Poet Posing on Prose Platform

Mental Health

The Value of Nightmares

An eye, very like this, seen first in the film “Spiral Staircase”, used to wake me to sitting in terror.  The eye (through a hole) filled the screen prior to each murder of women in boarding house, each with a different disability. Later in life while enjoying/enduring a psychotic episode, I reassured myself by believing there is always someone watching over me. Or Someone.

Another series of nightmares had me in a lift/elevator shaft, jumping from side to side above the lift, grabbing onto wrought iron walls,  my parents in pursuit as the lift rose up and down, but never squashing me. Have read this as no matter how high or low the bipolar takes me, I am safe from being crushed. Rising above and outside the moving box.

For me, the most valuable nightmare is/was the one that came true in real life as I followed my dreams on waking.  I use it now to reassure myself that I am on track – the dirt running track in the following poem – and with the cheering from friends responding to David Collins-Rivera review of MIXED FORTUNES as posted on tumblr (see below) leads me to the comfort that I am on the final stretch. (For how this worked out in real life one would have to read “Life Before Lithium” on Smashwords. ) Now I am applying it to my writing life.

A witch used to chase me

through a three dimensioned maze

always found an opening

but not the way out

before the maze disappeared

and the witch

turned into a tribe of gypsies

in full cry behind me

as I sped

from village hall

up the main road

between disused railway tracks

to the field

where pig-lilies grew.

Up the bank

across the recreation ground

up clay-slip slope

and stony path

dirt running track

gravel road

pine trees

by gate of school

to disappear.

 

But one night,

the night they went

forever,

I made it.

Fell into the arms

of the waiting headmaster

deafened by the cheering school

the witch and the gypsies

demons of my night

let me sleep

undisturbed.

http://wordacrosstime.tumblr.com/post/162945342034/mixed-fortunes-work-in-progress

This is what is missing – explaining recent MIA

Recently diagnosed as deficient in B12. One injection and several things changed for the much better – but only for short while – need another hit! Doc’s appointment not until next week so have – on chemist’s recommendation – started spray under my tongue. Doesn’t take much to get me back on board – as witnessed by my catch-ups this morning – but really looking forward to getting this sorted even when it means a monthly injection for the rest of my life. As with both eyes now – not monthly but each depending on how well it is behaving – four to six weeks apart. Next time both eyes. Might just treat myself to a taxi home.

Would be interested to find out how long  ago the B12 situation started as I have been sent off to specialists for symptoms differently diagnosed. As with macular degeneration, the earlier it is identified the better. When one injection can go toward relieving three separate symptoms I could end up being a bit cranky about B12 lack not being picked up sooner.

TAKE A HINT. Check it out with your GP.

Writing, had a weep, tidied up files to find this


I am closer to 76 (78) than 75 (77).

My first experience of serious depression was at age18 after two people I knew were killed in motor vehicle accidents. My suicidal impulse at the time was held in check on two grounds. If I was not successful I could be prosecuted (attempted suicide against the law). If I was successful I could not know whether the In Memoriam notices in the West Australian would number something between that of one friend (1) and the other (column after column). By the time I stopped worrying, the suicidal mood had passed.

And this is the trick! The mood passes.

Just sit it out. When feeling a danger to myself, I used to go to the nearest hospital and ask to be allowed to just sit in safety. That was all I needed. It also helped when I had a circle of friends who did not need telling, but somehow knew we should sit up all night, putting the world to rights till the sun came up. Also, even when it feels as if alone enough to successfully suicide, my experience was that there was Something Out There which ensured a close, but failed attempt.

But for ordinary, non-suicidal depression, I found the best, the quickest way out of it was to surrender, play some really, really sad music, make yourself as miserable as possible as quickly as possible because, once down there in the pits, the only way is UP. For me, that became the creative writing time.

The death of friends, of a child, of parents. These are all reactive depressions and normal. Hormonal upheavals either monthly or after birth, again part of normal living. Loss of jobs, partners by either death or divorce and all those other events which tally up. Most of us will have experienced same or similar. Top this off with bipolar, genetic predisposition, lying dormant until triggered by stress and then crash and burn and phoenix-like rise again knowing that you know the secret of the Meaning of Life, where it came from and where it is going! Oh, boy. Fun, fun, fun. (But not for those around who strive to make sense I(there is none) of it all.)

My saving grace, inner strength, whatever you want to call it, stemmed from an incident when I was nearly five years old. (Please do NOT visualise). The head of our neighbour’s son was sliced apart by the flying blade of a broken circular saw. His mother came over to our place in great distress. My mother told me to look after the distressed woman, my 23 month old sister and my 8 week old brother. She told me to be a brave little girl while she pedalled off to the post office to call the doctor and police. I know that is what she told me as, when 55, I woke one morning sobbing my heart out with relief that I no longer had to be a brave little girl. (She forgot to stand me down!) So, for fifty years I went through Life with girded loins prepared to take on anything Life threw at me.

