And so, to hospital

I hate hospitals.

Really, really hate them.

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

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

So yes.

I really hate hospitals.

hanging-iv-bag

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

I admit, it wasn’t the plan.

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

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

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

18a_Cannula

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

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

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

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

I just can’t cope with them.

They scare me.

 

____________________

The show must go on.

All alone, or in two’s,
The ones who really love you
Walk up and down outside the wall.
Some hand in hand
And some gathered together in bands.
The bleeding hearts and artists
Make their stand.

And when they’ve given you their all
Some stagger and fall, after all it’s not easy
Banging your heart against some mad bugger’s wall.

- Outside The Wall, Pink Floyd

The smell of rose and amber shower gel. Cupboards full of donated plates, huge bags of pasta, Christmas leftovers and fake Pimms I can no longer drink. Twinkling lights on my mother’s Christmas tree, now placed between S’s desk and the huge Marshall amps; decorations passed down from my childhood, now belonging to me. Fudge cake in the fridge, and a shiny new Morphy Richards coffee machine sitting on the worktop. The ridiculously ornate mantelpiece covered in Christmas cards and candles, the bedroom lamps illuminating our Ikea bed and my beautiful dressing table. Roses and mistletoe arranged in glass milk bottles, and shelves filled with Discworld books.

My mother cried. She said this is what she always wanted for me. She admitted she never believed it would happen.

DSCF0002

Christmas was wonderful; quiet and easy, without the usual stress of arranging the tree lights absolutely perfectly to calm my mother’s slight obsessions.

This is all so new to me, and I confess it’s a strange feeling, knowing I’ve reached a major life goal. Where was the fanfare, the confetti, the slaps on the back and heartfelt congratulations? Of course, life doesn’t work like that, and in a way I’m glad. It’s no secret that it’s taken me far longer to reach the basic life-targets than usual, and in a way I’d much prefer nobody knew that, at 28, this is the first time I’ve ever felt safe. The first time I’ve been able to have a relationship without ripping it apart at the seams. The first time I’ve moved out of my mother’s house and known I’ll never go back. Known that I’m not doing it just to escape. The first time I’ve been independent without breaking down and ending up in hospital or riding home in a police car.

In a way, it’s like losing your virginity. That first time you see yourself in a mirror afterwards, and you check your face for signs; of knowledge, of growing up, of, well, sex – finally reaching this point in my life should change me physically. There should be something in my eyes, some sort of peace. A difference. But there isn’t, they’re still the same ice-blue, and I’m almost disappointed by that. I’ve wanted this from the day I realised life wasn’t going to give me a smooth ride, shouldn’t something feel different?

Woman Looking at Reflection

You see, I’m worried I’ll take all this for granted. Becoming too used to a situation is… a problem of mine. Considering how terrified I am of losing everything I hold dear, I have an ability to forget to try. I stop making the effort, because it’s scary thinking of making the next step up. I’m very aware that what I have now – the flat, S, independence – all relies on me not going batshit crazy. For someone who breaks down at least once a year, it’s hard knowing that I have to put the effort in this time if I’m to keep what I’ve worked so hard to achieve. I can’t just sit back and let life pile up around me; it’s never worked in the past, so why would it work now?

I know; I’m analysing too much.

“I wouldn’t be buying plug-in air fresheners if I didn’t want to live with you, would I?”

We’re nearly there. Empty boxes are beginning to outweigh full ones, and the hallway carpet is finally visible. S spent today sorting tools and electronic bits into drawers, while I painted the underside of some shelves I started yesterday, and a shelf S build from some scrap pieces of wood to attach to the blackboard I made from the backing to an old painting I found in the basement. We’re putting them up in the kitchen; I’ve accepted that my piss-poor memory isn’t going to improve any time soon, and any tools to help me remember the most basic things would come in pretty handy.

We’re finishing off tomorrow, and putting the Christmas tree up. After years of making sure my mother’s collection of decorations was in her will – I’m not kidding, I really love those decorations – she announced a few weeks ago that I could have them. Neither S or I are particularly big on Christmas, or public holidays of any kind, but I sort of want a tree and some sparkly lights for our first Christmas living together. We went to Tesco tonight to pick up some essentials, and ended up getting excited over festive food; something I never thought would happen.

lights

 

I confess, my first solo-ish Christmas combined with finally unpacking has brought the BPD out a little, and I’ve had a couple of outbursts; panic-driven, tear-stained, get-the-hell-away-from-me-or-I’ll-explode. I’m getting finicky about calories again and standing in front of the full-length mirror, loathing everything about my silhouette. Started wondering, “what’s the point in worrying about all this when i’ll inevitably go wrong anyway?“.

