Sharing the stuff I wrote in my early 20s is probably a terribly embarrassing idea, but it does give some kind of insight into my mental health across time. And at least I’ve not shared all the stuff I wrote when I thought I was Jesus.
I’m moving out of London soon – this city might not send me crazy, but leaving it sure will help keep me sane. At least for a little while. Now seems an opportune time – I’ve no job holding me here, my studies will either finish soon or be postponed for a year. I’ve family in Sheffield. Family is good for me, as are the Pennines, as is home.
I’m being unusually pro-active about it – usually when moving I leave everything to the last minute, but I’m seeing this as a chance to declutter. You go through life, you pick up so much crap, so much stuff. I moved down here with a rucksack… now I’m going to need a car for my return.
Still. May as well get of as much as I can stand to. Almost all my books are going, and I suspect a fair few clothes will end up with charity shops. But of course in clearing out you find forgotten bits of life. And if you have a habit of writing – sometimes in fits and starts, sometimes consistently for years – you find a lot of forgotten bits of life. All dusty and discoloured. And with hindsight you can return to all those years ago, with new eyes, and wonder how some things managed to escape your attention for so damn long.
What follows are a few brief extracts – with the exception of the first one, which I’ve reproduced pretty much in its entirety since it does such a good job of evoking my frustration, confusion, and despair at the time – and how much the city (Leeds) was getting to me.
Clever dykes and clever dicks, how to get ahead in relationships. How to not care what women want. How to worry over what men want; how to walk past beggars and only feel a twinge of guilt, how to ignore Big Issue vendors.
How to dance and hardly care who’s watching.
“You know about helping yourself?” the woman in the cafe asks.
The exams are coming and I’m too busy smashing crockery and whimpering on the kitchen floor to do anything about it.
And outside the rain’s still pouring and the poor bastards with no homes to go to are crouching by the light, wrapped in sodden blankets with nothing but a handful of coppers in their McDonald’s cups.
And I walk by thinking poor bastard.
And I walk by thinking I want to run away.
And I walk by thinking maybe this next car.
And I walk by.
I’m plummeting. I can feel the world slip by and I slip down.
No, really. I can.
Nausea and vertigo. I wish I could throw up.
I don’t feel too good.
I’m breaking up. I no longer relate to myself. This time it’s serious, I don’t think we’re getting back together, but I don’t care. Who needs him anyway?
“Do you know about helping yourself?”
In Border’s the coffee tastes of vanilla, and the lights are bright and anonymous.
Anonymous is a word for limericks. A nonny mouse.
My head still hurts with awesome pressure and my legs are still weary tho I don’t know why, The world is still swirling in my head.
It’s only 7:30. I’ve no desire to go home. I’ve no desire to communicate in anything other than wails and tears and screams.
Whale ant ears and cream.
Let me out.
Laugh and the world laughs with you;
Cry and you cry alone.
For this sad old earth sees little of mirth
And has troubles enough of its own
For the first time I can remember, I look into my future and every part of me, every fibre of my body and soul is saying yes.
Some of it is in baritone, so deep it’s a feeling more than a sound. Some so excited the sound is a babysqueal of joy. Some are so simple it’s as if the answer is so obvious it’s a non-question. Now it all looks so simple. All the fear has left me now.
I’m flirting with depression again. Flirting, because it comes and goes, and I’m still functioning OK, for the main part.
Before, I’ve just got wound iup and more depressed about it. That’s a bad strategy. Before I get too bad and wound up, I need to deconstruct this and take some pro-active action.
- What do I think has triggered this?
- What maintains it?
- What makes it worse?
- What can I do?
- What can I think?
I’m so sorry
I’m sat on my bed, in my tidied-last-week (becoming messy) room, listening to Gaydar Radio.
I’m feeling OK.
Or, something’s making me feel OK. 40mg of citalopram might be involved. The exercise I did yesterday might be involved. And the alcohol I drank last night and the poor sleep I’ve had and coffee might be involved. Brains are complicated like that.
The music on the radio is sending ripples of hypomania through me. Am I bipolar or is it the drugs? That strange, pressured joy and expansive bliss.
Expansive bliss is something I’ve had for years, now and then. The first time, in mum and dad’s garden, on a summer evening, with the dark sky and violet flowers and sweet air.
E x p a n s i v e B l i s s
I miss my past. Because in my past I only look at the good bits. In my memory everything was perfect.
Who are you, Phil? Under all this sound and fury, who are you? Can you stand still?
Sat upstairs in the Wellington, drink by my side and pen in my had, trying to write poetry and only finding commentary.
Memories insistent as rain, I shudder sometimes from little earthquakes. You don’t know where you end and the drugs begin. All those ticktock phrases gone, evaporated in the sun; all those loops, looping loops lost. Left with memories, soft and insistent as raindrops on skin.
I’m feeling good, ultimately. Sanity is underrated.
In June 2012 I visited a friend in Cardiff. He was worried about my mental health and invited me up for a break.
Leaving, we hugged, and I pulled him close, tight, kneading his flesh. Began to sob, hysterical.
I’m going to do it. I’m so scared, I think I’m going to do it.
The next day I was picked up by the police and taken to hospital.
Life is full of ups and downs, as they say.
‘Ticktock phrases’ and ‘looping loops’ refers to the persistent, insistent thoughts and phrases of violence, suicide and grief which beat obsessively in my mind when I’m depressed. ‘Memories soft as rain’ refers to the side effect I get, occasionally, with antidepressants – their strange habit of bringing up old memories, neutral, long forgotten memories, often of childhood.