Today

Today I walked.
I walked a walk of  ‘what else is there?’
I walked out the door not wanting to walk back in.
I set out to walk the last of walks.
I failed.

I stood, to embark.
Standing. A looseness about my waist.
Breathe in, hard, sharp.
Grabbed.
Each side, pulled together.
Left thumb in buttonhole, right behind lug.
Pull harder.
Left aligns, the right behind.
Slip left  up, push right forward.
Slanted button into hole.
Release, breathe out….

A clack, metal on wood
Finger flicked fluttering coin.
Crescendoed stop.
The gyre gone.
It’s my last walk, pull the belt tight.

Today I slept, ( to sleep?),
To sleep the sleep of’why wake up?’
Laying. Narcoleptic bones in corroding carcass.
To sleep the last of sleep.
I failed.

I lay; to rest.
Drowsing. Apathies ache about my being.
Breathing. shallow, depthless.
Pained
I gulp, swallowed harder.
Seeking the breath of becalm before slumber.
Devitalised
Final plea to Thanatus
Lids descend, gob gapes
Relax, breathe out….

A squeal,.. phonics peal.
Fingers feeling for silence
Bedlam blocked.
Mortem deus denied.
Its not my last sleep.Pull the covers tight.

Fringe Benefits

So many thoughts.
I was thinking about this ‘being a Dad’ thing, I was trying to work out how you can know you’re doing it right or even if you should think about it.
 I remember recently writing on another blog in the comments section,reading it is one of those unexpected things that brings huge benefits to you without necessarily realising it at the time,actually it is the blog that inspired me to have a go http://www.mysonsnotrainman.com . John had written a blog called “Sometimes” in which he was describing a feeling I know well about how sometimes we are all “shit dads”. I remember thinking, good grief, he’s beating himself up for doing a good job, I read this guys blog all the time he sounds so in touch with his sons needs and how to manage being a Dad and he seems able to forgive himself for his mistakes and move on, and here he is admitting too what I know I’m guilty of; ‘Not getting it right all the time and how it feels when it goes wrong’.
John is right, I read back my blogs like he did before that post, I realise  I may give a false impression from my writing, all I can say is I try to do my best and worry about it even though the advice I give my boys is not to worry about stuff you can’t change. Am I a hypocrite? I hope not. I do worry about doing it right, I do worry about saying right, I worry about my sons future, I worry about what they do at school what they do at their Mums I worry constantly, all probably useless worries, because like I tell the boys all that worry uses up energy you need for important stuff and worrying is not important.
So what am I trying to work out? I’m not sure, and that seems to be the nub of the thing. As men we are programmed to get things done, see it through to the end, and create something tangible. The fact is the Readers Digest book on D.I.Y Dad-hood never got published because there is no end. Being a Dad goes on forever, there is no end result because once you become a Dad you are forever and always a Dad. Every day is practice. I’ve seen a magazine a while back that I think was called ‘Practical Parenting’. It should be called ‘Practicing Parenting’ that’s what we are doing, practising all the time, doing our best and hoping to some invisible intuition that we are doing it right.
This remarkable man (and Dad) is currently performing a show based on his family experiences at the Edinburgh Festival, if you are able, I urge you to go and see it, https://www.edfringe.com/whats-on/comedy/john-williams-my-son-s-not-rainman  and if not, sign up to the blog. Truly life affirming stuff.
Below is my comment on the blog, completely inadequate but it was heartfelt.

 I wish I was as patient and knowledgeable of my boys as you are of yours. I don’t  see my kids as often as I should because I’m the one with a “condition” I am terrified that they will “end up like me”, because god help me I made mine as well!. I’ve been inspired by this blog and it has helped me in ways I’m not even sure of, I don’t have an autistic child so am reticent about posting sometimes, but this isn’t about that it’s about being a Dad, and if we didn’t question ourselves and our situation or “our lot” if you prefer, then none of us would be working hard enough at it. Asking questions of ourselves is our way of searching for ways to get better at the Dad thing. I for one am grateful that you put so much thought into it John.I don’t follow this blog because the boy is autistic,I have no frame of reference for that. I follow it because you are, in my view an astonishing man and Dad.Thank you for writing this blog.I question my Dad-hood far more as a consequence of it and I’ve even been inspired to have a go myself.” 

https://www.edfringe.com/whats-on/comedy/john-williams-my-son-s-not-rainman

The Emperors Old Clothes

Now What or What Now? 
I was diagnosed two years ago as suffering from “severe clinical depression”. 

