I have had a couple of days off this week and decided to take a chance to catch up on some creative projects. What bliss! No work for 72 hours that was not of my choosing. I started reading a new book, I worked on the Alleged Novel. I worked on the knitting project and did some yoga. By today, the third and final day, I was feeling good. Oh so good.
My friends, it should have been a warning.
When I feel too good, it is likely to be too good. This is not just my depressive personality talking. It’s experience, my dears, true and uncompromising experience. I should have heard Chaos stalking me, because it snuffles quite loudly, but I wasn’t listening. That is how it gets past your guard, you know, You stop listening.
It all began with a slightly desperate note left on a piece of toilet paper. To be fair it was the only paper the carer could find in mother’s room, so quite ingenious really. But what the note said was they had run out of some of mother’s tablets. Now the tablets are supposed to last until the weekend because we order them every four weeks and they provide four weeks’ worth of drugs. For whatever reason, this time we ran out.
So there I was in a flat panic. The surgery insists on 48 hours notice and mother needed those tablets in the morning. I anticipated an argument on the phone. I imagined they might refuse to provide the tablets she needed (although I didn’t think it was likely). I imagined a huge row. I panicked about what would have happened if I had not had a holiday and if I had been away all week, like I usually am. Sigoth would only have seen the note in the evening after the dispensary had closed. There would have been no tablets.
I literally paced up and down the dining room before I felt able to call the dispensary. The phone went to answerphone because the dispensary closes between 12 and 1 o’clock. This drives me mad, because usually you can only phone in your own lunch break and so it is really hard to get through. No matter, I only had to wait until 1 o’clock.
I waited until ten past, to be on the safe side. I still got the answerphone but someone picked up on the third attempt. She was very nice about it and Sigoth and I drove into town after he finished work and picked up the tablets. Mother will now be drugged to her eyeballs again.
So all’s well that ends well, as they say in Stratford on Avon. Yet again I catastrophised needlessly. And yet, and yet – I usually am away. It was luck. And I know every day that such small crises can appear from nowhere and my world turns upside down. Suddenly in the middle of a working day a phone call overwhelms me, and I phone back and email and rant and rave because I am not at home and able to do the simple thing needed.
That upheaval is the chaos stalking me, and when I can do the simple thing, I don’t immediately recognise it. I feel the disaster before I feel the solution.
This stress denies my claims of restful creative endeavours. That’s how stress works. When you aren’t actually pacing or chewing your fingernails to the root, or pulling out hair, then your hard fought sense of peace and equilibrium can be shattered in a second. Peace is a fragile thing.
It’s so easy to snap from peace to panic; so hard to go the other way.
These events are not personal. No one is setting out to make my life difficult, although unwittingly they do. The carers don’t think to tell me about waning medical supplies in good time, but on the day they run out. The dispensary didn’t really plan to close just as I needed to call them, or require 48 hours’ notice just to frustrate me, but to allow them to cope with requests in good time and presumably reduce mistakes and stress for their own staff. Knowing that doesn’t help.
What I now need to work on is the return ticket, from panic to peace. I need a mantra, or song, or picture to bring my feet to that path.
And once I have achieved that I will have the secret of world peace. Watch this space.