Anxiety girl

Hello anxiety that is making angry, scared and unsociable. Where are you coming from? I know I’ve accidentally missed some important meds and some sleep. I’ve worked quite hard volunteering, and it’s been Christmas, the most anxiety ridden time of the year. But clearly I’m a bad person who can’t manage myself.

I’ve got constant butterflies and I’m trying to do all the things to tell the negative thoughts to go away. But the voice gets stronger and I hear people talking about me and criticising as though they are in the room. I ignore it and carry on but it just gets louder.

Yesterday I didn’t have any sleep because I missed my meds the night before. The meds are the only way I sleep and without them it’s a nightmare of pain and bad thoughts and being fidgety. This combined with a migraine knocked me for six. I tried to take control of it but when the migraine kicked in I crumbled. I ploughed on and went to the cinema with my friends. I fed the migraine with darkness, drugs and caffeine. Eventually the pain subsided and only the tension remained. I felt exhausted and emotional and anything slightly negative made me catastrophise. I couldn’t talk to anyone and was convinced I just pissed everyone off. The wall went up and I teetered with a meltdown.

So I pulled my socks up and went to the pharmacy to get some emergency meds. I did my research and the Nhs website said to try your doctor (they were shut), then your pharmacy, then a walk in centre. I walked to the pharmacy in pain from swollen joints to be met with a pharmacist shaking her head. Instantly she dismissed me and told me she couldn’t help. I pleaded with her that I’d read the Nhs website and this is what it told me to do. She suddenly changed her story and said she could do it if I rang 111 for an emergency script. ‘Are you sure?’ I replied, the Nhs advice didn’t say this at all. But facing another day of suicidal thoughts and crippling anxiety was too much so I complied. ‘If they don’t get you one I’ll do it’ she said ‘but you have to try first’.

Half an hour later I was still sat in Boots. My migraine was returning and I was sat on hold to 111. The bright strip lighting flickered and pounded. I started to feel ridiculously hot and sweat soaked my clothes. My pain meds we’re wearing off. My knees, fingers, ankles, hips and back were screaming. I know I was beginning to fall over fast.

So we begged the pharmacy for somewhere quiet to sit. A super nice pharmacy assistant found us a small room and we sat with the lights off and a fan on. They asked if I wanted to go to hospital. No way Jose was I going just for meds, and a migraine, joint pain and anxiety. I agreed I would if I started vomiting , shaking or fitting.’ I explained that the best thing would be the just get home to bed. The pharmacist then changed her tact and said she’d only accept the 111 prescription and I’d need to go elsewhere if I didn’t get it in time. The inconsistency was a nightmare for my anxiety and I’d been there before to get them so was on their system. I had a bundle of paperwork to prove I was on them but it was a case of ‘computer says no.’ It was as though she was making it as difficult as possible and I was just annoying them.

The assistant, however, was wonderful and we chatted about mental health and chronic illnesses. I began to calm down and eventually spoke to 111 who said they’d get a doctor on it. We then went round in circles for the next 2.5 hours. 111 kept asking if I wanted to go to hospital as my symptoms were alarming. I didn’t want to go, the best place for me was home if only someone would give me the meds I’d manage what I’d manage everyday. I felt like a dick that caused a drama as eventually they tried to get rid of me from the pharmacy and ask me to start the whole thing again with another pharmacy. I felt like a burden and just wanted my bed.

After 3 hours, countless phone calls and giving my details over and over the prescription still hadn’t arrived. The doctor I spoke to was convinced I lived in Norwich. Erm no I said I live in Canterbury and had done for 17 years. I think I went to Norwich once about 12 years ago, it was dark and wet and I didn’t even see the town. So he continued to ask if I was visiting Canterbury. No I explained again, I live here, just like I’d told the two advisers I spoke to. He writes the prescription. Turn forward an hour and the script hasn’t arrived and so I ring them back. Im now in a flap that the store shuts in 15 minutes and I’ve sat here for no reason doing everything everyone is telling me to. I’m trying really hard to sit and be patient despite it making my pain worse. Speaking to the East Kent (not Norfolk) team again I will us to be near the end of the whole sham. Then I was told my surgery was Aldington . Nope I said I’ve given you my details 3 times it’s Chartham, perhaps Aldington is in Norfolk, I suggested!?

Anyway 10 minutes before closing the fax arrived and I was given 6 tablets in a bag by a rude and unsympathetic pharmacist. Lack of pain control and anxiety through the roof I’m a mess, I’ve convinced myself she hates me, all the staff have been talking about me and I never should have said I went to the cinema to hide from the light. I’m not sure who was judging me more, them or myself?