I have suffered without having the label for all of my adult life and much of my childhood. 

However, for much of my adult life I was a reasonably successful manager of people, being responsible for over 300 at any time and though I often suffered pangs of self doubt, in public I was seen to be very confident if not a little arrogant. What I had learned to do was to ‘act’, and I seemingly was very good at it because almost no one seemed to suspect.
Avoidance was a good way of keeping my secret. Avoiding close personal relationships, friendships, leading rather than following, (being in charge prevents lots of awkward questions!)
Then life changed, I lost my job, and with it my authority, I lost my marriage and with it my purpose, I fought for a while to keep it but in the struggle lost my dignity, but worst of all, the mechanisms I had perfected for hiding my insecurities stopped working! My real self was on show for all too see. I was the naked Emperor and nothing I did seemed capable of covering my nakedness. I was ashamed of what and who I was.
C.B.T., group therapy, anger management classes, prescription drugs, more prescription drugs, different prescription drugs, hypnosis, individual psychotherapy, counselling, all these and others have been tried none have had a long term effect, some had no effect at all! Today I hope….; I hope for a cure, in the sure and certain knowledge that there will never be one. I have to find new ways to ‘act’ that hide my real self because the real me is tiresome to the mentally well and to be honest pretty bloody tiresome to me as well!
So far, of all the “treatments” I have been exposed too, the one that seems to have the most effect is this one, this writing thing; more specifically, this anonymous writing thing. It’s too simplistic to say its cathartic but it is having an effect, it is helping me to understand myself a little better.
Avoid worthlessness. Put a premium on your Dignity!
I realised recently that it had long been a wish of mine to be a writer and actor/performer and that along life’s meanderings my wishes for myself had been forgotten or set aside so that the “acting” me,( you know the one who was always in charge!) could be supporting and understanding and mentoring of everyone else. I became what everyone else wanted and never really ever got to decide who I was. The consequence of this is that I now have no self esteem. I am pleased to find that the real me is actually sensitive, romantic even, that I see more good in others than I used too, am able to celebrate the successes of others without jealousy, enjoy reading the words of others and love the ability that the internet offers to engage directly with the author, but I am nervous that amongst my family and ‘friends’ ( Many of the former, few of the latter), that these qualities are a little effete and unsubstantial, but that’s OK because for now as I am able to share them with the digital ether that is the inter-web.
Well, as I sit here writing this I am no longer naked, but nor am I fully clothed.

The one time Emperor, stripped of his kingdom, his dignity,all that he held dear, can no longer afford a tailor to make his clothes; He’s learning to make his own, stitching the threads of his life back together, one experience at a time. It’s a slow process and I prick my thumb frequently but hopefully, one day, we shall have glorious new clothes. (Hopefully!)

ATB


Agides xx

Catch 42

Look it up in your favoured browser, the meaning of life is “42”. Douglas Adams may well be smiling at how his apocryphal assertion has become the ultimate answer. But there is a catch;

For me the meaning of life changes dramatically as events along life’s meanderings impact and it seems to me that these meanderings impact a “mal de tête” person in a disproportionate way.


 The difficulty with the meaning of life whilst suffering a mental illness is that it is in constant flux, frequently and most damagingly it reaches its nadir in possession of zero meaning, a state reached far too many times and very deeply in recent weeks, and despite a greater understanding of how, one that never feels easier to return from… Whatever you get told!

‘There is always the Dog to talk too’
Doctors and psychiatric workers will be horrified by this as its the basic assumption all their work is predicated upon, i.e. ‘that the more one understands the factors that precede depressive feelings the easier you’ll find it to modify them’, the reality seems to be that the more one understands, the more one questions the reasons why the pea soup persistently descends, and questions one’s ability to ever permanently prevent it from falling.

