“Well, I had no confidence in my ability to dent another human’s life”

Sometimes it’s impossible to even think of a title to a post, let alone which words to use. Being stoned doesn’t help, but it’s the only way I’ve been able to cope today; it was either dope, or masses of co-codamol and a bout of self-harm. I figured weed was the safest option.

Where to begin? It’s past 2am, and I’m still furious from the orthopaedics appointment this morning. As usual, nothing was achieved – my consultant wasn’t even there, and I saw a junior doctor instead, who couldn’t do anything except repeat what I’d already been told at my previous appointment – and I’m furious. I’ve had enough. This officially isn’t fair, and I’ve stood back and let this happen over and over because I haven’t wanted to cause any problems.

Well, fuck that. I’ve been in constant agonising pain for over eighteen months. I can’t walk properly and need a stick most of the time. Ice? I can’t leave the flat if it’s even slightly icy, because I have no balance. I can’t sleep. I can’t exercise. It’s all I can think about, and even strong painkillers (which I’m doing my best to avoid, for obvious reasons) only take the edge off slightly. I’d gladly take back the colocystitis pain over the constant needles and cramps in my foot.

01pain

www.thechinchilla.com

I got home, and cried. Smoked a joint and ranted to myself for a while. Mentally calculated everything in the flat I could possibly hurt myself with. Considered making myself sick. Ate half an egg sandwich then threw it out. As it is, I haven’t eaten since; I’m hungry, but the gnawing feeling in my stomach is comforting. It’s… control.

I feel very out of control.

Since S came home from work, he’s been cheering me up immensely; so I’m coping okay. I haven’t taken any codeine, or hurt myself. Oh, the urge was there – I thought about it the whole taxi ride home – but you see… if I hurt myself, I hurt S too. It’s strange for me to feel that way, because in past relationships I’ve never truly accepted that my tendency to damage myself could have any effect on my boyfriend. It wasn’t that I was being selfish, it’s just… well, I had no confidence in my ability to dent another human’s life.

I don’t want to hurt S. He’s my world. I know I can’t care about myself, but I adore S. I assume that much is obvious from my past posts.

adore

danielleflanders.blogspot.com

I’ve been thinking a lot about where I go from here, and I believe my only option is to put in a formal complaint of medical negligence. As much as I’m tired of fights… I refuse to go on being treated this way. From the first time I saw a consultant for PCOS, right through to today, I’ve had sub-standard medical treatment and every single condition I have has been made worse by lack of action and misdiagnosis. I don’t think any of this is fair, and I’ve got to stand  up for myself at some point.

And so, to hospital

I hate hospitals.

Really, really hate them.

Since childhood, I’ve been paraded around them for various reasons; hooked up to so many machines I hear the beep in my dreams. I’ve been sick on so many hospital floors, and each and every single hospital visit – be it a planned appointment or a trip to A&E – has left me a nervous wreck.

I’m not ashamed to admit this: I just can’t cope with it. The smell. The horrible lights. The feeling of vulnerability and the worry you’ll never sleep properly again. The strange faces and unpredictable noises… and the memories of the times I’ve been really, really ill. Vomiting up black stuff all over the polished A&E floor, tripping on morphine and hooked up to every piece of machinery in the world. Happily floating on a cloud of prescribed IV opiates, not giving the slightest damn about anything but going to sleep and not waking up again.

So yes.

I really hate hospitals.

hanging-iv-bag

But I also hate being sick. Admitting to a phobia of vomiting sounds weak somehow; it’s hardly the worst thing to happen to a person, but it utterly terrifies me. I suspect it stems from years of bulimia; controlled vomiting is entirely different to actual sickness, and it’s the lack of control I can’t cope with. Vomiting for days on end and being unable to take my meds, wash, dress myself, eat, drink, or even sleep in the same bed as S… it all took its toll, and I ended up in A&E this morning, wired up to a drip and covered in heart monitor pads.

I admit, it wasn’t the plan.

