Archive for the ‘Life, but not as we know it’ Category

Mutant Enemy

Stop the ride, I want to get off…

This is a fairly accurate depiction of my day, thus far:

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to sit in the dark with my head in a bag.

Getting out there

As I have bemoaned on previous occasions, I’ve had a lot of hit n misses with the mental health team in Somerset, but for once, the odds seem to be working in my favour.

I have a new support worker. Actually, she’s part of the Somerset NHS “Support, Time and Recovery” Team, whatever the hell that’s meant to mean, but I think that support worker sums her job up nicely. And her job is to help me find ways to manage the more practical side of my life, such building up my confidence to go into Taunton, as well as taking up opportunities to volunteer in the community – and build up a network for myself in the process.

I had an appointment to see her this afternoon and over a relaxing cup of coffee, we got to know one another and put together a plan to achieve the above.

I admit, when Sparky suggested I hook up with J, I was sceptical and cautious, but I think I can safely say that I like J. She listens to me and seems to have done quite a good job of assessing me. She even understood when I explained how I like to learn (tell me, show me, let me try it for myself) and has decided to take that approach with me.

Next week, she’s coming to pick me up and we’ll spend the afternoon in Taunton, parking at Evil Tesco’s and wandering around town to help me familiarise myself with the main shopping streets and where different car parks are located.

The following week, if all goes well, I’ll drive myself into Taunton and with up meet her, and we’ll do a bit more exploring, probably taking in locations I need to attend on a regular basis, such as Foundation House, where she, Sparky and my new psychiatrist are based, etc.

She’s also going to get me details of local voluntary groups, such as one which meets fortnightly to do catch-all “conservation work”, from clearing shopping trolleys out of rivers to mending gates and stiles on footpaths, and another which meets weekly to do light gardening for the elderly and disabled.

It all sounds good. Terrifying (I had me a little panic attack after she left) but good.

I wish I didn’t need this kind of help to live my life but the fact is, if I don’t ask for it and don’t take it up when it’s offered, I’m going to end up stuck here, never going out, a hermit (apart from the internet!). So I’m going to ignore my pride and go with it. There isn’t a price that’s too high to pay for freedom and independence.

And on that note, here endeth the lesson…


Despite my best efforts, including sausage and eggs for lunch, today is not turning out to be a particularly cheery day so here’s a cute photo of Midge in lieu of any words of wisdom from this end.

Midge - 1 April 2010

Midge - 1 April 2010

“Normal” business will resume as and when.

Hope you’re enjoying your Bank Holiday.

Living in a hamster wheel

I have been trying to work out if I would feel the way I do about myself if I were suffering from a physical ailment, rather than simply being a bit batshit.

For example, the proverbial pint of milk.

Some days, I can drive to the local fruit and veg shop on the outskirts of the nearest village and can shop there without any problems. Some days, I even manage to go into the village itself, find somewhere to park (old village, narrow streets, far too many cars…) and do normal things like go to the Co-Op or the doctor’s.

But on others, if I can’t find anywhere to park, I panic. One evening, I ended up driving straight through the village and out across the hills in floods of tears and was horrendously lost by the time I talked myself into pulling over.

And on bad days, just the thought of going anywhere is enough to reduce me to a quivering wreck.

Now, when I’m feeling quite rational, I understand that my panic reactions are nothing more than the PTSD at work – I can’t control the situation so my hindbrain overreacts and tells me I’m in danger – and my gut reaction to the “danger” is to flee.

However, just as I end up with a conflict between my rational self and my emotions on my bad days, so I spend my good days in an equally destructive conflict.

Meaning? Well, as I said above, my rational self understands what’s going on and tries to deal with “that” me with empathy and kindness. But something else in me (pride?) is appalled at what I see, views it all as a sign of weakness and failure and is, quite frankly, embarrassed and humiliated by the whole thing.

Would I be like this if I was recovering from an illness or an accident?

Well … probably.

Do I feel like this about other people who are in my situation?

Hell, no!

I would ask why I feel like that about me, but I already know the answer. Indirectly, it’s a by-product of my upbringing. But it’s also directly related to why I’m in this state to begin with. And if that makes no sense to you, don’t worry, I know what I mean.

And that is, I think, at the heart of why I am where I am. Maybe if circumstances were different, I’d have a better relationship with myself. But there’s only so much shit you can swallow before you end up blaming yourself for being in that position in the first place.

I suspect (well, know, since so many friends have told me so) that the first step to my recovery will be to accept what has happened and – more importantly – that none of it is my fault.

