ME: So, how’re you doing?
YOU: Me? Fine. Y’know, some good days, some not so good. It all pans out to a kinda grey fine . . . and you?
ME: Well, since you asked, not so fine actually. Come . . . let’s go for a walk.
ME: Nowhere in particular. Let’s just see where we end up.
YOU: Look, I don’t really have time. I just came here to have a quick look at your blog and . . .
ME: This is not your first visit I take it.
YOU: Since you asked, no.
ME: Then you knew when you came here there was not going to be anything quick about any of this. I have been known to go on a bit.
YOU: A bit. Well a lot actually.
ME: So, if we kept this down to say . . . 1500 words, how would that be?
YOU: Good. Fine. Fine. By 1500 you mean 2000 don't you?
ME: Probably. And we’ll see how far we’ve got by then and maybe we’ll feel like going on a bit or maybe that’ll be enough. Enough is one of those things that I personally find very hard to quantify. I mean is one HobNob really enough with ones coffee? [Pause] Well?
YOU: Oh, I thought you were being rhetorical? Er . . . no, now I come to think about it, I think one HobNob is perhaps a bit on the stingy side.
ME: Me too. Just hang on a sec . . . I think I’ll go and get three.
ME: Yes. Too much?
YOU: I'm not your keeper.
ME: You're very . . . diplomatic. I’d get you some but, well, you’re not here.
YOU: I beg your pardon.
ME: Well, not in any physical sense but, please, feel free to stock up with as many cookies as you feel necessary to get you to the end of the blog.
YOU: Fine. I will then.
[The sound of rifling in the cookie jars]
ME: Is that us?
ME: So, how many did you settle on?
ME: Me too. How sad are we? [Pause] Anyway, now that we’re all stocked up shall we proceed?
ME: And don’t start looking back to see how far we’ve been. We’ve only used up about 400 words so far. So we have plenty of time. Now, there’s something I wanted to talk to you about.
YOU: I figured as much.
ME: No, it’s not you before you start thinking things. Everything between thee and me is just fine and dandy.
YOU: Glad to hear that.
ME: Mind you, you could visit more often.
YOU: I come as often as I can.
ME: I’m sure you do. But how would I know?
YOU: Excuse me?
ME: Well, you don’t comment very often.
YOU: I make a comment when I can . . . when I can think of something to say. I mean if you don’t get in quick then there’s a dozen clever and witty remarks already sitting there and what the hell am I going to add?
ME: You could just say: “Great post.”
YOU: And what would you think of me if that’s all I wrote? You’d just jump to all the wrong conclusions.
ME: True. Anyway I didn’t start all of this just to have a go at you.
YOU: You could have fooled me.
ME: Look, a conversation has a life of its own. It doesn’t always head off the way you think it might. Especially one like this. So just hold your horses while I try and get back on track. Have a cookie.
YOU: I’ve already eaten mine.
ME: Me too. Two wasn’t enough, was it?
YOU: Not really.
ME: Anyway, I’ve been meaning to talk to you for a while.
YOU: You said that already and then we got sidetracked. So what is it?
ME: It's a bit delicate.
YOU: You’ve not become incontinent have you?
ME: If I had I don’t think I’d care to share that kind of information. I’d just avoid chats.
YOU: You never chat anyway.
ME: One cannot be too prepared for something.
YOU: So, you’re not peeing yourself as we speak?
ME: Go and wash out your imagination this very minute.
ME: Aye, and you mean it. And, no, for the record, by bladder has its full faculties . . . or what ever bladders have,
YOU: Do you still pee standing up?
YOU: I mean, you are getting to a certain age.
ME: Cheeky bugger. My doctor told me I was at ‘a certain age’ when I was thirty-two. I remember it well. One of those defining moments in a man’s life. I mean every age has its ‘certain age’. If I was six and went to see him with mumps or chickenpox would he not say to me: “Well, Master Murdoch, you have reached ‘a certain age’ now”? But that’s not what he meant. He meant that certain age. I mean thirty-two is not the right age to be that age.
