My bed feels larger than when I was small

 

I’m tired of struggling through every day. Of pushing and pulling and forcing myself to at least seem okay. I’m tired of speaking and having the words come out jumbled before they can even leave my mouth. Of sleeping only when beyond exhaustion. Of making excuses. Of seeing the sunrise every single morning, having been awake all night. Of not being able to find a single bit of beauty in it.

Today, I broke all my personal promises and posted my feelings on Facebook. Oh, not the big stuff – that’s for here only – but I went into far more detail than I’ve ever felt comfortable with, and I’m still not comfortable with it now. I only did it because I can’t take unrealistic expectations anymore; I have never, ever been able to cope with being expected to act a certain way and, truthfully, I’m sick of pretending.

I was pulling myself out of it, with the help of antidepressants which have been proven to work for me. I was trying really goddamn hard, and I was almost there. I’d started eating normally again, and having showers. Things seemed to be on the up emotionally, even if they weren’t so great physically.

Then… just one little thing. That’s all it takes.

I don’t even know what that little thing was. All I know is I’m sitting on the sofa after leaving S in bed. I cried all day. I realised I just can’t take this. Everything. The pain. The sickness. The tiredness. Any of it.

 

world

I’ve been vomiting again, and the conclusion my mother and I came to is that it’s stress. Truthfully, I accepted this explanation because the idea of facing just one more doctor is too much to bear. I’ve thought about it throughout the day though, and I realise it’s probably true; even on days when I don’t feel like a total emotional wreck, I’m still terrified of what will become of me, and it’s like a ball of pure acid in my stomach to even consider the future.

Can I even see a future for myself?

Not really.

I’m relying on those closest to me – my mother, S, and a couple of people I’ve come to call friends – to keep me afloat, because if left to my own devices I begin to sink almost instantly. I can no longer talk to Z about any of this; it became apparent a while ago that we’re probably never going to be on the same page when it comes to life.

Just like last time, the vomiting has kicked off feelings I’d rather not have; feelings of calorie counting and tape measures. Truthfully I hardly need to worry about such things since eating has become incredibly difficult with the constant nausea and risk of sudden projectile sickness, but something inside decided to worry about it anyway. I’ve lost a lot of weight without even trying over the past few months, and you’d think I’d be ecstatic but instead I almost feel cheated because I didn’t do it myself. So, yet again, I grab for control.

I don’t even believe my own lies about having control anymore. I know nothing I do gives me the slightest safety.

 

I confess

The drugs just aren’t doing it for me,
chemical sleep has lost its appeal
and I confess, I considered tonight
that it might be easier just not to feel.

To slip away, to take a bow,
Admit defeat and fall from my grace
and would you miss me, would you notice;
how long would it take to forget my face?

You forgot me once, you can do it again,
after all, this is only a release
breaking free from the prison we built together
in the hope, of maybe, one night of peace.

I confess, this is serious,
and if I had the strength I would leave tonight
I wish I was brave, that I wouldn’t miss you
that this time I could really give up the fight.

An empty bottle in front of me,
and pills I know I’ll never take
just further proof of my personal failings
evidence of the depression I could never shake.

Another scar to my collection,
a canvas I paint to remind me of you
to prove this reality was never a nightmare
but a waking hell, which I’m still going through.

I confess, it would be so easy,
Just a slip of the hand, just one step too far
but I’m not brave, I feel too afraid
to let myself go, to reopen these scars.

Yet I fantasise of how easy it would be,
for you to live your life without me there
I confess I think of setting you free
sometimes it’s the only way that ever seems fair.

If I left today, would you notice?
Would you realise, I did this for you?
If I slipped away past an exit sign,
would you see it as failure, or something I needed to do?

I try to remember every word you ever said,
the times you loved me, the times you were sweet
I confess, I want to forget
to make this easier for me to leave.

But how can I go when you hold me like that;
when you whisper so quietly only I can hear?
I confess, you keep me from dying,
from collapsing under the weight of my fears.

(c)

“Suicide” is a word I don’t like typing. It’s such a final solution, and the word itself makes me feel uncomfortable about the actions I’ve taken in the past. I may occasionally mention my flirts with causing my own death, but I try not to go into much detail because, in truth, I’m ashamed.

I’m ashamed to know I even tried, mostly over such trivial things. New colleges and threats of break-ups. Arguments with my mother. They seem such petty reasons but back then I couldn’t judge whether an incident was serious or minor, and everything felt like a horrific attack on everything I am. The panic and psychosis (for there was psychosis; hallucinations and imagined conversations) drove me into a ball of fear and confusion and, somehow, I decided that suicide was the only logical answer to a world of horror. 

Last week, a man lay down on the train tracks between my house and Z’s, and killed himself. I heard the sirens and saw sketchy details appear on Facebook, but I still can’t let myself accept that somebody was in so much torment that they felt the only way to solve it was to climb over the barriers as traffic waited at the crossing, and wait for the train to hit; somebody just a couple of roads away from where I was sitting was going through something most people never – thankfully – have to experience.

I find myself wondering what he was like; why he felt he had to take that step, and do something so damn final. I wish I’d had the chance to know him, somehow.

Sisterhood of the World, and 100,000 views.

