Mr Pip is a particularly persistent and rather pernicious fellow. He’ll turn up out of the blue and just sit there, tapping one foot against the chair leg in an irritating manner whilst making unhelpful remarks in a thin whining voice. At other times, he’ll follow me around, reminding me of certain facts and then repeating them again and again and again, until I feel like screaming and pushing him down a steep flight of stairs. Mr Pip wears a dark brown pin-striped suit, the trousers of which don’t quite meet his black socks (‘half mast trousers’, as my sister would describe them). He has neatly combed back hair, small grey eyes, pale and slightly sunken cheeks, and thin lips with those lines between his top lip and nose which are generally achieved by smoking copious amounts of cigarettes. (Yuk!) As if this wasn’t off-putting enough, he exudes a rather stale smell and he has extraordinary long and worryingly well-manicured finger nails (‘loidee nails’, one of my friends would call them). I suspect he grew them on purpose so that he can occasionally prod me with them.
It was actually my Gran who originally introduced me to Mr Pip. Following my A-levels, I lived with my grandparents for a year while I worked to earn money to get me through university. One sunny Saturday morning, I came across my Gran sitting on the bench just outside the back door, gazing across the garden with a faraway look in her eyes. I sat down to join her and after a few minutes of silent staring she announced with a sigh, “I’m feeling a bit pippy today.” Naturally, I enquired what she meant by this, and she explained that it was a term she and her brother used when they were feeling a bit low. “We’d call it, ‘feeling pippy’, or one of us would say to the other, ‘I’ve got the pip'”, she explained. After this little conversation, we got into the habit of going for a walk whenever one of us was feeling a bit pippy. We’d head out across the fields and usually end up exploring Brookwood Cemetery. There’s nothing quite like being faced with the inevitable evidence of your own impending end when struggling to shake of a case of the pips. Of course, fresh air and exercise tends to help, too.
Having experienced a particularly unrelenting visit from Mr Pip some years ago, which took more than fresh air to expel, I feared that perhaps I was simply an easy target for him. However, he seems to visit quite a number of my eye buddies pretty regularly, too. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be an awful lot of literature out there about the emotional aspect of sight loss. (Although, having said that, I did come across an interesting in The Guardian a few weeks ago, which is well worth a read: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/feb/04/moment-changed-me-lose-sight-diabetic-guide-dog.) However, one website which I’ve found to be a helpful source of information is the RNIB, which does cover this issue, pointing out:
“Being diagnosed with an eye condition can be very upsetting. You may find that you are worried about the future and how you will manage with a change in your vision”… “Or you may feel depressed about the changes you are facing. Perhaps you are experiencing feelings of sadness, anger or anxiety and this is affecting you on a day-to-day basis.”
So it seems fairly normal in this situation to experience visits from Mr Pip, but of course the issue is how best to deal with those unwanted invasions. Despite my best efforts to try and push him down the stairs, he remains stubbornly resistant to such attempts, and when I get angry with him he merely lifts his thin lips in a mocking sneer and laughs quietly. He can walk through walls and locked doors, and often appears in the dead of night to perch on the side of my bed and prod me awake, as he seems to have no use for sleep.
I still find that the best method of shaking him off is going for a good stomp through the countryside or along the coast. Another effective method of banishment is the distraction technique. This basically involves doing anything I really enjoy. It’s generally something which takes a reasonable level of concentration but doesn’t require an excessive amount of visual concentration; for example meeting a friend, cooking, baking, or even writing this blog. Listening to music also helps at times. Good mood food also improves matters. I suspect that Mr Pip is a ready meals man, and so the sight of a pile of healthy veg will often sent him running as he wrinkles his nose in disgust. Conveniently, good mood food happens to coincide rather well with good eye food (see https://rdramblings.wordpress.com/2015/08/19/good-eye-food/ for further information on this). Sometimes, as a method of ridding myself of the pesky blighter I’ll actually address him aloud, ordering him, “Sod off, Pipsqueak!”, or occasionally replacing that phrase with an alternative which is far more alliteratively satisfying.