Posted in Books, Writing

Sleepless in Anórien


The Great Diary Project asked about New Year’s Day entries, so I looked up mine. Of course, I’d missed it this year, so couldn’t tell them! Typical. I do have an entry for January 2nd:

Watching Jane Eyre. The Christmas tree is lit, the room getting dark, Jane Eyre is full of creaking floorboards and howling winds. Jane is mystified. I’m hungry… will have something at tea-time when M gets up. Nibbles and shortbread with tea. I got my Evernote app working again. A while ago I forgot my password but sorted it before Jane Eyre came on. I can use two devices without upgrading from the free version. For some reason it had me down for three devices: iPad, iPhone/iPad and Mac! That made no sense to me, but I deactivated the ‘iPhone/iPad’ device and now it works. It annoys me how computers, more and more, do things you don’t understand.

The rest is unquotable! I went back to keeping a handwritten diary — currently using an old Woolworths spiral-bound jotter, purple with spots. My daily entries in it are shorter than typed ones because…

[7 Jan]: …”I’m struggling with my hand-writing. One reason I make so many mistakes is that I leap too far ahead in thought. The form of my words drops away like loose string, and the wrong letters appear too early. I am deliberately writing more carefully at the moment, and it’s slow and frustrating. It feels strange to be carefully spelling out each word when my whole thought is waiting to be expressed, as though jammed in a bottleneck and at risk of vanishing altogether in the next second. Perhaps there’s something wrong with my ability to focus — perhaps the internet really has changed our brains.”

A while ago I started a blog post about the impact the internet has on people’s ability to concentrate, but never finished it. (!) I should look it out.

I’ve been unable to sleep, often waking around 4. I’ll put the light on and read, eventually dropping off again around 5 or 6. Then I’m useless for anything the next day, even falling asleep on the sofa when I should be up and doing. As I said in my diary on the 7th, “if only I could switch the sleeping with the ‘not sleeping’ — that would work out a lot better!”

I started to wonder if it was ‘house noises’ again. Being profoundly deaf, I shouldn’t hear anything at all, but it’s more like ‘feel’. At times the whole room seems to buzz, and I can’t work out why. Mum is absolutely clear that there’s no ‘buzzing’ whatsoever, and I’m equally clear there is! I reckon I’m onto something, because I was very nearly asleep when something in the air suddenly changed, as though we’d switched up a gear. My bed started to rumble, and I thought, “oh NO!” and woke up completely.


I put the light on and reached for my copy of The Lord of the Rings. The first words out of it were:

It was dark and Merry could see nothing as he lay on the ground rolled in his blanket; yet though the night was airless and windless, all about him hidden trees were sighing softly. He lifted his head. Then he heard it again: a sound like faint drums in the wooded hills and mountain-steps. The throb would cease suddenly and then be taken up again at some other point, now nearer, now further off.

~ The Return of the King, Book 5, Tolkien; p862, Chapter V: The Ride of the Rohirrim

That must have been annoying. Do orcs never sleep??

My energy has gone. Life is full of interruptions, and it can take ages to return to whatever I was doing, especially if motivation has vanished in the meantime. I don’t know why it should, but suspect there’s little or no value attached to my personal projects. There’s no real purpose. The most important thing I do right now is ‘keep house’, and my hobbies are as hollow baubles… they don’t hold my interest for long. When younger, I was convinced these things (writing, art and photography) would have their own intrinsic value and not just for me, but I no longer believe that! Life shows you that you are nothing out of the ordinary, and very little survives the passing ages. I still wish I had enough drive to make the most of my spare time. How much more we could achieve if we didn’t tire out, lose focus or lose heart — but perhaps that’s unrealistic. 🙂

I’ll look for that blog draft on internet reading, and see if I still agree with any of it…

P.S. About those orcs I blamed for keeping Merry awake, I’ve been corrected by Marshal Elfhelm in the book:

“Nay, nay'”, said Elfhelm, “the enemy is on the road not in the hills. You hear the Woses, the Wild Men of the Woods: thus they talk together from afar. They still haunt Druadan Forest, it is said…. they are troubled by the darkness and the coming of the orcs: they fear lest the Dark Years be returning, as seems likely enough.”

~ The Return of the King, Book 5, Tolkien; p863, Chapter V: The Ride of the Rohirrim

Ah, we are doomed…

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!”


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?


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 Books, Lost in Thought

A Nothing Day

Totally lacking energy right now…  nothing to say. Try to do things and they don’t work. Write a blog post and there’s nothing to blog about. Read a book and it’s full of dry bits. Friends and family on Facebook no closer than they were. Makes you wonder what Facebook is for.

I prefer quiet conversations with just one person at a time.

