Thursday, January 31, 2008

My Uterus is Bleeding

I am, actually, menstruating. I have been waiting for this moment for fifty-four blood-less days.

Never have I been so happy to have a period. Never have I written about being happy about the emptying of my innards, or about the emptying of my innards at all, for that matter. If I could kiss my womb, right now, I would. Well, I wouldn't because that would be a vile thing to do and completely impractical, but after ruling out a pregnancy - I was beginning to wonder about more sinister problems that there might be with my reproductive system, like growths the size of grapefruits. Oh how the "delicate" mind can catastrophise so valiantly.

Funny it seems, that after all these years; after all these years of my elders telling me when I hit thirty, my opinions would change about my body and about being a Mother. "Pah!" I thought then, as I (almost) do now. I don't feel thirty, I don't (I realised yesterday with Thursday, who now annoyingly seems to have become Wednesday), actually feel like a woman. I certainly don't think I look like a woman. More like a blob. A sexless blob with hands and a head. That seems to me to be a sad realisation; one only compounded by my looking downwards at my current attire of a man's baggy grey jumper, shapeless shirt and jeans. 

I can still hear the voice of the receptionist at the doctors, gently telling me I wasn't pregnant a few weeks ago. She sounded sad, like the whispering bearer of bad news. I was surprised at her sensitivity. I had, I suppose, subconsciously prepared myself for the "Who's been a silly girl then?" "Look how irresponsible you were" "Look what we are going to have to sort out for you now", home-truth section of the play reenacted from fourteen years ago; instead she treated me like a woman who had lost something - be it hope or confirmation. 

Laterally, as the woman I was when I made that call, I was grateful for her carefulness. It seemed strangely comforting to hear the change in her voice as she told me. Perhaps there should be more of the "woman" and less of the "child" in the 'default' positioning of myself in troublesome times - it doesn't seem to be how the objective see me at all.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

My Eyes, They Are Full of Sand

Do my eyes want to be open right now? No, they do not. They want to be shut tight with me, falling into a beautiful coma-like sleep that I will waken from in about a weeks time, feeling fully refreshed and revitalised. I do not want to be sitting here with the prospect of being up half the night getting organised to get on the train to the North at 7am tomorrow morning. Today like yesterday was full of chores, although I did manage to have a gorgeous hook up with my busy mate who works too hard. She's good to be around and makes me laugh a lot with her stories. I also (weirdly) like looking at her hair ("No! Not weirdly"), which I cut and think "Damn that is a good haircut" every time I see her. I tried to re-create this particular hairstyle on myself and I looked like I had just escaped from an asylum. Gladly it is now growing out and I should have a full head of hair by Springtime.

This morning I had counselling with Thursday. That woman kicks ass. Boom! As another old, bad thought, bites the dust.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A List of Roughly 46 Things That I Did Today

Fed hamster and talked to him incessantly
Made porridge
Drank tea
Smoked rollies and seriously considered quitting
Prepared photos to get printed for Ma’s Birthday
Deleted mobile inbox of all texts from TRD
Got addresses to update organiser
Contemplated my unruly eyebrows
Bought stamps with spades of difficulty
Posted Thank You cards
Took Polaroid camera to friend who is having baby imminently – stopped for lunch and blether
Read on the bus on way to mates house (!)
Booked tickets to Highlands for Ma’s 60th this weekend
Picked up tickets in town
Emailed London mate about visiting in Feb
Met Birthday friend for coffee and cake
Printed pics off for Ma’s birthday @ Boots
Bought presents in department store for other family members
Purchased cheapo bar bell for recently re-pierced belly
Emailed itinerary for family gathering
Had a bath
Spoke to Mam, several times
Spoke to sister, several times
Went to supermarket
Transferred most of TRD pictures, movies, songs, text pictures etc off computer onto disks
Made plan to cancel DVD subscription – I no longer have the time to sit on my arse and watch films
Hung up washing
Called letting agents
Thought about scary life plans
Watched a bit of a shite film and gave up
Got soaked in the rain
Travelled on three busses
Had anxiety attack in town
Swallowed Diazepam
Tried to organise desk
Sandpapered chest of drawers – half heartedly
Filled antique urine sample bottle with flowers
Ate cheese
Trying to stay awake to watch a bit of another (possibly) shit film on TV
Realised how much I like project managing and organising things - Lord
Got told I should be a wedding planner, twice, by two separate people
Thought some more about list homework for appointment tomorrow and shuddered
Peed about four times
Didn't poo because I am so uptight, my bowel has forgotten it is supposed to expel things


Thought about TRD a million times. Arse backwards that is.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Toilet Rolls and Freezer Bags, Do Not A Meal Make

I dodged today like it was an unpleasant meeting with an old aunt, who smelled of parma violets and wanted to ferociously wipe an invisible stain off my cheek with a spit-dampened handkerchief.

The bank called me twice (my answer machine politely spoke to them) to try and make me take out another loan. I love that – they steal my money in various ways, throughout the year, tell me my insurance won’t cover loan payments because I do not have a "serious (enough) illness" and make my life hell, but yet – when they want me to take out another loan, they call me every five minutes, sounding more helpful and smiley than an Airhostess who dropped a pre-flight tab. I have told them I have no income, yet they seem to think I shall be able to pay all this money back, magically. They are evil and dangerous and obviously have no souls; straw filled mattresses with money stuffed inside them sound more appealing by the second. Or cowry shells. Or bartering. Anything other than a bank, preferably.

