30 Days Of Truth: Day 5 – Hope.

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.

Day 01  Something you hate about yourself.
Day 02  Something you love about yourself.
Day 03  Something you have to forgive yourself for.
Day 04  Something you have to forgive someone for.

The diary

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.

Depression – why it was never about sadness.

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.
Elizabeth Wurtzel

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.[7] In severe cases, depressed people may have symptoms of psychosis. These symptoms include delusions or, less commonly, hallucinations, usually unpleasant.[8] Other symptoms of depression include poor concentration and memory (especially in those with melancholic or psychotic features),[9] 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,[10] but insomnia can also include difficulty falling asleep.[11] Insomnia affects at least 80% of depressed people.[11] Hypersomnia, or oversleeping, can also happen,[10] affecting 15% of depressed people.[11] Some antidepressants may also cause insomnia due to their stimulating effect.[12]

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.[13] Appetite often decreases, with resulting weight loss, although increased appetite and weight gain occasionally occur.[7] Family and friends may notice that the person’s behavior is either agitated or lethargic.[10]

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_depressive_disorder

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 mile and a half on a bus takes a long time

The keys on my laptop have finally unstuck themselves, so I can write again without screaming in frustration and hitting them as hard as possible. I was beginning to think I’d have to take it apart, which I really didn’t want to do. Serves me entirely right for eating, smoking and drinking over it. I need to stop the bad habits.

Today has been much of a muchness; bad horror films (the House On Haunted Hill remake is beyond awful), coffee and too much food. The weather is terrible and I still don’t have much energy. Dad’s been ’round today to put the shower curtain pole back up after it fell on me last week, and to shout at mum as usual. This is yet another reason why I need to get out of here; they seperated for a reason and I shouldn’t have to listen to the constant bickering. Nothing gets done while he’s here, yet mum won’t quite cut that cord. I understand that she needs him to fix things around the house, but it’s been five years since he retired and very little has been achieved except for things being broken and hurled around when he gets in a temper. Of course, it’s then up to me to listen to mum letting off steam; which I don’t really mind, but I feel trapped in the middle. I simply have no opinion either way; he did very little to bring me or E up, he abused my mother, he won’t give her money she’s owed from his retirement… why does he still come here? I just want to wash my hands of him, and it’s hard to do so when he’s here. It makes it painful, even though I know I’m doing the right thing by denying him a relationship with me.

This weekend I learned a few things; mainly that I don’t like pumpkin pie, and that it annoys me when people in the UK wish me happy Thanksgiving. I dislike most public holidays (Christmas especially) and having a tradition forced on me which isn’t even relevant is frustrating. Still, I quite enjoyed the Thanksgiving dinner S’s landlord’s girlfriend put on, even if it was awkward at times trying to have conversations with die-hard Christians without somehow offending them. Even a conversation about music turned a bit awkward when Aphex Twin was mentioned. S and I spent most of the party hanging out in the kitchen and garden with his landlords son and his girlfriend, talking about astronomy, computer games and experiences with drugs. God knows (ha) what the timid young Christian couple would have thought of that. I mean, they were nice people but… well… too nice. Too afraid to have their own opinions. The smallest swear word or slightly dirty joke was met with blushes and stares. They left early. They simply weren’t my kind of people, I suppose.

S got wonderfully drunk on J&B and we fell asleep together. Woke up the next morning with a sore head (I only had a few fake-Malibu and cokes, but I suppose the Metformin is reacting with alcohol) and we spent most of the day in bed. He’s adorable when he’s drunk; nothing like the experiences I’ve had before with boyfriends getting pissed and either shouting at me or ignoring me entirely.

I have an appointment with my doctor on Thursday morning; I need to get to the bottom of all that’s going wrong with my body. Along with exhaustion and nausea/vomiting, I have a rash all over my feet and on my right hand. I’ve seen a doctor twice about it, and nothing they’ve given me (steroids, anti-fungals) has even begun to work. Sometimes it hurts so much that I can’t sleep – the skin is red raw and full of cracks and deep holes where the skin has simply died away. It’s not eczema, I’ve suffered from that since birth and it’s not the same thing at all. I’ve been suffering with this rash since the summer, and I’m at my wits end. I’ve tried every natural remedy, I’ve tried leaving it alone… nothing fixes it, and it’s depressing me. It feels like my whole body is being attacked.

White Noise

Tuning into radio stations
just to hear a voice tonight
but all I hear is white noise
broken fragments of songs
which never had any meaning
to us.

