Unspoken

Sitting together and so far apart,
a thousand words unsaid and truths unspoken,
I never felt more alone, more out of place,
as I do tonight,
sitting by your side.

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A bottle in my hand and a cigarette in yours,
I open my mouth but no words will form,
it all seems so trivial when I feel this broken,
when you’re sitting so close to me,
yet not here at all.

(c)

Writing about 2008 is more difficult than I ever imagined. On one hand, I almost feel uncomfortable writing about my past relationships now that I’ve been with S for eighteen months; I know he probably wouldn’t mind, but it must be weird for him to know I’m writing about my exes. On the other hand, it’s only now that I can see just how low I sunk; I knew I was falling apart but what I didn’t realise is that I’d totally cracked long before it got to this point. I can see that now. It’s difficult to think about. I acted in ways I’m not proud of and damaged my body god knows how much with handfuls of amitriptyline, tramadol, diazepam, co-codamol, small antidepressant overdoses to get me through the night in a dazed drug-fuelled stupor instead of having to deal with the reality of everything in my life going incredibly wrong. 

O and I… we stopped speaking one day. Conversation turned to bitter arguments and shouting matches. Slammed doors and a smashed laptop. Midnight chases down the street; it was always me doing the running. I just couldn’t face any of it. 

I remember sitting on his swivel office chair, gulping from a bottle of cheap peach schnapps and watching him smoke cigarette after cigarette, sitting on his bed and brooding. He threw me out that night. 

Of course, we got back together. We did a lot of getting back together. 

No alarms and no surprises

* Trigger warning: contains talk of calorie amounts and eating disorders. 

I’m not entirely sure what happened this weekend. Something inside me doesn’t want to write about it, but I’m aware that I rarely talk about my weekends; by the time I get home from S’s house I’m exhausted and it sort of slips away until it feels too late to describe the days.

I’m aware that while I’m writing so much, I’m neglecting other blogs, and that makes me feel guilty. It’s very much all about give and take for me, and knowing I’m taking all this support and not giving anything back… it’s uncomfortable for me. I apologise; things have become a little difficult and writing feels like my only outlet.

Food. Food is an issue. Today I ate a whole low fat banana loaf and some vegetarian sausages and beans on wholemeal toast. Around 1000 calories. Yesterday… maybe around the same; I didn’t count. The past week… around 300-400 calories a day. Sugar-free squash and strong coffee and taking anti-inflammatories on an empty stomach. By Friday I was flaring heavily and dizzy from lack of food. A good dizzy. Confirmation that I’ve restricted enough calories. My stomach was rolling and, despite being almost empty, cramping like crazy. I spent most of Friday afternoon on the toilet.

So really, I do know what happened. The flare combined with restricting; not forgetting regular joints and a bit of alcohol… it all brought me down. S doesn’t have much money right now – it’s getting close to payday – so I packed two big bags of food from the cupboards and fridge. I’d bought a cherry pie and ice cream, thinking that we could snuggle up together in front of a film and I’d feel safe enough to eat. I baked the pie; baked it at 11pm and we watched Andy Kaufman’s standup on Youtube. I couldn’t eat it. I tried; I really did. I wanted to. However much I attempted to swallow though, the pie just became bigger and bigger in my mouth. It tasted of nothing. All I saw in the bright red sauce and cherries was calorie upon calorie. I ate perhaps three small spoonfuls, then gave up. I’d only had a tiny slice. A 16th of the pie, S said.

I tried chocolate Philadelphia on walnut bread. Two small slices later, I felt horribly full and self-aware. Coffee with almond milk became a big no-no once I started thinking, “nuts have fat in…”. I told S that I was feeling ill and that’s why I wasn’t eating. It wasn’t exactly a lie; I felt downright bloody awful.

Saturday, and the weather was lovely. I spend it indoors, either sleeping or reading. I couldn’t face daylight. Cooked pasta and again, couldn’t eat it. S said it was lovely – I’d cheated and used ready-made sauce, but had chopped up some onions and garlic to add to it – but I just couldn’t taste anything. It was like eating cardboard.

I slept a lot, sweating buckets all over S’s mattress. Occasionally he’d wake me with a kiss or a nuzzle, and give me a cuddle. For the first time, well, since we met really, we didn’t have sex once on Saturday or Sunday. I just couldn’t feel anything. Couldn’t find the energy. S didn’t mention it, which is a comfort. Since O left, I worry that the man I love will walk away because I can’t always manage to perform. S… it just didn’t seem to be an issue with him. I’m very lucky; I know that.

He treated me like a princess. Fluffed my pillows and tucked me in with a kiss on the forehead. Didn’t tease me about my hairy, unshaven legs. Helped me over the back step when we went out for a smoke. Didn’t pressure me to go to a party we were both invited to, and came back in the time he said he would, giving me a big kiss and telling me about how much I’d have hated to be there anyway.

We talked a lot about the new flat. The bathroom’s been done; there’s a large corner shower apparently, and they’re doing the kitchen now. We’re getting an oven, fridge/freezer and washing machine. New cream deep-pile carpets. S has a huge leather sofa with a chaise longue. A chaise longue! We’re going to get a Rasperry Pi and set it up as a server for all our music, and have Age Of Empires battles.

We’ll be moving in soon. Around two or three weeks from now.

I’m hoping a lot will change once S and live together. He grounds me. Keeps me balanced.

I came back home on Sunday night, shuffling into a taxi and clinging onto my new phone like crazy so I could have some connection to S. My mobile broke a while ago – the camera stopped working and then the touch screen – and on Thursday I spilled a full cup of coffee on it, destroying the poor thing entirely. I spilled a lot of coffee that day. I’ve been knocking drinks over like crazy for a couple of weeks now.

An acquaintance (I’d say friend, but you know the issues I have with that word) offered me a Samsung Ch@t for free, and dropped it off at S’s house on Friday night. I can’t help but mistrust this person, like I do pretty much everyone else, but it was a kind thing to do. I hate the name of the thing – Ch@t, for god’s sake – but it’s a cool little thing and has a QWERTY keyboard, meaning I can send texts comfortably again. Touch screens made my fingers ache.

Didn’t sleep on Sunday night. I missed S too much. When I’m feeling like this – down, but not depressed – all I want is to cuddle up next to him and feel his arm around me. When we sleep, he wraps his whole body around me sometimes. We’re always touching in some way, and we usually wake up holding hands. It sounds unreal, and part of me is still convinced it is. I just wish I could get my brain in order; I can see a future with this guy.

And I don’t think that’s the BPD talking.

Dreary Mondays and The Daisy Award

As Mondays go, it’s been a pretty dreary day. Grey clouds in the sky, a cold wind in the air, and fatigue upon fatigue dragging my body down into the floor. After a weekend spent lying in bed while S works on his programming and struggling up and down the stairs for smokes, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m having my first fibro-flare since beginning the treatment with Lyrica. It’s a strange feeling; none of the usual muscle spasms  but all the extreme tiredness and confusion. My thighs and upper arms don’t ache, but they still feel like they’re filled with lead. It’s just not hot lead anymore.

