When the past gives me no comfort

Despite my attempts at being entirely honest and bare in this blog, I do hold back. I assume everybody does, to some extent, even in their most secret of diaries. You see, twenty seven years of life is a lot to fit into just over a year’s worth of writing.

At first, I thought running out of things to say and confessions to admit would happen quite quickly. After all, I haven’t lived for that long; most still seem to consider me a child, barely out of my teens. It seems that even after you grow up and become an adult, there will always be somebody older ready to condescend your problems by mentioning how much more experienced they are. However, thousands of words later, I’m beginning to realise I can’t possibly tell my story in such a short time and, if anything, I’m only just admitting to the tip of the iceberg.

Something I’ve learned about writing such a personal blog – which involves sensitive subjects – is that I have to be feeling in the right frame of mind to speak about certain things. Sometimes I have to be angry; I write best about self-harm when I’m furious. Others, I have to be bordering on falling back into the depression pit. Some things… I am never in the right frame of mind.

 

Like tonight. I would much rather curl up in a ball on my bed and smoke dope and watch E.R until the sun comes up, than write about all the anxiety which has been plaguing me. I’d much prefer distracting myself with pointless games than admitting to finding it really fucking hard not starving myself every time I try to lose just a little weight.  And I’m forcing myself to write because I know that if I don’t, I’ll keep doing it. If I don’t have to hold myself accountable, then what’s the harm in letting myself cut a few hundred calories a day, until I’m only eating half an apple and two carrot sticks? At least then less people would judge me. I wouldn’t have to worry about not being taken seriously anymore, because when I was thin… I felt better. I just felt better. More confident. People listened to me more. I wasn’t just a fat loser with a walking stick and too many piercings.

I’m tired, but I don’t want to sleep. I also don’t want to talk about the voices.

They’re not voices; not really. They’re more like obtrusive thoughts which feel like they come from a different brain. They barge in with suggestions and hints, and are impossible to shut up once they get going. Until a few years ago I believed they were entirely valid thoughts, and acted on them. After years of fucking up and putting myself in dangerous situations… I learned – through lots of self-therapy and even more medication – that they’re not my real thoughts. That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t mean I can ignore them. They shout. Loudly. Demand my attention. Grab onto my brain stem and refuse to let go.

I wish I could explain the things they say, but it’s difficult to put into words. It’s bitter and spiteful stuff; reminders of my failings and every single time I said something wrong. They’re the ones who say that everybody in a room is looking at me, and that everybody I know is just pretending to like me out of pity. When I’m holding the lit cigarette in my hand and feeling helpless, they’re the ones who are shouting at me to press it into my arm. They’re the ones who twisted everything; who convinced me that I had enemies in friends and that others were out to hurt me. They made it all sound so real, and they still do. I just know they’re not a part of me now. Not a healthy part anyway.

I don’t know what I’m trying to say here. That I’m tired and need sleep, probably.

I hope you’re feeling happy now, I see you feel no pain at all.

We drank vodka and orange juice, beer, cider and rum and coke. Played Boggle online, keeping a tally of scores. Sat in the garden – both rain and shine – and smoked while getting sunburned one day and sheltering from the torrent by squeezing into the spider-infested shed the next. Ate pizza, kebabs, garlic mushrooms, toast, a roast dinner, chocolate mousse, biscuits and pack upon pack of Wotsits. We sat by the lake and stuffed our faces with chips, watching a swan paddling away near a stack of beer barrels and an old paddle-boat which is long past its prime but still takes tourists out on the lake in the summer; rust and all.

We lay in bed for hours. Napped when we felt like it, and stayed up late. Ventured out to buy large mochas and sat for hours, watching the world go by. Bought blackcurrant beer and German ale, and laughed at the weird and wonderful passing our little spot in the street. Had mind-blowing, sweaty sex, over and over. Watched Trailer Park Boys on YouTube and ordered takeaways so we wouldn’t have to go shopping. Played 8-ball with a couple of friends and smoked a not-so-sneaky joint outside the pub. Got drunk and stoned and laughed at nothing, for days on end.

