Blimey. I took a few blows today. A rather poor interaction with a healthcare professional that left me baffled and took me a while to shake off, and a rather poor interaction with the powers of academic journal publishing.

This is after a pretty little project I had tended to like a miniature sculpture that needed my love and craft got turned down by a potential funder without a line (Not. One. Line.) of feedback. (you see, funding applications, however small the sum requested, are some beasts; they take effort, and heart, and obstination, and will power to survive the red tape – sinking them without even a hint of a comment is the ultimate slap in the face, in research terms.)

So I dragged myself back from the doctor’s office to my desk and watched whilst bits of me imploded in turn. I didn’t crumble as such. I just observed various forms of confusion and numbness alternate across my chest and behind my eyes. Normally I would have just carried on with the review I was writing. Accepted the slowness, the occasional tear, the tug of war with meaning, and carried on. Made the deadlines, rocked the kids’ bedtime, ticked off all chores. And carried the shadows to bed, to play out and wreck havoc in my already ridiculously limited sleep.

But today I thought of Charles. Charles who talks about “me-time” without the irritating hypocrisy of happy motherhood. Charles who, about my ability to respect my needs, says “maybe actively try to speed up the process” in a way that makes me listen. Because there’s no pity or judgement in how he says it. It’s just there. Take it or leave it. He’ll be here tomorrow with another set of exercises either way.

So, I grabbed my bag and walked down this seemingly endless hill to catch a glimpse of the sea. I spoke to a human in a shop. I sat somewhere for a coffee.

Sometimes you know very well what is going to stop the vicious loop but something gets in the way of just pressing the goddamn button. Sometimes you kind of have to throw yourself out of your own room/flat/house/self to break small cycles of downward spiralling. Sometimes you need a prompt that makes you do just that. What many doctors and tutors don’t get is that a lot of people in distress won’t be able to do very much with ‘signposting’ (to groups, professionals, or other sources of help) – they need a solid, plain and yet kind hook to reality to swing from in order to get out of their own traps.

Charles seems to know that. My doctor apparently doesn’t.


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