Posted in Agoraphobia, Health Issues, Life and Family

Fear Stands Behind

One of the things that bothers me about panic, agoraphobia and similar anxieties is that they are never far away. Even if you recover to a stage where you’re generally relaxed, feeling comfortable out and about, and you have been okay for a long while, you know it won’t take much to bring the bad feelings back. You are constantly alert, avoiding situations that might bring on a panic attack.

Well, today I had the worst attack for a long time, and still feel ‘off’. I was out with my mother and sister for coffee and shopping. The coffee shop was crowded and noisy, but that was OK. I found myself describing last night’s dream… in a crowded gathering, Boris Johnson approached and said “I noticed you and your mother both like word games!”

After coffee, I felt vaguely ‘unsafe’ as we walked in the streets. Perhaps the people round us were walking too fast? I wasn’t sure what was wrong.

We went into a brightly-lit Boots, and the feeling of unease increased. They had a ‘3 for 2’ offer on vitamins, so I picked up magnesium, Vitamin D and cod liver oil capsules. I recently watched a video saying calcium supplements are not only unnecessary, they’re potentially harmful, so I was irritated that the magnesium in Boots was mixed with calcium. I would have been stuck if my mother hadn’t found a small pot of plain magnesium. If there’s any calcium in it, it’s not in the label; it just says ‘contains sodium’. It was quite a bit cheaper than the other two supplements, so that’s what I got free… sigh.

Stop Taking that Calcium Supplement! (YouTube video)

But I digress…

Having chosen my supplements from the massive range in Boots, I was dismayed to find a long queue at the cashpoint. Other experienced anxiety sufferers will know why this is a problem. They used to have tills dotted all round the shop, but now the individual till points have been amalgamated into a single group of tills. You have to stand in one long queue, and by the time you reach the head of it, there’s a long queue of people standing behind you… which is worse than having a long queue of people in front, because they’re probably all staring restlessly at you and wishing you’d get a move on.

While waiting, I couldn’t even stand neatly in the queue… I stood to one side of it, which was kind of awkward. Why did I do that? It makes me stick out like a sore thumb, but I felt joining the line properly would somehow trap me. I considered putting the supplements back and getting them another time, but suspected I’d just find long queues again when I came back.

I won’t put up with panic any more. I want to do what I’m there to do, and get on with it even if I become visibly upset. That way perhaps I will learn to push through things, and the anxiety will finally go away and leave me alone. At any rate, that’s the idea!

I was shaking when getting my change and putting my shopping away, but I survived… and I don’t think the girl behind the till even noticed, as I was just scooping things up rapidly and bobbing down to my shopping trolley. Later I asked Mum if she realized I was panicking in Boots, and she looked surprised and said ‘no’!

I calmed down when we were walking around town and into other shops like H&M, but I still wasn’t happy. I think town was more crowded than usual and I instinctively sensed the change.

A day or two ago I was talking to Mum about calcium while in the middle of watching the video on the subject. She got hissy and annoyed, and I laughed out loud when Dr Berry said, “your mom is probably still taking it. Women have the habit of getting into the habit of things.” Yes, she is. She’ll probably keep taking calcium because she believes in it, but I’m happy with Vitamin D. I wasn’t taking calcium in the first place, or any supplements at all, but it’s true there isn’t an awful lot of sunshine around here. So Vitamin D it is!

On the subject of anxiety, I’ve been thinking about whether or not it’s affected by diet. If it is, how does the right diet stand between you and anxiety regardless of the personal stresses you undergo? Perhaps the wrong diet weakens you and you are less able to stand up to ‘the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’? Perhaps the wrong diet puts you more on edge so that even small things stretch your nerves? If there’s a correlation, I’ve no idea what it is, but the following two videos made me wonder:

Jordan Peterson — The Carnivore Diet Changed My Life! — Joe Rogan Podcast

Mikhaila Peterson Diet (Arthritis & Depression Success Story)

I’ve been feeling pretty blue over the past while, along with an unfortunate tendency to eat things like Maltesers, swede & carrot mash, fruit and chocolate biscuits… Maybe if I cut those things out, the anxiety would disappear! Dare I put these chocolate biscuits in the bin? I hate wasting things, but should I…?