The questions you ask yourself are nearly all unanswerable, but often those canvassed by others, not least professionals, bewilder. They are often risible, to a malignant, miasmic, mind:
“Have you ever been truly happy?” 
“Have you ever been depression free?”
“Have you ever been hopeful?”
“Tell me why do ‘you’, think you’re unhappy”
“Why are you sad?”
“What causes them to start?”
“When is it at its worst?”……;
“What!?”
‘20,000  Doubts under the Skull’
Sometimes I forget that those things really exist. There are fleeting moments, unfortunately guilt persistently swamps the joys, just as they are being recognised as such; this guilt, like a cloak, that depression wears to cover you in darkness, or make you invisible, before joy takes hold too firmly’ and then comes the doubt……; The doubt that you will ever truly rid yourself of this whirling mass of unanswerable questions, painful overwhelming doubts, the doubts within the ungraspable, dark grey covered  ‘duck down’ duvet, engorged with the leaden weights of memories too heavy to release from inside this cover which is meant to bring you warmth and comfort but instead presses down on you in a way that makes you feel as though ‘all that you are’ is racing to your brain to escape your body and the only route out is through your eyes, so overwhelmed by the flow that the tears appear as a stream and you wonder if they will ever be ‘drops’ again. The doubt; the doubt that sows seeds of self deprecation that germinate in rivulets of tears and the swanlike songs of Bunyan’s slough”
So there you are mental health problems are really a Catch 22, a paradox; where the attempting to escape the suffering of depression seems to make the escape impossible and each new attempt makes the next episode more painful and more desperate.
“TOWARDS THE LIGHT! you bloody fool!”
AH! I hear the crowds roar; ‘ but you proved you can escape so next time you’ll feel better because you know you can do it!’
‘Really?’ how many times do you visit failure before saying ‘no more!’
Drink from the puddle the first day you may be quenched, drink from it every day you may be trenched.
I have fought back with extreme effort this time, I have walked further with and spoken more to  my dog’s in admittedly one way conversations, (to reassure myself I still have a voice) and though “enjoying” these things, the respite from my troubled mind looms above me as a terrifying reminder that the next plummet into the 20,00 doubts under the skull, is but a pin prick in a buoyancy tank away. It has left me very tired.
If Adam’s is right?; The meaning of a ‘Life’ with mental health?
It’s a Catch 42……

DAD PRIDE- What have you done today?

Originally posted at  http://dadpride.blogspot.co.uk/

 

Dad Pride?

