Category Archives: Mental health

The Ocean Pool

Mahoon pool in still weather, calm surface
Photo by Therese of Swimming Pool Stories

 
I used to swim almost every morning all year around in a tidal pool back when we lived in a beach suburb, before we bought the house and moved out west. I swam about the same time every morning, but the experience was always unique – there were so many factors that varied in addition to the routine elements, that it could never be similar to any other day.

A tidal pool is an ocean-side rock pool, where the water is naturally circulated by sea water. The sides are usually made of concrete, and the pools typically have an open “fence” of poles with safety chains on the ocean-sides, to give swimmers something to grab hold of should they accidentally be dragged out at high tide. There are many tidal pools in Sydney.

At high tide, the pool water flows in and out over the edges. High tide water is fresh & clean & full of interesting ocean odours, and there is a fantastic interplay between the restless surface of the water; the sound of the waves and seabirds, the sight of the ocean and all its lively waves filling the huge space between the pool and the horizon; the salty wind; and the sky.

Sometimes the water surface was so calm it acted as a mirror for the sky; at other times it was wrinkled and stirred, warning about troubling weather ahead. The water always told a story about what had happened and what was to come next; and it was never the same story.

My morning routine was to wake up painfully early, drive to the pool and park my car, go for my morning jog on the coastal walkway, come back & pick up the towel from the car, swim in the pool, drive home, have a hot shower, eat breakfast, dress up & drive to work. That start carried me through the long, dreadful days in the office. Well it didn’t actually, but it helped. I was dead tired most of the time though (mainly due to people stress, confusion and boredom at work).

 
Ocean pool communities

There were of course fish in the pool, and crabs along the edges. The tidal pool was an ecological community and I didn’t want to be part of that, so I never touched the bottom with my feet. There was at some stage rumoured to be a Blue Ringed Octopus sitting on a shelf-like cracked concrete wall (there was indeed a kitten-sized octopus sitting there, I saw it); a spot to carefully avoid. A pair of long-necked hunting seabirds would sit on the tall street lamp between their hunts, dripping wet, and a small penguin-like seabird dived in the pool after fish when there wasn’t too much human traffic in the water. A rumour had it that it had bitten a man in the knee under the water once, presumably by mistake.
 
The pool had a human community of regular morning swimmers, some of whom came all year around like me. These people – young and old, mostly old – recognised me and smiled and said good morning. Many of them seemed like very happy people, and many had been swimming there for decades. Most of these people swam “labs”; so they swam back and forth from end to end, often a specified number of times and typically in only one swim-style (e.g. crawl or breast strokes), most with their heads above the water, moving steadily forward in straight lines till they reached the end, then turned and repeated, over and over.
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History of My Blog (formerly named Mados)

Mados is a species of fish, a virtual name inherited from when I created the blog years ago planning to use it to share underwater photos from snorkelling. I still love water, but my blog is not at all about fish*.

After its failed underwater photography mission, my blog went through different phases: workplace sociology, virtual freelance work skills development, entrepreneurship. Most were brief fads because I wasn’t genuinely interested in them, but invented them as utility justifications for writing a blog, when I really felt I ought to adult up and spend my time more usefully, like: find a job or freelance work.

More than anything, I’ve tried to use it as a tool to obtain skills or knowledge which I could be useful to try to solve my chronic employment/income problems. For a long time its purpose was to motivate myself to learn and practice skills that would empower me to work freelance online, such as:

 

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I display it as an image to avoid attracting crawlers to the S-words.

 
(I’ve long ago deleted the few posts I managed to write about the above shown types of topics, because I felt they sounded stilted and fake. Same with some of my early general business posts)

It was not a bad strategy. I did learn things about freelance work, improved my English writing skills (I think) and cured myself of Telephobia, but didn’t manage to build the fundament for succeeding as self-employed: motivation for writing product marketing content, superficial bulk articles, and other sellable freelancer services. Utility just isn’t a powerful enough engine for me.

Initially when I wrote about self-employment, I carefully filtered out my mental challenges. I either didn’t write anything personal at all, or I kept it superficial, jovial, mentioning only aspects that I thought were “business relevant”. My mental situation peaked out indirectly through my general employment situation and the challenges I was trying to work on (the reason I needed the utility focus), but otherwise my mental reality was largely muted in my writing; too weird to name, to nameless to describe.
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Moments that Lack Glue

 

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About mental coherence & social relationships

This post is inspired by Be here, now by Aspienaut (AKA Paul C Siebenthal) and especially these words:

“I’m aware that I see my life as a series of individual moments and memories that are boxed up, disconnected and independent of each other. I do not think of my experiences or life as a narrative or experiential arc; rather a series of disconnected random events.”

Be here, now by Aspienaut.

Paul is taking about the lack of coherence in how he perceives his life over time; that moments are like separate worlds rather than a coherent story. (I recommend to go and read the whole post!) I can very much relate, and this is a continuation of my comment on Paul’s post.

I wrote about my own issues with mental coherence in Important types of Coherence, which is a sort of personal essay/brainstorm about mental coherence, and how lack of it causes mental difficulties.

Here I’d like to focus on the impacts on social relationships. I know of no particular research to back up my reflections; it is totally my own subjective introspective thoughts and may apply to only me (but I doubt it).
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