This week has been shit. My mood took a nosedive on Monday, and really only started recovering today – though that could be wishful thinking, but we’ll keep our fingers crossed, shall we?
It started on Sunday. I don’t know if I mentioned it on this blog or not, but a while back my mother bought A and I a joint birthday present of a weekend away in a hotel, and said weekend finally rolled around last Friday (the first time they had availability in months). We’d only had one proper day of ‘normal’ life between returning from London and heading off again, and as someone used to doing almost fuck all with her life (partly as a I’m a slave to the hangover-inducing demon of Seroquel, partly because of a crippling type of agoraphobia, partly due to Christ knows what), burning the candle at both ends in this fashion was distinctly unusual for me.
It’s not that I didn’t have a good time either in London nor in the hotel – it really, truly isn’t that, and how could it be? – but I will admit that it was draining nevertheless. Up early, do stuff, meet people, live late, sleep poorly, do it all again. Drive 90 miles, have dinner, have a drink, talk to people (in rural areas of Northern Ireland, people love to talk to randoms. Having been raised near a town, this is alien territory for me), sleep poorly, up at something vaguely approximating a normal time, do stuff, eat, drink, have to put up with the mad drunkard who wants to tell you her life story and how she gave up benzos on her own but still snorts coke, go to bed, sleep poorly, drive 70 of the 90 miles, have car throw a fit, carefully drive remaining 20 miles whilst convinced car is about to blow up, get home, ruminate on potential vehicular disaster, feel ill, go back out because you’d forgotten there was a concert that night, don’t enjoy pre-gig dinner and drinks, go to gig, enjoy gig but find it tiring, leave gig in icy, pissing rain, wait for taxi, come home, sleep poorly, sleep all next day.
You get the picture.
Regular readers will know that I positively revere my car. I love the thing with a passion unsurpassed anywhere else in the material world. If I had to choose between the car and my iPhone, or the PS3, or this laptop, or my gong – I think I’d choose the car. I live in a low-level but constant fearful dread of the day when he finally dies on me. (Admittedly, and quite obviously I’d hope, that terror is nowhere near the sky-high level at which I perpetually frighten and torture myself regarding the hopefully long-in-the-future prospect of my mother’s death. I am distinctly and completely petrified of that, and think I’ll have such a major breakdown when it ((hopefully finally)) happens that I might die myself. So no, it’s not that bad – but it is highly significant nonetheless).
So when the car started going mental on Sunday afternoon, I was terrified. Chug chug, roar roar. It was like something out of fucking Formula One. It was so loud that it made every millimetre of the vehicle shudder and vibrate, which caused us as occupants nausea and headaches. Worst of all, there was damn all that I could do about it on the motorway. Well, I could have pulled over and had the RAC come out or something – I do have such cover on my insurance – but (a) how long would they have been? Sitting at the side of a motorway for hours on end would not only be soul-destroying, it would potentially be dangerous; (b) unless my life was actively threatened, I wasn’t willing to lose my no claims bonus; and (c) it was clearly an exhaust problem, and I’m not sure the good people at the RAC go about carrying the exact exhaust parts for a 12 year old and actually rather rare model of Peugeot on them.
So I drove it home. It was the least worst option. It was pissing it down when we got back to the house, so my attempts at looking underneath the car were somewhat hampered. Still, I had something of a go. No tailpipe was visible, but the rest of the fucking exhaust lay at an angle, so I suspected the former was still there, just tilted so that it was under the bumper.
Anyway. Blah. After the concert on Sunday night – and it was testament to the band’s excellence that my poor mood and physical (somatic?) illness were temporarily assuaged by the performance – I don’t think I got up until about 2pm on Monday. I then proceeded to do nothing. And then…I went back to bed.
I must have sent my mother a text message about the car, because on Tuesday evening she rang me. I made the mistake of answering the phone to her, and she plied and plied and plied me with questions: was it doing this, did it sound like that, did it swerve like this, did it turn into a Transformer and blow shit up like that, blah blah blah. And I cracked. It wasn’t her fault – as she, in a fit of justified pique at my completely unreasonable response, reminded me, she was trying to help me – but a state of heightened sensitivity and agitation that had been threatening for days finally overwhelmed me, and I couldn’t deal with having to think about anything.
She hung up abruptly, telling me she would call our mechanic.
