It’ll drive you mad!

God I was bored.

If you’ve got some idea of where you are and what’s going on, psychiatric wards are incredibly boring. An old timetable stuck to a wall told me that on Mondays there was a cycling group (organised by Alyssa), later on in the week we had yoga (headed by Alyssa), and depending on interest an art group (see Alyssa). I never saw any of this, or any sign of Alyssa.

What I did see was daytime TV through a scratched plastic protective screen, dog eared books no one in their right mind would want to read (make your own joke), and a selection of board games with all choking hazards removed, featuring such slogans as The great family game that’ll drive you mad!

I was bored and I wanted to go out, and as I wasn’t under section I was entitled to leave. Hell, I was entitled to discharge myself if I wanted.

“We’d rather you didn’t”

The nurses looked at me sympathetically but firmly. Naturally they appreciated that being stuck pacing a few rooms for days was frustrating. And of course, they explained, I was allowed to leave. Should I want to go for a walk then they certainly wouldn’t dream of stopping me. But still. “We’d rather you didn’t”.

I gave up in the end, sat down in the peeling-paint communal area and gazed through that scratched plastic screen at Location Location Location. Kirsty and Phil were helping Sue and Jeremy find a weekend retreat in Hertfordshire. Sue worked in hospitality and Jeremy in marketing. I was still wearing the jeans I’d been dragged in on, and hadn’t showered or shaved for days; there’s no point when you’re stuck on ward.

Besides, they take your razor.

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You don’t realise how ill you are, when you’re really ill; it’s the trick the devil pulls to convince you he doesn’t exist. You don’t realise how ill you are when you’re really ill, but at first…

At first you feel the ground slip, tremors. A low, low rumbling , a trembling. At first you know the world is lurching.

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Symptom free

I’ve had a lazy few days.

The thing – one of the things – with being unemployed, is that with oceans of time around you it becomes easy to drift. And while I’m not ill right now, I do think I have a natural pattern of ‘do all the things’ v ‘do none of the things’. As I recover, regather, rewhatever, I’m beginning to appreciate the non-pathological aspects to what is generally understood as pathology.

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The world had never existed until now

Do you remember the first time?


The house I grew up in – the house I’m in now; it’s got a great garden that dad has tended over the years. There used to be two silver birches standing tall in the garden, now chopped down to make room. One of them only recently; white branches lean against a mossy wall.

You know how you never know what you’ve got till it’s gone? Oriental poppies, huge luscious petals, scarlet. An apple tree, now gone; a maple that remains. The maple’s always had this weird illness, the leaves are always blotchy and a little crisp. At least, I think it’s an illness; maybe it’s just the way it’s meant to be.


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One of the pots had fallen down in the garden, the young pine tree lying on the grass. I went out in the morning, picked up the scattered shale and rock from the grass, grass wet with early rain. Righted the pot, the pine, put the shale and stones back in place.

It rained a lot yesterday. The woods will be muddy.

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