With having chronic pain and being unemployed, I spend a lot of time indoors, wondering what to do with myself. Television has never been a big interest of mine, so I don’t have that outlet like many others do. Over the years I’ve gone through many time-wasting phases, mostly involving computer games.
The biggest time wasters in the past have been Age Of Empires (I was addicted for years), Spore and the Thief series. I’ve tried other hobbies, and I do have other interests – knitting, reading, writing, poker, music – but my attentions will always be drawn to gaming.
Over the past few months, I’ve been playing The Sims 3 incessantly, and building houses. It’s my favourite waste of time. I’ve been working on this house for a couple of night now:
A psychologist would have a lot to say about my obsession.
- Procrastination: A Writer’s Greatest Enemy (girlsheartbooks.com)
- How do you procrastinate? (conniecavanaugh.wordpress.com)
- When I Have More Time and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves (doingthewritething.wordpress.com)
- In Defense of Procrastination (community.tradeking.com)
- Claiming my title of Master Procrastinator! (bellemarie86.wordpress.com)
Nominees, in order to accept this award you must:
– Thank and link back to the person who awarded you – thank you much, Elizadolly (an amazing woman).
– Write seven random things about yourself
– Award seven other awesome and inspiring bloggers.
I’m half-convinced that somebody out there is setting me up with all these awards. It’s very unexpected. Seven more things about me? I’m going to start repeating myself. My memory’s bad enough as it is.
1. I have a ‘thing’ for movie soundtracks. I spend a lot of time reading about them online and downloading them. I don’t know what the attraction is, I just like listening to an album and following a sort of story with the music.
2. I’d love to learn Russian, but don’t actually have the motivation. I think it’s a gorgeous language, but I’m convinced I’ll fail before I even try. I do this a lot with things.
3. I’ve looked out of a window on a moving train while listening to music, and pretended I’m in a music video. Don’t tell me you’ve never done this.
4. I used to buy books just to look cool. As a book-lover, the very idea horrifies me, but in my early teens I felt I had to live up to my bookworm/geek status and impress people with my extensive reading list. I did read a lot, and got through a lot of classics, but I do still have books on my shelf which were bought just for show, and which I’ve never read. I should probably read them now, since I no longer care.
5. I have absolutely no concept of the space my body takes up in the world, and as a result don’t have a single item of clothing which fits. I buy everything too big, or too small, having no idea how they look in relation to my physical self. I find it difficult putting my hand on my belly, because I’m always convinced it’s somewhere else. It’s like I can’t connect with how I am physically, after so many years of eating disorders.
6. There’s no point in me buying jewellery, because I’ll lose it within hours. Despite this, I spend too much money on necklaces and rings, because I like wearing them. I need to learn.
7. I haven’t used my walking stick yet. I’ll feel like such a twat using it.
Nominating seven bloggers is going to be difficult, simply because I don’t want to keep repeating the same names and being accused of favouritism; I worry a lot, shoot me.
So I’m going to nominate the seven bloggers who have recently supported me or offered me helpful advice, or who have simply been good blog friends. People I really appreciate, and have a lot of respect for.
5. Tiny Temper
Some of these blogs are new to me, and I’ve been moved by the support the writers have given in my recent post about chronic illness.
A letter to my twelve-year-old-self.
As you sit in your incense-scented bedroom, leaning against strategically-placed cushions on your bed and picking at the moon and stars duvet cover you begged for, consider this. Consider that one day, you will be twenty-six. You will be in that same room, typing these words on your laptop, surrounded by the things you collected during life; Guinness bottles, eye creams, cheap jewellery, a pink and white Laura Ashley bedspread marked by gel pens and cigarette burns. Empty pill packets and lighters. Crystals you once believed had healing power. You no longer believe, but will never throw them away.
You will type these words, thinking back to the Hanson posters you no longer own, the Sony Walkman which broke years ago, the candlesticks which never looked right on your window ledge. You will remember.
It all sounds so far away to you. Life for you is a slow-moving mash-up of books, poetry, the X-Files and listening to The Middle Of Nowhere over and over, until the tape starts to break. Fears you feel are school-related. The challenges you face are all-consuming, and you suspect you will never be this confused; that puberty will somehow save you from the feelings you keep inside. The diaries you write now… you will throw them away. They don’t have meaning to you, after all; so much of what you write is lies, made up to convince yourself that your life is more interesting than it is. So much of what you say is lies, woven from a need to fit in, to impress, to be somebody else. You will convince yourself, eventually, that these lies are nothing but the absolute truth, and that’s okay; years later, you will find out why you did this. It was never your fault.
A lot of things will turn out to be not your fault. However much you blame yourself, I wish you’d know this, so you wouldn’t punish yourself. It may seem strange writing like this; after all, I’m writing to myself, and until they invent time-travel, this is purely for the grown-up me. You and I are different people. We have the same genes, the same blood group, the same eyes. We are the same, but so different. As you grow older, you will learn so many lessons; most harsh and uncaring, but all useful. You need to bear these lessons to become who I am now. You need to remember that you change drastically, and that your life will be a series of learning curves. Change doesn’t come easily; you have to fight for it. As much as you don’t see it, you can, do, and will fight. You’re more able and stronger than you give yourself credit for.
The nightmares will always be there, but you will learn to bear them. You will even discover, one day, why you have them. It won’t be an easy discovery, and you’ll break before you mend, but you need to discover those things.
