Music to my mind is a most puissant form of magic, and has the power to invoke such strong memories and emotions, that tune that always reminds you of your first love, or the song that could be your own biography, and all those happy reminders of your past.
When Liz first played Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Valse Lente for me, she did so in the hopes that I’d like it enough to start learning it myself. I did, I really loved it, instantly, it spoke sweetly and dearly to me. It spoke to me of childhood memories; merry-go-rounds, music boxes and the Italian commedia dell’arte and its comedic and tragic characters, the Pierrot doll I had as a young girl, and still have to this day. And I played it for my son, and to him it spoke of a fantasy computer game he used to play. Ah, the generations! Music speaks differently to people.
This beautiful piece however soon became a reminder of great loss, the last piece Liz and I worked on together. I stopped playing it and listening to it after her sudden death two years ago. I always knew that when I eventually returned to it, I would have gained at least some acceptance of what is a great loss for me.
I made a promise to you Liz, that I would keep working it, a promise I intended keeping. I’m back working on it now, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to talk to you about it. See I still forget at times, that you’ve gone, and I cry when I’m on my own, and oh I still see you walking down the street. However I also think of you often with joy and happy memories and thankfully there’s more of these than tears these days. And I think happy thoughts of a beautiful Valse Lente again.
For you my dear, dear Liz, for all the wonderful memories I have because of you, of music and books, the love of which we shared, lovely evenings with wine and chats, of laughter and silliness and an eternal friendship that will never fade. I love you. I miss you.
Cheers and shine brightly.
Have you seen the suggested posts on Facebook, I’m thinking of one in particular; “Are you depressed about the fine lines around your eyes”. I see red every time I see this. Why do we throw away words in such a thoughtless or careless manner, mindless of the implications and effects over others. Whether it’s using such a powerful word to describe a few lines or making promises to friends we can’t or aren’t prepared to keep.
Depression isn’t being upset over a few lines on our faces, it’s being alone with your thoughts and those thoughts are telling you over and over, you’re useless, worthless and unlovable. It’s pain and not just emotional, it’s physical, and your body aches all over. It’s finding it damn near impossible to put one foot in front of the other, let alone get out of bed in the morning. It’s exhaustion, physically and mentally, but not being able to sleep. You can’t eat and when you force yourself, everything tastes like cardboard. Every sense in your body is numbed, colours are faded, images dimmed, sounds muffled and then there’s the hypervigilence and every noise makes you jump. People talking around you is akin to a jackhammer pounding away outside your door for the last eight hours. You can’t leave the house because crowds make you panicky, shake and sob. Your dreams die and your passions and loves no longer interest you.
Then comes isolation, as people drift away from you, the few that stay around, well you can hear in voice and see in their eyes, their desire to be a long way from you. And why not, you’re not fun to be around and you sap their energy and they’re busy getting on with life. And the others, well they can’t be found, later they’ll tell you, “I didn’t know what to say” or “I wouldn’t have been much help anyway”. Don’t you know I would have given anything to hear you say, I love you and I’m here for you, if you need me. Why couldn’t you have given me that choice. You’re trapped inside this aching body and insidious mind and you just want the pain to stop, so you consider what is unthinkable to a healthy person, and the planning of it is as mundane as making a shopping list. And if things aren’t bad enough, people will tell you, there’s no such thing as depression, why don’t you just pull yourself together. Everybody has bad days. To my mind depression is a grieving process, and the loss is of one’s self. That’s the face of depression. To use this powerful word in any other way denigrates the suffering and desperation of those with mental illness.
But I was one of the lucky ones, I had a great GP, who kept in contact and who knew when it was time to hand me over to the experts. I got a proper diagnosis, my medications were changed and adjusted gradually till they worked for me and then months of therapy. A wonderful space to explore, talk and cry, where I wasn’t judged or hurried away. I learnt ways to process my thoughts and emotions in a more positive and harmonious way.
That was me two years ago, today I’m so much better, but I have to work at it everyday. I can never become too complacent, but I’ve learnt to recognize my triggers and I know when I’m beginning to sink again. What works for me is communication and open dialogue, the power of words, but sometimes it falls on deaf ears, and I’m left reeling from the emotional turmoil. I am overly sensitive and in this dog eat dog world, I struggle. Utopia to me is a world filled with compassion and empathy, what a caring and wonderful society we would then have.
