07/06/13 I remember when all this was fields

Dear God, thank you for all the sunny weather, but I think my body now has all the vitamin D it will ever need…and I’m a bit tired racing from shadow to shadow like some scuttling insect…

I will never moan about the weather again – it has been glorious in these here parts.

On one occasion when I was recuperating in the shade, an older chap, Roy, walked up with his dog.

‘All my dogs have eaten that grass – it stops them from getting worms,’ he told me, ‘it doesn’t kill them, they come out live…’

Yum! I hear you all cry.

Roy, in his working days, maintained rivers, their banks and their beds. He told me, until about 40 years ago, all the rivers had been ‘gin clear’, teaming with sea trout.

I looked over the side of the bridge we were standing on. That river was about as clear as dishwater – with no life, animal or vegetable, apparent to the naked eye.

I looked up across the beautiful sunlit valley – yes, all fields, all beautiful, met with the vibrant blue of the sky and yet here was one mans melancholy message.

He used to catch fish to supplement his earnings, but in recent times – he tells me – silage and other chemicals from farms have polluted the waters causing this destruction.

He doesn’t blame the farmers – they had to use new methods to feed animals, to feed their crops – to remain competitive – many, he tells me, rely on government grants to get by.

It didn’t take any of my fancy new fandangled university education to tell that this wiry man with tanned leather for skin, was experiencing the loss of his earlier way of life and of some of the hidden beauty of this seemingly flawless canvas.

Further on, I met another older chap with his dog on the south side of a funky little cycle bridge over the river Leven.

I was looking for somewhere to camp, and, given my earlier idiotic experiences with tides, I asked him where would be safe.

He told me that I’d be pretty much safe anywhere near the bridge. He had no idea why, but there hasn’t been a high tide for over a year…

In the back of my mind I was thinking, ‘it would just be my luck…’

I mentioned my conversation with Roy, and he told me about the spectacle of huge schools of fish would come up the the river, swim around in great circles surrounding smaller fish and then devouring them, trawler net style, with their gaping mouths.

He hasn’t seen that bit of natural entertainment for years.

He also told me about the thriving ship building industry there had been in the local town of Greenodd and how now, as the river has silted up over the years, this has become as much of a dream as the fish.

The parallels to be drawn with mental health here are obvious. Even if everything appears to be bowling along famously on the surface, just a little exploration can find out how things really are.

I guess it’s hard to react appropriately if you’re not in possession of the full facts.

Walk a mile

Chris
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15 Responses to 07/06/13 I remember when all this was fields

  1. Bami says:

    As a person with bi-polar disorder I find this interesting and refreshing to read. It’s about time people realised we’re just as ordinary(and possibly boring) as them. Why on earth should I have to explain all my actions and idiosyncrases to everyone and lead this furtive secretive life just because I don’t ‘conform’ all the time. I’ve always been a non-conformist anyway, and that was long before I was diagnosed in my 40s. By the way, I don’t think Stephen Fry has necessarily done anyone any favours; people now might think they know all about it having seen the programmes…..do they hell!!

    • Hi Barni, I think it’s swings and roundabouts – the good thing about Stephen Fry coming out with bipolar is that more people are talking about it and mental ill health in general. I also think you’re right about people sometimes thinking they know more than they actually do about it – I think this has a lot to do with language – the media will often say ‘Stephen Fry is bipolar’ instead of saying ‘Stephen Fry has bipolar’ – a subtle difference, but by saying he is the condition people are more inclined to bunch is all together. We never say, ‘Poor Jim, he is flu…’ or the like. We realise he is a person first – flu second. Explaining your condition to person after person can be exhausting – especially if you’re trying to tell them a) this isn’t about pulling yourself together, b) you’re not a malingerer and c) the person who’s at most risk from their mental health is the person who has a malady.
      I love being nonconformist – I love being able to look at things from angles that many people haven’t considered.
      Finally – I wonder if you could be a bit more specific about your friend on a bike – I’ve met a lot.

      Thanks for posting,

      All the best

      Chris

      • Bami says:

        Hi Chris, Thanks for taking the time to reply. It’s very interesting what you say about the use of language. It’s absolutely true (and I am a language teacher, as well as music). My friend on a bike is also called Chris and you probably met him on your way to or from Walney or Barrow as he cycles from my place in Millom to the station at Ulverston-he’s quite a tall, soft-spoken guy. He told you, I think that his girlfriend (or a friend of his) has bi-polar, and you told him the link which he passed on to me.He’s a very kind person and takes a genuine interest in people-we both admire what you’re doing. ‘Mind’ is a fantastic organisation and deserves to be very well-supported. To us folk ‘out in the sticks’ Mind is the only sane place we can go to!! I was only recently informed by a local PC that I was..quote “bi-polar”. I replied “no, I’m Mrs M….” ” I do HAVE bi-polar disorder if that’s what you mean”. Still, no notice was taken of the potentially valuable information I had uncovered on money-laundering, so I’ve given up trying to help the police now, after feeling very angry and upset at the time.I wanted to make a complaint but it was swept under the counter. In fact, he even called me a nutcase, at which point I said”I hope this converstation’s being recorded”. I asked for his name; he gave me a number-I don’t think in numbers! I only wonder where the police get their info from and if they would come out to me in an emergency…it’s quite worrying as I live on my own now my son’s at uni. Anyway, so I have the Media to thank for that nugget on the use of the English Language-what a surprise! I must be honest, I only follow what I consider to be important things in the media like what’s happening in the world as a whole, not just in the small-by-comparison u.k. I prefer listening to the radio to watching tv, only look at headlines in the press and then look up current affairs from a wider perspective-maybe it’s becuase I’ve lived and worked in other countries-I don’t really know.
        When do you finish your walk? I’ll follow you in the meantime. Wish I could walk round the country but have recently been diagnosed with ‘Lupus’ and am in pain alot of the time, especially when I walk! Just my luck as I love the outdoor life and miss going cycling and camping…maybe I’ll get remmission. Do take care, and well-done for not caring what people think! Bami (Helen).

      • Hi again Helen, – thanks for taking the time to write this – I’m pretty sure I remember your friend – it’s always a pleasure and interesting to hear the experiences of other folk. As an ex social worker I experienced a whole bunch of professionals (unfortunately including social workers) who identify folk through their illness. It’s amazing how quickly ones opinion can become invalid in the eyes of others just because of a label. I’m intrigued to find out how that PC got hold of your particular label.

        Re the media, I’m keen to face up to the labels and the stigma – but it comes at a cost – you can find a couple of positive media reports here –

        http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/scottishnews/4630132/We-join-brave-dad-on-Scots-leg-of-his-mental-illness-walk.html

        http://www.ross-shirejournal.co.uk/News/8000-mile-trek-clears-Chris-mind-6954985.htm

        And an interview on a local radio station can be found here –

        http://m.soundcloud.com/stewart-mcneill/chris-mcculloch-young

        And the trailer for the film at the end of it all can be found here –

        http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=T1uj47j_xlY

        So it’s not all bad.

        Thanks for following. Lupus? That’s a bugger. One of the most inspiring people I ever worked with as a social worker had Lupus. I hope you get remissions.

        Cheers for now

        Chris

      • Bami says:

        Hi Chris, Thanks for your note-it’s kind of you to take the time. I wonder too how that PC knew I have bi-polar…guess I’ll never know unless I stress myself out by following it up which I’m not going to do! I didn’t manage to watch the videos as I need a flash or movie player or something. It’s a shame…I would be very interested to see those. I’ll have to start saving but whenever I do the money seems to go towards the electicity or gas bill or something! I wish I was well enough to work again! Still, at least I’ve finally found the time to learn how to sort of use the computer!! As I said before I am following your journey with interest and know it can’t be easy when you have to take regular meds etc. I wish you all the best and I’ll keep in touch. Take care, Helen.

      • Yes – the getting the meds can feel a little like a military manoeuvre at times. Sorry you can’t see the movies – they’re good fun.

        Thanks again for following.

        Chris

  2. Bami says:

    By the way, I live in the Lake District and can remember crystal-clear rivers,trout and herons in the Spring. It’s so sad.

  3. Bami says:

    You met a cycling friend of mine on the road and had a chat….you might remember?

  4. Bami says:

    P.S The media coverage was very encouraging; I really admire you for your openness re your illness. I hope you get remmissions too.

    • I spend roughly 2 thirds of the time reasonably well – with the other times er, not. The problem is that it’s never predictable often with no clear triggers.

      The openness was a bit tricky to begin with- but with time, spreading the story became easier and easier.

      Cheers

      Chris

      • Bami says:

        Hi Chris, I know what you mean about the meds. I have a blister pack I’m on so many and find this alot easier than having 17 separate boxes! I’m on 4 meds for the bi-polar didorder; the rest are more physical. Have been busy inviting friends to sign the e-petition about DLA this morning. There’s also one about carer’s rights and not being entitled to tax redits. My son was my carer for 8 years and he did a really good job-it’s great that he knows how to budget, cook, clean etc. but sometimes I feel a bit guilty that he had to spend his teenage years looking after mum. Still, he always says he didn’t mind bless him. I hope you’re well and will talk to you again soon. Take care
        Helen

      • That’s a whole bunch of pills! I’ve signed a few pro-dla petitions. As a social worker I filled out more than I care to mention – and now here they are ‘modernising’ it. The disabled, the mentally ill and the vulnerable have become the easy targets for this monstrous government. Your son sounds great. You’re right – more needs to be done for carers too. The problem with those in power is that they want a quick fix – and because of that it’ll just mean cuts. The disability minister, Esther McVey, has no background in this – she’s a media puppet. Am I ranting? The whole system needs to be overhauled.