So I was quite surprised when S, who was leaning his head on my arm as I read in bed, said, “you are still enjoying living with me, aren’t you? I know I can be a pain.

It’s rare for S to show any real vulnerability. Not out of some misguided macho pride; he just doesn’t, and it seems to work for us. It’s always a surprise when he does, and I never quite know how to deal with it. After all, could I really be 100% honest without terrifying him? “Actually, I’ve never been so happy, and just being around you is making me more comfortable than I’ve ever felt in my life. Waking up with you is the best thing ever, and I feel like I could explode when you make me a cup of coffee because it’s so damn awesome to finally be living with you”.

No.

Past relationships – especially those with O and J – have taught me that it’s very easy to say the wrong thing, and sometimes it’s best to just keep my mouth shut if I want things to run smoothly. So I just stroked S’s hair, kissed him on the nose, and said “I wouldn’t be buying plug-in air fresheners if I didn’t want to live with you, would I?

Couple-on-Sofa

 

The past week has been strange to say the least, and I feel guilty for writing posts and not responding to comments. I had planned to get stuck in to this blog a little bit; find the time somehow to sit and relax and really think about everything which has happened and all the little occurrences I should be writing about. I do read every single comment, and it’s not like I simply shrug them off; many of them stay with me while I’m going about my day, and I find myself thinking of certain readers, wondering how they are.

I never really explained in my last post why I had a great big needle stuck into my ankle. In truth, I haven’t really wanted to speak about it much because although it’s wonderful that I’m finally – finally – being taken seriously and tests are now beginning to show results, it’s also scary. Words are being thrown around which I’m not entirely comfortable with. Suggested diagnoses. Referrals back to rheumy. Discovery of a misdiagnosis, and something big which was missed entirely.

Long story short, my ankle/foot pain was never being caused by Achilles tendonitis, despite it being diagnosed by physio, the bio-mechanics clinic, and orthopaedics. I’ve actually damaged a tendon in the side of my foot, meaning that the exercises I was all but bullied into doing despite my protestations of pain were just exacerbating the problem. The ultrasound I had a couple of months ago showed a tear in the tendon, and also a light mass in my ankle joint. Fluid. Lots of fluid.

So I was rushed through X-Ray. Being rushed through any department in my local hospital is a miracle in itself.

Then finally, after almost two years of constant pain, referrals, tests and appointments, it all began to come together.

Xray

 

The damage to my tendon is a symptom, and the reason why I’ve been in so much pain is because my ankle joint is incredibly inflamed, so I’m getting pain from both things, and the tendon can’t heal because the swelling keeps it constantly stretched.

So far, so normal, really. Dr. B did say I have osteoarthritis in my knees and fingers, so why not elsewhere? Only, my othopaedic consultant sat down and asked me a load of questions about my health; when I had pain, where the pain was, how well I slept, my eating habits, the history of my fibromyalgia… read back through my notes, and spoke to another consultant.

I’m going to send these results to Dr B. With your history and symptoms, we may well be looking at rheumatoid arthritis“.

He’s the third medical professional to say that in the past six months.

Only this time, they have actual pictures. Proof. Proof that I’m not faking it, and that there is something wrong with my body. That ultrasound scan.. just one scan, 15 minutes of my time, and finally things are happening.

Do I want RA? Hell no.

Do I believe I have it? Yes. It all fits. Everything. Almost too well.

Tests are beginning next month.

In absentia

It’s a strange feeling. Sitting on the sofa, listening to 4 Non Blondes, drinking coffee, and realising I finally made it. Knowing it took what felt like forever to get here, and trying to accept that I now have my own life. My own rules. My own independence.

Neglecting my blog, and everyone involved… it hasn’t felt good. The occasional tinge of guilt sneaks up on me, knowing that so many people have supported me for over a year and are still commenting despite my absence. However, sitting in the front room and seeing my belongings mixed with S’s… I honestly never believed it would happen, and real life has to take precedence.

Yes, we moved in together. I escaped; and not only do I have freedom for the first time in years, but I also have access to my own finances for the first time in my entire life. I got the bus into town two days ago – a feat in itself, considering how long it’s been since I felt brave enough to use public transport – and checked my bank account. Seeing money in my account for the first time since receiving my stepfather’s inheritance… you don’t know how amazing it feels. Knowing that, for the first time in twenty seven years, I am entirely independent. For the first time, my life is my own and not controlled by anybody but myself.