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Posted in Blogging, Lost in Thought

Facing Change

This morning I found myself typing the following into a search engine: “when you’ve changed so much you don’t recognize yourself.”

I didn’t find much relevant in the results. They were mostly by people talking about something else entirely. They have fallen in love and are suddenly no longer interested in their old friends; they have lost trust in someone and wonder if they should give second chances; they regret their own actions but are no longer trusted by those around them. These are not what I’m talking about.

What came closer to it was a page about how major episodes of depression can change you; people think recovery is going back to their old selves and feeling the way they used to, yet it’s unlikely you’ll be exactly the same person you were. I know that feeling too, but it’s only part of the story here.

Surely most of us have these dizzying shifts in perspective as we go through life. It can happen quite quickly, over a few days… you go through a hard experience of some kind, and one morning everything looks permanently different. We might not understand what has happened, but our way of thinking has changed for some reason. What we are upset about is probably the realization we were mistaken in some way, are not who we thought we were, or don’t have something we thought we had or would have.

I miss that old comfortable groove where I could see the world in one particular way, rain and shine, day in and day out… but it was also a bleak groove, and was becoming bleaker as the years rolled by. I may have blamed myself sometimes, but have not been solely responsible for the growing chill in the world I thought I knew.

I said I changed, and I have, but it’s more as though I was lost and sailing in a mist, then the mist lifted and I could see my way and set a firmer direction. I always had contradictory views, but some started to make more sense and I stopped ignoring them.

My point is that these big changes in our perspectives don’t have to lead to loss of self and resulting depression; they can clarify and confirm parts of ourselves we didn’t understand before, which is beneficial and even healing. I would argue that they are always beneficial if we accept that such changes can lead us to a terra firma we would otherwise not have found.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my blog here, and I guess that the longer I’ve been blogging, the more distant I am from some of what I’ve written. Yet the old posts still describe how I was at a certain point in time. I’m not sure I can even blog the way I did before, because so much in me has changed. This is part of why I felt I couldn’t recognize myself any more.

I’ve talked about big changes, but small things also have the potential to affect our outlook. Not all do; you might be drifting placidly from day to day, thinking “I’ll have to try this thing, and change that particular habit,” then totally forget, and nothing happens. Then somebody or something comes into your life and upsets your boat, and you find yourself splashing about in the water for a while, spluttering up at the sky and thinking “I never noticed before how blue it was!”

Even if it’s a very short-lived thing, it’s not just a temporary experience… you learn something new from it and remember, and it’s all part of the change in your thinking.

As an example… two days ago, Storm Ali blew a baby pigeon out of its nest and into my house. That is, it fell from its nest and one of the cats brought it in. I tried to care for it but it died after two days — died earlier this afternoon. I tried to remain impassive about it but it was impossible. Yes, I knew I’d be upset, but was startled how hysterical I became.

Perhaps the pigeon tapped into something in me that was already there — an old grief as well as new. I had a similar experience when one of my cats died some years ago; normal grief overlying something much deeper.

Grief is about loss, of course it is, but there’s something more to it. There’s a cold wind blowing through the gap, and you’re reminded of the vast emptiness where we all end up. The heights of a cliff or a great bridge are terrifying enough, but petty when compared to the great void ahead of us. How can this happen? We must always be safe… and yet we’re not.

Perhaps ultimately we are, though, and we don’t know it. I was oddly comforted by a passage in a book I read years ago. I can’t remember the title and am not sure how accurately I’m remembering, but someone said he was dying out on the cold mountainside, and it felt as though he was becoming one with the stones. He was rescued, but I thought to myself it’s not so bad if we do become part of the world we’re being released into.

It’s small comfort at the moment, as I still want to protect and keep that brief little soul safe and warm, and have still not sent him out into the cold. Maybe his mother is grieving too… well that makes two of us tonight.

Posted in Books, Health Issues, Videos

Humming to Myself on a Grey Day

Snippet from my private diary…

16 June 2018

Another grey and rainy day.

