21/01/16 What a fucking mess.

   
This has triggery stuff throughout. Also, to cut to the chase, I’m safe, if not entirely well, lying next to Ella in a b&b near Motherwell. 

My past, present and future tenses are pretty mixed up during this blog – that kind of reflects where my head’s still at. 

I’d driven up to Glasgow to do some voluntary work with SeeMe – we’re preparing for a big walk on the 20th of April this year on Glasgow Green, with a reception at the Winter Palace. 

I stayed in a bed and breakfast on the edge of town the night before the proposed meeting with Eleanor, the person who’s been instrumental in getting the events up and running in Scotland, some volunteers, and Nick, the SeeMe media guy. 

I knew things weren’t going terribly well when I wasn’t able to sleep for more than a couple of hours. 

Keep going – it’ll be fine. 

It took all my powers of observation and concentration to drive to the little (somewhat crappy with it’s moonscape surface) car park near their offices.
By the time I got there, around 15 minutes after leaving the B&B, I was emotionally, physically and psychologically spent. 

Keep going. 

Going through the motions, I paid for a full day’s parking. I looked at some urban art painted on the external wall of an end of terrace building. 

For the first time since I’d been going there, there were no cars parked in front of it. 

What would I normally do in a situation like this? 

After much inward consultation, I decided I’d take a picture and share it on Facebook. 

Some people liked, and commented on it pretty instantly.

What the fuck am I supposed to do? 

How do I respond to them? 

I’ll phone Ella – she’ll know. 

She wasn’t around. 

I was an hour early. I’m always an hour early. It…suits me.

I got back in the car. 

Seconds…minutes ticked by. 

If I don’t leave now, I’ll be late…

I phoned Ella again…still no reply.

No worries though – I’m just being silly. 

With a huge effort I got out of the car. Nothing felt real…and yet…enormous at the same time. 
People walking by, although they were silent, were almost deafening…just because they existed.

Suddenly I had to focus on each and every step – walking felt unfamiliar.

I got to the SeeMe offices – I spoke to the receptionist, telling her who I was there to meet. 

The voice that came out of my mouth wasn’t mine. Of course it was mine! I was talking and listening to it at the same time. 

I sat down to wait for someone to show me where to go. 

People were talking – some smiling – some not – some glancing over – most not – their existence felt like a cheese grater scraping over raw nerve endings. 

The office was unfamiliar – that’s fine, I’d inly been there once or twice before. But it was unfamiliar as a thing – it felt I was seeing a room and people for the first time ever. 

I tried to think about the meeting. Be in the moment. Good old mindfulness stuff. Feel my feet on the floor…

I had to leave.

I knew I’d dissociated. At the same time my inner dialogue was telling me that this is the way it had always been – maybe I was just focusing too much – or looking at things funny.

I left. 

I didn’t – couldn’t – look at the receptionist. Any kind of conversation would be too big. 
I walked outside – it felt that I was treading with all the uncertainty I’d have if I were walking on a bouncy castle. 

I looked at my phone. Ella had tried to call. I rang her back. 

She asked me how I was doing – I think I said, ‘Terrible,’ 
I had to get back to the car. I could take some pills – close my eyes – have a sleep and be ok. 
I had Ella’s car!!

This was the fear that was there, but we’d never spoken of. What if I went off with the car and dissociated? 

She told me she was going to get the train up. She’d come and get me.

I was crying now. 

I got back to the car. There were no fluids for me to take my medication with. I’d have to find a shop. 

I was back walking on the relatively small side street. It felt huge. 

Negotiating the camber in the road, especially where it met the kerb was so very difficult.
I was aware I was staggering.

All I had to do was find a shop. 

I counted the money in my pocket. £1.90 – surely that’ll be enough? 

I looked at my hand. I had that old familiar feeling that that hand had never belonged to me. I’d be better off without it. There was a frightening cascade of vivid imagery of severing that hand with a machete that my friend Derek once owned years ago. 
Rapidly followed by a desire to cut my face off. 

I heard people talk. It was horribly jarring. I couldn’t focus on what they were saying it was just a cacophonous riot. 

I felt like I was falling out of control. I wanted to hold onto things to stop me…what? 

Falling off? 

In retrospect I imagine I’d felt very similar to astronaut, Tim Peake, who knew it was time to leave his capsule if he dared. And he was floating in a most peculiar way. 

I found an Aldi. 

It was on the other side of a main road. There was a pedestrian crossing. There were very few cars around. Other folk were obviously finding it easy to cross without waiting for the green man. 
I had some fleeting thoughts of how wonderful it would be to shut off this noise in my head once and for all – I could throw myself in front of…something..?

Any thought of negotiating these fast moving things was overwhelming. I just couldn’t do it – I was paralysed with…with…whatever the fuck this is 

I waited to be told when it would be safe to cross. 

Aldi was colossal, and dazzlingly white. I watched other people with envious eyes as they were quietly making their way around. 

I found some water – it was on offer – 8 litres for £1. I should just buy it and get out. 

