Tag Archives: derealisation

A Week Of WordPress, Day 2

Last night’s WordPress prompt was “why do you blog?”….


“So he’s back,” said Word Press.

“Who is?” asked his underling, Tag Category.

“Tinman,” snarled Press, spitting out the name as it was a mouthful of cod-liver oil. “The guy who spent all of last year slagging all of our daily prompts has just decided that he’s going to use them for the whole week no matter, and I quote, how daft they are.”

“Wow,” said Tag. “He must have really bad Writer’s Block.”

“You can’t get Writer’s Block,” said Press, “if you’re not a writer.”

“But he writes,” said Tag.

“He blogs,” said Press. “That’s not the same thing. It’s like saying that someone who flips burgers in McDonalds is a chef.”

Word Press did not like writers. He did not like literature. His parents, who did like literature, had called all of their children after literary characters – Heathcliff, Daisy, Holden, Jo, Atticus and Tarzan. By the time he came along they were too tired to think of another one, so they had called him Word, since that is in all literature, everywhere.

His middle name, which he had never told anyone, was Pagenumber.

It was his hatred of literature that had led him to form WordPress – a outlet for the masses to fill the internet with pictures of their budgies, news that their constipation was now cured and opinions about everything, including opinions.

In the vast oceans of dross thus created, he reckoned, works by Shakespeare and Dickens would sink unnoticed beneath the virtual waves.

And of all the bloggers in all the gin-joints in all the world, his pet hatred was Tinman, with his ludicrous stories about Batman and Dracula and Goldilocks.

And now Tinman had come crawling back. Word Press smiled.

“Put up the big one,” he said.

“Oh boss, no,” said Tag. “That’s just too cruel.”

“He asked for it,” said Press. “He called yesterday’s post “A Week Of WordPress, Day 1”. He can’t refuse to take this one on, after just one day, he’d look like an idiot. Sorry, more like an idiot.”

“But they’ll all get the same prompt,” said Tag.

“Well, of course they will,” said Press. “We can hardly personalise it – we can hardly say that today’s prompt is “seriously, Tinman, why do you bother?”.

“But it’s our Doomsday Prompt,” said Tag. “The Ultimate Question.”

It was true. The prompt “why do you blog?” would destroy blogging forever, as bloggers who tried to take on the prompt would quickly realise that there was only one answer – “I don’t know”.

“Yes, and can you imagine what he’ll write?” said Word Press. “He’ll never admit the truth. He’ll come out with some shite about trying to make people laugh. He’ll talk about his blogmates. He’ll slip in some mention of his blackouts and his derealisation – let’s face it, he’d manage to mention them if he was writing a post about hedgehog-farming. But no matter what he reason he gives he’s going to have to look into the very depths of his being, and realise that he’s a talentless twit with a pointless hobby. Even if only in his own soul, he’s going to have to expose himself, like a virtual flasher.”

Tag sighed, and clicked “Publish”. The prompt went out, and Word Press swore that he could almost hear the gasp of horror that crossed the whole virtual world.

He smiled grimly to himself.

“I’d like to see him try to make a story out of this one,” he said.

If I Open My Fingers A Little Bit More


When I was a child I loved the poems of AA Milne.

The stories were fine, though very few of them seemed to go anywhere, but the poems were just wonderful. Almost half-a-century later I can still quote huge chunks of The King’s Breakfast and almost all of Teddy Bear (“A bear, however hard he tries, grows tubby without exercise”).

I can recite every single word of Vespers, the story of Christopher Robin saying his prayers.

The reason that I mention this today is not to show off (to mention I can recite the complete libretto of Cosi Fan Tutte would be showing off, and also completely untrue) but because tonight is the second night of my Mindfulness Course and I am starting to feel that Christopher Robin and I are related.

In the poem Christopher Robin is saying his prayers and his mind wanders in all directions (“wasn’t it fun in the bath tonight?”, “I can see nanny’s dressing-gown on the door”, “and I close my eyes and I curl up small and nobody knows that I’m there at all”).

Last week we were given a CD and asked to perform a Body Scan each day, where the voice on the tape asks us to become aware of our bodies, part by part. I am not doing well so far.

