Unexpected

I didn’t see you coming,

In this uncertain chapter of my life,

But now each page falls open at your face.

 

When I read between the lines,

And reach between my thighs,

It is your name my lips whisper.

 

It is too soon to feel this real,

I am afraid that I am too much or not enough for you,

And I don’t want to make you my everything,

And lose myself in another false promise.

 

But I know that there is something stirring between us,

And it is a wild untamable thing,

Like the heart inside my ribcage,

It has started out on a different beat.

 

I am not used to this kindness,

And you challenge me in so many ways,

You make me laugh for days,

And I feel safe locked in your embrace.

 

Last night you looked deep into my eyes,

And asked sincerely ‘Who are you?’

And with a kiss I swallowed the word my soul screamed,

with every ounce of my being..

‘Yours’.

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Too Much.

All my life I’ve been told I’ve been too much. I was too loud or too hyper, I was too fat, I was too sexual, I was too intense, I was too mental, I was too forward, too honest, too emotional, too caring, too sensitive, too complicated. I have spent my life trying to shrink and conform into what other people expected of me so I could be loved. And bits of this ‘too muchness’ have come out in bursts of mania/hyperactivity when everything is ramped up, made more extreme. I chased addiction, codependent relationships, experiences that pushed me to my limits.

You know I am starting to really just love myself exactly how I am. And keeping myself safe at the same time, being more cautious with myself, not pushing myself into extreme situations, being aware of my boundaries and actually reaffirming them so I am not jeopardizing my health and wellbeing.

But it turns out I am still too much. Because I love too fiercely, I lust too heavily, I am too needy, too demanding in my need for reassurance, to be accepted.  Life’s cruel joke, that all my life I was made to feel too much for everyone, until I chipped away at myself for so long that I worry that I am not enough.

 

The girl with the flashing shoes

It was that moment where the night has all come together, the expectation and the excitement and the unravelling of it all, when everything is just as it should be. You know you’re looking good tonight, you’re euphoric from dancing, the atmosphere is electric, your friend has drank enough that she’s joined you on the dancefloor and your sexy new love interest is on the decks and has dropped 3 of your favourite tunes in a row…

And you’re wearing flashing LED hi-top trainers.

LIFE IS GOOD!

And you realise. That’s YOU.

That’s You that a few months ago, 4 stone heavier, hated how she looked and hid away indoors. That’s You that got stuck in the house for weeks at a time, who couldn’t even look after herself, and couldn’t clean the house, and cried every day and isolated herself from the world, even from those who loved her most. That’s You that gave up on yourself and felt suicidal every day for years, that got too anxious to go out for a meal with friends because you thought so little of yourself you were sure you’d be judged for getting fat, You that got paranoid every time you opened your mouth to speak. That’s You that cancelled plans, avoided friends, ignored acquaintances, and stopped getting invited to things because you became so unreliable. You who broke down in the doctors waiting room, and in the job centre, who stopped being able to use public transport because of her anxiety, and stayed on high alert with ‘stranger-danger’ every time you walked down the street.

That’s You who scrubs up well, and smiles at strangers, and is the first and last on the dancefloor, who is not afraid to take her place in the world, and will persevere and conquer her fears and live the life she wants because she is a fighter and a survivor and knows that the best version of herself is just around the corner, You: the girl with the flashing shoes…

The Bad Day

I am fond of the saying ‘It’s a bad day, not a bad life.’

But it is so very difficult to see things that way when the bad days stack up.

I’ve had a turbulent couple of weeks, what with battles with medication, a potential new diagnosis, phone badminton with an evasive psychiatrist and some personal confrontation which frankly I could have done without. I have some big life changes to think about and now is probably the worst time to be thinking about them.

Things have built up and although I’ve been trudging along I am having to accept that today is a bad day, with a capital B.

Today I will go easy on myself, and do the minimum required to look after myself, my pet and my home, and protect my environment. This includes ignoring certain people and situations, feeding the cat, doing some washing, putting clean clothes away, remembering to eat and bathe, and drink water regularly. It is not much yet I am resenting every second of it.