It’s been another non-day; watching old episodes of ER while playing Bejeweled and smoking, trying not to fall asleep in an attempt to rearrange my ridiculous sleeping habits. If you’ve been reading for a while, you’ll know that I often suffer from insomnia, interspersed with periods of extreme fatigue which can leave me stuck in bed for days, sometimes sleeping for fifteen hours or more. Lately I’ve been sleeping late and staying up until the early hours of the morning, getting stoned and, well, I don’t know how to describe it. Half-sleeping. I’m awake, but I dream; I don’t know any way to express how it feels, and I just hope somebody knows what I mean. It’s a sort of fugue state, but not borne from any depression. I’m very anxious, but happy on the whole.

I just lie there and think. Mostly about stupid stuff; crazy plans and thoughts inspired by dope and tiredness. Sometimes I imagine having conversations with S and finally admitting to all my failings with the codeine and thoughts of self-harm. I know I planned to speak to him about it at the weekend, but it just never seemed like the right time. Is that an excuse? I don’t know. Everything was just so nice and happy and lovely, and I didn’t want to bring anything down with my issues.

I was sitting around wondering how I could make a post about the weekend, still stuck in the “how do I start this?” dilemma. I procrastinated for a while, reading through recent comments I haven’t had time to reply to, and saw that Gypsy has nominated  me for the Sisterhood of the World award; giving me a much-needed happiness boost and also the perfect excuse for actually writing about what happened since Friday. The rules for the award are much the usual:

1. Thank the giver
2. Post 7 things about yourself
3. Pass the award on to 7 other bloggers and let them know they’ve been nominated
4. Include the logo of the award in a post or on your blog

So, number one; the thing I want to say here is that Gypsy was one of the first bloggers I followed, way back when I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. Reading about her life – in the wonderful detail she uses – showed me for the first time in life that there are others out there like me; others who think like I do and have the same struggles. Before reading about her experiences with BPD, I truly thought I was alone. She’s a wonderful woman, and somebody I would love to meet one day. She’s worth a million pounds and more in the blogging world.

As for the seven things, this is where I will write about my weekend. Good cop-out, eh?

1. On Friday afternoon, Halfway Between The Gutter and the Stars reached 100,000 views. I’ve been writing this blog for a little over a year, and I never, never expected to reach so many people. For a long time, my stats showed that views were almost entirely from comments I’d made on other blogs. It averaged around 30-60 a day, and I thought that was a lot. Sometime around six months ago, visits picked up to the point where I now average 600 views a day; not bad for a little diary written by a crazy girl from a small town in England. As much as it may sound like I’m throwing my ego around, knowing this blog reaches so many people – from so many different countries  – is a happiness I can never begin to describe. I always wanted to be a writer, and now, in a small way… I am. I write, and people read. They choose to read. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how grateful I am for every reader; even the ones who look in just to snoop. I’ve decided that any publicity is good publicity.

Thank you. All too often, I’m terrified that I’m doing the wrong thing by putting the bare roots of my life out there.

2. For most of my life, I’ve avoided social gatherings; this much is obvious from what I’ve written in the past. I’ve always been that way – as well as having anxiety problems, I’m also naturally shy – and for the longest time it didn’t bother me. I was happy being mostly alone, because the world stretched ahead of me and I thought I had forever to make mistakes and sequester in my bedroom. However, for the past five years or so I’ve felt an unbearable yearning to be like everyone else – or at least, everyone else as I see it – and I’ve craved the normality of socialising.

Still, I’ve shied away from actually taking that step, because my insecurities hold me back; telling me I’ll make a fool of myself or I’ll be laughed at for my weight or clothes. So making a move towards entering that world is a big deal for me, and I managed it this weekend.

3. Although I was with people I knew – S, Z, her boyfriend and a friend – I was going to meet a lot I’d never spoken to in person before. For me… it was like running at the wall and having it break apart before me; meeting others from the internet is always difficult, and a large gathering… eh, it was difficult. I nearly backed out so many times, but I wanted to see if I could achieve something big. A long time ago, I joined an online forum for body modification; I think I was having trouble with one of my first piercings and needed advice before I hyperventilated. Over the years they’ve held regular meets, and I’ve always made my excuses; usually pretending I’m too skint or have made other plans. The usual lies.

However, something inside me wanted to go to this year’s Manchester meet. Z was already going, which gave me the courage to accept the Facebook invite.

I went.

4. For the first time since I can remember, I got a train on my own. Although S came with me, he left early; we’d originally planned to stay in Manchester until 5pm then head back into town for a friend’s birthday meal. Despite all my fears and reservations, I really enjoyed myself at the meet and I think S could tell I was comfortable drinking half a pint (Lyrica and alcohol; a bad combination) and chatting, so he suggested I stay if I wanted to. Anxiety aside, I was giddy from the tiny drink and general atmosphere, so agreed. I decided transport worries could wait until later.

Of course, things didn’t work out as planned. I missed my train by two minutes, and even though there were only a few platforms at the station, I got lost and ended up on the wrong side. By the time I got back to the right place, I’d started to panic. Going to the station entrance and finding everyone didn’t even enter my mind; my head told me to sit down and freak out, so I did. It’s at times like this I truly believe my mind and I are separate entities, held together by a strange glue neither of us wanted.

