Archive for March, 2017

Two Cats In The Yard

March 29, 2017

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Borderland

March 29, 2017

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No feud is enough to keep me from you
I brave the barricades and the border guards
And you appear so near now. I journey
Through memories in dark and restless sleep
A bleak borderland, a stark, dry terrain
Where suicidal strangers meet.

We dwell within the ancient walls
Of a forgotten country, scorched and frozen,
By turns; haunted by a history of hatred
A decimated island on which matchstick
Children stand, tormented by the sun
And praying for death.

This is a vulnerable state, on the edge of hell
Sandwiched between two superpowers
Clinging to an impossible peace
And all around there are pillars of salt,
Crumbling statues of fleeing citizens
Who dared to look back.

The father says, ‘Son, take this gun’
And sends his progeny off to war
And he carves curses upon stone
Primitive and inglorious
Hit by one calamity after another
We are all crazy here.

A City Segmented

March 28, 2017

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We can never put this together again
Fragments and shreds. A city
Spartan, skeletal, segmented.
Utterly disjointed. Machine gun fire, missiles
Emerge from the mouth of the enemy
It worsens daily

Perhaps they regard themselves as God’s mouthpiece,
Oracle of the deceased or of some great
And glorious historical figure
For many decades now we have toiled
To purge this filth from our spoiled land
We have not progressed

It a fruitless task
And the citizens know it
We crawl like ants across the yawning
Void that used to be tomorrow, that used to be the morning
Over fields laced with landmines
To restore the colossal castles and towers and tawdry powers

The once cloudless sky
Now desecrated by the dye
Of foreign occupation, of a desolate nation
Now as pitiful and forgotten as some dead peasant brat
Daughter of an ancient and useless serf
The flesh, bones and blood: a country crushed

Order displaced by chaos, grace displaced by anarchy
It took some effort
To create such a catastrophe
On endless, sleepless nights I stand right here
A lone partisan sheltering
From a brutal storm

Watching the soldiers
As they stalk the streets
I am betrothed to this decaying
Carcass of a city, knowing
That there will never be
Any other life but this for me

Loneliness In Middle Age: Myself In The Third Person

March 26, 2017

Loneliness In Middle Age
By Louise Mills

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Loneliness is often portrayed as a condition of old age. Little attention has been paid to the kind of loneliness that afflicts the middle aged. However, recent research has shown that an increasing number of the middle aged are reporting feelings of isolation, despair and loneliness. Some say it is reaching epidemic levels. In spite of this, they are a group still relatively low down in the hierarchy of concern.

Contrary to popular opinion loneliness is not a trivial condition and its impact on our lives should not be underestimated. According to the British Medical Journal, ‘Loneliness and social isolation are risk factors for coronary heart disease and stroke’. It also puts us at greater risk of cognitive impairment or decline. It can be a threat to both physical and mental health. Many are reluctant to admit to loneliness so it tends to be a hidden problem which can make it all the more debilitating. Although loneliness is not, in itself, a mental illness, it can lead to disorders such as agoraphobia, anxiety and depression. Pre existing mental illnesses are also exacerbated by loneliness.

So what makes the middle aged peculiarly vulnerable to loneliness? Several contributory factors have been identified. Middle age is often the part of life in which people are forced to confront their own mortality for the first time. It is often an an age when people lose their parents.

Melanie Dunbar, a 43 year old sales advisor, says: ‘This was the year in which both of my parents decided to die. I was orphaned in my 40s. Another blow came when a friend of mine who was only seven years older than me passed away after a short battle with cancer and that’s when it hit me: I am no longer young. I am also unmarried and childless which intensifies my feelings of isolation.’

The loss of our contemporaries in middle age leads to a precarious sense of self and causes us to question our connection with the world. The sense that we are part of the cycle of life is disrupted. We realise there are no certainties, there are no guarantees. Youth takes much for granted, including life itself. The middle aged can no longer afford to do this. Experiencing loss at this time of life can also lead to fears about one’s own health. For the first time we see our contemporaries succumb to life changing illnesses. We realise our time is running out, that middle age is a prelude to old age. Youth is over.

We are all failures in some way, even the most ostensibly successful. There are always things we should have done but didn’t. The childless regret their state and those of us with children are facing a dramatic change in status as our offspring fly the nest. Empty nest syndrome afflicts women in particular.

