As a blogger — even, dare I say it, as a writer; except of course I’m not a writer, in that I’m not paid for my writing, but I do sometimes consider myself a writer when I’m feeling pretentious enough, and I’d love to be paid for my writing …
Oh, stop fucking over-explaining and eternally clarifying yourself.
Let’s start again.
As a blogger, then, I take great pride in my words. And as such, one of the most heinous crimes for me is appropriating phrases from other bloggers, other writers. It’s so desperately unoriginal. But sometimes one’s own phrase for something just doesn’t work, doesn’t cut the mustard, doesn’t put it eloquently enough. And then you have to beg, borrow or, forgive me father for I have sinned, just steal from other bloggers.
That’s why, for the purposes of this post, I am stealing a phrase from Captain Anna Pickard of the famed HMS Little Red Boat. She doesn’t know this yet, but I’ve agreed to pay her the princely sum of ten shiny new pence every time I use it.
Anyway, the phrase I am begging, borrowing and stealing from Anna is “fallen into a hole”. I’m sure you know what it means. It’s very pithy, yet wonderfully descriptive at the same time. You don’t really need to know any more. In that way, it’s rather like those Ronseal products advertised by the almost scarily down-to-earth man on the telly — it does exactly what it says on the tin.
Of course, I used to have my own phrase for times when I’d fallen into a hole. I used to say, “I’m just having a moment”. Having A Moment. Hmm. I confess, though, that I had problems with this phrase, mostly anally retentive time-related ones. I pictured myself having the following conversation with various people:
“I’m sorry. I’m really sorry. But I’m just Having A Moment.”
“Oh dear. I’m sorry that you’re sorry that you’re Having A Moment. Don’t be sorry, though. We all Have Moments.”
“Except — ?”
“How long will this Moment last?”
“Well, I’m not really sure. Moments don’t have a habit of informing me in advance how long they’re likely to stick around. And like distant relatives visiting at Christmas, they generally outstay their welcome anyway. So I couldn’t really say.”
“Go on. Try. Try and give me an estimate, because it will give me a clearer idea of how long I should try and avoid you.”
“That’s thoughtful. Thank you.”
“How long what?”
“How long will the FUCKING MOMENT be?”
“You want to know how long the Moment will be?”
“Well, yes. I actually said Fucking Moment. But that’s because you were beginning to irritate me. And you’re crying. And I don’t like crying.”
“What? Please what?”
“Tell me. Before I kill you. For exactly how long will you be Having A Moment.”
“I don’t know. But working on estimates based on previous Moments -”
“Yes? Yes? Oh fucking hell, YES?!”
“Somewhere between a blink of an eye and an eternity.”
This imagined conversation helped make it clear to me that I should never use the phrase Having A Moment in public, because it would lead to all sorts of confusion; the sort of confusion that my mind, which in times when I’m Having A Moment really needs to seek out order and clarity, simply could not cope with. So I kept it to myself. And when the Moments happened, I told only myself, in my own head, that I was Having A Moment.
But Having A Moment never quite sufficed. It spoke to me of Victorian ladies emotionally overcome by seeing a man’s elbows, and having to dab their foreheads daintily and fan themselves to recover. It was ineffectual. “Fallen into a hole” says it so much better, in my opinion. There’s another ten new pence gone to Anna’s boat. If I say it enough, maybe she could buy a new mast. Wouldn’t that be nice of me?
Gosh, long explanation.
So anyway, I’ve fallen into a hole.
And it’s odd, because I’d been doing so well recently. There have been lots of opportunities to fall into various holes, but I’ve managed to neatly sidestep all of them with a triumphant cry of “Oh no you don’t! You’re not going to get me to fall into you by suddenly opening up in the ground in front of me! That old trick, eh?”
But then I woke up a few mornings ago and there it was. A big hole. Even though I’d decided only recently that the description of a big hole was a very apt one, the hole itself, its surroundings, already felt very familiar. Deep sides. Very dark. Damp (with the crying, obviously, rather than any sort of structural dampness). No ladder. And not a lot of light coming in from the top either.
It was also utterly predictable that it was the morning when it happened. Me and mornings have a long relationship. They have always been the worst for me, strangely enough. I mean, evenings are bad too. Of course they are. Particularly just before sleep. But then I think evenings are bad for many people who fall into holes on a regular basis. We’re the people for whom duvets and pillows were invented — and I bet you never knew that, did you? — because duvets are essential to pull over you at such moments, and pillows are even more essential to bury your head under and stifle, well, stuff. Stuff. Oh, you know. I’m sure you don’t need the graphically miserable details.
So. Crying. Apropos of nothing. In the mornings. Yes. Welcome back. Like an old friend. An old friend you don’t particularly want to see, granted, but an old friend nonetheless. I’ve been doing a lot of all that in the last few days.