 
What have you done today?
I want to thank http://dadpride.blogspot.co.uk/ for asking for my thoughts on this; the process of thinking about being a Dad is one I believe important for me. It’s tricky though isn’t it? Pride?; it is one of those words that is rather double edged, though there has been a tendency in more recent years to see it as a positive thing, a value worth savouring in ones achievements or in those of one’s countrymen particularly.(Thanks too Heather Small, London Olympics et al!) I’m not certain it was always thus. The move towards a more secular society as opposed to one based on religious teaching, where the most forceful thrust against pride was preached, may well be part of the reason, but the emancipation of the family is certainly where current and future pressure will come.
I have no recollection of my Father ever proclaiming pride specifically in my efforts or attainments as a young boy nor come to that as an adult, though I can definitely remember him rolling out the tired old expression about ‘pride coming before a fall’. When I reflect on these things today, I wonder if that is some emotionally stunted method of protecting oneself from disappointment of failure, something that certainly drove me on at school and into work , and I believe my father was always fearful  about losing the ability to provide, seeing benefit claimants as scroungers, something he would never be.
The cliché is that it was a different time and men’s acceptance of their emotional involvement in their families was not as commonplace as it is today and that is of course true to a degree. Mine, and to my memory most fathers of the time self endowed their ‘pride’ by fulfilling their role as provider, but certainly not all. The closest I can recall my father exhibiting pride in connection with me was in his ability to deliver on the promise of a new bicycle should I pass the exam to get into ‘a better school’! That was the thing, not ‘I’m proud of you son for passing the exam’ but ‘be proud of your Dad for keeping his word’. The notion that today’s man is confused about his role in the family because of the dynamics of family life doesn’t reflect that many men suffered a good deal of insecurity even then about their role. I have to make a conscious effort to not be overly influenced by my history and for years before my children came to be, I would often maintain relationships by buying ‘stuff’ to prove my love. Falling ill and losing work or the ability for a time soon taught me ‘that’ lesson.
I am as they say in the modern parlance, a ‘mature father’. I am not certain if this gives me a different perspective on the role of Dad, but certainly my own experiences as a child have significantly informed my choices as one. I am also an example of the “modern Dad” one from a failed relationship who is judged by our judicial and social care systems and to some extent our current society to be almost certainly, and regardless of information to the contrary, likely to be less effective a parent, particularly with regard to emotional development of children than the mother will be. This is our fathers legacy to us, and I hope very much one that will not persist beyond this generation.
My main focus has been that I never wished my children to feel they needed to hesitate to ask for reassurance or support in their life choices and progress nor did I ever desire the fear of failing be a reason to prevent any of them from pursuing their passions, intuitions, desires or beliefs. I hoped to find a way to provide what I felt they truly needed rather than what they wanted, so how to do it?The answer exists in the list of aspirations I set for my boys, namely ‘ask the person who is doing the thing already, they will be bound to have considered it’. So I asked the children (because they were the children), and I continue to try to find from them what the need.
I have learnt from my children by listening to them and engaging with them just what it is they really need. I have come to realise that far from wanting the latest toy, they need time with their parents. They need to talk about things and not be questioned about them, they don’t even need you to have an answer a lot of the time, and they often just need reassurance that they have found the correct one for themselves. In my own blog I wrote a piece based around an email I sent to my sons when I had been ill and unable to see them as often as we all had wished and in response to questions the boys had asked. Almost everything in that email however had been discussed with one or all boys at some point or other and rather than put things down in the form of answers I tried to let them know that these were things that I hoped for them to know and that I felt I had taken too long to learn.
I think that I have come to see being a Dad as a bit like mentoring; being a good Dad is a lot about being a good man much like a good manager often makes a good mentor. I observed senior managers often make

ridiculous assumptions about experience and knowledge without understanding that experience is not about time spent doing something but about learning from the doing, we all know of people that have worked at the same thing for years without improving it only for someone with genuine passion and interest to come a long and overtake them. They practised more; they learnt more they tried harder. Being a Dad for me takes practise, I need to think about it and try harder each time, if I don’t I can’t possibly make it as a mentor, and as a Dad, I see one of my important responsibilities to try to turn out children, who will practise longer, try harder and think more than I did.

Like http://dadpride.blogspot.co.uk/, I am disappointed by the often negative stereotyping of Dad’s in the press and media, I’m also a little disheartened with us Dad’s for not standing up for ourselves a bit more. In a world with movements in support of so many different aspects of family life,(and rightly so), including organisations to empower mothers, like “Mums net” and the positive reinforcement of Gay and Lesbian parenting models, the support for the single parent family all of which have affirmative and strong networks built up, Dad’s have a disparate group of individuals and small associations none of which seem to be supporting each other pro-actively. Is this because we come from the “STAND ON YOUR OWN TWO FEET!” school of man training? If it is then it needs to change. I struggled for years with my personal demons, never quite understanding why I couldn’t solve them all, at least temporarily; my epiphany came when I finally asked for help. The best decision I ever made rather than making me seem weaker as I had been taught to believe, it gave many around me the view that I was actually strong for seeking it out.
‘Dad Pride’ for me is about showing my boys that learning and knowledge,empathy and appreciation,     succeeding and failing, all go towards forming personal beliefs and opinion, and that it is vital for them to function as reasonable and effective contributors to the lives of others including their own families,schools,
associations,workplaces, friends, and even future Dad’s organisations, that they form thoughts,judgements and opinions with balance in all these things for all futures to be rewarding. Its about encouraging thinking,excelling at thinking, believe that thinking is a requirement, a necessity,. Embrace the task of thinking, work at it, nurture it in others as well as yourself, refine it, define it, hold it in your hands as well as your head, and keep those thoughts you have no earnest use of and share them with those who may, and write them down. Seek out different views to the ones you form, they will either persuade you in which case you learn something or they reaffirm your beliefs in which case you still learn something.
Being proud as a Dad for me is about my child coming to conclusions or decision in life situations that match those I would likely have reached in similar circumstances or even better different to mine with an ability to explain why by only using reasoning.
As much as I want to have pride in my children and for that matter my children to be proud of me, the main thing for me is that I can be proud of myself, that I did my best. It is a mantra I espouse to my lads frequently and if I want them not to remember me as a hypocrite, then I have a duty to myself and them too always work towards my best.
People talk grandly about birthright and legacy; well I believe the greatest legacy I can leave my boys is my time, our time, and this time for their lifetime.
What have I done today to make me feel proud?
Easy really; I told my sons I loved them.
©Agides

