A Day in the Life of Pegpirate
Published on the day .
Today is the first day of my life. Looking back over this last year’s entries, and thinking about this blog as a whole, I realise I’m still tired, but this time from a great metamorphosis and journey. Tired from life, maybe.
On the playlist: Pressure Drop (Toots & The Maytals), Upside Down Mountain (Conor Oberst), I Wanna Get Lost With You (Stereophonics) and World in Motion (New Order feat. John Barnes).
Some advice from Bertolt Brecht: don’t start with the good old things but the bad new ones. So here goes.
Since I last blogged here I’ve been mugged and had a brief admission to a mental health unit with full discharge from secondary services after nearly eight years. Though it was threatened, I wasn’t sectioned, nor did I have ECT. Others did, however, and that damage – for me – needs to stop here.
I have also been publicly shamed, treated shockingly by the local police and barred from the places where everyone knows my name, when all I needed was water and rest so my troubled heart would be OK. I met some fresh faces and found solace with some thankfully familiar ones – and got to understand racism and oppression a little better, I hope. Throughout, I remembered that I am a Tottenham tiger and held my shit together by hanging out with the rappers, the players and the angry people. And so ends this phase of my sojourn through grief and loss since my partner died.
I continued with my political activism with Labour and have taken on more of a leadership role. In future, my own rage will be channelled into giving those who come for people like me and our allies and friends a good political kicking. In the nicest possible way.
I’ve now finished setting up a social firm which will directly employ people with severe mental health issues in my area and launched it very quietly by hiring my first team member. To paraphrase Theodor Roosevelt, we speak softly and carry a big red tent.
I caught up with friends old and new, laughed my feet off and made some excellent music. And celebrated being 47, along with marking my aunt’s death at the age of 92, despite her many years with a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. I bought a second guitar – with the help and support of friends, family and the above clinical teams. And moved house into my own place and became a trustee of a charity I respect, admire and trust.
And I wrote the following poem, which I finished today:
Caught versus held.
Who will run the frog hospital, who?
I will run the frog hospital, I, said the toad.
But only if no/body else will.
And that’s the story of my life.
Couple of other poems to leave you with: Crossing the Bar (Tennyson) and Swineherd (Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin).
So one did indeed fly over the cuckoo’s nest. And if I can get out despite my bipolar 1, so can others. I’ve been lucky, I know. But if I have any advice for someone in a similar situation, it runs as follows… try not to die, try not to get killed and try not to kill yourself. Good luck everyone and enjoy your own journeys. It can be a wonderful life under the sun.
With thanks to: Mark Brown and Public Health England for working on and supporting this project; my mental health colleagues; my amazing friends and family; and Anne C and Jon B for encouraging me. And for Murray, Matt, Neil and Constance. In gratitude and promise, always.