I don’t know what I thought. I just didn’t expect to still have flares, I suppose; I know Lyrica only helps with muscle pains and spasms, but for some reason the idea of a flare never entered my mind. It’s incredibly difficult staying awake; I got up with S this morning to see him off to work and didn’t sleep well last night, so it’s very tempting to close my eyes and fall asleep for a little while. Sometimes it seems like my abnormal sleeping habits will never right themselves.

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The lovely Quiet Borderline has kindly nominated me for The Daisy Award. The rules for this award are much the same as usual:

* Thank the person who nominated you.

* Tell your readers 7 unusual things about yourself.

* Nominate some worthy bloggers.

What is a quiet borderline?

It’s potentially less common, but equally insidious, maybe moreso, because it can be trickier to diagnose someone who displays characteristics of a Quiet Borderline. Why’s that? Because they are much more likely to Act In, then Act Out. They are not known for raging openly, where other people can see them, so it’s more difficult to recognize that there’s a problem. It’s very typical for only those people that are very close, often intimately involved, with this person to know that there is a problem that needs to be helped with. This is something that I identify with very well. To the outside world anyone you ask would tell you I am the pinnacle of pulled together. They don’t know what goes on inside.

Which ultimately is not that different from what you would consider a classic Borderline presentation. By which I mean that all those underlying reasons for a BPD diagnosis are essentially the same in those that are “quiet” and those that are acting out. The main difference is how it presents and manifests… how a person expresses their symptoms.
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The Quiet Borderline is a blogger I much admire. I hesitated to use the word “blogger”, because it doesn’t sum up the depth and detail in her words. Above all else, she’s a writer; and one I highly recommend reading if you want to know the ins and outs of BPD. Her tenacity in dealing with often horrible situations is to be respected, and it’s an honor to be nominated by somebody like her.
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Seven unusual things
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1. Like The Quiet Borderline, I have mangled toenails. Both nails on my big toes were removed in my early teens, and I hide the skin where it never grew back by covering it in nail varnish. You will never see me without varnish on my toenails; it’s almost an obsession. I can still remember the nurse squeezing my hand as a needle was pushed right through my toe. I think I broke her fingers.
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2. I’m incredibly blasé about needles, otherwise. Blood tests have never been an issue for me, and as a child I used to love watching the blood go up the cannula into the little vial. Heck, I still do that.
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3. Although I knit a lot, I rarely finish a project. To date I’ve made six hats and six scarves, despite spending hours knitting like a fiend. Like most other things in life, I’m dogged by paranoia that whatever I touch ends up ruined. If a stitch drops or I accidentally purl instead of knit, I won’t go back and fix it even though I know how. It’s failed by then.
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4. I have a great weakness for Nero’s hazelnut mochas. Not really unusual, but heck. It’s a fact.
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5. Considering I often sleep until the afternoon, I absolutely adore the morning. Especially when the sun is just rising on a warm day; it makes me blissfully happy. I’ll throw open my curtains and open the window, even if I’ve been up all night staring at the laptop screen and smoking like a chimney, red-eyed and coughing. Even if I go to sleep straight afterwards, I have to see the sunrise if I have a chance. It’s always peaceful. I love the world before it wakes up.
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6. I often buy books based purely on the cover art.
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7. When I’m stressed, I spend money. It’s a release of sorts, almost similar to self-harm. In fact, I’ll often buy things I don’t need rather than cut myself. It’s not quite as effective, but holds off the urge for a while. I’ve never been in proper debt, but I do owe my mother quite a bit of money. I keep borrowing to pay for hair products and make-up; you see, when everything goes wrong I try to patch things up with the false illusion of beauty. If I’m pretty, life can surely never be harsh. I need to spend that money because that lipstick may just be the answer to everything.
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Nominations
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I don’t really know what The Daisy Award means, so my nominations are bloggers who have inspired me – in their own ways – to keep writing and sharing.
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Sisterhood of the World, and 100,000 views.

It’s been another non-day; watching old episodes of ER while playing Bejeweled and smoking, trying not to fall asleep in an attempt to rearrange my ridiculous sleeping habits. If you’ve been reading for a while, you’ll know that I often suffer from insomnia, interspersed with periods of extreme fatigue which can leave me stuck in bed for days, sometimes sleeping for fifteen hours or more. Lately I’ve been sleeping late and staying up until the early hours of the morning, getting stoned and, well, I don’t know how to describe it. Half-sleeping. I’m awake, but I dream; I don’t know any way to express how it feels, and I just hope somebody knows what I mean. It’s a sort of fugue state, but not borne from any depression. I’m very anxious, but happy on the whole.

I just lie there and think. Mostly about stupid stuff; crazy plans and thoughts inspired by dope and tiredness. Sometimes I imagine having conversations with S and finally admitting to all my failings with the codeine and thoughts of self-harm. I know I planned to speak to him about it at the weekend, but it just never seemed like the right time. Is that an excuse? I don’t know. Everything was just so nice and happy and lovely, and I didn’t want to bring anything down with my issues.

I was sitting around wondering how I could make a post about the weekend, still stuck in the “how do I start this?” dilemma. I procrastinated for a while, reading through recent comments I haven’t had time to reply to, and saw that Gypsy has nominated  me for the Sisterhood of the World award; giving me a much-needed happiness boost and also the perfect excuse for actually writing about what happened since Friday. The rules for the award are much the usual:

1. Thank the giver
2. Post 7 things about yourself
3. Pass the award on to 7 other bloggers and let them know they’ve been nominated
4. Include the logo of the award in a post or on your blog

So, number one; the thing I want to say here is that Gypsy was one of the first bloggers I followed, way back when I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. Reading about her life – in the wonderful detail she uses – showed me for the first time in life that there are others out there like me; others who think like I do and have the same struggles. Before reading about her experiences with BPD, I truly thought I was alone. She’s a wonderful woman, and somebody I would love to meet one day. She’s worth a million pounds and more in the blogging world.

As for the seven things, this is where I will write about my weekend. Good cop-out, eh?

1. On Friday afternoon, Halfway Between The Gutter and the Stars reached 100,000 views. I’ve been writing this blog for a little over a year, and I never, never expected to reach so many people. For a long time, my stats showed that views were almost entirely from comments I’d made on other blogs. It averaged around 30-60 a day, and I thought that was a lot. Sometime around six months ago, visits picked up to the point where I now average 600 views a day; not bad for a little diary written by a crazy girl from a small town in England. As much as it may sound like I’m throwing my ego around, knowing this blog reaches so many people – from so many different countries  - is a happiness I can never begin to describe. I always wanted to be a writer, and now, in a small way… I am. I write, and people read. They choose to read. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how grateful I am for every reader; even the ones who look in just to snoop. I’ve decided that any publicity is good publicity.

Thank you. All too often, I’m terrified that I’m doing the wrong thing by putting the bare roots of my life out there.

2. For most of my life, I’ve avoided social gatherings; this much is obvious from what I’ve written in the past. I’ve always been that way – as well as having anxiety problems, I’m also naturally shy – and for the longest time it didn’t bother me. I was happy being mostly alone, because the world stretched ahead of me and I thought I had forever to make mistakes and sequester in my bedroom. However, for the past five years or so I’ve felt an unbearable yearning to be like everyone else – or at least, everyone else as I see it – and I’ve craved the normality of socialising.

