Archive for the ‘things that matter’ Category

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Darkness Visible

July 3, 2008

A few weeks ago I was in the library searching for something or other and in my travels came across this wee gem of a book which I’d recommend to anyone interested in mental illness, especially depression.

In the eighty four pages of Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness, William Styron describes his descent into depression through reflection on melancholia, despair, physical ailments, social phobia, alcohol, therapy, hospitalisation and eventual recovery. He gives an extremely moving account of his preparation for suicide, feeling like an observer to an oncoming disaster in an almost theatrical fashion. His attempts to write a farewell note seemed too ridiculous for they sounded either pompous or comical so he tore up all his efforts and resolved to “go out in silence”.

“Late one bitterly cold night, when I knew that I could not possibly get myself through the following day, I sat in the living room of the house bundled up against the chill; something happened to the furnace. My wife had gone to bed and I have forced myself to watch the tape of a movie in which a young actress, who had been in a play of mine, was cast in a small part. At one point in the film … the characters moved down the hallway of a music conservatory, beyond the walls of which, from unseen musicians, came a contralto voice, a sudden soaring passage from the Brahms Alto Rapsody.

This sound which, like all music – indeed, like all pleasure – I had been numbly unresponsive to for months, pierced my heart like a dagger, and in a flood of swift recollection I thought of all the joys the house had known: the children who had rushed through its rooms, the festivals, the love and work, the honestly earned slumber, the voices and the nimble commotion, the perennial tribe of cats and dogs and birds … all this I realised was more than I could ever abandon, even as what had set out so deliberately to do was more than I could inflict on those memories and upon those, so close to me, with whom the memories were bound. And just as powerfully I realised I could not commit this desecration on myself. I drew upon some last gleam of sanity … “

Eloquent and straightforward. Enjoy.

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Day

July 1, 2008

It seems comedy is the Community Psychiatric Nurse’s companion and for that I’m truly grateful otherwise the time with my mentor would have been far less entertaining! My adventure today involved chasing a patient’s dog around the street trying to get it back into the house because the dog likes adventure you see and sometimes if it gets out it stays out all night and it really needs to come in because I’m going out and what will it do if it comes back and I’m not in (the patient says). Immediately I feel sorry for (a) the elderly patient because she’s getting distressed and the dog’s too fast for her (actually the dog’s too fast for me too) and (b) the dog who’ll be left wandering around all day because no-one’s home. I was thinking this could all end in tears. Probably mine if I catch it and it bites me!

From the window I spotted the slippery menace and darted back outside … a woman with a mission! But we all know what dogs are like. They wait till you’re almost beside them then run away again. I lost count of how many times it did that. The man up the road started to chase it too and the Council refuse collectors seemed to enjoy the show.

I saw the dog was running out of steam and shouted one last time. Maybe he heard the desperation in my voice because he came bounding up to me. This dog whose name had been changed recently (long story), a friendly wee thing who realised he was in for the sharp end of his owner’s tongue. With his tail between his legs he made his way into the house and I was the heroine of the day!

Back inside we heard stories about the bingo (that made me smile), going for walks, hearing aids, dial a bus, the naughty dog eating sausages, learning to read and write at 70, her auntie (who must be about a 100) and a wee trip to the seaside. Nice lady!

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Monday’s Bingo

July 1, 2008

Yippee! I’ve passed and second year is still almost over!

I find it a little strange sometimes that I can get such good results. I’m sure someone is going to contact me to say there’s been a blunder, a huge mistake, a bit of a mix-up but so far it appears not so I smile. Now those who know me know that I hate boasting and am more inclined to understate my achievements than to shout about them from the rooftops. This is my way even though I wish I was different sometimes. Maybe it’s the result of a Presbyterian upbringing and the fact that praise was always hard to come by in our household or maybe it’s just a personality thing. Who knows and it’s not important. What’s important is I felt really good about myself and am pleased that the hard work is continuing to pay off. I’m sure family and friends believe that I’m taking the phrase ‘if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well’ to the extreme. No? Thanks for your help and support anyway x

Then I had an odd afternoon when I dropped in on a drop-in group specifically for people recovering from mental ill-health. Nothing odd in that you might say, especially for a student nurse specialising in mental health and you’d be right. In essence it’s not odd at all. But when the bingo started I was transported to a certain scene in a certain film. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry quite frankly and left feeling a bit deflated by the whole experience even though the participants were very nice, staff extremely welcoming and everyone seemed to enjoy it.