I did get my food shopping delivered this morning and then realised that I hadn’t actually bought any food. I had decided yesterday that I would go into town to get bread and milk, and then of course I didn’t and then today I didn’t either. So, I looked at my toilet rolls and sandwich bags and tea bags, and thought, “Yay! Good Job. Well done..." Yeah, well done.

On the plus side of the day, (positivism, positivism, positivism) I had a bath and washed my hair. I also had an almost decent amount of sleep last night. I think I got to bed about 2-ish waking at 8-ish. But then, a narcoleptic style, sleep attack, sent me to bed between the hours of 2:00 and 6:00pm. Arse. I knew today was going to be “one of those days”, but I just wish I could have managed to rise above it and get on with my increasingly long “To do list”. As "well meaning" as those nap attacks seem to think they are, they are the complete opposite, and leave me even more stressed out. “Moan, moan, bloody moan” “Fuck off you, you’re not helping”

The birthday saga for Ma is getting more and more complicated by the second. What should have been a pleasant low-key affair is turning into a military operation with (seemingly) me at the helm as operations co-ordinator. It must be because I have a filofax. And a phone and a mouth. Oh, and legs.

Tomorrow I am visiting my lovely friend for lunch - I have to drop off a Polaroid Camera for the imminent birth of her second child. And then I am off to meet a Birthday Girl for tea and cake. That sounds like a pretty fabulous day now doesn’t it? Just wish I hadn’t left all the shitey shopping ‘till last minute.

I haven’t got much further with the “List twenty positive things that disprove your Core Belief System” homework from Thursday. Hard when you are having a shitty time and would rather have a lobotomy or do some DIY trepanning than think of all the things that make you GREAT... I wish I had an enormous bar of pretend chocolate to eat right now. Like a Double Decker or something else ridiculous. A Boost, they are quite bad, or a bar of Nougat. Hmmmm, Wispa’s are now off the 'favourite list' as they remind me of TRD. Nothing apparently, is sacred, not even shite chocolate.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Will Dormer And I Are Friends Now, Me Bein' In Nightmute An' All

Last night, I kept moving. Up and down, up and down, from room to room. I hovered over the sofa from time to time, having a fag, looking for things on my laptop. Busy bee, that was me; and drinking water like I was in a desert and it was midnight at the oasis. Got to keep busy on nights like last night, busy, busy, busy.

While I was perched on the sofa at one point, literally navel gazing, I realised that there was still a small, hollow tube through my belly button, where once there hung a dangling jewel. I poked it and prodded it - intrigued I was because that there tunnel of flesh has been empty for nigh on five years. I decided to try sticking an earring through it, and it worked so, after trawling through my treasure chest, I thrust a barbell through. And then the blood it did come, slightly. But I have a belly bar in now, held in with the help of an Elastoplast, as there is no screw-fix to hold it snugly. "Hilarious", I thought and wondered how appropriate it was to draw attention to something, so less than perfect. My belly is not as flat as it once used to be, when tops were under your armpits and skirts at your throat; but I laughed as I paraded in front of the mirror looking at it. Bejewelled I am, just need Cap'n Jack and I will be.... dreamin'.

Busy today, I was too. My CPN arrived this morning, a vision in a white puffer jacket, all perfumed and smiley she was. I on the other hand, looked like a grim reaper of sunken eyes and chip-shop hair. We talked about the snake I have slipped down over this past month or so and I told of my frustrations at being back to where I was before I thought enough of myself to sell my soul to the (online) dating devil. Meetings shall be held and discussions shall be had concerning my medication and my running on empty and what to do-do-do. And then she was gone in a powder-puff minute and I was on the phone organizing and sorting for my mam’s sixtieth birthday, clan gathering at the weekend. Such a lot to do and everyone seems to need help and me to pick something pretty.

So I made lists, perching and moving about the house from room to room, not stopping for breath. I ordered food; I wrote out cards, I painted drawers. I unblocked drains, I washed covers and blankets and dishes and walked to the post office, I bought cleaning supplies and did some more, and I hovered and fumigated and kept moving. One foot in front of the other, “c’mon, just keep going – that’s a girl” she said. “Got to keep going, I daren’t stop for them there nasties are callin’”

I cried tonight as something I was watchin’ hit a nerve or two - raw ones I think, smack in the red bulls’ eye. It didn’t last long, those tears were short lived and then I got up and kept going again. Washing dishes, hanging laundry and made myself some dinner too. First proper meal in a week. I might try and wash up before bed, me that is, and crawl between sheets in the bed that has moved full circle.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Turn Off the Clocks

... for they are too damn loud. Fucking tick-tock. Loud and scratchng hands on face taking away numbers. Hours, days. I've missed my life. It passed anhour ago or two or three of four. But I think it's gone, with the eyes of the cat and it's swinging tail. Tick-tock.

I hold my hands up. I do. I absolutely do. I surrender. i give up. I'm done. It's too damn hard. I need ahand. I want to run away. I need some sleep. I had two hours sleep last night. Maybe the same the night before. Agitated sleep full of dreams. I still miss him you know. I miss him more when I am tired - I think it's getting less, or maybe I am just more used to him not being here. .