Sometimes feels as though life is something you are forced to do when you would rather keep out of it! There is no way you can say “I don’t want to do this, thanks…. I don’t have the right kind of brain.” I always wanted my life to be a book I could learn from without being hurt in any way.

I’m the heroine of my own story, and I don’t like it at all. I’d much rather read about it.

At the end of the novel I would turn round and be at home with my family. No other kind of existence is imaginable.

But for now the book is still open…. the next chapter could be filled with masked highwaymen (or did we just have that one?) Or howling wolves in a cold Scottish forest (think I’ve done that one as well). Or a shipwreck, and pirate’s treasure. Or there’ll be a hobbit and a gold ring.

Is that all just wistful thinking?

Posted in Books, Dreams and Nightmares, My Cats

Sleepy Saturday

I meant to put up a completely different post today, but we went out for supper and I’m still working on it. To fill in the gap, here’s my Saturday journal entry (edited):

Saturday 10th January 2009

I’m contrary; I sleep in when we’re going out, and get up early when we’re loafing. I spent most of the day reading (and finishing) Sole Survivor by Dean Koontz. It was quite good but I’ve developed the habit of skipping over the acres of text where he spins out the tension. Sometimes I enjoy those bits, but other times I just want to get on with the story.

I have been very sleepy all day — fell so much asleep after supper that my head kept falling forward. I don’t know how Mum dozes in her chair without doing that.

Checked the email quickly and found dozens of posts saying my Amazon DVDs are coming like a flock of geese. “Just shipped: Emma. Just shipped: Galaxy Quest. Just shipped: Charlotte’s Web.” So far I’ve not seen one saying they’ve shipped The Postman. Will he be delivered by Royal Mail?

That’s all the time I spent online, except a quick look at a site (same disappointing prices) which had a Product Recall of a child’s toy with a too-long strap (might choke the children). That’s ridiculous… there’s danger everywhere, every day, all around us. We all face it.

Only ‘significant’ thing of today was my dream this morning. Thor went out at night by himself, and next morning we found he had come face to face (in a dark lane) with something that terrified him so much that he arched his back, fluffed up his tail, bristled his whiskers, and yowled — he froze stiff like that and died. When we found him, I was regretful and sad, and angry with whoever had so coldly killed him.

Then when I got up and went downstairs, and was reading Sole Survivor, there was a hissy spat in the corner of the room… Cheeky was terrorizing Delilah, who was hiding under a chair. At first I wasn’t going to interfere, as Cheeky usually strolls away after the initial ambush… but then my dream stirred in me with a pang: how something evil had gone after my cat when I wasn’t around to help him. I got up and walked over, and Cheeky left the room.

Mum gave me her perfume bottle collection — reeking of rank old perfumes, some of which have leaked. You’d think I’d be pleased, but er…

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.

Posted in Books, Fantasy and Science Fiction, Health Issues, Hearing Loss, Political and Social Issues, Rants, Technology and Software, TV and Films

Escape from One Brave New World to Another

Escapism, for me, is reading books. A good book makes everything whole again. I find fantasy is the most evocative genre, the one that takes me furthest away from the things I hope to escape. Good triumphs, magic exists and loose ends are rare. People enjoy their work, value their way of life and possess depth of character, understanding, and a low tolerance of injustice.

I miss the characters and their worlds when the last pages have been reached. I feel as though they still exist somewhere out there, and it won’t matter what happens to me here because I’ll always be able to go home to them. Maybe I will stay for a while in Bag End with the Bagginses and Gandalf, or with Badger, Mole or Ratty in their comfortable burrows. I won’t go anywhere near Toad – he makes me tired. I would rather hobnob with the weasels, especially those friendly with Badger. I could go wombling on Wimbledon Common with Tomsk and Wellington, looking in particular for sweetie papers to wallpaper their home. Better still, I could hibernate for the winter in Moominvalley – I always fancied the idea of a nourishing bowl of pine needles just before curling up to dream away the ice and the snow.

Do I prefer the sleepy stories to the adventures? It’s possible. Maybe I like the contrast; the sense of giving respite to characters who have been out in the cold for weeks on end. Or maybe it’s something deeper.

I’ve always been a sleepy kind of person, and have never been able to understand where people get the energy to do the things that they do. Where did Napoleon get his energy, for instance – or Alexander the Great? Too often I’ve lain in bed in the morning (instead of beginning the day’s chores) wondering about such people. Is there something wrong with me that I have never desired to leap up at cock’s crow to add to my little empire? Why do I never feel the impulse to go travelling, exploring, or to conquer Mount Everest? Why would I rather read about volcanoes than stare down into their smoking craters? Why are my favourite passages about people having rabbit stew for supper before turning in for a nice long snooze?

