What if Your Ambition is to Watch the TV?

Sorry about this, but it has been ages since my last blog. All the same, thanks once again for all your kind comments. I can decidedly say that receiving your comments makes blogging worth while and if I were more sane I should definitely do it more often!
Amyway, this time I was going to talk about something that has perhaps affected all of us at some stage during our illnesses, and that is the sometimes very subtle ways in which you can find yourself being bullied into doing things you are either too ill or simply don't want, to do. This can be quite a sensitive area to talk about, because parhaps we have all needed encouragement or motivation to get out of the house and start doing things for ourselves. That form of mild encouragement and genuine help is something I don't mind, it is just when people start suggesting more outlandish things, such as climbing up 500 ft. rock faces or jumping off bridges attached to a piece of elastic that I begin to get worried. Why should I suddenly become an adrenalin junkie just because I have experienced mental ill health? Not all of us want to be Jack Osbourne. Why have I never swum with dolphins? I don't know, it's just something I never got round to, I guess. And more to the point, no one would even ask me that question had I not been ill. So isn't this sort of cajoling just really a demonstration of how those who have experinced mental distress are somewhat alienated and treated differently from those who have not had any mental health problems. Perhaps I should explain myself a bit more clearly.
I remember one of the first times I went to see a psychiatrist. I had been suffering from depression for a long time (like many males I was always reluctant to seek help for my condition) and the psychiatrist started to talk about the fact that I should be going out and having, to use his word, "experiences". I thought to myself that this must mean that having depression, or perhaps any mental health problem, did not, in his mind, even qualify as an "experience". I thought that there was something very wrong in that line of reasoning. After all, I was having experiences, I was experiencing mental ill health. The fact that the psychiatrist felt as he did only made it clearer to me that perhaps as someone who was mentally ill, my experiences didn't count. They only would become relevant when I began doing what everybody else did.
My father, also, seemed to make the mistake of confusing my disease with some sort of victimhood. He would often say things like- "there's a big wide world out there, David, and it is passing you by". But to my mind, just as I would say to my pschiatrist, what was I doing but having experiences, I would say to my father, what was I doing but living in the world. It wasn't my fault that I had become ill, or that the world seemed harsh and indifferent to that fact.
Later, after loads of different therapies I simply began to get fed up with people telling me that I should be doing more. I should swim with dolphins, I should climb rock faces, I should jump off bridges tied to a piece of elastic with my pants on my head. All of this to convince me and those around me that, yes, I was indeed alive. If you ask me I can just put my fingers on my wrist and measure my pulse to prove that. At the end of the day, all I wanted was for someone to just understand what I was going through. And after all, I did get my degree, I had worked for nearly two years before seeking treatment, I continued to write articles for a professional magazine and I had had my poetry published. But somehow, because I'd been ill, some took it as meaning that I hadn't lived or achieved anything.
Anyway, sometimes during our illnesses we are too unwell to consider doing even the most banal of activities, and this made me think of a line fron the Quentin Tarantino film, "Jackie Brown". At one point Samuel L. Jackson spots Bridget Fonda smoking dope and watching tv, and says something like, "you better watch that stuff. That stuff kills your ambition." To which she replies "Well, what if your ambition is to smoke dope and watch the tv?" At the time I thought this was an extremely funny and clever line, so in homage to it I have written this short poem. It is also a rebuke to those who think we have to become adrenalin junkies to justify our existence. It goes as follows:

That stuff kills your ambition, they say,
But I always liked getting lost, anyway,
Tried work, tried home, tried a girlfriend and not being alone,
But all I wanted to do was watch tv, sitting on my throne.

Tried play, tried leisure,
The experience was such a pleasure,
Became famous and dressed in leather,
But I was always stuck to the box.

So if this stuff kills your ambition,
I think I've only got one question,
A killer hum from a droning bee,
What if you ambition is to watch the tv?

So, that's it for now I'm afraid folks. Until next time, I remain your normal, average paranoid and delusional man.


klahanie said…
Greetings David-
Firstly, thank you very much for your kind comments on my most recent blog. Receiving and acknowledging comments is very much a part of this community. You may be aware that I and few others regularly comment on other blogs. It would be nice if a few more got into the spirit of this.
I am glad that you have submitted another blog David. You are very talented and I always enjoy reading your blogs.
When we are in a somewhat vulnerable state, we may think that we are being coerced to do things that we are not comfortable with. That is why we must challenge this is in a dimplomatic, assertive manner. You must do what is right for you. Cultivating healthy behaviour by doing activities is fine. However, they must be things we have a genuine interest in. Not what someone else decides is best for us. "Experiences" must be condusive to our own mental health wellbeing.
This is your life David. As you challenge your own mental health issues, you will find the strength to do what is right for David. So if you don't want the adrenaline 'rush', so what. Your rush is what makes you happy. Your writing and your brilliant poetry are a testimony to David and who he is.
You said that you are somewhat jealous of my writing. David, you have had your poetry published. I do not have the confidence to even consider my ramblings worthy of publication. So well done to you.
I look forward to our next chat. You are a decent, kind bloke.
Warm regards Klahanie.
Jack said…
Hi David I have just read your blog. I totally agree with you, do what makes you happy. I have always tried to be true to myself and do my own thing. If you like watching tv taking it easy thats ok. Your illness is an experience in itself. I can tell some stories myself. Best wishes and take care.
emma said…
Hi David,

I really enjoyed reading your blog. It's real food for thought stuff and the line from the film is a classic.

When other people say to me why not do this or do that or do the other and they usually involve traveling to the other side of the world and spending vast quantities of money I don;t have in order to feel fulfilled, I think well actually, I kinda like it here and I kinda like my life for the most part and feel reasonably satisfied mostly and in fact, it's not until you said that, that I start to doubt my own judgment on these matters.

Does this equate to a lack of ambition - I wouldn't say so. I've traveled a bit and seen things and done some stuff which I feel very lucky to have been able to do - but I don't think that more in these situations is necessarily 'more'. I find it hard just to be still but relish it when I'm in the mood. Don't know what the answer is but Ghandi said, I choose to live simply, so that other's can simply live - and when I'm feeling inadequate for not wanting to go treking up everest - I say that to myself - I'm may just be making excuses, but then again, watching TV on a Saturday night, with a curry, with people around me whom I care about gives me a feeling of wellbeing. Is that lack of ambition - not in my world it ain't. And I went running this morning and it cost me nowt and I was able to watch the ducks swimming contentedly on the lake and I thought, I'm really glad I did this.

Do what you enjoy Dave. Btw - you have a real talent for writing.

See you soon,

Domenica said…
Hi David,

I really enjoyed reading your thought provoking post, you demonstrate great insight and awareness.
As for 'experiences' the whole of our lives is one huge experience,the so called 'good' and 'bad' experiences, make us who we are, it is a matter of personal choice, and I believe that we learn something new about ourselves from every single thing we experience.
I know that there are 'well meaning' people who suggest we try this or that, and if we are not careful we can spend our entire lives constantly striving,(and this takes a lot of our energy) instead of just 'being', always looking for something outside of ourselves in order to feel better.
I also think that some (though certainly not all)'professionals' can be rather patronising in their approach to people experiencing mental health problems, which is not always very helpful.
And finally, I would like to say that you are one of the most sane people I know!....my very best wishes to you David....D x
P.S.I loved your poem too! and your sense of humour!

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