Retreating to the women’s toilets, I sat in the locked stall and allowed myself to fall apart. Although the station was almost empty at 22.30, a middle-aged couple and a few drunk men – staggering and shouting like banshees – were nearby and I couldn’t let them see me freak out. I’ve cried at too many station platforms in the past.

An hour later, after narrowly avoiding vomiting Snickers cocktails all over the waiting room floor, I got on the train, tucked myself away in a walled-in seat, and distracted myself by reading the BBC website on my phone. Mobile internet is a wonderful invention. When I finally got home another hour and a half later, S met me at the door with a hug and a take away vegetarian pizza. I could have kissed him. I did.

5. On Sunday afternoon, S and I sat in the garden as usual, shouting for the sun to come out from behind the clouds and me getting happily stoned while he drank cans of Kopperberg. In the midst of geeky conversation I mentioned how it’d be nice if I didn’t have to go home that night. S replied by saying “you don’t”, and so I sent my mother a text saying I wouldn’t be home until Monday morning. In an ideal world I shouldn’t have to tell my mother at all, nor fear a phone call demanding I come home (it’s happened), but I’d never say no to an extra night spent with S. He cooked dinner for me and we cuddled together before falling asleep. In the morning, as he scrambled around trying to wake me up and have a shower before work, I lay in his warm bed, pillows smelling of his hair and deodorant, and felt okay. Properly okay. Despite the train debacle, I’d really enjoyed spending time in a social group; not only that, but some agreed to come to our flatwarming party. Two messaged me on Facebook afterwards to say how lovely it was to finally meet me, and one offered a bed at her house if I ever wanted to spend the day in Manchester together.

6. Flatwarming party? Yes. I’ve kept this quiet, partly because things don’t tend to work out for me, and partly due to the whole fraud allegation mess. I wouldn’t be doing anything wrong by moving in with S; I’d still be just as in need of DLA, and I’d still need financial assistance to pay for the extras being disabled causes. Nothing would change, and it’s not income-based. I’d still need the same amount of care. Still, I worry. Being accused of wrongly claiming benefits has terrified me.

We’ve been told that the flat owned by a friend’s mother is being rented out, and we can move in around the end of the month. S and I are going to be living together soon.

I knew I wouldn’t make it to seven things, and it’s probably good that I couldn’t be bothered writing more; this post is getting long enough. As for nominating other blogs… this bit is always difficult. The award is called Sisterhood of the World; I’m not entirely sure what that means and who deserves a nomination.

I know “strong women” is always a bit of a cliché, but I’ve chosen to award this to the bloggers who keep on writing and fighting, even through adversity.

Stolen Crayons

Faith, Hope and Chocolate 

theicedsun

Letters to Dom

The Quiet Borderline

Anonymous Unidentified

witheringtulip

These bloggers all inspire me in different ways, and all too often I can identify with their words. They use language I like, and write beautifully. Most importantly, they all have their struggles to carry, yet write about them with such elegance and honesty.

They must have taken my marbles away

I often question if I’m doing the right thing by putting my personal life on show for anybody to read. As a teenager I wrote pages and pages in my diaries and wondered how it would feel if other people read my most secret and shameful thoughts. I approached the idea with a cavalier “that’ll teach them to mess with me” attitude, almost hoping that somebody would find my diaries so the world could know how unjust it had been.

Of course, my diaries eventually got read; it’s not long since I found one in my mother’s room, tucked away in a chest of drawers. The teenage romance of justice suddenly felt very shallow indeed; my life was exposed, and I didn’t like it. I’d been writing Halfway Between for a year before that happened, and I admit it did bring a new fear of being judged. Knowing my mother read that diary served as a reminder that real people are following what I’m saying.

I think writing a personal blog can have a lot of negatives, especially when it comes to subjects you’ve laid yourself bare on. My mother doesn’t understand why anybody would speak about themselves on the internet, and I’m still not quite sure why I do. Yes, it helps me rationalise emotions and let off dangerous steam, but not everybody will understand that. Not everyone who reads my posts will know how I’m really feeling at that moment, and nobody knows my entire history. In each post I write there’s an opportunity to criticise me, and sometimes the fear of that keeps me awake at night.

Don’t get me wrong. I know I can’t sit in an ivory tower and demand exclusion from all criticism because it inevitably upsets me. I’m not a special little snowflake by any means, and I can’t expect the world to surround me in bubble wrap until it feels safe. By putting my world out there, I leave myself open to everything, and I really do question why I do that. I know it helps, but I can’t help but wonder just what would happen if somebody really pushed me.

You see, I’m far from invincible. A lot of my more extreme behaviours are under control but I still have the underlying fear of being abandoned, and to my addled mind criticism = abandonment. As far as I’ve come, that fear still triggers that fight-or-flight response, and I’m not yet strong enough to stop the self-destructive thoughts which smack me in the face whenever I feel trapped in a corner by harsh words. I may not always act on those thoughts anymore – swapping knives and bulimia for writing this blog – but just knowing I still think them is a hard thing to deal with. Sometimes, the concern that I’ll act on them grows into a massive ball of fear, and one tiny strand of all those worries is the fear that I’ll be judged harshly on my words or actions.

You see, I don’t do this for attention. Nobody ever claimed I did, but I do know some bloggers consider personal diaries to be self-indulgent affirmation for weak souls.

Personally, I don’t see how writing a personal blog can ever be anything other than self-indulgent, and I don’t understand why that necessarily needs to be a bad thing; especially if it’s beneficial. Through reading blogs similar to my own, I’ve come to the comforting realisation that I’m not as fucked-up as I perceived myself to be. Most importantly, I’ve learned I’m not alone, and that’s something everybody needs to feel now and then.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been overracting to minor events, turning them into a mess of anxiety and confusion and lashing out verbally in an attempt to protect my corner. So when I received criscism on Facebook this evening regarding a post I wrote on depression, it pushed me into a place I didn’t feel at all safe in. Despite all my efforts to reign in the urge to prove myself, I freaked. My first thought was to retreat here and smack the keyboard a little until the panic subsides, but then I questioned myself.

Do people really need to hear this?

I’ve become convinced that my blog is taking up time and space which could go to a much better cause. I get these feelings sometimes – a favourite hobby is beating myself down – but right now I honestly think I’m pushing it by assuming my feelings mean anything outside my own, fuddled head.

Now, my worry is that this post will be taken as a cry for attention and a bit of sympathy; an ego-boost for the damaged soul. Perhaps deep down it is. Perhaps it’s all that keeps me afloat sometimes. All I know is I don’t want to undo the progress I’ve made by becoming wary of putting a step wrong every time I post, and there’s only so many times I can apologise for slights only I can see.

A while ago, a blogger commented that my posts were too negative. I didn’t understand it, and I still don’t to this day; is there a programme I should be following? Should I gee up my posts and pretend everything’s hunky-dory because things are getting a little morbid?

I’d be lying if I did that and lying has never brought me anything but trouble, so I avoid it these days.

The reality of writing a diary for everybody to see is far from the romanticised revenge of years ago. I don’t want revenge anymore. I don’t care for sympathy, or sit comfortably with platitudes. Empathy, yes. False best-wishes? No, that’s not for me. I no longer feel 100% secure in what I write and the possible consequences my words could have. Despite appearences, I loathe attention, and writing this blog has certainly attracted plenty of that. It’s a hard thing for me to deal with; something entirely new which I was never prepared for. Like compliments, I shy away from attention because the reality of accepting either is something I just can’t process. I may have a big voice and type thousands of words about myself, but that doesn’t mean I feel comfortable doing it.

Falling through the cracks

I was chatting to Z on Facebook earlier, and the subject of J came up. When we first moved in to the Georgian house, everything – and I mean everything – was falling apart. The walls were full of cracks and running with damp. There were no electrics and no gas, and the kitchen had wires hanging out of the walls. By the time I left six months later, there were few improvements; the house – once utterly beautiful if records about it were to be believed – was pretty much a cracked shell waiting to fall down. I messaged Z wondering if the cracked exterior wall had fallen down yet, and it got me wondering what J was up to these days.

Despite his paranoia and obsession with protecting himself from the powers that be, J’s Facebook wall is open for anyone to look at. It’s always confused me; this is the guy who bought a crossbow and ball bearings to kill anybody (“instant death with a headshot”) who was planning on breaking into the house, and who sent text messages in code in case the government read them.

His wall was no surprise. Links to petitions demanding legalisation of cannabis. Articles about Anonymous. Bad jokes and inappropriate sexual comments female friends he added purely to try to seduce.

It made me a little sad. Despite everything J put me though, J is sick. Very sick, unless his mental health’s improved since I left him. Somehow that seems unlikely. While we were together, J made no attempt to control or help his bipolar. After I’d walked out on him, we tried to stay friends. Well, I did; I was worried about him – he’d not long been released after being sectioned for months – and despite my reservations, I wanted to make sure he was okay.

 At first he really seemed to be trying. He took his medication – it was easy to tell because he put on weight and ate like a pig – and spoke to the community care woman who visited weekly. After I told him I’d started seeing S, I never heard from him again. To this day I have no idea whether he stopped talking to me because he was jealous, or because I had served my purpose.

J not only slipped through the cracks, he kept right on going to the very bottom. After multiple sectionings, arrests, psychotic episodes in public and a spell of homelessness, J is still sick. He’s forty-two now and, having been diagnosed with bipolar at twenty-six, is still just as fucked-up as when it all started.

As well as sad, it makes me angry to know that, like him, I slipped through those cracks. There were so many chances for somebody to step in and suggest that something was wrong, but nobody ever took the time, and it’s only with retrospect that I realise just how many times I was shrugged off as being “just a teenager”.

Self-harm was, I suppose, the first real indication that something wasn’t right. Unlike some, I had no desire to hide the blood or scars; they were my battle-wounds and if people didn’t like it, then tough. I did, however, hide it from my mother and she only discovered I’d been cutting myself with dismantled Bic razors when the school headmaster summoned me into his office one day and asked me about the scars.

You can always come and talk to me, at any time. But you have to realise that school is a tough place and you’re a bit of a square peg in a round hole. You need to attempt to fit in more“.

Like I was just doing it to be different.

When I was first sent to the psychiatric unit, I was labelled “completely sane”. Despite the obviously fresh cuts on my arms and habit of running straight to the toilet after meal times to throw up, the staff said I was okay. I always wondered why they didn’t see straight through me; nobody gets locked away in the crazy home unless there’s something wrong, and my habit of smiling constantly and always being polite to staff should have shone like a beacon. I was faking it all and keeping the madness locked inside so I’d be sent back home. Nobody acts that perfect unless they’re crazy and trying to get discharged.

During my second admission – a few weeks after my plot to be released worked like a charm – I eventually broke down and the staff concluded that perhaps I was a bit troubled. Still, their attentions were focused on the more severe patients – the anorexics and the violent kids – so my terror at being faced with food and the collection of  razor blades in the bedside cabinet were overlooked. When I stood and banged my head against the wall just to feel something, nobody saw. Staff left me mostly to my own devices, because I was “okay”.

At fifteen, I met the man who became my first serious boyfriend – eight years older and with Asperger’s Syndrome, he was possessive and prone to fits of temper but I worshipped him because he paid attention to me. When the police came months later, they said I didn’t have to leave if I didn’t want to. The chief told my mother that I was competent enough to make my own decisions. Legally I was still a minor, but the police ruled that I was capable of understanding the risks.

At sixteen, I was taken to the local A&E with a stomach full of paracetamol and coffee. A member of the crisis team was called in to speak to me, and I told him it was an impulsive act; just a cry for help. It wasn’t. I was allowed to go home the same day. With the second overdose at seventeen, I was kept on suicide watch for 24 hours in the local psychiatric hospital. I kicked and screamed as I was taken in. Cried the entire time. The mental health team decided I wasn’t a danger to myself and sent me home.

A few months later I ended up back in hospital after taking my entire pack of venlafaxine and a fair handful of diazepam. I had a fit in college, having woken up still alive and disappointed. Unconscious for a while, I missed any procedures which may have been done on me when I arrived. When I woke my mother was sitting on my bed, crying.

This time they didn’t want to let me go, but not because I’d taken more than enough tablets to kill an elephant. I needed all sorts of injections and IV’s. I was unable to pee and needed a catheter, which I pulled out more than once because it burned like hell. I’d done some actual damage this time, and needed medical intervention.

No psychiatrist or crisis team was called this time. The fact that I’d taken an overdose was never mentioned. I went home a few days later – earlier than my consultant would have liked – still unable to pee and with a bruised body from smacking into the floor when the fit started.

Somebody should have seen me falling.

In more ways than one.

In which I step outside my comfort zone, and enjoy it

Our kitchen is what you’d call a ‘galley'; if a galley could ever be so small that one person barely fits in it. On one wall is cabinets and a tall fridge and on the other are appliances, squashed together and sometimes inaccessible behind organic cleaning products and spare shopping bags. There’s little wallpaper – it was stripped off years ago and somehow never got finished – so the walls are mostly bare and nicotine-stained. The ceiling is yellow and the lino on the floor is slowly peeling up.

Because it’s so small, my family tend to take it in turns to use it; even making a simple cup of tea is a military operation if more than one person is standing near the kettle. Cups tend to build up in the drainer and teaspoons clutter up the sink.

Earlier, I was making a brew for my mother and I. She’s ill at the moment – I suspect a chest infection/bronchitis – so I’m trying to help a little around the house today. I feel guilty for not being able to help more, but I had a busy weekend (more about that later) and fibromyalgia has sapped all my energy. I’m not in pain, just exhausted. Like my body wants to fall on the floor and stay there.

My dad walked in as I was pouring the tea and trying to juggle making a sandwich while my brain feels like it’s stuffed with bubble wrap. As I said, the kitchen is small and as he squeezed past me, I couldn’t help but feel irritated; it’s a one-person kitchen, we’ve all agreed on that. I stood patiently while he fiddled with the back door a little before wandering back into the living room. Almost immediately I felt guilty; my dad’s well into his sixties, he’s not in great health because of his drinking, and we suspect he’s possibly suffering from some sort of dementia, probably brought on from years of downing spirits and cheap wine every night.

But then I thought, why should I feel guilty for getting irritated by him? After all, I’m the one who made the decision to distance myself from my father; I can’t go getting emotionally involved if I’m trying my best to ignore the man who made my mother’s life hell until she got up the guts to leave him after one too many drunken punches were thrown. He may have been fantastic in my childhood – my hero in fact – but I refuse to smile at a wife-beater. I just can’t allow myself to do it. I can’t be a hypocrite and loathe violence but chat to the man who pushed my mother down the stairs. The more I thought about it, the more irritated I got. My father never once visited me in hospital when I was seriously ill with acute cholecystitis and pancreatitis. He never spoke to me about my mental health; not when he was sober, anyway. He doesn’t even say hello when he comes to my mother’s house. He’ll grunt, or say thank you if I make him a cup of tea, but he doesn’t say hello.

I made him a cup of tea. Told him it was in the kitchen, and came upstairs.