Everything is too noisy and loud and bright just now. My neck hurts, my eyes are red raw with rubbing them, my nails twitching at the surface of my skin. Turn off the clocks. They tick too loudly. I'm tired of trying, keeping going. I've done three loads of washing I've had all the windows open trying to breathe, I've called mam because I wanted to scratch. I want to cry and I can't and now it hurts, it all hurts. I'm restless and thepills aren't helping. I pulled apart a clock and threw things out,trying to make space today, but there isn't enough goddamn space. It all gets filled up with thoughts and words and noise. I still jump when cars swing by. Stupid, stupid stupid. I can't breathe

I want sea to see the sea. I'm terrified of the sea. i think the worst death would be to drown. But I like sitting beside her. Just watching. I need I just want to get in a car and drive until I come to the end and then just sit there, breathing. But I can't. Fucking stupid shtty shitty life. Do you want it? Go on, I'll swap you. .. Dind't think so.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

They're Nothing But Sounds And Vowels And Nouns

I’m having a day by myself today. “That sounds insane, right – as I spend all day every day on my own?” But actually, I don’t.

I have three appointments a week, sometimes four. One with my CPN, who comes to my house, one with Thursday and one with my Friday Counsellor – they are all fixed appointments, every week, without fail. Then every few weeks I also have an appointment with my psychiatrist. I also try to have play dates in there with The Fantastic Four, my girl friends, to keep some semblance of normality in my days. It is also fun. (Ah the guilt, here it comes; “Sick people aren’t allowed to have fun”)

But every once in a while, when I am not too low, or tired or hyper, and a relatively good day comes along, I like just being by “myself”. Playing stupid music, (if it's not too loud - my senses are turned up way high - especially the auditory one and loud noise makes me confused and disorientated. That's why large groups of people i.e. more than three are my idea of hell) laughing at Jonathan Ross on the radio, (not too loud...) watching American TV shows in my PJ’s, or films, or planning my next great adventure in furniture removal. These high(er) days usually come after a low, when and if I have had to cancel catch-ups because I have been too exhausted and drained or can barely speak - the slurring is hilarious; maybe not quite so much at the time, as it is frustrating not being able to find the right words, or for people (including family) to actually understand what I am saying… It’s something like being hammered, without feeling drunk, just having all the “symptoms”; or like you have suddenly become a very creepy marionette and the person that holds the strings is fucking with your jaw, for a laugh. Anyway, I had dates with two friends, yesterday and today and had to cancel both.

It all feels out with my control when my body takes over and says “STOP” with the clarity of an over enthusiastic crossing guard and I can do nothing but ‘obey’. The guilt I feel is enormous when this happens, because I feel I should be able to do all of these 'normal' things and I get frustrated and angry when I can’t. I also hate feeling I’m letting people down – it’s my worst nightmare. In saying all of that, I ultimately, in those times, cannot do anything but lay low and know it is the best option if I am to have a chance at preventing further collateral damage. After a couple of days of hibernating I usually come out the other side a little lighter, even a little brighter, maybe. Like today, I think.

On these days, I try to keep things simple (which is hard - see yesterday's post) and usually do things that have been bugging me, or I have been putting off, like sorting out my finances because they are so tight, frightening me on a daily basis. Sometimes I just need to sit down and write a shopping list or get the laundry done or pick up a little, empty the bins – it’s the small things that help me feel a bit more in control and normal again. ("I say "normal" a lot... Hmmm")

When you are amidst counselling, you can come out of a session on a high – depending on topic, obviously – other times you can come out so low that all you can do is try to make it home and crawl under the duvet, shaking. Sometimes the low comes, after the high; the prediction of which is entirely impossible at the moment, as there seems to be no logical explanation, nor pattern to the moods. Within this emotional fairground attraction, it is very hard to remember who you are, and it is on these good, quiet days that you sometimes get a glimmer of what was, and what still, sometimes is.

“You think that I think too much, and over process, that I spend too much time in my head. That I should just chill the fuck out and quiet the brain and relax, don’t you - not take life so seriously huh?” “Ha, ha. That, my Dearest Diary is the very worst thing I could do.”

Friday, January 18, 2008

This Has Been Written In Real Time

Today has been tiring. I went to my usual appointment with my Friday Counsellor this morning, and curled up on her couch, under a blanket before I could talk. This defensive/vulnerable state (requiring blanket backup) has happened oh, probably twice, or three times since I have been seeing her. I felt too exposed and was acutely aware that I needed to feel less like I was at a formal gathering and more like I was talking to my mirror, at home. In my default position at home, on my couch on days like this.

I was actively trying to stay with the emotions that I left my house with this morning, (dull, lifeless, remorseful, sad, lonely, grieving) rather than gear up into ‘public mode’. This requires vast amounts of concentration and causes physical discomfort - unless I am in full blown depressive mode – and then, no problem I can give you all the honesty you want. It is a very difficult task for me to stay in the moment, to try to stay present enough not to unconsciously bring up the invisible wall and become... unconscious.

I realised a long time ago that there was a huge difference between “conscious” and “unconscious” (yeah, I know – kids stuff) but when you have spent and still spend, so much of your life unconsciously and then realise it - correct interpretation suddenly becomes very important. For example: MASSIVE difference between "relaxing" and "consciously relaxing". To the inexperienced and unconscious person, “relaxing” can mean whirling around your home tidying, sorting and cleaning. You feel it is more relaxing than say, working full time, so you are, in your mind, relaxed; but this is not relaxing. Conscious relaxation is a different thing altogether, and a much harder mode to be in. For those with anxiety or stress related problems, being “prescribed” relaxation is akin to sticking bamboo spikes under your fingernails. Agitated or manic movement is a form of self-defence against anxiety attacks, evil thoughts and the nasties that plough through your mind trying to get you to cross over to the other side.