The song in my head: Colours (Donovan). Blue is the colour of the sky, ay, ay, in the morning, when we rise, that’s the time, that’s the time, I love the best. Freedom is a word I rarely use without thinking, mm hm, without thinking, uh huh, of the time, of the time, when I’ve been loved.

Have watched a YouTube video already:

The EU Are Trying to Ban My YouTube Channel [Politics UK]

Politics UK is Stephen Edginton, a young fellow who interviews people across the UK and wider Europe… ordinary people in the street as well as politicians. He was talking about Article 13 and is really keen that we all write to our MEPs.

Have just bought a book called ‘Lost Connections’ (by Johann Hari) from Amazon. Renatha (is that the right name?) was talking about it in her blog, and it sounds good. I can’t read it yet, but it’s in my reading queue.

Here’s a bit of the blurb:

“What really causes depression and anxiety – and how can we really solve them? Award-winning journalist Johann Hari suffered from depression since he was a child and started taking anti-depressants when he was a teenager. He was told that his problems were caused by a chemical imbalance in his brain. As an adult, trained in the social sciences, he began to investigate whether this was true – and he learned that almost everything we have been told about depression and anxiety is wrong.”

Then I discovered from another video that sometimes the helpless bees who need saving are humans:

The kind-hearted whale

I love it. 🙂

Posted in Christmas and New Year, Junk Shop Finds, Life and Family, Music I Like, Technology and Software

A Ray of Old Sunshine

Last night the house was shaking under the onslaught of a rainstorm. I could hear muffled bangs and shudders and it kept me on edge, especially after I turned in for the night.

A song came into my head and refused to leave, so I played the official video on YouTube a number of times… I’m one of those who has to play the same song over and over because nothing else will do at all till I’m through with it.

Why Does It Always Rain On Me? (Travis)

I only discovered it when I bought two Travis CDs from charity shops a few months ago. Every so often I buy one randomly even if I haven’t heard of the band and don’t know what it’s like. Usually I’m glad I bought it, and these were no exception!

The annoying thing about YouTube music on my iPad is that it cuts off if I try and do something else, so tonight I turned to my old hi-fi from the 80s. I had trouble with this retro set-up before Christmas, when I discovered that the connector on the end of the turntable’s ground wire was snapped off, and the jack to one of its cables was bent! Yes, I was very careless at one point, I could have kicked myself.

I patched all these things… I needed a graspy twisty tool thing to straighten the jack, and the ground wire worked when I trapped the end under the screw. Unfortunately there was still a problem… my right-hand speaker wasn’t working. I went to all the trouble of buying new loudspeaker cable and replacing it, only to find it *still* wasn’t working. Only then did it occur to me to switch the speaker jacks from left to right at the back of the amp, and now the left speaker was dead while the right speaker worked! Obviously it wasn’t the cable then…

That was it for the duration of Christmas. I didn’t have time to try anything else, but almost as an afterthought on a webpage somewhere, someone said check the loudspeaker fuses at the back of the amp. I had no idea there was such a thing, but when I checked, yes — there they were!

After Christmas I bought a set of the right kind of fuses. I was doubtful, because they look a little smaller than the original one with the red stripes. For a long time I didn’t do anything with them, but tonight was in the mood to play Why Does It Always Rain On Me? over and over, so now was the time to try.

Oh….. it hasn’t been a good start to the year at all! Mum began a heart attack on January 5th. My sister drove her to A&E, and they got her to theatre in the nick of time. She came home again after a few days, but a couple of days ago had to go back because she was struggling to breathe. It was night, and the ambulance men came for her, bundling her out into the frosty night. I found myself wondering if you’re supposed to wave cheerily as the ambulance moves off. The three cats all glared at me accusingly… “how can you let strange men take your mother away and not do a thing to stop them??”

Er, well…

To cut a long story short, she might get out again tomorrow or might stay in hospital a little longer. My sister and I are very tired… I don’t know about her, but I didn’t get much sleep last night. A bit like the beginning of the Travis song, which kept me company.

I can’t sleep tonight
Everybody saying everything’s alright
Still I can’t close my eyes
I’m seeing a tunnel at the end of all these lights

Eventually I found myself thinking of the following Nietzsche quotation:

“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”

I don’t pretend to know what he meant by it himself, but before I even remembered the line, I was staring at the blackness and suddenly felt I wasn’t in the least bit invisible. I was a focal point of the void and coldness out there. It was as if everything was zooming in on me.