Now, it’s Wednesday morning – almost 5am – and I’m sitting on my bed, wide-awake, cannabis smoke floating in the air and through the detritus which covers my bedroom. I don’t know what happened; a miniature hurricane, I can only assume. Pill packets and incense sticks are cluttering up my desk, along with bottles of nail varnish remover, jewellery holders, and empty tobacco packets. The coffee I made is strong and bitter, with grounds still floating on top, and my mouth is dry from all the smoke. I haven’t slept, and I have a doctor’s appointment at 9:30.

After such an amazing, hedonistic weekend… I should be happy. I am, really. I’m just… eh. Angry, I suppose.

I’ve occasionally mentioned having tendonitis. Acute Achilles tendonitis, to be exact. I’ve had it for over a year. There was no real obvious cause; the sole of my foot started aching every time I moved and, in a worryingly short space of time, I lost the ability to flex my foot up or down. I stuck it out for months, deciding it was yet another frustrating part of fibromyalgia, until the pain became so unbearable – like knives being driven into the back of my ankle – and I woke up one morning unable to hold any weight on my left foot. It was just dead; tingling and unresponsive with sharp ribbons of pain snaking over the whole of my lower leg. Naturally, I was a bit concerned and, considering I couldn’t walk and felt a weird combination of numbness and excruciating pain – along with balloon-like swelling of my foot and ankle – I went to A&E.

Long story short, I was given some painkillers and told to go home and rest. I wasn’t even seen by a doctor. I cried, but it got me nowhere. After going to my GP to complain that nothing was done to help the obvious damage, I was referred to a podiatrist/physiotherapist. He manipulated my foot, gave me insoles to force the tendon into place, and covered my ankle in ice until it burned. Whatever he did, the swelling refused to go down and so he referred me onto the biomechanics clinic to see a rheumatologist who specialises in movement.

Of course, they wrote to me and informed me that my appointment was to be moved to September.

That’s not why I’m angry. I’m angry because, after over a year, I’m still in pain. It’s yet another ridiculous sensation to deal with, and I’m sick of being pushed from pillar to post when nothing really seems to achieve anything. I’ve had an ultrasound scan, but still – over a month later – don’t know the results.

For the past four days, I’ve been unable to walk without standing on tip-toe on my left foot, because the tendon is so damn tight I can’t move it without pain. Tooth-gritting, wincing, tears-in-the-eyes pain. S has been his usual amazing self – fetching cups of coffee for me and helping me get over the back door step – but now that I’ve come back to my mother’s after an extended weekend (from Thursday to last night; S took some time off work) I’m quickly sinking into the old frustrations and regrets about not pushing harder for treatment. I’m such a mouse sometimes. I don’t want to tell anybody what to do.

That has to change today. Originally, I was seeing my doctor for a swollen finger; hardly the medical drama of the century, but a very painful inconvenience, and I figured I could get the whole blood pressure/side-effects/general emotional well-being stuff out of the way for another month or so. However, the red skin and suspicious ridged nail will have to take a backseat, because I’m determined to get something done about this damn foot today.

If I have to cry, I think I will. I rarely cry in front of doctors – I already feel inferior to them – but quite honestly… I just want this pain to stop. I have enough to deal with already, and I just need some respite. Some time to enjoy the effects of Lyrica – which doesn’t work on tendon pain or swelling – and try to start living my life again. Instead, this fucking tendon has taken over my life.

Over the weekend, the photograph of myself I posted has been weighing on my mind. Did I do the right thing? Am I utterly off my head to think that putting a photograph on such a personal blog is a good idea? More than once, I’ve thought about removing it; just deleting the post and forgetting it ever happened. However, doing that would also mean I’d lose all the comments which, although hard to read without wanting to run away, really made me feel secure, and my cold old heart was pretty damn warmed by knowing there are people reading this who don’t think I’m disgusting.

