Have you noticed how the moment the sun comes out on a weekend, you know, the time when you would quite like to go and sit in said garden and enjoy the sun and heat in peace and quiet, that there is always some gimp who has to start hammering, sawing, mowing the lawn with a Harley Davidson or some other noise making contraption?
I don’t know why I do things. Over the past few weeks I’ve realised that virtually everything I do is without any kind of emotion, All I’m doing is going through the motions and kind hoping that there will be some kind of emotional end result. Just about the only emotions I really feel are guilt, irritation and fear, with an odd tendency to well up while watching films. I have sex and I enjoy the physical sensation but there is no emotion, I’m not excited or happy or even sad.
The thing that I really can’t understand is my reaction to Dakota. I love her, I think about her every day. I don’t feel excited to be meeting her but I do feel that it needs to be done. I can’t quite put it into words. I’m trying not to use the word feels because there is no feeling just an awareness that it is absolutely vital that I see her. When she told me she was moving away, though, it felt like the world was ending so I can feel some things and I do long for her. I wonder how I would feel if I slept with her?
I try thinking of the things I really enjoy and I can’t really think of anything. I have sex because I’m horny, I eat because I feel hungry, I drink because I’m thirsty but there is no satisfaction in any of this. I have a curry in my favourite curry house, the food tastes nice, but I don’t care. I have glass of whisky and it tastes nice but I don’t enjoy it and I realise now that I do everything because I remember how it used to feel and doing these things allows me to indulge in the memory of how it feels. I fantasise about enjoying the whisky and so I have a whisky, I fantasise about having great sex so I chase women, and my complete lack of any kind of feeling means I have no fear, so I’m quite good at it, but it’s meaningless.
My life is all about moving from one attempt to feel to another, and it’s really not working so I’m thinking about trying medication. I have a half-brother who was recently diagnosed with depression and opted for medication and he’s like a totally new person, he’s motivated, happy and it’s got me wondering if medication would really make a massive improvement in my life too. The thing is that everyone I’ve spoken to about it seems to be of the opinion that the side effects of medication are as bad as the disorder itself. I think I’m going to have to book an appointment with my doctor,
Why is this in huge writing?
“Hey, first time home owners! Yeah, umm, you know that we set the interest rates to 0% to stimulate the housing market? Yeah, umm, you’re all going to get your houses repossessed once we put the rates back up to normal”.
Central banking has to be the most perverse invention of humanity next to the anal hook. They set interest rates low to encourage people to borrow and then when people borrow they put the rates up and those people go bankrupt. This scheme is meant to help the economy grow somehow. Thing is that it’s not just first time buyers and other home owners who are affected by this, it’s business too. Lots of businesses were set up that could never have been set up except for the fact that interest rates were at rock bottom. When the interest rates go up these businesses won’t be able to repay their loans and will go under, causing unemployment. Also it means that resources that would have gone to more successful businesses that could have afforded to borrow at more normal rates and that would have been used for job creation or improvements in productivity have now been squandered on unsustainable business ventures.
NHS mental health services, are, in my experience, the most insane system ever devised. Back in 2010 I had a serious episode of depression, possibly the most serious of my life and for the first time I was really worried that, frankly, I might not survive. So I went to my GP. I’d been to my GP, or a GP since it’s rare that you can ever see the same one, since I was in my teens and none of them had ever really seen depression as an issue, none of them had ever offered any treatment of any kind.
“What would you like to do about it?” She asked. Now, correct me if I in my bipolar lunacy have got things backwards here, but, I thought the point of a doctor was to assess symptoms and then using their medical training provide treatments. I wasn’t aware that, I as a patient, was supposed to turn up with a diagnosis and a suggested course of treatment. I was blissfully unaware that I was a medical expert until this moment. I asked for counselling since this had been reasonably effective when I was in university and was told that the NHS didn’t do counselling any more but it did do Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. I, as a medical expert, decided this would be acceptable since the doctor apparently had no real opinion one way or another, I was put on a waiting list.
Now I don’t know about you, but if someone announces that they are suicidal putting, them on a waiting list is a bit optimistic; they might not be alive long enough to get to the end of the list, Ten months later I finally went for CBT and within twenty minutes the therapist was pretty sure I had bipolar disorder. Sadly he wasn’t qualified to actually do anything more than send his assessment off to be assessed by a multidisciplinary team who would then decide if I needed an assessment. Yes.
