Sometimes, being the Human Passenger piloted by my brain can be an exhausting experience.  It’s a bit like being ruled by a hyperactive toddler who’s been fed sugar, caffeine and been given a kitten.  When I was visiting Oldest Daughter in Durham, my train journey, that I’d hoped would be a quiet, peaceful few hours, was dominated by my brain going “Ooh!!  Sheep”. “Ooooh!!  Horses!”, “I wonder who lives at that farm?”, “That man’s wearing an odd scarf…”, I wish I owned an alpaca.  Alpacas are SO cool!”, and “I wonder how any people have sat in this seat and what they were thinking?” as I took in the scenery and my fellow passengers.

My brain never rests.  At the risk of sounding like I have a problem, my brain talks to me all day – everything I do/say/eat/ is accompanied by an inner monologue, comparable to a nagging old lady, pointing out what I should/shouldn’t do, suggesting how I could do things better or just smirking wryly at me and shaking its head.

It’s a particular problem at night.  I would love to have a full night’s restful sleep.  I’ve tried everything.  Soothing baths.  No screens.  Sleeping tablets.  Herbal remedies.  Drinking.  Not drinking. Magnesium supplements.  Lavender oil.  Exercise (I was really desperate that day).  Meditation. Nothing works.   My nights go something like this:


Me: snuggles down in comfortable bed and tries to relax

Brain: “Don’t forget you need to sign Youngest Son’s school trip permission tomorrow….”

Me: “I know!  It’s on the kitchen working top.  I’ll do it.”

Brain: “just saying….”

Me: gradually drifts off.  Starts dreaming about being in Singapore, but being unable to find Orchard Road, despite knowing it’s just down a side street.  Every road I go down takes me further away.  I keep trying to retrace my steps, but every time I do Orchard Road is more distant.  I can see it the Ion building, but still can’t reach it.”

Brain:” Well. THAT’S got to mean something!”

Me (waking with a jolt)): “What??”

Brain: “being lost, not being able to find something that’s right in front of you.  You dream this a lot you know”

Me: “You’re in charge?  You literally put this dream in my head?  Why are you asking ME what it means? “

Brain (shrugging): “I dunno.  Who do you think I am?  Freud?  I don’t have the answers.  I just, you know, think stuff…”

Me: turns pillow over so it’s nice and cold and settles down again.  Starts drifting off


Brain: “I think you should sleep on your other side”

Me (opening eyes): “Eh??”

Brain: “the pillow’s colder if you turn over.”

Me: “but I’m warm and cosy…. But, yeah, maybe I’ll move”

Brain: “told ya so….”


Me: has dream where E and are back together.  Everything is normal but it isn’t.  I am aware that E is with P, but somehow, he’s back with me.  I know I have to tell him to go, that this is wrong, that I don’t want him here, but there’s never the right time or words.  Something is screaming at me that this isn’t right, but I can’t change it.  I wake up feeling sad and angry.

Brain: “FFS, I was trying to sleep!”

Me: “Give me a nice dream then!”

Brain: “It’s YOUR subconscious.  You made it.  It likes to play.  I’m dealing with all sorts of shit here.  Your insecurities, your worries, your hopes, your fears.  Your, frankly insane, subconscious is just one of the things I have to manage.  I can’t control it all the time!”

Me: “Right.  OK.  It’s MY fault? Thanks a bunch!”

Brain (sniffily): “there’s no need to be aggressive…”


Me: finally drifts back off to sleep.  Has dream where I need to pack for a flight that’s leaving for Singapore at 6pm.  All of a sudden there are loads of things I have to do before I can pack my case.  I need to clean out a cupboard, which seems to keep filling with rubbish.  I need to pack the kids’ cases too.   Then I realise that the kids are out until 4pm and we need to leave at 3pm, and I have to find their passports and my passport.  In the meantime, I realise that I haven’t organised for anyone to feed the pets and I don’t have a spare key to give anyone.  I’m about to sort pet sitting when I realise that I haven’t booked a hotel in Singapore.  The kitchen is full of dishes that need doing before I leave.  The clothes I need to pack and in the washing machine and won’t be dry by the time we need to leave.  My case is still unpacked.  The kids are still not home.  I realise that Oldest Daughter is still in Durham and somehow, I have to get hold of her to get her on the 6pm flight, but it’s now 3pm and she’s at least 3 hours away.  I’ve forgotten to book a taxi to the airport and it’s Friday afternoon and the motorways are rammed. The kitchen needs cleaning.  I haven’t made my bed.  I’ve forgotten to book holiday time off work.  The phone rings and it’s something else I need to do.  Everything is a mess.  I need to sort it all out before I can do anything.  The phone rings again…