Also… nothing is ever lost on the internet. It’s there forever now.

So I just need to suck it up and accept that my anonymity was ruined a while ago, and it’s not like I’m a celebrity. The chance of somebody I know finding this blog on their own is still lower than low, and if they did find it… well, maybe they shouldn’t be so nosy. Perhaps they’d learn something.

I should really write a list for my GP. Each time I see him, I forget something vital. I only refuse to do it because my mother insists I write a bullet-point list – typed and printed – for every appointment; a bit of teenage rebellion which I never quite grew out of. This time… I haven’t slept. I haven’t drunk nearly enough coffee, and the weed is stronger than usual. Great for pain; not so great for thinking clearly.

If I throw myself on the floor and have a tantrum, do you think it’d achieve anything? I feel like it’s about time to direct my anger elsewhere than at myself.

 

“…or does the mind control the body? I don’t know.”

Yesterday I woke up expecting to finally be over the ‘flu after a week of hacking, choking, snotting, complaining and feeling like my head is going to explode. I expected that even I – she of little immune system after taking steroids – would have shaken it off by now.

No. Of course I haven’t; that would be expecting too much. To add insult to injury, I developed a huge cold-sore on my lip, going down my chin and blistering like crazy. This morning (well, afternoon) I woke up, coughed for a while, realised I had no energy and sunk back into bed. A quick glance in the bathroom mirror confirmed that the cold-sore from hell has grown even more. I look like a mutant.

I’m frustrated. Today, a group of friends have gone to the beach to celebrate the solstice. We do it every year; party until the sun rises the next day. I missed the last party due to illness, and I’m missing this one too. It just doesn’t seem fair.

I sometimes wonder if I make things worse for myself; that perhaps I’m so used to feeling sick that I expect it, and maybe I pretend things are worse than they are. I’ve always wondered that. A lifetime of illness isn’t normal, after all. I was sick when I was born and, twenty-seven years later, I’m still sick. I’ve had ear infections. Urine infections. Infections in my cervix. Almost daily diarrhea since I was a child. I went into anaphylactic shock as a baby. My ovaries are covered in cysts and my cervix is full of scar tissue. They removed it, but it comes back. They give me antibiotics for pelvic inflammatory disease but they don’t work. My gallbladder got infected, and my bile duct was blocked; which caused pancreatitis. It took months to recover from having it removed, and again, I was left with scar tissue and a life-long need for strong anti-acids to cope with stomach acid going the wrong way because my bile duct was damaged.

I have a rare type of eczema on my hands and feet; one which can’t be treated by even the strongest steroid creams. I’ve always been prone to eczema breakouts, but this is something else; this breakout has lasted over a year. I’ve been given every cream available, and was turned down for expensive treatment so I’m left with no choice but to live with it. It burns; I need regular antibiotics to combat the infection which constantly breaks out in the cracks, and my skin is scarred from how deep the eczema goes. Most people with this type have it for life, with occasional remission.

At the present time, I am under the care of one of the top rheumatologists in the UK, along with the dermatology department, the bio-mechanics clinic and my own GP. I’m waiting to be referred to urology, and possibly back to gynecology. Sex has become incredibly painful and, afterwards, it burns for hours. The slightest pressure is causing my skin to tear, even on the outside.

Logic says I can’t be inventing any of this because my medical records are stuffed with consultant’s notes, diagnoses, test results, second opinions and operations. Each and every problem has been documented and proven to be real. Yet I still question myself.

Depression – why opening the curtains can cause more suffering, and other advice

I originally planned to reblog this post, but after typing out a long response, WordPress decided to keep my reblog in a never-ending publishing state, then eventually wiped the entire post.

