Switching on the laptop this morning was not a smooth process, it has issues. These issues are meaning it resembles the way I was a mere two months ago; the laptop it would seem is beginning to close down and attempting to give up.
However, in order to help repair this old duffer, and I’m referring to the laptop :-) , I can go back to a system restore. Find a point at which the system was working the way it should be and try to see what went wrong following that date- easy huh?
It got me thinking; “shouldn’t I just find my ‘system restore’ point”? Return to the last time I was working properly, and life appeared to be running smoothly. Surely then I could simply reboot myself, and I’d be back!”
‘Being back’, like some kind of robotic Swartzenegger-esque type character is really not the type of return to health I need nor desire. Something happened along the way to cause my system breakdown, and I haven’t the full knowledge to work out how returning to a previous restore point will help me understand what all of those factors were.
Being away, and somewhere which albeit familiar to be, but entirely different to life in the UK, was a beginning. I could begin to identify some of the bumps and potholes I’d encountered during the months preceding my smashing headlong into the wall and sliding down into the depression hole. Some were ‘normal’ life stuff, family things, financial concerns – the matters which everyone of us has to manage on a day-to-day basis, and which do get us down. Others however were much more complex. I’d been driven for three years, but my mode of transport wasn’t luxurious, it was a vehicle whose history I couldn’t check out in advance, and choosing to ride in it meant I was often unsure whether it would get me to where I needed or wanted to be. My long journey was one of desperate need and desire.
The purpose of my journey was on the surface quite simple – I wanted to tackle the stigma of mental illness and I wanted to attack the discrimination encountered by people who had a diagnosis. There were powerful vehicles I could borrow from time to time which would help me be part of making these societal changes; there was the Time To Change project for example.
“Why then”, I have had to ask myself, “did I, who became a reasonably successful campaigner, and RETHINK’s Activist Of The Year, feel so empty, so lost and ready throw in the towel, with a flouncing ‘ hasta la vista, life – I won’t be back’.”
My convalescence time gave me some pointers, little road signs I’d missed. I was running red lights, foot to floor, burning gas, to prove something, but alas the people I was trying to prove it to were either blind to the cause I was flying the flag for, or simply couldn’t care less. The stuff I’d been doing, the reasons I was doing it were not all about my own health, my own recovery, they were about showing the people in my past who had hurt or harmed me, that I was a ‘worthy’ person, a ‘good’ person, someone who can and will succeed. It seems all so obvious now that finding myself running on empty, and feeling my tank could never be filled again was inevitable. It is pointless to jump up and down and demand to be ‘seen’ and ‘heard’ by those who have no compassion in their eyes, nor empathy to hear.
Along the way I allowed people to be hurtful, deliberately hurtful. I excused them their terrible behaviour, their cruel comments. I turned a blind eye and avoided confronting issues which I felt may leave me vulnerable to some of the feelings I encountered in a previous workplace. I still felt the employee shame of being accused of being weak due to mental illness. So I went against my natural instinct to tackle unkindness and unfairness directly, and this lead to my feeling weak and cowardly.
The potholes; the disappointments, which were as raw as newly scraped knees to me, were contributing to my health decline, and I simply stuck a band aid on and kept going……going until he scraped knees were becoming deep painful cuts, and I could no longer move; physically or mentally.
Blaming, whether it be people; situations or myself for my health decline is not useful now. I have choice and I choose to remove ‘toxic’ relationships and ‘fake’ friendships. Accepting that the types of individuals who are capable of working in the ‘caring profession’ but still be susceptible to narcissism and bad practice is something I now understand. My feelings around these people and situations has changed upon reflection and I feel nothing when I imagine them, except maybe a sense of sadness that some relationships will remain broken.
I haven’t then, gone back to system restore point where my sense of justice, fairness and my desire to increase awareness around the inequalities encountered by people with a diagnosis of mental ill health has been diluted. Instead I’m repairing and rebooting my system from a ‘now’ point. A place where I understand some of my own motivations and weaknesses and can only surely move on in a more sturdy vehicle……..
Dawni 24 Jan 2011
Before my previous post managed to get lost in translation on it’s journey through Egyptian WiFi technologies, I was sharing some thoughts about how this experience has affected me.
