Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Tuesday 24th October

Still can't face up to any of the things that are queueing up for my attention. Stayed at mums last night. Woke up at 1.30am and inevitably started thinking, "it's going to happen again." In a cold sweat, despite two duvets, but manage to talk myself into calming down. Picturing the chemicals draining back the other way: going out from my head, down my body and leaving through my toes. Manage to force myself to read a book. Semi-awake till about six when i get up.
Decide to take mum up on her offer and go for a walk. Can't bear thought of going home to sort eveything out. Get my boots on and pound eight miles, some of it up moderate hills. Find it really hard work. Can't make conversation, constantly replaying the events of the last few days in my head. Driving myself nuts.
I need to get it down. Get down and stay down. Get out of my head because i've got things to do, and i don't want to feel like this anymore.

Sunday 22nd October

Feeling relatively okay today, although persistent negative thoughts abound. Not been sleeping well, so probably exhaustion has taken the edge off it a bit.
Take some stuff to the tip and try and think about some of the millions things that i need to do but don't really feel up to.
Day goes by, i ring friends in the evening to try and gain further perspective.
Thankfully start feeling sleepy and go to bed.

BANG! No idea what time it is but i'm wide awake again. That feeling starts creeping over me again but this time i've got pins and needles in my left arm as well. I sit up and try and get some feeling back in my arm. I'ts not working. I'm rubbing it and moving it round but it's still buzzing. I'm really panicking now, i'm connecting the lack of feeling in my arm with my spine problem. The curve of my spine is somehow blocking the circulation in my arm. I'm sweating and stink of fear. I call my mum and tell her my mad thoughts. She says she will come over and i sit there shaking and crying till she gets here. She tells me she's had a similar thing, it's probably stress related and i eventually start to calm down.
She stays the night but i lay there listening to music trying to distract myself. Reading doesn't work. I can't wait for daylight.

Friday 20th October

I go to my sister's and tell her everything: every ridiculous irrational thought that i have been having in the hours that i have laid awake after the panic attack. I have thought of a million different reasons for this to be happening now, and i need to tell someone so that i don't feel like i'm losing my mind. I am alternatively incredibly anxious and then feel really spaced out. I've already been to the doctors and he's given me fluoxetine. It won't start working for a couple of weeks. My body is screaming, "But what about now?" but of course those words don't come out of my mouth. I don't want to take drugs for depression, i'm certainly not going to prompt him to give me tranquilizers.
My sister manages to make me feel normal. I go home exhausted.

Later on my ex rings me for a lift to the train station. I pick him up and feel like the painfully slow pace of the traffic is going to make me start screaming and crying. We get to the station drop off point and there is Alan Bennett! He's standing there looking like a photograph of himself, with his taupe raincoat and his scarf tucked in to the top, following the V of the buttons of the coat. I can't believe it!
I drop J off and drive away, thinking, "I should have stopped. He was just standing waiting to be picked up. I should have just said hello, and said, 'Hey, Alan, how funny is this? Three years ago, i started collecting stories for a book that i called Untold Stories. Then you republished your collection last year with the same name! I was gutted. You nicked my title! But it's okay because i'm using it for my blog title now and i'm going to call my book something else. Even funnier: i took my book to a published writer for some advice a couple of years ago and he said it reminded him of your Talking Heads!'"
He would have hated me wouldn't he? Lunatic thoughts.

Thursday 19th October

Went to bed with some low level anxieties, but put legs into bhada khonasana (this usually works for things like indigestion etc.). Promptly fell asleep.

3.30am: i'm suddenly wide awake for no apparent reason. A hideous creeping feeling comes over me. It's that kind of feeling that i associate with childhood night terrors. It starts in my toes and creeps upwards in a wave of all consuming anxiety. The scariest part is that i don't know what it is i'm scared of.
It makes it's way to my backside and my stomach and i feel like i'm going to have diahorrea and vomit at the same time. This feeling is almost immediately eclipsed when the wave reaches my chest and my heart goes into overdive. I realise i'm holding my breath in panic and my head starts go into that pre-faint stage just before you get the black and white dots before your eyes.
I'm convinced that if i get up to go to the bathroom, i'm going to pass out, hit my head and die on the bathroom floor. I'm immobilised by this thought and this renews the wave of fear with another flood of adrenaline.
I somehow manage a rational thought. I've had this experience before after the virus incident last year. It will go away if i think myself out of it. Think about nice things, stop thinking negative thoughts, try and breath normally, it will go away.
As the fear slowly lessens, i start crying massive sobs of relief mixed with the anxiety of wondering 'What the fuck was that?' I look at the time and wonder who it would be acceptable to wake up at this time in the morning. I ring my sister and get the answer-phone. I ring my mum and thank god, she answers.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


It's like a test of your commitment at this stage, isn't it?
We're three months in; we did it almost every night in the beginning and in every room in the house: now we need to decide if the honeymoon period is over.
Is this going anywhere? Am i putting more into this than i'm getting out?
Am i the one doing all the talking? Does it matter if i'm enjoying myself?
What is the meaning of life?

Perhaps, i've given away too much too soon, on the other hand, there are things i haven't been so open about. If i'd been more open, maybe i would have got a better response.

Maybe i should start afresh, or should i stick with it and see what happens?