I paced the room for a bit. I ranted on Twitter for a bit. I chewed the tops of my fingers for a bit (acting out?). I cried, simultaneously trying to claw out my eyes, for a bit. I considered resorting to self-harm for a bit. I banged my head off the wall for a bit. I wrote pathetic, whinging paragraphs overusing the term “for a bit” for a bit.
(The last one isn’t true).
My mother interrupted this phase of mentalism by ringing back with the mechanic’s advice (which was to take it to Kwik Fit ((the closest branch being half a mile from here)), rather than to him ((circa 10 miles away)), in case the peelers ((translation for the Non-Norn Irish amongst you: cops)) heard the car roaring and threw three penalty points at me). I don’t know what she said to catalyse it, but in telling her that I had gone mad again, I ended up blathering incoherently in a dysphoric, crying, desperate stream of grammatically disordered bollocks. At this point my mother developed sympathy; although she didn’t let the conversation desist (how can she not know how much I loathe phones by now?! In this case, she was making calls on my behalf!) – indeed, she came off with the usual CBT-like platitudes at which I still shudder after all these years – she did try to be helpful and kind, and I greatly appreciated that.
Long story short (well, vaguely shorter than Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady anyway), I was still blubbering and blabbering aimlessly when A came home, but his presence helped to enable me to eventually get Mum off the phone. Not having to use the device calmed me a little, but the nasty experience didn’t entirely abate.
Mum rang again yesterday to advise that an appointment had been scheduled with the local Kwik Fit for what is now today. Objectively good, subjectively night-marish. She observed that I seemed capable of conversing in a more standard version of English than that to which she had been subjected the previous evening, and as such assumed that I was ‘better’ (which I was, if you count ‘depressed’ as better than ‘depressed and agitated’).
In the course of the ensuing conversation, therefore, she asked me a lot of questions about the awards ceremony, and I was forced to lie directly to her. So I didn’t win then? Oh no, no [feigned casualness]. But they must’ve mentioned my name? Oh you know… No, she doesn’t know. Well…no… [Outraged and aghast] Good Lord, my name didn’t even crop up?!! [Brainwave] Well, it was a subsidiary award, not one of the ‘main’ ones. Oh right. Well, that’s a shame. [Thank God, maybe that's an end to it].
So where was the presentation? [Shit]. Er…in South London. South London’s quite big, don’t I know? OK, the Southbank of the Thames. But she wants to know the name of the place. Er…er…[fucking traitorous mind goes blank]…the BFI [she won't know what that is, so it's OK]. What does that stand for, she wonders? [Resigned now]. British Film Institute.
And so on, and so on, and so on. I don’t blame her for her curiosity – it’s my fault she found out about the whole thing in the first place – but I hate having to wing this bullshit and keep up the enduring pretence that this persona demands.
I don’t generally have any particular moral conscience about lying; I’m a selfish bitch, and it benefits me occasionally (I should punctuate that statement by saying that this is more historical than current; for example, the old teenage favourite of “I’m staying at a friend’s” rather than “we’re going to an over 21s bar in a dodgy area until 6am”, which was so frequently followed with lies to cover the first lies, then lies to cover those lies, ad bloody nauseum. I don’t often have cause to lie these days, but as observed I am selfish, so I couldn’t rule out employing it as a potential tool of convenience). However, lying about something so (relatively) huge feels like a big, fat pile of fuckery sitting in my mind.
I discussed this a little once before. Look what this blog has become. I’ve been writing it, at times very prolifically, for two and a half years. As was noted in the introduction to it at the Mind Awards, I don’t just a write a few sentences going “life is a pile of steaming wank” every so often; I write essays. Reams and reams and reams and reams. Look at the support network that I’ve developed from this writing and from the associated Twitter account. To use an arrogant word that I thoroughly detest, but which seems apt in context, look what I’ve “achieved”; a versatile array of lovely online recognitions, and, in this particular arena (ie. blogging/social media), what is probably the biggest mental health award in the UK.
And my mother knows nothing - nothing – about it. That is fucked. That is seriously fucked.
I mean, she knows I write stuff, and that it’s about mental health. My own idiocy alerted her to the fact that I was nominated for something big for said writing. She knows I do it pseudonymously. But that’s it. If I have any talent in writing – something of which I remain unconvinced – then, in this context at least, she can never “appreciate” it.