I don’t even know where I’m going with that, but the next day I kept nodding off… I slept in the car on the way to and from hospital.

Later at night my sister had some other bad news about a friend’s elderly cat who had to be put to sleep today, and I said, “It never rains but it pours.”

Then I tried the new loudspeaker fuse. Knowing the way our luck was going, I was sure it wouldn’t have fixed things, so when both speakers kicked into gear and started working, I said “aaaaaaaahhhhhhh!!!” and pummelled the air, grinning with joy. My sister said, “thank goodness for some good news!”

Absolutely.

And thank goodness for old things that still work.

Posted in Health Issues, Lost in Thought

Mindfulness Experiment Gone Awry

A good way of escaping unwelcome introspection, I’ve read, is to imagine yourself in the ocean. The colourful fish swimming past you are your thoughts — you observe them swimming past, perhaps going round you a few times, then they are gone.

My initial reaction, really, is that I don’t want to be in the ocean! Just yesterday I viewed a photo of sting-rays and sharks nosing sharply around, and that’s the image that came to mind when I read the above idea.

Some of my thoughts might well be sharks, not clown fish. I wonder how many other people out there would empathize with this? Well, let’s just go with this mental image for a while, and see what happens. Here’s me floating in the murky sea water, surrounded by flitting predatorial shapes.

What is this shark? He’s looking right in my face, like the old fellow from that turtle film, Sammy’s Adventures. What does he represent?

Whoa!

When I started the exercise, I closed my eyes and visualized a 3D cartoon image because of remembering about Sammy the turtle, then linked the looming shark to the worries in my mind. Instantly, the oceans closed in. Depths dropped away below me, all my friends were gone, no safety anywhere. Nothing was in my future but cold drowning and too many teeth.

Do what you do with a nightmare — banish it. Swim back up for a few breaths of fresh air. I don’t think that’s what they had in mind… I’m supposed to be relaxing happily, my thoughts swimming past and disappearing unchallenged. How do you let go of a big grey Thought that’s taking far too much interest in you?

Summoning it up in that form may have been a mistake, unless I take control and cause it to swim away. Is that doable? No, it’s just hanging there in the water, staring at me. I can’t imagine it gone. Even if it swam off, it would circle round then return.

“Do I look like food to you?” as Sammy said to the wee red fish, who grinned toothily and nodded. This is not my idea of relaxation. Maybe I could try an inflatable swimming pool instead?

Hmm… Ground feels bumpy underneath, but at least nothing is swimming around in here. (Feels around dubiously). There’s grit in the pool, and bits of grass. When I climbed in, I took bits of the lawn with me, stuck to the soles of my feet. Irritating.

Any minute now, somebody’s going to scream at me to come in for lunch.

Posted in Health Issues

Online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: a patient’s view

I finished the online CBT course on Friday. Do I feel any different? No… just relieved it’s over!

A number of people on the forum say it made things better for them.

“It must be nice to be you,” I mused enviously. “Able to say something positive and encouraging about the course, and follow it up with a ‘thank you!’ That’s the desirable reaction.” Some went so far as to say it has turned their lives around. It would be amazing to be able to say that.

One or two, on the other hand, say they didn’t find it helpful. I was disappointed we were in the minority, but maybe only a few of us negative nellies made it to the final session. I read that a lot of people drop out of the course. It shouldn’t have taken me so long, but I had a long hiatus in the middle.

The course is intended for ‘mild to moderate depression or anxiety’, but it seems if it doesn’t work, it’s because of “low adherence and engagement with treatment, rather than lack of efficacy.” See the Guardian article: Questions raised over effectiveness of online CBT for treating depression

I don’t know enough myself to be able to pinpoint why it works for some and not others — can only give my personal experience.

A lot of the time when I was trying to do the CBT exercises, I felt irritated, even angry. If I put it down and did something else for a while, I would eventually be able to complete the exercises, but my heart wasn’t in it… I felt distanced from what I was doing. For instance, I had to list positive self-beliefs, and was jollied along with, “don’t be modest.”