It is a truly horrible feeling.

It’s the second day of spring, the sun is out and it’s mild outside. I’ve forced myself out, stroked the neighbours cat, assessed the clean up the garden needs. The fresh air was cold and invasive, the sunshine too bright and I feel guilty for not embracing it, for not being joyful or appreciative because the sunshine often makes me so much happier, I generally fair better in the spring and summer. But today it has not won me over.

I know I have much to be grateful for but I just can’t see it, I can’t feel anything but anguish and despair.

I want people to know that I’m trying. I really am. But all the healthy habits and coping mechanisms seem to slip away at times like this . It’s like the ears are picking up on the music but it isn’t reaching my soul. It isn’t even close.

My legs feel like jelly, and I cannot stand for very long. My head feels full of bitter cement and bile and it’s starting to set. And my heart feels like it is breaking over and over. There are tears and sighs and I have hidden my head under the duvet more than a few times already. And it is not even midday.

I keep forgetting that I get like this! It is a strange amnesia that comes over me when I am anywhere between average and manic, which makes me forget the polarised state. Everytime it comes back, it comes back harder and it’s like a slap in the face.

I just want to be well.

And I am so very tired of fighting with myself, or this thing that resides in my brain and takes over sometimes.

The doctor says that it is too complex to name and juggles several possibilities, waiting for something to further break, something that gives them clarity as to what or how many monsters there are in there.

All I know is on Bad days, there is no room for me in there, there is no place for me in the world at all.

Birdsong

There is bird song outside my window,

and that is how I know I will be okay.

Yesterday’s harsh words are ringing in my ears,

But I can hear their chirp just that little bit louder.

 

Old memories are flooding in,

brighter than the grey clouds rolling over the sky,

And they are warm and tempting,

because today I cannot stop crying,

and I am frightened,

And tomorrow is too far away and unpredictable.

 

But if I hold onto myself I remember,

that I am still the little girl who makes daisy crowns for cats,

I am still she who holds funerals for dragonflies,

and splashes naked in the stream.

 

This version of me is just a bad apple,

flung too far from her tree,

Which I still hug to remind me,

that roots are sturdier than the storm.

Happiness is an evasive Orgasm

Searching for happiness is like chasing an evasive orgasm.

You can be having quite a nice time but you’re not quite there yet, but the more you chase it round the bed, trying to recreate the last moment where you almost had it, the more fleeting it becomes and the further away it gets.

You have to relax, stop overthinking, and enjoy the little things, instead of focussing on the end goal, The Big O(mg, life is so good right now).

You have to pay attention to the smaller sensations, a laugh is a caress of the thigh, a sunny day is the squeeze of a breast, a productive days work is a passionate kiss, and soon the familiar tingles of contentment become waves of joy and you are riding the work/ life balance and full of gratitude, and the most beautiful person alive, and things are so fucking positive, (yes, yes, yes, more of this please!), everything is fucking great and life is awesome and I am the best I have ever been!

And the after shudder and ripples of satisfaction are like the memories of all the good days, that you can call upon again, when times are less exciting, like thoughts reserved for the wank bank.

Self care and self kindness are the all important after snuggles.

And that’s how you become a happy, smug wanker.

5 Tips For Self Love This Valentines Day

This year I find myself single on Valentine’s Day and with no one to bestow my affection upon I thought I would focus on my quest to like myself a little better!

Regardless of your relationship status, there is no love more rewarding than loving yourself.

Far from being a wishy washy concept self love allows us to make healthier choices and live a more fulfilling life.  It is especially important for people with a shaky self image or low self esteem, and is vital for good mental health. Without it we continue to self sabotage, stay stuck in bad habits and run the risk of allowing others to mistreat us.

So here are a few ways in which I am choosing to love and honour myself on this (and every) day and I invite you to do the same!