A typical (mental) conversion between the voice and me goes like this:

Voice: “Start by bringing awareness to your feet, how they feel, perhaps they are warm or cold…”

Tinman: “They are quite cold, I should probably still be wearing woollen socks. Still, it’s bloody May now, when the hell is it going to start getting warm, Global Warming my arse…”

Voice: “… now bringing awareness to the lower legs..”

Tinman: “Damn, missed the feet bit, still, I’m concentrating now -”

Voice: “…. to the hardness of the shin bones…”

Tinman: “I’ve seven episodes of Bones recorded now, I’ll never get to watch them. I’m stopping getting into crime series’ from now on.”

Voice: “… and to the …”

Tinman: “Well, apart from Castle, because Detective Beckett is gorgeous.”

Voice: “… and bringing awareness to the fingers, now at rest..”

Tinman: “Yes, and they do so much work during the day, typing and stuff, oh God, I haven’t done my blog yet, what the hell am I going to write about. Bugger, I’m getting nowhere with the awareness, I wonder if being aware of that counts, I might ask her at the class tonight, or actually hopefully someone else will, I don’t want to look like a gobshite. Anyway, come on Tinman, big effort, you can do this -”

Voice: “… and that concludes the Body Scan Meditation Exercise.”

Tinman: “What? No, wait, all I’ve been aware of so far is that the ceiling needs painting, that you didn’t ask us to bring awareness to any of our naughty bits and that, while the jumper I’m wearing is a beautiful blue, it hasn’t a hood, whereas my hoodie has.”

am trying, and I’m hoping it will get better, though at the moment I feel related not just to Christopher Robin but also to Pooh.

Who, after all, was a Bear of Very Little Brain.

Mindfulness Course – Week 1


On Thursday I mindfully ate a raisin.

As I report on my Mindfulness Course over the coming weeks it may appear that I am making fun of it. This is not what I will be doing, I think already that the course is fascinating and I have real hopes that it will make a difference to my life, especially my mental one.

I will, however, be making fun of my attempts to fulfil its demands.

So anyway, on Thursday we were each given a raisin and told that we were going to eat it mindfully. We were to look at it, be mindful of its shape and colour, then smell it, then very slowly eat it, being aware of all of the tastes, sensations, memories that this might provoke.

Unfortunately back at step one I looked at the shape and colour of the raisin and found that it reminded me of a dried snot. This was then what my mind was full of during the rest of the exercise.

I have a long way to go.

Mindful Of My Health

I am going to a Mindfulness Course this evening, as the latest sortie in my battle against derealisation. I’m hoping that it’s going to be the classrooom equivalent of the Inner Peace found by Po in Kung Fu Panda 2 (I’m sorry, I actually sat down last Sunday morning to watch something else, but that came on and next thing I was hooked).

 It’s on for the next six Thursdays and one all-day Sunday, though I’m not sure that my mind is as big as they think it is. This means that I am missing several Euro 2012 football matches and one semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest, so it had better be good.

The blurb claims that the course will aid anyone prone to stress, depression, rumination and low or anxious moods, or who struggles to experience calm and psychological well-being.

They should have just called it the Tinman course.

Status Update

A little post to say why there is little posting.

I am working quite long hours this week. Before those of you who worry about me continually doing this seethe on my behalf, let me tell you why – it’s to make sure I get everything done, because I’m off next week!

Actually, that deserves another “!” And another, so “!”

I’ve had a busy day. This morning I went to my shrink, and his latest foray in our attack on my derealisation is to suggest a course in Mindfulness. It appears that I have no mind.

What I do have, though, is glasses. My eyesight had deteriorated to the stage where I had difficulty telling 6s from 8s, though I’ve decided not mention that in the office, in case they make make me re-do everything I’ve done in the last 6 months. Or 8 months (have I typed the same thing twice there?). Anyway, I collected new glasses today, with which I can now read the small print in an insurance policy covering you against the dangers of small print.

To my surprise I also had to get a second pair, for driving. Don’t know why, I could see other cars, read traffic lights, see the look on the faces of drivers that I flashed at, so I don’t see what the problem was. With my new glasses I can see the surface of Mars, so will know to avoid it if there are road-works there.