I know my anxiety levels have decreased massively, and that In itself is something I am pleased to be reprieved of.
As this aircraft soared over the Valley Of The Kings it’s ascent can I say in all honesty that I have left depression behind me? I’m not sure how to answer. I can share what I have gained from this experience, and those gains in themselves are monumental.
Prior to my arrival I had began to close down and I was despondent. I was hardly leaving the house. I was giving up, feeling weary and worn out by this illness which has reared it’s mighty head since my teens and, I was beginning to think that enough is enough, time to check out-concede defeat to this mighty monster.
Now? My feelings are much different. In doing what came so very unnaturally to me I infact found the strength to tackle my feelings head on. I have come away from this experience unscathed, and enriched. I feel I have regained my independence, claimed myself back from the clutches of the all encompassing gloom which was my world. The black has faded to grey and I feel strong enough to work on making my colours even brighter.
In retrospect I am glad that I had little time to ‘think’ about what I was doing, it was a huge thing; to leave my security and head off, albeit to somewhere I usually feel rested.
Was it worth it? definitely
What I have I gained? I’ve ‘ regained ‘ my self worth.
Doing what comes unnaturally doesn’t have to be as dramatic as what I have done, but it can be the change which alters a path. I’ve plotted a new course and it’ll soon be time to set sail.
17 Jan 2011 somewhere in the skies (literally).
Seems my ‘leaving depression’ post got broken in
translation, and only half has found it’s way online… Shall
repair it later
I’d planned to write this on the aircraft later today however it seemed to feel more appropriate to at least begin this final blog from Egypt, in the spot from where I have written most of my postings.
It’s not a wonderfully exciting of locations, I could fib and tell you I was sat overlooking Nile river, the sun gently warming my shoulders, the birds singing, but it would be an out and out lie – except for the bird bit, since I can indeed hear the birds, from this desk.
I’ve asked The Divine Sisterhood; “Do I look different from when I arrived”. They said that they thought I seemed “lighter”. Obviously I’d like to think they meant three stones in weight lighter, but they said I seemed more peaceful.
Fran said that my eyes seem brighter, and I seem more relaxed.
On this desk and directly in front of me I could, should I choose to accept such an alarming mission, gaze at my reflection in the mirror. That I way could try to gauge for myself, but I know enough to know my face doesn’t always reflect my wellbeing, and staring at my own reflection for too long makes me except the voices of long dead relations reminding me that such vain practice is a ‘sin’.
There are differences in how I feel, and my question to myself is: “Am I leaving depression behind?”
My anxiety, that heart pounding kind, which I describe to people who don’t get it, as the banging in your chest you get when you watch a horror movie and the monster leaps out unexpectedly, but which doesn’t go away for me when I am anxious, not for hour and hours sometimes. That has decreased, it is now only the occasional ‘horror movie’ kind of heart pounding, and it goes quickly.
(This post was broken during upload, and continues under the title ‘Final Words’)
Sitting here in my room with less than three days before I am back in the land of hurry, hurry, spend and worry, makes me feel wistful.
I can’t romanticise this country, it’s too complex for such a throw away description. It’s a country of extremes. When I was a little girl I wanted to become a writer, I read and wrote continually thinking one day I’d be famous. However it’s been quite been a challenge to my rusty ‘typemanship’ this past couple of weeks to briefly encapsulate my experiences of depression, convalescence and Egypt.
Taking today as an example is perfect. Luxor and The Mighty Nile River are hosting a rowing competition, and the ‘Corniche’ (the road alongside the Nile on the East) was filled with teams from many countries displaying their flags and oars proudly. There was music and the air was filled with excitement, and the street with Policemen. I was walking to catch the local ferry, which is the service the locals use to get from either side of the Nile. It’s costs a ‘foreigner’ 1LE, which is probably about 12p to use, and it is always an interesting experience. Friday is a holiday here, and the streets were filled with the locals, all in their finery, enjoying the sunshine and the rowing, and generally just enjoying each other’s company.
