Over the years, when I notice some wear and tear to my bike, for example that the teeth on the cogs had worn down, I pop in to the shop and they fix it. When this happened to my bike’s cogs in June 2009, meaning that the chain would start to come off causing me aggravation, I was on my first cycling holiday (on the Isle of Wight) when this began happening, and I was constantly having to up-end my bike to put the chain back on the cogs. In fact the title picture on this blog was taken during that trip.
I have written before about the need to gather people around you to provide support when things start to go awry. My local bike shop is one of my key supporters. It’s not part of a major bike shop chain offering a dazzling array of the latest lycra kit and the staff don’t wear a uniform and name badges.
What they do offer is a personal service. Over the years I have got to know various members of staff. They remember my bike’s idiosyncrasies, the kind of cyclist I am, my likes and dislikes.
They make me feel valued.
More recently, my bike computer has started to play up. So, I dropped by the shop to see if they had any ideas as to why this was happening. While they poured over the screen, changed the battery and spun the front wheel round and round, one of them noticed that my brake pads were worn down.
They certainly are worn down, and so am I. Brakes slow you down, and can bring you to a stop, too. With the Passover festival and some annual leave owing to me before the end of the financial year, I have taken a couple of weeks off work. By the time you read this, I will have been back at work for few days already. One of the most distinctive things about relapse is the inability to see the warning signs yourself. This is somewhat ironic, since I am paid to help others to spot their own signs that things are on the slide, and support them to put supports in place to halt this sort of thing from happening. Irritability about minor things not going my way leads to what doctors sometimes call ‘fast feelings’. My emotions going from nought to sixty in a flash. No time for reflection, or the opportunity to get things in perspective and stay calm, maintain my equilibrium.
There are other ways that worn down mental brakes can have an impact. Namely, impulsive behaviour – with often disastrous consequences. I am relatively lucky insofar as my impulses go. Often times people with mood swing disorders will spend the rent/mortgage on a holiday to Chile, arriving at the airport without having taken the trouble to take a suitcase with them. I’ve been known to buy a book or two (really only a book or two, I promise), and I’ve read them – not given them away, or stashed them behind the sofa.
Sleep provides a natural brake to my ‘monkey mind’ as it swings amongst my mental branches. However, with the end of my holiday and the return to work (always a bit of a shock to the system!) I have been up later than usual (past midnight last night). Tired, yes, but my mind is whirring, too. Whirring, whirring like someone in a ‘spinning class’ at the gym. Lots of energy and rhythm, but not going anywhere.
Tonight I’m getting an early night.
It was a perfect day
As sweet and dry was the ground
I tasted deep the hour
Between the far
Owl’s chuckling first soft cry
And the first star.
A long stretched hour it was;
Remained; the early seeds
All safely sown.
And now, hark at the rain,
Windless and light,
Half a kiss, half a tear,
Edward Thomas (1878 – 1917)