I was planning to resume the story of Bink’s life in 2010 today... but instead have decided to tell you why I am late with my post.
After all, what is the point of a blog if it’s not… well, a present log?
So: where does mental illness come from?
Genes. And circumstance.
Bink was dealt some pretty s*** genes. A mental miasma lards through my family history. We didn’t really notice it until we were living with it, but now it’s as clear as day. So some of these angry little gene-thingies must be bouncing around in my head too, somewhere.
(Actually, I know nothing about genetics whatsoever so perhaps it’s like female ginger cats or the wrong green eyes or whatever it is which can leapfrog generations and jack-in-the-box out whenever you least expect. Be that as it may...)
Bink also beats herself up – or beats us, usually me, up; probably a lot less damaging but absolutely no more helpful – about incidents in the past which from time to time some therapist or other convinces her have contributed to her illness. Her current torment derives from the fact that, in order to get off the SSRIs, she took tiny traces of cannabis (5 grams in total over eighteen months) which she is sure is responsible for the loss of the last six and a half years of her life: years which should have been glorious.
In vain does one point out to her that she came off the stuff as soon as she realised what it was doing to her, which is a lot more responsible than most people manage. Or that being abused on a daily basis is possibly even more damaging than cannabis. Or that there is no point whatsoever in dwelling on the past.
She is in agony about it, and it’s hard to see how to move her on.
Therapists and their ilk often say, she must have had some trauma in her childhood. And then go on to say don’t feel guilty because she must have been predisposed anyway. Neither of which are in the slightest helpful either.
So, coming back to why my post is late this morning…
Generally speaking, I enjoy pretty robust health. Physical and mental, both. But I have experienced enough depression – what I would call “circumstantial depression” (give me a winning Lotto ticket or a well-daughter or my dear first agent alive and well and back in my life, and I’ll be fine) – to have a tiny bit of understanding into what Bink goes through.
In her case many hundreds of times more debilitating and devastating and just plain awful.
Oh dear… now I’m beginning to feel pathetic, faced with confessing the utterly trivial reason why today’s post is late...
Yesterday, as reader Diana discovered when kindly solving my Very-Teensy-Weensy-Bit-1st-Wld-Prob Pavlova Dilemma, Shaun was licensed to a new parish.
A new beginning!
A lovely fresh departure for the Atkins clan! We have a church again!
In that very tentative, understated and not-wanting-to-put-the-slightest-pressure-on way of his, he happened to ask a few days ago if I’d like to be there for the bish to do his biz. Which is the nearest Shaun ever gets to saying it would mean a huge amount to him if I were.
I did all the right things. I thought, anyway.
It wasn’t unexpected or sudden. I changed into a swooping spring skirt I like. I bicycled there towards the lovely sunset and along the river Ouse, so I wouldn’t be cooped up in a car and polluting the atmosphere.
(True, googlemaps hasn’t the slightest idea how long it takes to bike six miles, and my lovely long skirt isn’t ideal for that particular bike – the romantic nearly-floor-length coat Shaun gave me, even less so –my folding bike is rubbish anyway, and worst of all my iPhone battery is clapped out so my satnav ran out before the journey did – and as always I got lost even with said satnav half a doz times – so I was just a tad late and missed half the service... but it was a lovely journey.)
As soon as I was in the pew and the bishop welcomed me half way through his sermon and we started singing one of the songs I’d chosen myself (and the band even got the very tricky rhythm right) and I could completely see what Shaun meant about what a lovely church and congregation it is... I just wanted to cry and cry and cry and disappear and when I prayed all I could say, over and over, was that I was sorry, and I just can’t do this church thing any more and I’m really sorry, sorry, sorry. God. Sorry.
And the first moment of relief I experienced was after the service was over during tea and cake when I felt a reasonable period of time had elapsed and I could escape to the loo and be alone... And breathe. Calmly. Deeply. Alone.
I also see what Serena means. It’s not the memories of the awful church we went to in Oxford, which treated us so badly, that hurts.
It’s going to a lovely church. And remembering the church we loved so much in Parson’s Green.
It’s realising how much I would enjoy starting up a choir in this dear village church (no idea whether they actually want one: but most churches don’t say no to a choir if you offer to do all the work) … and haven’t the heart any more.
I don’t often feel like this. Not now. Not since we left Oxfordshire.
But it helps me understand.
Waking up throughout the night: four; six-ten; turning on the Today Programme; realising I’ve overslept and it’s nearly eight-thirty; asking Shaun please, please can I have a cup of tea but not being able to answer when he says is that conventional tea or Lenten tea; not wanting to write my blog then or now or ever again; having a dragging headache that isn’t exactly pain but certainly isn’t any energy at all... unable to do anything... helps me understand.
It helps me understand why Bink didn’t manage the one very simple goal she and I agreed for her yesterday.
And just spent the day in bed.
With a migraine.