I want to embrace life, it’s experiences and challenges, as well as new and renewed relationships, fully, but how do I do that without getting hurt. Is it at all possible? That is my challenge, I’m back looking for work, a somewhat disheartening process, but I keep my head up and move on to the next possibility. So I’ve got the experiences and challenges under control, but relationships are very different. I always seem to end up getting hurt. Why do I dive in head first, and get so emotionally involved, when I know it’s going to end in tears. Why do I keep making the same mistake. Words again, I get lulled into this sense of security, of believing and trusting, in what others say, but at the same time I’m scared of not believing and not trusting and missing out on something wonderful. What is the key, I really wish I knew. All I can really do, is keep positive and strong and in time too, perhaps my relationships will come good.
My daughter announced the other day that her first anniversary is coming up. First anniversary of what! She’s only 19, when I asked her what she was talking about, she looked a little hurt and then a lot disdainful as she replied ” Neil and me are going out a year,, duh”. She didn’t actually say “duh”, but it was implied. And it doesn’t stop there, they have big plans. Big soppy, drippy romantic plans, involving, scrapbooks, photos, etc. Ah!! My eldest son is the same, 3 years with his current wonderful girlfriend and 4 with the previous one. He’s only 24, so many years of drippy romantic blah. I’ve no idea where he got it from, his father is definitely not a romantic and I’m pretty sure I’m not overly so.
When I was their age, here it comes, none of my relationships lasted that long. Oh I fell in love, body and soul, teenage love, but it never really lasted. I hated the clinginess and worse the pedestal placing. I got to getting sick of them fairly quickly, well ok nearly straight away. Maybe I just liked the idea of being in love, but couldn’t handle the reality of it. I think my longest was eight months, and that was only because we lived 5000 miles apart. I think I was more interested, in meeting lots of people and having lots of new experiences, than being shackled to one person and doing the same things with the same people, over and over. Maybe I was a little worse than most, but I think that was my generation, am I wrong.
So why is it this way, why are they in such a hurry to grow up and belong to one person. Teens today have a much harder time of it than we did, I’m convinced of that. Being a teenager in the 70’s and 80’s was a lot simpler. Oh sure we had our concerns, the cold war was raging and that brought uncertainty, and then of course there was the Skylab which disintegrated and fell to earth in 1979. I was convinced it was going to land on me, and yes the world did revolve around me back then. Of course it didn’t occur to me that it was pretty big and it probably would hit more than me, in hindsight. The world was a much bigger place back then, and despite that not as scary.
The internet has shrunk our world, and brought it all into our homes. Everything is at a hands reach, places, people and experiences. And never has there been such pressure to conform. Teens and young adults are being constantly bombarded with what to wear, say, think and listen to, maybe being with one person is a comfort, safety and belonging in an internet world.
A pet peeve of mine, as I segue into a rant is text speak and modern phrases that are peppering social media sites. The first time I received a text full of text speak from a friend, it took me half an hour to work out, she was asking if she could call for a cup of coffee. Maybe she was just very bad at it. Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin, recently announced they’d agreed to a conscious uncoupling, what the hell, separate like everybody else in the same situation. And then last week, my daughter told me one of her facebook friends had just announced she was polyamorous, what that, maybe she’s bisexual, I thought, nope wrong, it means she has lots of partners, at the same time, Mmmmmm, Yep, we had a word for that and it wasn’t polyamorous. And anyway, why would you tell the world that.
So I guess congrats to my daughter and her lovely boyfriend, but don’t forget to be a teenager and have a ball, that’s what it’s for. There’ll be time enough for everything being an adult brings, don’t be in too much of a hurry to get there.
Edward Roy Cawdell
“I didn’t want to kiss you goodbye, that was the trouble; I wanted to kiss you goodnight. And there’s a lot of difference.” ~ Ernest Hemingway.
Fourteen years have gone since your passing. Does it get any easier, the days in between do, but those special days, your birthday, my birthday, fathers day, Christmas and the 9th August still bring me to tears.
I remember that day like it was yesterday, the seconds move forward in slow motion. The sounds, images, words and the people with me, so vivid. My brothers voice, so strange, what’s wrong with him, then screaming, frightened children running. Repeatedly writing and writing to leach it from me, but still it stays, will that day always remain with me, so strong. The funeral I was unable to attend, never really being able to say goodbye. For weeks feeling like a part of me was missing, your being like a phantom pain in an amputated limb. I’d wake up in the morning , and for a second everything was normal, until I remembered.