YOU: I wouldn’t have thought so. Are you that age now?
ME: [Pause. Sniff.] I would have to admit I probably am and I probably have been for a wee while but I was not ‘a certain age’ at thirty-two, that’s all I’m saying.
YOU: So what does your doctor say these days?
ME: [Sigh.] He says . . . he says . . . that . . . I should concern myself more with managing my condition than looking for a cure.
YOU: So you’re not to expect to get better any time soon?
ME: That’s about the size of it.
YOU: And how do you feel about that?
ME: How would you feel about that?
YOU: I’m not you.
ME: No you’re not. You’re out there getting on with things as if there’s no tomorrow.
YOU: I have my problems
ME: Everybody has their problems.
YOU: So, you’re not getting better? That’s what you’re saying.
ME: I thought I just did.
YOU: So what's wrong if you don't mind me asking?
ME: I have no idea.
YOU: Well, what’s he putting on your sick lines?
YOU: And what does that stand for? Nearly Dead?
ME: Christ knows.
YOU: Maybe he does but he’s not here.
ME: I thought it was Neurological Disorder but actually it's Nervous Debility.
YOU: And what’s that when it’s at home?
ME: It’s one of those safe, vague, cover-all terms they tend to opt for these days. If they said I had x-itis then I might sue them for wrong diagnosis if somewhere along the line it’s discovered I’ve really had y-itis all along. What it boils down to is a cocktail of anxiety and depression and a dash of other stuff. Generalised Anxiety Disorder was mentioned and then my first doctor packed me off to a shrink for Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.
YOU: So you've got a cog loose. Gadzooks!
ME: It's not Gad, it's G-A-D and could you wipe that smirk off you face?
YOU: [Still smirking] Sorry.
ME: I mean Gad – what kind of disease is that? I mean if I'm going to have an abbreviation why couldn't it be one with a pedigree, something with a bit of kudos or character? I mean I can't go around telling people I have ND or GAD – it's just not … cool. Besides he's not said I've got GAD.
YOU: Good Gad!
ME: Stop it! He's just not said I've not not got it.
YOU: So, what’s the bottom line?
ME: Pills. Pills, pills, pills and more pills. I’ll tell you, a kid could use me as a rattle.
YOU: And will these pills make you better?
ME: Not as such. The doctor says they will just suppress the symptoms.
YOU: And that’s a good thing.
ME: It would be if the damn side effects weren’t almost as bad as the condition. So I went back.
YOU: And what did he suggest?
ME: By this time it was a she. A nice Irish doctor. She said: [Assumes fake Irish accent] “Wull, James, do you not think we might be trying you on something else then?”
YOU: She didn’t talk like that.
ME: Okay, she didn’t talk like that but that’s the only Irish accent I can do. Will you let me tell my tale of woe?
YOU: Tell, do tell.
ME: Anywise, she’d been all for putting me on antidepressants from day one but my wife had found mention of a new treatment for anxiety which would also address the peripheral neuropathy issues I had, so I persuaded the doctor to let me try that. I mean, what had I to lose? I knew exactly what effect the antidepressants would have on me.
YOU: And the pills didn’t work.
ME: Which pills? The new pills or the old pills?
YOU: The new pills, the miracle drug, the one your wife found.
ME: Maybe they were the old pills. I get so confused. Oh, they worked. Only I couldn’t sleep. I napped. The dosage got increased and eventually I settled into a routine. There were other side effects, but I started feeling better. I weaned myself off them a while ago just to see if I'd been cured. I’d been on them for . . . what, eight, nine months? I was hoping that even if the pills hadn’t cured me then at least the rest would have done me some good.
ME: And all the old symptoms came back with a vengeance.
YOU: So, you starting taking them again?
