Somerset 25.5.19

It’s warm out. Been lying in the garden. I’m taking it easy because tomorrow I’m back on the SWCP – Salcombe to Plymouth so saving my feet.

My head’s heavy but the trembles are finally starting to settle down. I’ve had another one of my unexpected adrenal binges. I think 12-14 days straight. A real monster this one – not diminishing but growing as my week progressed like a huge ugly wave about to engulf me. 2 nights ago I lay in bed grimly fascinated by my trembling hands and trying to catch my breath. Shallow breathing. And my heart feeling like it wants to burst out of my chest like a baby alien. Yesterday in Waterstones I started getting breathless and it took all my concentration to calm myself. Last night I went for dinner with Hank / Is to get advice from her about being a freelance writer. The distraction was welcome but walking back I could feel the knots inside me and that old familiar tightness. Last night I slept four hours, the night before two and a half, the night before seven (thanks to Xanax), the night before that three and a half. It’s unsustainable. I also bought a book yesterday called ‘Why we Sleep’ by Matthew Walker which started off with some deeply depressing (true?) facts. He claims people who don’t sleep properly over a sustained period of time are twice as likely to get cancer, have a higher risk of getting diabetes, heart disease,etc let alone the myriad mental problems I might be lumped with: depression, memory loss, dementia, etc. That’s what I’d gone in to Waterstones for. I shouldn’t have bothered. I read one page and then put it down and wonder when I’ll pick it up again.

I’ve been thinking today about the money I’ve spent on trying to sort it out: sessions at the Insomnia Clinic, psychotherapy, naturopath advice followed by a whole programme of supplements, sleeping pills and so on. I know we’ve been here before and I must remember that ‘there is no magic bullet’ the sage diagnosis of my GP (that was another quick appointment – in other words ‘there’s nothing I can do.’) These treatments have often worked in the short term but work / lifestyle factors conspire to bring it back stronger and harder than before. I mustn’t give up. Since yesterday I’m going back to my Sleep Restriction Therapy. I think this was devised by the groundbreaking South African insomnia specialist High Selsick and has been recognised as a proven way to combat sleeplessness. I work out how much is my average sleep over a week (mine is six and a half hours a night) and then restrict my time in bed to these hours. I guess it forces the mind to get into a routine and kick bad habits such as lying in bed for too long unable to sleep. I also found a nice sounding psychotherapist in Bristol and i’m going to start with him next week because I know there’s a whole range of issues surrounding teaching. It’s only ever been a problem since I did my training in Cornwall 12 years ago. SisR wants me to see some celebrity health guru called Dominic Knight who has a Harley Street clinic. He’s a hypnotherapist and reminds me of Paul McKenna. In fact I think he might know Paul McKenna. Anyway, what’s £690 (for one session!) after 15 years of craziness? Must explore all avenues.

In the past when I’ve talked about making serious changes this is the time. It’s happening. Not one atom of me is tempted to have a cigarette, line or pill. I’m done. I don’t even want to listen to upbeat music. This is – after all – the catalyst. I’ve been planning the same mix for months but it just doesn’t get done. Thankfully. I’m going to a festival in Suffolk next weekend which will be interesting. Gentle beer drinking is the way forward.

I have a new homie. At last. It’s been 3 months since Agus the Basque left. His name is Parker and he’s from Oregon, USA. He’s a cool guy. Almost a bit too cool. He’s a sound recordist but not the geeky type of guy that I’m used to working with who spends his whole time bent over a trolley with a pair of cans on. Parker does Natural History stuff so he’s used to standing in a rainforest where noone has ever been before recording Steve Backshall for ‘Undiscovered World’ (his last job) or recording Levison Wood as he follows the elephant migration across Botswana (his next job). He’s chilled, chatty and easy to have around. He’ll also be away quite a lot. Yes.

We’ve been hanging out quite a lot in the flat on the days I work from home. I’m trying to plan lessons and he’s in holiday mode drinking a pale ale at midday and wanting to shoot the breeze. It’s his first time in the UK and he’s just split up with his girlfriend after 9 years so it’s all new for him. And I always like finding out about people.

There’s more change afoot. I want to write, I’m interested in people and my biggest strength is talking to people and discovering their story. It seems inevitable that I should pursue something journalistic: interviews, feature writing, human interest. That sort of thing. A part of me is gently putting the brakes on because of the lack of money but I could do it, be good at it and enjoy it so it seems obvious. It also ties in perfectly with the 2 days a week I’m doing at The Blue. Hopefully it should be better for my health than talking to the youth all day!

Theresa May resigned yesterday and started to break down in tears at the end of her resignation speech while saying ‘I love my country’. It speaks volumes about the state we’re in to see that emotion. I was in the sort of mood to relate to that yesterday. Now the race is on to find the next PM and Boris is the favourite with many people saying that this increases our chances of leaving without a deal. Bro thinks that whatever the case the Tories are now fucked. They’re already split and now they’ll start to fragment even further but what about the electorate, the bystanders watching the disaster unfold? At what point will we start to lose our shit over this mess? If they ask the people to vote again. That will probably do. Watch this space.

I still haven’t heard back from Charlie. I might have blown it. Or more likely I never had a chance in the first place. As far as I know she’s probably at least 15 years younger than me which does means I’m starting out with something of a disadvantage but, like a true sporting hero, undeterred by the odds or the facts staring me in the face, I have hope. I pretend to myself I don’t but deep down I do. After I asked her out the first time she took 5 days to get back to me in which time I’d seen her again in the pub. I think felt bad so she wrote: ‘It was nice to see you last night. When are you back from Somerset? C’ I took this as being non-committal so was quite frosty with my reply telling her about my weekend but ending the text with ‘Why do you ask?’ but this one message is what I hold onto. She sounds keen. Doesn’t she? It’s absurd. But there’s something wonderfully young and tragic about having a good old fashioned crush even if it’s unrealised. Jeez, there speaks the words of a desperate man. Perhaps this has also contributed to my anxiety. Probably. I keep telling myself that she won’t reply or that it’s not going to happen and these are the 2 most likely outcomes. My poor old heart: beating ‘like a fucked clock’ and then having to cope with emotional overload too. Let’s hope it doesn’t either break or stop on the South West Coast Path.

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