Having got over my spat of grumpiness, I wrote: “I read a lot; I write well; I try to improve my artwork.”

As the online course reminded us, ‘practice makes perfect’. I’m supposed to keep doing these exercises; these tools to improve my mood or how I handle things — but right now I look at those three self-beliefs and feel on the low side of neutral. I’m confused about the kind of beliefs I’m supposed to come up with, and have a sneaking feeling I got it wrong. This exercise is a spin-off from a section about ‘attributional style‘. Healthy beliefs about oneself should be ‘permanent, internal and general’ as opposed to ‘specific, external and temporary’.

So… ‘I read a lot’… is that specific or general? I would have said ‘specific,’ as it’s a specific thing that I do, but the relevance by-passes me at the moment.

It’s internal, I think, because it’s a way of taking credit to myself. I’m not depending on someone else to do all my reading for me! Also, it’s a permanent belief; I read a lot while I can. So what does a temporary belief look like? “I read a leaflet yesterday but probably won’t bother again?”

A lot of people on the CBT forum seem to like that exercise, so they must know what it means and how to correctly label their beliefs. It’s just me who’s the numpty!

Come to think of it, “I was lucky to win that tennis match,” is probably a temporary belief. A more self-believing belief would be, “I won the match because I’m a good tennis player.” No wait, that’s an internal belief, whereas “I was just lucky” is external because the gods smiled on you.

“I read a lot” doesn’t make me feel I can take on the world. People write such contradictory things I find myself believing stuff that cancel each other out, don’t know what to believe, or do daft things because I uncritically internalized the last thing I read. So much for all that reading.

At any rate, perhaps a better self-belief would be “I am kind.” That’s more ‘general’ because it’s something I am, whereas “I read a lot” is a specific belief because it’s something I do… though don’t take my word for it!

It should really be “I am sometimes quite kind.” 😛 Does that make it a more temporary belief? Is that the very thing I’m being warned against by the CBT course? I would probably be told I’m giving away credit for my success.

Well, that brings us to the point of the attributional style. When you have successes or disappointments in life, you use your self-belief in the following way: “I made a new friend today because I’m kind.”

That would be better than saying, “I made a new friend today because the other person is kind,” which would suggest there’s nothing about you the other person thought was remarkable.

“I made a new friend today because I was on my best behaviour and hid my usual surliness”… that’s pretty realistic for many people, especially me, but I think the CBT would frown on it!

I could just switch off the niggles in my head and say, “I made a new friend because I’m kind and witty and clever, and the other person likes me.”

Does that make me feel good? Hmm……..

Just had a lightbulb moment! I noticed the word ‘control’ when reading online about attributional style. People are depressed and anxious if they don’t feel in control, so it makes sense that being able to make more powerful statements should be beneficial. That’s easier for me to grasp than whether or not my beliefs are ‘permanent, internal and general’.

I hate to be curmudgeonly, but you’ll note I didn’t say that I believe telling myself that I believe something that I don’t believe is going to make me step out more confidently! However, since practice makes perfect, I will keep trying the various exercises for a while. I would enjoy setting up a special CBT journal to fill in every day… though perhaps actually filling it in is another story?

Posted in Life and Family

Marking Time

Apparently we should write lists to get through our gloomy spells.

Hoping to achieve:

(1) Better artwork and photography.
(2) Avoiding living forever and turning into a sort of desiccated bat. (I should put at least one that’s achievable).
(3) More friends, casual or otherwise.
(4) Better writing and blogging.
(5) In time, a greater measure of peace. 🙂

Short-term goals.

(1) Get on with painting… will start again at the beginning as something wasn’t right.
(2) Rouse up new music for my collection. Will try anything except Pooh’s Top 40 and Duran Duran.
(3) Read more books… loads I bought for the Kindle and never got round to!

Long-term goal:

(1) Write a book? So many people are writing books, though. If I don’t, I’ll be the only person who hasn’t written one, which will be doing everyone a favour.

Things I’ve survived in life already:

(1) Loss.
(2) Irate hamsters, especially the Russian dwarf variety.
(3) Finding out I’m only average (that’s both depressing and a relief)
(4) Embarrassment (one of the worst indignities life throws at you).