The wait for this assessment was about six weeks. I was sent a letter telling me that the assessment was “very expensive” and so if I couldn’t make the appointment I should let them know in plenty of time. The NHS had clearly spared no expense. A whole nurse was provided and also a room with a computer. I assume that literate nurses are somewhat in short supply and thus “very expensive” because I’m fairly sure that reading from a screen and typing in what the patient says is hardly something that requires years of expensive medical training, the computer was rather cheap looking and the office was hardly an example of wild decadence either. The nurse announced at the end that he thought I had bipolar disorder but that he wasn’t qualified to make a diagnosis and that the assessment would have to be sent for assessment by the multidisciplinary team,
This team apparently also has literacy issues or some kind of cognitive disorder because it either took them six weeks to read the assessment or it took them six weeks to do the assessment or perhaps each took three weeks apiece. Then came the conclusion: they didn’t know.
Now, understand, it’s not that my symptoms are not consistent with bipolar disorder, it’s that I haven’t been sectioned. So I was left wondering what exactly the point of this whole process was. I didn’t even receive CBT, no medication, nothing but this did keep a lot of people employed. One GP, one therapist, one nurse, and a whole multidisciplinary team, most of which probably aren’t even qualified to assess people for any medical condition because a team who could would all be psychiatrists and thus hardly multidisciplinary.
Now imagine a system where the therapist was qualified to read from a screen and type in responses and had the authority to do so whenever they wanted. Suddenly a month or more of waiting becomes perhaps an hour but the nurse gets sacked. Imagine if all the therapist needed was two doctors who could quickly read through the assessment and give a diagnosis. Suddenly another month or more gets cut to twenty minutes and we can get rid of the bulk of the multidisciplinary team. Let’s say the doctors are a busy bunch, the entire process could take a day or two.
The problem with this is that the unions would go schizoid because thousands of their members would find themselves out of a job and complain that patient care would be under threat, despite the fact that what tends to happen when public sector budgets are cut is that quality of service increases because overly complicated systems, which provide unions with lots of money, are no longer affordable. All that can be afforded is neat, streamlined, highly functional services.
So now I’m treated “under the assumption” that I have bipolar disorder, which in practice means that I’ve been on a waiting list for CBT and then some other similar program for mood disorders for two years. It’s enough to drive you mental.
It’s just like Kafka’s The Trial in that a patient spends time and energy running around from person to person wondering what’s going on and looking for someone that can help but within a system which seems not to be all that interested in getting things done. What the NHS is most interested in doing is generating paperwork to show that it is doing something. Just like how it used to redesignate corridors as “wards” and take the wheels off trolleys and call them “beds”, anything to give the appearance of actually doing work. I bet even in Stafford Hospital where patients were dying, as they do across the NHS, of dehydration and starvation that the paper work was immaculate and stated that lots of work was being done.
Let’s call her Dakota Monterrey. I am in love with her. It’s the second most pathetic episode in my life, the first I doubt I shall ever talk about. What can I say about Dakota? 5’7, busty, not conventionally beautiful, perhaps, but striking and stunning with light blue intelligent eyes that captivate all who gaze into them and express exactly what she wants you to think she’s thinking. Her full lips are soft and often curl into a wide, beautiful, smile and pout, purse and in concert with her eyes lure you in.
She doesn’t do relationships. She flits from man to man, a month here a couple of weeks there and then she’s off, completely unobtainable. Like sand, she slips through everyone’s fingers and remains uncaught. A certain bell end observed of her “She flirts with everyone but goes home with no-one”.
What goes on behind those sapphire like eyes no-one really knows. I know she beats herself up and isn’t as confident as she appears. Sometimes, when we’re alone, and sober, I tell her she’s beautiful. Her head drops, her cheeks blush like the pinkest roses, she looks at me in fleeting shy glances and in a small uncertain voice almost whispers, “Do you really think so?” This is the Dakota I know.