Still, I’ve shied away from actually taking that step, because my insecurities hold me back; telling me I’ll make a fool of myself or I’ll be laughed at for my weight or clothes. So making a move towards entering that world is a big deal for me, and I managed it this weekend.

3. Although I was with people I knew – S, Z, her boyfriend and a friend – I was going to meet a lot I’d never spoken to in person before. For me… it was like running at the wall and having it break apart before me; meeting others from the internet is always difficult, and a large gathering… eh, it was difficult. I nearly backed out so many times, but I wanted to see if I could achieve something big. A long time ago, I joined an online forum for body modification; I think I was having trouble with one of my first piercings and needed advice before I hyperventilated. Over the years they’ve held regular meets, and I’ve always made my excuses; usually pretending I’m too skint or have made other plans. The usual lies.

However, something inside me wanted to go to this year’s Manchester meet. Z was already going, which gave me the courage to accept the Facebook invite.

I went.

4. For the first time since I can remember, I got a train on my own. Although S came with me, he left early; we’d originally planned to stay in Manchester until 5pm then head back into town for a friend’s birthday meal. Despite all my fears and reservations, I really enjoyed myself at the meet and I think S could tell I was comfortable drinking half a pint (Lyrica and alcohol; a bad combination) and chatting, so he suggested I stay if I wanted to. Anxiety aside, I was giddy from the tiny drink and general atmosphere, so agreed. I decided transport worries could wait until later.

Of course, things didn’t work out as planned. I missed my train by two minutes, and even though there were only a few platforms at the station, I got lost and ended up on the wrong side. By the time I got back to the right place, I’d started to panic. Going to the station entrance and finding everyone didn’t even enter my mind; my head told me to sit down and freak out, so I did. It’s at times like this I truly believe my mind and I are separate entities, held together by a strange glue neither of us wanted.

Retreating to the women’s toilets, I sat in the locked stall and allowed myself to fall apart. Although the station was almost empty at 22.30, a middle-aged couple and a few drunk men – staggering and shouting like banshees – were nearby and I couldn’t let them see me freak out. I’ve cried at too many station platforms in the past.

An hour later, after narrowly avoiding vomiting Snickers cocktails all over the waiting room floor, I got on the train, tucked myself away in a walled-in seat, and distracted myself by reading the BBC website on my phone. Mobile internet is a wonderful invention. When I finally got home another hour and a half later, S met me at the door with a hug and a take away vegetarian pizza. I could have kissed him. I did.

5. On Sunday afternoon, S and I sat in the garden as usual, shouting for the sun to come out from behind the clouds and me getting happily stoned while he drank cans of Kopperberg. In the midst of geeky conversation I mentioned how it’d be nice if I didn’t have to go home that night. S replied by saying “you don’t”, and so I sent my mother a text saying I wouldn’t be home until Monday morning. In an ideal world I shouldn’t have to tell my mother at all, nor fear a phone call demanding I come home (it’s happened), but I’d never say no to an extra night spent with S. He cooked dinner for me and we cuddled together before falling asleep. In the morning, as he scrambled around trying to wake me up and have a shower before work, I lay in his warm bed, pillows smelling of his hair and deodorant, and felt okay. Properly okay. Despite the train debacle, I’d really enjoyed spending time in a social group; not only that, but some agreed to come to our flatwarming party. Two messaged me on Facebook afterwards to say how lovely it was to finally meet me, and one offered a bed at her house if I ever wanted to spend the day in Manchester together.

6. Flatwarming party? Yes. I’ve kept this quiet, partly because things don’t tend to work out for me, and partly due to the whole fraud allegation mess. I wouldn’t be doing anything wrong by moving in with S; I’d still be just as in need of DLA, and I’d still need financial assistance to pay for the extras being disabled causes. Nothing would change, and it’s not income-based. I’d still need the same amount of care. Still, I worry. Being accused of wrongly claiming benefits has terrified me.

We’ve been told that the flat owned by a friend’s mother is being rented out, and we can move in around the end of the month. S and I are going to be living together soon.

I knew I wouldn’t make it to seven things, and it’s probably good that I couldn’t be bothered writing more; this post is getting long enough. As for nominating other blogs… this bit is always difficult. The award is called Sisterhood of the World; I’m not entirely sure what that means and who deserves a nomination.

I know “strong women” is always a bit of a cliché, but I’ve chosen to award this to the bloggers who keep on writing and fighting, even through adversity.

Stolen Crayons

Faith, Hope and Chocolate 

theicedsun

Letters to Dom

The Quiet Borderline

Anonymous Unidentified

witheringtulip

These bloggers all inspire me in different ways, and all too often I can identify with their words. They use language I like, and write beautifully. Most importantly, they all have their struggles to carry, yet write about them with such elegance and honesty.

Fingers crossed

Sometimes fate seems to conspire to shuffle everything into exactly the right position. Sometimes, you get given a break from nowhere, and although looking upon it as some sort of divine intervention is undoubtedly ridiculous and against everything I believe in… occasionally I wonder if somebody may be looking out for me.

I never wonder enough to believe it. I’m a woman of science; in mind if not education. Sometimes the concept just flickers through my mind. Like it did today.

I didn’t sleep. Of course I didn’t; it never happens before an appointment, and I admit I to missing S terribly after spending five days attached at the hip, so – as always – I comforted myself with procrastination until morning. Dragged myself off the bed at 8am to tie my hair back, put some mascara on and shuffle myself into my massively-oversized fat jeans, and then sat around snapping at my mother for a while. As usual, she gave me the usual verbal list she trots out every time I leave the house:

Have you got your phone?

Have you taken your medication?

Have you got your stick?

Do you have a cardigan?

Will those shoes be comfortable?

… sometimes, the list can run on into the hundreds, I swear.

To my shame, I called a taxi to get me to the small medical centre. It’s only a five-minute walk from my house. I just couldn’t face hobbling down the street in full view of the neighbours. I’m already the local weirdo, and small-town memories are long; my neighbours have seen me being brought home by police cars and taken to hospital in ambulances. They’ve watched me storm down the road while screaming at my mother, swearing and threatening suicide. To them I must come across as very strange; often not leaving the house for days on end and never using public transport. I’ve never driven a car (legally anyway) or left every morning for a regular job. It’s rare that somebody visits our house, and my bedroom window – which overlooks more houses – often has the curtains open wide and a light on at 3am.

I digress. When I got to the medical centre, I walked to the desk and told the receptionist I had an appointment with Dr C at half nine. She looked at her computer screen and winced; “it’s actually booked in with Dr W“.

Dr W is my sworn mortal enemy. As a young child, I was allergic to streptomycin – an antibiotic which is now only given intravenously in most countries, but was free for oral use when I was younger – and this was clearly documented in my notes. Dr W was called out for a home visit after I’d picked up yet another infection somewhere in my body, and straight away prescribed streptomycin. I assume my mother was too tired and stressed to check what she was giving me. Long story short, I went into anaphylactic shock and became very ill, and my mother and I (almost-jokingly) refer to her as the woman who tried to kill me.

