Monday, 4 July 2016

Balkan at change.

A thoroughly lovely neighbour had a sort through of some stuff last week, and what she didn't want was going to be given to our local Sue Ryder charity shop. Thoroughly Lovely Neighbour said that, if I wanted the Maritsa 30 typewriter and replacement ribbons among the selection of stuff, I was welcome to keep them. (I didn't just take in to my possession the typewriter and ribbons; I donated to Sue Ryder online.)


Nostalgia. To quote Phil Daniels, I love a bit of it.


Pressing the keys shows the actual printing of the characters on the paper after the satisfying clack of the metal. The crystal-clear "ping!" of the bell at the end of a line is enchanting. At the time I opened the lid and first saw it, I had a stubborn headache. Despite that, I embarked upon an experimental session of clackety-ping. It's not a piece of aesthetic design like a 1920s-era Underwood but, still, it is a tremendous machine, even just to look at.


The Sue Ryder charity shop, to which the typewriter was previously destined to go, is, by a recipe of some luck and good placement, among a very select few of my favourite second-hand repositories. Before I realised that abundant treasures so often rested behind the doors of charity shops, I was so ashamedly snobbish, thinking that I was "better" than venturing to one.


What. An. Idiot.


Happily, for charities and me, I have, for two decades, fully understood the marvels of the people who work there, as well as the reasons for the shops and the stock they're given.

As is usual with me and my depression, I only notice that my mental (in)stability is at such a concerning level when I consider that not waking up in the morning is preferable to anything else. During my most recent emotional and mental breakdown, my wonderful GP and I agreed to increase my anti-depressant medication. I'm certain that that's had a noticeable influence on my moods, and my long-absent and now-renewed sense of hope. The way out was blocked. The tunnel got darker. The last of the candles had melted and the flame of the future had fizzled to fuck all. I hadn't quite realised just how lacking hope has been in my mind or soul or whole being, whatever you may call it. Since my GP is wonderful, he wonderfully encouraged [frowned at] me (again) to begin the looking-for-volunteering process. Again.

I did.


A week later, I spent a few hours helping in one of my favourite charity shops. I washed crockery that'd literally just been donated, so that it could be tagged and displayed on the shop floor, immediately. I learned about the rotation of stock, about tagging clothing, and how the donations are sorted. Something always has to be done, be it dusting the shelves, restocking the linen rail, replacing the till receipt roll, emptying the box of hangers behind the counter, or one of myriad other tasks there wasn't time to talk about.


Only three hours was I at the Sue Ryder shop, and I wasn't doing anything like strenuous or difficult. Such are the physical effects of depression, endometriosis, fibromyalgia, hypermobility, and spondylolisthesis upon me that, at about 12:30 - 2 1⁄2 hours after I arrived to help - I felt heavy and stiff, with endo flaring up, and my back and legs feeling full of leaden aches. (I listed the ails alphabetically, did you notice? I'm aiming for the full 26. I've heard you get a limited edition kettle if you collect them all.)


The day after, I ached and was decidedly energy-deficient, and with the kind of post-activity fatigue which renders me unable to do anything, much, except stare at nothing in particular and mumble incoherently. Wiped out. Exhausted. Broken.


Feeling so pained and drained after just a little less than three hours of "light housework" was a distressing reminder that I'm really not so well. Complacency, existing every day without changing routines (or having any), or pushing the limits of capability, by even a minuscule fraction, is not good for my soul. I know it. Trying to do something I wouldn't usually do, no matter how passionately I feel about doing it, unfailingly uses so much energy emotionally and physically. It doesn't deter me from doing it again, or doing it less well or for not as long.

It's just inordinately difficult to get through those post-activity days, and to remember that those "hangover" symptoms won't last for much longer.


There is no simple solution to feeling fatigued, and suicidal, and utterly without any spark of hope. As I type, I still have that little tittle of hope I mentioned earlier.

Stamina? I used to have that. For now, I have a still-sealed DVD of Life of Brian for £1.95, a Portmeirion RHS cup and saucer for £2, two decent-sized floral jugs for £10, and a kosher West Ham shirt for my Dad for £3.25. I bloody love charity shops.


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