I had an appointment with my GP this morning – to check up on my medications, which need to be raised or changed, how the pain is going… I didn’t make it, because I was busy concentrating on not vomiting in the taxi on the way to hospital.

If you’ve never been scared of being sick, you can’t imagine just how terrifying it is. Every movement, every sound, every thought even… if you feel nauseous, anything can and will set you off, and it’s utterly horrible when it happens. I’ve never vomited as an adult and not had a panic attack during. It’s not a pretty situation.

So I lay there. Sat up. Lay down again. Went to the toilet a million times. Couldn’t get comfy. The only time I’ve been on my own in A&E before is when I took an overdose – the latest in a line of them in my later teens – and my mother flat-out refused to accompany me. I resented her at the time, but I understand why now. I tried to quell the panic by browsing the internet on my phone, reading boring BBC news stories about absolutely nothing, trying to pretend everything’s okay.

18a_Cannula

Also, there was an added fear. One I haven’t mentioned to anyone, not even the doctor; I figured anything abnormal would show in the blood and heart tests. A few days ago I was in so much pain – agonising, screaming pain – that I caved, and begged everyone I know to find me some ‘proper’ painkillers. Z turned up with some 30mg co-codamol and, later, a strip of tramocet. Now, I’ve spoken about my little opiate problem before, but recently it’s been pretty dormant. I haven’t felt the need to self-medicate or block things out with tiny white pills.

However, fever doesn’t work well when you’re trying to be sensible. I accidentally took far too many painkillers; I don’t know how or why I did it, just that I took more than three times the recommended dose. It was in no way a suicide attempt, because I wasn’t truly aware of what I was doing. I just wanted the pain to stop, so I could finally get some sleep.

Then, days and nights of vomiting. Sweating; that horrible chemical-tinged sweat you get with opiates. Hallucinations and awful nightmares.

So that’s how I found myself curled up on a hard bed in A&E, trying to explain my ridiculous medical history, clutching an emesis basin and hating everything hospitals are.

I just can’t cope with them.

They scare me.

 

____________________

If we get through this alive, I’ll meet you next week, same place, same time.

I stayed away from sharp things. Suffered from the codeine; entirely self-inflicted, and I’ll never be proud of shoveling bright red pills down my throat until the anxiety stops. Binged on Kits Kats and plain crisps at 3am. Lay awake in bed on Wednesday night, swimming in a sea of chemical highs and sweating out every last bit of water in my body, determined to sleep but flying too high from the codeine and dope.

I don’t know how it works elsewhere, but in the UK codeine can only be bought mixed with paracetamol; 500mg per pill. More than two tablets is therefore an overdose, and I usually need eight or so to give me enough chemical serenity… and I know my liver is paying for it. My addiction… once, I thought I’d be okay, that I wasn’t like other people who had to rely on drugs to get by in life. I convinced myself that I wasn’t addicted. I could stop any time.

 

Now, the lower back pain and constant diarrhoea is telling me otherwise. The headaches and nausea and bloating… it baffles me how I can be terrified for the health of my liver, but still continue to assault it with large doses of paracetamol.

I’m not a stupid woman. For all my failings, I know I’m pretty intelligent. However, I have the ability to create my own strange logic; to remove myself from situations and become convinced I’m okay and won’t damage myself so long as I take the occasional break. And on the whole, I’ve been doing well – since deciding to give up codeine, I’ve managed months at a time without even touching the stuff. Recently though, it’s been harder to resist. The world has been heaped on my shoulders without my permission – with the tendonitis and the fraud allegation – and I’ve retreated to the old habits in order to cope.

This is what relapse feels like.

I intend to make it as short as possible, because cutting myself and overdosing instead of coping with situations isn’t emotionally or physically healthy. Thinking about purging is a dangerous road to travel down; I made myself sick a few months ago, and don’t want to get back into that habit so soon – or at all – because I’ve been doing so well. It’s one of the few things I feel I can be proud of, and I’ve let myself down far too many times in the past. Over a decade of bulimia, and I’ve almost cracked it… I don’t want to go back there; don’t want the puffy face and swollen fingers and constant taste of bile in my throat.