Caring for my body

Healthier body = healthier mind. For you caring for your body may mean something practical like drinking more water or cutting down on cigarettes, or something more pampering like treating yourself to a haircut.

Personally I will be doing my usual work out -yes really! It might sound punishing but I will feel better for it mentally and take pride in my increasing fitness levels! And to reward that hard work I will relax my body and mind by taking a long bath with my favourite Lush product (a very sparkly bath bomb). I always have some lovely music on when I’m in the bath and love to have a good sing song- the acoustics are great in my bathroom! (sorry neighbours!)

Reciting Positive Affirmations

I have to contend with a lot of negative self talk, it’s an old and long lasting habit and not something that is easy to get rid of, but I try to counteract this with some self affirming, positive phrases.

I took a few of my usual nagging, self hating thoughts and turned them around.

They don’t have to be complicated or too specific, I like simple ones such as ‘I am good enough‘ and ‘I am loveable‘.

Try to keep them positive in nature and in wording, because of the way the brain stores information, repeating negatives doesn’t make for a positive thought process. So rather than saying ‘I am not lazy‘, try rewording it to ‘I am active and hard working.’

Writing a list of things I like about myself

These don’t have to be big statements, like how wonderfully talented you are at one particular skill (though good for you for recognising your strengths!)

They can be simple like:

  • I am a good friend.
  • I have a good sense of humour.
  • I like my eyes.

The trick is to write them out quickly, as they come to you, before any negative self talk or doubt can creep in. Don’t place judgement on yourself for what comes up. If everything you like about yourself that day happens to be about your appearance or what you can do for other people that is okay, but do try to keep them varied. Think about your personal qualities, skills, appearance, habits, ethics, lifestyle. There are many reasons to like and love yourself.

Sometimes you have to ‘fake it until you make it’ so it is okay if you don’t fully believe them all of the time. Some days when I’m wrapped in self loathing I would read those lists and laugh at myself for thinking so highly of myself, which is why it is useful to make this a regular, ongoing and fluid habit. It can be interesting to look back on and see how your perception changes, as your list grows!

Forgiving and Accepting Myself as the flawed human being I am

I don’t consider myself a bad person but I’m the first to admit that I’ve done some terrible things in my lifetime. I have made some foolish mistakes, I have hurt myself and others in the process. And I don’t know anyone who could say any different about themselves.

But if I don’t forgive my imperfections I can never move on, heal my heart and be at peace with myself and the world enough to carry on living.

I have come to understand everything difficult we go through is a lesson to be learned, all mistakes prepare you to cope better with things further down the road. Sometimes we have to make the same mistake twice (or more), and some mistakes have bigger consequences, that we can’t outrun. So we have to face them head on, admit where we failed, consider how we could do better next time, and forgive ourselves.

I find it helps to start small and work your way up to big things, the subtle change in attitude towards yourself and others can do wonders to how you perceive the bigger regrets that gnaw away you. A little self kindness goes a long way!

Self awareness is at the root of all personal growth. So should I find myself doing something imperfect, such as dropping a plate, or running late for an appointment, or feeling a bit grumpy, I shall remind myself that it is okay, I am doing my best, I am only human afterall, and that means being imperfect. Extending that kindness and understanding to other people really makes it easier to be kinder to yourself, because it highlights how vicious you can be towards yourself, in a way that you’d never be with others. We are often our harshest critics!

Doing Something Just for Me

This can be totally simple or it can be a grand gesture of self appreciation! But it has to be something that empowers you, or boosts your mood, that isn’t expected of you or driven by others approval or acceptance of you.

Yes work or study might ultimately be ‘for your own good’, as is eating your vegetables, but these are all responsibilities that are expected of you, so it has to be something more whimsical and indulgent.

For me this might look like treating myself to something pretty and impractical, or getting a massage.

For you this might look like:

  • Buying something you’ve been eyeing up for a while
  • Indulging your interests- go do something fun!
  • Booking a day off and eating chocolate in your onesie all day

Or it might involve not doing something!

