?
Me: Nothing *cries like a bitch*
Them: It can’t be nothing.
Me: I don’t know.
Them: You must know.
Me: Well, it’s not a thing as such, it’s my disorder.
Them: So nothing’s wrong, but you’re having a meltdown?
Me: Yeah.
Them: …
Me: …
Them: Have you thought about accepting Donald Duck as your lord and saviour?
Me: Oh look! A butterfly!

When I get far enough into the thing that I’m visibly splintering, I can’t handle sudden eviction from a vulnerable space. I feel diminished by it. Also, Donald Duck drives me seven kinds of batshit. The vital point of that bit of dialogue, and the difference between it and the others, is that it contains the truth. What is wrong is created by, for instance, my bipolar and/or c-ptsd, and there are very specific steps to take when things are foul.

Them: What’s wrong?
Me: Nothing *big smile*
Me: Oh look! A butterfly!

That nothing isn’t actually fake or false, if bipolar the baseline, which it is for me, than nothing implies nothing more nothing new nothing unusual. Nothing really means no situational causes. Close friends won’t be fooled, nor will they be satisfied, but then, they’re close friends for a reason and none of this applies to any of them.

People are understandably uncomfortable around extreme emotions. Hell, even pets get knotted up about them. They’re unsettling, distressing and disruptive. It feels unjust to put somebody in a position to feel shitty because they can’t help you. It feels kinder and more logical to contain the misery to yourself. It’s why a lot of very depressed people kid around so much. It deflects the attention, it stops me disintegrating into yet another futile look at the pile of shit I’m battling very hard to get to grips with. My hands are always dirty, I don’t want to keep shaking hands and spreading it around. Nothing keeps us both a little safer.


A Walk 

Went for a lovely walk at sunset. Still light enough to take pictures, but the sky was reddening in the west. Walked with my husband, he likes to walk in the neighborhood and I like to walk in the park, opposites even in this. Haha. We compromised, walked in the neighborhood to the park and walked home through the park. Feeling a bit low, not too low, just a bit. Just a bit slow. Oh well, nothing catastrophic. I’ll get over it. Exercise will help, have my FaceTime personal trainer session (my trainer is in California, I’m in Kentucky.) It works, he just sits at a Starbuck’s and drinks coffee while I exercise. Good for times when I have trouble motivating myself. The pics are from my walk. Nothing earth shattering and nothing catastrophic, I’d say that’s a good day! Does this even qualify as a Bipolar1Blog post? Hmmmm…