I have to make an apology. To those of you who read this blog (if there’s anyone still here) yesterday’s entry must have appeared to have come out of the blue after a couple of fairly chirpy entries about our Big Trip etc. The fact is that this depression has been building up ever since we got back from America, but I was too low to blog about it. Actually yesterday I was even more low but I felt desperate to express it in some way. I have had a few bright spots during the last couple of months but they have been so fleeting, no more than a few days of finding life tolerable or even slightly pleasant. To tell the truth, I feel now as if this particular depression has been going on for years, but then in the midst of depression one’s memory is very distorted and tells one that things have never been anything but bad. If I listened to my feelings just now I would think I have been depressed continually a) for the past twenty years or b) continuously since 1972. Neither of which, I know objectively, is true.
On the other hand, during the brief periods of mental sunshine, I am convinced that I am now cured and that depression will never hit again. Which is equally untrue.
The facts on the ground, to sound like a newscaster, are that I have managed to contact two possible sources of counselling or psychotherapy, and booked myself a retreat this weekend, as well as buying my train tickets online and ringing up to book both my taxi from the station, and my return taxi on Sunday. All of which has to be better than yesterday. I just have to remember that while the retreat will undoubtedly make me feel better, it will not be a magic cure and nor will I return from it with a brilliant idea that will totally transform my life. Or with a poem I can enter into the poetry competition whose deadline has been extended. Although the latter is possible.
I have to tell myself that change comes slowly and that I can do little things every day to improve the immediate circumstances. Such as going down the road, which I did this afternoon, to buy some dental appliance sterilizing tablets. Which the dentist didn’t have but has ordered for me, thus ensuring that I will have to make another trip down the road next week. Of such small things is sanity made.
What is it about medical personnel and the words ‘slip’ and ‘pop’? I have a recurring fantasy of a pair of doctors called Dr Slip and Dr Pop, so often have I been invited to ‘slip your things off and pop onto the couch’. I’d rather not pop anywhere, thank you.
Even the dentist is at it. This morning after examining my mouth to discover why I couldn’t bite any more, he offered, ‘Shall I just pop the tooth out now?’. Now it is nearly forty years since I last had a tooth out, but my memories are vivid, and ‘pop’ is certainly not the word I would use to describe a tooth extraction. ‘Heave’, ‘yank’ and ‘lever’ are more like it. There was a horrendous grinding noise as he performed the operation, and being numbed I was unable to tell whether he was taking half my jaw with it.
Do they all get taught a special language at medical or dental school, which includes magic phrases like ‘you’ll just feel a little prick’ (I certainly did feel a prick with my mouth wedged open).
Which reminds me, before and after the extraction I was having fun with my regular column, making up words I feel ought to exist. One of them, no doubt inspired by my recent experience, was the verb ‘to aesthetize’. This, as you might guess, defines the process of becoming sensitized to thoughts or feelings that you were impervious to before. I think a bit of aesthetizing would do no end of good in the world. So long as it didn’t make us all too pervious.
This time to anaesthetise me (with what seemed like 100 injections) and get up under my gums on the top left. I didn’t realize however that the hygienist was going to have a second go at all my other teeth too – only two weeks after the last sandblasting. I felt as though my mouth was a quarry (it’s certainly a goldmine, at those prices).
To revise my earlier comment on ‘practising the presence of oneself’, I now know that not only is the dentist the one place where it is ill advised to be totally present to the sensations of the moment – it is also the one place where one is guaranteed to be totally, immovably focussed on them. Ugh.
And then of course come those dreaded words: ‘See you in three months’ time’…
I may have mentioned earlier in this blog that the first step in practising the presence of God is practising the presence of oneself: being fully alive to the here and now rather than always having our thoughts elsewhere.
Today I have discovered an exception to this spiritual counsel: in the dentist’s chair. Having ten months’ scale scraped off with some force is not an experience I want to enter into deeply at all. Can we change the subject now please?