And it’s during those mornings when I’m Having A Moment after Falling In The Big Hole (oh God, I’m mixing my depression metaphors now — this could all get very confusing) that I wonder about the Little Tablets. More precisely, I wonder whether I should go back on them.
I generally come to the conclusion that I shouldn’t. And I haven’t. Look, really, I haven’t. If you don’t believe me, let me allow you to look in my medicine cupboard. All I have in there is a plastic container of multivitamins, about five half-finished packets of Ibuprofen, some warming muscle relief spray and a small bottle of eardrops. None of these are particularly good for bouts of depression, and I’ve been specifically advised not to drink the eardrops in a desperate attempt to cure myself of being in a hole.
But it can be tempting to think of the Little Tablets, and think of knocking them back with a glass of water when I wake up. They did make my mornings, and my days, more bearable. Yet they also had horrible side-effects. Of particular significance was the drowsiness immediately after taking them. For an hour or so, I’d be completely useless. A virtual zombie. This does not help you to speed out of the house to catch your tube in the morning, I can tell you that much.
So on the occasions when I was prescribed them, I worked out a routine for this particular side-effect. I would wake up at five, six or seven o’clock in the morning, depending on the time I’d set my alarm for, and take my Little Tablets then. Drowsiness be damned, because then I’d go back to bed and sleep it off. If I slept. Which I often didn’t, because by then I was awake. A bit. A bit awake and a bit drowsy. Result? I got far less sleep whilst on the Little Tablets.
Oh, and the other side-effect was that by taking my Little Tablets so early in the day, by the evening they were inevitably beginning to wear off. If I had a drink — and here I’m talking alcohol rather than weak orange squash, you understand — the effects would be quite odd. One chemical exiting the body slowly, whilst another filled it up. When they met in the middle, it was … well, I’m sure you can imagine.
There was the deadening too. The numbing. Yes, I had more emotional equilibrium, but at what cost? At the cost of (to quote Pink Floyd, which I’ve never previously been known to do) feeling Comfortably Numb. Numb. Oh, that should upset me, it really should. But it won’t because I’m numb. You could probably repeatedly stick nails in the back of my hand and I’d be fine. Numb. OK, maybe the nails would hurt a bit. But hey, I’ll have another Little Tablet in the morning, doze off the drowsiness for an hour or so, and then revel in every second of that numbness. Marvellous. Mmm.
Except I don’t like being numb. For all the levelling of emotions that resulted from chemical interference with my brain, it just wasn’t me. I’m all about emotional ups and downs, swings and roundabouts, holes and not holes, moments and not moments. So rather than chemical interference, I tried to develop ‘coping mechanisms’ with the help of some sessions with a nice woman in a book-lined room in Ealing. These mechanisms are less reliable than the chemicals, to be honest, because they rely on me interfering with my brain non-chemically. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. They’re not working particularly well right now, though, which is how the hole sprang up in front of me and I managed to fall right into it — hook, line and sinker, arse over tit. There we go. Wheeeeee. Ooh. Ouch.
Which is where I am now. Crying in the mornings. Under a pillow in the evenings. But no, I’m not going back on the Little Tablets. Not this time. Not ever, I hope. Not if I can manage it.
One other thing: this is the first hole that I’ve fallen into since I moved into my new flat, in a new and unfamiliar area of London. When I had a ten-minute journey to and from work, a simple overground on the Central Line, I must confess that sometimes I let the big hole and Having A Moment get the better of me. I was one of those strange people you sometimes see crying on the tube. Sorry about that, I know we’re terribly embarrassing and you never know where to look. But it was right at the end of the Central Line, and there weren’t many people around to see me. Occasionally someone did see me, of course, and they would ask if I was OK. Which was nice. I have to confess, however, that I’m not quite so sure about my fellow commuters on the Northern Line between Clapham South and Tottenham Court Road, where I change to the Central again. The train’s more crowded, and the passengers look a little more scary. (I apologise if you’re a Northern Line commuter and you’re not scary; do please introduce yourself if you see me looking especially morose.) This means that I can’t leave my flat until the crying’s definitely worn off and my eyes don’t look puffy. This also means that it’s currently 8.58am and I should really be on the tube. But I’m not. I’m still at my desk in my bedroom, writing this excessively long post (which even I’m bored with by now; you, dear reader, must be virtually comatose). I shouldn’t be. I really should go now. Have to get to work.
I’ve just checked. I’ve stopped crying. My eyes are definitely less puffy — and besides, it’s sunny outside, so I could wear dark glasses and no one would ever know, would they? I’m going. Really going. Now. Gone.
Updates from down in the big hole as and when. Or probably not, because you don’t want to hear about them and neither do I. Oh, and I think I probably owe Anna about fifty shiny new pence. I’ll send her a postal order.