My natural response in most situations is to ask to be left alone. There are many circumstances in which this works well: at work, for example, where if I’m having a bad day I can put my head down and just get on with things, or if I’m gigging on my own where I can work away on my iPhone during down times without worrying about having anybody to talk to. In other situations it is a little more difficult, and the trouble with being a natural introvert with a mental health condition is knowing when to hold your hands up and ask for help even if it means you have to talk to people.
One of the things I was most looking forward to when we planned our move from the Ibrox area to the east end of Glasgow at the end of last year was moving to a new medical practice. My previous Doctor with the Terrible Teeth was, to put it frankly, a patronising bastard who didn’t waste an opportunity to remind me that anti-depressants do not solve anything every time I saw him. By the time I had exhausted every talking therapy avenue he forced me down (some of which, like psychotherapy, was effective; some of which, like stress management classes, was rubbish) I was pretty much just ordering my repeat prescription every month and ignoring him. But then, just before I moved, I had to make an appointment about something else entirely. I called the receptionist to make an appointment (quite unfairly, the practice has a receptionist who was as lovely as my Doctor with the Terrible Teeth was unsympathetic), but when she answered it was with another practice name. I had been avoiding my Doctor with the Terrible Teeth for so long that he had retired in my absence.
Long story short: now, every time that I need to see a doctor (and, given my recent mental health adventures, that’s fairly frequently) it’s a five-mile trip and seven pounds in a taxi. The good news is that, now that my head is far more stable than it has been, my monthly check-ups consist of me talking about bands while my doctor (female, my age, the right combination of sympathetic and efficient) fills out a prescription. And I wouldn’t change it for the world: I’ve been doing this for long enough to know that a good practitioner is hard to find.
Yeah, I think my head is far more stable, you guys! I mean, I’m breaking all of my resolutions and continuing to do ALL THE THINGS because it’s a one-off, or it’s something unmissable, until once a week (it’s been Thursday, these past two, causing me to miss the last TYCI radio show, the SAY Awards ceremony and the Cairn String Quartet’s special guest-filled Tut’s headline show) I head straight to bed from work and sleep my way into a migraine but it’s all good! I’m stricter about not kicking myself when I don’t get things done, as long as the things that I don’t get done are neither my job or a paying freelance commitment in which case I kick a two-inch bruise into my thigh and power through. I’m less frustrated. I’m starting to feel the itch to write again: long form things that nobody has asked me to, in which I get to explore the things I care about. I have not, as yet, had the time to actually WRITE anything but frankly, given the mess I was in a couple of months ago even the reappearance of the urge is progress.
So I turned 31 a few weeks back. It might not have passed with the same wailing and frantic activity of the previous milestone, but I have quietly been making some real changes. It was only yesterday I realised the timing, so I suspect it wasn’t intentional: like an emotional shift rather than the loud, dramatic theatre of turning 30. I have joined a gym, and I have paid off my credit cards. I did so without the same fanfare I’d usually give to these things. I have been severely overweight for a couple of years now, and according to my bank manager it would have taken me 48 years to pay off my debts in the way I was doing. I’m proud of the fact that I have quietly told myself no more.
How are you?