Okay, doctors mess up. However, Dr W has been my sister’s GP for a long time, and in the past would often leave E in tears as she accused her of smoking. E is severely asthmatic and requires strong inhalers, and I’d take a guess that she really, really doesn’t smoke. Neither of my sisters do, although my brother C smokes like a chimney

As a result, I’ve always been  nervous of Dr W. I don’t cope well with authority as it is, and any hint of feeling judged or being seen as faking it sends me into a mad panic. However, I was in such a bad mood that I just accepted my fate and decided to throw her desk across the room if she so much as looked at me sideways. As it turns out, I didn’t need to force my pathetic muscles to throw office furniture. I didn’t even need to protest anything. This is where the fake divine intervention comes in. I saw her on the day I was finally going to lose it, when I finally reached the end of that absurdly long tether. The one day I wasn’t meek and mild, and was prepared to threaten to sue over the ridiculous length of time I’ve been expected to deal with multiple health problems with no real treatment or investigation.

I sat down and we exchanged “long time no see” pleasantries. I bit my tongue against saying “long time no attempted child murder”, and explained what’s been happening.

“I’m just tired of the pain. I’m sick of missing out on life because everything revolves around appointments. Lyrica helps, but I can’t enjoy my new-found ability to walk more than a few yards because I can’t stand on my left foot without wanting to amputate it. I never heard back about any test results, I don’t know what’s happening, everything seems to be inconclusive, and I want to know what’s going on.”

Dr W got on the phone to radiology and tried to chase up my ultrasound results, with little luck. Then she called my rheumetologist’s secretary. Again, no luck; Dr B has the results but Dr W couldn’t access them. After examining my foot she confirmed that I had indeed waited too long for any follow up, and promised to speak to Dr B himself later in the day to arrange an appointment with him ASAP.

I left her office feeling hopeful. Dismayed that I still have no way of alleviating the pain, but cheered to know she listened to my worries and not only took them on board, but acted on them. The doctor who tried to kill me… she came through for me.

By 11am, she’d spoken to Dr B. He’s sending an appointment out.

Fingers crossed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way

Diet cherry Coke and The Sims. A joint. My laptop screen. The only things keeping me company as I attempt to pull an all-nighter to reset my body clock. Stupid daylight saving, stupid upside-down sleep weekend.

The weather was beyond glorious over the weekend, and S and I spent most of it sat in his landlord’s garden, smoking, drinking red wine and talking about nothing. On Friday, I sat under the veranda of the pub and waited for him to finish work, nervous with anticipation and apprehension about telling him we’re not going to be able to rent the house. Sat and smoked, feeling a bit paranoid I was being watched; a silly delusion, but happens when I’m stressed.

Of course, I needn’t have worried. I need to stop letting myself panic so much; S has proved over and over he’s not about to run away screaming if I hint at any commitment. We had a drink and I told him I’d had a message from the woman, saying she was going  to sell instead of rent it out. S just shrugged and said, “oh well, we’ll have to find somewhere else then”. We spent an hour or so looking at flats and houses online, and – surprisingly – there were quite a few nice ones within our budget.

I had to let paranoia get a small look-in, so I asked S if he really still wanted to live with me.

“Of course, i want to wake up with you every day, I need to live with you”.

Where did I get that man from? And can I never have to give him back, please?

Crazy English Summer, Part Three

 

crazyenglishsummerPart One / Part Two

I don’t know how long I stayed in the unit the second time. Days turned into weeks, and my brain slowly became mush from the boring daily routines and therapy. Twice a week, we would all be taken into a big hall and be made to do trust exercises – catching each other, that sort of thing – and I hated every moment. I was crazy, not five years old. I didn’t see how running under a big plastic sheet would magically cure my bulimia and general madness. One time, I found myself talking to an empty chair, like the plastic ones we used in school; the patients were encouraged to sit opposite a chair and pretend somebody who’d hurt us was sitting in it. We were supposed to tell them why they’d caused us pain, but all I achieved from the exercise was feeling like an utter twat. I chose to ‘speak’ to a girl who’d been one of my best friends all through primary school and into secondary, who’d done a runner as soon as I started losing my marbles. I told her that she shouldn’t have given up on me, and that I needed friends. The member of staff overseeing it all said I’d done a good job. Again, I didn’t see how it could possibly help. It didn’t. My heart wasn’t in it.

In fact, I had absolutely no desire to get better; I didn’t think there was much wrong with me or my behaviour. The horse had been led to water, but there was no way I was going to drink; I felt a great injustice at being locked away in some sort of crazy place when all I was doing was struggling a bit with teenage angst.

Evenings were the worst times. The staff gave all the patients a rota for making tea, toast and cereal. I felt enormously guilty when it was my turn; Victoria would chew silently on a piece of buttered toast, tears running down her face, threatened with hospital if she didn’t eat it. Sometimes it took her two hours. We were also expected to do our own laundry, which soon became my nemesis. I avoided it, terrified of breaking the machine or somehow doing it wrong. I wasn’t domestic in the least, and had never used the machine at home. The staff assumed I’d know how to work a washing machine. I never asked; I was too shy.

Oe night, after midnight observation, we heard shouting and door slamming. We peeked our heads out of the door to see Rachel being dragged out. The staff told us to go back to bed, and that she had ‘hurt herself’; we knew what they meant, and so when she came back the next day with a massive bandage on her arm, we weren’t surprised. Again, she’d used a hook to gouge at herself.

It was easy to self-harm, binge and vomit in PL. Although there were regular observations and checks, there were plenty of hiding places. I kept a package of broken razors in the cheap MDF drawers next to my cheap, MDF bed. Carla broke a mirror to cut herself with. We took it in turns to throw up, one listening out for staff while the other tried to get it over with as quickly as possible. We’d troop to the Safeway down the road once a week and stock up on binge-foods, Although it was supposed to be a closed unit (apart from short trips in groups once we were considered ‘safe’ enough. It only took me a couple of weeks to be allowed outside) the door was often left unlocked and staff rarely checked the signing in/out board in the cramped hallway.

One night, one of the patients (Richard; ADHD) went missing. He was soon brought back, and spent the night in an isolation room.

I was never isolated; I was nearly always on my best behaviour. I was still in thrall of authority and was afraid to truly freak out in front of the staff, which proves I wasn’t sick enough to be there. To me, at least. Having my freedom removed was killing me; I’d dream of being at home and cry at night when Carla and Victoria were asleep. I hated showing any form of weakness – the other patients called me mum – and I felt I needed to be strong for everybody else. They seem to be suffering far more than I was.

The psychiatric staff were struggling with my diagnosis. When I was admitted, it was with the belief that I had schizophrenia. I had been hearing voices and had become increasingly paranoid, suspicious of everyone and convinced that they could hear all my thoughts. I’d turn photographs around because I believed they could see me, and dressed under the covers in case there were hidden cameras in my bedroom. At the time, those thoughts seemed perfectly rational, and I’ve never spoken of those delusions before. I’ve been ashamed of them; they’re embarassing.