Since changing my medication months ago, my verging on narcoleptic lethargy has been replaced by hectic/manic/chaotic hyperactivity. I feel actual, physical pain when I cannot ‘do’. My old friend Lethargy is still there, although now it has been replaced by something more akin to delirium, I can only assume this is caused by my insomnia. For the past month, and markedly since the medication change, I have been sleeping for only a couple of hours a night. I no-longer sleep during the day and my prolonged and agitated energy state, lasts from the minute I wake at about 7:30am, until I finally get to sleep around 3:00 or 4:00am. During my waking hours I will not be able to sit still or focus on less than two or three things at a time for mere moments, and my limbs are most comfortable in movement – right now my legs are constantly moving because I am sitting down typing. I am also watching the TV and thinking about all the things I have to do that I haven’t managed yet today, what I have to do tomorrow, my Ma’s Birthday – booking train tickets... It is an assault of the senses that could probably, in and by its self, drive you to insanity however, right now I prefer the ‘mania’ to what I think might happen if I stop. I can’t even think about relaxation without my legs moving faster.

My limbs still shake uncontrollably with tiredness and this can also happen when I am having an anxiety attack. I no longer feel like I am hyperventilating, more like I am being suffocated and my throat is constricting or I have something, like food, caught in it making me cough. My heart rate is always high, which used to make my old GP laugh. ("Yeah, really funny. I'm laughing") and I can offer a stellar demonstration in profuse and instantaneous sweating in below zero temperatures. Oh, and the OCD(like) checking… All of this has become my normality now, so I tend not to notice these little quirks. It is usually more obvious when I go into 'public mode' and have to suffocate the ticks, or when I’m with Ma, who notices everything and helpfully points out that most of it isn't "normal".

God, what was I talking about? No idea. Need to sleep – today is crash day. Once in a blue moon, when counselling has been heavy, or the mania has been too much, I have crash days when all I can do is sleep, like the dead. “I thought I was dead?” “Oh no, dammit – this is reality” The Real Time Player is on.

The Word According To Penguin

mental / 'mentl / adj 1a. relating to the mind or it’s activity: mental health; mental process. 3a. of relating to a psychiatric disorder: mental illness. 4. Informal mad.

mad 1 / mad adj 1. mentally disordered; insane. 7. characterised by intense and often chaotic activity. mad 2 / verb (madded, madding) archaic or literary to drive (a person) mad.

crazy 1 adj (crazier, craziest) (informal) 1. mad; insane b. unusual; eccentric. crazy 2 noun (informal) an insane person.

insane / in'sayn / adj 1. dated, offensive suffering from a mental illness or psychological disorder. 2. dated offensive intended for mentally ill people: an insane asylum.

breakdown noun 1a. a failure to function 2a. physical, mental or nervous collapse 3. failure to progress or have effect 4. the process of decomposing.

nut 1 / nut / noun 5. (informal) a person’s head. 6. (informal) an insane or wildly eccentric person.

failure noun 1a. lack of success b. an unsuccessful or disappointing person or thing. 2a. the act or an instance of failing to perform a duty or expected action b. the act or an instance of failing to function normally.

abuse 1 verb trans. to put (something) to a wrong or improper use: You musn’t abuse the privilege of your position 2. to attack (somebody) in words, to revile (them). abuse 2 noun 1. improper use or treatment, misuse or an instance of misuse 2. vehemently expressed condemnation or disapproval.

abusive adj 1a. using or consisting of verbal abuse b. involving or inflicting physical abuse; an abusive father.

forgiveness noun forgiving or being forgiven; pardon.

forgive verb > verb trans 1. to stop feeling angry about (something) or to stop feeling resentful towards (somebody): One should forgive one’s enemies.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

My "Appropriate Language" Campaign

I had my fifth appointment with my new-ish Thursday Counsellor at The Biscuit Centre this morning. We seem to have settled into a Thursday at (high) noon appointment time, which gives me time to prepare for our sessions; Thursday likes giving me “homework”.

Our fist couple of meetings focused on the "taking patient history" part of the counselling experience – the bit I hate, but a necessary evil. The list, as I think I have said many times now, pours out of my mouth like a fast flowing stream. The trouble is that I keep forgetting things and as we travel down the getting to know each other route, more and more comes to the surface. Thursday is a very focused (and slightly intimidating) lady indeed – she has very focused sessions where we discuss what we have agreed will be up for analysis at the end of the last appointment (usually the homework I have been given). I like her and her structure a lot. My brain, that constantly seems to crave knowledge and understanding of my situation, sucks everything she has to offer like a bone-dry sponge. I like the practicality of her process that is psychotherapy based rather than psychology based. (Hang on, aren’t they one and the same thing?)

And at this point we appropriately come to the Misuse of Language Section and my first offering of positivism on what is supposed to be my 'Recovery' Blog. "No doom here". (Oops)

I should point out that I have (very recently) become consciously aware that in my very strong desire to deflect attention away from my own feelings/emotions/shortcomings/situation, I am decidedly flippant in my use of language regarding my current (and past) problems. I often, without thinking, and at times perhaps purposefully, choose the incorrect words to describe my situation in an effort to make others feel at ease or to make light of a serious situation and to indicate that a change of subject is immediately required. I think this is a long-term habit or “learnt behaviour”, has now becoming a coping strategy and a ‘default position’ for me to go into counselling with, and/or to use when I speak to anyone regarding myself and my problems/feelings/emotions that I perceive as failings. Ultimately I think this negative self-positioning has made me less and less able to connect with and feel my own emotions to the point that I find it extremely difficult to feel connected, empathic or concerned with much of what I say/feel. My Friday Counsellor and I had worked this 'default position' out a while ago, but I still have difficulty recognising when I am doing it; she, less so.