Boarding the ferry and finding my seat I was happy to watch as the ferry filled with women who had been shopping, families, people off to work and the occasional ‘foreigner’ playing the ‘London Tube Game’ (that strange and exhausting British game of avoiding eye contact at all costs). Egyptian’s don’t play that game at all, indeed there is no game, it’s a full on stare for all, and when you encounter it the first time it is somewhat unnerving. Thankfully it isn’t my first time, and I’m beyond unnerved, but my British reserve doesn’t allow me to return ‘stare’ … I merely glance and smile.
A local lady sat in front of me today. After a few minutes she opened what tuned out to be her lunch bag, and she offered to share her sandwiches with me. Being on my way to lunch I had to refuse. She spoke no English, and my Arabic is limited to a few sentences which usually include: “I’ve no money”; “sorry, not today”; and other brush off phrases. How then was I to tell this Lady I was grateful for her offer, such a lovely gesture? Fumbling in my handbag I found a pen and paper and drew a picture of the sun, smiling (like we did in Primary School) and gave to her. She handed it to a man in front, and he asked what it meant, and I said to tell the Lady I thought she was as kind as the warm sun for offering to share food with me. He spoke to her, and as the ferry docked she gave me a gift of incense from her shopping bags.
I did have to smile as I walked to meet my friends. I imagined my many train journeys in the UK, and wondered what would happen if I was to offer to share my banana with the passenger in front of me, the person usually trying desperately to avoid looking at anyone else…….
Today I have been to the ‘Mansion Of A Million Of Years'; the palace of Ramesses lll, which is now known as Medinet Habu. (You can google for info, and I have pictures I will add at a later date.) This quiet, often overlooked temple, was so peaceful. The backdrop, the mighty Valley Of The Kings and Queens, means you are constantly reminded of the passage of time. I think whilst walking around, knowing my days here are drawing to a close I became aware of the lesson of this country. Cliches aside, life is so fleeting, can be so cruel, and can be filled with such joy. I leave nothing at Medinet Habu, except a faint set footprints which will be erased as soon as the sands shift. I am walking where millions before me, and after will walk, knowing nothing of who has gone before them. I wonder when these Pharaohs built these colourful buildings filled with their glory whether they truly believed in real extent of there immortality.
After a magical afternoon, which included a leisurely lunch with Fran, Barry and Jennie, at The Carter House, again overlooking those magical mountains. I returned on the busy ferry to the East Bank of the river.
I jumped into a ‘tax’ (taxi) which was involved in a minor accident just as we pulled off. The driver, who was the ‘injured party’ merely pulled up alongside the ‘offending’ vehicle, and yelled a few sentences, which included some arm flailing, and drove off, delivered me to my hotel, and said with a beaming smile “It’s OK, only small damage”!
I love this country, but I miss my family.
Adel! What is it?
What do you see?
Your eyes filled with the sadness
Of my mystery.
How did you find her?
The child you say is me.
The girl peering fearfully
From behind a dark tree.
Who would have thought I would be following in the somewhat large footprints of Martin Clunes? Certainly not me! But apparently so since I was visiting where he had been a mere few days before. ACE (Animal Care in Egypt) is a UK charity I have been are of as long as I have been visiting Luxor. However, since we normally arrive in August, time of only ‘mad dogs and Englishpeople’ the prospect of visiting an animal hospital in fifty degrees of celsius is much less appealing. Today I got my opportunity since Barry and Fran (my adopted Aunt and Uncle) were going to be there.
It was not without misgivings that I went along. I am a person who is not comfortable with human or animal suffering, and for whom emotions are running slightly out of sync at the moment, and I did question whether I really wanted to spend the night lying in bed sobbing, after all I was the child who cried when horses killed by arrows in cowboy films, and then there was the movie where an entire tribe of Indians and their stallions were lured to their death from a cliff fall, and then there’s Lassie….I’m sure you are getting the picture. It could have been a hurdles or high jump moment – that decision to go!