For you, now, school is the be-all and end-all. I remember all too well how it feels to even hear that word. ‘School’ – such an innocent word, yet I know how sick you feel when you hear or read it. I remember those stomach cramps and tears. I remember the utter terror. I want to be honest with you, so I’m afraid it doesn’t get easier. If I could go back and be you again, I would find my voice; because you do have one. I would stand up for myself, because the ability is there. You can’t see it now, and it saddens me that you can’t find a way out. If I could tell you one thing, it would be this; it was never as bad as you imagined it. You naturally punish yourself and assume you’re guilty. Years later, you will find out why, you will discover that it’s a fault in your brain, something you can’t help. When someone raises their voice, I know you believe it’s you they’re angry with. When something goes wrong, I know you automatically blame yourself. What happened at school will stay with you for a long time, well into your early twenties, but one day, the fear lessens. One day, the tangles and confusions begin to make sense. One day, you stop blaming everyone else, and, most importantly, you stop blaming yourself. You will see school for what it actually was; a place where you simply never fit in. Not through lack of trying, but because you tried too much. You were simply never going to be one of the popular kids, but remember this; popularity at your age may seem like everything, but really, it’s nothing. Most of the popular kids were just as insecure as you. They had troubles at home too. They struggled with work, even though you felt like the only one.
At the age of thirteen, in November, you will refuse to go to school. You will leave. The year before that will be a painful one; a long, hard road of misery and upset. You entered puberty much earlier than your peers, and so much of this is down to hormones, even though you won’t realise it at the time. Hormones and mental illness. In that year, you will leave childhood behind. You will become even more introverted, shying away from physical contact. You will push away your friends. I can’t tell you not to do this; without it, you wouldn’t be where I am now. I just wish you could understand how damaging it will be to you, and how easy it would have been to just reach out. One day, you will find yourself sitting in the headmaster’s office, having to explain the scars and cuts on your arms. You will make a vital mistake at this point; you will choose to confide in your two best friends. They won’t understand, and it will scare them. Eventually, you will lose these friends, but I can tell you now that it was the best thing in the situation. They weren’t emotionally mature enough to deal with their friend self-harming. The next mistake you will make it forgetting to hide the bloodstains on your shirt sleeves. The girls who sit opposite you in science will see it, and will pretend to scratch themselves with compasses in front of you. When you start the unexplained crying bouts in lessons, you will lie, you will make up a story to explain away the tears. I wish you hadn’t done this; everyone knew you were lying. In fact, everyone knew that most of what you said was a lie, all along. This is why they never believed you. When one of the popular girls asks you if you’re alright in the PE changing room, she wasn’t trying to be cruel, to taunt you. I wish you could see that, because I know that, at the time, you believed it was just another way of getting to you, rather than the rare kind gesture it actually was.
You always suspected you were different, didn’t you? Well, you are. Not a freak; not in the popular sense of the word. The truth is, you’re ill. The illness is in your head, and, contrary to what you may suspect, you’re not making it up to gain attention and status. You’re not inventing problems for yourself, regardless of what that voice in your head may tell you. Yes, you do make it worse for yourself at times, you do over-analyse situations and get yourself into emotional states you can’t control, but that doesn’t make you any less of a person.
Now, look at this photo.
I know that by posting this, I’m giving a lot away about myself; where I come from, where I went to school. I wanted to remain entirely anonymous on this blog, but perhaps honesty is more important sometimes. I know that, if you saw this photo, you would begin to sweat and shake. You would probably cry. Your heart would race, and you would have the urge to harm yourself in some way. I remember how it felt every time you heard the lyric “go to school” in that Sheryl Crow song, how you had to fast-forward past that bit. I promise that one day, it won’t hurt. I promise that one day you will be walking past the school, and feel nothing.
When you look in the mirror, you see somebody who will never be loved. You will never quite understand what exactly makes this fact; whether it’s the mass of curly, unruly, tangled ginger hair, or the rolls of fat which make sitting down so uncomfortable, or simply your face, which you never felt comfortable with. You were never one of the pretty girls. Your body shape meant you would never have delicate shoulders or slim hips. You know you will never be a tall, skinny blonde.
I chose to write to you when you were twelve years old because I know that’s when everything started. Not the bullying; that came earlier. The reactions and the overreactions though; that starts now, doesn’t it? It’s the age you realise just how little you have in common with your peers, the age when you start kicking back against the world in the only way you know how; by harming yourself, and, to an extent, harming those around you so nobody can get close enough to cause pain. The age where you become aware of yourself and your impact on the world. You’ve already been suffering from depression for a few years now; they call it juvenile depression, at least that’s what you were told. It sounded so trivial, didn’t it? ‘Juvenile’, as though it was childish. For a long time you didn’t believe that diagnosis. To you, it was all fantasy, all attention-seeking, it was all your fault.
My clearest memory of you is when you used to sneak out of the house in the early hours of the morning, just after dawn, to sit on the embankment near the water treatment plant down by the marshes. A short walk; but at the time, it felt like miles. Even in the middle of winter you would wear just a t-shirt and jeans, because the cold didn’t affect you the way it seemed to affect others. I suppose it was the extra weight you were carrying around; cold simply couldn’t penetrate your body. I remember you running down the slopes of the embankment, feeling the wind in your hair and on your face, running from everything and nothing, with nobody around to see you. It was the only time you felt free. Then, you would creep back into the house, flushed from the exercise and nervous about being caught. You left the door on the latch, so you could get back in; anybody could’ve walked into the house and it would’ve been all your fault. At the time, you simply didn’t care. You needed space, fresh air, solitude in the outdoors. You never did like being indoors for too long, and that hasn’t changed. You’re still prone to cabin fever.
