Thursday, 25 July 2013

Notes from a Small Foggy Island

Erm hello (wanders shyly onto Internet blog-stage, staring at the footlights and hoping my skirt isn't tucked into my knickers). 

How are you all? 

Glad I came back - it appears I have 288 blog comments that need authorising.   No really.  Here's a typical example: 

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Did you get that Internet People? If you want to get 'matted up a fiddling to a greater extent' then you need PENIS ADVANTAGE PENIS ADVANTAGE PENIS ADVANTAGE.  And a 'manlike mate'.   Wow - not actually a man then, 'man like' will do......

Just imagine If I'd never come and shared that with you? You're lives would have been all the poorer.  


No really I'm glad I came back because it makes me sad when I don't blog - it makes me feel like something is missing, some weird connection, some part of who I am is gone and I'm failing.    So why don't I do it more often? If it feels good and it's free and it doesn't hurt you why don't you do it more? 

I can't really tell you - I can give you reasons, I can tell you that I'm so busy, so tired, that very often as soon as my children are upstairs I go to bed myself.  I can tell you that for a large chunk of my life I work for the NHS and talking about anything to do with that on a public forum could easily get me struck off - and quite rightly so - which makes me paranoid about everything less I slip up and end up in Daily Mail.  I can tell you that I feel oddly vulnerable and disjointed and like I just don't want to come out and play a lot of the time.  That I swing between fear and loathing, ecstasy and joy and very often just inhabit the safe ground of the island of exhaustion between the two.  

But all of those things are only part of the picture.  I think the bigger picture is that, like all general nutcases out there, I'm a failed perfectionist and thus my thinking goes along the lines of: 'must blog that - what a crazy day' (too tired to blog....) 'oh god I failed, I didn't blog, well there's no point carrying on now, everything is ruined, people will have given up me anyway.......'.... and so on into a spiral of self-defeated hatred repeating the same thought pattern day after day because you don't have the energy to do anything else.  

That looks ridiculous written down but I know there will be loads of you nodding along because you do it with other things - diaries and fitness plans and diets and keeping your house tidy and all the other best intentions which aren't really grounded in a reality suited to the real you.   If you aim for perfection all you will ever do is fail HARDER. 

So anyway I felt a bit crap and then yesterday I read something which kicked me up the arse.  

Ages and ages ago on the amazing blog that is Hyperbole and a Half there was an, in my opinion, timeless piece about depression: 

And then she never came back.  And I often wondered what happened next and it generally made me feel rather anxious and sad.  

And then 18 months or so later she came back with this (yes that was in May, but I've been under a rock since May so I only just noticed): 

And I read that last night. Then I re-read it 4 times this morning and it's just genius.  The bit about the dead fish.  Genius.   Sad but genius.  

And I thought if she can come back after 18 months of hell then why am I letting this little gap stop me forever?  Just because my mum used the May Bank Holiday to watch the snooker without my (dead) dad and drink so many Rusty Nails she fell down the stairs to be found a day later and escorted by me to hospital where she cried and wailed to a rather alarmed Triage Nurse..... 'it was Ronnie....Ronnie O'Sullivan! It was because of him! I fell........the snooker, my husband is dead, bloody good match, waaaaaaa, Ronnie, waaaaa'....  Well you can't let these little events stop you can you? Even if they do rather unsettle you.  

Once upon a time I wrote that grief is like a moth.  It waits on the wall in the corner of your peripheral vision, almost part of the furnishings but you do know the moth is there, even when you don't acknowledge it.  And then suddenly, now and again, it rises up, clattering and flapping into the light and right into your line of vision and there is no putting the moth to the back of your mind until the lights go out and it settles back to the corner where it came from.  

Well I think for some people the grief has never retreated to the moth stage.  They are stuck in it still being a fog. A thick dense black fog. It's never retreated to their peripheral vision.  It's what they wake up to BANG every morning and then try to grasp, but can't, as they struggle through the day, as it slips through their fingers and leaves them disorientated, scared and very often lost.  

And it's what they go to sleep to - what they breathe in and breathe out and what lies up against them in bed when there is no one else.  

I think for some people living like that is pretty much intolerable and the only way they get even a moment's respite is to drink.  But then all to soon the fog comes back denser and thicker and even more choking and the days merge into one long hopeless field of nightmares.   

And I think that's what my mother's grief is - between the days when the fog lifts a little and the warmth of the sun can briefly be felt - in the main that is what she lives with - a swirling sea of thick dark fog, lost and confused and utterly exhausted. 

And it is exasperating and infuriating and frightening to be amidst it - to be expected to step into the fog when all you've ever craved is sunshine and be there for the other person and it's easy to get lost in a world where you just sort of survive (again) and forget to take time to do things you enjoy, like blogging.  Or your fear that you have nothing worth saying and doubt you could ever write a decent blog again.   But then one day - like yesterday - something jolts you out of it and you find the strength to do it differently - to pick up and carry on........

So even though I've very tired and even though I'm rather irrational and even though I often find myself moribund with panic as my brain does this: 

'get dressed do hair boil kettle feed animals feed children clean up dog wee load car find those forms find some shoes charge phone remember to turn washing machine on  find bank card remember I need petrol what is the point of life what if someone else dies when is this going to get easier what if it never gets easier now what's the dog eaten why does the fridge smell when will I be able to buy a freezer have the kids spent too long on Minecraft did ALL the escaped  Guinea Pigs get eaten by that escaped ferret or are some still living wild is my mum lying at the bottom of her stairs what is my bank balance what shit have I bought off ebay how will my guttering ever get fixed we have no food but if I go to the supermarket I will have a panic attack, fuck it we can all life of brioche and apples... AGAIN WHY ARE THERE SO MANY BIGOTED IDIOTIC PEOPLE IN THE WORLD AND SO MUCH INEQUALITY AND WILL ANYONE EVER SORT IT OUT if I water the plants will it rain today thus making my actions pointless if I just drink tea all day and don't eat will that mean I'm back in control and that everything will turn out fine and everyone will be happy try not shout try not to damage anyone or anything breathe and breathe again'

about every 30 seconds, on repeat until I go to work and when I get back from work my brain does this

'ffffffzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz BED'

Even though I constantly get told I move mountains but only ever feel like I'm under them, even though I can't save anyone but feel like I at least have to try, even though all of these things, I need to get over the mental blocks and just write shit down. Because let me tell you - despite everything there is some bloody hilarious shit that goes down here.   And I have a duty to share it.  

And anyway, here comes the summer holidays........(raises mug of tea and prays for salvation or failing that PENIS ADVANTAGE).  

Love ya, 



  1. sooooo good to know you are still fighting out there stickhead............hope life gets easier for you
    Tilly x

  2. Thank you so much for this .... thank god I'm not the only one who has those monologues in their head! I love your blog, and have waited patiently for your return, please keep it up even if it is only every three months. PS Hope your mum is ok

  3. Yay, the internet has missed you! Welcome back!

  4. Thank you everyone! Lovely to hear from you x

  5. So glad you are back. I love your blog x

  6. Wow, Sticky. Just caught up with this - it's amazing. Probably your best ever. Thank you.

    Lots of love


  7. I can really relate to your comments on grief. I lost my father last year and you could be describing my mother exactly.

    I also think most parents feel as if they're chasing their tail.

    Welcome back!