|Joey's thoughts were bouncing off each other, as she sat in the salon, trying to remember what she had been planning to do.|
Had she taken the tablets? She really couldn't remember, but it didn't matter too much. Really. After all she was so much better, so much more herself.
She had even coped with Phil's polio, and the months it took to get her daughter back. Joey was too busy to worry as much as she naturally wanted to about it, and everyone was helping her to cope, so she just felt that she HAD to fight it, had to keep her spirits up. That included taking the tablets to keep herself level, keep herself going. Now, as the immediate state of emergency was over, she drifted a little, forgot a few times. Nothing much happened.
The tablets sometimes were so dulling, she was tempted to only take them occasionally. It was quite a thrill, to get that sense of racing thoughts, of invincibility back for a bit. But she was still in control. Wasn't she?
She looked out over the mountains, trying to focus, trying to think. She was coping, after all, had even begun to get a bit more active again, to launch herself back into the school. She had enjoyed taking the two new girls, Sam and Sammy under her wing, although she hadn't realised all of the jealousy she had caused in the school by her actions. She just saw the immediate benefit, the distraction for Nina, the little smiles that Phil gave when spending time with the girls. It was good for Phil to get used to people again, after all, and she really had taken a shine to young Samaris Davies.
Sammy seemed a nice enough girl as well. Although she had really caused an upset with her trying a far too dangerous ski run. The prefects had not been happy with the result of that, for they lost a degree of the freedom and trust they had had before.
Con had been so upset about that event, poor lamb. She had been away in her dream world, had momentarily lost the battle with her own creative, overactive mind.
Now that Joey knew herself better, she worried on occasion about all of the Triplets. Len least of all, for she was so much more like her father in many ways. Len did worry though, about everything, seemed to feel responsible for everyone, and Joey hated to see that, knew that it could well have come from those earlier days when she was unable to be full mother to them, erratically flying between scheme after scheme, writing, school events, social visits. Then long periods of immobility, of being unable to function. She felt that she owed Len, was determined to stop the girl worrying.
Margot, with her temper, her inability at times to control her emotions, worried Joey more. But she was improving, and seemed to be able to fight her black moods and her "devil" so much better. Margot had a hard path, and Joey just prayed that it was only from being a teenager, not her own illness starting to show in her precious daughter.
It was Con who worried Joey and Jack the most however. She was so like her mother, and now that Joey understood herself a little better, she wondered, feared, that Con was starting the slow slide that she herself had followed. Her daughter's overactive brain already had given her vivid nightmares, sleepwalking and her disconnection to the world made her abrupt, even rude. Even now she was struggling with interacting with those around her as much as she ought to, although she really was trying to wake up, and Joey knew that. She felt that at least this second child of hers had a chance, at least people were looking our for things with her, helping her to build tools to cope.
Con's recent confession had been a hard one, tearfully explaining her own part in letting Samantha go up to the ski run, acknowledging that it was because her mind was only partly in the real world.
"Will I ever be able to control them?" she had asked, just as she had earlier asked her Aunty Hilda.
Joey's heart went out to her, she knew only too well what the girl meant, those flights of fancy that could overtake the minds of creative people like them. She wanted to say "Don't worry, it'll go, you'll be fine" but she knew she had to be strong, give her daughter tools to cope with the world.
If she could have been sure that she could keep her near, protected, then she would have much preferred to answer differently, tell Con not to worry. Joey had to listen to her fear, her worry that next time Con or someone else could be badly hurt. She had to make the girl battle for concentration, be aware of the world; For the world would keep on going around her, however much her brain didn't want to join in.
Joey's thoughts raced around her brain, battling with each other to win. She was awash with buzzing plans, disconnected memories and moments of confusion. She could dimly feel that she was not right, but she was too busy to worry about that now, she had to get on, to be strong for her children. She had been able recently to not rely on Hilda, Jack and Matey's watchfulness, had been able to be herself again, and she was determined to keep level, to cope with things. If she could just calm her brain down a little bit she would be back to that capable strong Joey. She felt so frustrated that she couldn't quite battle through the thoughts at the moment. She didn't want people to know she wasn't coping. She knew why her brain was buzzing, and it wasn't only the forgotten tablets. She was trying to run from the deep fear within her, the feeling of helpless panic that she was living with all the time, the sense of dread, that little Phil was fading, would be lost to them. She had taken a step backwards, was barely eating, and Joey was at her wits end trying to work out what to do about it.