What I love in life and what makes me happy:

(1) Family, friends (including iPad) and cats.
(2) Art and music.
(3) Comforting routine.
(4) Things beginning with C… comments, cadeaux, comedy, computers, cameras, chocolate, coffee, cream, cheese, coconuts, curry, chilli, cinnamon, cashew nuts, clematises, cherry blossom, colours, colouring books, creativity, comfortable slippers and conversation.
(5) Writing, diaries, blogging and haikus.
(6) Reading and books.
(7) Ideas and simple philosophies.
(8) Teddy bears and denim shirts (not necessarily together).
(9) Eggs, mushrooms, sausages and bacon at breakfast. (Not so keen at night).
(10) Roads of Rome, Northern Tale, Trolls vs Vikings and other iPad games.

What’s good about me:

(1) Curiosity and lots of casual research.
(2) Always improving writing skills and artwork.
(3) Trying to be fair even when people make me cross.
(4) Slowly cultivating a little healthy scepticism and caution!

What I’ve learned about myself from all of the above:

(1) There do seem to be a lot of Cs in my lists.
(2) I have no long-term goal!! Is that bad?
(3) No cake listed, but I don’t love it anyway. Especially not fruit cake.
(4) The things I love come together to make an acrostic. Is that to be my new goal in life? I’ve no wish to enter slanging matches with other Wikipedia editors, so can’t say I’m enthused.
(5) Simple living for me, please.

Posted in Agoraphobia, Hearing Loss

Deafness and Depression

I found this discussion on the BBC Ouch! forum about deafness and depression; I particularly liked the messages from Number 23 onwards. And Message 27 is depressing!! Black comedy, if you like.

Things are said there that I’ve thought a lot myself over the years. Even on the internet it’s so obvious that therapists’ advice is geared towards those without disabilities and communication issues. When I saw a cognitive behavioural therapist years ago, I really felt we were not on the same wavelength. She was trying to persuade me nothing was as black as I was painting it in my mind, and I was wondering how black couldn’t be black, and if she even knew what the picture was.

I asked her once if she thought that maybe my anxiety and ‘panic disorder’ (which she’d diagnosed it as at the time) was caused by my deafness, and she said “oh, I don’t know!” in a tone that seemed to say, “well, perhaps, but you don’t have to be deaf to have issues, and let’s not get into that anyway!”

I found myself thinking of that exchange much later, when I read that cognitive behavioural therapists are trained to guide their clients away from the probable causes… we’re supposed to focus on changing our behaviour and the way we look at things. How it all happened in the first place is apparently irrelevant (and, I grant, often impossible to untangle anyway).

I said to Mum recently that a therapist would advise one to go into a difficult situation with the intention of proving that yes, one can handle it perfectly well… but it’s not so simple when that you are deaf and have poor speech, and have to go through the wringer merely to get fish and chips from the local takeaway. Generally you prove to yourself all over again that any two year old could do it better and faster. I don’t see how the fact that one is deaf can be ignored.

Some of those taking part in the discussion thread say that of course we have these anxiety or depression issues — we’re all of us being shaped to fit in that round hole, whether or not we’re round.

Posted in Fantasy and Science Fiction, TV and Films

All the Really Cool Dead People

One of my favourite Frasier episodes was on recently.

(Spoiler alert).

Eddie the dog was depressed, so they called in a pet psychiatrist, (“a charlatan,” said Frasier), who suggested that dogs are very sensitive and Eddie had probably picked up the mood of one of the humans. At first the people in the house laughed scornfully, then they gathered together and admitted they had their individual reasons for being down in the mouth. Martin said he lay awake at night and brooded about death and loneliness, and the loss of everyone he loved. Frasier said “we all have those thoughts, Dad.”
His dad said, “do you also lie very still and pretend you’re already in the ground?” and Frasier said “nope, that’s just you.”

The subject of the afterlife came up, and Niles said he just knew that all the really cool dead people would refuse to hang out with him. “Mozart would say he’s too busy, then I’d see him out with Shakespeare.”

