I have had panic attacks in the past, fortunately they have been rare. Until now. Has a perfect storm of circumstance conspired to create this sudden anxiety, or is it something more than that? Although I haven’t experiencd a drawn-out and heart-crushing low for some length of time, nor a wildly excitable high, I have noticed that my mood changes more rapidly and more often than it used to. My symptoms are more chronic than acute. You would think this would be more manageable, but in some ways I had learned to live with those longer, rarer episodes. I knew what to expect. Now I am spinning out between moments of existential despair and lively chipper-ness. I’m finding it hard to deal with. I think this is partly the source of my anxiety – will tomorrow be one of those inexplicable on-the-verge-of-tears days? Will I be bouncing around like tigger? Or will I have one of those delightful, peaceful ordinary days where everything is just-so? The big question is – does this mean my symptoms are getting worse? Am I more bipolar than I used to be, or is it just that some unhappy events have given me a bit of a shake-up? What I should do is think about it less and do the job in front of me, whatever that might be of a day, but characteristically I have let this become a great big worry when only time will truly tell what the deal is. And I’ve become a bore about it, I talk about it because I am trying to think through it, find a solution but what I am actually doing is saying the same things over and over. *Yawn* The trouble with panic attacks though, is you start to fret that you’ll have another until you have an attack simply because you’re worried about having one. Meh. I don’t do a job where I can take myself off and breathe into a paperbag. That’s a worry. There is a lot of pressure right now to be at my best, and I’m not, which I hate. I’m worried that I’ll reach that point where I throw everything up into the air and damn the consequences. That would be really, really stupid. But I have been known to do this. I wonder if I even have an illness, whether I am not simply irresponsible, or selfish, or a bit-of-a-washout. Or all of the above. Maybe I am focusing on my mood swings because they are proof that I am struggling against something beyond my control, rather than just being a flake. Wow. So many thoughts, no wonder I’m in a panic. The terrible thing is, life is good in the main and all this anxiety and dread could ruin it. Again. Maybe writing this will help get my thoughts straight…nope, never mind. Perhaps I should try acupuncture…
I’ve had the good fortune to stumble across a number of great blogs about books and reading recently, and they have inspired this post…
As a kid I read by the light that flitered through the crack in the door- I insisted that I was afraid of the dark so that the landing light would always be left on. Once I had read all of my own books I moved on to my parents bookshelves. I didn’t entirely understand Jayne Eyre and Wuthering Heights, nor Spike Milligan’s War Diaries (and Wilbur Smith was rather stomach-churning for me at eleven) but I persevered.
As an adult I have invested more time in books than almost anything else. Whilst studying for a Literature degree and wading through as sea of classical novels, I sought solace in my daughter’s books. Thus I am proud to say I have read almost the entire body of work by Jaqueline Wilson. Now my daughter favours Caitlin Moran and Dorothy Koomson so I have to find my own ‘children’s’ books. But that’s easy; Patrick Ness, Philip Pullman, Malorie Blackman, Neill Gaimon and of course Roald Dahl are but a few wonderful authors whose books can be found in the childrens’ or teens’ section but whose writing is absolutely universal.
See, I’ve read Bulgakov and Pratchett with equal delight. I’ve read books that have been lauded and never lived up to their promise. I’ve read books that have blown all my expectations away. I have even read terrible books with the same pleasure I derive from a film that’s ‘so bad it’s good’ because a book is a form of entertainment. It can be so, so much more than that of course; The Life of Pi slayed me, The Road, Alias Grace, His Dark Materials and hundreds of others have left me wandering in a daze of reflection, temporarily disconnected with the ‘real’ world.
I have analysed the life out of The Hunger Games trilogy and Harry Potter as well as The Master and Margarita and Pamela and Madame Bovary.
In fact, that brings me to the title of this post. When my brain was all burned out and I needed to retreat for a while, it was Harry Potter that saved my life. I needed distraction, and there it was. I needed to care about what happened next, and I did. Harry Potter got me through a few dark hours by allowing me to escape.
Taste in books is as personal as taste in music and I love reading too much to be snobbish about books and authors. If you tell me it’s good, I’ll read it. And if I think it’s good, I’ll pass it on.
Here’s a few books I would pass on to you (were they not a terrible dog-eared state from being well loved…)
anything by Nick Harkaway (brilliant brainfry)
The Book of Laughter and Forgetting – Milan Kundera
The Little Stranger – Susan Waters
Men At Arms / The Night Watch-Terry Pratchett
L’Assommoir / Germinal -Zola
The Master and Margarita/ Heart of a Dog – Bulgakov
Monsters Walking Trilogy – Patrick Ness
His Dark Materials Trilogy – Philip Pullman
The Graveyard Book – Neill Gaimon
The Colour Purple – Alice Walker
The Things Around your Neck/ Half a Yellow Sun – Chimmamanda Ngozi Adiche
The Road – Cormac McCarthy
Survivor/ Invisible Monsters/Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk
Burying The Typewriter – Carmen Bugan
The Life of Pi- Yann Martel
The Tiger’s Wife – Tia Obreht
And a few I’d just pass on (if you dislike my other list these might be for you)
War and Peace- Tolstoy (sacrilege I know)
Far From the Madding Crowd – Hardy (cant get past chapter 1)
On Chesil Beach- Ian McEwan (I know, more sacrilege)
Lessons in texture
Blue and crackling, nylon in the dark
Clinging and scratching
And giving off sparks
Too-hot sticky or freezing
This is dreadful design
Lessons in Science- The Nightie, aged 5
Thorns and thistles, wool against skin
This stuff is all prickly!
“Show some thanks, it’s a gift
It took time to make
And there’s love in each stich.”
Learning love hurts – The Jumper, aged six
Scraping and burning, road against limb
“*!@$ing hell and @!*$”or
“Dear me, what a sting”
It’s a bed of black diamonds
When you surf it, full weight
Lessons in tarmac – aged twenty eight
This has been shape of my week. It has been noted that I am rather less patient and rather more shouty at present. This is a disheartening state of affairs. But hopefully I can do better next week. I think I can, I know I can…
I’m still working on the format of these doodles, they definitely reflect my inability to draw a straight line…even with a ruler.
As a child I loved drawing, but I have the misfortune (?) of being related to, and acquainted with, proper artists. (You know, the sort that can capture what they see with a few strokes of a pencil. Or create a masterpiece with a biro) It never put me off drawing as such, it’s just that art was their thing, not mine. Over the years I think I forgot that it was ok to do things just because you liked doing them.
Anyway, the point is that there doesn’t have to be a point, I post the odd cartoon but I have pages of them that don’t ever need to see the light of day. I have recaptured that child-like enjoyment of sitting down with a pen and some paper and just drawing. I’d like to be better at it, I’ve improved since I first found myself doodling again, but really I could draw stick people and still get pleasure from it. And I suppose that’s what it’s all about.
“Whatever you may think of the value of IQ tests it is surely relevant to a conversation about equality that as many as 16% of our species have an IQ below 85” Boris Johnson
Can’t face the gauntlet of applying for ESA on the grounds of mental ill-health? Fear not, there are plenty of suitable job opportunites available…
*reads ESA application forms and Work Capability Assessment guidelines, weeps and hopes never to need it*
And there’s a simple solution to the Bedroom Tax too…If you can get your hands on a wrecking ball or large hammer (Miley Cyrus might have a spare)