Picture this. You’re trapped beneath a safety-blanket of duvets and pillows. The room is dark and silent. All you hear is your breathing; and sometimes you’re not quite sure if you’re really alive. It feels like you’re wrapped in a big, dark spider web; you know something bad is coming, but you don’t even want to struggle or escape. Days and nights pass in a blur of half-sleep and daydreams. Time ceases to mean anything. You can’t remember when you last brushed your teeth; and it doesn’t matter. There’s no reason to.

Suddenly, somebody comes stomping in, full of cheeriness and attempts to gee you up. They flounce over to the curtains and fling them open, pulling the nice, safe duvet from you and exposing you to the harsh, painful light. Your eyes sting. You haven’t seen real daylight in a while. You feel cold and naked; the act of stripping away a blanket is, to you, a cruel and unusual punishment. The whole world can see you now, and you’re scared.  Tired, anxious, weary and scared. You just want to be left alone.

This is why pointing out lovely weather is annoying and pointless.

Depression is a cruel illness. It strips you of your ability to care or relate to anything around you. It fills your mind with emptiness – a saying I never understood until I experienced chronic depression myself – and it’s all you can do to blink without giving up.

My mother has a habit of trying to force me outside, into the garden. When she thinks I’ve spent long enough hiding in my bedroom, she’ll waltz in (usually while I’m asleep), throw the curtains wide with as much clattering and muttering as possible, and proclaim that, “you’d feel much better if you got some sunshine!”.

I don’t doubt that weather has a huge impact on depression. I certainly feel much less able to cope in the winter; making excuses about the weather being too bad to leave the house or see friends. However, depression is a very complex illness, and you wouldn’t expect a bit of sun to magically fix a broken arm. It won’t cure depression either.

There is one aspect of depression I have never been able to manipulate or control via medication; the urge to shut myself away from the world. Friendships have fallen by the wayside because there’s only so  many times you can refuse an invitation before they stop asking. Being shut away is a natural response to being depressed; withdrawing from everything and everyone can sometimes feel like the only way to save yourself. Retreat to a place you feel comfortable and secure.

As well-meaning as it may be to try to force a depressive out of their comfort zone in an attempt to cure them, what you’re really doing is tearing the safety blanket away from a very vulnerable person. You may call it tough love, but to the person you’re trying to help, you’re being cruel and unreasonable. They already feel low enough without feeling their loved ones are turning against them as well.

Depression lies. When a friend offers you advice on ways to cope, sometimes the depressed brain will twist the words to sound like an accusation; particularly in cases of borderline personality disorder. I’ve been told that bipolar can feel the same. This imagined accusation sticks with the depressed person and, over time, morphs into a huge monster they can’t possibly hope to tackle.

Going outside has long been a big problem of mine. In the past four years (give or take a year) I’ve gone from somebody who goes on regular long walks and trips to town, to an almost-recluse, travelling by taxi so I don’t have to deal with the public and wearing nondescript clothes so as not to draw attention to myself. Part of  that is due to living with chronic pain, but I know depression is at the root of my reluctance to be seen in public.

You see, I worry that everybody knows my secret. That they can somehow tell from my face I’m “one of those crazy people”. I’ve sat in taxis, listening to the driver crack jokes about our local psychiatric unit, and prayed he wouldn’t look me in the eye and realise I’m totally incapable of existing without daily medication.

I accept that trying to help somebody with depression is like fighting a losing battle. The nature of depression is that it convinces the sufferer that getting well isn’t an option. The concept of recovery doesn’t even exist; depression hides it from you.

This is why sometimes the sufferer lashes out either verbally or physically when you try to help them. It’s why they may turn their back on you and not contact you for six months when you give out a few well-meaning hints. It’s not that they don’t appreciate the advice or care about you; it’s that they’re unable to feel those emotions properly. Depression has dampened everything down, placing the depressive in a near-soundproof room. They may be able to hear you, but their lack of reaction isn’t because they’re being spiteful and ignoring you; it’s due to depression smothering them with apathy.