However, I was believed to be “too rational” to have schizophrenia, and too able to control my temper when I was in company. In fact, by the time I left PL I had been given an entirely clean bill of mental health; I was sane. Nothing wrong with me but the fact that I was fourteen and shy.

Most days were pretty quiet in PL; nothing like mental health units in films. There was the occasional outburst or brief spell of violence, but most of us were too drugged to kick up a fuss. There was only one violent patient – Chris – a tall, wide-shouldered, acne-ridden nose-picking guy with a tendancy to stare at my tits and shout “FUCK!” whenever he thought he could get away with it. He smoked in the courtyard when staff allowed him to, and once I passed him in the hallway. He grabbed my chest and laughed. I never said anything, but refused to sit near him in therapy. Chris would wander into the girl’s rooms, but staff soon shooed him out. I don’t think he’d have done anything; despite his obvious problems he didn’t seem like a rapist. Heck, maybe I should have mentioned it. I just didn’t think anyone would care. One thing I learned in life is that nobody believes crazy teenage girls.

Despite feeling more comfortable being in PL than I did the first time around, I still contested my need to stay there. Needing control has always been my biggest coping mechanism, and you have no control in a mental illness unit. You’re watched; eating, showering, when you’re sitting in front of the TV. You’re forced to play childish games to ‘build trust’ and swallow the pills they give you. If a member of staff says jump, you ask “how high?”, because these people, these so-called professionals, have complete control over your life. We had to sit through a talk on safe sex and, god forbid, how babies were made. Carla managed a sardonic laugh at this. Having been abused by her father since she was six months old, she didn’t feel she needed the biological side of sex explaining to her. I was still a virgin (that would change the next year) but I knew how babies were made, and I didn’t need to be sitting in a cold room, under stark flourescent lights, putting a condom on a banana. I wasn’t a child. If fourteen year olds know anything, they know how babies are made. It’s all they think about, after all.

Then again, Chris sometimes masturbated in the day room, so perhaps it was required listening for some of us.

I like life.

A quiet day; sitting with a spliff and some diet Pepsi, watching House and chilling out. I got up at 7am, washed and dressed, and then did some housework – well, bedroom work – and cleaned the windows and changed my bedcovers. Took the rubbish out and cleaned the desk.

See, I went to bed around 9pm. Actually slept too; didn’t lie awake for hours getting distracted and smoking. Progress! Okay, it’s only one day, but I can hope.

It’s funny how sleeping habits can became just that – a habit – and you don’t realise for astonishing lengths of time just how stupid those habits are. Laying aroud in bed all day and night, getting to sleep around 6am and waking up in the evening… that’s not normal, or healthy. I can see that now.

I suppose I’d forgotten that I like life. It’s easy to forget.

30 Days Of Truth: Day 8 – the story of O.

Someone who has made your life hell or treated you like shit.

This is probably going to be the most difficult question for me to answer, because I want to talk about O, my ex-fiancé. Somebody I shared some of my happiest times with, as well as my worst times. It’s probably going to be another long post, so I’ll apologise now.

I loved O. I want to make this clear from the start. It’s a love story, with a bitter ending, but a love story nonetheless.

We met when I was nineteen and he was eighteen, in October of 2004. I was a relationship at the time – a sort of rebound to an ex-boyfriend – but I fell for O as soon as we met in a quiet pub in the town centre for a blind date of sorts. We’d found each other on the internet. In a fit of desperation to escape the relationship I was in, I hinted that I might be after a relationship if the right guy came along, and we arranged to meet; I was probably at my most insecure point in my life, and it was a big deal for me.

The date almost didn’t happen. He said he would meet me in the pub around 5.30pm, after he’d finished work at the motorbike dealership down the road, but he didn’t turn up until 6.30, by which time I was just getting ready to leave. I wasn’t at all sure if the “date” was a good idea anyway, and when he didn’t show, I just accepted it as par for the course and got up to go. As I did, O walked through the door. I’ve been thinking a lot about my romantic and sexual relationships, and although I was incredibly paranoid and clingy throughout my time with O, I also believe it was the first real time I fell in love. I thought I’d been in love many times before, but with hindsight I can see the BPD coming into play, the need for validation and control played out through my relationships. Would it be twee to say that I fell in love with O as soon as I saw him? It would; but it wouldn’t be far from the truth.

It was serious from the start. We kissed that night at the railway station, and were inseperable. I was living with my mother, and finally doing my GCSE’s at the local technical college, so we only saw each other a few times a week, but we both spent a fortune on late-night phone calls. I told my boyfriend it was over as soon as O and I became a couple; he spent weeks sending me messages and emails about how I was jumping from one bed to another. I suppose he was right – I’d been quite shameful in my behaviour – but things simply hadn’t worked between us when we got back together. It was only ever a rebound/sex thing, and I thought he knew that.

O lived with his parents, sister and brother in a large house on the outskirts of the county. He collected motorbikes, liked classic rock, and ate cereal in bed, listening to Damien Rice. On the surface it doesn’t seem like we would have connected – especially since I was so prone to anxiety attacks over the slightest thing at the time – but we clicked almost instantly. He confessed to being a virgin, which I found a little odd, but not the strangest thing I’ve ever heard. He wasn’t the first virgin I’d been with.

Insecure, O used humour to allay his fears (something I only picked up a while later) and I found it such a relief to have a boyfriend who made me laugh, who shared jokes with me. I’d become jaded by the idea of dating and relationships, and O gave me new hope for love and affection.

Our relationship played out much like any other at first. Dates at the cinema and meals together. Unlike my past relationships, O insisted on paying for everything. After a couple of weeks, we slept together for the first time. I started staying overnight at the weekend, and we’d cuddle in bed and watch films, drinking tea and eating chocolate. His father gave me a front plate off an old VW camper; everything seemed perfect.

If it seems like I’m holding back, it’s because I am. I’m finding it so hard to write about O – some feelings are still very raw – and I’m worried I won’t do it justice. I really feel like I have to get across just how beautiful our relationship once was, so the fallout makes sense.

At the time, I wasn’t diagnosed with BPD, just chronic depression. I was still self-harming and purging, unwilling to give up the crutches I was leaning on so heavily. The scars and new cuts/burns were impossible to hide from someone I was having a sexual relationship with, so I was honest from the beginning; I admitted to O that I had a huge problem, and that my past was something I was finding it impossible to deal with. He surprised me with his reaction. He simply pulled my sleeve up and kissed my scars. We were sitting on the pier, in a little blue shelter by the skate park, and as he stroked my arm and told me it didn’t matter to him, I felt happiness for the first time in years. He stroked my short black hair and told me he loved me.

It was bliss, for a while. Even after the arguments and bickering began, we mostly existed in a little romantic bubble, drifting through life together attached at the hip. I dealt with college in my usual way; lots of absences due to bad days and poor health, but passed with flying colours. I had friends, I had a boyfriend who seemed to think the world of me, I’d been given my own computer for Christmas… things were going well. I started riding pillion on O’s Honda Hornet, discovering the rush of adrenaline only a motorbike can give. I stayed away from class-A drugs, even stopped smoking weed. In fact, I gave up smoking altogether, as O didn’t smoke and I didn’t want to have a disgusting habit drive him away. This is where the first mistakes were made; I tried to change to fit a fake ideal I’d created. I wanted to be the perfect girlfriend.