The past couple of weeks have been an unbelievable nightmare, culminating in a full-force BPD freak-out where I cried, screamed, howled, and eventually called a taxi to take me to S’s. I couldn’t cope with anything at all, and I admit there were a couple of situations where it looked like I was going to lose it entirely. I hit myself in the face. Toyed with a razor and a pair of scissors. Pulled a chunk of hair out, just to feel anything but the horrible pain inside of total loss of control. Stopped eating entirely for a week, living on strong coffee and the last of my dope stash, codeine; anything I could get my hands on to numb the fear just for a short while.

In truth, I don’t know how I got through it all. Trying to explain just how wrong everything seemed to go…it’s impossible. You can’t put such things into words.

You see, it wasn’t just the move stressing me out – although it really didn’t help – and my habit of not being able to cope with more than one thing at once really didn’t help. Quite why I decided to stop taking my medication for a few days, I’m not sure… I should know better, and can only assume that BPD was telling me I’d be better off without them. It’s happened often in the past but I thought I was over it, and had more sense now. Obviously not.

Within two days I’d gone back to the old ways. Panic. Everything was a disaster. The world was ending. Paranoia, beyond belief. Constant – and I mean constant – tears. The need for reassurance. Grabbing onto anything to survive. Laying awake at night hearing the slight whisper of the voices creeping in. Shadows and movement just out of my vision. Feeling victimised by things which hadn’t even happened.

I don’t know how I used to live like that.

Along with everything else I was trying to deal with – the return of fibro pain from not taking Lyrica or Celebrex/Naproxen, the tendonitis getting much, much worse, my mother freaking out over every little thing connected to the move – I finally got to the Biomechanics appointment which had been moved around so many times; I thought I’d never get there. Waiting was pointless though, as nothing was achieved. In fact, I may as well have stayed at home and abandoned any hope of help.

After months of waiting, after being discharged from physio after nothing helped, all the appointment involved was being told I need to do exercises to help the pain in my ankle and foot. In other words, I waited months – and worried – simply to be told exactly what I was told at physio. Told exactly what I already knew. I tried explaining that I’d had to stop the exercises since they were so painful but was simply told to do them regardless. Then, I was referred back to physio.

What is it about me? Why does nobody take me seriously?

I pondered this for a while after the appointment. There’s no denying that I’ve been let down by the NHS a ridiculous number of times; pushed from pillar to post, sent from one specialist to another, and always been made to feel like more of a nuisance than a genuine patient.

So I sat, and thought, and came to perhaps a controversial conclusion; that my past history of mental illness is affecting my treatment. I know this sounds paranoid – and it’s understandable that perhaps the idea of doctors refusing to treat me due to mental illness is something many would pooh-pooh as ridiculous – but the more I thought about it, the more sense it made.

You see, I’ve never been able to shake the feeling that many see me as a faker. A chancer. Someone who goes to the doctors just to get attention and treatment I don’t need. Munchausen’s syndrome comes to mind.

It’s possible that some of my symptoms are psychosomatic; in fact, I know some are. Others however… you can’t fake them. It’s impossible to fake things like hair loss, swelling joints, jaundice, constant coldsores, endless urinary infections, weight loss, tendonitis, crunching knees and fingers, sciatica… all these things are real, physical symptoms, and have been proven to exist. So I can’t be faking it; doctors themselves have confirmed a myriad of symptoms and illnesses.

Yet… I’m not getting the treatment I’m entitled to.

Last week, I discovered something I’d never known, and it’s only served to confirm my suspicions. I spoke to my mother about accessing my medical records – she agrees that I’m not being treated fairly – and I found out that when I was seventeen, I was sectioned.

I never knew. Nobody told me. I assumed I was simply being ‘kept an eye on’ when I was stuck in hospital after a failed overdose, but in reality the truth was kept from me to protect me. I can understand why, but still… it’s a lot to come to terms with. I’ve always held onto the belief that no matter how crazy I’ve been, I’ve never been sectioned. Somehow that belief helped me cope. Now everything’s been turned upside down. A lot of my life has been a lie.

It’s a weird thought. I was sectioned, and never knew.

It makes me wonder what else I was never told. Just what my past involved. I know for a lot of my teens I was out of it, and couldn’t take much in except for the difficulties and problems I experienced, and I know I was often trapped in some form of psychosis; living my life in a bubble created to protect myself. There’s so much of my teens I can’t remember – medication, craziness, lack of sleep, lack of food, drugs, drink… it all blocked out memories – and it’s entirely possible that things happened I wasn’t aware of.

