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.

 

Support

I wasn’t sure what I expected from blogging about my life.  When I began copying entries from my old diary online, I didn’t really know what I was hoping to achieve; in my introduction I wrote how this blog is personal therapy, but back when I started over a year ago… I wasn’t even sure if I’d delete the few posts and forget about the whole thing. I’ve never spoken about my other blog; one I started writing a few years ago. It’s just a collection of my poetry, and I never plan to pass the link on to anybody.

The thing I really didn’t expect was to develop a support network. I’ve always wondered exactly what “support network” means; I read about it in books about getting over depression and eating disorder recovery, but the idea seemed pretty unrealistic to me. Never having had many friends, I’ve always relied on the mental health system and my family to support me. The system let me down, and my family did their best but didn’t understand what I needed. The only support group I ever went to was a total disaster; I disliked everyone there. They were loud and unstable and I had nothing in common with anybody.

However, one thing which has emerged from my writing is a support network of sorts. Reading through the comments on my last post, I realise that I finally have something I’ve needed for a long time; people willing to back me up, trying to advise me on which way to turn, or just saying they’re there for me. Just being involved in some way, with no reason to be other than they want to.

Some may say that relationships online can never be as meaningful as relationships in real life. In many ways I’d agree with that; all my life I’ve needed to be able to see a person to know what they’re thinking, and because trust is such a huge issue I find communicating without seeing the other person quite nerve-wracking; I can never quite trust somebody without looking them in the eye.

After reading those comments, I know I’ve done the right thing by writing about my life. Thank you.

 

Drugs and alcohol

When it comes to alcoholism and drugs, it should be a different issue. They’re self-inflicted and shouldn’t be an issue. They’re not real disabilities“.

I was talking to my mother about the government debate on mental health earlier. She seemed pretty uninterested, which disappointed me; it’s a subject painfully close to my heart, and it’s the government who decide my fate, after all. My mother is always panicking over my DLA, convinced that when I get called into the inevitable assessment my benefits will be either dramatically cut, or removed entirely. Personally, I try not to think about it. I am scared, but worrying about something which might not happen doesn’t seem the best way to deal with that fear.

While I was trying to speak to her and attempting to explain how I’m dubious about any changes being made. I said, “I’ll believe it when they stop taking innocent people off benefits”, and she replied with the quote above.

Considering my own problems with addiction, I took the comment quite personally. It took me a long time to understand why my mother was so biased against those who rely on substances; now I know the extent of my father’s alcoholism and my auntie’s spiral into days spent in bed with a bottle while my cousins raised themselves, and I get it somewhat. However, I can’t entirely comprehend her prejudice. My mother doesn’t know much about my past – I’ve purposely kept it that way to protect her because I don’t think she could cope with it – and certainly doesn’t know I still take drugs. She doesn’t know I’ve ever touched them, as far as I’m aware.

My father hit her. He pushed her down the stairs and tried to throw my sister E out of the bedroom window whilst high on something. He still drinks, and shouts abuse at her when he visits. I totally understand why she’d have such a bias against alcoholics; my dad is an idiot. My aunt is a sanctimonious woman who judged my mother for leaving my father and raising myself and my three siblings on her own, yet she drank and didn’t look after her children until they were older, and she had been in a violent relationship herself. Neither of those relations were great adverts for those struggling with addiction. They don’t exactly make themselves likeable.

However, I just wish she’d understand. I wish she’d see what’s right under her own nose; her own daughter is struggling with painkiller addiction. The girl she gave birth to has used alcohol to block out feelings.

Alcoholism runs in my family. I’m unsure if there’s a genetic link, or whether we’re just copying the behaviour of relatives. My father left before I was born so I don’t know how much of his violence and drinking I got to see. Sometimes I’d stay over at his tiny, cramped bedsit in Liverpool and he’d drink constantly from a plastic water bottle. Once, I tasted it; it was disgusting, like it had gone off. With hindsight I recognise the taste of cheap wine.

I loved staying with him. The house his bedsit was in felt huge, like a massive labyrith. My father lived right at the top, in a bedsit not much bigger than my mother’s living room, with a wonky ceiling and old sash windows, a mahogany wardrobe, sofa and table in front of an old two-bar gas fire, a tiny black-and-white tv and a double bed tucked in a corner. At night, I’d lie in that bed under a floral duvet and listen to the police sirens in the night.

We’d sit and watch Casualty in monochrome and eat spring rolls with soy sauce. Sometimes, he cooked chicken legs and wrapped them in foil with garlic and we’d have a picnic in the nearby park. I’d sit with my feet in the lake, watching men throwing fishing poles into the water and groups of teenagers smoking on the benches, and I’d think how much cooler my father was than my mother.