We are running out of possibilities. We become more self critical. It can seem that there is no escape, that our lives are over, that there is nothing to look forward to. That this is all there is and all there will ever be. There is no possibility for change.

We become more self conscious, more acutely aware of the way in which those around us perceive us, especially the young. ‘When I was in my twenties  I barely noticed the existence of anyone over forty. Apart from my parents and they were frequently the objects of mockery,’ says Sarah Grossman, a 47 year old financial advisor.

Loneliness in middle age can hit some harder than others. It drove Pattie Gilbert, 49 and unemployed, to the brink of suicide. ’At the moment I am trapped in a vicious cycle. I am imprisoned in my flat, alone. I have lost all of my friends and lack the capacity to make new ones. I lead a relentlessly solitary life. I cannot go on like this but I don’t know how to break the cycle. I need help but I have no idea how to get it. I feel an overwhelming sense of fear. I feel like I have lost too much of myself, like I have forgotten how to live.’

‘It is as though I am mentally and emotionally paralysed. It is the future that terrifies me the most. Sometimes I feel that the only thing I have to look forward to is death. I wake up in the morning and want to go straight back to sleep again, my dreams being more colourful and interesting than my everyday life. They say life begins at forty. I am yet to be convinced.’

‘I think about suicide frequently. My death would be a relief, not just for me but for the people I am so parasitically dependent on – my family and my mother in particular. My death would set them free. Some say suicide is a selfish act. Right now, it seems like the opposite.’

It is at this point that many are tempted to turn to social media to fill the void in their lives. According to some it can only be a temporary fix. According to Dorothy Baker, a community psychiatric nurse, ‘When we switch off the commuter and unplug ourselves from the internet we are catapulted back into an unsatisfactory reality. There is no substitute for face to face contact.’

There is a temptation to withdraw from the world.  Dorothy urges us not to succumb to it. ‘It is all too easy to allow yourself to be sucked into a cycle of self pity. We need to recover the capacity to operate once again as fully functional human beings.’ There are many ways of achieving this goal. Often a little imagination and energy are all it takes to turn your life around. It is never too late to embark upon an exercise regime and maintain a healthy diet. Improvements in physical health can lead to improvements in mental health. Keeping a diary and reading are also immensely helpful. Hobbies and interests should be nurtured. Dorothy has some encouraging words: ‘Remember the best thing about growing old is that you do so in such wonderful company.’

Myself: A Case Study

March 20, 2017

IMG_0257Myself: A Case Study:

This will be the bleakest blog entry for a while and for that I apologise. The breadcrumbs have been devoured by the birds and there is no way back. I have to create a new future for myself.  This is a kind of SOS.

This is actually about me but I am writing about myself in the third person. What shall I call myself today: Susan perhaps.

My diagnosis was, until recently schizoaffective disorder but the powers that be have chosen to change it to ‘schizophrenia’. Schizophrenia is a cruel disease. It attacks every aspect of your being and even after a successful medication regime has been established there are problems that may seem unsurmountable but they must be faced up to and overcome. At the moment I am experiencing residual symptoms of my disorder: loneliness, social isolation, suicidal thoughts, panic and anxiety. However, my greatest enemy is poverty of expectation in myself and in others. I find myself longing to give into the temptation to curl up into a ball and lie there forever, to succumb to a dreamless sleep.

Right now I am terrified of the future. I have a tendency to catastrophise. I am finding the world almost impossible to navigate. I am nothing, I am passive, a mere observer. I am characterless, A tabla rasa. My self esteem has been ravaged. I feel socially disenfranchised, as if I have no place in the world. I am living on the edge of darkness, huddled down deep inside myself, wondering whether I will find myself again. “it is my portion to die out and disappear.”

I need to bear constantly in mind that there is a solution to every problem. Something as simple as making a list of problems and solutions can be immensely helpful as it helps to put them into some kind of perspective. I have got to this stage and the darkest hour is just before the dawn. I will not let this illness win. I must triumph over this nameless dread. A life lived in perennial fear is no life at all. Time propels you forward. There is no turning back.

https://www.livingwithschizophreniauk.org/

 

 

Flower Seller by Diego Rivera

March 14, 2017

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Apartment Tour

March 13, 2017

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