Me: wakes up, heart pounding.  Tries to shake off dream, but still have a feeling that I’ve forgotten something.  Tries to settle down.

Brain: “BINS!!!”

Me (groggy): “Wtf?”

Brain: “don’t forget to put the bins out!”

Me: “That’s Monday!!!!  It’s Wednesday today!”

Brain: “I was just reminding you not to forget next Monday!”

Me: “ffs!”

Me: Tries to drift off to sleep again…

Brain: “E is a wanker”

Me: “Yeah”

Brain: “I mean a total, complete and utter wanker”

Me: “Yeah.”

Brain; “I mean.  How can he do this to his kids?  How can he?  How can he do this to you?  I just don’t get it?”

Me: “No” Tries to sleep again

Brain: “I mean why?  What did you ever do to deserve this?  It’s not fair!”

Me: keeps trying to sleep

Brain: “I mean, seriously, how can anybody be so completely and utterly fucking nasty?”

Me (awake now): goes over and over what happened with E.  Starts feeling anxious, guilty, sad and fretful.

Brain: “Whoa!  Your heart is pounding!  Calm the fuck down!”

Me: “You started it!”

Brain: “It’s YOUR subconscious remember?”

Me: “So it’s my fault? “

Brain: “………….”


Me: in middle of dream where I am a witch living in the highlands of Scotland.  I seem to be having trouble doing up my skirt.  It keeps coming undone and the ties keep coming lose.

Brain: “Remember that really embarrassing thing when you were 17?  You were such an arse….”

Me: “Really?  You’re going to do this now?”

Brain: “Also, you really shouldn’t drink so much wine?”

Me: hides head under pillow

Brain: “You could stand to lose a few pounds too”

Me: curls up and tries to sleep

Brain: “Oooh.  I’ve just remembered.  That time you got drunk made a complete idiot of yourself…”

Me: “Why can’t you remember nice stuff??”

Brain: “This is more fun…”


Me: starts feeling sleepy

Brain: “you need a wee….”

Me: “nah, I can wait until I get up.  I’m so warm, so cosy……”

Brain: “you need a wee….”

Me: “honestly, I can wait…”

Brain: “you need a wee…”

Me: gets up and goes for a wee.  Gets back into bed and tries to relax.

Brain: “That thing that person said yesterday.  That was really horrible.  Also, that customer you dealt with at work – what an arsehat!”

Me: pulls duvet up to ears and tries to sleep

Brain: “They were both totally out of order.  I understand why you were so cross”

Me: runs over and over what was, said who said it and how horrible it was.  Feels angry, worried and upset

Brain: “now we’re cooking”


Me: has dream where I am telling E exactly what I think of him.  I’m eloquent.  I’m angry, I say everything he needs to hear.  I’m magnificent.

Me: “OW OW OW!!! WTF?”

Brain: “What now?!”

Me: “my hand really hurts!”

Brain: “Oh yeah.  This is the time of night I test your pain reflexes.  You did way too much typing yesterday.  Think you have a touch of RSI.  You really should get a proper wrist rest you know”

Me: “FFS! It’s 5am!  I have to get up in an hour!  Couldn’t you do this in the day?”

Brain (shrugs): “I’m too busy during the day.  You’re quite difficult to pilot you know!”

Me: “………”

Brain: “Your ankles are next.  It’s nearly menopause time you know – restless leg syndrome and all that.”


Me: finally drifts off into a deep sleep


Me: gets up feeling weary and anxious

Brain: “don’t forget to sign that form for Youngest Son….”


2 thoughts on “Brain

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