It’s a necessity, but it’s one that I bitterly regret.
Anyway, off I go on a pointless and rambling soliloquy yet again. My point, were I ever to sodding well make it, is that this huge, suffocating, grotesque lie added to my distress over the week. London, the hotel and the concert were great, but they were exhausting too, especially given the short timeframe in which they all came to pass. Christmas is closing its sky-scraping, dark walls in on me. The car trouble was a serious stressor. And I had no choice but to shove a gag of deceit down my mother’s throat.
So, although as I endlessly harp on, I believe that my mentalness is largely non-reactive, I think this particular mentalist incident (or set thereof) was (were) attributable to this cosmic confluence of events. Everything just came at once, and, overwhelmed, I couldn’t cope with it all. Whilst arguably my particular expression of the stress – thought/speech disorder, disproportionate anxiety, ruminative propensities towards self-harm as a “solution” – may have been examples of insanity, I don’t think that being upset and fucked off per se was anything other than quite normal. Even for a normal. If you know what I mean. Which would be rather impressive, because I don’t.
Anyfuckingway. Today arrived with the threat of having to see people (and see people without someone with me for support) in the form of having to go to bastarding Kwik Fit (each time I’ve typed that in this post, my fingers have behaved innately and tried to type Quick Fit. Why can’t companies just use the English language properly and stop trying to be “clever”?!).
I rose from my pit with a heavy heart. I went out for a smoke, got dressed (entirely, and quite typically, bypassing the “and washed” part. I never have written about my ablutophobia here, have I? I must do so one of these days) and left the house with the reluctance of a lover of life walking to the gallows. I am pathetic in the most fundamental of ways. Who in their right mind (well…) is filled with abject terror at the thought of getting their car exhaust fixed?!!!
So off I went, my transport ominously dragging me forth (read: car angrily growling and reverberating), to cross the seas of Acheron (drive up the road a bit). After quite a few irritated looks but, fortunately, no examples of Scylla and Charybdis (police*) accosting me, I duly found myself staring fearfully into the gaping infernos of Hades (Kwik Fit). I withdrew my last remaining hope of rescue from the final good vestige of my soul (took the keys out of the ignition) and proceeded onward to Tartarus, my final destination (the Kwik Fit reception).
(* That one’s quite dubious, but those two did fuck you up if you ran into either of them, just like the peelers probably would, so the crappy analogy works for me.
… Oh, hang on. It wasn’t the police that fuck you up. It was your parents. How could I possibly have thought that Larkin had existential commentary on the police to whine out in his musings? They fuck you up, the police. It doesn’t quite work, does it? Hmm. I’m fighting a losing battle with classically depressing poetry here. This is not good. But just for clarification: Scylla and Charybdis are perfect metaphors for the ills of modern policing, and if you don’t agree, then you are wrong. Sorry, GCHQ.).
OK, enough of that pretentiously moronic guff. Terrified, I went into
Qu… Kwik Fit. In what should have been an Oscar-winning performance, I confidently and charismatically explained to the bloke why I was there. He was talkative and friendly – and, to my exasperated shock, made me feel at ease. He took and checked the car, returned, and told me what was wrong. What was particularly impressive was that he took me underneath the car and specifically showed me the damage (the centre-piece had separated from the still-present tailpipe). He checked that he had a replacement part in stock, told me to come back in 45 minutes and…well, and that was that.
I went and had lunch…alone. Well, alone except for my Kindle. Result, Pan. Result! I rang my mother – she had made me promise to do so – to report on what had occurred, then I went back to Kwik Fit and waited for the car. In a few minutes, Friendly Bloke confirmed it was ready; I paid him, he wished me a merry Christmas (which, even though I hate the silly festival, was a lovely sentiment), I reciprocated, and I left. With a beautifully silent, functional, darling little car.
And I felt OK.
And the car was OK.
So I felt more OK.
Actually, it’s not entirely OK. I’m not really in great form at all (it could be worse, but you know what I mean), and there’s no particular reason anymore. But I wanted to end the post on a high note! So…er…here’s a more genuine one.
Most of you are probably aware of this, but just in case you’ve missed it, voting is now open for the 2011 This Week in Mentalists awards. You can vote for your favourite blogs and discover lots of new ones over here! And if you’re new to TWIM, don’t be shy. It’s a welcoming place.