  • Saying ‘No’ to someone else’s request
  • Finally getting that early night
  • Switching your phone/wifi off for the evening – peace at last!

 

It’s time to love yourself!

So that’s it, a few simple- but sometimes easier said than done– suggestions on how you can teach yourself to love yourself a bit more. It is not easy for some of us, and it is worth noting that it isn’t the norm to be delightfully in love with ourselves all the time. Of course seeking others love and approval is also natural, but if we don’t love ourselves first then we can never reach our full potential and will never care about ourselves enough to make the most of our lives.

If no one else told you today, you are lovely, loveable and loved!

vcard

Valentines Day card to myself!

Diagnosis, muddled.

I am shaking as I get to my appointment. The drop off point for my taxi is called the ‘Tennis Court car park’ so as I leave the taxi I joke that I’m ‘off for a game of tennis with the psychiatrist’, the driver laughs heartily and wishes me well.
 
I am shaking when I get in the waiting room and get myself a drink of cool water, the plastic cup rattles in my hand. Seated next to me is a health worker who is reading to a young boy who is waiting for his mother to come out from her appointment. When she comes out, with her mother, she informs the health worker that her prescription of sertraline, an anti depressant, has been increased and she has a further appointment with a CPN. She says ‘I’m sorry’ and bursts into tears momentarily. ‘You can’t help how you feel!’ they reassure her.
 
My own eyes spring with tears and I look out the window with intensity and clutch my cup more tightly, but I want to hug her, and tell her everything will be okay. But I can’t.
 
She does the psychological ‘pulling up of socks’ act then, suppresses the tears and gets her bags ready and addresses her wee boy and they head out into the world, game face on. My heart breaks for her. For all of us.
***
 
Surprisingly my actual assigned psychiatrist was there today, and I was seen on time, but she does spring a medical student on me just as I enter the room, who will be sitting in and observing throughout my appointment. I actually don’t mind so much today, given that I was prepared and I actually don’t mind someone else witnessing what it’s actually like to be in there, proof that I’m not making it up as to how much it feels like slipping into an alternate reality.
 
She straight away informs me that she only has 20 minutes spare even though she gave me a later appointment in the hope that she’d be able to give me more time. She is clearly getting to know me, my complexities and the dance we do!
 
Last night I prepared all my mood charts which I have been keeping for months, colour coding them into low, high and mixed episodes- not to be confused with the ups and downs of an average day- for her perusal. I have also highlighted all of the symptoms/indicators from bipolar type 2 and borderline personality disorder and ADHD which correspond with my current symptoms/behaviours. These are not plucked from the land of random internet diagnoses, but from the DSM- diagnostics manual, and are the 3 main potential diagnosis she suspects I may have.
 
I am ready for battle with my folder full of what I jokingly refer to as ‘My Presentation’ but when it comes to it I start shaking and have a small cry. She asks whether anything in particular has brought it on. I tell her I am just anxious and feeling helpless at not having a diagnosis. That the longer it goes on the more I feel like I’m not being listened to or believed and that maybe I am just crap at life.
 
I tell her I am just exhausted, that it affects my everyday life, my relationships, that Ive not been able to work for 8 years, and even my volunteering isn’t regular because of my moods and energy.
 
I tell her my expectations are realistic, I know its not normal to have a flatlining mood all day, that there are always good days and bad, and that no one is happy and content all the time, but that it is also not normal to be bouncing up and down and not be able to make plans or maintain a regular pattern of habits because of my energy levels.
 
***
We discuss that I don’t have all of the factors for BPD, and I’m aware that I have done a lot of therapy and self help and life management to get to this point and that is why I don’t fit all of the descriptors for some of the impulsive behaviours- ie drink/drugging. I tell her I am even coping better with binge eating these days.
 
She asks to see my mood charts, (wow this never happens!) and agrees that my ‘ups’ are consistent with manic/hypomanic episodes. This is a first! She never normally looks and she has never acknowledged that that my manic episodes are actually mania. She says because I’ve been medication free since June it’s helpful to see how my moods are without medication.
 