O took me to classic vehicle rallies in Llandudno and at Haydock Park. We slept in a tent and stamped around in the mud when it rained. I was struggling with a lot of issues – especially my body image – but when we lay together under sleeping bags, listening to the rain on the tent and watching the shadows move in the torchlight, I could forget everything but how wonderful it felt. O was an incredibly attentive boyfriend, always moving in for a hug or a kiss, always wanting me, always saying he loved me. At home, I’d cook him chili and curries, and he would make me cups of tea. I didn’t miss smoking or drinking heavily, I didn’t even miss the drugs. My days were filled with thoughts of O.

O proposed to me in a tent at Haydock Park. We’d been arguing about his ex-girlfriend – I wasn’t happy about him texting her so often and keeping it from me (paranoia was rife at this point) – and after rowing for ages, he finally said that he was asking for her advice on how to propose to me.

Do I believe him? No. Did I believe him at the time? I wanted to, dearly. I heard what I wanted to hear, and accepted. The next day, he bought me a cubic zirconia ring until he could afford a “proper one”.

His mother cried; mine seemed strangely happy. She liked O.

We chatted on MSN every night we couldn’t be together, sometimes talking until 3am on the phone. He taught me to ride his bike and how to replace oil filters. On Wednesday nights we would ride to a small bikers’ pub in the countryside, racing  against cars and practising wheelies. I often felt a bit lost at these meets – everyone seemed so knowledgeable about bikes – but O looked after me. I met a lot of his friends, and although I found it difficult to shake off my shyness and anxiety, I felt slightly more included. Like I had a place in the world. I did, however, find the biking community a difficult place to be; a lot of emphasis was put on women to look a certain way, at least that’s how I took it when I saw O’s bike magazines. I was overweight and growing my hair out – I looked nothing like those models draped over that Hayabusa – and I struggled with that all through our relationship. When we were in bed, I would stare over his shoulder at the perfectly-toned and airbrushed women blocking the views of the bike, feeling insecure and ugly. O’s excuse was that he had the pictures for the bikes, but how could you see the bike when some woman’s draped over it? It’s something it took me a long time to deal with – I don’t feel the same way anymore on the whole – and it put a huge dent in our relationship over time. I’d only just started dealing with a few issues from my past, and everything was very raw and out of context.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. As time went on, my paranoia grew out of control, and I was convinced my suspicions and fears were perfectly rational, even though most were ridiculous. I started checking his emails when he was out of the room; behaviour I would never consider now. I’m not proud, but back then it all seemed to make sense. One night, I was feeling particularly panicky, and felt I needed some sort of validation to how I was feeling. I waited until he left the room, and opened his email account. It didn’t take long to find a half-naked photo he’d been sent by a girl he knew.

Now my suspicions had proven slightly correct, I went crazy. Smashed his laptop screen and shouted, not caring about his parents hearing. I stormed out, and pretended to call a taxi. I knew he’d call me back in.

We stayed up all night talking. I was shaking with rage and fear. I can see now how irrational my reaction was. Very early in the morning, we went for a long walk through frosty fields, watching our breath in the cold air and not talking much. O apologised over and over, and I was scared of losing him. I said I forgave him, which was a lie; I was simmering. I just didn’t want to be without him.

My paranoia grew, and still I stayed oblivious. Everything was so logical to me that I couldn’t see how downright unattractive I was being: sending text after text if O didn’t answer his phone, calling at 4am, storming off down the road if we had the smallest argument. I was quiet and unresponsive with his friends. My shyness was peaking, and I didn’t want to open my mouth and say something stupid. O was still hiding his phone whenever he was texting somebody, which I felt was only fair. I’d betrayed his trust, and he’d betrayed mine. We were even now.

Despite this, our relationship was mostly harmonious when we were together. We would often lie together on his bed, just staring at each other. We developed an intense sexual relationship, taking any chance to be alone together. To the public, we were the sweet golden couple. Indoors, we were sexually violent and coarse, with a drawer full of sex toys, poppers and restraints. It became a game of sorts to see how many public places we could have sex in without being caught. For the first time in my life, I was comfortable about my sexuality, and not frightened of the emotions involved. I had control over an aspect of my body, at last. I’ve always been aware that my sexuality isn’t quite the norm, and before O I believed I was in some way defective. I’m bisexual, or, to be more accurate, pansexual. At least, that’s the best description I can find to fit my particular way of thinking. O accepted this without the usual smutty jokes, although I later discovered it fuelled his own private paranoia; he thought I would run away with a woman. O later admitted to finding the idea of sex with a man appealing, and we played out scenarios, allowing our fantasties to slip comfortably into our sexual relationship. We tied each other up and cut each other with razor blades. We wanted to scar each other; to leave a mark.

I know none of this sounds particularly romantic, but in a way our openess and lack of shyness in the bedroom brought us closer together. We had a dirty secret, and nobody could take that away from us. In bed, we were invincible.

The sexual aspect was contradicted beautifully by the romantic times we shared – admittedly, less often now we were arguing frequently – and although things weren’t perfect, I was happy in my own way. Anxious and prone to hysteria, but happy.

Despite all O’s attention and compliments, I still couldn’t get to grips with my body image, not helped by weekend takeaways and his father’s obsession with fatty, greasy food. So many times, I found myself being too shy to refuse yet another scotch egg (I wasn’t a vegetarian back then) and slowly chewing on it until I could convince myself the calories were somehow going to disappear if I just didn’t think of what I was eating.

O’s father featured a lot in our arguments.

He’d been a truck driver before an accident left him with a metal plate in his head and an uncontrollable temper. Sometimes he was lovely – laughing and joking – and other times he was unpredictable and downright frightening. I used to find loud men threatening, and O’s father shouted a lot. I was used to a quiet family life, with minimal swearing from my parents, so O’s household was a new experience for me. It was loud and frantic, with something always happening and the television always blaring out the X-Factor or Coronation Street. Unlike my family, they were very close-knit and it seemed there were a thousand relatives all living in the same town, all as loud, all as opinionated. It soon became clear that O’s father ran the show, and anything done without his permission would be greeted with shouting. He collected motorbikes like O, and would often follow us into the garage, pointing out imagined flaws in O’s handywork and swearing bitterly if O disagreed with his opinion. He used the word “stupid” a lot.

When we were alone, I would tell O how his father was making me uncomfortable. It wasn’t just the noise, it was the jokes about rape, the comments about overweight women on television, the racist outbursts from nowhere. I got sick of hearing the N word thrown about. O said I was being too sensitive and needed to just humour him, but I couldn’t. It made me feel weak and vulnerable.

Our relationship carried on, full of tremendous highs and shattering lows. When we argued, I would threaten to leave, knowing O would come running after me. I became incredibly manipulative, although I never realised it at the time. My panicked phone calls became more frequent, and O stopped answering the phone as much, claiming he was busy or had no signal. In reality, he’d been turning his phone off to avoid the constant nagging. If O had told me how annoying I was being, perhaps I would have stopped or at least calmed down, but he never mentioned it, and I didn’t realise. It’s easy to convince yourself that all those crazy thoughts are rational.