It’s natural to want to help those who are suffering, and mental illnesses are no different. However, unless you’re a doctor you wouldn’t try to remove a tumour; in the same sense, unless you really know what you’re talking about, offering advice to somebody entrenched in misery probably won’t work.

I’m not saying to abandon those who have depression. Far from it; there are other ways to help than mentioning medications and therapies you’ve heard about.

So, how do you help someone with depression? I don’t have the answers to that. Everyone is different, and depression is a wide-ranging illness often encompassing other diagnoses such as psychosis, paranoia, anxiety disorder, BPD, PTSD and bipolar. What works for one person might not work for another. However, along with not  wantonly opening curtains, there are some things which might help.

  • The urge to drag a depressive out of bed is probably huge. However, it’s rarely the answer. When somebody retreats it’s through a need to be alone;  whether rational or not. In the depths of a depressive episode, you shrink into yourself and ignore phone calls. Emails go unanswered. Often, the sheer stress of having to communicate wears the sufferer down so much that they retreat entirely. Obviously if you’re concerned for their safety this advice doesn’t apply; but as long as they’re not hurting themselves… sometimes they just need to get through it on their own. Keep an eye on them; don’t let them be entirely alone, but don’t pressure them either. It can be a long process to climb out of the hole.
  • It’s hard to help someone when they throw accusations in your face. Paranoia often tags along with depression, and it’s very easy to become convinced that those trying to help you are actually out to damage you somehow. My personal experience of it is that it’s almost a form of psychosis; suddenly everything and everyone are against you, and even the people who claim to love you seem to be trying to ruin everything. It’s not something you can just get control over. It’s easy to imagine enemies everywhere when you feel entirely stripped bare.
  • I shouldn’t have to say this, but having depression doesn’t make you stupid or lazy. Sadly, these views still exist. Telling somebody to “just get out of bed and join the real world” isn’t the answer; it just serves to  make the sufferer feel even less of a person than they already do. Ask someone experiencing a depressive episode if they feel like a valuable member of society; they don’t. They’re at the lowest point it’s possible to reach, and suggesting in a roundabout  way that they’re taking up space and being lazy isn’t what we need to hear.
  • On a similar note, saying “my auntie was depressed for a week and she did more exercise and it went away” doesn’t help. It’s condescending and patronising. We know our illness; we live with it every day.
  • Telling somebody on anti-depressants that you don’t believe they’re safe or work properly will get you nowhere. Those with depression need support every step of the way, not putting down for their choices. Often, deciding to take medication is the last straw of a very painful life. It can be incredibly difficult to get up enough courage to go to the doctor and explain your failings so you can be given happy pills. If they work for somebody, what’s the problem?
  • You don’t know how they feel. Even if you have depression yourself, you can’t see or feel their exact emotions; or lack of. When  you’re trapped in the depression bubble, nobody has ever felt as wretched as you do. That feeling isn’t from an excess of ego; you really do feel like nobody could ever withstand the pain and emptiness. Tell them if you empathise or relate – communicating with other sufferers can help enormously – but don’t try to convince them you know how terrible everything is.
  • Invite your depressed friends and family to parties, but don’t be surprised or disappointed if they decline. It’s not because they don’t want to see you; it’s because they don’t want to see anybody. Telling them they’d “feel better if they had a few drinks” may be well-meant, but it won’t help. They won’t feel better. They’re sick, and sickness can’t be cured by a bit of fun. Let them know you’d like them to be there but that there’s no pressure. Pressure to socialise is a very painful part of depression.
  • Don’t tell them they look tired. Seriously. Nobody needs to hear that.

Thank you.

I had a comment on one of my older posts (Girl, Afraid) earlier:

I’ve been reading some of your posts. Thank you for writing about your experiences. They are my words that I haven’t been able to write as my struggle with depression and mental illness continues. I’m glad you found me. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

- christlivethinme

It’s feedback like this which convinces me that I’m doing the right thing. Over the past year or so, I’ve received so many positive, supportive comments – more than I ever hoped for or even expected – and it really makes a difference to my life. Writing has always been just a hobby of mine, and I don’t try to write to impress people or show off. I think I’m distinctly average; as most people do, probably. I’ve never been great at accepting compliments.