DON’T GROW UP!

The Sun is on anabolics burning Pea soup!


When I began this blog it was intended to be an aid to recovery from my personal “slough of despond” (I feel entitled to use this expression as I once lived and worked in Slough). It quickly turned into an on line boast about my beautiful boys.It was never supposed to be this but bizarrely this has had and is having the effect of craning me from my mire in any case, strange how these things come about.I have tried all kinds of treatments most with little success, this feels, so far, to be different.

Occasionally the fog falls still, but I find it hard to write about this, something that being “anonymous” was supposed to enable. Strangely deep still within I think I must still feel some sense of shame or similar as I still avoid it, and I don’t really want to feel that particularly as its contrary to what I teach my lads and counter to all the advocacy I do for others. Writing about the boys lifts me out of the miasma quickly, however it also brings the realisation that this condition prevents much that I yearn.

A few nights ago I wrote a short blog during an onset cranial slump. I actually posted it for 30 minutes or so but decided to delete it. I have been trying to understand why ever since. No one that reads this blog knows me personally with a single exception, and they know a great deal about how this current episode was created and are of the most generous of human spirits,(Bless you Richard!) I have been fortunate enough to meet, so why the reticence?

The truth is – I don’t know. Simple as that, maybe there is no answer, maybe brighter minds than mine will have an understanding, I still don’t know.I hear the obvious platitudes and am guilty of occasionally using them myself, I know its none of them. (I think!).The piece I began writing was to see if the act of it would prevent the onset of the melancholy; it didn’t. What it did do was swallow me into the grey gloom, more hurriedly.At some point I will probably post a self indulgent piece along the woe is me line, so I apologise now just in case.

It was written in a stream of consciousness way and wasn’t mentally edited like my writing usually is, but reading it back, I noticed the preoccupation I seem to have with being a failed father. And there is the nub of it.This condition means I am not able always to have the boys; the not being able to have the boys exacerbates the condition! There is a repetitive realisation that I cannot be the Dad I so want to be.

The cure? Well the fog fell Monday night and was lifted instantaneously the next morning by the phone call I blogged of on Tuesday! My eldest phoned me and asked me to be his Dad for a few minutes, in its own way it is pure magic, one telephone call burned away the pea-souper like the Sun on anabolics.

I wrote before of how I encourage the boys to see teachers in all people of all ages and to accept that each new friendship will bring opportunity to understand and learn. So in order to practise what I preach I decided I should point out what I have learnt from my children.

DAD! I KNOW WHAT WE CAN DO!
PUT CHERRIES IN IT!
I have learnt that my children own the world, they glory in it and are mesmerised by it in ways I seem to have forgotten. They have an extraordinary capacity for acceptance. As no one has told them something is not “normal” then they embrace it, including and especially of and in other people. My boys cope with change more readily as a consequence of this ability to accept. It is absolutely the case that the boys were quicker at coming to terms with the change to their lives when their parents separated, than either parent did! My boys trust, not the naive trust one associates with foolishness, but real trust, the kind that is supported by the Corinthian plinths of forgiveness, they hold no grudge, they simply move on. They L.O.V.E.; they love me, the day, their mum, the neighbour’s dog, the walk to the shop, the trip in the car, the bike ride, the swimming, the telly, the football, the cooking, the playing, the cuddles, the bedtime, the stories and everything in between. I have learnt of dinosaurs with wings that lived on the ground, of wasps that reproduce by laying eggs in caterpillars, I’ve learnt what type of bike is cool and that WOW isn’t for being surprised but for talking about a video game. I have learnt that the best burgers are not the ones with a free toy, but the ones you make with each other, where you squish and squelch the meat between your fingers and roll into giant balls before slapping them flat with your hand,(so much fun!) and add your own ingredients, like herbs, or chilli flakes (put extra in that one Dad and we’ll give it to L… he he he…) or Cherries? Yup! chopped up cherries, why not!I have learnt to say “why not” more often, that the funniest thing for a child to see is an adult behaving silly, (Mr Bean would be king if my boys were in charge!).

