Hello from my house

I need to tell you some things.

If you are a reader of this blog, let’s face it, it’s because you know me. If I have any unfamiliar lurking readers from the blogosphere I’ve yet to know about them. And if you know me, you may wonder why I didn’t turn up to your exhibition opening, why I didn’t turn up to one of mine, why I behaved oddly or ran away when you did see me, why I don’t answer the phone and haven’t replied to emails or other messages.

Really – the simplest and most honest answer is that a little over a month ago I had a nervous breakdown.

That feels so weird and overdramatic to say it so blatantly. My temptation is to soften it off and refer to it as ‘chucking a nervy’ or something like that, but that just feels contrived. My panic attacks increased in frequency, I was spending much of my time in terror and tears of frustration and confusion at home and in the bathrooms and while walking between offices at work. My mind was racing at top speed all the time but I was unable to ‘get the clutch in’ and either add or extract information. I felt that to an outsider I must have taken so long to construct a spoken sentence that I must have seemed like a stroke patient but I just couldn’t pull the words out of my spinning brain. I developed a stammer when in the most distress. My hands shake and my face tics. I was consistently exhausted, had no ability to concentrate and was alarmed by my inability to form a simple string of logic. More than about five people at a time can send me creeping backwards into a dark corner like a scared dog. This had reached crisis point when the anxiety started to spill over into my studio practice and a dear friend reiterated to me ‘This is really not normal. You need to get help’.

I have since left the new job and have been diagnosed with, and am being treated for, a general anxiety disorder (GAD) and a social phobia. I am also reading library books with antiquated sounding titles like recovering from nervous illness. I go for long walks, work in the garden, listen to downloaded comedy podcasts and try to do the hardest thing which is the advice to ‘let time pass’. I don’t know how long it’s going to take to get better and fears for the future wind me up again so I simply try to do that. Just let time pass.

But I am here. And I kind of miss you. Eventually I do reply to emails and messages but sometimes I don’t answer the phone because it is just too hard to extract and form the words as fast as is necessary for a conversation. With email I can take my time to turn thoughts into words. It’s not that I don’t like you. I’ve just been ill. And now I’m getting better.


5 thoughts on “Hello from my house

  1. I understand. I am certainly no stranger to unmitigated and frightening mind-fuckwittage.

    I also know that getting better is good and scary and hard. But it will happen, in time.

    One time soon, we can have Pimms and borage in the garden and talk about things like the Czech republic.

    Look after you.

    – P

  2. normal

    most human moment i have had in a long time, reading what you have shared here.
    people are pretending all the time, covering it with this or that…….
    drugs, stuff, computers and even people.
    to really go there, takes courage.
    and i know only a few who really understand
    and they are precious as they have been there themselves.

    dipping down to touch the bottom of the ocean
    is a sure feat and to share this w/ the public
    and normalize what has for centuries been labelled madness
    is the most GENEROUS act i have witnessed for quite some time.

    thank you for your most human self
    and i’d love to take a long walk with you anytime,

    monique germon x

  3. p.s

    i’d also like to say that i’m not flying the ‘mad hatter’ flag,
    suggesting that this kind of experience is preferable to a
    stable, struggle-free existence but more often than not
    (witha few exceptions of course) artists who do touch the
    bottom – are usually more generous i.e make better work &
    have that sensitivity of understanding, so essential for
    ANY kind of expression that doesn’t simply fall
    into the fashion of that time.


  4. Thanks P and M.

    I really appreciate your words although as warned I have taken a long time to respond. I’m not happy that people I am fond of have suffered/do suffer in the same way but at the same time it’s good to know there are some people who understand and so might not back nervously away from me when the time does come for me to re-enter the world.

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