You were only 61, so much ahead of you, seeing your grandchildren arrive into this world, and grow to the wonderful young men and woman they are becoming. Your retirement after all those years working to provide for your family, time for just you and Mum. A massive heart attack in your sleep, the only mercy was that you felt no pain, I’m grateful for that. There were police there, I hated that, it felt so….dirty, but it had to be, a sudden unexplained death.
I do prefer my happy memories though of a very wonderful father, and there are so many more of them, you were funny, intelligent, charming, cheeky and very loving and affectionate. A wonderful chess opponent, but a terrible dance partner, remember the French’s wedding, you trampled all over my feet, you were shocking, but I still loved dancing with you, I was so proud. I remembered you singing in church, how could anyone forget, Cath asked you to stop, she was an embarrassed teenager, but you just said, “God gave me this voice, he deserves to listen to it”. I loved watching you playing conductor to your much loved classical music, when you thought no one was watching. And whenever I hear Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, I think of you. You made everyone around you feel important and special, you had such a natural way with people. You inspired us all, to be kind and loving and loyal and to work hard at everything we do, and I see who you were, in little parts, in my kids everyday.
We all still miss you, myself, Dave, Ted, John, Jen and Cath, but we talk of you often and those memories bring us great happiness and tears of joy. You have lots of grandchildren, five girls and eight boys, they’re growing up quickly and very soon you’re to be a great grandfather, a little girl is on the way. The due date, your birthday. We”re all so looking forward to that. Mum can’t wait to be a great grandmother. I planted a tree for you, I wanted an Elder, but couldn’t get one, so I planted an Oak instead. It’s growing tall, lush and strong, and I like sitting under it and thinking of you. I’ve felt you many times, when I’m talking to you and I hear your laugh, when you come to me in my dreams, I can’t believe we don’t live on. And when I’m old, very old after a long and happy life, with my children, grandchildren and maybe if I’m really lucky great grandchildren, I look forward to being with you again.
All those good memories and mostly good days, I love that, I love that it’s getting easier. I love that the good memories now outweigh the bad one.
God rest you, my beautiful and wonderful Dad. Shine brightly.
Depression is a cruel and crippling disease, but it is a disease, not a weakness. It’s still very much a taboo subject, and the days of institutions and mind numbing drugs still exist. We’re becoming more educated though to mental illness, and this is a very good thing, but we’ve still a long way to go. There are so many treatments out there, the right medication, therapy of all sorts and sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is find someone to talk too. Back in January 2013, my most recent bout of depression struck, I turned to my GP, a wonderful, wonderful man. He understood and recognized what was happening to me, and stayed with me, supported me, and listened to me no matter how long it took. And when the treatment wasn’t working, he turned me over to the care of people who could. I’m so much better today and am so grateful to him, I couldn’t have done it without him. My struggle was long and difficult, but I’m nearly there, but I would of loved to talk to someone who knew what it all felt like, to tell me things get better.
So if I could go back in time , just for five minutes to reassure and comfort myself. I’d tell myself this will make you stronger and more independent, more forgiving and kinder to and of yourself. You’ll be more understanding of family and friends, all those times when you think they’ve deserted you, they haven’t, they love you, but they just don’t know what to say or do. Be kind to them, they’re doing their best. That night, 3 o’clock in the morning, walking the streets in so much pain, you do have a choice and you’ll make the right one and life will get better. But from that experience, you’ll become more compassionate to those who are suffering. You’ll learn that it’s ok to put yourself first, because putting yourself last didn’t work, you became overwhelmed and broken. And you were no good to anyone, when you could hardly get out of bed in the mornings. Life is precious, wonderful and amazing and you’ll come to believe that again and there’s always someone who can help and cares. Do always try and find something to laugh at or some one to laugh with, the best medicine of all.
If my words and experience bring you comfort, then I’m pleased, look that person and ask for help. It will be given.
“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read”.~Groucho Marx.
Why do we laugh, what do we laugh at and why do people laugh at different things.
Science first, laughter triggers healthy physical changes in the body. Humor and laughter strengthens our immune system, boosts energy, diminish pain, and protects us from the damaging effects of stress. Simply put, laughter is good for us.
Humour and laughter are a big part of social interaction, people who make us laugh are more attractive and enjoyable to spend time with. Laughing creates a bond and a connection with others. It strengthens relationships, enhances teamwork and helps to defuse conflict.