She asks how bad my lows go, I tell her I have suicidal thoughts still, but they pass and I don’t make plans or cries for help, or self harm. She asks how I manage to cope with that, and I tell her, by talking to people, family, friends, and that I blog, that I write every day. And I tell her I’ve lived through a family members suicide, I’ve lost a lot of friends too young to drink and drugs, that I know what it’s like to be affected by grief, especially of people so young, so I always ask for help when it gets that bad. She commends me for that.
 
She explains that I am likely to have both BPD and BP, and she just wants to get it ‘right’ instead of giving me ‘any old diagnosis for the sake of having a diagnosis.’ And I just don’t fit into any of the ‘neat boxes’. She says at this point it seems I would be happier to have two diagnosis than none at all, and I agree with that. In fact I am relieved. So instead of it being a wishy washy on the fence situation it is looking likely I have both BPD and BP and she just wants to be sure, she confirms it is likely I have both, but it could be better to rule as many out as possible.
 
I explain that sometimes it is just more useful to have a label, sometimes you don’t want to explain your life story, especially to potential employers or the job centre, and you can just say ‘bipolar’ or ‘borderline’ and people get it, regardless of any stigma attached to it, I would rather know than not know. I would like to be able to go to a support group and not feel like a fraud, because I don’t have the specific diagnosis.
 
It is not that I want to be ill, but I am ill, I just need to know why and how I can help myself. She assures me I am doing all the right things.
 
Without it I feel weaker, like I am just pathetic and find every day life hard for no good reason and just need to ‘get a grip.’ Having an illness with a name is more empowering. I don’t get to choose what bits are illness and what bits are my identity or personality just now, and I think it is important to me to be able to make that distinction.
 
I also spoke to her about the possibility of ADHD, which I was assessed for before. I scored highly with all the descriptors for the adult diagnosis but not for the childhood symptoms, I had since read that there is a questionnaire for parents/family to fill in which can help, and I suggest my mum might be able to offer more insight, and that I had more problems with anger in childhood and teenage years that I had almost omitted from memory at the time of the test. She says at the moment we can save time by trying me on a medication, which people with ADHD notice a real difference almost immediately. She schedules me an appointment for an ECG to check my heart function and a phone appointment for the following week to see how I am getting on with the medication.
 
I agree because at this point I am curious as to how the ADHD symptoms are linked with and overlap with bipolar symptoms. I am sick of anti-depressants and mood stabilisers that don’t work and now my system is clear of them I am willing to try these.
 
As they are a controlled substance she goes through some questioning to assess my likelihood for abusing them, or anyone I am in contact with abusing them. I don’t really have people around me like that anymore, certainly not in my cosy home- just the cat! I explain that I’ve been sober for 6 years next month and she asks about my former use of drugs and how I found amphetamines. I said it was hard to say because I usually mixed them with other drugs with drink, but I do remember finding cocaine doing not much for me at all. Apparently these drugs will give a regular person a buzz, and ADHD a clarity and calming affect.
 
She also checks that I don’t have a history with anorexia etc, I tell her about the binge eating but tell her I’ve improved my diet and exercise over the last few months and am much more consistent with my eating etc. She feels confident I am not at risk of abusing them so goes ahead with the prescription.
 
I thank her again for listening to me, and wish the medical student good luck on the way out.
 
And so here I am, I feel listened to, at last, and I am thankful for that. I feel like I understand better, that I am, as a former doctor called me, ‘a complex case’ and that the likelihood is that one day I will be diagnosed as having several conditions, something which I think me and my family have known for a very long time.
 
I feel I was very honest and was able to express myself today, and that she really did hear me and was also very frank with me. I think she understands better that I don’t fear having a diagnosis, or several, I fear not knowing. And she also commends me for the efforts I put in to keep myself well, to keep track of my moods and the healthy coping strategies I have put into place.
 
And at least within the next couple of weeks I will know whether I have ADHD or not, and that is one thing that can be checked off the list.
 
