Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Defeating the black dog with random kindness

Hey, yes... me. *wave* over here!!

I know you had all wondered where I had disappeared to... okay, maybe you hadn't, but I am tipsy, and when I am tipsy I need you guys to step up and listen. Okay?

Life -for any of us- is never easy. Like a good trail run, you have more uphills than down, you are always shattered and you are usually covered in mud -- most of it green and distinctly smelly. It's life and we all have to deal with it in our own unique way.

My life has been no different. Just when I think that life has decided to give me a pass, it comes along and whops me on the arse. I never seem to get my breath back.

It's bizarre that life makes itself known, when in fact I am almost at the top of my game. My running and sense of community has progressed from strength-to-strength over the last few months. In April I ran my first half-marathon in nearly two years -- an achievement in itself, as a year ago I could barely walk. The half-marathon also being trail and a challenge, just adds sauce to the accomplishment. D has also settled into his new school: So well, in fact that he has progressed from P-grades, (the national grading system for children with Special Needs, who cannot even manage the basic levels), to grading on the National Curriculum. In fact he is only a year behind on 1-out-of-3 subjects; the rest he is on target -- not bad for a kid who has only attended full-time school for the last three months. I have also become a 'Parent=governor' for my sons school. This means that I have a very active role on how my sons school is run. A year ago, our school was failing -- it wasn't meeting the basic standards. In a year, myself and my fellow governors have pulled the school from failing to being, in a couple of years, an outstanding school.

This is all a huge achievement.

However, I am plagued by my usual 'black dog'. To those who don't understand the term 'black dog', it means depression.

Yep, I am under my black cloud again. Our current stability, (which is only three months old), has been rocked again by the fact we may have to physically move in the next year or so, to ensure D can be enrolled in a school that meets his needs. I love this house -despite its numerous faults- and I would love to stay here forever. The thought that we have to move has meant M and I have been working hard getting this house sorted -- not for our personal sake, but because we need to make it 'estate-agent ready'. It's not fair! I am getting the house just as I want it, just so I can move!

It's shitty and I hate it.

I have been in a funk, for the last couple of weeks. The realisation that we may have to move, coupled with stress about which school D should attend in two years time, have culminated in what has been a horrible week. Normally, these things don't bother me, but lately it has.

The black dog has come to visit.

Today, as I drove up to our local IKEA, (an hour away), I was feeling it. Despite sleeping for ten hours, I was tired. I ached, I felt lousy and I wanted to climb under the bed. I decided to treat myself to an IKEA breakfast -which only allowed me a choice of three items because of my coeliac, (another story and another post)- and that's when my sense of mood was challenged. By the biggest and most innocent smile on the planet.

He was nineteen months and his Mum was harassed. With, or without kids, we have all been there. You are trying to do your stuff and things getting in your way. For this Mother, it was a toddler in a stroller getting in the way of breakfast.

As I offered to hold her tray, something happened inside of me. My funk disappeared. As I distracted her child, the first honest smile for days came up. By the time we progressed to the till, I had to buy the little family breakfast, just to say thank-you. In the five minutes progressing from the start of the familiar large blue-and-white arrows to the check-out, my 'black dog' had been placed into the kennel. All it had cost me was the five quid (that's five of your UK monetary pounds by-the-way).

When I was thinking of writing a post this morning -in my newly painted and furnished study- it was one of doom and depression. I was going to write about the curse of the 'black dog'. I was going to comment how I should run, (or swim) my depression into the ground, but it was hard. By 10:35 this morning, that post had disappeared. I had discovered the simple way to improve my mood. I didn't need to run ten miles or swim seventy-lengths in the pool, I just needed to reconnect to my place in the universe. I needed to show a moment of compassion and thought to a fellow human being.

In those thirty minutes, the little family of Linda and Cayden had showed me something that my five pounds could never repay. They showed me that the path to rebuilding myself from my low was by small acts of kindness.

In my -still new- hometown, there are a set of 'mini-steps' from the High Street to the new shopping area. They are similar to the steps I have seen on my various trips to my family hometown in Bridgnorth. These small steps in Bridgnorth have a different meaning; they were used by mules to transport coal and supplies from the docks in 'low-town' to the market area of 'high-town' -- Bridgnorth is a town separated by a cliff. The donkeys and mules would have to move heavy loads from the low part of town to the top. The small steps enabled them to do it.

That's the analogy I will take from this. To get to a better state of mind, I need to take small steps.

To lift the heavy loads of life -ones that feel like are pressing into me daily- I need to use the small steps of my fellow man. I need them to participate in mutual random acts of kindness. Then perhaps with their help I will manage to make it to the 'High town' -- which if I remember, has the best donuts on the planet.

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