 

Sixteen years, in fact. Sixteen long years since I first stuck my fingers down my throat in a tiny blue cubicle, skipping a lesson so I could throw up everything I’d eaten. Sixteen years since I first realised that fat = unhappy,  and I had to do everything in my power to prevent it.

Seventeen years since I first cut myself. Since my first overdose.

The codeine? That began when my relationship with O started falling apart, six years ago. I would stay awake at night, smoking out of my bedroom window and waiting for the chemicals to kick in and squash the rising panic dead. If O didn’t call, I’d take a handful, knowing it would take away all the anxiety and paranoia that he was cheating on me. When I found out he was cheating on me, I stepped it up; packets of amitriptyline, diazepam and co-codamol, taken as and when I needed to calm down. Days and nights spent tripping on Tramadol overdoses.

I’ve had a lot of abnormal liver function tests. Still, I punish my body so my mind can feel okay.

When you’re young, you think nothing truly awful can ever happen to you. When those bad things do happen, you still think you’re invincible and no amount of abuse could ever harm you. Even years later, when the dentist points out the eroded tooth enamel… it’s not real. Bulimia, self harm, pills… they’re all an addiction, and the brain plays cruel tricks so you don’t give the bad habits up.

 

This weekend, I plan to sit down with S and tell him what’s been going on. About all the stress and bad thoughts. I’ve told him a little about the rising anxiety, but brushed it off somewhat. I don’t like talking about these things in person, and I’m always afraid he’ll find it too much to deal with.

Most people do.

 

“I’m Fine”

This lack of control is killing me,
your eyes are open but you can’t see,
the pain I bury, the shame I hide,
the secret anger I keep inside.
Sometimes I speak but you can’t hear,
my words are stunted, censored by fear,
I choose it all so carefully,
I want you to know, but I’m afraid you’ll see.

My weakness and all I’ve become,
my desperation and all that I’ve done,
the holes I’ve dug and the walls I build,
I hide my feelings beneath blankets of guilt.
I can’t explain why I keep it inside,
when you know it happens, why do I lie?
You know the reality, you’ve seen the truth,
yet I do my best to keep this from you.

I slide down further, I lose my grip,
you reached out for me but I let myself slip,
and why do I do this, why do I fall?
I never meant for any of this, any of this at all.

This loss of power, it’s destroying me,
it’s chipping away at who I used to be,
I wash my hands, I tidy this away,
sweep it under the carpet because I’ll never say,
that I’m losing control, that I can’t seem to stand,
on my own, without your hands,
to pull me up out of this hell I made,
the monster I created that day.

I try to control us, but it’s killing me,
my eyes are open but I’ll never see,
past the bathroom and the kitchen light,
I reach out to you, but you’re not here tonight.
My disgrace, it’s tearing my skin,
it’s ripping at everything I’ve ever been,
a crutch I made, a path I chose,
I have no control, and I know it shows.

Tiny white pills, slowly killing me,
but I close my eyes, refuse to see,
empty bottles hidden and your photo on my wall,
nothing can save me… nobody at all.
This lack of control was always killing me,
what I loved was always the enemy,
letters unwritten and diaries burned,
pills, bottles, bathrooms – lessons I never learned.
Words I wrote never got to you,
feelings I’ve hidden, but it’s nothing new,
it’s nothing you haven’t heard before,
just another night on the bathroom floor.
This lack of control, you speak to me,
I want to confess, I want you to see,
but I fall silent, consumed by the shame,
just two words:
‘I’m fine’
…as I fall apart again.

(c) 2008

30 Days Of Truth: Day 1

Something you hate about yourself.

