A couple of people have asked for more detail about the Trout. I wanted to avoid sinking into a catalogue of woe, but I suppose some detail does help to visualise it, so I’ll tell you the gist: my mother’s milk was insufficient and she had bad advice. I don’t know how it took so long for anyone to insist I should be on the bottle, but one detail is that I was a pound under birth weight at four weeks. It was a maiden aunt who insisted on the bottle; whether that was before or after we had gone home I don’t know – I don’t know how long my mother was in the nursing home before being discharged.

But it’s interesting that I’ve had trouble with healthcare professionals all my life. Really inexplicable hostility, especially from nurses. Again, I’m not going to catalogue them here.

And I’ve had trouble with groups, from the school playground to the Quakers to those ‘safe to be yourself’ therapy groups. Something deep inside me expects to be ignored or rejected, not heard. I know this is an issue faced by a lot of people, but yelling my head off for four weeks to no avail while the brain is trying to form connections can’t have helped.

Sometimes, even now approaching my eighth decade, I wonder if I have a self-cancelling voice.

Now a word of advice. I know it’s awkward being around a person who is going through something you don’t know a lot about. This is partly why I’ve decided on this sabbatical. Not that it makes a lot of difference; I don’t go out much anyway. But I have messaged some friends about what I’m doing and there’s been almost no response.

So the next time you encounter a person with an embarrassing problem like this, my advice is: a simple ‘good luck’ or ‘hope you feel better soon’ goes a very long way.

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