I like to think I live in the Alps, at the summit of the Col du Galibier (2,645 metres). I don’t, but the gradient on the hill that leads to where I live, can feel like that at times. It begins with a steep ‘kick’ at the bottom and includes a couple of ‘blind’ turns as I heave myself towards home. All in all, my best guesstimate is that the average gradient on my homeward hill is around 25%. Before we bought our house back in 2007 I practised riding it. If I couldn’t manage it would mean I would be pretty much strapped in up there relying on 2 buses an hour.
I’m not really complaining. The climb – which I make nearly every day – gives me a sense of achievement every time I ride it. It provides reassurance because it proves to me that I have the resources, physical and mental, that I can ride it, whatever the weather.
Yesterday I donned my lycra for the first time in about 6 months and rode out into the countryside. Rolling hills with some pretty steep climbs, that I have neglected for so long. My legs were anxious, my chest was apprehensive. Would I have to get off and push after all this time? It had been so long that I took a wrong turn on the way back. But I turned round and found the right route. My curiosity emerged once more and I took a short detour along a lane I had passed many time.
I planned to go out again today, but the fog outside my window and inside my head, kept me away. But I have proved to myself that I still have those hills in my legs, even after all this time. I’ll go out again later this week. Maybe after my appointment with my psychiatrist in a few days’ time.
There’s another steep gradient in my life, a mental one.
It’s been over a month now that my mood has slipped down a very steep slope. One of the mood – rater scales on the internet is called Moodscope.com. It’s a way of tracking your moods and identifying triggers that help and hinder how you’re feeling. I first started using it back in the winter of 2010 when my psychiatrist told me that what I suffer from was not unipolar depression, but manic depression. Over the years I have used it, sometimes regularly, every day for months at a time. Or, like now, I’ve gone back to it after about 9 months. Over the past month or so I’ve been monitoring my mood daily and the numbers are not good. I should be floating around the 60 – 80% range. Instead, it’s been the 20 – 40% zone. I’m working reduced hours and still not feeling the benefit.
Maya Angelou’s determination is too much for me right now. All I’m hoping for is that someday soon ‘like air I’ll rise.’
Still I Rise
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
Maya Angelou (1928 – 2014)