“Well that is a bag of shit” I thought to myself. It hadn’t been a bag of shit up to that point, in fact it had been the opposite, whatever that might be. I had been pottering about in my shed making a new saw to bench interface. For once my clumsy attempts at producing something worthwhile were being confounded and a decent looking piece was emerging. The sun was shining through, the birds were singing and I was pretty sure my choice in music was annoying the neighbours who had chosen this day to also be working at the bottom of their garden. All was great.
I saw the shadow of my loved one approaching before I heard her and was a bit excited at showing her my manly creation knowing she would humour me and pour praise upon me.
“ I’ve got some bad news” she opened.
That is never a good start to a conversation. Knowing she had just returned from the Doctor’s and also knowing her father was seriously ill in hospital, there was at least two possibilities that were going to shaft my day. I looked at her urging for her to carry on.
“There is a new CPN at the Surgery”
“But where is Alice” (not her real name to protect the innocent and her voice is being played by an actor)
There began the end to my day, which has seen my sleep fitfully and get up early to exorcise this story from my head.
I suppose I had better recap as this incidental newsflash doesn’t seem too sinister as I write my tale.
I have been a headcase for over 30 years. It started with people trying to kill me or trying to get me to kill them with a train. On a regular basis, acts of vandalism or self hate not in my job description as a train driver were exacted upon me. Passing through numerous incidents, numerous relationship breakdowns, losses of accommodation, insolvency, accidents, work related stress and health issues which were all built upon fairly shaky initial mental foundations to the point we now find myself. Current status: getting there.
Anyone who has suffered mental health problems will know the torturous path you need to follow to get help. Anyone who has suffered mental health problems will know that obstacles in the form of professionally trained experts litter the road. Experts who have the answers to things that aren’t the problems you have. It can be frustrating but you go through with it.
You go to the Doctor, usually as a result of a prompt from a loved one or by actually admitting the signs yourself (less common). The Doctor offers drugs and Psychiatric help, as that is one area they will not don the latex gloves and go probing into. You book the CPN: you wait. Eventually you see the CPN, who are without exception lovely people. They suggest one of two paths; CBT and Mindfulness. There are others, desensitisation, EMDR, hypnosis, snake oil. I have received all of the above with differing results. CBT is great, I am now a very orderly person* (* compared to previous versions of me), EMDR is great, I no longer have nightmares of previous calamities. There is only so much CBT you can have before you are repeating yourself and you go around clutching your worksheets like an anonymous alcoholic clutches their Big Book taking steps in multiples of twelve.
And then there is Mindfulness, usually part of a double act with Meditation. I have a problem with these two jokers. I am sure they work. I am sure someone gets paid a shitload for teaching people how to spread the word. I am sure that the clear up rates at practises up and down the land are phenomenal for mental health issues but how many are cured and how many just don’t go back? No problem; the box is ticked either way.
To start you have to practice clearing your mind. Can’t clear it? You need to practice more. Coda. Repeat to Fade.
Imagine you are in a warm, safe place. I thought I was supposed to be clearing my mind, because right now I’m on a Spanish sunbed, the sea is making that lovely slapping noise, the gulls are calling, there is a fake Peruvian pipe band playing that tune from that movie. There is the bloke selling watches and CD’s, there is the smell of burnt oil and garlic.
OK, forget the warm, safe place. Imagine the sun rising, imagine it entering your body, feel it in your toes, it is moving up to your ankles. I didn’t realise that my ankle was hurting, I wonder how I did that? My toenails need cutting as I forgot to do them when the phone rang. I’d better get back to that message when I’ve finished here. …
It’s now in your calves … Oh yes I’m supposed to be concentrating on the sun in my legs; sorry. It’s made it’s way to your thighs. Are they going to mention my bum or my knob? I doubt it, they are professionals. You really shouldn’t have thoughts like that, it is childish, you are here to get better, not make knob jokes. This is serious… OK I’d better get back to that warm feeling. Oh they didn’t say knob or bum, they went straight to tummy. Stop it concentrate on thinking about nothing. Is it calves, carves of calfs? I’ll google that when I get home. You are filled with that warmth. Listen to your breathing Listen to my breathing? How do I do that? I’d best breathe louder, yep I can here it now. Am I breathing too fast ? Is this how I normally breathe? Your breathing slows down as the warmth pulses in an out like the waves. Shit I’m back on the beach, that bloke with the watches is near me, You are relaxed Am I fuck, I’ve got to pretend I’m asleep so he goes away and I’m laid on this bed with an aching ankle and a desire to take a piss.
I’ve never really succeeded with meditation. I also tried to teach myself ventriloquism when I was younger, I never really succeeded at that either, in fact my whole life is a failure, I should see the Doctor.
You see, you have to be clear of mind to be mindful and my mind never stops working, it never rests, I’m thinking of a dozen things at a time, it won’t go away and I want it to stop. The drugs slow it down but the modern world is my alcohol. Pinterest is my Vodka, Facebook my Meth. My mind is full of thoughts and Zuckerberg is feeding my addiction with more thoughts. I just googled to see if he owned Pinterest. I just can’t help myself. Anyway I digress.
So when a CPN comes along and speaks sense, doesn’t offer voodoo or mindfulness, does understand me and actually makes a difference then they are something you need to keep hold of. I have made so many changes to my life, altered so many of my ways, I can even sleep most nights, not this one obviously. I opened up to
Anne Alice, false names are hard to work with. I opened up to her. I picked off the scabs of my scarred mind as I have done many times before, in surety that it would be the last time. I went back to worse places than I had been before because that is how it works. I no longer had to explain I just needed to get better. I didn’t have to pretend I was on a beach, embarrassed that I hadn’t actually found inner peace (got a nice watch though) or start making lists of my lists. This was it. I admitted my job was too much for me and hang the consequences, I decided that I was hanging onto the past rather than letting it stay there. I admitted I was living beyond my means and addressed the matter. All change for the better, because of a unique understanding with my CPN.
And now they have been rotated to another practise and I can no longer see them. I have a new CPN. I cannot go through all that again. What if, in fact there is no if, they have a different take on my situation? I no longer have my job, I have changed my lifestyle I am being rebuilt. I cannot risk what I have gained on a different opinion. I also understand they like Mindfulness.
Somebody, somewhere thinks this rotation is a good idea. They think severing my connections is a necessary action They probably have a degree and brainstorm. My head is a fucking brainstorm. I don’t deserve this but hey ho, now I have cancelled my next appointment, a box somewhere has been successfully ticked.
Thanks a lot .