Jack was firm about thinking it only to be a temporary set back, probably due to the weather, but Joey wasn't so sure. Phil had cried when coaxed to walk, and she just wasn't right. Joey wasn't sure whether to trust her instincts as a mother, or whether her own illness was making her worry more, and she just didn't know how to cope, what to do.
Her brain wandered again, and time passed in that strange half fast, half terribly slow way that happened when she wasn't feeling right. She was raised from her mess of thoughts by a knock, and then she was called to the door. A package from Nina Rutherford? Joey stared at it for the longest time, before realising that it was the flute that she was lending to Samaris Davies.
Joey's eyes lit up. The one thing Phil was determined about was wanting Sam to play with her. She now had an excuse for Sam to visit, and it would be a distraction for her as well.
With Joey, to think was to act. The boost from the idea sent her rushing over and sharing a surprised Hilda's elevenses. The head asked why, and was told over brightly "Ask nae questions and ye'll be tellt nae lees"
When Joey arrived, Hilda's greeting was not exactly a welcome, for as Joey entered, she threw off her big coat and tossed it down on the nearest chair.
"Joey Maynard! You careless creature! Your cloak is wet and you've flung it down on top of my Sixth form essays! Take it up and put it on one of the hangers in that cupboard. Really! At your age you might have more sense!"
"Sorry!" said Joey with her usual insouciance. "There! Will that do you?"
Her friend looked at her sharply . There was something not quite normal in her manner. All Miss Annersley said was, "Quite; but why not do it in the first place?"
"Didn't think about it. Hark! I hear footsteps! Miggi with elevenses, no doubt. Can't anyone ever teach that girl to walk like a Christian and not trample like an elephant?"
As Miggi appeared at that moment with a tray, the Head had no chance to reply to this sally. Joey bestowed a vivid smile on the maid.
Miggi returned the smile, set down the tray and departed. The Head poured out the chocolate and handed her cup. "Wrap yourself round that," she commanded. Then, as her fingers touched Joey's, "Joey ! You're like ice! Pull up your chair to the pipes and get yourself warmed. You'll be down with a chill next!"
Determined on her course, heated by the rush of the plan, Joey shrugged this away with a "Not I! It's only my hands. I didn't bother with gloves or mitts. Otherwise I'm as warm as toast. Thanks Hilda! This looks just the job."
She sipped her chocolate and started muttering about Karen's pastries and stealing her for the school. The head looked at her and wondered what was going on. It had been some time since she had seen Joey like this, rambling and disconnected, over bright and falsely happy.
"Now stop talking nonsense and eat your pastry." she said.
Joey bit into her pastry and munched thoughtfully for a minute. "Hilda, I want Samaris Davies, please"
"At this hour of the day? Certainly not!"
"Oh, Hilda, I thought you lo-oved me!" Joey wailed.
"Not to that extent," Miss Annersley said firmly. "Anyhow, why do you want her?"
As Joey explained, the head was watching her, noting the flushed cheeks, eyes unable to settle, and Joey's determination to get Sam over to Freudesheim to hand the flute over. This wasn't just about giving the girl the flute.
Finally Joey admitted it."Besides I have another reason for wanting her at Freudesheim."
Something in her tone put Hilda Annersley on the alert.
"Phil wants her."
The Head's face changed. "Nothing wrong with Phil, is there?"
"No-o- at least I hope not. She's not been so well this last day or two."
The forced gaiety had left Joey's voice. "I really am worried about her, Hilda. She's lost her appetite and has to be coaxed to take every scrap of food. What's worse, she doesn't want to walk. She cried when I tried to persuade her to yesterday."
Hilda frowned. It was hard to know if this was a serious need for Phil, or if Joey was over reacting. She asked what Jack thought, and Joey admitted that he was thinking that it was was only a temporary set back.
Hilda knew that she needed to be gentle. Joey had done so well, fighting her depression, beating the imbalance that made her unable on occasion to keep things in perspective. It was only understandable that she might have a reaction to the terrible illness Phil had so barely survives. Hilda wanted to help, but wasn't sure the best way to do so, and wished that Jack or Matey were there to help.
She started to try to calm her friend. "Jack is probably right, I think. Oh, I know it's terribly worrying -"
"Worrying? It's driving me up the wall! We so nearly lost her and now, just when we all thought she was making such good headway this has to happen. Why should it? We've always taken such care of our babies. The rest are sturdy enough - even Chas now. Phil was as bonny and well as could be until last spring. But first mastoid and then polio! My poor baby! I'd give ten years of my life to see her fit again!" Joey's voice shook and her friend sprang up and came to put an arm around her.
