Balancing Act

Standard disclaimer applies; I’m pretty dyslexic, so please read with that in mind.  Like having a mental illness, dyslexia doesn’t mean I’m stupid.  It means I see, hear, write or feel things differently. 

It would be unethical of me to only blog when I’m on an ‘up’ day, with phrases like, “you can do it”, ” be motivated”, “think positively”, “exercise, it will make you feel good”.  All of these things are very true, but hard to justify when the shit is dark. 

The problem with living with mental health is, it’s not like that.  There are ‘up’ days, when you feel anything is possible and you’re almost the person you want to be, you’re sociable, energised, happy, sleep ok, eat well and do all the things you should.  Then there are the dark times when sleep evaded me, and was only intermittently possible thanks to being bored to sleep by listening to Andrew Marr’s History of the World.  on such days, I float around in a bubble of my own, cloaked in a misty cloud of pea soup, feeling detached, totally unsociable and food is an after thought.  These are the days when everything seems to go wrong too, the days when you get stuck behind every slow moving vehicle, the days when you drop all the coins out of your wallet over the car park, days where you pull muscles, scratch the car, do something wrong, days where, despite fighting a headwind already, things just keep going wrong, one after another. 

What triggers these days is still a mystery, but sometimes it can be obvious, like being upset by what someone says or does, losing a loved one, finding out that your jobs is shite or over, a breakdown of a relationship, illness, death, and on and on.  These things, the real things, get everyone down to some degree all the time.  But for someone with a mental illness, if they are having a shit time, if their shit sack is already brimming and they are just about managing to get by, it can be the tiniest of things that tips them over.  I used to use a seesaw as an analogy as to how I felt at such times.  Most of the time the seat on the opposite side was just off the ground and controllable, but the tiniest thing could weigh it down, sending it crashing to the floor.  Sometimes my seat on my side was just off the floor and it felt great at the time, a false sense of reality, highs and lows baby, two extremes.  In an ideal world, it would be nice to have a balanced seesaw and not have to dread something sending it crashing down.  Over time, this period of balanced will get longer.

So how to get through these shitty days?  Don’t fight it I say, accept them for what they are, accept that some days you’re going to feel shite.  I have recently, instead of giving myself a hard time on these days, started using them as a opportunity to give myself a good time, treating myself as I would treat a friend who was ill, good film, chocolate, early night or have a lie in.  Surrounding yourself with good friends is a great trick but stay clear of toxic ones.  Ensuring you eat properly is a priority; our bodies are happy with ample nutritional foods in it.  No matter how bad my mood, I always make sure I eat, the worse I feel the more conscious I am to put the right things in, to give my body every chance it has to turn shit around.  During one period of illness, in 2006, and during a time when I thought physical exercise was the key to overcoming feelings of un-worth, my weight dropped to 8 and a half stone.  I was very fit and pretty strong but looked dreadful, or so I thought.  This is before I really understood food; now I understand the necessity of food for a healthy mind; it’s number 1 priority when feeling ill.  I have also been on the other side of the fence, during a period of obsessive weight training, I’ve put on a few stone, through a large protein rich diet.  I was pretty big; again, something that helped overcome un-worth and build confidence, but was really just a mental distraction.  So eat but eat responsibly and eating good food is essential.  Food needn’t be expensive either to be good and fresh.  Self cooked is my preference, stay clear of pre-made meals and fast food, it’s shite and you will be fine. 

On these days, I also try to do something that progresses me, however small, “it gives me an enormous sense of well being ” 😂😂😄 and sense of achievement.  Currently this is accomplished by progressing my trip planning!  Or sorting a problem associated with it that has been getting me down.

Just try to remember if things are shite right now, they will get better, and if they are really really shite, then they really can only get better can’t they? 

On a last note regarding moods and things that can send us down, into pit of doom.  Things people say that hurt is a big de-motivator for me and really hurt, especially when it is derogatory and relates to my illness.  This song has some amazing lyrics in it; I try to remember the words when encountering someone toxic.  (Josh Wilson, Forest Fires) 

Our tongues are like matches

Our ears are like trees

Our words are like sparks on dry summer leaves

Doesn’t take much for the flames to rise and to turn our soul into a forest fire. 

Be careful what you say. 

How’s the planning going?  Well, this week I have mostly been ordering outrageously priced kit and trying to make my finances work – tough. I have been checking out and getting used to the camera. 

Things ordered this week include the bags I need to carry all my shit.  These bags or racks attach directly to the bike and allow me to store and transport everything I need, equipment wise. 

Surly ecr forks

Wildcat gear leopard frame bag

Revelate Design Viscacha Seat Bag: Black

Surly Porteur House Front Rack Bag

Surly 24 Pack Rack – colour:black

2 x Salsa Anything Cage HD

Alpkit fuel pod bag

2 x alpkit dirtbags 

I am very impressed with the camera.  I’m no expert or even a novice.  I know enough to know that I know nothing about photography or cameras; like everything else, I will pick it up as I go along. 

I did take it out over the last two weekend and took some pretty cool shots of the night sky.  I have always wanted a camera that could capture the stars and low light landscapes at night, finally I think I have one, a relatively idiot proof one at that.


This week whilst van living I will mostly be reading the book ‘READ THIS IF YOU WANT TO TAKE GREAT PHOTOGRAPHS ‘ (thanks Danny ) and awaiting more kit to arrive so i can test the bike fully loaded.


Peace xx

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