WMD: Not Weapons of Mass Destruction but Wet Macular Degeneration

Just as well I have one of these charts on my fridge. Being previously alerted to changes experienced by the left eye, I have been able to catch the development of WMD – Wet Macular Degeneration in the right eye. So, suddenly a rearrangement of priorities and allocation of funds. No longer can I defer the completion of my major novel until just before the lid is nailed down as reduced vision will likely impact on my ability put words down on screen or paper. The maintenance of my eyesight is slightly more important than knees, hips and general ability to get about but I think I will be able to manage the additional eye injections as well as gym membership.

I most thoroughly recommend that everyone  print out an Amsler Grid (or get one from your optician) as the early signs can so easily be overlooked. If you see even the slightest distortion of the straight lines of a grid – take heed. Don’t wait until the lines bend in all directions and darkened areas show up. 

Early detection enables the condition to be stabilised, so earlier the better. When one eye is affected the chances of both are 50%. Not in the mood to search probabilities if a family member has or had it – my mother did and I now kick myself as I never thought to ask whether both eyes were affected.  But it seems the days of listening to books may come sooner than ever I thought – which would mean those blanketey hearing aids. Ah well. Still alive and kicking and the alternative not yet welcome.

Unhappy v Not Happy

Searched for an image to best express my feelings this morning.

Started with ‘not happy’ and was confronted with a plethora of platitudinous crap floating among images of anger. For that is where the attitude of ‘not happy’ comes from – unresolved anger. Resolve my anger? I would not know where to start.

I accept one can change an attitude by a change of thinking – I grew up with Pollyanna – put a smile on your face and find the silver lining. Did that until it became a habit which masked unhappiness.

‘Unhappy’ is not an attitude, but an intermittent but persistent mood. One of the facets which reflect an inner feeling. After all, “laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone.” I have been in that laughing space and the most memorable thing about it is that I cannot remember what triggered the laughter, with whom, when or where. I just know that I laughed until it hurt. But I cry alone.

But that is not the reason I decided to create a new post today. Someone elsewhere expressed concern that I had not posted in here for some days, worried for my welfare. I live alone and, like many older persons, am aware of the possibility of being found dead.

So here I am, reassuring at least one reader that I am alive and reasonably well. I have been going to the gym for an upper body workout followed by time in the pool – hydrotherapy exercises and a swim – coming out when I crinkle or cramp.

The gym is now open; time to dress, breakfast and take a leisurely stroll.

My Kindle Kollection: Books About Writing By Writers

owl-with-kindle
read-write-stephen-kingThis is a list of categories into which my ebooks are saved and stored..

Number of books listed under

Writing 41, General Writing Advice 15, Plotting 11 which includes 6 on plot construction alone, Publishing 25, Marketing 20 and Graphics 9 ( for the time in my life when I may – perhaps – master the concept of playing with pictures instead of words.)

How many of these does one really need? My trouble is they each, and every one, contain specks of gold-dust and some with gold-flakes and, less often, a nugget of new information. When is enough enough?

Summoning some courage to dispute the notion stated by Stephen King.

The time needed for reading is many years before you start to write.  

The time for writing is when you have a story to tell.

How well you can tell your story then rests on how well you can translate the telling into writing.

Most tools you need to write are elicited from early reading and stored in the pattern recognition toolbox in your brain. Other tools are acquired – spelling and formal grammar – many writers manage to escape the need for these and become the grist for the mills of Editors. (Books I have but not included in the above account.)

There comes a time when the reading about writing has to stop, giving way to writing for a reader – and who that is will become another topic on another day.

I thought I had stopped adding to my Kindle Kollection when realising so much ground had already been covered within other purchases when I found declining informational value of new purchases

UNTIL

giving way to temptation and buying a Kindle copy of The Elements of Eloquence by Mark Forsyth.  Not only great fun to read, but now contributing to setting myself some essay construction challenges for the coming year.

 

PS. As an aside, I am still recovering from overdoing things at the gym/swim the other day, sitting here on my 77th birthday and slowly releasing my stroppy, bossy nature. No-one said anyone HAD to write. If writing is not fun or to some clear purpose, go outside, enjoy the day and say hello to a stranger, I did.

 

 

 

Walk, gym, swim, walk! Overdoing.

exhaustedReaction from having a thorough session on the machines and then swimming until cramp says ‘stop’. Walking is 20 minutes there and

t w e n t y back. Plod, plod, plod.

Seriously considering buying a bicycle upon which I will make sure there is the necessary bell. Woke weary, done very little and looking forward to an early night.emjoy-thumbs-up

Not MIA – Just Buried in Books

buriedFeeling lazy.