Nothing wrong with bingo you might think and, again, you’d be right. What am I getting at? I’m not really sure. I spoke to my mentor about it today and questioned the appropriateness of my reaction in a conscientious reflective student kind-of-a-way. Contrary to my thinking she understood what I meant, asking if I saw it as a step backwards instead of forwards. I’m sure that’s what I saw – something from the past – a stereotypical collection of people doing a stereotypical type thing in a stark hall absent of any warmth and I guess that shocked me slightly in 2008. I wondered if this is the best we can do?  I’m not sure what I think.

What I know is they enjoy it, it’s not about me is it, it’s about those that turn up week after week because it’s bingo. Good for them.

Enough said. Move on.

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Amnesty Signature Campaign

June 21, 2008
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talking to myself

May 22, 2008

For a split second everything seemed just right.  I feel quite spiritual in fact.  The sun’s shining, I’m eating chocolate, I don’t feel guilty as I walk passed the gym on the way home … then I start to think back to the events of the day. I should know by now that’s never a good thing.

You know that way you begin to replay things over in your mind?

Today we had to give a presentation. It shouldn’t have worried me but it did. My group arrived to be told that we were in the ‘communication suite’ and we all knew what that meant. Recording!!! We’d been duped! I would’ve worn something different! Well I am female and I wasn’t the only one wishing she was having a better hair day! I suddenly felt under pressure. The last time I felt this nervous was when I was Best Woman at my best friend’s civil partnership, and this time I didn’t even need to be funny for goodness sake!  (As we all know trying to be funny when one is not a naturally funny person isn’t good.)

I’m thinking I’m a bit stressed this week. Too many things needing my time and effort and I’m unable to focus.

I’ll just have another piece of chocolate and not think about it anymore. I’ve got an idea!  I’ll think about something else instead … 

I must remember to transfer the law and healthcare notes I took during this morning’s lecture. Now what was the name of that legal case and what was its significance again? Nope, can’t remember!

I’ll just wait till I get home and once I’ve read through the stuff, I’m sure it’ll all come back to me.

This afternoon’s lecture on dual diagnosis was really good – mental health & learning disabilities. Mmm tricky. I’m reminded of my second semester placement and hiding in the charge nurse’s office during the first week hoping nobody would notice. In the end it turned out to be a great learning experience … well I had to come out eventually!

The chocolate’s nearly finished! How did that happen and I’m only at the end of the road!?

I walk the same route each day … it reminds me of walking home from school (ah the olden days). I’m thinking that each time I pass these same houses I’m eating chocolate and it occurs to me that for three days this week I’ve been eating chocolate each time I pass these same houses. Is this developing into some sort of habit? . Admittedly I’ve had three varieties of chocolate: Monday was chocolate raisins, Wednesday was flake and today was a bar of whole nut (I was off Tuesday).

Last bite and it’s all gone.

I’m home.

 

 

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Fragile

May 13, 2008

Expressive smiley eyes are a family trait and there’s a likeness amongst us. So they say.

She had smiley eyes … the prettiest girl in the class who loved to dance. Inside, her story was very different and I only ever caught a glimpse of her reality. But that was then. A lifetime ago.

She’s in hospital. Organ failure they say.

I stop at the nurses’ station asking where to find her. From a distance I don’t recognise her but she smiles as I enter the room and her eyes give her away. She’s pleased I’ve come.

It’s easy to reminisce and before long we’re remembering the silly things: our shared jealousy because her brother always got Nana’s treacle toffees; her highland dancing days until the kilt didn’t fit anymore and there was no money for a new one; the big radiogram; her obsession with The Bay City Rollers and tartan things; Saturday night skating when I was allowed; our fashion disasters and bad hair cuts yet she still looked good! At that moment we were able to find a place where she could forget the bad things, the hurt and the pain.

I recognise in her now the vulnerability and fragility of her life and try to understand the reasons for the choices she’s made along the way.

She holds my hand and tells me she thinks she will die.

The funeral is on Tuesday they say.

Today was Tuesday. She was 47.

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Size 4

April 3, 2008

I’m obviously a bit behind the times in finding out that ladies can now buy size 4 (UK) clothing in Asda.  I had absolutely no idea until someone mentioned it at work last week.  This called for some investigation so off I went to find out if this information was reliable.  Yes indeed.  I found several items (including quite a nice blouse actually) all size 4.  Tiny, teensy weensy tiny!

What’s the point in this post?  Not sure really.  It could in fact be pointless but it’s something I just needed to share.  I’m kinda thinkin that of all the slim folk I know (there are a number and they’re all grown up) NONE come close to a UK size 4! 

So, where are they or maybe the clothing is just very small!?