1000 hours. A late rising; we do that when Belinda is on a day off. She needs the rest.
I went to bed in what an Enid Blyton character would call a blue funk. I could not sleep, I had Cistercian chant playing loudly in earphones to try and drown out the world, listening be beggared. I needed isolation. I feverishly flicked through my Orthodox prayer rope. An hour later I knew it was going to be a long night. Next minute, I slept.
I have awoken. For the first split second I am what you might call ‘normal’ – no anxiety, enjoying the sunlight filtering through the curtains. Then the trigger from last night kicks in, my diaphragm tightens, I become alert and listening.
I have to feed the cats. Going downstairs, I am grateful to see there is no post; no news is good news. The cats are their usual food-mental selves. Jasper – three legged and one eyed – ‘talks’ to me in short, staccato mews.
1030 hours and we sit drinking tea, the wife and I. The telephone is ringing and I’m anxious – I have come to dislike the telephone. It is a difficult instrument, it might be a silent call, which will freak me out. People checking whether I am in so they can come and get me.
A unknown number. It turns out to be a good friend asking me if I’m making the social meeting at a cafe this morning. I cannot. Triggers abound, and Twitter is a minefield.
I’m wearing a large cross. It is, I am sorry to say, for the wrong reason – it’s as a charm, a barrier to harm and trouble. A protective amulet, talisman. I know it’s wrong. But it’s all I have.
I must eat breakfast.
We were meant to go to Manchester to the LabourLeft fringe. No chance of that with my head doing acrobatics worthy of an Olympic athlete. We are going to the neighbouring town, Shrewsbury, instead.
It still seems a bridge too far. Fear is disabling and very, very wearisome. It saps your energy, and keeps you imprisoned. I try to use art to quell the rising tide. It’s bile in the throat, a tight chest, a difficulty keeping one’s breathing normal.
It’s about hiding things. It’s Belinda’s day off, and she needs rest and to relax. So the mask goes on – she’s not reading this, thank The Lord – and we will go out.
If ever there was a fearful word it is ‘out’.
People watching you, people following you, cameras that capture you, your home left unguarded against authorised and covert entry.
Still, it may be ok. If I can get immersed in where we need to go, it may be therapeutic. I wear a watch at all times. Just in case I am taken somewhere. A least I will know the time.
I need that shower, and Belinda knows it. She is nudging me toward it. There’s no choice, I have to do it.
I don’t want to move.
Shower done. Redressed with watch and cross. I don’t know why I don’t go the whole Hammer hog and string garlic round my neck.
I’m having a cup of coffee, and Belinda is reading. It is quiet except for the washing machine’s intermittent rumbles, and the gentle sound of my far-to-expensive wind chimes. They comfort me. Listening to them is like rocking in your chair. It makes you want to light a candle and plumb the depths of the flame.
Nervousness is less, now. At least They cannot say I am a dirty person. I haven’t shaved though.
Determined to go to Shrewsbury now. With Belinda. Tired though.
The train going past suddenly sounds like a helicopter – it jars until I filter and identify it for what it is. I once had to decorate in the cold, before we got central heating. The put-put-put of the gas heater sounded like a far away helicopter. I had to switch it off.
Cat stares intently into empty middle distance. What does it see?
Taking the mobile device with me, hope to find wifi in Shrewsbury. I can blog from there.
Thank you for reading, whoever you are.
15.45 In Shrewsbury. To be exact, in the Ploughboy Cafe where you can still get a soup and a roll for less than £3. It’s quiet, and I feel a bit self-conscious typing away. I have managed a credible attempt at the confident customer. I’m aware that – Belinda having bagged the nosy seat – I have my back to the window; I cannot check outside without turning round. It’s not as easy as I thought this was going to be, but given the prescience of some of my worst triggers, I’m not doing bad.
I ought to have been an actor.
Jumpy. Not liking this much.
(No wifi in Shrewsbury where we ate, so posted on return at 1825 hrs.)
1935 hrs. Returning home, Belinda has decided to make the supper. I like not having to do that now and again, but it is a double edged sword. It’s about the only thing I do well most of the time, and not doing it takes away my raison d’être somewhat. And I can’t see what is going on through the kitchen window. Now all car door slams are matters of conjecture.
I am alive with thoughts which run away and make their own narrative. Consequences of even the most innocent of actions become major events which tear me apart with their ferocity. Switching to diverting things when triggers are this large is almost impossible.
Every now and then the cold dread catches me; adrenaline rushes into my bloodstream – my ‘blood runs cold’.
Life is at best a balance; whether the negatives outweigh the positives concerns survival. Thoughts of death – selfish in the extreme – become thoughts of peace, of quiet, of rest.
So now, the balance has tipped in favour of the negatives, and it will be the usual, punishing fight for survival tonight. The triumph of hope over despair must happen.
Survival is difficult with mental illness. Don’t let anyone kid you.
It’s going to be rough.