Floored by a dark January


When it feels like somethings rotting you from the inside – while you’re still being hit from the outside…but still have to put on a happy face

My Twitterfriend, Westminster journalist Isabel Hardman was on Channel 4 News this evening talking about all things #MentalHealth following her piece in The Telegraph here. I recommend reading her article and listening to her comments on health policy in relation to mental health in the Channel 4 piece at:


It followed the dreadful scenes across various hospitals resulting in the Red Cross being called into some hospitals. In other times, this would have been a resigning issue for the Secretary of State for Health.

Being floored by a dark January is not new for me

I’ve been there in the past and have gotten through it, but there was something really intense about the past few days that have left me near as dammit bedbound with a strange combination of exhaustion, sleepiness and depression. Hence getting out of the house today was something of a result – as was filming this vloguary number.

I was trying to be so good with eating at the start of this year but for some reason I just had a craving for pub fish & chips on the way back from town (having had to return as I left phone behind in the library – in the room that says ***no mobile phones***) …and that packet of exploding candy-laced chocolate orange pieces didn’t last the evening either.

For those of you that watched the video, the page that I quoted from is below.


“Generation after generation of young men and women come to an age when they wish to take part in the life of their town, and to contribute their share towards making it a still better and happier place for their successors. But they feel that for all they know about the home of their affections they might as well have been living on the moon.”

Sound familiar?

But it wasn’t this book that hit my mood today. If anything it was just another historical tome with which to metaphorically hit politicians over the head with given that there are so many similarities between then and now – and not for the right reasons.

No. This was deeper.

I was standing in front of one of the bookshelves inside the Cambridgeshire Collection, all wrapped up warm inside while it rained cats & dogs outside. Yet something was bugging me inside. It’s that ‘something’ that has been eating away at me from the inside for almost as long as I can remember…almost to the extent that I cannot even remember a time when that feeling has not been there in the background save for one or two brief moments in my life.

It was this very dark combination of feeling unloved, unwanted, unneeded …and looking both outside knowing that (big-picture-wise) there are much darker times to come, and then looking at those bookshelves and thinking “I can’t take on all of this alone”. This was also the time I got the sense of “I feel like I’m ‘spiritually’ rotting from the inside – in that there’s little anyone can really do about it unless they get to that bit inside me and clear it all out. The thing is, compared to other sensations that have been both consciously and sub-consciously in my head, this one was between my ribcage and belly.

Yet at the same time, it also felt like the sort of internal demon that could be vanquished with the help of a person I could only describe as a lover, life partner, best friend and spiritual soulmate – of which I’ve never really had.

That doesn’t mean the ‘cure’ is to go out there and get dating. Or join a religion for that matter. That would be to misunderstand what I’m trying to describe (very badly). It’s not a sex thing either – FWIW some of the medication I’m currently on kills your drive as a side effect.

Random blasts from the past kicking up long-settled waters

They say never compare how you’re feeling with the social media highlights other people post. In these cases, and I’m not entirely sure through whom or how, but I think on a couple of occasions (I think it was through FB friends being tagged by others) I found my feed showing the weddings of friends long since gone from my life. The people concerned were from about a decade ago and two decades ago respectively. I think what felt like the kick to the stomach was how I saw so many familiar faces from those days gone by, then wondering how or why I wasn’t with them all. Then I thought to myself that, having not seen them for years – decades even, we were all very different people anyway.

But then that reminded me of some of the old photos we’d gathered and put up for my brother’s very recent wedding. There was one where every single person in one photograph from his sixth form days well over 20 years ago was a guest at the wedding…bar one of them. He was the only one out of all of them who I was aware of who had suffered from depression. Yet he was also someone who no one as I recall ever spoke ill of. He just…was no longer in their lives, and made me wonder what became of him in the end. Because he wasn’t the sort of person to fall out with anyone.

Which makes me wonder…how many of you who have kept in touch with friends from school/college/university can identify someone who sort of ‘fell by the wayside’ one way or another – someone you didn’t particularly fall out with but for whatever reason drifted away? (Please don’t see this as a guilt trip to get back in touch with someone you’d rather forget though!)

That’s not to say I’m not in touch with people from childhood.



Yet at the same time as I stood in front of the various histories of our county, there was something inside me that was keeping that flame of hope alive. I don’t know whether it was the dark comic humour of the diaries of the Postmaster at Pampisford during WWI (who illustrated just how chaotic the UK’s approach to the war was – and how it was ***really*** viewed in rural South Cambridgeshire!) through to the sparky young women of the Fens in Fenwomen who faced the sort of #EverydaySexism that left them prisoners in their own villages. Yes, public transport is a feminist issue. (If you can’t get to the Central Library, the book’s available here). This bit also explains my #SmashPatriarchy remark in the vloguary video at the top too.


Missing filming a planning meeting – and wanting to be in three places at once

A kind of FOMO (feeling of missing out) in one sense, but we got sand kicked in our faces over the old Mill silo by the station as expected. Developers refused to budge, but hey, at least we made everyone think for a bit.

You may have seen from local headlines there are a host of meetings and decisions coming up in and around Cambridge over the next few weeks. I’ll try and cover as many as I can, but there are some clashing days and events.


Therein lies the problem. (Not least because half the problem of going for a walk in the countryside is actually getting to the countryside in the first place – public transport, spoons & all that…). But the above comment is right – no one can be the sole superhero for Cambridge. Again, in the archives today I stumbled across activists from decades ago who campaigned to stop a car park extension and tunnel being built on Parker’s Piece. It takes lots of us.

At the same time, things will continue to be a struggle while I continue to feel that chill and the sense of spiritually declining from the inside…

…And that scares me.

But it can be beaten back.


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