Do you remember when the binge-eating started? I don’t; as much as I try, I can’t remember. I can only assume that because you started puberty early, it must have been around that time, as that’s when you started becoming aware of your body and, for the first time, was unhappy with what you saw. I can still remember the first time you realised you had body hair; the disgust you felt at discovering the soft, downy hair under your arms. Then came breasts, and the inevitable teasing because nobody else in school had them. After that came the first pale red spots in your underwear, followed by sudden cramps and what felt, at the time, like haemorrhaging. You didn’t tell anybody for a long time, you were too ashamed. Things are different now; the health problems you encountered over the years ensured that pretty much everybody ended up knowing every detail about your period. You even got to see your ovaries on a camera, which appealed to your sense of the grotesque (which we still share). But more about that later.
I remember your frustration when, at the age of five, you couldn’t eat what your friends ate. Being born with a severe lactose allergy felt like a curse. In primary school, you ate chocolate substitutes and endured gentle teasing for being different. It didn’t bother you much, but I think, deep down, it began rooting issues for you; food became a chore, rather than a pleasure. So when you were finally declared ‘cured’ at the age of seven, you indulged. I think any child would, but I know now that you have an incredibly addictive nature, and that food, for you, is the ultimate pleasure-giver. I know what it looks like down the side and underneath your bed; empty chocolate and sweet wrappers, whole multipacks of crisps secreted away, old yoghurt pots, bottles of Pepsi and milkshake. I know you feel ashamed by it, and that’s why you hide it, that’s why you can’t simply take those wrappers downstairs and put them in the bin, instead creating a mountain of past binges. I remember it all too well.
You haven’t yet been told by the blonde PE teacher that you’re fat. She hasn’t yet held up your skirt for the whole class to see, mocking your weight. It will happen soon, and when it does, I wish you would simply take it on the (double) chin and pass it off as a thoughtless comment, rather than let it torment you for years. I know I can’t change what happens to you, or your reactions to events, but if I could travel back and change one thing for you, it would be this. I wish I could tell you to laugh in her face or shout at her; anything but your real reaction of staring at your shoes on the hard gym floor, swallowing what little pride you had left and casting it down in the hope that the earth will open and let you fall; fall away from the comments and taunting, fall away from the word ‘fat’, so you never have to hear it. This, more than anything, broke you. I wish I could stop it, because I know just how much pain and misery it caused for years to come.
I also wish I could tell you not to listen when your sister (E) stands up from the dinner table at Christmas and announces she’s going to make herself sick because she’s eaten too much. I want to be able to crawl back through those years, hold you tight and block your ears against what she said. You took it to heart; you saw it as a cure for the fat which seems to destroy every part of your life. She didn’t mean it, and even if she did… it’s not the answer. Regardless of what you think, you won’t be one of the lucky ones who loses weight and stops. You won’t be the one who gets away with no damage to your health. I know you feel invincible right now, but you’re not. Leaning over the toilet, running the taps on the sink to hide the noise of retching… it didn’t solve anything. It didn’t stop the bad feelings; it just magnified them. If you’d have known that, years later, you’d still be fighting the urge to vomit, would you still do it? If you knew how disgusted you’d end up feeling with yourself, yet unable to stop because it had become an addiction, the only crutch you could reliably lean on… would you find a better way of coping?
You wouldn’t, would you? Because you’re headstrong, stubborn, and desperate. In that sense, we’re still exactly the same.
You may be asking yourself why I’m writing this letter from the same bedroom you sit in right now. You may wonder if your worst fears have come true, and you’ve never managed to move on from your insulated, bubble-wrap life. I feel I should apologise at this point, because I let you down. I should have been a stronger adult, I should have gained control over my life instead of spending my late teens and twenties punishing myself and hiding from the world. I should have stayed awake instead of falling so easily into sleep as a method of coping, I should have lived my life for you.
When I began writing this, it was the result of a half-asleep talk I had with myself. Yes, I still do that. I’ve been cruel to myself lately; allowing myself to wallow in self-created misery and sinking back into the old ways of coping. Right now, I have an infected burn, just above my navel. I tried not to; I know it’s the wrong way of doing things and solves nothing, but sometimes the temptation is too difficult to avoid. I used a lighter to heat up a pair of nail scissors, and chose to scar myself there because, apart from S (my boyfriend), nobody will see it. Again, I let you down. I know that you don’t currently see any reason to stop harming yourself, but that feeling doesn’t last forever. Eventually, you will want to get better, you will want to kick that demon aside and find healthier ways of coping, but it’s so, so difficult. I can’t help but think that I’m too old for this behaviour now, but if it were easy to stop, I would’ve long ago.
That talk I had with myself… I started speaking to you. Just in my head; I’m not entirely crazy, at least I don’t think so. Perhaps I am; perhaps I’m so off my box that I don’t make any sense, perhaps I’m writing this from a padded cell somewhere and I’m just convincing myself I’m living this half-life I’m stuck in
When I spoke to you (obviously, you didn’t answer back, that would just be silly), I realised just how different we are, and I began to wonder how I would’ve felt if my twenty-something self could go back and tell you these things. It was supposed to be a short letter, but the more I thought and wrote, the more I realised that I owe you everything. I could turn this into a novel, and I suspect we still wouldn’t cover all the ground between us, but I want to try.
