For those of you who Don’t regularly visit my blog, I play table tennis in a local league. Now, I’m far from being a world beater, but I believe I play to a half decent standard. Crucially I’m good enough not to stand out as not knowing what I’m doing, which is my permanent state of mind in the real world. It might seem strange to describe my table tennis world as not real, but it feels like that sometimes. It’s almost like an alternative reality, one where I miraculously become more confident and comfortable in my own skin, one where I can forget about having clinical depression for a while. The funny thing is, there are similarities to table tennis and everyday life, or indeed any past time you happen to be passionate about. When you have success or a couple of unexpected victories, you feel on top of the world- even untouchable! It was like this for me 10 years a go when I did a best mans speech at my best friends wedding. For starters when he asked me I became very anxious and I never imagined I’d be able to do it, but lets face it, we all have that feeling from time to time. Look at the child who bravely climbs all those steps to the top of the giant slide, only to have second thoughts. He stands there saying “daddy I can’t do it” “daddy I can’t do it” “please don’t make me do it daddy!” But in the end he takes the plunge and in fact he loves it, so much so that daddy can’t get him off the slide for the rest of the day! Standing in front of a room full of people and being the centre of attention, was and still is my worst nightmare. But I did the speech, and I made a good job of it. Truth be told, by the end I didn’t want it to end, I momentarily had that feeling of invincibility, I had faced and overcome my biggest challenge. Now anything seemed possible. Sadly these moments of ecstasy rarely last and soon something as innocuous as a council tax bill, brings you right back down to earth!
When I lose a few matches at table tennis I’m guilty of judging myself far to harshly. I find myself saying things like “This is the one thing I’m supposed to be good at, in fact it’s the only thing I’m good at, and I can’t even get this right!” I quickly begin to doubt my ability, and worse still, I begin to feel uncomfortable in the one environment that’s previously felt safe to me. This uncertainty and extreme vulnerability is what I’m experiencing right now, and the reason for this is undoubtedly my next medical, which is scheduled for the end of the week.
A small part of me, after being left alone for almost three years, thought that they might have forgotten about me or that I’d some how been lost in the system. This was always more hope than expectation, the reality is I’ve been on tenterhooks for months now, waiting for the dreaded brown envelope to arrive. Of course the waiting is by far the hardest part, but now that the date is finally here, all sorts of emotions (mainly negative!) have come rushing to the surface. The medical is at the same place it was last time and it’s the waiting room that’s the main issue for me. Small and cramped with no windows, and only the receptionist can open the door in and out. It feels like there’s no way out, like you’re trapped like a caged animal! This same environment led to me having a full blown panic attack last time. Just getting there will be a huge challenge, and that’s before we even get to the medical part! Being scrutinised and having to prove my illness all over again.
How do you prove something people can’t see?
What if I’m too nervous to even speak?
What if I can speak but say something stupid?
What if the person doing the medical is having an off day?
What if they’ve got out of the wrong side of bed?
What if they take an instant dislike to me?
How can I make them believe I’m one of the genuine ones?
I’m trying my best to stay positive, but it’s hard, I have this sense of inevitability that I’m going to fail, and that it’s going to be the start of a downward slope, one that I can’t see a happy ending too. To say that I’m terrified, would be a massive understatement. I’m angry at the system, but ultimately I’m more angry at myself. In fact I’m really not liking myself very much at the moment. Frustrated with my lack of progress in the last three years. Frustrated that I’m still that same useless bastard who’s afraid of his own shadow and struggles to leave the house on his own.
I will try my best to keep my benefit, the truth is I need it, I’m not fit for work, but whether I deserve to continue getting support, is debateable. I’m fed up of being such a burden.