Dad let me swear. Only words like “arse” and “bloody” but, to my pre-teen self, it felt like a delicious freedom. He let me stay up late, and often took me on midnight walks around the area he lived in. We’d amble past graffiti’d walls and late-night takeaways, alleyways filled with rubbish and an abandoned nightclub. I loved that club; the walls were smooth with fake-marble tiles which were always cold to the touch and shone under the dim light from the old concrete lamp posts. Or we’d walk through the park, avoiding the teens smoking dope, drug-dealings, couples looking for somewhere private and lone men, just standing around, and we’d go to the lake. Together, we’d sit on a bench and talk about the strangest things. Time-travel. Cannabilism. Space-travel. Ghost stories. Indian food.

Once we were talking by the lake at 2am on a Saturday night and my father told me that if we were ever stranded at sea, I could eat him to survive.

I think it was the nicest thing he’s ever said to me.

Sometimes, I want to confess everything to my mother. How I once vomited from snorting too much coke. How I kept a bottle of gin under my bed when I was fourteen, and used to take a Pepsi bottle full of vodka with me to college when I was seventeen. I want to tell her about the day I realised I was addicted to morphine, and how I only stopped taking it because J prevented me from getting any. I want to explain why I once took twenty co-codamol pills in a day; not because I wanted to die, but because I was so reliant on them that it took huge amounts to get any feeling from it.

I can’t tell her any of these things. Because she just wouldn’t understand.

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.

An update on the privacy issue, and why I hate the internet

Not long ago I posted about the link to my blog being given out by somebody I’d trusted with that information. A few nights ago I decided to confront this person in a private message on the forum we’re both members of, and to my surprise she denied ever sharing the link, and forwarded a private message from another member, in which they said “this is what you’re after” and gave her the link.

I’ve given up any hope of ever feeling comfortable blogging about certain subjects now; these are people who know what I look like and where I live. People who know small aspects of my life but who would never be invited to read what is, in essence, my diary.

I don’t even understand why they’d want to read it. They have no connection to mental illness, as far as I know.

I chose to be anonymous because these are things I don’t tell anybody; not even my closest friends and family. I’ve purposely kept certain facts about myself a secret. I felt safe with my anonymity. I may have hundreds of views a day, but I was comfortable knowing those readers only know me as a faceless stranger on the internet. I don’t think I’m the only one out there who finds it easier to be honest when I can’t be identified.

After a bit of umming and aahing, I decided to push any BPD-related fears to the side and sent a PM to the person who passed the link on. I wasn’t hoping for much sympathy, but I can’t help but think the replies I received are typical of those who just don’t give the slightest damn about mental illness and the damage such small things can cause.

I sent:

***** may well believe otherwise; it was her choice to send me the PM.

It’s known that I write a blog. However, I’ve always stated that it’s NOT for anyone to see unless I give explicit permission; two people on ****** were trusted with the link. You weren’t one of them, so who gave it to you?

You may have been trying to be helpful, but I’m sure you can see why knowing the link has been given out would concern me a lot.

Their reply:

I responded with “What did I let slip? That I have a blog?

Why on earth would you be searching for something like that? I can’t help but find it beyond creepy that you’d actually Google something like that; something downright personal and which I’d said on **** that IS PRIVATE.

Have you given the link to anybody else?

I don’t think you quite understand how much trouble this could cause. “

Their response?

How hard is it for somebody to understand that passing on the link to something which is clearly very personal isn’t the right thing to do? Especially on a forum which has nothing to do with mental illness?

I don’t mind people finding this blog. I can’t stop anybody doing so. I’d like to think that basic human decency would overcome and they would realise that I probably wouldn’t want to have news of bulimia, breakdowns and my relationships shared on a site my friends read. Which my family read.

Obviously,  I have too much faith in others.

Don’t blame your daughter, that’s just sentimental

I was angry earlier – I suppose it showed – and I’m starting to feel a little guilty for lashing out verbally on such a time-worn subject. It’s a story which has been done to death over the years, and I’ve cried more tears over my mother’s control than anything else in my life. Although I didn’t cry this time, I wanted to; the only thing holding me back was a sense of pride in believing I was right, and not wanting to show weakness to her while she had the emotional upper hand.

Understand this; I love my mother. I worry about her constantly – her physical health, her moods, her depressions, the way she rarely eats – and I’d fall apart if anything happened to her. Although I hated her at times throughout my teens, I gradually learned that not everything she did was to spite me; over the years, my mother has opened up about her abusive relationship with my father, her brother dying when he was eight years old, her father dying of cancer when she was fifteen. She’s had a turbulent life – like mother like daughter, I suppose – and the more I get to know her, the easier it is to see that I’ve learned a lot of my behaviour from her, such as my ridiculous attitude to food. She’s obviously struggled with a lot of stress and drama, and sometimes I see flashes of myself in the way she rants and raves; flashes of BPD.