For my own peace of mind. For therapy. For all the ways I failed you.
You dream of romance; of being loved and loving somebody back. Only, you don’t speak of this desire because it seems ridiculous. Who would ever love you? A recluse with bad skin and bad social skills; how could anybody give up their time to be with you? How could anybody bear to touch you, when all you see in the mirror is an overweight, pale, galumphing teacher’s pet with frizzy ginger hair and bad teeth? Of course nobody could love you, you reason with yourself. And so, you swear – almost unconsciously – to never let anybody close enough.
If you protect yourself, you won’t get hurt. If you make sure nobody ever gets close to you, you will never have to feel that rejection, you’ll never have to relive the humiliation of the day a boy from school asked you out and stood you up. You’ll never have to face the laughter from others when they ask, incredulously, why you ever thought it was anything other than a joke on your behalf.
Yet, for all your attempts, boys and, later, men… they did love you. Or something like love.
It’s hard to imagine now, but you’ll lose your virginity much younger than some of your peers. You will find yourself in a council house at the age of fifteen, watching an older man move on top of you, and you will feel nothing. You will note the absence of pain. Afterwards, you will stand in front of the bathroom mirror, trying to look for a sign of maturity on your face, but all you will see is smudged eyeliner and a scared look staring back at you. You felt the condom break, you heard his muffled swearing as he threw it aside and carried on regardless. It doesn’t bother you as much as you thought it might; you don’t feel real.
As you travel to the women’s hospital at 11pm (way past your curfew, and in a city more than twenty miles away from home), you try to feel like an adult. You attempt to convince yourself that this is it; your childhood is over, and you’re a grown-up now. Yet, you still feel like a girl. A scared, unimpressed girl, more worried about the argument you’ll undoubtedly face when you finally get home than any chance of pregnancy, infection or what you’ve just allowed a prematurely balding twenty-three year old to do to you.
In the hospital, you sit in the toilet as your boyfriend asks for the morning after pill. Again, you look in the mirror, and still nothing has changed. The Tia Maria you drank earlier is making you nostalgic, and you look down at your legs, at the ripped stockings (seriously, who were you trying to impress?) and black painted toenails, and all you want is to curl up and go to sleep. It’s not that you didn’t want it to happen, because you did. You’re just disappointed that it wasn’t like it is in the movies. The earth didn’t move. You loved him (or so you thought) but nothing seemed to change once you were no longer a virgin. It simply wasn’t the big deal it’s always been made out to be.
I know this will come as a disappointment to you. You’re just discovering sex, really. You haven’t kissed anybody yet, let alone let them touch you. You haven’t had a boyfriend unless you count the boy in primary school who gave you a jelly sweet ring, asked to marry you and who you dumped a few weeks later because he wiped his nose on his sleeve in front of you. Sex and the opposite sex are a mystery to you, and you know what? I wish you could’ve held onto that innocence a little longer. Once you discover the reality, that storybook romance you dream about seems childish and overly hopeful. It simply doesn’t work that way. Not for a long time, anyway.
But let’s go back to the beginning, when you decided that nobody would be able to touch you.
It started as a diet. Just a normal, everyday low-calorie diet. After all, you could stand to lose some weight, even I can acknowledge that. I can’t remember what prompted it; whether you made the choice to lose weight or if a comment pushed you over the edge. I do remember how pleased you were when you stepped on the scales and found you had lost a couple of pounds. It seemed easy, easier than you imagined. Everybody seemed to be doing it; weight loss was the in-thing. You’d left school by this point, and so sat at home flicking through your mother’s magazines, picking up diet tips and learning the best way to get a flat stomach. After a few more months, people were starting to comment on how much better you looked, and it fuelled a compulsion to gain approval. You soon learned that losing weight gained you respect, gave you something to talk about, and, in your mind, gave you a reason to exist. Self-harming wasn’t gaining you any fans; you needed a new way of showing the world you were worth something.
And so weight loss became your obsession.
It probably sounds funny now. That the world’s best binge-eater would become a master dieter. Only, it stopped being funny after a while. It stopped being a diet.
I’ll never be able to tell you when the diet became anorexia.
In fact it’s difficult for me to piece events together during this time because you experienced memory loss from the age of thirteen to fifteen. You didn’t lose everything, and there was never any real explanation for it other than some form of post-traumatic stress, but you lost a few key details, and a lot of minor memories. I still struggle to picture those years with any real clarity, although things are starting to slowly come back as I get older.
All I know is that anorexia came first, then, when you weren’t losing enough weight, bulimia tagged along. Bulimia was never as attractive to you; it didn’t have the same sense of control as starving did, it was messy and difficult to hide. Curiously, it seemed to almost cure your phobia of vomiting though; forced purges felt far less terrifying than being so totally out of control, and you quickly discovered that, if you felt nauseous, sticking two fingers down your throat solved the worry of whether you’d actually be sick or not.