However, hot on the heels of ‘Hello’ magazine, Martin Clunes et al I found myself facing the animals at ACE, the charity whose motto is: ‘Give a man a fish, feed him for a day….Maintain his donkey, he can feed his family for years.” And there was indeed terrific sadness. There’s a horse in paddock who was burned to the bone by a stable fire, there are open sores, and bites, infections, and breaks. Indeed for many an animal ACE will be the place where it finally closes it’s eyes forever, and it’s working life will end. (Dawn’s eyes are playing MISTY right now)
However the dedicated individuals who work here daily and tirelessly have created a something remarkable. Not only is ACE a refuge for the sick and maimed, it is a centre of excellence in education. These fields and buildings are not the centre of death but the beginning of hope for the working animals of Egypt. Slowly and painstakingly they are teaching the owners of these animals that if they look after them, care for them and see them as living creatures, not only will they live longer, they will cost less in the long term. In a country where poverty is rife this is a pretty slick hook!
Mr Clunes is wise to become the patron of hope for this Chartity caring for domestic working animals and if you find yourself in Luxor I would encourage you to visit. You can check them out at http://www.ace-egypt-org.uk.
(and the badly burned horse? Healing nicely and grazing well thanks to the hard work and devotion of the staff – photo’s will follow).
Egypt it seems is a land where it is not ‘one day at a time’ more ‘one experience at a time’, and these past two days have been filled.
Yesterday Hazel took me to see Adel, who is the local herbalist and healer. Tomorrow I must bathe in a mysterious blend of leaves which have been kept overnight under the stars, and eat dates, which have been soaking in a bowl etched with passages from the Quran. (I’ll keep you posted.)
After ACE today I visited a French restaurant out past the Colossi of Menmon, called ‘The Three Jackalls, where I watched the sugar cane train hurtle by, and the orange sunset whilst drinking a cold glass of Stella (Egyptian Stella, not to be confused with the British Stella Act-A-T*at)!
After all of this I was then to become victim to one of Luxor’s oldest Tourist scams! Barry and Fran dropped me off to catch a motorboat to my hotel. Barry had negotiated a price, the same price I’d paid only days before. As soon as I was out of earshot of the jetty, the driver of this boat tried to double the price. Here again was a high jump moment, I could give in and be in my room within 10 minutes…. or…..
And it was ‘or’ which won, as I demanded to be returned to where I’d just left. Barry was waiting and said something which I am sure was unpleasant in Arabic to this driver.
I ended up catching a cheap ride to the other side of the river, meeting a friend who chatted to me, and walking the 1/2 or so back, by which time my ‘hacked off’ energy had moved on.
This is the second time I have written this, since the computer is playing at being an ‘a*se’ too….but I persevered. I hope to hang onto this attitude…..
Monday 9 Jan 2011
Coming in out of the cold for these precious days here, didn’t mean leaving those behind to freeze, which is how yesterday’s drama’s unfolded,when a frantic message about defunct central heating and who to contact was sent my way.
Seemingly I am the keeper of information, the storer of numbers, and sorter of house things. I hadn’t intended to be these things, but it would appear I have over years morphed into this gatherer and storer of normally quite useless information, of which sharing would have proved useful to others in order to counteract situation ‘malarky’.
And there was indeed a ‘situation’. A freezing family, and a travelling information bank-difficult to contact, and whom a family is reluctant to cause any further ‘anxiety’ to. Getting the message meant that I had to act swiftly to inform property agent, arrange plumbers and access to the house, from here, from serious ancient mobile phone I keep for travel, which seemingly has a mind of it’s own and tries to confuse me with predictive texting functions I’m certain I’ve not selected.
Having set things in motion I began to relax, not without a certain degree of guilt I took Paul O’Grady to the poolside to read, and enjoy the warmth of the sun. I took a long bath, and then wandered to enjoy a very chilly sunset with Hazel.
England it would appear, had suddenly become more complicated that Egypt. The boiler wasn’t going to be mended instantly, it needs mysterious ‘parts’, which meant that I could not relax into the smug comfort of thinking I’d ensured all was well at home. I shared these feelings with Hazel, her response was very clear. “Think of it another way, could you have coped with the stress of it all if you were there?”
As a lay waiting for sleep last night I thought of her words. I knew that loved ones at home were not entirely comfortable, but had found ways to heat, and the shower is electric. I knew it wasn’t ideal, but they would manage. I found the place in my mind where the UK is hiding away, and I could see my thoughts and feelings swirling around. They’re humming their tune on the long wash, gently going around and around and around….but the cycle ain’t finished yet, and I’m not ready to open the door.
Dawni 8th Jan 2011