I’m sure there are various reasons. For instance, I sometimes wonder how The Lord of the Rings and other fantasy classics would have turned out if Frodo (or other fantasy figures) had been deaf? How about Gollum? “Sssorry, master, you’ll have to repeat that as poor old Smeagol don’t hear so good these daysss, gollum.” The thought of all the communication difficulties with innkeepers, magicians, trolls and the like, met while hiking along the road to defeat evil, makes me want to curl up in a ball and close my eyes.

Even more depressingly, I still wonder if Mum is right when she suggests I have an underactive thyroid. Maybe that’s always been part of the problem. That’s also why I don’t entirely believe in the concept of laziness – if you dig deep down, deeper than you expect, you may well find all kinds of unavoidable reasons why someone drags along and refuses to get involved with whatever’s going on.

Or perhaps my sleepiness kicks in because ‘modern civilization’ is so intensely regimented and boring that all the fun has gone out of it. Strange things happen but they make me more tired rather than less – people are criticized if they so much as put the words “Oh, shut up!” into the mouth of an Angry Beaver. It doesn’t matter what you do in this climate – either it’s something you’ve been kindly allowed to do (repeatedly) for limited amounts of money or it’s something someone somewhere will hate and despise you for, such as wearing white ankle socks or keeping cats.

There are so many parts of the world (even locally) that we never get to see in our lifetimes because they are the grounds of some reclusive ogre in his castle. Every so often they throw everything together into museums, trusts, collections, gardens or national parks and let everyone in (for a fee) to sigh ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’. They tell us with satisfaction it all belongs to us now and we can come and stare at trees, canyons, animals, old ships, musty houses or junk in glass cases for as long as we like, just so long as we get out before closing time, and provided we don’t get too close, feed the exhibits or touch things with our grubby fingers.

Doesn’t that seem a mite sanitized? You can’t say “hey, I visited the Grand Canyon” or “we went on safari and bothered a group of elephants” or “I found a marvellous whale skeleton that’s bigger than my house”… everybody else has visited/done/seen everything too, and will just look at you as though you’ve presented them with a hot and sticky bunch of daisies.

I don’t even like ‘discovering’ a wonderful blog post only to find the writer has already drawn an admiring crowd of other readers. They got there before me – how dare they! And if I can’t run shouting to everybody “look what I found”, then what’s the use? I can discard that unworthy feeling after a while, but it still leaps on me unawares every so often.

Have you ever noticed that the world has shrunk, and nothing and nobody is beyond your reach? We can dredge the Titanic off the sea bed without killing ourselves in the attempt, and nobody falls off the edge of the world any more. It used to be that you would send someone a carefully worded letter and if you haven’t heard from them after a couple of years, you start to wonder if maybe they died and nobody told you. Now, if you dash off an impulsive email and the recipient has not responded in the next five minutes, you get very angry and think “what did I do to offend the old blackguard? I sent a friendly ‘howdy doody’ across hundreds of miles of land and sea and this is all the thanks I get!” It doesn’t do much to lower your blood pressure.

Finally you discover that everything you do, whether it’s leaving your TV on standby, allowing your tap to drip, or cooking Scottish cod on your gas hob, is a threat to the entire planet. It gets so that they ask you to vote for a cast iron cooking pot on the grounds that it marked the start of the Industrial Revolution, which is a good thing, isn’t it? But then you think “that’s when people lost their jobs and their skills, and that’s also when we began to destroy the world”… and that squat black cauldron suddenly becomes the linchpin of evil. Not so suddenly, perhaps – there could be an underlying psychological reason why it was associated with witches and black magic.

Having embarked on all this industry and technology (how I love my emails and my blog) it becomes very difficult to quit without making enormous sacrifices, including (probably) our own lives. As slaves to the machines, computers and other systems that have been put in place for us and which only seem to fully benefit a select few, what is there to live for? Oh, right – books! Books that make everything fresh, whole, and exciting again. Especially books that allow you to put your head under the blanket and hide for a little while – not just from Sauron, the Weasels of the Wild Wood, the Groke’s frozen loneliness and the rising dark, but also from factories and other places of brain-deadening occupations, politicians, committees, intolerance, inequality, injustice – and pollution.

Where do people get the energy to maintain this way of life? I’m not just talking nuclear, solar or wind power here, I’m talking people power. I have always wondered.

Edit Feb 2008: Some comments I received to this post on Blogigo:

1. drifting wrote at May 18, 2006 at 10:38:
What a wonderful post. I love the way you wrote it coming around in a circle. I share your love of books as escapes from reality. I much prefer to live in the world of fantasy where there is justice and true love and honour, etc, etc. And you (or your mother) may be right about an underactive thyroid. I’ve never had the energy that everyone else seems to have – just watching them or thinking about what they do exhausts me. I did have an underactive thyroid (may still do) and with treatment it apparently ‘returned’ to normal levels but that was some time ago before I got fed up with doctors and checkups, and now continue my slow life. I believe in relaxation and activity in small doses.