        Thanks for keeping in touch

        Chris

      • Bami says:

        No, you’re not ranting-I agree with everything you say and this really is a monstrous government picking on such vulnerable people.I didn’t know about the disability minister having no background in social care but presumed she didn’t-it’s so stupid and pathetic.How can they be in such a position of power like this when they lack even a fundamental knowledge? Beats me…anyway, that’s politics for you.As a teacher, I worry about young people these days too. A 23 year old man in Millom killed(shot) his own mother and sister on Saturday. I have a good friend who works at the jobcentre here and she knew the family. Apparently he had been unemployed and had a chip on his shoulder…she doesn’t know if he took drugs. Millom is a very small and friendly place (or so I thought) but this is the 2nd case of murder in a few years. You just don’t expect it in such a small place where everyone knows each other.I’m locking both my back doors from now on- you just don’t know what’s round the corner.
        I’m glad you’ve got Ella and I’m so lucky having Chris and Eren (my son) Thanks for the compliment about him…yes, he is great. He had a hard time at the comp he attended as his ears stuck out and they said he ‘talked posh’. On top of that he has Semantic-Pragmatic Disorder ( he almost has Asberger’s) which didn’t help. He got so fed up with the bullying he decided to take up powerlifting and quite of his own accord, when he was about 18 entered a competition in Bournemouth and became the u.k champion (juniors) in his weight group-a title he holds to this day! He then enrolled himself at Lakes College to do a B-tech, which meant having to get up at 5.30a.m because of the time travelling there. He used to get home at 7p.m at the earliest, have a shower then cook for me if I didn’t feel up to it or go to Tesco’s if I hadn’t been or had forgotten something-what a lovely lad. He then won a Golden Apple award, which his tutors nominated him for…it was in the ‘against all odds’ category and there was a fantastic presentation ceromeny at Rheged (you can google it if you ever have time…just type in Golden Apple Awards-he’s the dude with the red tie in the middle of the photo). I was almost in tears I can tell you. He worked so hard on his assignments he got straight distinction stars and won a scholarship to St. Mary’s University, Twickenham, where he’s doing a Bsc in strength and conditioning. His ambition is to train elite athletes.Not bad considering he was put in the second to bottom set at secondary school-I knew the teachers there underated him and they didn’t believe he had a learning difficulty until the last year when I found the report from the child psychologist she had written when he was about 10. Just goes to show. I’m sure from my own teaching experience there must be so many children who suffer by being mis-judged or labelled at an early age. Labels labels labels-why do people need them? To make them feel more secure I guess, but I was head of music in a really tough boys comprehensive and never judged the kids in advance. Alot of them were from extremely unstable and deprived backgrounds but when they got into music achieved some fantastic results. My philosophy is as long as they’re enjoying what they’re doing the rest will come naturally and there’s far too much emphasis on achieving good grades,reaching targets etc. and so much pressure on teachers ever since the introduction of the National Curriculum. Even before that I was putting in a 60-70-hour week, so I’m relieved to be out of it now although I do miss the kids. I’m hoping to start a bit of piano teaching again but it’s difficult to commit myself as I never know how I’ll be feeling and if the students are going in for grade exams the lessons need to be ongoing. Gosh, now I’m going on-sorry!
        The story about your shrink telling you to avoid those people doesn’t altogether surprise me although it goes to show how short-sighted and out of touch these professionals can be. What can be more reassuring than to know you’re not the only person on this planet to have a mental health problem. One of the frustrations I have is that people think because I have Bi-Polar I’m obviously not as intelligent as them..it has happened quite alot, e.g the pharmacist explaining things over and over again even when I say I understand. I try to be thick-skinned about it but sometimes I feel like taking in my teaching certificates..(Cert.ed,B.ed Dip.T.E.F.L) and references from previous employers!! What the heck-it’s no use getting hot under the collar!
        Anyway, thanks for taking the time to reply. I’m enjoying our ‘conversation’ and hope you are well and getting on o.k with your epic walk. You can be really proud of yourself and I’m not being patronising-I would love to see more people trying to do what you’re doing ‘against all odds’! Cheers for now, Helen

  5. Bami says:

    p.s It’s strange how there are often no clear triggers as you say. My son and Chris can always tell when I’m getting high even though I don’t (and often don’t agree with them)! It’s so important to have people around you who understand and can advise you to see the doctor or whatever. I’m really lucky in that I have hugely supportive friends who accept me as I am and help me when I need it. The bi-polar group I started is a really good outlet for our feelings and we all support each other, especially if and when we’re admitted to hospital with visiting etc.Do you have anything like tis where you live? Cheers
    Helen

    • When I was first diagnosed with borderline personality disorder I found a group near where I lived in Edinburgh who met once a month. I mentioned this to my psychiatrist who told me to stay away from these people because they are very ill. It was great to meet up with them because, Lordy, they were a great bunch with some great insights and advice.

      Now I have an Ella who really keeps an eye on me – talking to me 3 times a day – she can spot me going off before I can – which is useful. She’s booked me into b&b’s and come and picked me up off the road a number of times. I keep in touch with a whole bunch of people that I met through the Edinburgh group too. That and the folk who support me through Facebook – I feel pretty well looked after!

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