What, pray tell, is a ‘Mad Up’?
A Mad Up is a social encounter wherein all the attendees are clinically mad (excluding, perhaps, the partners of the aforesaid attendees). Mad Ups involve a group of individuals with social anxiety meeting a mass group of human beings that they have not met in their lives before. However, Mad Ups – perhaps ironically – work to combat social anxiety and societal alienation by offering a forum in which participants can engage in open and free discussion of mentalism, something that is still, in the main, derided by society.
Mad Ups involve the consumption of alcohol, either in parks or in random pubs on Baker Street in London. Mad Ups involve people who are actually not called Pandora consuming too much of the afore-referenced alcoholic chemicals, and then behaving in what could be considered a slightly manic fashion. Mad Ups involve over-excited encounters with people masquerading as Sherlock Holmes because they are on a stag do. Mad Ups involve therapist and NHS-bashing, though Zarathustra of Mental Nurse (and one other professional in attendance that I’ll not name for reasons of anonymity) is of course exempt from said bashing because Zarathustra of Mental Nurse, whilst in attendance at a Mad Up, may buy people actually not called Pandora a pint.
Let me get, finally, to the point. I’ve had a heavily congested but thoroughly enjoyable weekend in the world’s capital, Laaaahnndaaaahhhnn.
First Meet Up – CVM, an online friend of relative long-standing
On Friday night, over a year after first encountering her online, A and I finally met CVM, who has been a consistent and unwavering source of support and friendship to me since that (as I now see it) hilarious night when I recommenced self-harming after a 10-ish year gap (re-reading that post makes me cringe. What a complete pile of dirge. It’s shite even by my standards). CVM was, as I fully expected she would be, thoroughly lovely. She bought us some delicious biscuits and we chatted for several hours about mentalism, families, mutual friends on the internet and lots of other random but fun stuff. It was over all too soon, as these things always are, but low-cost air travel* makes the world a small and accessible place, so it will be far from the last time we meet. CVM reads this blog when she is able, and to that end I am sending lots of love to her, as well as many thanks for a great evening. <3
Second Meet Up – Daniel, my best mate
It always seems weird to describe a person that you see maybe twice a year at most as your best friend, but he is. Nothing ever changes. We may not speak to each other for months, but as soon as we are put back in a room together, things are the same as they always were. We only saw Daniel for about an hour and a half, immediately before the Mad Up, but any time together is a good time together. I think my favourite part of the encounter was reminiscing about the completely braindead and ridiculous (but immensely fun) shit we did as adolescents. One was running down my mother’s road with her ancient brown cushions on our heads, swinging a curtain pole whilst squealing, “weeeeeee! WEEEEEEEEEEEE!”
We were, indubitably, the absolute bastions of sanity.
Third Meet Up / First Mad Up – about 20 mental health bloggers/Twitterers/Facebooker-ers/partners of nutjobs/etc
I’m not sure how many people I can name, as I wouldn’t like to intrude upon anyone’s anonymity, but Simone has already mentioned her attendance, so I will say that she was there. My friend K, who I met for the first time in November, had also made her way to the event, and it’s always lovely to see her.
It was lovely to see everyone else as well, of course. Some people I’d known online for months – perhaps over a year in a case or two – other people I barely knew at all, but no matter; everyone was great craic and intelligent company. There is something so absolutely empowering (I hate that word) and freeing (I hate that word too) about being able to openly and with impunity discuss those dirty little mental health related subjects that society wants to brush under the carpet – self-harm, sectioning, psychosocial traumas, the bollocks that is NHS mental health ‘services’. It’s really not your normal pub conversation, is it? And yet ‘your normal pub conversation’ also existed in droves, because at the end of the day we’re not so much a group of mentally ill people, as a group of people who have mental illnesses. I loathe the PC expression of that sentiment, but at the end of the day there is truth in it; it’s sometimes easy to forget that we’re ordinary folks who have interests, idiosyncrasies and bodies just like everyone, rather than just uniquely fucked-up messes.
We had people with bipolar disorder, cyclothymia, eating disorders, borderline personality disorder, depression, anxiety, PTSD, psychosis, mentalism unspecified and even one who has I’ve spent over seven years being romantically entangled with (she who is actually not) Pandora, so despite failing to collect official diagnoses I must be mentally ill disorder.
We met in Regent’s Park but a dumb fuck – namely me – had forgotten to bring booze, so after an hour or so a breakaway contingent ran away to the nearest pub. We were latterly joined by the remainder, and even more latterly than that some folks that couldn’t make it during the day also turned up. A and I were amongst a group of about six that stayed to the bitter end, which is testament to the relaxed enjoyment that was had.
So, folks, thank you. I spread my love and gratitude out there to all of you in the Madosphere.
* Ryanair are a pack of fucking cunts. Advertising, advertising, advertising. Money, money, money. ”Oh yes, already-paying customer, please buy our shit scratchcard – we really need your help to raise money for children’s charities.” Fuck you, you guilt-tripping, rip-off heaps of fuckwittage. Children’s charities? Really? Michael O’Leary’s fucking children?
I resented every penny I spent on flying with them, but there was something like a £70 disparity between them and SleazyJet, and Ryanscare at least have the relative decency to travel from a less shit airport than their orange-fixated competitors (an aside: are SleazyJet making a Northern Irish political point with their orange livery?). But fuck me, did Ryanscare suck donkey balls. On the bright side though, ranting material is always a welcome thing