What’s In Your Bag – Extreme.

‘What’s In Your Bag?’ is a project funded by ‘Time To Change’, that will be launched in February 2016. A special selection of people have agreed to meet me for tea and cake and share what they carry around in their bag every day. I have decided to go first, with an exclusive, ‘What’s In Your Bag – extreme’. Extreme because I feel I’ve been unusually honest (for me) about how I perceive my mental health at the moment. I’ve been feeling vulnerable and small; that’s often a private thing.

The urge to share has been growing over the Christmas celebrations, as glamour spells are cast across the social media world. Photos of laden plates, rosy cheeks, happy families and drunken friends have ravaged my lap-top screen. The panto villain in me wants to re-balance all the twinkles and glossy perfectness in this virtual place and share a dollop of untainted reality.
All the gathered debris that I have carried around with me the last two months makes me want to puke onto my kitchen table. The retching sensation still resides at the back of my throat – extreme? Well yes, I agree. Ordering the sixteen pens I have in a circle in the centre of the table, I do know that sixteen is quite clearly more than I need. I also know, at least logically, that the amount of receipts and used theatre tickets need not be part of my every day life. These tickets are memory keepers,  proof that I occasionally leave this house and join in with the life of this city. The real reason I hold on to them is less romantic, it’s the intention to add them to a growing pile of self-assessment tax evidence. In fact I must, I mean I will, decide on a ‘proper’ place for them to go.

In the midst of the unwinding chaos that is as obvious as a therapy session, is the fact that I have been tying myself up in knots over ‘doing enough’ and in that knottiness I have become so tight inside I have forgotten the very essence that makes my life work – stopping and breathing. Thankfully I see my saner self giving me poignant reminders, hand written notes that say

Q ‘what would you like to write about right now?’

A ‘Beauty and stillness. Unexpected pockets of peace in a complicated world’


Quotes from poetry performances that I have been to:

‘I need you like a novel needs a plot

‘I need you like the greedy need a lot.’


An affirmation from two months ago, encouraging me to lose weight – now over one stone lighter than the writer of the note – I can smile at it and let it go.


Pieces of writing that play with darkness, attempting to make sense of the sound of my raw screaming in the  3am and 4ams of the night.  These scrawled notes attempt to unravel the night terrors that have been the cause of my disruption – the reason I haven’t got just one bag to sort through but two bags and a box. The box that I have been emptying my bag into when it all feels too overwhelming to look into or sort out. These notes leave a trail to a box of medication that I have been ignoring – in the way I might blank the eyes of an ex-lover who stares at me from the back of a crowded room.


I’ve put off looking at these static moments of my life, gathered into a mountain of paper memories. Yet, seeing them reduced to piles with virtual labels on, they’ve shrunk to small hills, some possibly even little pebbles – light enough to pick up and throw away.


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