As eerily sensible as you could seem, some attitudes you displayed were so far beyond your personality, it was as though you became a totally different person through eating disorders. You began to prize the appearance of hip bones and admired the protruding collar bones of other women. You learned how to angle your shoulders to best display the bone structure you created, you learned how to use makeup to angle your cheekbones further, creating a hollow-faced look you were so, so proud of. As the weight continued to drop, you learned tricks to stop the feeling of hunger; cotton wool balls soaked in water, when swallowed, would make you feel full. You chewed gum constantly to fool your body into thinking you were eating. Fizzy water was more filling than still water, but the bloating it created made you uncomfortable. Without access to the internet, you had to pick these tricks up from overheard conversations, television programmes (you learned the cotton wool trick from Eastenders), and pure guesswork. Twice-weekly trips to the electronic scales in Boots showed that you were losing on average 5 to 7lbs a week at the height of anorexia, yet you still felt it wasn’t enough, and you always felt like a faker. You suspected you were just pretending; trying to be anorexic. You were still a fat girl; you couldn’t see the extremes you were taking yourself to, was entirely deaf to the worries of others and endless speeches on sensible eating. The threats of being sent to hospital went entirely over your head because, to you, it wasn’t a real problem. If anything, it was a solution.
You went from being a shy, probably quite sweet child to an angry, sniping teenager without a good word to say about anybody or anything. Hunger made you irritable and tired, and the slightest thing would set you off into an uncontrollable rage. Once, you screamed at your mother in Marks and Spencer because she caught you checking the calories in a ready-meal. She was only trying to curb your behaviour, make you see sense, but you shouted, screamed, kicked and, eventually, ran.
You did a lot of running away.
You’re still running away.
I’ve had a very quiet day of doing very little. Sleep wasn’t an easy task last night thanks to my procrastination skills, and most of the day was spent in a dodgy sleep-pattern haze, listening to Depeche Mode and Death In Vegas while playing The Sims (or, rather, downloading furniture packs for The Sims because I truly have nothing better to do than build fake houses and pretend I live in them).
I’m trying to motivate myself for the neurololgist appointment on Thursday. I’m worried about sleep; do I stay up all night and have the guarantee of being awake, or try to sleep and work myself into a getting-up-early panic? I try so damn hard to get up in the mornings, but it’s next to impossible sometimes, especially when I’ve been up all night worrying about waking up for the day ahead. The combination of medication, weed, late-night binges and fatigue makes it all so difficult.
S kissed me at midnight on new year. The next door neighbours set off a Chinese lantern (which got stuck in a tree, and only we seemed to find it hilarious) and we made a wish for the coming year; me with a joint in my pocket, him with a can of Fosters in his hand.
My wish? I couldn’t possibly say. I don’t want to jinx anything.
I’ve been nominated for the versatile blogger award by two people – Diabetic Redemption and Conversingwithnovels. It’s the first time I’ve been nominated (I didn’t even know it existed!), so to be put forward twice in the same week is a nice surprise. Thank you!
1. Thank the award-giver and link back to them in your post.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Pass this award along to 15 recently discovered blogs you enjoy reading.
4. Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award.
1: I’m currently obsessed with Frijj sticky toffee pudding milkshake.
2: I have pictures on my bedroom walls of The Wee Free Men from Terry Pratchett novels, an ordnance survey map of Roman Britain, and a promotional poster for Pink Floyd The Wall.
3: I just started biting my nails again, after giving it up in childhood.
4: I have a few ideas for projects. I’m not very motivated, so it’s a big thing for me. I want to make a steampunk Scrabble board and computer mouse, and I want to learn to make piercing jewellery with a lathe. If S and I get the house we’re hopefully moving into, it has a large garage out back which we’re planning on using as a workshop. I’ve never worked with tools before, and I want to give it a go. Making jewellery appeals to me too, and I could incorporate my knitting.
5: The phrase “pet hate” makes me sick.
6: I hate the smell of petrol, but love the smell of tarmac (I’ve been known to follow a tar truck around). I also adore the smell of Lenor fabric softener – the one in the blue bottle – it’s divine.
7: I used to steal things from shops. CDs. Books. Makeup. Clothes. For two years, I was stealing from places like Woolworths, Andy’s Records and Our Price. All these places went into administration. I blame myself.
I’m unsure if I’m allowed to nominate those who nominated me, but I would certainly advise visiting both their blogs (linked at the top of post). Both are wonderful people, who have given me such encouragement over the past couple of months.
I only discovered this blog a short while ago, and have fallen in love with the photographs.
“I also have the “Truman Show” moments. Except it’s the Madam Fickle Show and I’m the star. If I’m not interacting with you, you don’t exist in my reality. You come in, say your line and leave. Then I really don’t think about you after that. Not that I don’t care about you. I do, when we are together. I may like you, I may despise you. But out of sight, out of mind as the saying goes. So does that mean you don’t exist when you’re not with me?”
Although our beliefs are different, I feel I have a lot in common with this blogger, and really enjoy her writing style.
4. Manic Planet – Living Bipolar
“I’m owning the diagnosis of bipolar disorder through mindfulness, self-care and a sense of humor. I’ve learned a few things I’ll share – you can take what you need and leave the rest.
“What you resist, persists & what you fight, you strengthen.”
One of my favourite blogs.
6. James Claims
A blogger I very much admire; his descriptions of his experiences are so full of truth, and he often echoes my own thoughts.
“I need to forgive my Mother for never believing in my decisions. I need to forgive her for always making me feel like my efforts aren’t good enough and that she always knows what’s better. I need to forgive her for always acting like my sister was more important and more capable of making her own decisions. I need to move forward from this.”