And my excuse is (the rather late in life)  discovery of Phillip Pullman as an author and the series His Dark Materials.  Having first finished reading Northern Lights, I asked the library to hold the next two books for me. The third arrived first and I held off reading until The Subtle Knife arrived.  Very hard to put down, but sleep became an necessity. Finished yesterday and picked up The Amber Spyglass and read for as long as I could stay awake. On wakening I felt flat. Christmas is a-coming and, for many reasons, I find this time of year depressing. Am I just being contrary?

Is it because the expectation is that we are all supposed to be full of joy and goodwill that triggers misery? Mood lifted when searching Google Images for an appropriate pic for this post.

Discovered this which is how I often describe my state when I will have almost finished the novel which is currently a lazy effort in progress. I am at a point where I have a good idea of what words need putting to page so ‘block’ is not a problem. If anything, I have too many ideas. As I operate from the premise that everyone has a story worth telling, I find I am having to put much about my characters to one side as potential for another story, to be written at another time, while I proceed with the laying down and discovery of several legacies within the whole – gifts from the past to the future being told in the present.

Rather than fret about what I feel I should be doing – that is writing – I may give in to what I feel like doing,; in no particular order, get dressed, breakfast, another coffee, walk 3000 steps to the gym for an upper body workout followed by a swim, an email to my property manager advising that if my landlady is not soon forthcoming with the refund of NBN connection (as a new build) I will have to take the matter to the Rent Tribunal. various-girls-hairstyles-3

But the over-riding worry will be addressed tomorrow – will a new hairdresser leave me with less on my mind?

With a fresh hair-do, newly purchased clothes (op-shop) in the colours deemed suited earlier this week I plan on looking as good as possible in the hope that lifts the mood from flat, flat, flat while being grateful it is not down, down, down. Possibly the fourteen years on lithium has trained some part of my mind not to go to dark places, which is good, I must admit. Am I expecting too much to hope that in reaching out I may come in contact with the joy of sharing and being shared with?

Second thoughts, am only at page 46 of 522 in The Amber Spyglass which means all the good intentions will go by the board. I can swim tomorrow after my new hairdo, will now compose the email to the property manager,  so after toast and coffee, I will back back to the book.

Whatever plans you have for this day, be as flexible as you need to enjoy being alive in what ever way you want to pass the time.

Head All Over The Place

scatterbrainThis an apt description when waking this morning. Two clear dreams, each seemingly with a message to decode. Each line of thought leading to others, etc – you know how it goes. Still in bed and with each decision to think about what is on the agenda for the day producing yet another line of thought more and more notions. Maybe the best idea is to get out of bed and sleepwalk through the basic routine – open blinds, turn on computer, water in kettle, kettle on stove, bathroom and start thinking there?

I wonder how many also find being sat on that seat to be a moment of mental clarity? 

On with the day. Doctors, library, shopping, take cheque to eye specialist and consider whether time and energy enough to join the gym.

What are your first moves on waking?

Creative or Cranky

me-and-my-ever-changing-moods-red-gold-20121Went to bed with today planned. I knew where next my characters meet and what will happen, but this morning woke with thoughts racing and mood definitely cranky. Maybe it is a reaction to feeling so good about the progress made in the novel – usual ‘paying the price’ for feeling more cheerful than usual. These days the swings are minor by comparison but up is still balanced by the down.

But then I realised I had gone to sleep less than pleased with the author of the book being read before sleeping. An Australian author, prolific writer, mainstream publisher, new book. Not far into the story I read that the Nullarbor is a desert and one of the passengers on the train crossing the Nullarbor Plain – lots of low lying scrub – is Chinese – in 1943. If the author was a younger person it could be possible he/she (no more clues) would be unaware of the White Australia Policy. Only someone who had not travelled out of Australia while the legislation  was in force would have been sheltered from the disgust directed by the outside world at that racist policy. There were many times I was held to account for the policy when trying to enjoy a quiet drink in a London pub. I shudder to think of the contempt Australians will face overseas in light of Australia’s current refugee policy and racist procedures.

Do I write to the author to voice my disappointment? It is one thing to suspend belief when reading fantasy or sci-fi but when a story is anchored in so much that is  real – as is the book in question – then failure by author and publishing team is disheartening.  This is the first time I have picked up one of this author’s many books. Is it enough to put me off? How much forgiveness do I have in my heart? Am I such a pickety-pickety person? Yes.

My memory goes back to feedback given after a vocational guidance test when I was 16 years of age. Seems my mind is structured to focus on very fine detail and for this a career as a pharmaceutical chemist would be my best fit. I mentioned I would like to be a writer and was told they were not able to forecast success in that field, but any where I positioned myself to meet people while maintaining a ‘shop counter’ relationship would be the next best thing. Barmaid fitted that and filled pints and gave change exercising great precision. And that is how I regard facts when writing my story.

Aware of how moods can creep out between lines written, I am not about to return to the novel this morning. As I am confident very few, if any, will read this post down this far, any such gloom as I am now experiencing will be limited. (If you have read this far, please chide me in a comment.)

%d bloggers like this: