This edition was first published in 2014.
Regular readers will know how I am plagued by mood swings, especially sharp bursts of irritability. Ironically, one of the most stressful activities for me, given the name of this blog, is fixing a puncture. I have written about this before, you can read what I have had to say about what punctures mean for me by reading the 2 posts below that I wrote back in the Spring
Last month I suffered 2 punctures. The first one was when I was in the centre of town – no repair kit to be found in my panniers ( will return to this point shortly.) Frustrated, annoyed, mystified (the puncture occurred while my bike was locked up outside my doctor’s surgery, which is to say, stationary. I wheeled my bike to the nearest bike shop, and for a princely sum, they fixed it. Stress levels reduced thanks to my finding a solution quickly – as in the past (see blog posts above) I found someone who could fix the puncture.
The next puncture was what we call a slow puncture. It’s not immediately apparent. I discovered it one morning as I cycled away from my house. Right from that moment my reaction to what had happened – and what I would have to do – was different. The bike went back into the garage, and I walked. I worked out there and then that I wouldn’t have time to fix it for a couple of days. I didn’t fret, I wasn’t preoccupied by the thought of doing something I find very stressful, that I am not very good at.
That was new.
But since I wasn’t fretting about it, I didn’t give it any thought at all. I failed to notice any difference in my reaction to having a puncture to fix. Before I actually got down to fixing the puncture I made a Plan B in case I just couldn’t fix it, couldn’t get the damn tyre off, or the hole was too big to patch up. I looked up the bus schedule (I had to get to the train station the following morning to go to work.)
That was new.
Only then did I set about preparing to fix the puncture.
I assembled everything I needed, took the wheel off … you get the picture. The hole was so small that I couldn’t find it. Still no grinding of teeth, throwing of tools. I then took the next step and put the inner tube in some water – the bubbles showed me the spot immediately. I applied the patch, slightly inflated the tube and in one go eased the wheel and tube back in place. I put the wheel back on the bike, pumped up the tyre and cycled round the block a couple of times to make sure the patch was doing the job.
Then it hit me. What had happened? I had been totally relaxed; I behaved, well, like a bike mechanic. But I couldn’t understand why. The puncture had happened at an inconvenient time. I had had a couple of days to stew over having to do something I find stressful and still I had acted as though I did this sort of thing every day.
One thing I knew – it stood as evidence. Proof that I do have the capacity to act in a calm collected manner even when in a stressful situation.
Since then I have discussed this episode with my psychiatrist. He suggested that I log my outbursts. I agreed that I would draw up a chart and note down what happened to provoke my flashes of irritability. True to form I haven’t done so yet – but I haven’t noticed any outbursts yet, either.
While it is still a mystery to me as to why I was able to fix the puncture without going red in the face and having a tantrum, I do have a theory: is it possible that all this preoccupation with wanting to control my irritable outbursts (I think about it every day) has somehow contributed to a calmer me?
A Little While, a Little While
A little while, a little while,
The weary task is put away,
And I can sing and I can smile,
Alike, while I have holiday.
Where wilt thou go, my harassed heart–
What thought, what scene invites thee now
What spot, or near or far apart,
Has rest for thee, my weary brow?
There is a spot, ‘mid barren hills,
Where winter howls, and driving rain;
But, if the dreary tempest chills,
There is a light that warms again.
The house is old, the trees are bare,
Moonless above bends twilight’s dome;
But what on earth is half so dear–
So longed for–as the hearth of home?
The mute bird sitting on the stone,
The dank moss dripping from the wall,
The thorn-trees gaunt, the walks o’ergrown,
I love them–how I love them all!
Still, as I mused, the naked room,
The alien firelight died away;
And from the midst of cheerless gloom,
I passed to bright, unclouded day.
A little and a lone green lane
That opened on a common wide;
A distant, dreamy, dim blue chain
Of mountains circling every side.
A heaven so clear, an earth so calm,
So sweet, so soft, so hushed an air;
And, deepening still the dream-like charm,
Wild moor-sheep feeding everywhere.
THAT was the scene, I knew it well;
I knew the turfy pathway’s sweep,
That, winding o’er each billowy swell,
Marked out the tracks of wandering sheep.
Could I have lingered but an hour,
It well had paid a week of toil;
But Truth has banished Fancy’s power:
Restraint and heavy task recoil.
Even as I stood with raptured eye,
Absorbed in bliss so deep and dear,
My hour of rest had fleeted by,
And back came labour, bondage, care.
Emily Bronte (1818 – 1848)