When I wrote the three Wednesday’s ago that, ‘today isn’t a good day. Not at all’, I meant it.
I just didn’t realise exactly how not good it was going to be.
I knew, as indeed I posted, that I needed music therapy, ideally fucking loud music therapy. But one of the challenges of being in a shared house is the problem of other people, and in this instance what is loud to me often summons the ambience police who turn it right down, on the grounds that they can’t think. Which is exactly what I didn’t want to do.
So it ‘Orbital – Live at Glastonbury’ it wasn’t. Instead some John Barry, some Ryuici Sakamoto, some Ennio Morricone. And John Williams’s epic ‘Adventure on Earth’ from the soundtrack of ‘E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial’. That bought LMS racing downstairs and bursting into the sitting room and acting out bits from the film, which in the normal scheme of things I’d find charmingly cute, but this so wasn’t the normal scheme of things at all. Time to act all nice again.
Could we watch it later, she asked? What, watch my all time favourite film, one that makes me cry, and always has done, that one? The one that LMS and have watched countless times, so she knows she’s pushing at an open door, that one? The one that when I start watching it, there’s no way it’s going to be turned off until it’s over, that one?
Of course the answer was going to be yes. I knew it’d make me cry, but in truth I knew I needed to. In the past, when I’ve known I needed a good cry, I’d either watch ‘E.T’ or ‘The Natural’, a criminally overlooked Robert Redford film, with another epic soundtrack from Randy Newman.
So later we watched it, and as I knew it would, because it happens at same point in the film every time, I started crying. The bit where Elliot thinks E.T is dead, that bit. And makes a speech. That got only muffled sobs because I knew what was next, when we realise that E.T is alive, that always sets me off, although not as bad though as the first time I saw it, in a packed cinema and it sounded like everyone had lost it. My partner – Nosferatu – had always pooh-poohed the veneration with which I regard this film, until a few years ago now I dragged her to a screening of it at the National Film Theatre and by the end of it she had a few splinters in her eye.
Anyway, back to three weeks ago. When the film had ended, I correctly figured that LMS would have her supper and as I needed to be on my own and that to get my bedroom I have to pass through the dining room and the kitchen, I instead headed upstairs to the bathroom and locked the door. A wise move, as it turned out. Not locking the door, that was just what I what I always do, but going upstairs. For about five minutes I just sat there and then it happened.
A howling, the like of which I haven’t had in years just started to erupt from deep within me. A guttural, animalistic kind of wailing, as unstoppable as it was desperate. Possibly it was the strain of the lockdown. Possibly it was the sense of loneliness and isolation that enforced self-isolation had only compounded. Possibly it was feeling frustrated pretty much all of the time. More likely it was the years of pent up anger I feel at my current situation. More likelier still is that it was the overwhelming sense of anger I feel towards myself that I woke up from the coma in the first place. It’s not that I want to be dead so much as hate the fact that I woke up from the coma in the first place. It’s a distinction that makes complete sense to me and if it doesn’t to anyone else, well frankly, who gives?
But on and on it burst forth, like an emotional river, that has seen it’s levels steadily rise, because of my life being sidetracked, potential unfulfilled, the unknown ambitions remaining unknown, independence gone resulting in tongues bitten, observations just observed and slights not forcefully refuted with swearing, all of that and more too numerous and nebulous to mention just gushed, an unstoppable torrent of raw emotion.
Well that’s not entirely true. As it engulfed me, I was aware that if I was left alone with it for the evening, then bad things would happen. Not that I considered myself to pose any immediate danger to myself, you understand, but at 3 or 4am I might’ve taken myself down a particularly twisted labyrinth and it could easily be a different story.
And as I’m always saying, anyone can be wise after the event; the trick is to be wise before the event. So I called Nosferatu and asked her to come and get me and then returned to my howling. The sounds I was making were as disturbing to me inside the bathroom as they were ultimately pointless. Remember how I wrote earlier that I hadn’t experienced a howling like that for years? It’s true. After waking up from the coma and realising the full extent of the wretchedness my life had suddenly become, I would do all manner of things to vent the feelings inside of me, until I realised that all I was doing was making myself feel worse and ending up at the same starting point. My situation hadn’t changed. So I stopped doing it, until all the feelings that had lain dormant could be contained no longer, which is how I ended up in a locked bathroom making sounds better suited to a horror movie.
I think that’s what shocked me more than anything else, the suddenness of it and my utter defenceless against its onslaught, because as a child I’d learnt to compartmentalise feelings, the kind that were not helpful when I was having them, I mean, and making a split-second decision just to deal with whatever the fresh hell it was that confronted me. The problem with that strategy was that it became so ingrained, so automatic, that by my teenage years, that was my default setting and it was only in my early thirties it slowly dawned on me that the years of not dealing with things wasn’t perhaps the wisest strategy now. I’d grown used to bottling things up, to deal with them later I’d kid myself, only I never actually dealt with them.
Eventually, Nosferatu picked me up and drove me back to her place in Stoke Newington, technically in breach lockdown guidelines on staying overnight somewhere, but after the fine example set by Going’s and realising that guidelines are just that, guidelines and as such, open to interpretation based on individual need, decided that my need to be somewhere else was more important.
In the way of these things, we stayed up until 4am talking. When I write talking I don’t mean talking solely about my depression, because that would depress me. I mean talking about everything and nothing, occasionally talking about what had happened earlier on. So when one added up all those snippets of conversation came to a grand total of nearly 3 hours. That’s my problem with therapists, because they work to a schedule, and if as is likely I rarely talk for an hour solidly about my depression, their timetable doesn’t work for me.
Nosferatu drove me back to Insanity Villa’s on Saturday morning, and only then because not only had I a Sainsbury’s delivery booked and but because also the circus had gone down to Dorset, meaning the garden was able to be enjoyed in silence. Well that was my plan anyway. The weather had other ideas and being the weather, was able to implement them. These included a drop in temperature, overcast skies, occasional showers and one humungous downpour that turned my rear bedroom wall into something out of ‘The House of Blood’ So no relaxation in the garden for me then and because I’m never sure if Paul is in or out, loud music at 1am wasn’t really a go-er. Anyway, I stuck it out until Wednesday fortnight last, when the silence became deafening and if the previous outburst had been an earthquake, these were the aftershocks.
As with last time, I called Nosferatu, and as with last time she jumped in my car and drove over. L’Oreal. I’m worth it. The aftershocks came in waves, feelings of hopelessness, emptiness, and pointlessness, basically all the ness’s you can think of. Apart from her off ‘Gavin and Stacey’. There were quite a few times when Nosferatu intuitively gauged my mood as one best described as ‘make him some tea and leave him to it’, which is always a great idea, but in this instance, was especially so. When I would just sit there, utterly impervious to everything, completely wrapped up in my own thoughts, sometimes for hours, mainly when I should’ve been sleeping. As I say to Nosferatu, no matter how bad things are for me, they’d be immeasurably worse if it wasn’t for her.
Still feeling a bit shit, I decided to return to Insanity Villa’s last Tuesday afternoon, whereupon LMS, hearing the key in the door, nearly knocked me off my feet so powerful was the hug she gave me. That made me feel better
The therapy session via Zoom last Wednesday, where in the space of an hour I condensed everything that had gone on whilst my therapist had been on staycation, didn’t.
It’s like nothing has changed, mainly because nothing has. I’m still brain damaged and I still wish I hadn’t woken up from the coma.
I wonder what delights today has in store for me?