After my GP appointment on Friday, I sat around for a while, smoking and watching E.R (obsession of the moment; I always have an obsession. Last time it was House. When I was younger, I played Age Of Empires for two years straight) and waiting for the next medical adventure; an appointment with the podiatrist who’s been checking up on the tendonitis for the past few months. It went as well as it could; I have more flexibility than last time, but it’s still swollen so I’m being referred to rheumetology again. Different doctor this time, but the same department. Sometimes I think my life runs in circles and I’ll never break free.

I don’t quite understand why they’ve passed me on to rheumetology; the podiatrist didn’t explain, or if he did I was too anxious of being in hospital to take any of his advice and feedback in. I can only assume he thinks there’s something wrong with the joints in my foot. Same old, same old.

My best friend, Z, was 24 years old on Sunday, and she invited S and I to a barbecue at her house on Saturday night. My initial reaction was the usual; I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to speak to people I didn’t know – her friends, her family – and I was worried I’d get too stressed out and retreat to a quiet corner and become my usual reclusive self, ending up going home and failing at yet another social situation. However, this weekend I felt the fear and did it anyway – with S’s help – and not only went to the barbecue, but had a fantastic time. S and I even stayed over in the spare room, snuggled together under a bright yellow duvet and shielding our silent midnight sex with a spare curtain draped quickly over the bare rail.

.Z’s two-bedroom house is rented out by her boyfriend’s parents. When she told me she was moving in with Steve, I was jealous; the most I could hope for was a small flat or paying well over the odds for a tiny house in a dodgy area. They have a huge garden and enough room for their animals; a cat, a corn snake, two degu’s and whichever cat from next door wanders in. However, it soon became obvious that she and Steve were struggling to cope with running a household. The first time I visited, the living room was filled with boxes and half-empty cups and the carpet hadn’t been hoovered since they moved in weeks earlier. The kitchen was a death-trap, and the bathroom had no door. Steve and Z have a strange relationship. I’m sure they love each other, but they’re so different to S and I, and sometimes I can’t understand how they stay together. Z is incredibly clingy and possessive, and always demanding reassurance. She doesn’t always take her medication for bipolar and I’ve stood awkwardly on many an occasion while Z overreacts to something Steve says and starts asking if he wants to break up with her. It’s uncomfortable, and reminds me a little too much of myself.

I confess, I wasn’t at all prepared for Z’s birthday. I’ve been losing track of dates recently – I have no idea what today is – and I have a really difficult time remembering birthdays anyway. I try, but it just doesn’t happen. I still can’t remember my brother’s birthday after knowing him for 27 years. Numbers just stress me out too much. Typically I hadn’t remembered  to buy Z a present, so I had to do a mad dash around Tesco’s on Friday evening while S and I were shopping for pizza and Fosters, grabbing a baked eyeshadow set and a box of Thornton’s chocolates; hardly innovative, and entirely crap for a best-friend gift.

My friend G (we actually call him G as well, it’s not just a nickname) was invited too, and walked up to S’s house with his staffordshire bull terrier so we could get a taxi together. G never spends money unless forced and the only reason he gets away with it is because he’s so charming. I call him a friend, but I’m still not entirely sure what that words means; we speak, chat on Facebook, and he used to live with me when I was in a relationship with J, does that mean he’s my friend?

Sometimes I think I’ll never understand social interaction. It just doesn’t come naturally to me.

Z was quiet when we got to her house – I was worried she hadn’t taken her meds again – and she barely acknowledged our presents. I instantly started panicking; I know I’ve been an awful friend and isolated myself, but she can’t leave me. She can’t abandon me; losing people has happened too many times now for me to cope with. Z leaned into me and whispered, “I was going to call the whole thing off” then pulled me into the kitchen. As partygoers pushed past us, she told me somebody had hung themselves. She said who but I was too Lyrica-muddled and panicked to take it in. Somewhere in my head I was still stressing over her lack of reaction to my admittedly shitty present.

A couple of years ago, Z’s cousin hung himself. She took it very badly, and still gets tearful if his name is mentioned. She told me that knowing somebody else who’d commited suicide in that way brought it all back for her. Everything brings it back for her. I tried to hug Z, but she wouldn’t let me.

S was chatting with Steve and G, poking around the barbecue and trying to be all manly, so I went to talk to Z’s next door neighbour. Ann is in her fiftes and lives with five cats in a house filled with nick-nacks and photographs. She has severe osteoarthritis and can barely walk, and she’s awesome. We sat in her house and rolled a joint each, chatting about the painkilling benefits of weed and my mother. Nicely chilled and calmed, I went back to the party, bumping into my friend (again, friend…) Debbie. I’ve only met her once before – when I was ill in hospital – and although we’ve chatted a lot on Facebook, I’ve always made excuses not to meet up. I’m too nervous. Being thrown into the situation suited me much better; she hugged me and we chatted while I broke the Lyrica rule and drank cider and Fosters. I figured if I was going to be ill, I may as well go out in style.

A couple more joints later, I was feeling okay. Z had brightened up (although she was still somewhat aloof; understandable),  and watching S holding the corn snake and marvelling over the muscle structure cheered me up in a way only geeky boyfriends can. I started chatting to other guests – there were about ten in total – and actually mingled. I never mingle. I’m very anti-mingle.

The night was a success, and I’m glad I made the effort to socialise for once. We ate birthday cake and played with G’s staffie, throwing balls across the garden for him to catch. Cooked burgers and watched S pour a whole can of Fosters down himself; nobody’s let him live it down. As it went dark we set up a plastic table and some chairs around the back of Ann’s house and smoked blueberry and weed shisha, accompanied by hash brownies and Jägermeister shots. Played music on our phones and talked about everything and anything.

On Sunday, Z and I left the men to do some work in the garage and went to a local food festival. It was shutting down a little as we got there but we still had a good time; loads of free samples and I tried anything which had chilli involved. Afterwards Z bought me some chips and we walked back to her house. I confessed that I’d been feeling guilty over not seeing her often, and she said, “yeah, but it’s your mum, she’s too controlling“. True, and I decided not to mention the other reasons; fear, anxiety, paranoia. Thought I’d just pretend it was all my mother.

I’ve promised myself I’ll make more of an effort to socialise; I’ve realised that when I do, I enjoy myself. As long as I have a safety net of dope and somebody I know to look after me, I’m okay.

I’m not going to die.

Facebook

It’s finally cooled down a little. The breeze from the sea has picked up, and I’m no longer wilting. I don’t know if I can take much more of this heat; I have an appointment to get my ankle scanned at the hospital tomorrow, and the idea of another hot, sweaty day – especially if I have to sit for a while in the tiny, cramped waiting room – is almost unbearable. Usually I’d meet S for a coffee in his break, but this appointment’s at 9am; so it’s unlikely we’ll see each other.

After some encouragement, I’ve finally set up a Facebook account/page for Halfway Between the Gutter. Over the last few weeks I’ve had a lot of visitors from Facebook; others have linked to my posts, I assume. I’m thinking maybe it’ll be a way to chat with other bloggers without having to sacrifice being anonymous.

My personal account

“Like” blog page

You can also like the blog page with the widget on the right hand side.

I’ve also had a photograph featured on Broken Light Collective; a community of photographers living with mental illness.

I’ve been looking so long at these pictures of you

When you spend most of your life shut inside your bedroom, there’s often not a lot to write about. One reason why I sometimes back off from participating so much online is because the jealousy surrounding the wonderful, full, active lives of others can start to consume me, and I’ve fallen apart more than once due to that envy. There’s only so many times I can type “played the Sims” or “slept all day” before the reality of my life being pretty damn boring becomes apparent.

Pain has been a constant for the past few days. Not agonising – it’s been much, much worse – but a permanent dull ache in my ankle, foot and hands. For once, my neck isn’t too bad; S gave me a back massage at the weekend and it seemed to loosen things up a bit. I’m loathe to take any Naproxen; I’ve been forgetting to eat (more about that later) and I don’t think my stomach could take it. IBS has been terrible for about a week now, and the smallest thing is sending me straight to the toilet with cramps and horrible pains, so the last thing I need is to irritate it more.

Yesterday, I had planned to go to the bookshop (where I used to volunteer) after closing time for drinks with P (the manager who was my closest friend, but it turns out he had feelings for me and he stopped speaking to me when I met S) and C, the little guy with glasses and an Elvis obsession who worked with me on Mondays.

At first, the idea seemed possibly not that great. P and I have spoken on Facebook since we ‘fell out’, but I suspect he still feels resentment that I picked S over him. I was concerned it would feel awkward. After I got together with S, P sent me a huge bunch of flowers; I flipped somewhat, and he cried on my mother’s shoulder when he realised he’d done totally the wrong thing.

I needn’t have worried. After deciding to just go – despite his overreaction to my relationships, P was a wonderful friend and I don’t blame him for making mistakes; I’m an emotional failure myself – I didn’t hear anything about what time I needed to be at the shop. Despite improving hugely in dealing with uncertainty over the past couple of years, I panicked. The rational thing to do would be to phone the bookshop, but I didn’t think I could cope if a volunteer I didn’t know answered. So I bailed.

Bail number two was a photoshoot on Sunday. I was supposed to be taking part in a goth/alt photoshoot for a friend, along with Z. It was an incentive to lose some weight and make an effort with my skin, so I was quite looking forward to it in a nervous way. I hate having my photograph taken, but figured it might be good for me to force myself in front of the camera.

I was the first person to join the Facebook group about it, and was first on the list. I’d posted in the group about going. I’d planned to bring S along, and get a professional photo of us together. Then I get a message online, from someone I sort-of know. She said that O and Ally were taking the kids to the shoot, and that I should probably know before I turn up. Sure enough, when I check the group, O has confirmed, along with a message saying “he’ll bring the fam”.

There’s no way I could have gone. Not even with Z and S alongside me; no amount of medication could hold me back from giving Ally the slap she earned when she slept with O, knowing he was still engaged to me. I already gave O his slap (I’m not proud, the red mist took over when he told me they’d slept together, just after having sex with me) but I don’t know if I could stand to look him in the eye after all the lies he told me.