A difficult one. Very difficult because I don’t want to go on a rant about the issues I have with body image, or my perceived personality flaws. I’ve never quite bought the belief that flaws are what make you attractive, at least not huge, damaging, life-changing personality issues. Perhaps my overbite does seem strangely cute to men, and maybe the fact that my hair always kinks at the back is endearing… but, emotionally, I have to keep myself carefully packaged so I don’t alienate everybody around me.

After some thought, I’ve decided that the thing I truly hate about myself is my inability to rationalise perfectly normal experiences, and my need to lean on something chemical or damaging to get me through.

I believe I was born with at least a degree of substance dependence. My father (as I’ve talked about in this post) is an alcoholic, my mother’s sister relied on drink for a long time, my sister E drinks to excess, or at least used to, and I’ve spent a lot of my life around people who have had some degree of addiction. I grew up in the early 90’s, when drugs were still seen as somewhat cool. Johnny Depp was a user. Hollywood thrived on cocaine. Housewives were swallowing prozac like sweets. I imagined the world of drugs and drink to be glamourous in a seedy way; and I always preferred the squalid to the classy.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not a junkie. I have never injected a drug. I have never touched heroin, and never would (although I did fall for the charms of oral morphine for a few months in 2009, when I was living with J). My true addiction lies with over-the-counter medications, specifically co-codamol; at one point I became the woman who goes from pharmacy to pharmacy, buying as many tablets as possible. It’s a cheap, easily-available failsafe; four tablets and I’m calm. I fully believe it has saved my life many times (it stopped me walking into the sea a few years back), but it’s a dangerous addiction and one which, I believe, has started damaging my stomach and liver.

Morphine was a strange mistress. It made me feel sick and itch, but took all the worries away. By taking it, I quickly learned just how people become addicted to heroin. It simply removes everything bad and confusing from your mind and wraps you in a warm, safe blanket. Until you need more. I started drinking a bottle a day. When J found out, he threw the bottles away and shouted at me… it didn’t help. I suppose I needed some understanding, some way of him getting into his thick head that the reason I’d sunk so low was because of his outrageous, controlling nature and frequent mood swings. On the day he disappeared for a week, I took a large mouthful of morphine, followed by a packed joint, a large handful of co-codamol and best part of a bottle of red wine. I spent the entire week in bed, sweating and having nightmares, occasionally waking to take more pills and smoke more. The house was scary at night, I hated being alone in such a dangerous area.

Would I advise anyone against taking morphine for recreational or emotional use? Yes. I really, really would. The slide downwards is scarily fast. Would I take it again? Probably.

In many ways, my addictions have much improved. It’s been a while since I bought any co-codamol, and I’ve purposely avoided the offer of stronger painkillers like tramadol (another past addiction). I haven’t indulged in other emotional crutches either, like self harm or purging for good few months.

I feel like I have things under control right now, or as much as I can. I’ll always have an addictive nature, and part of me sometimes likes it. I enjoy the debauchery and the hedonism of addiction as much as I am chemically in need of it.

10 Day You Challenge – ten secrets

1. I will always find women more attractive than men, but I find men easier and more rewarding to love. I’m am still unsure of my sexuality.

2. I smoke in bed. My sheets are covered in tobacco and smudges of ash. I stay awake at night to smoke pot.

3. I suspect I have had more sex than most women my age. I have slept with much older men, I have had one-night stands. I had sex with a woman in the toilets of a club when I was seventeen. The sexual side of my relationship with my ex-fiance often involved BDSM, consensual violence and blood play. I’ve used sex to justify my existence. I have sex on the first date.

4. Sometimes I lie, without even knowing it.

5. I stash empty crisp packets and food wrappers down the side of my bed, so nobody knows I binge eat.

6. It’s not a secret, but I take a lot of medication I don’t need. I go to different pharmacies to buy co-codamol so nobody suspects I have a constant craving for opiates. I take antihistamines for the drowsy side-effects. I scour labels on cough medicine to find the ones with sedatives in. I enjoy the feeling of being under a chemical cosh, I find life without opiates too fast and confusing. I never wanted to be someone who never took drugs; I want to experience everything once.