I felt frozen to the spot. 

I don’t want 8 litres – but – there they are in front of me…

At the last second, I spotted some small individual bottles. 

I got to the checkout.

What am I supposed to say? What do I do? 

I watched as others went through – hardly any chat – some would get bags – others wouldn’t. 

Then it was my turn. I made some incoherent grunt. Coughed then spoke my thanks with that same disembodied voice. 

I had to get back to the car. 

It was a 5 minute walk. 

After more of the same space walking, I climbed into the relative safety of my metal cocoon – I wonder if it’s because it’s kind of extension of Ella…

And maybe that’s just a pile of old bollocks.

Once I was in the car I could take the 300mg of quetiapine – an antipsychotic drug that quietens my mind – again, fleeting thoughts of just taking more and more – that this was no way to live – as ever my old, drilled in, cognitive behavioural therapy (not the cure-all we were told, but still handy) kicked in. The imagery of my children, not as they are now, but as they were when they were much younger, finding me after I’d taken my own life, is always enough to stop any thoughts in their tracks. 

I started watching the x-files through my phone. I played the sound through the cars speakers so it was extra loud – anything to drown out the noise in my head. 
Every time someone past the car, my body leapt into a state of fight or flight. Each time I wrestled to bring my consciousness back to the matter in hand – Mulder and Scully solving the next case…

I had a conversation with Ella – she was on her way, but she’d be about 9 hours – her train got into Glasgow at 20.15. Maybe I should get a taxi to a B&B…?

NO!!!

I couldn’t – it was impossible. 

I returned to my viewing pleasure…

The light gradually faded as the day went on. The little bubble I’d made for myself became more like the haven we make when I’m mad at Ella’s – a darkened room and loud American cop shows. 

The drugs kicked in too – I dipped in and out of sleep – in no time it was 7pm.

I used the follow app on my phone to chart Ella’s progress. Her train was nearing Edinburgh – which meant Glasgow was a mere stone’s throw. 

I got a call from her – she was in a taxi in Glasgow – the taxi driver wasn’t sure which car park I was in. 

My head exploded – I made an involuntary grunt – I’d sent my location on a map in an attempt to make it easier. 

It wasn’t enough – I’d have to go outside – I’d have to look at the sign at the entrance of the car park.

Cold as it was, I felt the warm blanket of night making my experience of the world less stark – less shocking – a bit more manageable. 

I was able to tell them where to go. 

In no time she was with me. 

There were no ‘life depends on it’ hugs though. She walked up to me and squeezed my arm. 

She knew this doppelgänger well. I was the temp – an imposter – it’s like invasion of the body snatchers, where I’m the alien life force that has taken over this body. 

I knew all the memories and experiences – but I couldn’t quite work this piece of exquisite machinery. 

Ella’s been in touch with everyone who might have missed me today…

Eleanor from SeeMe was told very early on about my absence – and about my very specific ‘Sit in the car and wait for Ella with no input from anyone else’ needs. 

I was taken back to a number of mental health crashes on my walk – Stonehaven, where I’d been struck with the horrible realisation I wasn’t cured of this ridiculous condition; Ullapool, where I’d skidded to a halt, going from euphoria to dissociation in a matter of hours; Porthmadog, where I’d had a third crunching of gears in quick succession…

There was no doubt in my mind – this is, was and always will be crushing failure.

Ella set about the task of getting me somewhere safe. She’s seen this ‘me’ many times and knows how to gently get me back. 

More pills, some food, a night’s sleep, more food and pills and in no time we were in that safe, darkened room again.

It’ll pass.

That’s a lot easier to say and believe than 2 days ago. 
I’m much improved. We know I’m on the tail end of what we call ‘A bad one’, but I’ve come through it relatively unscathed. 

I try to steer my mind away from thinking about my walk to Aldi. I will come to see it for what it is – and not something I’ll judge myself eternally for. 

It will pass. 

Walk a mile 

Chris 

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This entry was posted in economy, government, hospitality, inequality, kindness, mental health, walking and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to 21/01/16 What a fucking mess.

  1. robhanlon1 says:

    Think you’ve turned a ‘mess’ into a f***ing masterpiece by writing about the experience, well done ¬

  2. I hope you feel much better soon Chris. Thinking of you. xx

  3. Unfortunately this sounds all too familiar to me. Best wishes.

    • It’s far more common than folk – the general public/ professionals would have us think. There are still some professionals who deny the existence of dissociation – which feels a bit like those folk who still claim the earth is flat. Thanks for reading

  4. zerovizibility says:

    Thanks a lot for posting this. This feels a lot like what happens to me each time I leave the house. This is brilliant.

  5. DaisyWillows says:

    I can connect/relate to these feelings of detachment- not feeling past of your body. It is hard talking about mental health issues but we need to talk and interact. I’m glad you are on a medication that works for you. Is it something you take daily or only when you have full blown panic attack?

  6. Pingback: 06/06/16 Walk a mile in my shoes | Walk a Mile in My Shoes

  7. I love the way you write!

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