When I look back now, I’m amazed how much I’ve changed. I suppose a lot of that is down to carefully-controlled medication, but perhaps some of the progress I’ve made is my own doing. I’d like to think so.

Eventually, even the sexual side of our relationship faltered. I had been experiencing a deep, nagging pain whenever we had sex, and was bleeding on a regular basis. I saw my doctor, who referred me to a gynaecologist. Swabs were taken and a camera was inserted. The results came back as pelvic inflammatory disease, which had caused scar tissue to build up over time. I had a diathermy to remove the tissue, and a laparoscopy to make sure everything was as it should be. Afterwards, I bled for a long time. For weeks on end, I bled heavily, ruining clothes and bedsheets. I became self-conscious and distrustful of my reproductive system, not believing it would ever feel normal again. I was in a lot of pain, and sex was the last thing on my mind. O and I didn’t sleep together for six weeks, perhaps longer. For us, that was a lifetime, and when we did eventually start trying again, I was cold and unresponsive. I’d suddenly become uncomfortable with the idea of sex, of being touched, and I just wanted to sleep. I’d started a hairdressing course at the local college and was finding it difficult – the work was easy, but the pressure on times and perfection was hard to deal with – and that added to my exhaustion. I would meet him after college, and we’d go back to his house, where I’d sleep until 11pm, then go home. This cycle carried on for a long time, and I grew to hate it but couldn’t manage without deep, dreamless sleep. I’d get back home and sleep for another 10 hours.

In 2006, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I’d been struggling to hold my scissors in college, and often took days off because I was so tired. Things got worse after the diagnosis; I had a huge panic attack in the college toilets after my taxi was late, and after that I starting having them daily. Each time, I would phone O and chatter at him until I felt safe again. He was missing work for me and spending a fortune on calling credit, but it was the only way I could calm down. Without those calls, I became convinced I would die; I would choke to death on my own fear.I started seeing a counsellor – a blonde woman with leopard print heels who I took to instantly – causing me to withdraw even further as I thrashed out my worries in a small room. I became scared of even using tampons; sexually, I had failed.

At the opposite end of the scale, a year later I had an implant in the muscle of my belly to shut down my hormones, to check for a tumour or Cushing’s disease. Things were going wrong with my body which seemed to have no explaination. The tests came back clear, but a month with very little apart from testosterone surging around my body turned me into a maniac. I became prone to violence and screaming fits, from nowhere. I wanted to damage everything and hurt everybody. Most of all, I rediscovered my sex drive. However, I didn’t direct this sexuality at O, but at outside fantasies and secret wants. I became obsessed with experiencing sex with somebody else, distrupting my entire day with sick imaginings and dangerous scenarios. I didn’t cheat on O – I don’t think I wanted the physical aspect so much, just the emotional gratification – but it left me very confused. Even when the implant broke down and stopped releasing hormones, I found it difficult to switch the darker side of my sexuality off. I no longer wanted romantic, cuddly sex. I wanted to be hurt and sworn at. I wanted to be used and scarred. I’ve always been very open when it comes to sex and those thoughts were in no way alien to me, but the frequency was an uncomfortable shift. I seemed incapable of asking for affection, or allowing any sort of romance. Deep down I wanted to be loved and adored, but on the surface being a sex object seemed much, much easier to deal with.

I left college, unable to cope with the physical pain of fibro and the emotional upset of being constantly surrounded by women with perfect hair and lipgloss. I cut my hair short again and dyed it dark red, but it never suited me. Nothing suited me. I had no idea of my self-image. Inside, I was a girly girl and I was afraid of being the butch, fat woman on the back of a motorbike. I tried to diet, but couldn’t get a grip on my eating habits. For a long time I did nothing except see O, write poems and waste time on the internet. Eventually, O left his job and went on the dole, and we wasted our time together in a haze of late-night food binges, bad horror films, cans of Stella, fights and violent, sexual acts of forgiveness We got tattoos, using the same needle, saying it was so we could never be apart.

I tried to stop cutting, for his sake. I managed a year without purging or harming myself. I felt frustrated that he wasn’t trying to calm down his vices though. Although O had very little money now he had no job, he bought and sold motorbikes by the dozen. I would get used to riding pillion on one model, then he’d sell that and buy a GSXR. Nothing had been said about the wedding we were supposed to have. I’d been hoping we would save some money and have a small wedding in 2010, but although O agreed and talked long into the night about what it would be like when we were married, he never made any moves to plan anything. In fact, it seemed to fall by the wayside. I ordered a few venue brochures and looked at some 50′s style dresses online, but for all intents and purposes, the marriage didn’t look like it was ever going to happen. We agreed on a date – the 22nd of October, 2010 – but never took it any further.

Almost four years into the relationship, things started truly falling apart.

For years, we’d shuffled along nicely together, fighting but always making up. Our relationship was passionate and we were both stubborn. None of the fights seemed to matter when we were listening to music together or lying in a field with our heads poking out of a tent, watching a meteor shower.

A year earlier, I’d had a miscarriage. O was training in Hull at the time, so I was alone when I woke up covered in blood. I hadn’t even known I was pregnant, and had been taking antibiotics for a kidney infection. I’ve written here about my fears of never being a mother, and around the time I miscarried, those fears were particularly strong. I’d been running a website for women with PCOS for a while, and I became terrified by the stories of IVF and taking temperature in the morning. I was starting to feel motherly for the first time in my life, and I was scared I would never have that chance. When I miscarried, something broke inside me. I lost hope. When O came home, we lay on his bed, naked, crying together. He swore nothing would change, that he still loved me, and that one day we would have children together.

I never quite recovered from the miscarriage, and I don’t think O did either. Things weren’t the same after that, and when we reached almost four years together things went from bad to worse. O never answered his phone and started making excuses not to see me. I alternated between binging and starving, unwilling to accept I had lost control. I harmed myself and started taking over the counter pills to calm me down. I’d started smoking again, and I spent the nights chain-smoking with a bottle of Tia Maria while O lay on the bed, fuming at something I’d said. I cried at the slightest provocation. We started smoking weed together, getting high on small bags of cheap dope.

In 2007, I became very ill. I was experiencing extreme pain throughout my upper body and vomiting black stuff everywhere. I was diagnosed with gallstones, and sent away. It got worse, until I was in A&E every couple of weeks. Eventually, I was admitted with an infected gallbladder, pancreatitis and a failing liver. I was jaundiced and hadn’t eaten for weeks. That’s another story, though.

O visited me almost every day, driving my mother to and from the hospital. He’d sit with me and gently put his arms around me, saying it didn’t matter about my unwashed hair and yellow skin; that he loved me regardless. When I was finally operated on (they removed my gallbladder, after settling down the infections with IV antibiotics), O took me home afterwards, helped me into my Winnie The Pooh pyjamas and tucked me into bed. Gave me my painkillers and stayed with me until I fell asleep.