Sigmund Freud outlined a theory that humour and the use of jokes is a conscious nod to the subconscious. Taboo subjects become more socially acceptable if delivered as a joke. Parapaxes or Freudian Slips, another form of unconscious leakage, although at times embarrassing, can also be incredibly funny.
Why do people laugh at different things. As we age, our response to humour evolves. Children and teens often find toilet humour and slapstick hilarious, while as adults we may still enjoy this type of humour, experience opens us up to more adult humour. Intellect is as important aspect of understanding jokes and their nuances and this develops as we grow and learn.
Society and community plays a big part in what we laugh at. The type of humour we appreciate is often the same as our parents. The great Tommy Cooper was our families great favourite as was Fawlty Towers, Monty Python and The Goons and to this day I still love all of them. Of course personality and personal tastes are big factor.
Another theory is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, as we strive for self actualization, our humour develops and matures. One of Maslow’s 15 characteristics is an unusual sense of humour. As we move through the stages toward self actualization our sense of humour embodies our emotional and psychological attainment. Fascinating stuff, I must read more.
I probably laugh at pretty well anything, however I’m not a fan of crude and offensive misogynistic type humour. I don’t find it at all clever. But I do love the absurd, the ridiculous, black humour, gallows humour, the humour we find in the darkest places of our minds and the darkest times of our lives. The way I see it, if you can find something to laugh when times are dark and lonely, then there’ll always be hope and a reason to get up in the morning.
Some of the best comedy series of all time MASH, Frazier, Modern Family and Fawlty Towers to name a few, all share a magnifying glass look at the absurdity of life. And for most part it’s real, we can relate to it. I don’t know about you, but my family are definitely more Modern Family than The Waltons. Whether it’s spiritual or emotional strength in times of crisis (the Korean War in Mash), arrogance and pride, family life or even marriage, life is funny and it’s best to have a sense of humour for the journey. As Daphne says to Niles, “You’d eat a worm if I gave a french name”.
So favourite comedians, I’m a bit of a Marxist-Groucho not Karl. What am I saying, I’m a lot of a Marxist, the funniest man of all, who can forget, the mirror scene or Why a Duck. Who else likes Groucho, hands up. Love me a bit of Duck Soup, an anarchical, maniacal feast. His timing perfection, his sense of the ridiculous and to my mind he’s a great accidental philosopher.
For me humour has been a god send, a safety valve and an indicator that I’ve come through my dark tunnel. I find myself more able to laugh and enjoy the company of wonderful people. Laughter got me through many a day and got me up in the morning.
Laughter has certainly been the best medicine for me.
“When we can no longer change a situation, we must change ourselves.” ~Victor Frankl
You think you’ll be friends forever, that this close bond you shared will grow stronger as you grow into your dotage. You’ll be zimmer framing it down to the pub for a drink and a catch up, like you did two weeks ago or a month before that.
But each of your lives are changing and each are heading in different directions. You find yourself doing most of the communicating and you’ll be sending any sort of random text, just so you can hear from them and then you fool yourself just for a little while that things haven’t changed. And for a little while you breathe easily and happily. But you feel this sneaky doubt coming upon you again and it terrifies you, it freezes your heart because they’re still so important to you, so dear, so wonderful. And you feel helpless because you think there is nothing you can do to change the situation.
When I first started contemplating the wonderful Victor Frankl quote, I thought should I have to change everything I am, to become this person your friends want to spend time with, curse my black and white thinking. But I think now it’s more about changing your own thinking, and that’s what I am endeavoring to do. As to the changing myself, damn it all if I was was good enough to know and care for before, I’m good enough to know and care for now. Yes my life has been a roller-coaster of late, but I’ve done my very best with everything that was at my disposal to ride it and survive it. I tried to protect my friends from the fall out as best I could, I never asked for them 24/7, and there were many times when I could picked up the phone and screamed in pain, loneliness and despair, but I didn’t. I guess depression brings out the best and worst in everyone.
I find myself now with a renewed hope that friendship does endure, sometimes that hope is with a zesty spring and yet sometimes still I have to ride through the fear, but it’s there nonetheless. There is life after depression, hell there’s life through depression but I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Lucky you Ben & Jerry. Mmmmmm ice cream, why do you have to make it so addictive.
Hears to all my friends and a renewed and even better friendship. Love you and thank you.