So… thank you. Thank you to everyone who’s read this blog, and continues to do so. Thank you to those who pop in occasionally. Thank you to those I now consider friends. You’re wonderful people, and there’s no way I can delete my blog when there is such support out there.

You’ve all made such a difference. More than you could ever know.

Letting go of O.

Today, I realised that my friendship with O, my ex-fiancé, has officially ended. Not only that, but it ended a long time ago, when I met S and stopped sleeping with O. For a long time, I believed his promise of always being there for me, and his assurances that we’d always be best friends. Even when we didn’t speak for a long time, I let it slide because I thought he’d eventually call or text.

Nothing, though. I haven’t heard anything from him for months, and I think it’s time to close the lid on that friendship. I’ve realised now how gullible I was; O was only sticking around for sex, and once I stopped giving it to him… well, it didn’t take him long to drop me.

It makes me feel sad in a way. My relationship with O was turbulant and paranoid, and we were woefully mismatched, but I’ll always look back on our time together with fondness. My feeling for S have far eclipsed what I ever felt for O, but I was happy, sometimes. It was my first adult relationship, and we were together for over four years. Knowing he’ll never be in my life again is a strange feeling, but can I ever offer friendliness to someone who only wanted something physical from me in the end? Who dumped our ‘everlasting friendship’ once I met someone and fell in love?

I feel shamed that I let O use me and believed him when he made promises to always be there. It seems that friendship came with conditions; that I couldn’t meet anyone else, but he could have a girlfriend and two children.

Those conditions just seem unfair.

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).
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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.
.
.
* poorly-invented names

Apathy

I never expected to feel so much frustration when life dictates that I can’t write. Well, not can’t… just the feeling that I have nothing worthwhile to say. I never expected to feel angry at myself when I feel unable to reply to comments on my blog, or respond to advice. Heck, I never even expected to get comments. I feel like I should apologise for seeming aloof or unresponsive.

It’s not that I’m depressed (I’m not) or particularly stressed out (again, I’m not); I’m just tired. Tiredness is a strange thing. We all experience it, so you’d think that carrying on as normal wouldn’t be that difficult. Still, the overwhelming sense of fatigue has flipped a switch somewhere in my brain and triggered an apathy I can’t seem to shake.

Of course, putting off writing makes things even more difficult, because I now feel a sense of responsibility to myself to put everything down on screen; and I have a lot to write about. Sure, I have nothing worthwhile to do today so I have plenty of time… but part of me just wants to curl up in bed with a cup of coffee and read, rather than have to think about things.

I saw my GP this morning. I woke fifteen minutes before my alarm went off, but still managed to be five minutes late even though the surgery is only around the corner. I just couldn’t motivate myself. Luckily, appointments were running behind anyway, so although I had a small panic it didn’t turn into a full-force freak out. As I sat in the waiting room I thought about how often I’d seen those same plastic chairs, the same Comic-Sans printed signs advising on chlamydia testing, and the same slightly scuffed carpet. I thought about how so much of my life has been spent in GP waiting rooms and hospitals, and realised that it was a depressingly large amount of time. As a result, I found myself apologising to my doctor for taking up so much of his time. He said there was no need to be sorry, but I still felt guilty. He must be sick of seeing my face.

I told him how unhappy I was with the neurology appointment. Although the anger has long gone, I’m still upset that I wasn’t taken seriously. Of course that’s nothing new, but I’m growing tired of having everything blamed on my age, or being told that people my age can’t possibly have anything wrong with them. How old do I have to be before I’m listened to?