Dialling your number
just to hear it ring out
just to make contact,
I know you won’t answer.

You couldn’t fix this.

White noise
will never be music.

(c) 2008

Send me the pillow / the one that you dream on

S,

I was thinking about things you don’t know about me. After nine months together, there’s still so much I have to tell you, and sometimes I wonder how I’ll ever manage to be honest about those parts of my life. I’m never quite sure what holds me back; fear and the worry of judgement, I suppose. Which is ridiculous, because I know you’re not the type to judge and if you were going to, you’d have done it long ago.

One thing you don’t know is that I used to spend a lot of time writing letters. It started when I hit puberty, and carried on until everything turned to shit in my twenties. I wrote my way through every little drama. Teenage angst was smoothed over by pages and pages of poorly-handwritten letters to everybody and nobody. Sometimes I would give them to the person I was writing about, but more often I ripped them up and threw them away, worried that laying myself bare on paper would somehow destroy the tiny grasp I have on the world. When I felt brave enough to share my letters, they never got the desired response. This is why I’ll never show you this. I don’t want to be disappointed by you.

You know I felt bad today. I told you, although I held back from pouring out the emotions I wanted to. I’m frightened of overwhelming you. I wasn’t lying when I told you I was scared of life never changing and the fear I’d always be ill… but I didn’t tell you just how the reality of that scares me. I told you I’d spent the entire day in bed feeling sorry for myself, but I didn’t let on just how low I became or how much I fear for my own future. I’m frightened that my dreams are dying, and that I’ll become worthless without hope to hold on to.

I used to have so many dreams. I wanted to be a zookeeper, an astronaut, a writer. I wanted to dig up dinosaurs. When the dreams became more realistic, I wanted to be a secretary or design clothing. I wanted a nice house with a garden, a car, a big kitchen and somebody just like you to come home to every day. I wanted a social life and close friends I could depend on. Eventually, I wanted a family. All normal dreams, things people achieve every day… yet as each day goes by, I feel as though those things will never happen. Even though I was ill throughout my childhood and teens, I thought that things with work out when I was older and that I’d follow the path everyone else took. Perhaps with a few deviations along the way, but that I’d eventually settle into a normal life. Really, that’s all I’ve ever wanted.

Now I look at myself and my situation, and those dreams seem so damn far away. I can’t grasp them anymore, I can hardly see them. I get frightened on public transport. I panic when something’s been moved and I can’t find it. I destroy friendships so they won’t have a chance to hurt me first. I can’t walk down the street without hurting all over. I can’t eat without the fear of calories taking me over. I can’t reach for something on a shelf without my arm muscles giving up on me. I can’t stand still for more than a few seconds without pins and needles shooting through my legs. Heck, I can hardly stand at all. Just walking to the park with you cripples me for days. I catch every virus going. I lie awake at night, hurting so much in my heart that I think I’ll explode. My past is a dead weight I carry around with me, always waiting to trip me up and bring me crashing down. I refuse to focus on my own face in a mirror. I want to hide from everything. Sometimes, I don’t want to be here at all.

Then there’s you. Loveable, adorable you. The only man who has never asked anything of me, who has never let me down or betrayed me. The one who always sends me a goodnight text, and who always remembers to kiss me before we fall asleep together. You who holds my hand in public and tells me every day that I’m beautiful. Who makes me coffee in the morning and doesn’t complain when I’m too tired to do anything but sleep. You who rubs my shoulders when I’m sore, who always notices if I have new clothes on. You, who has always been there for me.

I took a chance with you. If hearts can truly break, mine was in a thousand pieces when we met. I wanted a friend, and what I got was more than I could ever have imagined.

I feel that you deserve more than this nervous wreck of a girlfriend. I hang on because I know that I can be better than this, and because I know that, with you, I have something most women only dream of. I don’t understand why somebody so perfect for me has been given to me; I don’t think I’ll ever understand it. I don’t feel worthy of it, but I do know that you make life so much more bearable. Before you, I was waiting to die. How overdramatic does that sound? It’s true though. I was watching life pass by, waiting for a truck to hit me or for my body to finally just pack in. I was considering doing something downright crazy, just so I could be locked away, away from the pressures of having to live a normal life. You always say how I seem so capable and confident… but I’ve been wearing that mask for a long time.

I love you, so damn much. More than I ever thought I could love anyone.

I just wish I could love myself.