I suppose we’re too alike in many ways. Both prone to sulking and unjustified anger. Both trying to control situations; she tries to control me, I try to control myself. Both living with chronic pain. Both dealing with the stress of illness. Both knowing that men are sometimes unspeakably cruel.

I’ve spent so much of my life feeling inferior to her, feeling pushed out of the family and wrapped in cotton wool. Been the baby of the family for too long. I’ve watched my brother go off to be a train driver. Seen my sisters become managers and childcarers. Felt left behind as they buy houses and settle into their lives. My sister (E) ran away from home in her teens and stayed in a B&B, because she couldn’t cope with the controlling atmosphere in the house… leaving me to receive it all.

In a way, I wish I could hate her. It would be much easier to think she’s just a cruel woman; but she isn’t. She’s ill, she’s ill in the ways I am, but she will never admit to it. I’ve tried; she admits to having depression and I know she’s been on antidepressants in the past, but I know she struggles more than she ever shows.

I don’t know how I feel about moving into a flat with S – possibly next month – because I know she relies on me. As a child, I thought her demands for cups of tea were akin to slave labour; now I know it was because she couldn’t handle the kettle with arthritic fingers in the morning. I thought her hatred of my boyfriends was some sort of jealousy, when she turned out to be right about them every time.

She hurts me, though. Her little comments about my weight – hinting I shouldn’t be eating so much – and piercings/tattoos get me down. Her need to know every single thing about my life is tiring, especially when there’s so much I could never tell her. Her control over my finances… it’s destroyed my trust in her, because I know she doesn’t trust me. I’ve tried my best to be the daughter she wants me to be, but I know deep down I’ll never achieve that because it just isn’t me. I have piercings which she hates. I have ink she loathes. I hang around with people she can’t stand. I wear clothes she may not always approve of. I take risks and make decisions without her input… and that won’t change, because it’s taken most of my life for me to begin to realise who I am. I’ll never be what she wants.

Dear Diary – 14th/15th/16th January 2006

< 9th/10th January

< 11th/12th/13th January

Saturday 14th January 2006

When I’m alone a million fears creep in. I get insecure, anxious, panicky; but the second I’m with O, I find those fears evaporating. I almost wish they didn’t, because then I find it impossibIe to talk about my thoughts and I really need to. He goes to Hull for training on Monday and I’m worried how I’ll cope with not being able to just call him or go for a coffee together.

Every week I get nervous about going in to college on Tuesday, but the thought of going back next week makes me feel sick. I really don’t know what I’m going to do about the course; it’s looking more likely that my health – long and short term – is going to make it difficult. I’m desperate to get the anaemia sorted before it kills me; who would have thought that something so common coud feel so horrendous. I’ve lived with it for six months now and I just want to stop feeling so tired and drained. I’m 21, yet I feel like an old woman.

I think I need to write a letter to O and give it to him in person. I know that if I try to speak, it will all come out wrong. I don’t want him thinking I want us to split up or anything; that’s the last thing I want. The thing I’m trying to prevent. Perhaps I’m blowing things out of proportion anyway; it wouldn’t be the first time.

Sunday 15th January

Found it hard to get to sleep last night. The room was too hot and my legs were restless, my mind clunking along. Lay in the dark with my leg touching O’s and thought too much. As usual.

I feel guilty for staying at his every weekend; I worry I’m imposing on his family and putting them out. O says it’s fine but I’m not sure it is. I wish we had enough money to get somewhere to live, but that seems impossible. It’s embarassing, wondering if his family can hear us having sex, having to go through the living room to get to the loo, being seen with no make-up on. I suppose I don’t think enough of myself to believe I could be welcome.

Monday 16th January

Woke up thinking about college tomorrow; I’m dreading it. I’m so convinced I’ve made a mistake with my career choice*. I feel like I should go back to something academic, my brain feels useless. I’m not used to more manual thinking and it’s just not me. I worry I’ll turn out losing the things I know; I’m already having trouble remembering stuff and backing down far too easily in debates. I was devastated when my memory didn’t return after the overdose, so what if this is the same thing, happening again for a different reason?

O got to Hull okay. He had to go on his bike, which I admit I was a bit worried about but I don’t want him to lose his job. As much as I hate him working at the bike dealership (where everybody hates me) he needs to do it. Like college; I hate it but I have to do it for money in the future. It all seems to come down to money at the moment.

*hairdressing