So I’m sitting on a minibus heading down the M54
With me are nine of my colleagues from our Wellbeing Through Art group, Towers Above. I’m sounding like the jolly, confident Roger they all know, joking and laughing with the best of them.
You know what is coming next.
The pretence is complete and seamless. Even though I say it myself, I am damn’ good at it; oh to be a thespian, and hide myself away for money. That’s one of the jobs I could truly do.
We had a helicopter go overhead while we were waiting for the minibus. It’s sound marred the excited chatter of the others. I hid behind two friends. Even though I knew it was the air ambulance – it was a gaudy, hi-vis red – it didn’t settle me.
I don’t have my car with me now, so I have lost control. It feels achingly alien. I always drive, I have the control over whether I stay where I am, or the ability to scurry home like a disturbed rat. Now I have to go, stay the allotted time, and return when told. The feeling of helplessness grows.
A lot of the people have gone quiet now, I wonder how many of them feel as I do.
The motorway passes by, a river of souls encased in metal. The thought that one in four of them will develop some sort of mental illness is frightening. These are the people with whom I shall have to fight for resources with the ever shrinking NHS.
My head says stay alert, watch out for Them. My body says relax and enjoy. How many differing voices can a chap have? I lost one recently. I have been having a dialogue with God for the past 45 years or so. Now I’m realising that voices just are that. But I am missing the comfort, the understanding, the stability of that voice; I have to look deeper into myself, for it was me I was listening to.
I need sleep, really.
Not all that long to go. I have slept for a considerable portion of the journey. Defence. I’m a little nervous now of how I will be at our destination. No control and no idea what the place looks like.
A thought goes through my mind that people reading this might think “well, he’s not so ill”. My ’peers’ might be contrasting their difficulties with mine, and putting me way down the scale. Those who do not suffer from a mental illness may wonder if I am ’ill’ at all. After all, I can go on a minibus with other people to a museum far away – plenty of job ideas there.
Sometimes I wonder myself – as a lot of the mentally ill do. Self doubt extends to the illness too.
I have no answer to this.
We are nearing Oxford.
I will prepare my head.
As Monday, these missives will only be posted when wifi available.
I am sitting in the cafe in the Pitt Rivers Museum. 40 minutes have passed since I came, but no sign of the Oxford contingent, so I will have to assume they are held up or otherwise engaged. It happens.
My stomach knots left me after about ten minutes of scanning the gallery, but anxiety levels remained high. I’m sitting on a high barstool, very visible and very exposed. The others in my party have left to see more of the museum. I am alone.
I’m surprised at how well I am coping. And rather pleased. I have stress, to be sure, but nothing like I expected. Though its does rise when I spot a new person at the till …
The problem is, I know I am coping. I need to unknow that, and just web in the moment. Of course, the writing of this blog reminds me of it from time to time, so I have to factor that in.
I’m doing rather well, though aware of people watching me.
I’ll take a bronze star.
And wait another 10 minutes, until 1400 hrs.