Another roller coaster week of mood swings stumbles slowly to an end and I feel kind of grateful that I’ve made it, again. I know things aren’t quite right when little things affect me, like stuff that gets said on a TV show and a trip back to the area in which I was brought up. I worked out a long time ago that what affects you most, usually in a negative way, is the unexpected, when you’re not properly prepared for something. Example, please?
When my dad died back in 2011, I flew to Ottawa, Canada for his funeral. I had thought through much of the journey ahead and reached Heathrow Airport in a level state of mind. But I had not envisaged checking-in and the questions they might ask. “Is your flight for business or pleasure?” Oh shit. Emotion washed all over me and the tears started to flow. “Neither. I’m going to my dad’s funeral.” How embarrassing. “How much luggage have you got?” That’s an interesting follow-up. “This bag.’ “Put it on here, please.” And when I went to the gate, I had another meltdown, virtually begging the check-in staff to sit me away from anyone else. Much more sympathetic. “I’ll see what I can do.” I had prepared for none of this. Once I had pulled myself together, the rest of the journey passed without emotional carnage, as did the trip, as did the funeral, as did the flight home with my dad’s ashes on the seat next to me.
One trigger occurred when we were watching the brilliant Netflix show ‘Lucifer’. One of the characters, Lucifer’s daughter, angrily railed against her father, the Devil as it so happens, that he had never been there for her when she was growing up, that he always put other things and other people first and it had had a terrible effect on her. Now I don’t feel the same way about my own dad because relationships can go wrong and do go wrong. It was not my parents’ fault that they fell out of love and separated but, unintentionally, I was collateral damage and even now much of a lifetime on, I still feel broken by their separation and divorce and by the subsequent dysfunctional upbringing I endured. And now I have children of my own, I now see clearly what I missed and all the wise words about not worrying about things you can’t change are utterly worthless.
Then I went back to Briz, which is really Brislington, an eastern suburb of Bristol. I still use the same dentist surgery that I did from infancy onwards and it’s on the road on which I lived and was brought up until it was stolen from me by my ex after – yes, you’ve guessed it – another dysfunctional relationship. I do dysfunctional very well. Anyway, I went to look at my house, front and back and then my grandparents old house on Sandown Road, Harrow Road along which my father was born, Sandy Park Road, where my grandmother worked in the local ‘dairy’, passing the Kings Arms pub in which I drank far too frequently and too much and – again – I felt that loss all over again. I went to all these places without thinking it through, blindly inviting another mood swing.
Despite over half of a century of therapy, I still feel that loss, particularly the loss of what could have been and the crushing disappointment of lost opportunities, lost because no one thought to offer them to me. Trundling aimlessly through middle and soon, with any luck, old age seems like something I have to do rather than something I want to, life being preferable to the alternative. I confess that sometimes, on a dark day, it is only just preferable.
And there is no prospect of things getting better. My GP informs me that there is nothing else he can do for my depression and anxieties, no more therapy and no extra drugs and no prospect of the NHS accelerating my referral to the Adult ADHD service, I suggest my final opportunity to find out what’s really going on inside this fucked up head.
I’m trying to do stuff better, trying to abandon the hermit lifestyle that came about as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and I’ve been to the theatre, various pubs and next week I am seeing an old friend for the first time in way too long. I’ve been having some awful thoughts about people who have not been in touch with me, thinking that, again, I’ve been abandoned, but maybe I had a role in that too?
Having said all this stuff, it’s worth pointing out that this is a very normal, well typical week, in my life. I am a great actor and sometimes you won’t know I’m a walking, talking basket case because let’s face it who wants to put up with the constant self-pitying whining and whinging of someone who needs to grow up, pull himself together and be grateful for all he’s got. And trust me, I feel like that sometimes.
So there’s an update. A shambolic blog, devoid of structure, empty of conclusion and, all in all, a perfect representation of where I am today. Which is both somewhere and nowhere.
At least the weekend’s nearly here. Which means I’ll have made it.