Upset 1 – It is most upsetting when at the last sip of tea you swallow – instead of that delicious warm soothing waking-up-liquid – you get a large, soggy tea-leaf which reminds you far too much of a crawling insect. You spit it out but the damage is done. It is time to get up.

 Upset 2 – The young woman with sleek dark hair and pink cheeks who is eating an apple reminds me of a friend I no longer see. This friend was not, in the end, a friend to me. Much came between us. There was anger and irritation and mistrust and money. Probably much more. I now wish to forget. But of course my ex-friend no longer resembles the woman eating the apple because many years have passed since the time of our upset and she, like me, is no longer young.

 Crying – Last time I was in London my son was crying. I did not want him to be crying but I had no words for him. He continued his crying but as words do not always help crying I decided to say nothing and to find him a small slice of melon instead.

 Bad mood – The bad mood comes on slowly, like a cold. It’s not a sudden thing like breaking a leg. It is insidious. Quicksand. Thick mud. A large, swallowing creature. There is no cure. But it is a temporary upset. This I know. But an upset it is.

Getting even – I smile and try to be generous. However, I am not thinking generous thoughts but dark and bitter ones like the dregs of coffee that swill around my sink. I smile and talk of my project and ask about yours while my dark and bitter-swilling thoughts say to me, ‘this is the time to get even.’ Perhaps though I don’t want ‘even’ – I want victory.

 Nerves – My nerves this morning are like two pigeons caught on a railway line. No, like a cat fallen in a swollen stream. A blade of grass waiting for the stamp of a boot to fall. Yet I have nothing to fear but what is unknown to me.

 Fury – No one will let me speak I will not speak I withdraw into silence punctuated by the slamming of doors, sudden swearing and furious walking

 Worries – The things I worry about are numerous. In the night these worries are large like mammoths although they can be small, creeping and poisonous. In the daylight hours my worries often go to sleep but there are times when they are persistent like buzzing mosquitoes.  When this happens there is nothing to do but wait for the swarm to pass.

Slam – I slammed the door and the cups bounced angrily on the shelves but I did not care for the cups or you, I only cared for my own anger which had grown like an ash cloud from a volcano and threatened to choke me.

Anger – After I was angry I was quiet and small like a mouse caught behind a wainscot. But then the house kept squeezing me and wouldn’t let go. I couldn’t breathe, I was gasping because the house had strong muscles like a gigantic python. Every time I tried to escape it squeezed harder and so I had no choice but to stay where I was.

I have closed all the doors and locked the windows. You will not find me.

After I went away and a person needed my attention I put my attention to another cause and when I came home no one cared about my causes or attentions but only wanted a clean house and food in the cupboard.

Train – I wish I were not on this train travelling through the bruised winter night. I do not know where I would rather be. It is not the journey that is the problem, it is my own black heart. 

Nice – I try to be nice. Oh nice. Isn’t nice pink and fluffy like slippers? A cuddly toy? Cup-cakes? It never offends. But in trying to be nice I lose my niceness and scream. Yes, yes, I say, my smile a pretence of itself.

Butter paper – Sometimes I spread myself too thin. It’s like scraping butter from the wrapper when the butter is all but gone. When I spread myself thin like this I do not have enough time or energy for anything and in trying to be all things to all, my friends and loved ones end up discarded like the butter wrapping without the butter.

Grey – The summer day is grey. There is no colour to it but I do not mind. It matches my thoughts which have lost their lustre and are now like grey dust inside my brain.

Sometimes nothing will do – not the smell of coffee or the starlings chattering in the tree or the late winter sunlight or the first snowdrop pushing through the cold earth – no today, none of it will do.

When I am depressed the world is a catastrophic place filled with the most terrible human suffering, calamitous events and human greed. When I am depressed my face is ugly and scattered with spots and I cannot see one redeeming quality in my person. When I am not depressed the world is still full of suffering and I still have spots and a sagging chin but now I see the swallows high up in the sky and the buttercups bursting their tiny yellow lights through the grass and even my mother’s tea bags taste passably of tea.


The home of writer Bronwen Griffiths