7. I find it impossible to keep friendships. I start off meaning well, but I inevitably become introverted and nervous, and stop contacting them. I come across as cold, but I just can’t bring myself to fully trust a friend, and eventually it seems better to let the friendship go. I’m scared of friendship.

8. I often wish I lived in my dreams. The world I dream about is so much brighter and more beautiful than this one. Magical things happen. I have recurring, lucid dreams, and over the years I’ve built towns and cities in my head, places I visit every night. I could draw a map of them, they’re so real to me. I think it’s partly the medication and partly the pot which fuels these dreams. I’d feel lost without them; I’ve been visiting those places for so, so long.

9. I cannot play any instrument. Not a single one. Nor can I sing.

10. Sometimes I feel like I’m behind a glass wall. I don’t feel part of anything; almost like I’m out of my body and watching the world pass by without any real involvement. I have constant deja-vu, in places I’ve never been before. Some places elict such strong emotions in me that I want to cry, Yet I’ve never been there. It’s like I’m always out of step.

 

 

tendayyou

They Say That Danger’s Gone Away

Suddenly, I find it difficult to respond to comments, especially on my poems. Somehow I don’t feel worthy; it’s not that I’m receiving massive amounts of praise, just that suddenly my private life is out there for anyone to see, and I’m not sure how that makes me feel. Only two people know who I am (as far as I’m aware) and both of those are internet friends. To have strangers poking around in places I’ve previously only kept inside… it’s strange. It’s what I wanted, so I can’t complain, but I’m not sure how I should react to it.

I suppose I thought I’d have given up writing by now. I’ve certainly been putting it off lately.

It’s been a strange few weeks, emotion-wise. Romantically, it’s been amazing; I really can’t begin to describe how happy I am with S. We spent this weekend lazing in bed, drinking vodka, watching Citizen Kane and playing Black Ops. We’re in our late twenties and perhaps we should grow up a bit and stop acting like teenagers, but it feels like the welcome break I always needed; no pressure, no pretending. I lay on the bed and read the whole of Tortilla Flat while S worked on programming, and it felt so blissfully comfortable. Tonight, he held me while I waited for a taxi to take me home, and I told him how happy he makes me. I know saying such things leaves me open and vulnerable, but I figure it’s time to grab with both hands and allow myself a bit of bare honesty.

The strange thing is, confessing my feelings to S no longer scares me. It’s like all the fear of rejection and humiliation has left me. I never imagined that would be possible.

My declaration to stop abusing my body with painkillers hasn’t really worked. True, I’m not swallowing codeine by the minutes, but I’m craving it. In fact, I’m currently craving everything; opiates, cannabis (having a horrible time trying to get hold of any – M will have some in a couple of weeks, but that feels like forever), food, alcohol, exercise, company, solitude… my life is one big craving at the moment. I’m chain-smoking, eating like a pig, worrying, drinking into the early hours of the morning. I have no real reason for it, I’m happy, I shouldn’t be falling on addictions.

Yet I am.

Being in constant pain from sciatica doesn’t help. I don’t cope well with pain anymore, so  reach straight for the co-codamol. I’m on Naproxen, which helps but doesn’t have the same calming effect opiates do. The Naproxen makes me feel sick and gives me stomach pains, so that gets me down. When the painkillers wear off, I’m reminded how feeble I am; few thoughts are more depressing than knowing that my body simply doesn’t work properly. When the sciatica gets better, I know I’ll still have pain from a thousand places in  my ineffectual body. It sometimes feels hopeless.

I’m becoming more depressed and affected by the constant pain and lethargy. I know that tomorrow I’ll be good for nothing, all because I spent the weekend with S. I wouldn’t change the weekends for anything, but it’s hard knowing that it takes me days to recover from simply sitting around with the man I love.

So it’s been a happysad couple of weeks. Better than just sad, I suppose.