Phew. I really don't know.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


If anyone is following the different threads in my blog, you may (or may not) be interested to know that i am finally moving house.
I am moving within sight of the house that i grew up in. This is the house of my dreams: not in a future sense, like i want to live there again, but in an ongoing present where that house is often the theatre to my dreams. It is preserved exactly in every 1970's detail in my mind. I can take a tour at any time, awake or asleep, and remember every mark on the wallpaper, or the way fabrics felt, even sometimes the smell of the garden, rain or shine. I have also dreamt about the greenhouse, the garage and the passage behind it, the loft, the stairway and the cupboard underneath the stairs. Psycho-analyse that.
I noticed a couple of years ago, that i have decorated my present home in the colours of the dream house.
Why is it that some people always want to go back home and others will do anything to stay away? I wonder if, after i have moved there, i will finally grow up. My grandmother says she feels like a twenty year old trapped in an eighty year-old body; i doubt it

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Napoleonic Goth

There was a Goth hanging around outside my window at w*** today.
He was standing half way down the path for at least forty-five minutes not moving a muscle.
That's an exaggeration, every so often he did move. His hand travelled up to move his hair away from his face; at one point he lifted his foot subtly and circled it round (pins and needles). Apart from that, he stood stock still in the same position, his left hand tucked neatly across his chest to the inside of his leather trenchcoat. Every time i looked out of the window he was still there.
I heard that Goth is back. As far as i'm concerned it never went away. They're a good seasonal barometer: you know it's summer when they get down to the purple layer.
We speculated that maybe there was another Goth somewhere else, standing in exactly the same position, waiting.
He was there one minute, and the next time i looked he had disappeared (in a puff of smoke?)

Monday, October 09, 2006

Is this a gift that you possess?

The weekend already seems like a lifetime ago.
On Friday night i went to see some crap plays that were like radio plays, but with two 'actors' reading from scripts in front of us. This was being filmed (god knows why as there was nothing to look at). It was so fucking provincial it made me embarrassed.
Then went to see some 'experimental' short films. There was a really cool one where someone had filmed a xylophone. The film and soundtrack were both speeded up and it created this crazy but catchy soundtrack that also managed to be quite funny at the same time. It got spontaneous applause at the end- as opposed to the kind of applause people feel obliged to provide in some contexts: there's no need to clap for a film, so this seems to me the ultimate accolade.
Then we went to see a performance of Long Term Happiness. This guy read out from a list of things that make him happy. It was kind of like stand-up comedy except it really just brought a smile to your face:partly because it was humorous, but partly because it made you think of similar things that you felt yourself. Hmm very interesting.
He was doing it for twenty-four hours with a ten minute break every hour. I almost resented him, i was jealous of his ability to think so positively about absolutely everything, but this is the point that he was making, that happiness can be self-generating and that godammit you can pass it on to other people!
His next performance is a dating agency. He's so happy that he's going to set other people up so they can be happy too...and in love!
I am emailing him my details as soon as i have finished this post. Watch this space.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

'S' is for spine

Almost a year ago (on the eve of my birthday) i was taken into hospital with a mystery virus. This was the kind of virus where you can't keep water down and keep losing consciousness. I kept blacking out and hitting my head on things. It wasn't nice.
Whilst i was in A&E, they x-rayed my chest to see if there was a problem with my lungs. I asked to look at the photo of the inside of my body, and discovered that i have an S shaped spine. I was extremely disappointed that none of my yoga teachers, lovers, or anyone i had ever been on holiday with, had ever noticed this about me.
A year later, i have decided maybe i have been a little unfair to those closest to me. Perhaps it hasn't been there that long, in which case, i should get it checked out.
I have never had back pain, but since the doctor told me i might need physiotherapy, i have suddenly become ridiculously aware of my back and of the exact location of each vertebrae and muscle. I feel ok standing up - almost automatically applying the principles of tadasana- but sitting down has become a minefield of self-criticism. I don't know how to hold myself: i feel uncomfortable in every position that i find myself in. I have exhausted myself by not allowing myself to sit naturally, and by making mental lists of things that i may or may not be able to do if this gets worse.
I have been veering from nausea - through imagining the worst, to the kind of compulsion one feels when put in danger; to run out immediately and do everything i ever wanted to do, as soon as is humanly possible.
I'm having another x-ray tomorrow. Lots of people have this thing and it's not a problem. I will be fine.
I have been trying to imagine someone massaging my back, patiently, consistently, over along period of time, until every one of those pieces goes back into line.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Enchanted Evening

On Saturday night, we visited a festival of fire.
There is something primal and bewitching about looking at fire, and it was a fitting end to the time of year when one can do things outside in England without being uncomfortably cold. There were no barriers or public safety enforcers telling you to stand back. It was possible for one to judge one's own safety in relation to the fires.
The fire sculptures were impressive in themselves. The guardians of those which required human intervention looked like Edwardian show-people; they wore hats and waist-coats and a look that was suitably removed from the surroundings.
When it started to rain, the hundreds of pots of fire made the most amazing sizzling and spitting symphony. Carabosse played intruments that were hanging from a tree in the centre of the gardens. The guitars and the keyboard were suspended in mid air. At one point, one of the guitarists was making sounds by dropping his bottleneck onto the strings of the suspended electric guitar. There was a skiffle-like vocal and the same kind of other-worldliness to the music as to the installation itself.