And during the times on the bus (which I could now drive from the back-seat if they’d let me) when I normally type stuff I am busy reading The Hunger Games. Tingirl begged me to read it and I’m now half-way through the second book, totally gripped.

That’s all the news for now. Now the weather. Expect rain all next week, please see second paragraph.

Different Lives

Sidey’s Weekend Theme is “an alternate reality”. I haven’t come up with a story for this yet (though in an alternate reality I have, of course, already written it) but I promise that I will, though when it might appear may stretch the definition of “weekend” about as far as it will go.

Because today is today, though, I want to write about alternate realities anyway.

In an alternate reality somewhere my heart is fine. I would not have gone through 18 months where my heart-rate would drop suddenly to zero causing me to drop suddenly to the ground, invariably hitting my head or face against radiators, corners of walls or any other hard surface available on the way down (though falling forward to the ground and having my face land on something soft would probably have involved dog-shit in some way, so on balance I came out of it pretty well).

Alternate Me does not have no feeling on the right side of my forehead and scar tissue on the left side that will not tan, though since I live in Ireland this is rarely a problem (though Alternate Me probably lives in Bali and is the colour of caramel).

One theory about my derealisation (which incidentally is really bad at the moment)  is that it started as a defence mechanism to protect my mind from the fear that must have been going on inside it during this time, while on the surface I was quite calm and even joking about it. If that was true then Alternate Me does not suffer from it, though we will give him depression since that started before any of the blackout episodes (in an alternate alternate reality there is a Me who doesn’t even suffer from that but we’re going to ignore this Me, since there is no way that I can get to him to punch him in the face).

To sum up, Alternate Me is as fit as a fiddle (why “fiddle”, by the way? As fit as a chair, or a lampshade, or the left-rear door of a Nissan Micra would make just as much sense), tanned and fully mentally alert. He is a smug , jammy git.

But is he a blogger? Or is he too busy running in-and-out through the X-Ray machines at airports just because he can? Would he have been able to think up a suitable blogname? Does he have blogger friends all over the world?

Does he have a Tinman tattoo on his arm? I think not.

My pacemaker is four years old today, and I’m happy with the life that it has given me.

Onwards and Upwards

Nothing gets your day off to a bright start better than a 7.30 am visit to your psychiatrist.

I presume mine offers such an early appointment so that people can visit him and still be at work on time (I was in at ten to nine), avoiding explanations that they might have to give if they arrived later. “Sorry I’m late, I’ve been at my shrink” is a sentence which bosses tend to remember when the time comes for handing out promotions. As a career move it has the same effect as writing “I hate my job” on your Facebook page, or making one of the girls in HR cry (a long story, but she is actually a friend of mine and it wasn’t really my fault).

Anyway, we’re still working away, trying different techniques and medicines to see if we can crack the derealisation, the feeling that everything that is happening is slightly unreal, which I’m surprised to realise I’ve been suffering from for four years now (time flies when you don’t notice what’s going on).  It‘s the only real mental issue that I have left. My lying awake from 3.30 am each morning is gone (I wouldn’t say that I sleep like a baby, but since babies wake up every three hours and cry their eyes out that’s just as well), my stress levels are massively reduced, my unfounded fears now lie unfound and, touch wood (my superstition is gone as well), I haven’t had a bad bout of depression for over two years. So the derealisation is the only problem left, and as my shrink has said before it is notoriously hard to shift.

He told me this morning he knows one woman who has had it for 20 years.

Just as well I don’t get easily depressed any more.

Good Golly Miss Molly

First of all, sorry about yesterday. I got dejected about something, and when I get like that I dig myself a little hole of sadness. Most people would sit there for a little while, then climb out and brush themselves off. I get out by digging my way right through to the other side of the world.
So don’t feel sorry for me, this was not a depressive episode, this was a silly man in a bad mood.

And now to this morning. My psychiatrist looked me straight in the eye. “Have you ever had Molly Paxon?” he asked.

This was taking his level of questioning up a notch. Has he espoused Freudianism? Was he just being nosy? Were we going to swap stories? Was he offering to set me up on a date?