 

Day Three Falls at the First Hurdle

I was woken at 9am by a rhythmic thumping. At first, I thought it was the bin men making an ungodly racket, but it’s not bin pick-up day. It sounded like the world was ending; as though Tripods had finally hit Earth and were stomping around a usually quiet suburban street in Northern England. Eventually, I worked out it was a tree chopper across the road and not an alien invasion.

I drifted in and out of sleep, wishing for peace. I didn’t sleep well last night; four hours at best, and what sleep I did manage was broken and filled with bizarre dreams. Fibromyalgia hit me badly last night, and I ended up leaning on my V-shaped pillow, watching Lost and knitting to distract myself. By 3am, it was obvious that I was going to need some help with the aches in my shoulders and thighs, so I caved in and took two co-codamol tablets. Half an hour later, they were working but I was still wide awake so I took another two, just to send me to sleep. I was hoping not to get back into that habit, it’s one of my worst; but what can I do? I can’t take anti-imflammatories due to having IBS, I can’t have any more sleeping tablets because I get addicted, and opiates are the next best thing. I’ve done this twice recently, which I’m not happy about.

S and I were supposed to be going to a philosophy group tonight, but I have a horrible feeling I won’t make it. I’m so, so tired; exhausted even. The idea of getting in the shower, washing and drying my hair, getting dressed, applying makeup, travelling, then sitting in a pub… I just don’t know if I can face it. I’m feeling panicky and anxious for no real reason (and I’ve taken my meds, so that can’t be blamed), I’m feeling guilty over eating at lunchtime, my stomach hurts because of the effects of codeine, and I’m just so lethargic. I’m trying to push myself, because I really want to join in. The idea of a philosophy group appeals to me, and I know I’ll get a kick out of being one of the youngest there, and of course I want to see S. I just don’t know if I can force myself this time.

I don’t want to sit around feeling depressed because I backed out. I don’t want to be disappointed in myself because I, yet again, let people down. I especially don’t want to worry that S will soon tire of having a girlfriend with fibromyalgia. He’s so supportive of me, but no man is a superhero and it must be frustrating for him. I can think of a million reasons why I wouldn’t want to put up with me, so surely he will develop the same reasoning one day. I’ve become so attached to him;  and not just in the romantic sense. I genuinely enjoy the time we spend together, and losing him would be horrible. I don’t know why I’m thinking like this, it can’t be good for my anxiety.

I did manage to complete a few more rows of knitting, and I made a body scrub with olive oil, sea salt and fresh lavender:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can’t quite see me using it for some time, though. Even the idea of lifting my arms above my head or standing up for any length of time sounds like a nightmare right now. Positive, eh?

A Doctor’s Appointment, Sleep Problems and Wrestling With Control

Last night mainly consisted of leg pain and bimbling around the internet in an attempt to distract from the burning in my calves. Sometimes, it gets so bad that I want to cry; but I’ve never cried over the physical pain, I won’t allow myself because it seems self-indulgent. So many have it worse than I, so many are trapped in wheelchairs whereas I can walk, so many need morphine just to exist, whereas I can get by on over the counter drugs and relaxation techniques. Oh, sometimes it hurts more than I can bear, but I can’t seem to let myself accept the pain for what it is; something which occasionally destroys my spirit and brings me so far down that I occasionally consider ending it all, just to be free of it.

I’m far from suicidal, but it doesn’t stop the thoughts creeping in. I know I’m strong enough to kick the demons into touch, but occasionally I let my wandering mind take over, and I wonder; what if I suddenly wasn’t here? What if I were light as air? What if I had no nerves to twinge, no muscles to ache, no skin to bruise? It’s shameful, but I do sometimes wish I was somebody else; someone without physical pain and the constant fear of muscle cramps and blinding headaches.