I call myself ‘crazy’ at the drop of a hat. ‘Mental’ is another one, so are ‘mad’, ‘insane’, ‘nutter’ and ‘failure’. There are a dozen more, but I can’t remember them. Where another problem starts is when others start using the same language to describe you: “This is my mental friend…” or “Crazy Auntie Rozza”. I think this comes under the same rule of thumb about taking the piss out of other people’s families. It is OK for them to do it, but if you do it, you will be off the Christmas Card List, faster than you can wish you hadn’t opened your mouth. But, my silent friend, who is to blame: An uneducated society for creating these stereotypically slack and insensitive translations (specifically) for those suffering from mental health problems? Or the sufferer’s who take the piss out of themselves to ease another’s squirming and to make light of a subject that they themselves are terrified of and have little or no understanding of? Maybe the friends that use your own preferred terminology are merely trying to make light, as you yourself do – and therefore can they be ‘blamed’ for doing so?

Regardless of the desire to appropriate blame to the instigating party, I am far more concerned with my own awareness of inappropriate language use. What if my continued self-labelling as being “mental” or “insane”, somehow perpetuates the situation I am in? What if these labels I am casually giving myself are forming or compounding existing beliefs that I already have? Now, there are a few contradictions within this shaky theorem, because there are times when I fully believe that I am mental, crazy and insane. Usually when I am bending, bowing and shaking to the Almighty God of Nutter’s (see, there I go again, but it is funny, maybe?) or am in the firm grip of Mr. D (that would be Mr. Depression to you). At these times I am not joking or being flippant or anything else for that matter, these labels are very real and indeed terrifying.

“C’mon, back in line, girlfriend” Gosh, so easy to go off on a tangent…And so, with dictionary in hand I shall proceed with my campaign to use appropriate language for my current “situation” and in doing so, aim to understand a multitude of technical jargon that is thrown my way on an almost daily basis by professionals.

Psychotherapy /noun/ treatment by psychological methods for mental, emotional or psychosomatic disorders.

Psychology /noun/ 1. the science or study of the mind and behaviour >> psychologist /noun/

What follows is MY understanding of the process that I am going through with Thursday. It is imperative at this stage to point out that my understanding of the majority of this process and indeed my current situation comes from working (bloody hard) with my Friday Counsellor for the past (nearly) TWO YEARS. The work I have been doing with her has given me a huge advantage point for beginning work with Thursday.

Thursday uses her psychological training to use practical methods (written exercises etc) of re-defining/re-educating/re-training the brain (lead by the subject/patient) to think in a different and often contradictory way to the way we have been previously and often unhelpfully, thinking.

This as I understand it means that if we are brought up in an environment of neglect, abuse or are constantly criticised, that we learn to believe/expect that this is how we will and should be treated. Over time, this belief system becomes our normality and this becomes our “default position” where we un/consciously put ourselves into and/or crave environments/relationships where we are pretty certain that this environment will be replicated.

First up: The “Why I Have Developed this Problem” form, given to me by Thursday about three sessions ago.
The page consists of five rectangles, all interlinked with the following headings: “What made me vulnerable in the first place?” “What then triggered the problem?” “The Problem” “What maintains my problem?” “What have I got going for me?”

“Easy-peasy”, I thought until I tried filling out the form (also with the help of Thursday) and realised that I didn’t fully grasp the actual and true meaning of the language used in the questions. So, after many failed attempts at grappling with the above questions, I pulled out the dictionary…

Vulnerable: Capable of being physically or mentally hurt, open to criticism, open to attack or damage.

Triggered: Something that causes an event/reaction.

Problem: Situation or question that is difficult to understand or resolve.

Maintains: To sustain something, to continue, to keep up.

Once the emotion and barriers that I had built up, enabling me to shut down when questions like this are fired at me, had been removed from the language by returning it to its simplest form - its meaning, I could clearly identify what each question was pertaining to and I found the old flow chart easier to fill up. My main problem being space – they should have supplied a separate sheet to use, if required.

It looked something like this:
Question 1: What made me vulnerable in the first place?
Relationship with my father.
Traumatic divorce of parents.
Resultant relationship with both sides of family.

Question 2: What then triggered the problem?
This was the section that read a little like a book, but some examples were:
Father’s controlling and destructive behaviour.
Being dragged through the courts by father.
Being taken to live with father.
Perceived rejection by mother.
Fractious relationship with siblings.
Termination at 16.
Etc, etc, etc, etc.

Question 3: The Problem?
This is broken down into: Physical Symptoms, Psychological Symptoms, and Behavioural Symptoms.
Physical: Panic attacks, depression, agitation, uncontrollable shaking, lack of appetite, weight gain, extreme lethargy…
Psychological: Fundamentally believe that I am a bad person, that I will never amount to anything, that I am unloveable, a failure…
Behavioural: OCD- like tendencies - constant checking, self-harming, suicide plans, turning house upside down, avoidance sleeping…

Question 4: What have I got going for me?
I mumbled something about being loyal, considerate, trustworthy and faithful… Gah, that makes me rather uncomfortable to say the least.

