Speaking or writing about crisis when in the midst of it risks coming across like Howard Beale in the film Network. Often in time, with hindsight it is possible to make those same rantings sound like a completely rational response to a world which we feel is coming apart at the seams. It is sometimes difficult to identify the exact origin of the crisis, the single event which triggered it.

In my mind, it is like a cold (probably a poor comparison at present, but it will do). You work and are under stress, but when the pressure is removed, your body temperature drops and you are prone to infection. Perhaps the mind is similarly affected. Similarly infected. When there is no work, then what happens to you? All that accumulated baggage, the cinema ticket stubs and photographic negatives in boxes and drawers conspire against you. They jog your mind into places it should not go. So, it goes. What is the cause of the crisis – the lack of work or the cinema ticket stub?

Think about a new experience you have when alone. It is something so good that you immediately want to share it. You must share it. You pick up the receiver and dial. Who is on the other end? Now imagine that you’ve forgotten that they’re no longer around (for whatever reason). That’s the person you will miss, whose absence will have the greatest affect on your stability. It might not be the person you imagined it would be. Perhaps that’s the person who you’re reminded of by the cinema ticket or the booking slip from the Battersea Arts Centre darkroom that you held onto in a moment of emotional hoarding.

If you choose to do something alone for an extended period then it’s inevitable that the conversations you have with yourself offer the potential for your mind to go places you had never intended. As a younger person you might have chosen something easier, a more immediate self-harm. Perhaps age brings with it a more measured response, a chance to talk yourself down, a drawn-out penance. Like, for example, a long-distance walk with something heavy. It gives you time to doubt your worth, time to question alliances, time to focus on the ones that are no longer there. You may even be joined by someone who should not be there, perhaps the one you might have called to tell them about the day you’d had.

Who is the third who walks always beside you?
When I count, there are only you and I together
But when I look ahead up the white road
There is always another one walking beside you
Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded
I do not know whether a man or a woman
But who is that on the other side of you?
- T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land

Perhaps it is catharsis rather than harm. The question is whether you feel better when it's all over. You probably will, you know.