My GP agreed with me that a re-referral probably wouldn’t achieve anything, and so I’ve been passed on to rheumatology. I’ll be seeing the specialist who diagnosed me with fibromyalgia, which cheered me up considerably because he’s such a lovely guy. The last thing I need is to be stuck with another po-faced consultant. I explained how the steroid treatment also helped a lot with the pain, to the point where it pretty much disappeared. We both agreed that fibromyalgia seems unlikely now; so I suppose it’s a case of finding out what it is yet again. I’ve been given drugs for arthritis to see if they help, and yet more steroid cream to treat the eczema; it’s come back. It came back once the steroid treatment dropped to two tablets a day, and the speed has been pretty distressing. One day I had a small red patch and I felt really smug that it seemed to have finally cleared up, the next I woke up with blisters all over my hands and feet. After a week, it’s pretty much back to the severity it was when I started the treatment, and I confess that I don’t hold out much hope for steroid cream working. They never have before. Still, if it helps the pain and itching at all, it’s a bonus. The past two nights have been pretty hellish, scratching and being kept awake by the burning.

I suppose I’m coping okay, otherwise. A few small panics, but I’m putting that down to frustration over the pain. I’ve developed a strange walk; I caught sight of myself in a mirror in Marks and Spencer yesterday and noticed that I’m not only dragging my right foot slightly (unattractive in itself) but I’m doing a strange thing with my hip – lifting it more on one side – thus making my backside look even bigger and, well, just making it look like I don’t know how to walk properly. It shouldn’t bother me because I can’t help it, but I really dislike showing any physical signs that I’m in pain. I don’t want sympathy or to be treated differently, but it’s becoming inevitable that I will be. I like being able to pretend that everything’s okay, but I can’t really do that anymore. Still haven’t used my walking stick; it almost feels like giving up, even though I know I probably need it. I told S about it, and I don’t know why but I said that it was a silly idea of my mum’s (it wasn’t) and I’m fine without it. Why did I lie? I hate lying, and I know he wouldn’t think any less of me. I just want to be… perfect, I suppose. I know there’s no such thing, but it’s hard to accept that life didn’t quite go the way I planned it to.

Speaking of S, on Tuesday it was a year since we started going out together. We didn’t see each other, but exchanged some lovely texts and he made me feel pretty special. I can’t quite believe that he’s put up with me for a whole year, and that during that time we haven’t had a single argument or even a bicker. I’ve never had a relationship like this, and I constantly have to mentally pinch myself to make sure it’s not a dream. I’m still slightly convinced that I’ll wake up one day in a padded room, having fabricated the whole thing. Love like this… it doesn’t happen to people like me. My relationships have always been about passion and fights and denial and jealousy. They’ve never been so peaceful and comfortable as my relationship with S has been. I’ve truly never known any man like him, and I feel pretty blessed. Sometimes I get scared that he’ll change his mind, but something inside me actually feels hope, for the first time since I can remember.

Next weekend, we’re going to Wales to stay in a cottage for a week with some friends. It’ll be the longest we’ve ever spent together, and I suppose in a way it’s a test of just how much we can take of each other’s company. I’m looking forward to it; usually I hate being around other people, but I feel quite comfortable with his friends and it’ll be nice to get away from these four walls.

We’ll be staying pretty close to the base of Mt Snowdon; a perfect opportunity to actually use my Nikon.

I confess; I slipped again. I didn’t purge like last time, but I’m sitting here with codeine running through my bloodstream. A normal dose, for once… but not a great sign. I just wish I could cope without some form of chemical help. Sometimes I worry I never will.

Edit: I’d like to thank the bloggers who have nominated me for awards recently. It hasn’t gone unnoticed or unappreciated, and when I’m feeling more up to it I’ll respond. Thank you for the nominations, it still amazes me that people even read this.

In which I attempt not purging, and why binge-eating is my most shameful secret

Cheese. Cheshire cheese. White bread. Real butter. Full-fat milk.

