London Brain Doc

August 28, 2008 at 9:47 pm 5 comments

So today I went to London. My sleep patterns worked out in the worst way possible. I was just about ready to go to sleep when I had to get up and get ready to start my journey (so I was still awake at 4am, got ready and left the house at 5am). Originally I planned to get a bus to the station, but it was a really nice morning. There’s something about the early morning, just before dawn, that I really like. I think it’s the quiet and the sense of waking emptiness, whatever that means. Anyway, I got to the station, hopped on a train, changed to another after a half-hour wait at the intermediate station. I drifted in and out on the train, then suddenly I was at King’s Cross.

It’s what psychologists and philosophers would call a liminal experience. A transition between two states filled with ambiguity. Going from the big, but relatively quiet city I live in, to standing on an escalator taking you deep into the Earth along with hundreds of other strangers to catch a train to take you somewhere you’ve only seen on maps. It’s weird. But it’s not like I haven’t been to London before, so it was easy to put on my London frame of mind.

There’s a way of behaving in London that’s unlike anywhere else I’ve lived. I think it comes from the way millions of people are packed into far too little space. So what comes across as hurried and annoyed is really just a way of not getting in other people’s way and protecting yourself from people who would get in your way. What Londoners want is to be left alone. Of course, when you’re on a tube train at rush hour, this isn’t an option. So you don’t pause to think about where you’re going because stopping anywhere will mean you’re in someone’s way. And you push your way onto the train, because there’s people behind you who need to get on too and the people in front of you should be thinking the same thing.

At least that’s my impression of things. I was walking around in a t-shirt all day, so my scars were on show, especially when I was reaching up to grab the rail in the tube train so I didn’t fall over. But oddly, for somewhere so busy and unfamiliar, I didn’t find it at all daunting. Mainly because your average Londoner would only be mildly interested if your arm was covered in fluorescent green fur. You’re never more anonymous than when you’re in a London crowd.

If this had been my first trip to London or I’d been depressed when I had to travel down, I’m sure I’d have gone to pieces. London’s demanding and stressful. Especially when you don’t really know how to get where you’re supposed to go. So it’s fortunate that I’m feeling pretty good recently, even if I was rather tired.

I was early for my appointment – I built in one or two hours spare in case my train was late. So I found the hospital, drank some coffee, ate a sandwich, and then I was waiting for my name to be called in the reception of Neurology. It’s odd how you can be impatient as the clock reaches five minutes past your appointment time, when you’ve been waiting for about a year. In the end it wasn’t a long wait.

So I gave my sleep history to the neurologist and he did a basic neurology exam which found nothing wrong. He decided further investigation is needed, so I’m going to be filling out a sleep diary thing. And then there’ll be an MRI of my head. That’s something I definitely wasn’t expecting. But I guess it shows I’m being taken seriously, which is nice. I have to go down to London for the scan, but I think it’s being arranged so that the next consultation will be the same day or the next. All in all it was a pretty positive appointment.

I got some blood drawn and the nurse who did so became the first NHS professional to comment on my kick-ass “Science Will Save Me From Myself” t-shirt. Then I killed some time in the canteen, before getting the train back to King’s Cross and then killed some more time drinking a pint of Guinness in one of those excruciatingly fake Irish pubs. It wasn’t too busy and I could take my time and read. I think this was the first time I’ve ever drunk alone in a pub. I made that pint of Guinness last just over an hour, so it doesn’t really count as alcohol. Weirdly, I kept wondering if I’d see Rebecca. As far as I know she still lives in London, but it would be a ridiculous coincidence to randomly spot her in a city of millions.

And I’m not going to see if she wants to meet up for lunch or whatever next time I’m there. Almost certainly not.

Then I got the train home (with another change thrown in there), came back home and here I am a few hours later still feeling tired, but not really all that sleepy.


Entry filed under: Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders, Docs and Shrinks. Tags: , , .

Candles, lack of therapy, London What happened to all the waiting around?

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Alison  |  August 29, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    Glad to read the appointment went well for you.

  • 2. adifferentvoice  |  August 30, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    I’m glad too.

    This made me smile: “Almost certainly not.”.

    My father-in-law got told off yesterday for probably the first time in several decades. The cookery instructor told him that there was doing something wrong, and very definitely absolutely doing something wrong, and he was doing the latter. I kind of hope that you substitute “very definitely, absolutely not” for “almost certainly” but only because you’re doing so well … and I’d hate anything to spoil your progress.

  • 3. Zoe  |  September 1, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    Yeah, you’re sounding good Ex Chimp. As a Londoner myself it’s interesting to read a non-Londoner’s impressions of us and our city. I was picturing the Maudsley though you didn’t mention the name of the hospital. I had a MRI and a CAT scan there once to check if my bipolar was in any way physiological. They both came back normal.

  • 4. experimental chimp  |  September 1, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    Alison: Glad to read the appointment went well for you.


    adifferentvoice: I kind of hope that you substitute “very definitely, absolutely not” for “almost certainly” but only because you’re doing so well … and I’d hate anything to spoil your progress.

    Sense will hopefully prevail. Besides if I ever do meet her again, I think I’d prefer it to be at a point where everything in my life is going really well, rather than now, where I’m not that far past the point where everything in my life was going wrong.

    zoe: As a Londoner myself it’s interesting to read a non-Londoner’s impressions of us and our city. I was picturing the Maudsley though you didn’t mention the name of the hospital

    You’re fairly close with that guess. London’s actually full of good memories for me, although this recent trip wouldn’t appear on any list of highlights.

  • 5. Ruth  |  September 2, 2008 at 9:45 am

    One of the reasons I love London is that you can wander around to your hearts content and no one is interested in you or your life. No one tries to engage you in inane conversation on the Tube and no one tries to ask you how you are, purely out of courtesy.

    Like Zoe said, it’s interesting to see what an ‘outsider’ thinks of the city. Personally, I love it, although I love Newcastle (where I was at uni) too but I know I will always be a Londoner at heart.

    Glad to hear the appointment went well.


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Hi, I'm James. I'm a 26 year old guy from England with bipolar disorder (currently well controlled). I also have a circadian rhythm sleep disorder (not so well controlled). This blog has charted my journey from mental illness, through diagnosis and, recently, into recovery. It's not always easy, but then, what is?


Self-righteous note about smoking

As of 12th September 2008 it has been forty five weeks since I quit smoking. So in another seven weeks it'll have been a whole year.

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