That is then translated into a less flowery version by streamlining the points into three main core beliefs (taken from what you have written in the flow chart) under the following headings: "I am", "People are" and “The world is”. The answers to these questions are where I ended up today, at my appointment with Thursday, and the starting point (would you believe) for my therapy to begin.

My core belief system currently yells at me that:
I am: DEFFECTIVE.

We (Thursday and I) are aiming to re-programme my negative core belief system to the more positive:
I am: Not HORRIFIC, not HORRENDOUS and basically a GOOD PERSON.

How exactly we are going to do that, I am not entirely sure, but my homework for next week is to record "evidence" that my core belief is not 100% true. "Easy-peasy"

Bad Things Go Back A Long Way - Apparently

This morning I found a card addressed to me, tucked inside the back pages of a book a friend had given me years ago. Inside the card, it read:

"Sorry to hear that you are in so much pain."

It was dated August 11, 2002. Christ almighty.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Let's See How Far We Can Push Her

"I know where you go to my lovely,
When you're alone in your bed.
I know the thoughts that surround you,
'Cause I can look inside your head"

That song is stuck in my head and has been all morning. I think, perhaps the joke is on me.

"Let's see how far we can push her,
until she lies down in her bed.
She won't ever get out there,
Because we just fucked with her head, yes we did, yes we did..."

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I’m (Not) Pregnant

I’ve been hiding. Purposefully hiding. I have also been freakin’ miserable and alone and feeling rubbish, thinking I was headed for the big ‘ole slide of doom that keeps getting erected by my head. I have also been peeing on sticks (what seems like constantly) and thought if I allowed myself to tippety-tap away on the old “diary”, something might accidentally pop out of my mouth, like…"I’m pregnant”, as I was on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, thanks to two Boots home pregnancy test kits. Today however, I am not.

This bloody (nice pun) thing is confusing enough without pee-kits screwing it up too.

I went to the doctors this morning, dutifully peed in a bottle and then thought, “…right, my definitive answer now, please?” But, “No”, gone are the days when they have a poke in your nether regions, as they did when I was sweet sixteen and ‘in the family way’. No, no my friend, lab testing all the way and I have to wait three loooong days for those results. Jesus. We (the Doctor and I) had worked out “if” I was pregnant, then I would probably be looking at being about 12 weeks gone. He looked surprised when I said I wasn’t sure about my decision about going ahead with the pregnancy, if the test came back positive. He did however tell me there was still plenty of time for an “evacuation”.

After my seemingly useless appointment, I wandered onto a bus, going into town, aiming to pick up ingredients for a dinner with girlie friends I had planned for this evening. Halfway there, looking for a calming voice to quiet my spiralling head, I called my dear friend who has already given birth. “She’ll know”, I thought. And she did, she offered me the sound and rational advice I needed as I began on a ‘helpful’ tangent: “…What if I am declared an unfit mother?” “What if ‘crazies’ aren’t” allowed to have children?” “OK I need a job, need to come off all my medication, need to stub out this fag and eat more vegetables…right now” “I can’t do this alone…”

Following said advice, and inhaling deeply on a fag, I set off to get yet another pack of pregnancy tests; this time carefully selecting ones with a fail safe ‘plus or minus’ system, none of your airy fairy “variations of diagrams a, b and c, all denote a positive result” nonsense. I then gracefully pissed on said purchased stick in John Lewis’ toilets, surrounded by old ladies in wrinkly, American Tan tights.

Big, fat, negative was the result looking up at me from my digital testing kit and I was suddenly and rather surprisingly, deflated. No whoop of ecstatic joy, no lap of honour, kissing old ladies, with loo roll streamers stuck to the bottom of my shoes. I just packed up my kit, and walked out.

Over the past 24 hours, when my curly friend had mentioned the small window of opportunity for any “choice” in the outcome, I in sudden realistic terror, read pages of advice from the Family Planning website. One point in the abortion information section said something like “Questions you might think about are…This might be my only chance to have a baby”. “Yeah”, I thought. “What if?” Suddenly decisions like this, aren’t as clear cut at 30 as they were at 16 – until of course, they are taken out of your hands.

Tonight I informed TRD of the good news via text (no point in calling - he still diverts me to answer phone) and, as I expected tumbleweed, tumbled past and a desert wind blew in the silence that followed. It seemed as loud as a bomb going off in my head. A bomb saying “He doesn’t care if you were terrified. When are you going to get it?”

Friday, January 11, 2008

Following Your Recent Biopsy...

... we are happy to announce that your leg will not fall off. You may have a scar that looks like the innards of an old-fashioned razor blade, but you do not have cancer.

Thank you.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Dating Coffers with Nails, Crusty Skin Bindi’s and a Washed-Up Soap Star with a Tranq Problem

“Oh shiny, new white Blog, how I do love looking at your pretty, clean face.” When I remember I’m supposed to be blogging that is. Gah, nearly a week since I last sat down and spent any time unscrambling my head with my new favourite friend. She is a good listener, my pretty, clean slate. But, she can be rather judgemental, especially when she was dark and twisty - now though, she is supposed to be all full of hope and forthcoming with positivism for my future. Tonight I am in no mood for any back-handers or snide remarks, I’m tired and tearful and emotional. It’s been a bloody long week…

Thursday: I took my last contraceptive pill. (Thwack) Now I am just waiting for the onslaught of hormones…and a period. Oh joy. I am trying not to get freaked out by the fact that I haven’t had one yet, (thwack) or last month for that fact. Probably just stress and my body trying to catch up with yet another foreign dose of chemicals; "Yup that’s all it is" (she said, nodding) "Yup, yup, yup" (Sucker punch)

Saturday morning I had Christmas catch up with my neighbourhood friend. We swapped presents and gossip and stories of woe. We ate slightly stale cake, drank a thousand cups of peppermint tea and two espressos for me, "Look out!" No sleep (again) the previous night. It was all good, clean(ish) fun.