So much of my life has been pieced together from flashes of memory; some of which may not even be real. In truth, I don’t know half of what I’ve lived through. I just… locked it away somewhere.

They should have told me. I had a right to know.

Right now, I’m trying not to think about it too much. I have an appointment with my GP on the 9th, and I’m planning on talking about all my worries. I’m really not up to it right now – a lot needs to be done to the flat – but this needs to be sorted once and for all.

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.

“They don’t know what’s going on inside your head — the mind-numbing cocktail of anger and sadness and guilt”

I almost lost it today.

Stupidly, I decided not to take my medication this morning. I was in a rush to get to my ultrasound appointment, and planned to take it when I got home. A few hours don’t tend to make much difference usually. However, this time I couldn’t control certain emotions and fears, and I really didn’t like it. Although I undoubtedly have BPD, most of the time it’s controlled by medication; I still panic, but can rationalise it if somebody doesn’t contact me (usually) and I’m not so prone to running away from stressful situations. I’ve been proud of the progress I’ve made in keeping the irrational fear behind a wall in my head.

Today though… I don’t know if it’s the heat, or having to get up early, or just sheer chance, but I freaked out. I got ready fine, put my makeup on, straightened my hair, put a dress on – signs I’m doing okay – but as soon as I got in the taxi, anxiety started building.

Paranoia. Panic attack. Psychosis. I don’t know what you’d call it. I become convinced everyone is staring at me and judging me unkindly; the logical side of me knows it’s impossible for a whole room of people to all hate me on sight, but logic means little when everything seems to be exploding and falling apart.

In the hospital waiting room, I decided a well-to-do woman sitting opposite me was staring at my face. Perhaps my hair or piercings. Maybe my choice of clothing; it all runs together. I started to panic and babbled at my mother about how much I hate hospitals, about the shabby-looking equipment and sullen staff. Anything to distract myself from the posh woman’s supposed glare. Looking back, I don’t even know if she was really looking at me. I could have made the whole thing up.

The building panic wasn’t helped by an incredibly rude sonographer. As paranoid as I was feeling, even I can’t pretend that he didn’t say a single word to me; wouldn’t even make eye contact. How difficult is it to say hello? I lay on the narrow bed while he totally ignored me, and I strained to make out the images on the ultrasound. I think I could make out the tendon; although what’s normal isn’t exactly something I can recognise.

I don’t even know where the results are going. I did ask – since I’m under both the care of my GP and Dr. B for the same issue – but I can’t remember the answer for the life of me. My head was so muddled at this point that I just wanted to get out, have a cigarette and cry.

I couldn’t go home and calm down though. My mother came with me to the appointment so we could shop in Tesco afterwards; so I had at least two more hours of panic to deal with. She spends forever looking at packages and going back and forth, and it’s not rare for me to kick off in the shop, but I’ve been doing well at controlling the rage recently. I just grit my teeth and force myself to get on with it.

In Tesco, I did well until the morning rush started. Suddenly the whole place was filled with hassled parents and middle-aged men fighting over barbeques, shoving their trolleys into the backs of my legs and blocking whole aisles with armfuls of children; all running around and screaming.

I quickly lost my mother somewhere – again, a regular occurence – and became panicked about not being able to carry what I’d already bought. Worried I’d never find her. I decided to distract myself by looking at contract mobiles (I’m considering getting a HTC Desire), and soon started thinking about the huge elephant which constantly stomps around our house; my financial situation.

In short, although I’m 27 years old, my benefits still get paid into my mother’s bank account. Why? I can only believe she’s using it to control me. She’s never allowed me to take control of my own money, although I’ve begged her many times.

When I finally found her in the vegetable aisle, I asked her if she’s going to “sort my money out”. I’ve been asking for over a decade, and got the same answer as usual: “Soon. Just let me get some stuff sorted first”.

An hour’s worth of panic and worry flew up into my mouth, and I started stammering at her. My throat tightened up and started to hurt. I wanted to cry. Scream. Punch somebody. I had to walk away feigning interest in the make-up section before I sat myself down on the floor and refused to budge; it wouldn’t be the first time. I wanted to run away and hide from all the strangers staring at me and judging my faults.

I’ve had two panic attacks recently; I don’t like to think it could be the start of something.

Bizarrely, I was saved from full-blown meltdown by bumping into S outside Tesco. Leaving to get a taxi home coincided with his lunch break at the hospital, and I couldn’t have felt more relieved. I calmed down immediately.

He’s like my own personal diazepam.

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

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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.