Hilda could see that the younger woman was only just holding herself together. She knew she had to get her to see the positive side of things. She knew that it was hardly rational to take Samaris out, but it would do no great harm to the girl to go over for a short time, and it might make all the difference to Joey, and more importantly to Phil. The stressed state that Joey was in was very likely to be transmitting itself to the girl, and anything that could relieve the mother might help the daughter pull ahead. She chose her words carefully.
"Joey, for Phil's own sake you must keep up your heart. Oh I know it's easy to talk and this relapse is horribly disheartening, but Jack has said he thinks it is only temporary. Probably when this wretched weather clears up Phil will go ahead again. Meantime if Phil wants Samaris, she shall have her - as far as I can manage it. Let me look at the timetable."
She checked the noticeboard, and agreed to let Sam come over after her needlework that evening. Hilda looked at Joey, but could see that the irrational fear about her daughter had clouded everything. She resolved to make sure that Samaris was accompanied, ideally by Gwyneth. She hoped and prayed that this was not a full relapse for Joey. However even through the irrationality, there was a difference. This Joey knew her faults, was trying to ask for help, trying to find a solution. Hilda had to respond gently, keep Joey from any more despair.
"I can't do more today, Joey. Samaris's people sent her to us for her education."
Joey looked up. She had gained control of herself, but her friend saw the terror in her eyes, and knew how bravely she was trying to suppress it.
"I've sent Cecil to Biddy's for the moment. Geoff is too little to be badly affected if - if anything should go badly wrong, and Phil would miss him. But Cecil is nearly 6 and she's such a sensitive scrap. By the way, don't let my other girls know about this, will you?"
"Certainly not. Now finish that chocolate - I'm filling up your cup, for that lot must be lukewarm by this time. Take another pastry. Yes. Joey; I mean it. For Phil's sake you must eat properly. You never know when she may need all the strength you can give her."
More was understood than was said in those few words, on both sides. Hilda knew that Joey had arranged for Cecil to be elsewhere just in case she couldn't cope herself, and Joey got the message that Hilda was sending - that she had to look after herself, in order to be there for her children. They spoke a little more, and then Joey made to leave.
"I - I feel a little better. Thanks, Hilda; you always do me good. Don't tell Sam about all this by the way. She mayn't notice how the baby's gone back and if she knew it might make her self conscious. Thanks a lot for everything."
She went off through the French Window in the salon, and hurried back to Freudesheim, feeling, as she had truly said, better for the brief visit. Left alone, Miss Annersley went to find Matey and confer with her. What Matey had to say gave the head a measure of hopefulness, and when she sent for Samaris at the end of the morning she was her usual self.
The plan worked, and Samaris helped to cheer not just Joey but Phil, Geoff and Matey up, with her first attempts at the flute, and the resulting effect on Bruno, who howled and then ran away.
Matey had gone over to check on Joey, and was glad to see that she was seeming more herself with every chuckle from Phil. They sat downstairs while Sam entertained the twins upstairs. Matey cautioned Jo again that Samaris could not visit often, and Joey understood.
"I'll make Phil understand that Sam playing to them is a treat for good little girls who eat properly and can only happen now and then. Oh Gwyn! If this should prove to be a real start once more!"
The soft black eyes were swimming with tears. Matey nodded. "Quite likely it is," she said. "Don't fret Joey. I think this last phase has only been a temporary setback, and now that Phil has been jolted out of it, she will go on. Don't cry you silly girl! Be thankful!"
"Oh I am!" Joey mopped her eyes. "I've felt so disheartened and anxious these last few days. Sorry Gwynneth ! I didn't mean to treat you to a scene. I must be tired I think."
Again, more was said than the words. Joey knew she had the support of her friends, that they wouldn't desert her for losing control slightly, for letting depression win on occasion.
Matey's last words were the most helpful, and Joey held onto them as she went to get some much needed rest.
"I honestly think the worst is over."
As Joey fought her way back to herself, out of the lost time from being immobilized by panic, she finally felt those words to be true. She had beaten a blip, it wasn't a relapse.
The worst was over.
Nothing too different here, but the story wanted to be written! I just want to say, thanks for the praise in the CBB thread (I think from Karita?) it is much appreciated that this version of Joey makes some sense to people., But depression is very different between people and so this portrayal won't always match other's experiences or knowledge of depression / bipolar. I wouldn't want to upset anyone by getting something clinically / practically wrong. It's just a possible version of events.
Author's Chapter Notes:
Bits from Two Sams are in italics.