CLAPPER BRIDGES AND BODY DISMORPHIA

Yesterday Hub and I decided to take a break from our multifarious activities, and headed into the uplands of Dartmoor, with  map in hand, determined to track down two ancient clapper bridges.

A ‘clapper’ is a large flat slab of stone which is laid on posts to create the bridge.  Postbridge on Dartmoor boasts the oldest intact clapper bridge in the country. ‘Its slabs are over four metres (13 ft) long, two metres (6 ft 6 in) wide and weigh over eight tons each, making the bridge passable to a small cart. It was first recorded in 1380 and was built to facilitate the transportation of Dartmoor tin by pack horses to the stannary town of Tavistock.’  (Thanks, Wikipedia.)

We decided to fortify ourselves with lunch against the cold wind and grey day.  The pub we chose was empty apart from a young person of indeterminate gender who greeted us very warmly and suggested we sit near the fire – but mind the dog, he said – as we nearly fell over a huge hairy hound asleep near the next table.  The lad took our orders for homemade soup and crusty bread, and then Hub headed to the Gents.

While he was out my host became very chatty, and before long I had learned that he had suffered from depression at different periods of his life.  I would say he was barely in his 20s.  We talked about the different ways people dealt with depression.  He said he was over his, and that he had not needed counselling because he had taken refuge in his art studies.

He then revealed that he suffered from body dysmorphia, and we agreed that it was much healthier to talk about it rather than pretend it didn’t exist, and that people didn’t like talking about it because it made them feel uncomfortable.  He was clearly making real efforts to come to terms with the sort of person he feels he is, and a huge challenge it is.

At the end I told him it was lovely meeting him (tho’ Hub wasn’t too keen on having a running commentary on somebody else’s mental health problems whilst eating soup …) and asked his name.

For some reason, he has found his way into my heart and on to my mind.  He reminds me of a chrysalis, where the inner person is struggling to free himself of other peoples’ preconceptions – and maybe some of his own, too.  He has been trying to face up to himself, tackling issues as they emerge and learning about himself in the process.  He struck me as very vulnerable.

It occurred to me that he, and others like him, need people and events to be like bridges for them to cross over the wilds of life and reach the other side safely.

I  hope he makes it.

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The clapper bridge at Postbridge on Dartmoor

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6 thoughts on “CLAPPER BRIDGES AND BODY DISMORPHIA

  1. Ahhhh, I hope he makes it too. The world seems a much harder place to live in for young people, it seemed easier when I was young, social media seems to create so many additional problems…..
    A lovely post, and wow, those bridges are astonishing! xxx

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  2. Clapper Bridge first: it was an eye-opener, I expected to hear about, and see something quite different. Your picture shows its fording capabilities. It is obvious to see why its build strength has lasted the test of time. People had to get those heavy support rocks and that lump of fording stone into position from somewhere else. What a building feat.

    Analogy: apropos my fording and strength comments, your thinking processes about the host’s future good mental health are equally as bold as the solid foundations stones and features of the bridge.

    Your initial description- a person of indeterminate gender, seems at odds with your hopes, hopes I would add, I share.

    Empathic people do attract. Hopefully, the young man benefitted from his chat with you and will continue to do so.

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    1. We amused ourselves pondering how our ancestors could have got those enormously heavy stones, so well-cut, into place. They must have been dragged presumably by animals, with people up to their waists in the river – although there’s no way of knowing how deep it was then.
      I think my first impression of indeterminate gender was borne out by his subsequent admission of body dysmorphia. I appreciate your comments, thanks.

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  3. There is still a great awkwardness is speaking and/or hearing mental health issues, a big barrier to overcome. I still cannot do it with any degree of success, I guess it is because I have to admit failing at some very fundamental simple things of life. There is less stigmatising or stereotyping when admitting, I never took to algebra, or Shakespeare confuses me, but declaring, I cannot put on my shoes or I cannot have soup I dribble it everywhere, even if you do have a good reason.

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    1. I’m sure it must be so difficult especially when you don’t know people. Although I hope you know the sort of people who simply accept and love you for who you are and understand the challenges.

      Liked by 1 person

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