8. Go Jenzy!
“With that said, I have made a very conscious decision that I need to correct this self-destructive behaviour, not only before it’s too late, but before it rubs off on my kids. My kids are my EVERYTHING and without them, I’m nothing.
I hope that the phrase ‘Better late than never‘ is acceptable one for me to be using. ♥”
Gorgeous layout, and really playful, sincere writing.
A lovely mish-mash of lots of things, and a lovely commenter.
“It was about 6 years ago now. I was with this guy and at the time, I thought he was awesome. He was my first serious boyfriend and I was very excited because it was evident that he liked me. I didn’t have to do any type of digging to find that out, but it wasn’t so obvious to the point I wanted to vomit, either. “
Honest and very well-written, like a story.
Again, honest. Often brutally so, but really engrossing to read.
“This blog is about my recovery.”
If I ever had a secret twin, I think perhaps it is eliza.
Another secret twin of mine. Considering English is not her first language, she has a beautiful way with words.
“The dreaded question again. It came around to me and the nurse asked how I was. I said I wasn’t doing great and currently have a lot of anxiety. She asked me if I have anxiety whilst sitting here in the group, to confirm, and I said yes, it causes me to get anxiety. I went totally red in the face and it was really difficult but I did it. And I thought that honesty is the best policy, everyone keeps telling me that I am not open and honest enough about my feelings, so ha, put that in your pipe and smoke it. I couldn’t do any more than that.”
I realised I’ve sorely neglected the 10 Day You Challenge.
10 day you challenge posts:
Many songs have meant a lot to me, and it’s nigh on impossible to choose. I mean, seriously choose. I feel disloyal to any song I leave out, and so I don’t think I can choose just two. My first song has to be Somewhere In My Heart by Aztec Camera (which I wrote about here)
And secondly, Sweet And Tender Hooligan by The Smiths.
Something you hope to do in your life.
I tend to avoid looking too far into the future, after being disappointed far too many times. If I don’t think of what lies ahead of me, I can calm my anxiety somewhat. I try to stay in the present, because the past doesn’t hold much allure either.
There are a lot of options for this one.
I hope to be truly healthy one day, not constantly being bogged down by sore throats/colds/urinary infections. To have enough strength in my muscles to walk long distances again and to not have the constant joint aches and tingling sensations. To have the energy to wake up in the mornings and sleep properly at night, without needing naps during the day.
I hope to continue writing, and perhaps make a career of sorts out of it one day. A big dream, but I’m allowed big dreams, right?
I hope to have my own house, or at least somewhere to rent, and to furnish it with things I love. With Smiths and Joy Division posters on the walls in plastic frames, and music always playing. With friends visiting with bottles of wine and staying all night to get drunk and stupid, smoking and watching B-Movies.
I hope to travel, especially to Canada, New Zealand and Japan, and spend time in each of these places, learning about their lives and taking a million photographs.
More than anything though, I hope to be a mother.
I have polycystic ovary syndrome. In short, this means that my hormones are irregular. I have problems regulating insulin, and have many of the symptoms such as weight gain, excess hair and spots. I spend a lot of time and money trying to feel feminine. It also means that I may face problems with my fertility.
I have been taking the contraceptive pill since I was fourteen, to combat the symptoms. At the time, I was told that I would never have children, which stuck with me for years and still occasionally pops up to taunt me now, even though I know differently. Many women with PCOS can conceive, either naturally or through medical ways. However, I have also had many infections – sexual and otherwise – which took a long time to be detected and treated. I currently have another infection, which isn’t an STD but isn’t responding to treatment. I also have suspected endometriosis and have had tissue samples removed and been treated with laser for scarring to my cervix. Along with my other physical health worries, this reduces the risk somewhat. I’ve also had a miscarriage, and have often missed or stopped taking the pill in my stupid past and never conceived.
I also worry that my mental health will be a problem. I often struggle to look after myself, let alone a child; so I know I can’t allow myself to have children until I can devote my energy to them.
I want to be a mother, and do a better job of giving my children freedom than own my mother did. I want to teach them to read and write, and tell them stories at night. I want to hold my own baby and know I achieved something massive, something unlikely. I want to take my children to the park and show them how to do bark rubbings and tell them about trees and flowers. I want to show them the constellations and play them the music I loved as a child. Teach them to spell the names of dinosaurs and planets.
I can have none of this until I’m financially secure. I refuse to bring a child into the world if I can’t afford to support him or her. Perhaps that is an outdated view, but many of my views seem to be strangely traditional. I don’t want to have a baby out of marriage, and I want to have a baby with somebody I love, and who loves me. Sometimes, I think S is that person. I’ve become very motherly and soft since meeting him, and he means the absolute world to me. Sometimes we joke about “our kids” being little geeks with stupid hair and more than a hint of anarchy, but we always retract it before we have to think seriously about it. It’s in no way the right time for either of us, but I do hold a little spark of hope in my heart that I’ve found somebody very, very special.
The weather has taken a turn for the downright horrible; heavy rain, hail, wind and sleet. When I got home from S’s last night, my mother informed me that she’s still getting headaches and feeling sick when she puts the gas fire on. So now we don’t have any heating in the living room until we can get someone in to sort it, which is more money we don’t need to be spending but heck, it could explain a lot of what’s been going on with my health too, if it is throwing out carbon monoxide.