I should be asleep; instead I’m nursing an uncomfortably full stomach and feeling the pangs of binge-regret wash over me. Guilt over losing control. Anger at myself for giving in to the cravings. What exactly am I playing at here? What emotion am I trying to feed? I’m not sure I know anymore. It’s just become such a bad habit.

Against my better judgement, I’ve made a descision to not purge. That includes slimming pills, laxatives and any other bizarre form of punishment I can find. Laxatives is a very easy option right now; I have a pack right next to me in my dresser drawer and could swallow a handful in a couple of seconds if I really wanted to. It’d help with the bloating, and the full-up feeling, and just generally relax and comfort me (strange words to say about laxatives, really) until I feel ready to try eating healthily again.

It’s 4.46am. I’m sitting up on my bed, waiting for the stomach pains to start. It’s my own fault; I truly can’t go on like this. Why do I have such a fucked-up relationship with food? What is it that makes me sneak downstairs in the night and grill cheese on toast, sorting wildly through the fridge for precious fat and salt?

Perhaps now is the time to admit defeat, and ask about some sort of therapy for the binging. I’ve held back because of waiting lists and shame, but I’m not sure I can beat this on my own. I know the steroids are partly to blame, and hopefully it’ll get easier when I come off them in four weeks (I’m dreading it, truth be told, they help enormously with my joint and muscle pain). I don’t know what sort of therapy to ask for – CBT was the biggest waste of time in my life – because there’s just not enough available in my area without going private. I’d have to start walking the streets to afford private therapy.

I need to be asleep, but the more I think about it, the worse I feel. I have to go to town with my mother tomorrow/today, and I don’t want yet another clapped-out zombie walking around shops experience. The people who live in the house opposite my bedroom are awake; at least, their living room light is on. It’s often on at night, perhaps there’s a fellow insomniac in the area. Or maybe they just don’t care about electricity bills.

I need to remember to get a few things in town. Hair products is the main priority; I don’t know what’s happened to my hair lately, but it’s turned into a mane of orange frizz. I’ve got a hairdresser appointment on Friday and it can’t come quickly enough. I’m far from impressed by what’s perched on my head. It means I’ll have hardly any money for the weeked, and S is also out of funds, but I need the confidence good hair gives me. Try growing up with frizzy, uncontrollable ginger hair; you soon learn to spend money on fixing it.

Okay. The urge is passing. With luck, I might get three hours of sleep if I calm down soon. It might seem a little strange that I’m typing away on a blog in the middle of a shit-don’t-purge freak out, but I suppose it’s a big enough part of my life (one of the biggest) to merit some sort of detailed mention.

I have been a binge-eater since puberty. Given that I entered puberty at nine years old, that’s a long time to be trapped in the cycle. Bulimia and anorexia took over at times, but binge-eating has always been one of my closest friends and worst enemies. I can’t remember life without it, and the idea of it not being  there is a frightening one. I simply don’t know how to cope without it; and I want to, dearly. I want to be free from the need to stuff my face every time I feel the slightest emotion. I need to stop beating myself up and using calories as punishment. Somehow, binge-eating feels more shameful than anorexia and bulimia. Anorexia has that cool aloofness; a purity. Bulimia is raw and visceral. Binge-eating though… it’s just bad manners. It’s clumsy and out of control, associated with greed and a supposedly ever-growing obese society. It’s unhealthy and unattractive. Binge-eating needs to be secretive, and the feeling when you’re caught shoving cake into your mouth is like no other.

And it is so easy to let it spiral out of control.

I confess; I often long for anorexia. I don’t consider myself cured, although it’s been a long time since I truly starved myself, and I miss the feeling of utter power and control. Allthough I’m somewhat on the ‘other side’ now and can see that rationally there is no control where anorexia is concerned, there is a part of me who wants to have that ability again. The ability to ration food and memorise calorie contents. The ability to lose 7lbs in a week. I know I can’t allow myself to go down that route now; I have too much to lose. Still, I miss it. It’s like a long-distance friend I haven’t seen for too long.

Okay.

Sleep.