During my time in hospital, I’d started chatting online with a guy called C. He was 45, but we got on well due to our mutual love of Nine Inch Nails and obscure bands. O became very jealous of C, especially when I lost six stones in the hospital (I was in for a while, on a totally liquid diet) and my hair started growing out again. After the operation, O didn’t seem able to connect physically with the ‘new me’, or the tight-fitting clothes I’d started wearing. I’d gone from a size 18 to a size 8, and was showing off my body for the first time in years.

During our relationship, I had very few friends. Those I did have fell by the wayside as I got more unwell, and eventually it was pretty just O and I. So when I started mentioning conversations I’d had with C, he’d become grumpy and caustic. In many ways, O was even more prone to jealousy than I was. I’d undergone a bit of a personality change while in hospital, and I refused to drop the friendship.

Just before the operation, I went to see O at a local vehicle rally. I hadn’t wanted to stay the night before for a reason I can’t remember, so I got dressed up in a white shirt and tight grey trousers and went to say hello. He was there with his friends, laughing and chatting, and when he saw me he grabbed me in a big bear hug and spun me ’round, getting mud and oil all over my shirt. A girl I’d never seen before walked up to him and said “here’s your hoody back”, then looked at me. O said “this is T, my girlfriend”. The girl looked a bit confused, then stuck her hand out to shake mine.

We went for a walk around the show, stopping under a secluded tree to get out of the rain. O said that the night had been terrible, and half the group had fallen out and gone home. As we were talking, we somehow got onto the subject of sex, and O said “you know, I wouldn’t mind if you slept with other people”.

I looked at him, wondering what he meant.

“Right.”

“I mean it. You can sleep with other people”.

We abandoned the show and went back to his house. Talked for hours in his bedroom about what he’d said. O told me that he’d find it sexy, and that he didn’t ever want to hold me back. In hindsight, I should have pushed the issue farther, but I was confused. I felt that I was losing O, and anything I could do to hold onto him… well, it wasn’t something I’d rule out. If it meant he stayed and loved me, perhaps sleeping with someone else would be the right thing to do.

I thought of my options. None of my exes were on the list; I’d fallen out with them all, and most would probably shove me away with a bargepole. Male friends? I had a few, but none I’d want to sleep with. A stranger? No. One of O’s friends? Too close to home, and too weird. Eventually, I settled on C. I knew he fancied me, he’d said as much. He was much older than me and not attractive, but I knew he’d drop his pants if I asked. I asked O if he was sure he wanted me to do this, and he said yes. So I propositioned C.

It was too easy. A week after the operation, C invited me ’round for “ice cream and chocolate”. I got nervous though, and cancelled. Called O and told him to meet me in the park. I explained how I couldn’t go through with sleeping with someone else, that O was who I loved and what I needed. He smiled and hugged me, and we sat on the warm grass under a tree, taking photographs of butterflies for the rest of the afternoon.

O was still being furtive – more so than ever – and kept mentioning the name of the girl at the motorshow. I teased him at first, saying he was suffering from mentionitis, but after a while I became suspicious. She was all he talked about, and I’d start catching him out in little lies about where he’d been. If his mobile rang, he’d go out of the room and talk for ages. Despite turning C down, we’d stayed in touch and I asked him if I was being unreasonable in suspecting O and this girl. C said that I wasn’t, and that O didn’t deserve me.We started meeting up, just to talk. He took me to the beach and grabbed my hand when I was jumping off a rock. He brought me Dr Pepper and Galaxy chocolate. I confess, I needed the attention, but never took it any further than friendship.

O and I continued to fight, and after weeks of screaming and crying he told me that he was breaking up with me for a week, to get his head together. He said he couldn’t cope with me anymore, and just needed a week to think. I was gutted; we’d been together for almost four years. After a lot of begging and promises to change, I finally agreed with him that I’d not contact him for a week. At the end of those seven days, we would meet up and talk about our relationship.

I spent the first few days in an angry haze, taking my MP3 player and Smiths collection for long walks through the park and around the golf course, chain-smoking and often stopping in the street to just stare at the pavement.

Halfway through the week, I kissed C. I’ll never know why, I just seemed to crave some sort of male affection. It was a horrible, stale kiss. Nothing like O.

When the week was over, I admitted to O that it had happened. He went crazy, even though he’d been the one to insist on the break. He’d said anything which happened during our time apart was nothing to do with the relationship. His reaction made me angry, especially when he retorted with “yeah, well I’m sleeping with Ally (the girl from the motorshow)”.Even as my stomach sank, I heard myself say that we were once again even. O promised it was a one-off, drunken thing, and I decided, stupidly, to forgive him. I’d hardly been innocent myself.

After that, everything changed. We were flogging a dead horse, trying to keep our relationship afloat when there was no trust. O disappeared sometimes, missing work at his new job and taking his bike out. He never answered the phone. Sometimes when we were together, we’d cry over what we’d become. Other times we would turn our backs on each other. He shaved off his floppy brown hair and went to rallies without me. I spent more time with C, going on long walks and talking about everything which was happening.

I knew I was going to sleep with C. The idea didn’t appeal to me, but I craved some sort of affection. I wanted to have my own weapon to wield against O sleeping with Ally. The thought of them together was killing me.

I wore a flowery strappy top and a pair of baggy jeans, wore perfume and applied red lipstick. I felt like the biggest traitor in the world. He took me back to his house and we slept together in his small, dark bedroom. I hated it, but couldn’t turn back. I’d gone too far, and simply didn’t know what I wanted or needed anymore. I faked enjoyment and blocked my ears to his grunts. It felt cheap and tawdry, like a bad porn film. He fell asleep afterwards and I lay awake, wondering what he hell I was doing in this house, with this man snoring and mumbling next to me. I inched over to the edge of the bed and tried to sleep. I didn’t know myself anymore.

O found out. He locked himself in his bathroom with my phone and read my texts, which I’d forgotten to delete. Sometimes I wonder if I left them there on purpose.

We struggled on together, unwilling to let go but unable to deal with who we were. We broke up, then got back together the next day. Tearful phone calls and late-night confessions were our lives together. O bought a car, a 106, and we would drive to the sea wall and sit together in silence, listening to soft music and watching the lighthouses across the ocean. Sometimes he would kiss me, with the saddest expression on his face.

Eventually, we broke up, on Valentine’s day. I’d bought him forget-me-nots. He displayed a card from Ally in his bedroom, with a photograph of them dancing together. We still slept together sometimes, occasionally kissing when nobody was looking. I stayed the night a couple of times, but it was clear I was no longer O’s girlfriend. That role had been taken by Ally, with her long curly hair and skinny hips and bags of cocaine.

A few months later, Ally fell pregnant. They now have two children together. I still have my engagement ring, somewhere.

I wrote about O for this question because we both fit into it. I made his life hell, and he treated me like shit. It’s hard to get across what happened between us on a blog post, without rambling on for hours. He hurt me, and I hurt him. He filled my head with empty promises. Even after we’d split, he would tell me he loved me and wanted to be with me. He slept with me and promised me the world, without me asking. He told me how we’d find a way to be together, eventually. None of that was real. He lied.

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.
Day 05  Something you hope to do in your life.
Day 06  Something you hope you never have to do.
Day 07  Someone who has made your life worth living for.