We also talked about her decision to read up about MS online. She said she wasn’t going to, but found a link and had to see. She looked at me and said, “you have every symptom, don’t you?”. She reminded me of all the times when she thought I was drunk and we got into fights. I knew I hadn’t been drinking, but she always said I was spaced out, vacant and slurring slightly. I have no recollection of this. I admitted how, at a house party last year, I went to stand up and my right leg refused to work; I collapsed and couldn’t walk at all for about half an hour. I put it down to exhaustion, or just sitting funny… but heck, it now seems I’ve been ‘sitting funny’ for a long time, given all the times I get pins and needles or my foot goes entirely numb. I attritibuted it all to fibromyalgia… but so much has never fit with that diagnosis.
She says she’ll go to the appointment with me. I’m glad. Normally I hate having anybody in the room with me at appointments, least alone my mother, but this isn’t something I think I can handle alone, for once.
I met S at the pub on Friday evening. He gave me a kiss and a hug and bought me a drink. Lent me his filters because I’d run out. Told me I looked “pretty” and put his arm around me. We got quite tipsy; him on Kronenburg, me on a mixture of lager and Tia Maria and coke, and talked about the usual ridiculous things; rubbish band names (“Europe” won), crap Christmas presents, songs you get stuck in your head. He drunkenly went off to Tesco to buy some food and wine for the weekend and I got a taxi to my dealers. It’s weird to think I now have a dealer; it sounds so Hollywood. Stayed there for a while and smoked, chatted to his older daughter about Facebook and music, had a cup of tea and choked embarrasingly on one of his joints; he’s a heavy, heavy smoker, far heavier than I am, and even I can’t cope with what he rolls. He mentioned that O had been ’round a couple of times to buy weed, and I just grunted; I’d sort of hoped he’d give it up when he had the kids, he’s never really reacted to it well. It makes him angry or over-emotional.
S and I spent most of Friday night in bed. For once sex didn’t hurt, and I was able to relax again. I still haven’t told S… it’s weird, because we always talk about sex quite frankly and openly. I just feel strangely less feminine and attractive when sex hurts.We had a takeaway, drank wine, and talked. I’d never really experienced pillow-talk before I met S. I was pleasantly stoned and giggly through the night, S was at his soft and cuddly level of drunk; it couldn’t have been more perfect. Before we went to sleep, we lay together, listening to the rain. He put his arm around my chest and kissed my back. Said he loved me.
Saturday was much of the same. In the afternoon, we went to pick a hard drive and some bits and pieces up from the lockup he’s keeping all his furniture in. He found his mother’s diary, which she’d written when she knew she had terminal cancer, a ridiculous photo of him as a child (“you grew into your looks, didn’t you dear?”) and I dug out some PS3 games and a few DVDs. Afterwards, we went to the pub with his friends (his best friends, I suppose) and sat around for hours, talking shit and getting drunk. I smoked a joint in the smoking area; I was having a good night. S’s friends talk to me like an equal… I’m not sure I’ve ever had a relationship where that’s truly happened.
That night, I asked S if I could read his mother’s diary. I wasn’t being nosy; I really wish I could have met her, and wanted to see things from her point of view. Anyone who could produce someone like S… I love her for that. Her handwriting is sloped like mine. She alternates between blue biro and black ink. She loved her children. Every morning, she would read the bible (she became religious when diagnosed) and loved socialising with friends. She forms her “f’s” the exact same way I do.
Her diary made me think about my own writing. I’ve thrown out so many diaries, ripped up so many pages and even burned one or two… and now I wish I’d kept them somewhere safe. Perhaps if I had, I could rationalise things which have happened.
I start to think there really is no cure for depression, that happiness is an ongoing battle, and I wonder if it isn’t one I’ll have to fight for as long as I live. I wonder if it’s worth it.
I was diagnosed with depression as a teenager. I can’t remember the exact year, or the way in which I was diagnosed. I cannot remember if it was my own doctor or a psychiatrist. I simply know that one day I was given the answer to the all-encompassing numbness and apathy I had felt for most of my life.
I was a melancholy child, prone to fits of high-anxiety and crippling shyness. Shy and often self-absorbed, I preferred playing on my own to joining the groups of screaming schoolfriends; it’s not that I didn’t want to join in, I just didn’t see a reason to. I had friends, but my habit of wandering off on my own and staring into space for hours alienated me in a way I didn’t understand until much, much later. As a child, you assume that everybody else thinks the way you do, and it’s only when you’re old enough to see outside your small world that you realise that not everybody lies awake at night wondering what it would feel like to be dead, how your funeral would pan out. Not every seven year old takes a large handful of hayfever tablets, just to see what might happen.
I have often thought that I was born depressed. Not born with depression, but naturally prone to feeling numb and unhappy with nothing in particular. Depression runs in my family, and genetically I have both a mother and father who have lived with it. Environmentally, I’ve seen family members crushed under the weight of depression throughout my life.
So, what is depression?
For me, it’s a feeling of total lack of respect, for myself and others. It’s a deep, dark numbness which can’t be alleviated by anything. It’s the inability to laugh or cry with any real emotion; it’s the total lack of emotion, the opposite of feeling. It’s a wall which comes slamming down around me, removing me from the world and trapping me behind unbreakable glass. I can see the world, I can see and hear people and conversations, but they’re blurred as though seen through frosted windows in a soundproofed room. It’s when food and drink is tasteless and unsatisfying, when music becomes an annoyance rather than a joy, it’s the need to keep my bedroom curtains closed at all times because the sun is simply too much to cope with.