2. Diddums wrote at May 18, 2006 at 20:52:

I don’t like the sound of checkups and pills forever more either. I can imagine myself making the same choice you did. I suppose I should go in for some tests, though, and see if the suspicion is correct… sigh.

3. Pacian wrote at May 18, 2006 at 22:28:
I can sympathise with preferring the nice scenes in a fantasy sanctuary to the brash adventuring, albeit perhaps for different reasons. It’s always scenes like that that make it feel real to me. If I was in some weird alternate world, I imagine I could take great pleasure in little things like having a home and a window to look out of.

I read something, on a blog not too long ago, that stuck with me. Someone wrote that when you find out more and more about people, you discover that everyone feels that they’re hanging on by their fingertips to a life that moves too fast and is too hard. All our media and stories tell us that happiness is doing loads of stuff and exerting yourself in certain ways, but I don’t actually think that this is true for everybody, or even most people.

4. Diddums wrote at May 19, 2006 at 00:53:
That’s a good point – they do add depth to the book; a little perspective and a chance to study the surroundings. People can sit around and talk to each other a bit more, too – and usually they meet somebody new, or hear something in the way of stray gossip…

I go off some characters if they turn out to be somebody really important – royal personage or such. They get trapped in their new roles and responsibilities at the end of the book, and that never feels quite right to me. Maybe it’s that lack of energy getting in the way again!

5. kateblogs wrote at May 20, 2006 at 16:03:
What a wonderful post, you sum up the modern world so well. There are a lot of great things about the 21st century, ease of communication for example. Oh, and of course electicity and medical treatment. However, sometimes I do envy people in the past. They did have new places to discover and explore, new theories to prove or disprove, and their lives don’t seem to have been as regimented as ours. Certainty is good, but I think we all need a little adventure too.

Posted in Health Issues, Injury and Mishap, Life and Family

Seeking Motivation

How to bypass your brain and get motivated is great stuff – I need to do something like this as I’m a terrible procrastinator. Well, there’s already some external structure in my life – if I don’t walk the dog (getting exercise) I don’t get paid. Meeting the family in town for coffee stops me from skulking at home thinking “I can’t be bothered to go to the bank today. I will definitely do it tomorrow. Unless it’s Saturday. In which case I’ll go on Monday.” And then on Monday morning I fall over and break my foot and can’t go anywhere.

That sort of thing always happens to me! At least if I know that I WILL be in town once a week to meet the others for a coffee, I can do my town-going things then. To make sure of it I tell them “after coffee I have to go to the bank,” and they factor it into our plans for the morning.

The other day I was reading a blog where someone said she had trouble even getting up for a shower, and she thought it might be depression. This sobered me as I’m just the same. Some days I stand in the shower with the water streaming through my hair, staring dully at the tiles. After about five minutes I realize to my consternation that I can’t even be bothered to soap myself! But you can’t stand shrivelling up in the shower all day, so eventually you creak into life and fumble for the shower gel and shampoo.

I don’t think it’s depression, as I’m not unhappy – I’m content in my own way. I’m happy with my family, my house, my pets, where I live. I’m happy with my work, though I could do with more of it. I laugh at what I read in books or see on TV, and I enjoy my hobbies, which have not turned to ashes in my mouth. If one day you couldn’t care less about things that you used to feel strongly about, you know you’re in trouble. I’m not in that place.

I just seem to lack energy and motivation.

The other day, out of the blue, Mum said “I think… in fact I’m almost sure… you have an underactive thyroid.”
I was so surprised I laughed, as I hadn’t been discussing my problems with her. But she said “I’m serious – it might explain why you’re so tired all the time.”
“Well,” I said, “I assumed that would be poor diet – eating too many convenience dishes from the supermarket, and not enough ‘healthy’ stuff.”
“Maybe,” said Mum, “but you should still get it checked out. It IS in the family.”

I went home and looked up ‘hypothyroidism’ on the internet. All of the symptoms fit, including apathy, poor memory, feeling the cold, dry skin (which could be due to hot shower and central heating?) and brittle nails. My nails are normally as hard as iron, but I broke three only the week before. They’re wishy-washy symptoms that could be due to other things such as poor diet and late nights, and I wondered at what point does one go to the doctor saying “I’m tired, cold, broke my nails and can’t be bothered half the time – am I ill?”

I still don’t know the answer to that question. I suppose I should ask the doctor what she thinks. My Reader’s Digest medical book warns that if I’ve got it and don’t treat it, I’ll lapse into self-neglect, coma and death. So I’ll go tomorrow. Or the day after. Or sometime next week – unless I’m busy.