‘Tis but a scratch

‘Tis but a scratch

As of yesterday, The Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail has become my favourite bridge guarding nut job in an Arthurian semi-fictional film made by Python Pictures.

I can draw many parallels with the character, and it is comforting to know that cinema was not afraid to address mental illness even back in 1975. For a staid and rather dull cabal used to making short documentaries on micro-economics, cheese and The Beatles, it was refreshing to see the Python crew break out of their pen to raise awareness of issues relating to the mind.

Like the knight, I am insufferably stubborn and have many times failed to recognise when a collective of minor flesh wounds was adding up to quite a significant disability. Very much like the character in the film, I allowed myself to fall apart trying to defend something rather stupid. The knight defends a stream crossing that has little value given most travellers could easily cross by means of a short run and a hop. I have often defended my pride against things that most people hadn’t even noticed, let alone give a toss about. My friends and family would rather me be open and recovering, rather than closed, wound up and ready to snap. If only I could swallow my pride.

People who know me well will likely attest to the fact that I am a little different than most; but then again, most people I know are different to the average population. Not in a bad way either – many of my friends are very successful in business, are married with 2.4 kids and have a social life to die for. Most of their kids have been through private school and have now flown the nest. They have several holidays per year, and from their social media photos I can tell that these trips were all amazing. They are different to the general populous in so much as they are exceptional and are way, way better than me. I have never thought of myself as exceptional, so I differ from my friends in how they differ from other people. I fall into the group of unique and dull. I also think all of my friends hate me which is somewhat of a shit to live with. And to say I don’t know of one friend who has undergone significant hardship would be an outright lie. Everybody has to deal with life, it’s just that I think I do it a shit load worse than most. I would be lying as well if I didn’t say I was jealous of others in the way that they deal with adversity.

I see myself most of the time as an unwanted freak, not exceptional in any way and incapable of being outstanding.I look back at my life and think – “fuck – I’ve achieved nothing”. No one has ever liked you. You’ve never been part of anything big. I’m not even funny most of the time. Everyday I put on an act to be the most vanilla of individuals – the most un-standout person in history. I am this person because I worry about absolutely everything. If I veer away from vanilla and spice myself up to become beige, then my life will spiral out of control and something really bad will happen. I have no idea what really bad thing will happen – I just know that it will. I therefore spend each day trying not to be exceptional for fear of losing my shit and being found out. One of my closest friends once said to me there is no such thing as luck – you make your own luck happen. I know this to be true as he has through hard work become a very wealthy businessman. He is not entirely averse to risk, but when compared with my propensity he is a complete bloody maverick. My brain would never cope with the level of stress he goes through in running a number of companies. I would simply have a nuclear meltdown. I respect him for the way he is, but I also beat myself up for not being like that.

Unless of course I’m having what I like to refer to as ‘a blip’. During a blip I am definitely not risk averse. I’m also happy about nearly everything; but at the same time very moody. I don’t worry about the ten million things I normally panic about constantly, but I think of ten million more to keep my brain spinning. I go from knowing all of the things that will ruin my life, to imagining a wonderment of ideas that could make my life fantastic.

I become crude. I spend money recklessly. I gamble. I don’t sleep. I’m tense. Really tense. I do stupid shit. I wake up in strange places. I go to places I shouldn’t go to. I do things that really are not me. Yet they are, and they are things I cannot forget. At the time I love it, but that me is not the me I like to be most of the time.

To save me, I then crash and recover. Back to vanilla again. I do not have the capacity to reach the point of no return on my mental travels, and I thank God for that every day. This last point (praying) I don’t share with my wife as she is an out-an-out atheist who truly believes she will self-combust on entrance to any religions place of worship. I’m hoping she doesn’t read too far down this post.

How many scratches do I have to get before my flesh wound turns into something more serious? I don’t want to find out. I know that something serious will never be terminal, and if you were to ask me what would be my biggest fear right now, it would be losing my wife and family. I know this will never happen as my adherence to the sanctity of marriage is absolute. But I could do shit that really pisses her off.

If the Black Knight had sent a pigeon to the Camelot branch of Mind to get some help, he may have been informed by return pigeon not to worry about the bridge and let people pass. In doing this he would most likely retain all of his limbs and hopefully get to the deep seated reason as to why he was defending the bridge to start off with.

Some of my friends have seen me act out of character. Corfu springs to mind, and there were a few things here and there whilst at college, but most of the time I would isolate myself during the highs so no one would see the real me. This is probably why I didn’t maintain a healthy long term relationship for a long time.

Then I met my wife. It’s a little tricky to hide when you are married, and she can read me like a book. I am blessed with her presence and sometimes wonder why she puts up with my shit.

She can see the difference in me when I’m up. She suffers when I am pinging and when I’m be wired. I’ll be moody. I’ll do stupid things. I’ll work incessantly and I’ll waste money. She picks me up and brushes me down. She keeps me on track and I love her very much for this.

I don’t want to be The Black Knight, I want to be me. I need to quell the stupid me, so I am digging down into my own reason for protecting the bridge.

Perhaps “None shall pass” is not the best approach.

Scully

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