In public, after a drink or two, she’s the life of the party, the wild one that everyone wants to be around. Often she’d turn up already drunk, laugh maniacally, say the most outrageous things, talk about sex all night. Once, on such a night, I told her she was beautiful “You’re drunk” she replied with a cocky laugh. I stroked her thighs, she stroked my face for a while, then she picked up my bag and rifled through it “Let’s see what’s in here” she sighed. Then a friend of ours came in and suddenly she changed and the moment was over.
Almost everyone thinks she’s a stupid person, I think everyone is meant to think so. Perhaps my mistake, perhaps my good fortune, is that I realised that she isn’t, and loved her for it. She ended my stripper phase when I decided that I would never meet a woman who was my intellectual equal and so all that I could do is find the hottest, wildest girl I could. Well she was hot and she was wild and worst of all she was intellectual. Gradually, slowly, over months the conversation changed. Sex was always a major topic but soon art and literature, film and philosophy became routine. “I was reading in New Scientist” she would say and my heart would melt. Out of the handbag would come Yeats and Burns, Hemingway and Sartre and I was besotted.
To be around her is to be at peace, there’s no excitement, no rush, just a feeling that this is the most natural thing in the world. When I hold her the world dissolves around us. She is the first thing I think about when I wake up and the last when I go to sleep and I know how cliche that is, but it’s true.
For three years this has been going on which, with one exception, I’ve survived longer than other guys by about an order of magnitude. Yes she knows how I feel, in several letters and some bloody good poetry, I have told her. Oh yes I have tried getting over her, I’ve dated, slept around, met as many women as I can, but I find myself so filled with enuui.
Now she’s moved away and I find myself grieving. Wild plans race around my head and I don’t know what to do.
It grates on me, and it feels childish, but I’m actually quite angry about it. Partly I’m angry for myself, but partly also because I feel that this kind of thing is literally destroying Aikido. I train twice a week, every week and most weeks three times a week but the third session, on a Wednesday, is with my instructor’s instructor. I see it as an optional thing as I prep for shodan; if I can fit it in around the rest of my life I do it, if I can’t, no big deal.
So at the end of my last session I’m suddenly informed that I am going training on Wednesday. I responded that I already had plans to meet a friend for drinks and then my instructor spends a good ten minutes trying to browbeat me into agreeing to go, which I found rather offensive. Now if he was browbeating on his behalf I might have not been offended but it was the fact that he was talking about his instructor “B expects you to go” “How do you think it will look to B” “B will be very angry”.
Naturlich, I met my friend as I had intended and several times my instructor tried calling me and, naturlich, I ignored them because it was obvious that I wasn’t going and saw nothing to discuss about the situation; I wasn’t going to go training after drinking and I wasn’t going to leave my friend to go training, neither was I going to be rude to my friend and interrupt the night to discuss things with my instructor. Later on I got a text informing me that I had to call B which, of course, I ignored.
I’m aware that B is a legend in B’s mind, and I’m struck by how many instructors above say, third dan, are legends in their own mind, legends deserving of immediate obedience and reverence, at least in the organisation I am in. Of course the corollary to this is that they are invariably surrounded by a little cloud of orbiting sycophants because the only people that stay in their classes are people who subscribe to the delusions of the instructor. Far too many people have been watching far too many movies or far many people fail to realise that this isn’t the 1960’s and they are not Japanese. It was true that back then a Japanese instructor could get off a boat and expect to be treated in Western society in the same way he treated his instructor back in Japanese society; back then part of the allure of the martial arts was, what was then, the “mysterious ancient culture” that came with it.
Since then, though, things have moved on a bit and very few people are impressed by a group of rather old guys referencing a culture that probably is quite rare these days, even in Japan. The stereotype of the grumpy, wizened little old martial arts master is attractive only to Samurai wannabes and Aikido, or at least our association, is not going to survive if it continues to be a Samurai wannabe’s club where students are just players in the drama of the instructors life.
Personally speaking I’ve had enough of the drama of hearing that so and so sensei was angry that I didn’t go on this course or that course, or hasn’t done this or that or hasn’t been to their class. I am fed up dealing with people who strut about with total arrogance and talk down to me so I’m going to tell my instructor to forget about shodan. I’m fed up of the drama that goes with it, I just want to train and enjoy it.