Anyway, I haven’t, I’m sure I’d have remembered.

“No,” I said, slightly more wistfully than I’d intended.

It turns out that he was talking about something called Molipaxin, the latest drug that I am to add to the table of tablets that fight on my behalf against the problems of the world (it’s no wonder I’m thin, there’s no room in my stomach for food). This one is to try to cure my sleep problem, where I have no problem in going to sleep each night but wake about every forty minutes or so for a few seconds, every single night. As a result I am permanently mentally exhausted, and we feel that this does not help my derealisation.

He checked to make sure it wouldn’t clash with any of my other meds and then turned back to me. “There is only one known side-effect,” he said, “and it only affects one man in ten thousand. You may end up with a permanent erection.”

Molly sounds like quite a girl.

All in Good Taste

A blogpost in its early stages is like a toddler, gleefully waddling towards a particular destination before becoming distracted and suddenly veering off in a totally different direction.

Yesterday’s was one such post, a tale of lunchtime in the office that suddenly decided to poke fun at Irish food, poke a stick at porridge and end with a example of mischievous parenting from the last decade.

Anyway, as I started, we were in the kitchen trying to explain crubeens to two of the girls from overseas. One of them, a French girl, said that pigs’ ears were considered quite a delicacy on the continent. My face must have said “yuck” because the other girl said “no, they’re lovely, my sister’s dog loves to eat them.”

I opened my mouth to speak, closed it again and just sat obviously trying to hold in a laugh. They asked what was funny, and I refused to tell them. I refused to tell them that I had been about to say “yes, but your sister’s dog also loves to lick his own balls.”

I’m taking it as a sign that the derealisation is getting better. Six months ago I’d have said that out loud.

Back to the Farm

As I said yesterday I went back to see my psychiatrist this morning.

The appointment was at 7.30 am (nutsness never sleeps) so once again I was able to get the same bus that I normally get to work. I wrote about this last time, and about how people who were beginning to become familiar might notice when I suddenly got off at a different stop, one that you would only get off at if you were going to St John of Gods. I wrote that this was a touch embarrassing.

But that was back when I had only started catching that bus to work. In the intervening time I have become a regular, and am now on “good morning” terms with the man and woman who are at my stop each morning. We exchange pleasantries (“the service has gone cat, hasn’t it”), utter cliches (“this time two weeks it’ll all be over”) and, since we all get off at the same stop as well, we wish other a good day as we separate. By my standards they’re practically bosom buddies.

Thus it was hard to ignore the looks of surprise, first on Gerry’s face, then downstairs on Bernie’s (yes, I still sit upstairs on the bus, like a kid) when I mumbled “see you tomorrow” as I got off the bus five miles earlier than usual, right in front of Ireland’s best known mental hospital. From short snippets during our morning chats I have deduced that Bernie works in the clinic in the Mater Hospital, and that Gerry is a Judge. From this morning’s short journey they have probably deduced that I’m a loony. Tomorrow morning at the bus-stop should be fun.

And what of my visit? Well, we both agree that I am so much better in so many ways, if it weren’t for the bloody derealisation, which I can best describe as “being living, but not alive” (I’m proud of that, I’m thinking of offering it to my shrink for use in the paper he’s bound to write about me someday). It’s odd, the original depression is pretty well gone (I haven’t had a really bad attack for well over a year now) but the derealisation it left behind just lasts and lasts, like the aftertaste of Marmite. As my shrink says himself it’s known to be notoriously hard to shift, but he has done lots of research. I have now been given another type of medication to try, and I would be beginning to suspect that the Latin name for my condition is doptestus giniiporcus (drug-trial guinea pig) were it not for the fact that these have worked on two of his patients. Both of them, by the way, got the derealisation from using stuff from Head Shops, so the products they sell aren’t just harmless herbs.

Anyway, I’ll try them, and I’m also trying one or two other things. One thing which always helps with any problem, of course, is talking about it to a sympathetic listener, and having this space to talk about being a spacer to all of you has helped enormously. For the hour or so that I’ve been writing this I’ve been fully absorbed, and it’s great to have something in which I feel totally involved.

Thanks once again, guys.