I don’t see it like that, however. And therein lies the problem – and the answer to my question.

Anyone else feel like they’re trapped in a hamster’s wheel?!

It doesn’t interest me…

I really couldn’t be bothered this morning and lay in bed until gone midday. I read some of the time, but mostly just curled up in a ball and thought different thoughts.

In doing so, my mind wandered back to the “armchair Yoga” class I went to yesterday morning in a nearby town, organised by West Somerset Mind. It was a rather odd experience, and since it was my first time, I didn’t exactly find it relaxing, but it was nice to get out and about and meet new people.

Anyway, at the end of the class, the instructor (for want of a better word) read out a poem that I found thought-provoking so I looked it up online:

The Invitation

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for love
for your dreams
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon…
I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us to
be careful
be realistic
to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true.
I want to know if you can disappoint another
to be true to yourself.

If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand on the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after a night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the center of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments.

Oriah Mountain Dreamer,
Canadian Teacher and Author

Incidentally, I wish I’d got in contact with Mind a hell of a lot sooner and urge anyone who is in a similar position to get in touch with them. Not only do they understand what you’re going through and that isolation, no matter what form in takes, breeds even more depression and dark moods, they also do advocacy and help with things like benefits and so on, which would have taken a lot of pressure off my friends.

Online … at home!

I spent yesterday and today up in Oxfordshire, visiting B (my ex) and the cats, Mac and Horatio, who are looking sleek and positively radiant. It was lovely to the boys – and B! – and we spent a lovely evening curled up in front of the TV, stuffing our faces with curry and watching Up on DVD. And can I just say that if you haven’t yet seen Up, then get yourself a copy RIGHT NOW as it is simply fan-tastic.

Anyway, after a lovely 24 hours up in the ‘shire, I headed on home and was almost knocked over by Snipe and Midge, who I’d left with Ally for the duration. It was the first time they’d spent a night away from me for two and a half years so it was both good and bad to discover that they’d been absolutely fine during my absence and hadn’t pined at all 🙄 😆

But even better than doggy-kisses was the discovery of a parcel on my doorstep …

I am thrilled to report that TalkTalk, the bastards, have finally sent me my router and connected my broadband.

Yes, you read that right. It may have taken them six weeks but I am finally online and can officially state that anyone in possession of their right mind should do anything, anything rather than sign up with these gits.

But … I’m just happy to be re-connected to the wibbly web at long last. I’ll be even happier if they make good on their promise and give me two months free line rental to make up for their ineptitude!

The truth, it hurts it does

I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that there is a massive difference between confiding in someone you know and trust, and baring your soul to a complete stranger, especially when their name is prefixed with the title “Dr” and their profession is psychology.

Some of my nearest and dearest are (horribly) perceptive and hiding anything from them is nigh on impossible but in that case, sharing is a relief, an opportunity to shed grief and distress, to be comforted and cared for.

On the other hand, there is something extremely uncomfortable about sitting in a warm and spacious room while said doctor expertly probes her way through the bones of your life, picking up on every signal, pressing all the right buttons to get the response you didn’t know was on the tip of your tongue, waiting to be confessed like a shameful secret.

Afterwards, drained and exhausted, you stare in horror at the truth you have been forced to admit, wondering how the hell you will ever learn to live with this new and unpleasant knowledge about yourself.

Old ghosts return to haunt your thoughts and you realise that the bogeyman hiding under your bed was, after all, as real as your shadow.

They say that the truth hurts.

They weren’t kidding.

Sometimes, you just have to abuse your overdraft

When I sent the five pigs off for slaughter, the sale of one paid for all the slaughter costs, one went to the guys for the rent on the field and the other three were divided up between five friends. I’m still waiting to be paid for one and a half, but the rest of the money went into the bank, and I originally intended to use it for useful and practical things like buying food or paying off debts.

But then I had a thought. (Yes, just the one. You at the back, stop giggling.)

Since I have this whole panic-attack-when-I-leave-the-house thing going on, I need stuff to keep me busy and/or occupy my mind when I’m in said house and there’s only so many times a day that you (ie me) can do the washing up – or any sort of cleaning, for that matter.

I’ve always loved reading, and rarely need an excuse to cram some more novels onto the bookshelves, and so I spent a wonderful afternoon browsing the book sections of some local charity shops, in addition to the ones I got for my birthday.

However, I’m having a few concentration issues, in that my mind tends to wander after about twenty minutes or so, so reading isn’t always the answer.

DVDs, on the other hand, are spot on, especially TV series.

