The art of kindness

I had a nightmare recently in which a group of Christians were expressing their “kindness” towards me. They walked into my flat without invitation, caused a flood, brought my inadequacies to my attention and then left leaving me to clear up their mess.

Their interpretation of kindness didn’t match my needs. They stripped me of my coping mechanisms and replaced them with “better” ones. This kind of false, if well-intentioned goodness, endows a sense of unworthiness.

Twitter “kindness porn” is prominent at the moment. 

People with “Be Kind” in their bio aren’t always the kindest people. One “blue tick” is telling people to be kind and increasing his follower numbers. Oddly enough he’s got a book out at the moment.

As the hackles are rising on your back I will make this bold statement: only people who are on the receiving end of a gesture get to say if it’s kind or not.

A random act of kindness is something that happens to you not something that you perform.

As often as I can I make donations to my local food bank and cafe for homeless people. I do this because I’ve spent time on the poverty line when there were no food banks and have spent a lot of time in my adult life in insecure accommodation. I give because I want to express my gratitude for the life I have now and perhaps ease the way for someone who needs a bit of a helping hand. If my actions are perceived as kind then I can’t help but be happy about that.

Kindness is important but it’s not the giver who decides on what is or what is not kindness, it’s the recipient.

The flavour of the month is hysteria

Since I had my first Covid vaccine in February the way I feel has begun to change and it’s not the positive change that I’d hoped for.

I felt a real sense of hope the day I had the vaccination and cried with relief at the idea of being able to go and see friends in other towns again. It felt as though even though there will never be an end to the pandemic there could be an end of a kind in sight.

Lately I have been sitting at home and regularly feeling hope followed by despair and hysteria bubbling in my throat. I’ve mentioned this to a few people and they’re feeling the same way. We’re now in the second year of the pandemic and things may not change the way I need them to this year and it feels like things will never change.

Travelling on trains for short journeys or a few days away has always been one of the safety valves which help me manage Bipolar Disorder and it has been taken away from me. I stand at my living room window and watch trains travelling to and from the station up the road while I yearn to be on them.

Because one of the major tools in my box is missing it’s causing things within my mind to not work quite as they should and, for the first time in a year, it’s the Bipolar Disorder that’s causing problems and not the inner anxiety about the pandemic. Perhaps one is feeding the other now but debating that is pretty pointless.

I have been finding it harder to cook and even harder to tidy up after myself when I have cooked. I’ve been missing the timings while cooking and some of the food has tasted dreadful. I used to cook for a living so when such a basic skill falls away it devastates me.

In the past I have fought against the ready meal route as people tend to look down on those of us who feel that there is no other solution available but this time it’s a solution I’m embracing.

Ready meals have got much better in recent years and because nutritional information is now printed on the packaging then it’s much easier for me to keep a track on what I’m eating.

Today I have bought a condenser dryer to help myself when it comes to laundry. I am enjoying the idea of being able to wash, dry and put away clothes in one day instead of the several days it takes me now because I have to iron most things.

At times I hate the insight that I have in to my illness and the way I have to live my life but at other times, such are these, insight helps me to make simple decisions. As for travelling and the pandemic, all I can do is the same as everybody else is doing – wait, see and dare to hope.

Yet another sodding mental health awareness day…

This time it’s Time To Talk and the theme is the “Power of Small” because you know, pandemic, little things matter etc.

This seems to be yet another opportunity, particularly on Twitter, to tweet clichés and quote meaningless statistics.

Like all people with poor mental health I am very much aware of mental health but I don’t think that people with good mental health (as a whole) realise that they should be aware of their mental health though.

I know when, and if, it’s time for me to talk. I know about the “Power of Small” (what a fucking cliché that is) and it’s none of your business if I choose not to speak.

In light of this please make conversations about mental health equal – listen as much as you speak and learn from that – and I mean me as well as you. Equality only happens if both parties make an effort.

If I want to stop the conversation then let me and stop the conversation if you need to.

What would be really great though would be if we stopped having these days and just did things like this as a matter of course. If somebody asks you how you are or vice versa have a bloody conversation, stop muttering and speak up.

Old Man Misery & Little Miss Mad

Old Man Misery has turned up enexpectedly as he always does and is expecting a warm welcome. I’m not wholly disappointed to see him and, as of yet, I have no need to fear him. 

He is old and frail now and not at all like the obnoxious young man that was impossible to live with.

These days he doesn’t stay long. He creeps in a little at a time, glancing up I’ll see him sitting opposite me in a chair that he reserves for himself.

He knows his presence is weak but that he still has a hold over me and the twisted smile he wears underlines that knowledge. I can see in his face that he is waiting for an opportunity to strike.

He fades away as slowly as he comes. Over a few days the signs of his presence fade one by one and the sneaky way he chains me to my chair goes.

Little Miss Mad never leaves the house unless I do. She is an embarrassing teenager, a talented ventriloquist who puts words into my mouth. (I once told my mother that the battery operated item that my dad had bought. her for Christmas was a vibrator.) She pours out strings of words that can’t be understood and are shallow and meaningless in any case.

She gets irrationally angry in the way that only arrogant teenagers who believe themselves to be the centre of the universe do.

She will never leave home. When the old man visits she stays in the attic and I can feel her stomping around, impatient to be back in control. 

Occasionally she bursts out and challenges him and he responds with viciousness. Between them I have been driven to reach for knives, scalpels and pills. They push me hoping I will seek permanent oblivion. Parasites stupidly trying to kill their host.

They won’t kill me, I’m too tough to die.

This service is no longer required

When I first moved into the flat I live in now I had a television forced upon me by someone who couldn’t imagine living without one. At that point I hadn’t watched any tv for at least two years and it felt very strange at first.

Twenty years later I sat one morning watching the news and wondered why I was doing it. I knew that as soon as it finished I’d be flicking round the channels looking for something to have going on the background as I vainly tried to do other things. It was moving wallpaper.

I had a short break from watching it then lockdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic begun and I found myself watching it more. I bought a DVD player and watched boxsets on that and on the subscription networks.

Books I picked up to read were often laid to one side and music was played less often and that’s when I realised I’d let television take over my life once more.

This week I decided to watch a couple of soaps because there’s always some kind of huge story line at Christmas Day. I realised that I was checking in a TV magazine to see what time they were on and I needed to catch up on them. I looked at the pile of books I’ve been reading and realised that I had barely finished one in the whole time I’d been watching television again.

The damned thing is now in the storage room and will probably be in a charity shop soon. My living space has been rearranged to enhance my reading experience and make listening to music more pleasurable. 

Lesson learned? I hope so.