Dragged myself out of bed at 8am, after an entirely sleepless night. A two-hour nap earlier in the day didn’t help matters; if I sleep during the day, I can’t sleep at night,  no matter what I try, but staying awake all day seems like an impossible task sometimes. It doesn’t sound like much, does it? I mean, everyone gets tired, everyone feels exhausted at times, yet I seem unable to cope with the slightest hint of sleepiness. I look at other people and wonder how they cope with a full day, when all I usually want to do is crawl into bed and sleep for weeks. The idea of working a 9-5 job when I can barely stay awake for more than a few hours horrifies me; how do people do it? It seems so alien to me, so impossible.

The first upset of the day came when I tried putting my new-ish jeans on. A size 12, yet I had to pull them over my thighs in an entirely undignified manner, then strap myself in with a belt to stop them falling down because they won’t go over my hips. How have I let myself put on so much weight? Every day I promise myself I’ll cut down on the carbs, I’ll stop binge-eating, I’ll stop looking to food for comfort, but I inevitably find myself shovelling chocolate and crisps down myself. I feel so unattractive – my weight has always be the focus of my emotions, and right now I’m so unhappy with the way my body looks. My underwear cuts into my hips, rolls of fat hang from sleeveless tops. I’m constantly trying to hold my head up so the fat under my chin doesn’t show as much. Logically, it makes no sense to me – I’m hardly huge. Plump maybe, but not obese. Oddly, I was happier at a size 16 than I am now. I’ve tasted a size 8, I’ve experienced hip bones and a concave belly, and now nothing is good enough.

The second upset was when I tried to walk to my GP’s surgery. It’s only a 5 minute walk, hardly a marathon, yet with every step my legs felt heavier and heavier, until I was almost crawling along. An old lady with a shopping trolley was in front of me, and I realised I was walking slower than her. What’s happened to me? I used to be able to walk miles without the slightest twinge; now I’m out of breath and struggling to cope within a few steps.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to speak to my GP about. I get confused by check-ups. My general health doesn’t tend to improve, and emotionally, I’m quite stable right now, so I felt like a bit of a malingerer. I completely forgot to mention the lupus tests, and instead spoke about my sleep problems and night cramps. I’ve tried every sleeping pill under the sun, and nothing seems to work – my body just doesn’t accept knock-out drugs. I need an elephant-sized dose of valium just to calm me down slightly, so Zopiclone, Zolpidem and everything else just makes me slightly drowsy and irritable. The only thing which calms me is large doses of codeine, which I can no longer be prescribed due to past addiction, so I’m forced to buy co-codamol over the counter and risk my liver with 6 tablets at a time. If my family and the people who care about me knew, they’d be horrified, but sometimes the restlessness and panic is too much and I need something to calm me, before I explode.

After a chat about possible options, I’ve been prescribed a three-week course of melatonin – the body’s sleep hormone. It’s not addictive, but I know my ability to become reliant on any sort of drug, so no doubt I’ll be crying for it when the three weeks is over.  I’ve also been given slow-release beta blockers, after I confessed I’ve been forgetting to take them. Anxiety is creeping back in, and I know it’s because I’ve been slack with keeping track of my medication. Sometimes, I confess, I don’t forget; I just don’t want to take them. I hate being reliant on medication, as though it makes me less of a person. It exposes my weakness in not being able to cope with the world.

Fell asleep almost as soon as I got back home. I’d bought a large bottle of Night Nurse in the pharmacy when waiting for my prescription, because I know it’s good for knocking me out. Sure enough, within ten minutes of swallowing the hideous green liquid (seriously, I know people who drink the stuff, how can they stand the taste?), my legs had that drunk feeling which is so attractive to me, aided by an amitriptyline (I know I shouldn’t take it during the day, but needs must). Tried reading, but fell asleep within half an hour, and slept for 8 hours straight. Very weird dreams; lots of abandoned houses, people from my past and constant danger. It seems to be a regular theme at the moment (the other night, I dreamt I was on an aeroplane which had no roof and I wasn’t strapped in), which worries me a bit – the last thing I need is more recurring dreams to disturb my sleep.