ME: No, the doctor talked me into taking an SSRI in the morning and a second kind of antidepressant at night to help me sleep. So this would be me on not one but two kinds of antidepressants. And like the mug that I am I said: “Okay.” But it wasn’t okay. Well, it was. I slept. It’s all I did. It’s all I wanted to do. I lost interest in everything. Quite depressed I got with it all. I couldn’t read. I couldn’t write. I didn’t want to listen to music. I couldn’t even be bothered playing with the bird. Duty kept the fish fed.
YOU: When was that?
YOU: Well, no one would have known. I mean you kept your blog up every week.
ME: No I didn’t. I started to use my stockpile. It was taking me over a week to write anything with the odd hour of mental clarity that came my way.
YOU: Sounds crap.
ME: It was crap. But I’m not looking for your pity or sympathy or anything like that. So get that look off your face right now. I wasn’t going to tell you at all.
YOU: Well, I’m glad you did. What changed your mind?
ME: I got a new doctor in . . . whatever last month was . . . or it might have been the start of this month – another bloke – and I had a good long chat with him, gave him my whole history right back to the first bout of depression I had when I was twenty-four. And I’ll give the fellow fair dues, he sat and listened to my whole spiel because I think he realised that it was rehearsed and if he interrupted me to ask a question I’d lose my place.
YOU: He sounds all right.
ME: And he may well prove to be so. Anyway, He’s put me back on my old pills because we know I can function up to a point on them but they take a while to build up in your system. So my body doesn’t know if it’s coming or going.
YOU: Or been and gone.
ME: Exactly. Which brings me to what I wanted to talk to you about. I’ve almost used up all the blogs I had lying around and I’m pretty much posting them as I write them now.
YOU: At lot of people do that. I bet most people do.
ME: Well, I’m not most people. And I don’t write that kind of blog. I’m not really into opening my gob just so people can hear the sound of my belly rumbling. If I don’t have anything to say then I prefer to keep quiet.
YOU: So, you’re telling me you’re going to quit the blog. This is what this is all about? Well, I’m never going for a walk with you again. What’s this then, your farewell post?
ME: No and no and I don’t know. That’s the honest truth. No, this is not my last blog; no, I have no intention of giving up blogging and I don’t know what is going to happen. None of us do. I expect to start feeling more like . . . I was going to say ‘my usual self’ but to be frank with you I’m not really sure what that usual self is anymore. I think he’s moved on and I need to find myself again. I never in a million years expected to be sitting here trying to find myself at the age of fifty.
YOU: You’re only forty-nine.
ME: Well, my dad always rounded up and if it was good enough for him then it’s good enough for me. I’m in my fiftieth year for God’s sake. The thing is I’m not going to bounce back this time like I did the last three times. And that’s a fact.
YOU: Which pisses you off.
ME: Which royally pisses me off.
YOU: But you can obviously still write. You’re writing all this. And quite witty some of it is too.
ME: That I am . . . at three in the morning. And when I do go back to bed I’ll probably wind up sleeping till ten and I won’t be fit to talk to till lunchtime by which time I’ll be looking forward to my post-lunch nap.
YOU: At least you’ll be well rested.
ME: If only that was the case. I just don’t think I’m getting the right kind of sleep yet.
YOU: And how many kinds of sleep are there? You shut your eyes and go to sleep.
ME: Yeah, I used to think it worked like that too. Anyway, that’s up to date with as many of the facts as you need to know and we’ve already passed 2000 words.
YOU: Already? Christ, doesn’t time fly.
ME: So, you’d better be off then.
YOU: I should. I should. Lots of other sites to visit . . . blogs to read.
ME: I’m sure. You’ll not forget me now?
YOU: You’re not easy to forget.
ME: I’ll give you that. And you'll keep checking in to see if I'm still here? I'm aiming for one a week for the next wee while.
YOU: I'll keep checking in.
ME: Right, bugger off before you get all huggy on me. There’re another couple of HobNobs in the kitchen with my name on them and if Carrie nips my head when she proofreads this I’ll just tell her I was just trying to think of a clever way to end the post. Probably by then I won't remember anyway.