Depression is the beast which makes me sleep for days on end, an unrelenting tiredness. It’s lying awake at night, counting the seconds until morning when I can tick another failed day off my ever-growing list. It’s the inability to lift a coffee cup without huge effort, the climb up the stairs which feels like a trip up Mt. Everest. It’s staring at a wall for hours, completely unaware of time passing.
I once had to fill in a form in the local out-of-hours GP clinic, after refusing to get out of bed for over three weeks. I wasn’t eating, was sleeping strange hours, and felt removed from everything around me. I started to consider just how easy it would be to overdose or simply disappear. In a rare fit of concern for myself, I decided to get medical help, if only to save my family the heartache of thinking they’d failed me.
One of the questions was, “have you felt sad or tearful for more than two weeks?”
I hadn’t. I hadn’t felt anything, anything at all. I hadn’t cried or felt sorry for myself, and I remember thinking that I would give anything to truly feel sadness. To feel something real. As a result, I was sent away with the advice to “try and take it easy for a while”. What I wanted was a referral, even a place in the local mental hospital. Anything to save me from sinking further into the dark blanket which had become my best friend and protector. I wasn’t crazy enough though, I was supposedly coping; all because I wasn’t sad.
I have attempted suicide in the past. However, it has never been when I’m depressed, because depression saps my energy and takes away the will to do anything, let alone end my own life. In a way, depression has saved me many times because although the thoughts and feelings are there, the sheer effort of peeling myself off the bed and finding tablets or a razor is just too much for my exhausted brain to contemplate. Each time I have attempted to kill myself, it’s been during a fit of anxiety, during a panic attack. When I experience those, I have boundless energy. I can cry, I can laugh, I can even run. However, depression takes away my ability to do any of those things. It removes everything I love; music, reading, gaming, writing. It puts them out of my reach and convinces me that there’s no point in even trying.
I don’t shower. I don’t brush my hair. I don’t wash my face or brush my teeth for weeks on end. I stay in my pyjamas, too lethargic to even get dressed. At my worst, I sleep with the light on. I ignore the phone and answer questions with grunts and silence.
Wikipedia describes major depressive disorder (what I suffer from) as:
A person having a major depressive episode usually exhibits a very low mood, which pervades all aspects of life, and an inability to experience pleasure in activities that were formerly enjoyed. Depressed people may be preoccupied with, or ruminate over, thoughts and feelings of worthlessness, inappropriate guilt or regret, helplessness, hopelessness, and self-hatred. In severe cases, depressed people may have symptoms of psychosis. These symptoms include delusions or, less commonly, hallucinations, usually unpleasant. Other symptoms of depression include poor concentration and memory (especially in those with melancholic or psychotic features), withdrawal from social situations and activities, reduced sex drive, and thoughts of death or suicide.
Insomnia is common among the depressed. In the typical pattern, a person wakes very early and cannot get back to sleep, but insomnia can also include difficulty falling asleep. Insomnia affects at least 80% of depressed people. Hypersomnia, or oversleeping, can also happen, affecting 15% of depressed people. Some antidepressants may also cause insomnia due to their stimulating effect.
A depressed person may report multiple physical symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, or digestive problems; physical complaints are the most common presenting problem in developing countries, according to the World Health Organization’s criteria for depression. Appetite often decreases, with resulting weight loss, although increased appetite and weight gain occasionally occur. Family and friends may notice that the person’s behavior is either agitated or lethargic.
I think that ‘low mood’ is being very generous. It’s the lowest mood it’s possible to feel. It bypasses the entire idea of mood and becomes a feeling in its own right, one which there is no word for. Psychosis is something I can relate to; I often have auditory hallucinations when severely depressed, or see shadows out of the corner of my eye. I’d be afraid if I wasn’t so incapable of reacting. Sometimes I hear whispering in my head, unclear words and mutterings which seem to come at me from every angle.
Self-hatred does feature, but usually I feel so detatched from everything that my whole sense of ‘self’ is skewed and pointless. I feel entirely unreal, like in the book Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen. In it, she describes biting her hand in an attempt to ‘feel’. To know she’s real. I relate to that. I have often bitten my own hand, or slapped my own face, or chewed the inside of my mouth until I bleed, just to reassure myself that I’m not existing in a dream.
There is a reason why depression is called The Black Dog; it dogs you. It follows you around like a faithful companion, begging to be fed and entertained. It lies on top of you at night, crushing you under its weight and refusing to budge.
- A Spectrum of Depression (asthependulumswings.wordpress.com)
- Happily Depressed (halfwaybetweenthegutter.wordpress.com)
- …. (iamalexia.wordpress.com)
- Depression (birdmartin.wordpress.com)
- Accept It: That’s Just How You Feel (quitthecure.com)
- The Stranger with My Face: Depression Revealed (quitthecure.com)
- living with the black dog (janinerudin.wordpress.com)
- Depression: When I Got It, Why I Got It, and How I Deal With It. (insolenceandimpertinence.wordpress.com)
- What Mental Illness is to Me (kstruggles.wordpress.com)
- A way Out…. Depressed (elliebloo.wordpress.com)
- I’ve been up all night
- Back to the beginning – depression
- The spiral
- Last therapy session