Never take friendship personal

friend·ship

[frend-ship]

noun
1. the state of being a friend;  association as friends: to value a person’s friendship.
2. a friendly relation or intimacy.
3. friendly feeling or disposition.
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I haven’t spoken to my best friend, face-to-face, in weeks. Our last contact was through Facebook, where I said I may pop round (I didn’t), about two weeks ago. She’s called me once, and left me a few messages online, but I’ve ignored her.
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I care about Z, I really do. Her mental health problems (she’s bipolar) helped me learn about BPD and, as a result, finally get a diagnosis for all the barmy behaviour I’ve been participating in. I worry about her a lot; she’s incapable of budgeting or giving priority to bills and things she has to pay for. She argues a lot with her fiancé, and rarely takes her medication. She never got over her cousin’s suicide a couple of years ago; he hung himself in his garage, and she still can’t cope with anything to do with suicide (not that I blame her).
.
Despite the fact that I love Z, I have problems with our friendship. Or rather, friendship in general. I have no real long-term friendships, because I tend to back away after a couple of years. Am I afraid of getting too close to somebody? Maybe, but I suspect it’s not quite that simple.
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Firstly, I have no idea at which something becomes a friendship, and I worry that perhaps I’m assuming too much by calling somebody ‘my friend’. The whole process seems to come naturally to others, yet I find it almost impossible to understand the whole socialising thing. I want to socialise and have friends, but something stops me actually doing it. It’s not that I’m particularly unpopular; making friends doesn’t seem to be a problem, it’s keeping them which troubles me. It’s like I get scared, but I don’t know what by.
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Looking back, I didn’t always have this problem. I was a shy child, but was in the ‘popular’ group in primary school, best friends with Emma, Bridget and Tom*, and often hung around in the cul de sac around the corner with the kids from the area, riding bikes and scooters, or going next door to play on the Master System. It’s only when secondary school started and some of my friends went to other schools or got put in other sets, that issues started to develop. Once I started getting bullied, I became more introverted than usual and found it difficult to speak out anymore.
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I never had much confidence, but my experiences in school destroyed the little I had, and friendships began to fall by the wayside as I drew myself further in. For no reason, I was lying to my friends, stealing from them, insulting them… I began acting in a cold way, almost like I was trying to get them to hate me. Looking back, I think this point is where BPD really started showing; I was becoming incredibly irrational and convinced that everyone was talking about me, even when they clearly weren’t. I started hearing voices, but that’s another story.
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At the age of fourteen, I lost all my friends. I disappeared; left school and, after a stay in hospital for self-harm and anorexia, cut off all contact. I just didn’t feel like anyone understood and, after going entirely batshit crazy in front of a number of friends on regular occasions, I couldn’t face the world anymore. That’s the path my life has taken ever since.
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Keeping friendships can be difficult enough when you have a mental illness, but when you add chronic illness and pain into the mix, it can get impossible. I worry that I’m a burden on others – it’s hard not to, when you’re constantly having to cry off plans because of tiredness – and I still don’t feel comfortable admitting that I’m, well, sick. So I go along with things, suffering, and after a while I can’t take it anymore and back away. Or someone upsets me once, and I become convinced they hate me, so I save them the trouble of trying to get rid of me and I  just stop speaking to them.
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I have become adept at burning bridges; it’s almost a talent now.
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* poorly-invented names

You live with straights who tell you you was king, jump when your momma tell you anything, the only thing you done was yesterday

It’s just past 5am, and I don’t really remember falling asleep yesterday afternoon. Woke up a couple of times and vaguely recall drinking a cold instant hot chocolate, but otherwise slept through entirely.

Yesterday didn’t go well, mood-wise. Being up all night left me irritable and snappy,  and the joints I’d smoked in the morning meant I was far from in the mood to help with the shopping. The whole house thing was weighing on my mind too, and I found myself wandering around Sainsbury’s, picking up random items and putting them down again, not really knowing what to do with myself. Buying food for the week was a disaster; ended up with a box of cereal, coffee, tobacco, a lettuce and two Quorn ready meals. I just couldn’t make enough sense of anything to make food choices.

My mother and I poked around a couple of charity shops, and although I had a minor panic when I saw a pair of jeans I really liked in my size but which seemed far too small (I don’t do changing rooms), I did manage to root out two tops – a long, tiered floral strappy one, and a long-sleeved Falmer smock – and a lovely brown cardigan with flared sleeves. Charity shops are sometimes the only things keeping me sane.

I’m very grateful to everyone who commented on my last post, offering support and good wishes. I’m just trying to clear my mind a little before I reply to you all; I’m too grumpy and spaced-out to do the kindness justice right now.

Received another message on Facebook:

After meeting ****** he informed me that we have to inform our building society that our property would become a ‘buy to let’ property and that our mortgage payments would be adjusted accordingly. We’ve thought about this and realised that our best option is to sell, the overheads now outweigh any potential rental income. I’m sorry to have to tell you this. I don’t even know if it was something you were both considering, but I have to let you know the score.

I feel awful for telling your this and I apologise massively if I’ve let you down.

I need some advice. BPD is taking over right now, and I know I can’t reply when paranoia and depression will have a hand in it; allowing them to speak for me never goes well. So, what should I say? I’m often lost for words when speaking to others personally, and I don’t want to cause any grief or upset her. It’s not her fault that S and I put so much faith into renting her house.