Then I went home to prepare for a…drum roll please…date. Yes. Hmmm. I was deeply enamoured by the prospect of meeting someone new, all that chatting, looking into the face of someone that was not TRD. Totally up for it. I got really dressed up in a smock whose sister was a bin-bag; I was giddy with excitement, all fresh, minty breathed and hand sanitised. Yes, I was. "No I was not" I took a load of un-used Christmas presents back to various shops, picked up my irrigation fluid that has been sitting on Boots pharmacy shelves for the past three weeks and then went to see him. I saw him before he saw me. I thought – "WOW, pictures really do lie and there is no way you are six feet, three inches tall; in heels maybe, but not in your ankle crushing black jeans and flats!" And then he vanished and I thought “Ha-ha! He thought the same about me, and has done a runner!” But, no, he had just walked round the entire building to take me from behind.

We sat through three hours of drinks and “chatting”. Trying desperately to focus on the 'job' in hand and to be polite, engaged and interested, I babbled on and on about his line of work, maybe a little too much. I also tried not to scream in his face and shake him by the shoulders saying: “BUT YOU’RE NOT TRD!” But I didn’t. Sadly, my having to really try to keep that conversation going (I could have won an Oscar for that little show) just reminded me how easily TRD and I chatted and laughed and floated up on our cloud marked number nine. It also made me painfully aware that I was not ready for dating again. Easy peasy! "Just tick that off the To Do List, Rozzer" I told him I couldn’t date anyone who took drugs when he gleefully told me about snorting coke and dropping E like a besotted (with drugs) teenager, and that my friend, was the end of the night. Oh and I was deleted from his online “favourite list” before I’d even got my key in the door, back at home. I wrote an honest-to-God, well intended: “Thanks for a nice evening, lovely to meet you”, message the next day and got nowt back. Snubbed I was, and deleted. What age are all these online boys – freakin’ thirteen?

Sunday: Ma came, bringing back my beloved and very small, fluffy charge. I didn’t realise how much I talked to him, until he was gone. (He went to visit his Grannie while his wayward mother went to London) We were fondly reunited, my hamster and I, when he finally stopped sulking at being brought back to a freezing cold house with a cranky person in it. I am pretty sure there was filmic music playing, as I proffered some sunflower seeds in his direction and he eventually clambered onto my open hand. Maybe Chariots of Fire. Or at least it was in my head, or maybe his head...?

I enjoyed my Mam’s company immensely – I sound surprised? Maybe I am, maybe because I actually let her help me do the washing up and organise my laundry (I never usually do), it was like having a partner in crime for a while. Although I did find myself completely unable to relax into being “looked after”. I was so terrified that if I relaxed, just one muscle, I would fall apart at the seams. Even the thought of us sleeping in the same bed made me desperately uncomfortable, so I slept on the couch - the too small couch that makes you walk like a ninety-year-old by the time you wake up in the morning. I find the noise of a second person in my space quite overwhelming at times, I am unable to think clearly or rationally about things that I need to do. I can’t think with any clarity when the TV is on, Ma is talking and I am trying to read something she has asked me about - it’s like sensory overload. Then I get twitchy, nervous, agitated and snappy.

My CPN came on Monday morning for the first visit of the year – she was very concerned about my "two+", hours sleep a night, they (my team) shall talk about it at my ‘weekly meeting’. She will be phasing out her home visits (Christ Almighty) while I see the new counsellor at The Biscuit Centre. They think it’s going to be all too much, all this therapy. I think, “Shit – they’re all jumping ship!” I must have looked terrified because she spent the remainder of our session reassuring me.

Monday afternoon my Ma and I did our obligatory trip to IKEA for lots of unnecessary plastic items for under 75p. I spent my time buying storage boxes for yet another new project that I have underway. Tidy, tidy, tidy. That’s me. You could put me in a nice, tidy box with a lid, whap a sticker on it and put me on a shelf. Things might be less exciting that way.

That evening, another bloke I had been emailing decided to call me up, immediately acting like a complete…um, I have no idea…crazy person/moron/weirdo? He started asking who he was speaking to repeatedly, even though he had called me, then kept telling me I was drunk and/or on drugs, then decided to hang up on me. Then called me back and did the same thing again. Funny thing was, that instead of being angry, I just got really, really upset – who the hell did he think he was? He was sarcastic and rude and incoherent and messed up. I decided there and then to quit online dating for good. I had pretty much decided that after the disastrous ‘date’, but this was the final nail in my online coffers. I emailed all the seemingly, nice people I have been chatting to on the old online dating thingy and told them I was bowing out gracefully. And then I did; after looking at TRD’s profile a few last times.

