You may have heard the song from 1993.
I’ve tried to avoid the album for years as all too often it takes me down a very depressive spiral that’s emotionally very difficult to get out of. I heard it in a charity shop a couple of days ago having not heard it for over a decade.
And this year’s been difficult
Not just for me – this from Today in Parliament on Men’s mental health.
…and I’ve kinda lost the will to fight the system, so am sort of bumbling along like a bassline riff. Completing assessed essays have been a bit of a challenge to say the least though.
The background mood music is not good – especially in politics
The homophobic attack in Camden, London has upset & unsettled a number of people I know. I wanted to get to the Cambridge Pride event but only managed to get to the end of the road before leg cramps stopped me from going any further. When my spoons capacity falls during mood troughs, my body seems to throw very physical barriers in the way to stop me from moving anywhere. It was the same thing that stopped me from going to the public meeting at an inaccessible place on the future of Cambridge’s Parkside Police Station. (See the report here). Basically I used up all my spoons preparing for a presentation at an all day session at my ICE course at Madingley. I haven’t done much more than sleep for the past three days.
Fighting on too many local fronts
- Cambridge Police Station
- Cambridge’s Shire Hall
- Cambridge Magistrates Court (which ministers backed down from in the end)
- The mess that is Cambridge’s governance structures
…amongst other things.
On not finding my tribe
I wrote about this back in October 2018. There are a number of events/incidents going back decades where I wonder what the outcomes would have been had there been proper professional help to intervene at times when I didn’t even know such treatments or support existed. This is one of the reasons why some of the comments from some of the leadership candidates for the Conservative Party are so worrying – taking us to some very dark places that involve people being denied knowledge – in particular on sex and relationship education.
On local institutions not growing with me – or our growing population
What I’ve observed in Cambridge in particular since austerity, is the degradation of our civic institutions. This was something Simon Burall mentioned in a monster Twitter stream at a democracy conference earlier. The reason why it matters to Cambridge is that since the year 2000, Cambridge has grown in population by 30,000 – a town the size of Haverhill. It’s due to exceed 140,000 by 2021, and be close to 160,000 by 2036. (Have a look at the data at Cambridgeshire Insight). Hence my persistent calls for:
- A new large concert hall (& some responses here)
- An expanded civic museum
- A permanent mayoral civic fund to raise big donations for large civic projects
If anything, we’ve gone backwards.
When I look at our civic institutions, I can’t think of many that bring together town, gown and village all together in one city. Or rather, town, gown, village and visitors. Given the recent and projected growth, we should be doing far better than we currently are. It’s normally at this point I get sand kicked in my face by local politicians, but I guess I have stupdendously high standards and think our city can do far more and far better to get closer to them.
Picking up learning points from my course
I’m now on the psychology element of the sociology/politics/psychology undergraduate module at Cambridge University’s Institute for Continuing Education. One was on being disconnected to a wider community and the impact that has on an individual. It reminded me of this blogpost from last year when I stumbled across some photographs of people I never really got to know during my first year at university. It’s nearly 20 years since I left Cambridge for the first time to go to university.
What if I told you…?
…was the theme of this blogpost that sat unpublished for a year before I uploaded it. It cuts through the waffle. I’ve got a ‘to do’ list of things for this summer but something else always seems to crop up that demands my attention. That plus not having the support of local health services doesn’t help. But these days I find being around other people very exhausting, and I can also see that them being with me can also be very draining. Hence retreating into my shell somewhat. Part of it also is not wanting to be hurt again and not wanting to be a burden on others because I’ve lost too many friends and acquaintances in the past during mental health troughs.
Wanting to do something different other than ‘talking about it over coffee’
Strangely enough when I’ve had a really good counsellor (on that very rare occasion) it has worked. But with family, friends & acquaintances all too often I come away feeling like a burden, or rather that the listener hasn’t understood whatever it is that I was supposed to get across. (I waffle too much!)
These days I’d rather do something/go somewhere different – a local historical or visitor attraction – something that has nothing to do with party politics! (The numbers signed up to my Lost Cambridge Meetup Group don’t reflect the numbers who actually turn up to events). At the same time I’m mindful that most other people (esp those of a similar age to me) have got more than enough commitments without wanting to take on any more. That’s why the fight for Cambridge’s future seems to be between the corporate suits and middle-aged to elderly people when you look at who attends which meetings. People under-40 who are not paid to be there are very seldom there because of work and caring commitments. Even in the evenings.
I still don’t really know what recovery looks and feels like – it’s been so long yet time has gone so quickly. It’s been eight years since I left the civil service in the bonfire of austerity. The really sad thing with the continued austerity and inequality – esp on the streets of Cambridge is that we can see so much that needs to be done to improve things, but we can’t access the resources to make the improvements. Such a contrast to when I first moved down to London with the civil service with a real sense of purpose. And I still miss:
- Music-making in large groups
- Team sports
Maybe I’ll have fully recovered if/when I’m back doing all of these.