And that is why I recklessly and shamelessly abused my overdraft and am now the proud owner of, amongst other titles, the complete Friends box set, the complete Buffy box set, seasons 1-5 of NCIS, the complete Band of Brothers, and season 4 of Bones.

Yes, I know. But in my defence, each and every one of those was a bargain!

What’s more, every penny I spent on them has been justified. I already owned the complete West Wing box set and have worked my way through that, leaving the final season for another time, just to make it last (*sniff*). I’ve watched seasons 1-3 of NCIS and the same for Friends.

I’ve decided to give crime and comedy a break and am now making my way through Band of Brothers, a show I wish I’d watched much, much sooner.

However, my timing was slightly off as I didn’t realise it starred David Schwimmer. The last I saw him, he was picking between Rachel and Bonnie at the beach house, then I went to cook up some sausages and scrambled eggs and hey presto, Ross had gone back in time and was Captain of Easy Company. And no, I don’t know what I put in those eggs…!

It’s where I go next that’s got me puzzled. Should I sit down with Bones, or go back to NCIS, Friends or The West Wing? Alternatively, I also own seasons 1-3 of Bad Girls, which I haven’t watched for years, so I could always settle down with Nikki and Helen…

But what about Buffy, I hear you cry…

Well, Ally’s husband, B, has been muttering something about his data projector and the rather large wall in their living room. Which sounds great to me, just so long as he realises that I saw Willow first. 😀


Maybe it’s the depression, maybe it’s a reflection of my life as it is, maybe they both feed off one another, but I seem to spend much of my time feeling as though I’m going nowhere, fast.

During the bad patches, I’m simply fighting for my survival and am beyond caring about anything. The rare good moments are another time when such philosophical thoughts are immaterial, as feeling good feels so good that nothing else matters.

But the rest of the time, when I’m somewhere around the “ok” mark: that’s when it hits me. I don’t have anything meaningful in my life, I’m simply drifting with no idea of where I’m going or any control over how or when I’ll get there.

On an ordinary day, I wake up at any time from five o’clock onwards. I put the dogs out, make a coffee, and take it back to bed with a book.

During the course of the morning, I make several more coffees, dividing my time between reading, watch a DVD on my laptop and simply lying in bed, feeling like crap. I try to force myself to get up before midday but sometimes it’s early afternoon before I get dressed.

The thought of starting the day paralyses me, so even though I tell myself to get up, I often have to promise myself that I can go to the loo, make another coffee and then get back into bed: that I don’t have to get up. Otherwise, I just lie there, trapped by my own brain chemicals.

Once I’m eventually up and dressed, I force myself to make the bed (so that I can’t get back into it) and then take the dogs for a walk. We weave in and out of the rows and rows of apple trees in the orchard, so that we’re out for half an hour or more. Then it’s back inside, open the post, make another coffee and settle down on the sofa with the laptop and a DVD. At some point, I make lunch (I generally have breakfast but not always), then it’s time to walk the dogs again, watch another DVD and then take the dogs out for their final walk at sunset.

Once we’re back inside, I close the curtains and ponder the options for dinner, watch yet another DVD, feed the dogs at around nine, do the washing up and put the dogs out for the last time from ten onwards. Then it’s back to bed with my book and the radio until I fall asleep. I may or may not wake up once, twice, half a dozen times during the night.

And then the sun rises and my day begins all over again.

And that is also why I find it so hard to get up in the morning: because once I’m up, the day has officially begun and I prefer to delay the prospect of doing nothing for as long as possible.

Every so often, I get to break up the monotony with laundry or cleaning or a bath but it’s generally one long drudge after another. And as each empty day goes by, so the minutes get longer and each hour takes an eternity to pass.

I’m almost at the point where I welcome the periods of agony and misery and self-loathing as whether I’m self-harming or curled up in a ball, time stands still. In fact, I step outside time. If I’m lucky, I step out of myself and am released from feeling anything at all.

The worst thing isn’t how I feel, it’s the fact that I’m so powerless to change it. I need something that gets me out of the house but I can’t afford to go shopping every day or go to a café or the cinema or whatever, but neither am I ready to take on a job or even a voluntary role. Apart from the terror that fills me at the very thought, I’m unreliable. My mood and state of mind is as variable as the weather and the smallest thing can plunge me into despair.

So I sit here and watch the world pass me by and as each day drags into another, so I feel more and more disconnected from it and the people on it.

I’m hoping that once I finally get broadband installed, I’ll be able to reconnect with my friends and the big wide world. Facebook chat, message boards, emails: they’re all things that will not only pass the time, but will allow me to engage in human contact, no matter what my mood.