Somebody found an old doll down the back of the sofa, and realized it was Eddie’s dog toy, so they cast it aside… of course Eddie came to life and tossed it about delightedly. “Oh,” they said, “so that’s why he was depressed!”
“How shallow,” they said. “Dogs are not like us. WE know for whom the bell tolls.”
A bell rang and Daphne disappeared into the kitchen, then came back and said the cookies were ready. Everybody jumped up and hurried to the kitchen, their glum mood cast aside.

The bit that made me laugh the loudest was Niles and his gloomy prediction that he would be spurned by cool people even in the afterlife. I always rather wanted the future to be something like Star Trek, but I just know if I was one of the members on the Starship Enterprise or the Starship Voyager, the crew would treat me how they treated Lieutenant Barclay… times 20.

I’ve just found this: Death and the Dog. It’s interesting that the quotation given there is: “Mozart’ll tell me he’s busy but then later I’ll see him out with Shakespeare and Lincoln!” I might just have misremembered, but I don’t think ‘and Lincoln’ showed up in the subtitles. Maybe I did forget, though.

No, they would never have let me anywhere near the Starship Enterprise.

Available as wallpaper here.

Posted in Agoraphobia, Books, My Cats

Battling the Blues

I’ve been trying to get over my case of the winter blahs.

Yesterday it was bright and sunny, so I went shopping… but it didn’t help much; just made me realize how lethargic and fed up I still felt. I was tired of visiting the same old shops, and there wasn’t anything I was looking for, especially now that my house is set up and inventoried – still looking for someone to rent it.

Stumbling across the road, yawning, I suddenly thought how different my attitude was from some months ago when I was feeling distinctly agoraphobic – unable to go anywhere without wobbling slightly. And now I was bored with the entire place. It’s an improvement! That Chinese saying “may you live in interesting times” is supposed to be a curse.

Feeling flat, tired, and bored out of your skull is another type of curse, however.

I’ve got these lovely kittens, getting friendlier and more playful by the day; I’m getting very fond of them but you would think I would be brighter than I am. I feel guilty because I know one day I will be looking back to now and wishing I could have these days all over again. Fear of the future…

Today I got a letter, tore it open, and it was an invoice from the animal hospital reminding me that I still haven’t paid for the last item on the list… ‘euthanize and cremate cat – quantity: 1.’

Looking at that, I didn’t feel as though I’d received a nasty shock out of nowhere – it was more as though someone had pressed a fist into a sore that was already there. It convinces me that what I have is not purely the winter blues.

One way or another, I was saying to Geosomin that one might as well give in to this listlessness – relax, read books and watch TV. Unfortunately my Freeview set top box has gone phut. Again.

There are still books, of course – I’m currently reading Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson. It’s very good, and I’m impressed and engrossed by the amount of detail – except that there’s a touch too much detail here and there that causes my attention to wander. I bought it from a charity shop for £1, and there’s a slight tear on the margin more than halfway down p79. Looking at the content of that page, I have to say it made me wonder…

The paperbacks I bought today:
The Mask of Ra – Paul Doherty
A Winter Book – Tove Jansson
Brother Odd – Dean Koontz
Don’t Bet on the Prince – Jack Zipes (ed, I think)

They were £2 each (except for the Jack Zipes, which was £1.99 from another shop), and each of the £2 ones had a big yellow sticker on the cover saying something like “read then return”. I peeled them off, saying crossly to Mum that part of the money they get from us is probably spent on these stupid stickers. I suppose my peeling them off doesn’t slow the money burn, but I don’t like stickers on books. When I return them to the charity shops, I’ll choose one that doesn’t do that.

We were roaming round that same charity shop – I looked at the shirts and blouses, and there was a rather droopy, worn looking T-shirt on a hanger for £4.50. It looked as though it cost £2 new. As for the DVDs, I’ve always had my doubts about them – they tend to be about £4 each, but Woolworth quite often sells them for £3 each. They’ve probably had a bit of a price hike since hitting the charity shop shelves. Mum picked up a £4 DVD and said “that is definitely £3 brand new from WH Smiths – I saw it today!”

Caveat emptor. Or just go home to sleep. Both methods save money.