Sunday, 3 December 2017


Listmania in action...

Good luck with reading this because I’m enjoying what I reckon is a minor manic upswing, after months of that low-level depression I’ve been scribbling about.

This manic upswing business is pretty amazing. A pumping living energy, it lifts my chest up to the sky, injects my body with energy and fills my brain with possibilities.

Truth is, I’m starting to think that maybe this one’s not so minor. It’s difficult to judge accurately when you’re trying to diagnose your own brain.

Usually sleep is my achilles heel. If I lose a few hours I’m nasty and useless, but recently I’ve been waking up at five in the morning, which for a 57 year-old man is not remarkable. 

All us middle aged blokes need our nocturnal micturations, but rather than going straight off to sleep again, I’m hitting the mattress with my mental surfboard riding the back of a 40 foot breaking wave. 

Thoughts cascade and crash around and I’m lying there, working on my breathing ...

... in like soooooooooooo … 
... out like ehhhhhhhhhhhhhh … 

and then the thoughts come back and I fail to swamp their insistence by reading, so then it’s off to the living room to do back stretches in the dark.

Point is, I’m sitting here after three nights of this nonsense and I feel great.

Most strange, or as we Londoners say: well odd. Experience has taught me to be a little suspicious, because as we learn from life, when it seems too good to be true, it usually is.

Maybe there’s a mood collapse out there, a crash awaiting me, but what a waste of an exceptional opportunity it would be to tinkle-tonkle around my mania on tiptoes.

There’s no point in living with the dark times unless you let rip in the upswing.

So this week’s colyoom comes to you from the Ministry of Multitasking’s Department of Stress Management. Despite popular opinion to the contrary, volume one of Multitasking for Men is called Me Hole - We Do It All The Time!

Whether manic, down or floating somewhere on the edge of acceptable normalcy, I multitask. Admittedly right now I've a lot more energy than I usually do, but I am actually writing this while sending emails, checking facts for other stories, watering the houseplants and dealing with clients and students.

All this fine madness coursing around my system needs to be controlled, harnessed for good, otherwise I might turn into a Bond villain.

Far more prosaically, instead I try to ease those unwelcome storms of tumbling To Dos at five in the morning by writing lists. 

A good list is great, but a bad list is a killer. If you create a list that will never be completed, it will only get you down. Best to start with a very small list of three things that you absolutely know you can do today.

Well, that’s what the therapists say anyway, but my reality is that I will find comfort only when I know I haven’t forgotten something, because right now, as it happens, there’s a heck of a lot going on, and none of it is trivial.

Given that I know this period, as everything else, will soon pass, I’m allowing myself a melange of lists, because the more I get to cross off, the better I feel.

It’d be bloody silly of me not to also acknowledge the potential for stress in all these lists, but I’ve got the mania right now, so I can achieve three, four, five times what I’m usually able to do.

I’ve got Macro lists and Mini lists, Today lists and Get In Touch With lists, shopping lists, and timeline lists, more usually referred to as calendars.

There’s two cars to service and mend, one to pass a test and one to sell. There’s courses to book and sell, colyooms to write and clients to keep happy. There’s the dog’s worming tablets and the citizenship applications.

Aye, that’s quite a major one. 
Watch this space.

And oh yes, the book. I’m writing a book. Not good to forget that, but in a way all the other minutiae of life are furniture on deck, and right now they’re all over the place, demanding attention, so I’ll give my responsibilities the time they deserve and then focus on the book.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not waiting for the perfect time. That does not exist. I’m working on the book all the time, either silently in my head or physically on paper, but life has to be lived alongside the writing process.

I have to play the adult, pay the bills, carry out my duties in a way that satisfies society’s need to tick boxes, so that for moments, long and short, I can live and work as if the book is all that matters.

If that sounds all melodramatic and rather head up the backside, I apologise: it’s not me, it’s my mania!

Attitudes in the West of Ireland don’t help minds like mine. My local friends unwittingly conspire to keep me beholden to lists. This Englishman suggests someting crazy like hey, let’s meet up next week, thereby scaring the bejazus out of my Galwegian friends, who tell me that I have to text them back on the day before whatever it is, to remind them.

Great. Now I’ve got something else I need to remember.

Another thing on another bloody list. Hmm, I’d better watch this pattern. In my eagerness to know for certain about something, I’m setting myself up to be a sucker.

Thankfully, my friends have to be people who can take a slagging. When I tell them to get their acts together, they laugh long and hard at me, as well they might.

They don’t need a reminder app: they’ve got a manic Charlie.

©Charlie Adley

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