Tuesday afternoon found me visiting my honorary nieces. They get bigger and more georgeous every time I see them. Everything they do makes my heart melt. And they are geniuses, "...of course they are". I cobbled together a ‘logo’ for my now, heavily pregnant, mate who is setting up her own company, then home to meet Mama for tea. That night I fell asleep on the couch, meditating, sitting bolt upright. Clever girl.

Wednesday was my “free day”. Mam left in the AM; I carried on cleaning, chucking out and sorting – yup still compulsively tidying, bleaching and chucking. Then I slept, and then I did more and more and more. I sent a text to TRD to tell him I needed to chat. I wonder if I should mention that I haven’t had a period yet? (“Please NO, no, no, no, NO! Seriously NO! You upstairs, in the big chair with the white beard and cape made of clouds…Noooooo!”)

Today, (Thursday) I saw my new counsellor (Le Centre Du Biscuit) – maybe more about that tomorrow? Language and the use of it, is a funny, funny thing. And now I am sliding further down the couch of doom. TRD hasn’t replied, so I called him. Guess, what – he didn’t answer. “Really? Why you do surprise me dear”. I think I was inspired by my feminist-thinking counsellor, hollering about men that make "us" feel like 'bunny boilers' because of their inability to deal with the consequences of “dumpage”. Like when they split up with you via email and then refuse to talk to you – even though THEY kept saying THEY wanted to LIVE WITH YOU and MOVE IN, ASAP?

Ooh! Annnnnd – you know how models say they put pile cream on spots and they go away? ("No?") Well it works, but then you are left with a little, white dot of hard pus under the skin, that if you squeeze vehemently will never actually pop; so then you have to get out a pin and poke it - hard. Ultimately, your squeezing and pin-poking will leave you with a permanent, crusty, bright red bindi. I have a permanent, crusty, skin bindi. “Good look” I’m thinking, with my "special needs" fringe that I cut myself, while having an “I’ve been dumped-need-new-haircut” moment. I look h-o-t. HOT! I am also trying to see if I can make all my teeth fall out in one go, by only eating chocolate bars today (I lied, I have also had an apple). And have I mentioned I’m swallowing Diazepam like an insane, lush-type, washed out soap star? It’s all very tragic. But rather fabulous - until I look in the mirror and then my hysteria fades faster than my smile.

Friday, January 4, 2008

The Idiom of Mrs. P. Butcher

I have been thinking a lot about grief recently and wondering where I am on the Richter Scale of Loss. I have wondered about the similarities between loosing someone that you love, to death and loosing someone by their own choice. One is most certainly more definitive than the other but is one 'better' than the other? Can one accept death more readily than one can accept rejection? Is loss in itself comparable in any way shape or form?

Strangely, Pat Butcher was talking about The Seven Stages of Grief on television tonight (now last night), rather annoyingly while I was trying to watch some mindless bubble. As I have such unquestioning trust in the idiom of The Butcher and as I know so little about this chosen theorem - I ventured to see what Google had to offer on the subject.

The Seven Stages of Grief are as follows:

Shock or Disbelief
Denial
Bargaining
Guilt
Anger
Depression
Acceptance and Hope

I seem to be traveling forward and back, up and down, inside and outside that list, at a frightening speed with seemingly incomprehensible irregularity. I sat today, sorting through the recycling (the bag that had been kicked into the hall with eyes closed the other day). Every bus ticket for a shared journey, every scrunched up drawing of a table, a packet that some brownies were in; the cans that housed the chick peas before I tried to make TRD humous with horrifying results, they all stood out like little beacons of a bigger fib. I remembered all the scenarios that had brought these little mementos to me, every last freakin' detail. I wanted to keep everything, from cigarette butt to ticket stub... just incase.

I swiftly managed to get rid of more than half of the bulging bag, while the rest of the tit-bits, sit looking at me from the kitchen table, goading me to break. I stuff my twitching hands further into my pockets, determined not to (s)cra(t)ck/ch.

The orchid has now dropped all of its heads, it did that while I was away and couldn't view their demise. What did I say would happen when they had all gone? Something like: "...he will have stopped loving me by then..."

I think that happened long before the first head rolled. Actually that is bollocks. I think he just couldn't cope with my dark and twisty, even though he lulled me and even though I wasn't mental.

As it is now a quarter-to-five in the morning and I can hear the first busses making their way to the depot to start for the day, I shall aim for sleep, something that has eluded me all week. "Bingo anyone?"

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Children, Oh How They Do Demand so Very Much of Me

"Hush now my little ones, Mama is so very tired this evening"

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Narcolepsy, Filofaxes & Pen Sniffing

My post from yesterday now makes me want to yak. I want to scrawl all over it with a giant permanent marker – one of those big fat ones with a chiselled head that smells really, really nice.

My lovely predictions for a fantastic day today have all gone down the shitter. I spent pretty much all of it in bed with increasing bouts of narcolepsy. I had dreams that even I can tell, scream: “Ooh, feeling a little vulnerable are we?” and I am having a Filofax/diary/calendar trauma. The latter may seem small to some, but to me it is a decision that affects my whole goddamn year and as 2008 is going to be a year based on my being highly organised, one could understand my conundrum.

I have countless old Filofaxes, destined for evilBay that are either too bloody small for my giant hands and spider-like handwriting to accommodate, or too large so they make me look like a city-girl twat. My conundrum is, do you make do with what you have, re-bond with the items you now hate, or try and sell them, or pass them on to good homes and make way for the new? (They also remind me of a time that I was by no means happy – so I guess they are suffering from guilt by association. Poor Filofaxes)