I worry that sometimes my blog makes the boys sound perfect, they are not of course, but they do enthral me and that, I am afraid, I simply can’t hide, as you will have certainly already noticed. All this and more have I learnt, yet the one thing I have to remember is that I CAN get better and they deserve for me to do so, because they, never once, have shown anything but love and understanding when it has meant they could not be with me as planned, never demanded, pleaded or sulked, they have always just said,” Sorry you’re poorly Daddy, get some rest and get better and we will see you next time. Love you Daddy, mwah!”

I learn something new every time we speak!
Oh beautiful boys; don’t be in a hurry to grow up. It’s seriously over rated!


©Agides



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My boy has Detention? I’m so Proud!

My eldest phoned today. It was 8.40 am. a little unusual, honestly.

“Hey Dad, you okay?”

“I’m fine L… What’s up?”

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“Oh you know… I was ringing because I have a Maths test today and I wanted one of your, you can do it, positive talks that you do, to make me feel better.”

“Oh really? Well you already know what I’ll say don’t you?”

“Yeah, but I wanted to hear you say it.”

“Okay fella, well, all you have to do is your best; because we both know your best is good enough, and try to do so well that they have to tell you, all right?”

“Thanks Dad.”

“That’s okay matey any time you know that.”

“Um, Dad, I need to tell you something else.”

“OK fella! you’re sounding serious there, what do you need to tell me?”

“I need to tell you I’ve got an after school detention tomorrow.”

“………………………..”

“Dad!?”

“Yes Fella?”

“You okay?”

“I’m fine fella, really I’m fine, I just needed  a sec’; sorry bud.”

“Fine?Really ? You sure?”

“I’m absolutely ‘fine’ son. I’m chuffed because you phoned me, I’m pleased because you were honest and I’m even happier because I wanted you to phone and tell me and you did! I already knew about the detention because the school emailed me too tell me.”

“Oh god, they emailed you!”

“Yes they emailed me, I thought you ‘might’ know.”

“I had no idea Dad I thought because we live with Mum they’d only tell her”.

“Well now you know. I asked the school to send me school newsletters and updates by email so they do and occasionally I get stuff about what you will be doing and this time I got one about detention. They didn’t tell me why you had detention though.”

“Oh it was nothing serious.”

“Serious enough to get a detention fella so I’d still like to know”.

“It was stupid Dad honest, not worth it really.”

“Well you’re sounding a bit embarrassed, just go for it,go on, if you’ve been punished by Mum I’m not going to, once is enough.”

“Well OK, so I was messing about in a lesson, spinning round on my chair when  ever the teacher turned her back on the class, and then I fell off and loads of people started laughing, so the teacher turned round and shouted “what were you doing boy” and I said “nothing Miss” and she said “well you obviously were” and she sent me to see the year tutor for disrupting class because so many of the class were laughing.”

“And then what?”

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“He asked me what I thought I was doing and I said “nothing sir” and he said “as you seem to know how to do nothing so well, you can do nothing for an hour after school in detention.” ”

“Oh right! Well I’m disappointed really, it seems a shame to me that you would disrupt everyone’s lesson for no good reason and it was careless to fall off your chair. What were you trying to gain from it?”

“I was trying to get the girl behind me to laugh.”

“Oh I see, well  next time don’t do it during a lesson OK? You better get in school’s about to start I’ll see you at the weekend okay, Love you.”

“Love you to Dad bye!”

I am so proud!