Memories are made of this…

I have crystal clear memories of many early events in my life. I recall breaking my arm at the age of around twenty months. Clambering onto my parents’ bed desperate for a glimpse of my new baby brother. Babies were often born at home in those days. Falling off the bed was inevitable and the next thing i knew I was leaving hospital with a plaster cast on my left arm.

At around the age of three I am sitting on my mother’s knee and being rocked back and forth. The room is lit by a dim light. The table lamp, a Dutch clog with a buff-coloured sail that makes it look like an old sailing ship, sits on top of the TV set and all is calm and still but for the ticking of the cuckoo clock. I feel very warm and tired wrapped in my mother’s arms and, as I raise my eyes to look above me, I can see hundreds of tiny cowboys and Indians stampeding across the ceiling.

Some time later, I remember being taken to hospital, walking along a cold corridor with my brothers traipsing in formation behind me. I am taken into a room where a man, wearing a white coat, puts a strange contraption on my head that I can only describe as a metal headband with lots of curlers attached. In those days, when women styled their hair, they used curlers and that’s what it looked like from my child’s perspective.

EEG 1961 – electroencephalogram
This is the first time I’ve seen it since I was a child and it’s just as I recall.

The diagnosis by the consultant was that I had, ‘an overactive brain’ and from that time onwards, I felt I was treated differently to my brothers and sisters. It’s difficult to explain how or why I felt different. Maybe it was the seemingly constant references to my ‘over active brain’ – or how quickly I learned to read and write, or how clever I was at school, or how I excelled in all things! Music, art, sport, mathematics, science, languages – nothing was beyond my capability…

But, nobody likes a smart arse! The English prefer the underdog to the Winner. Success creates jealousy and envy in others – mostly adults. Children learn from adults how to be mean, petty and cruel…

I think my depression probably began as early as these memories. Instead of feeling happy about coming first – I felt I had to apologise for the ones who came second or third or last. The more I came first, the more it was expected I should; so the more pressure I was under to be the best at everything and, as everyone knows, you can’t be the best at everything forever!

4 thoughts on “Memories are made of this…

  1. This is so poignant! I remember you being so good at everything at school but you were never showy off about it. You were happy, bubbly and friendly and obv very good at hiding any insecurities. It makes me feel sad to know how unhappy you must have been sometimes without anyone ever knowing it!


    1. These events were before I even started at Junior school Janet. But I still have to Acknowledge what I know is at the root of my depression – I just can’t do it yet! 😳


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