***
I am aware that one day I may not want all these letters, BP, BPD, ADHD, that in another culture or different schools of thought I would be diagnosed/assessed in a very different way, and some of them might sit better than others. But for now I need to know I am doing enough. I want to live a full life, I know I am far from my full potential, and I can only imagine how I could excel if I didn’t have this holding me back so much. I am tired of being a victim to this, feeling out of control, and I can have all the insight in the world, but if I don’t know what I am supposed to be tackling, then it will feel like everything I manage to achieve, I have had to fight for the long way round.
On the bus home a lady sits next to me. She asks me ‘did everything go okay?’ Puzzled, I answer that yes, yes it did. I desperately rack my brain to remember if she was working on the reception or a fellow patient in the waiting room, but I don’t recognise her at all, so I conclude she has me confused with someone else, or maybe she’s some kind of guardian angel or hallucination or maybe I’m a figment of her imagination after all. What a wonderful imagination to have, I think. I smile and vow to never let that be written off as a symptom.
The quest continues….

 

Psychiatrist Roulette

Bracing myself for a round of Psychiatric Department roulette tomorrow, get your bingo cards oot!
 
1 Designated psychiatrist isnt there/see psychiatrist I’ve never seen before.
 
2 They spring medical student on me just as I am going into appointment.
 
3 Ignores my mood chart (that they requested I do).
 
4 Frantically scrolls through notes when I mention previous appointment.
 
5 You don’t look emotionally unstable/manic/depressed.
 
6 You don’t quite fit the descriptors for (insert BP/BPD/PTSD/ADHD/GAD of your choosing).
 
7 Have you tried using WRAP? (Wellness and Recovery Action Planning).
 
8 Asks ‘what do you think it is?’ (then stares blankly at me, especially when I quote DSM- The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders)
 
9 Tells me I’m very insightful about everything.
 
10 Refuses to diagnose me.
 
11 Have you tried this medication? (yes, yes I have, horrible, terrible side effects, never again).
 
12 Would you like to try this medication again? (No effing way thanks).
13 Suggests I come back in a few months.
 
14 I go home frustrated/crying/ranting.
 
Repeat every 3-6 months.

My ex didn’t want me to blog about him.

My ex didn’t want me to blog about him, or rather our relationship, because he felt like it would be all negative, and that in time I would have more clarity about the situation and wouldn’t focus on the ending so much.
But it’s not about him anymore.
And here’s the thing, I had clarity about our relationship when we were still together and I didn’t speak out, I had clarity and I sat on my feelings and hid them because I was afraid of them. I had clarity and when I finally spoke about them and acted on them and I asked him to work on our relationship, on us, he didn’t want to.
And sure I can be as hurt and pissed off and bitter as I like, but it’s not about him anymore.
It’s about me. FINALLY.
For so long my life was about him, his lifestyle, his responsibilities, to the point where I pretty much gave up my independence and identity, not as a conscious choice or through his persuasion, but a combination of my own mental state, low self esteem and bad habits.
At last I’m not living for anyone but myself.
I am looking after my health, both mental and physical, I am building myself up, recovering from a relationship, which despite it’s healing and positive early years, allowed me to give up on myself and hide from the world. It was healthy until it wasn’t: nothing will take away the good years, but nothing will give us back the bad years either. I don’t see it as time wasted because there is much to be learnt from every mistake, or every difficult situation. We cannot grow without conflict.
I don’t want to write about my ex, because I don’t want to hurt him or anyone else involved. I have already spent too long grieving a relationship that stopped working a long time ago. I don’t want to speak about old anger and disappointment and I don’t want to talk of my sadness at my failings in the relationship either.
I don’t want to dissect every past relationship I’ve had and assign blame to each party, and beat myself up about the people I choose to be with, the way I love, and the ways I can’t. I don’t want to ruin new relationships by rehashing the baggage I carry from old ones.
I want to write and think about the future. And for the most part, he’s not in it.