By this point every look, word and action becomes overwhelming. I’d tried to plan a nice New Years Eve with a cocktail menu and funny description bit that means everyone who was coming was included. My friend had rejected it by saying she’d only drink her own cocktail on the list. I knew her reasons were ok, she wanted to stick with one drink to not get too hungover etc. But in this mindset it’s rejection. The menu, lovingly made by me for everyone, went straight in the bin as soon as I got in. I felt as though I’d tried to make a nice gesture then been told I was controlling or had bad taste/ ideas. I was ready to give up and go to sleep and sulk.

Somehow in that moment I managed to pull myself out of it. I put on my dress and lipstick and found some inner strength to have a good night. I rebuffed the negativity and overwhelming thoughts and for the most of it laughed and had a genuinely good time. It didn’t mean I wasn’t squashing the ‘they all hate you’ voice constantly, but as dramatic as it sounds I survived another New Years! I’m proud of myself despite being exhausted because I won a battle.

This morning I’ve woken up with the butterflies. It’s the alcohol I drank acting as a depressant, I tell myself. It’s because you’re ill and tired. I start to work a little on a project I volunteered on. I poured everything I had into it but I feel like a failure. Every time I try to make something happen on it there’s obstacles, politics and I do the wrong thing. Now I’m utterly terrified of the meeting tomorrow and that I’ll be belittled. I can hear the conversations that are going on behind my back and I feel sick with butterflies. But it’s just another day that I’ll get through somehow.

I am anxiety girl and I think I’ve realised at the moment I’m not at my most well. So bear with me, I’m fighting it and it will be ok but I may be a little fragile.

As an after thought. Just like the meme says above I have 99 problems and 86 are in my head. If I’m working with you at the moment, or have been around you it’s more likely my sensitivity and brain than anything that’s real. Chronic worrier here gets all sorts muddled. I’m also excellent at hiding it all, even from myself.

Disentangle

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You say we were two lives that need to disentangle.

But really some of each other became the other one.

That’s the problem. Where do you stop and I begin?

It’s less un-knotting and more a case of cutting it out.

It’s not like cutting out fat, sugar and carbs for my diet to make myself more attractive.

If I do this then I crave the bad.

Maybe I let a remanent of us remain?

It’s a dangerous game, I binge then purge.

More than that its like something that’s diseased.

You cut the tumour out stop it spreading.

I find rancid places to cut you out.

A surgeon, a butcher, a self-harmer.

I peel the taste buds from my tongue

because they shared a love of flavours,

that only we could understand and create.

A menu bittersweet.

I gauge the black place in my heart.

Like cutting the mould from cheese to preserve the rest.

Yet you always worry there’s some you didn’t remove,

and you’ll end up all bile inside.

I remove objects and reminders from my home.

Like cutting the pieces of a stencil,

to make it make a new pattern.

I like the way it looks better than before.

I cut poisonous people out of my life,

it’s an attempt to make it happier, but really I’m afraid.

Scared of their judgement,

because that’s what I became.

Some cut the story from the paper

in order to remember and celebrate.

But the card from last year which says ‘I’m still glad I’m in love with you’

is better forgotten as a manipulative lie.

I cut the nails from my toes,

to stop gouging out the flash at the sides.

Occasionally I don’t do it straight enough,

those feet that danced together become hot and infected.

I dig at my flesh, open wounds and peel back scabs.

I cut you out of me but I keep forgetting where me ends and you begin.

I bleed a little to prove I’m still alive,

and it’s still possible to hurt.

Maybe I’ll let a small piece stay,

like an inked scar to mark the moment we were one.

Is this violent act self harm self-preservation? Cruel to be kind?

I cut away part of myself to make room for more.

Just breathe

They say just breathe.

I do,  counting in and out until I can’t breathe.

 

She said she colours in when alone, she does half.

It’s not good enough so she stops.

 

They say do stuff for yourself, I try,

I achieve nothing but tiredness.

 

I tell myself seek beauty.

I walk, it makes the world an uglier place.

 

He said it was dead.

It died when I thought it was alive

 

We’re at the hospital waiting for the grown up to decide.

They don’t come, it’s only us.

 

I see comedy to find a smile.

There’s  only tears,  I tremble.

 

I listen to an old song to feel.

It breaks me all over again, press repeat.

 

The radio instructs me walk to clear my head.

Alone on the path, my head is more full than ever.

 

He says he’s tired of explaining.

Who to? You only told me and yourself lies.

Pull your socks up, the glass is half full, this is the worst it’ll be, be positive, eat better, exercise more, make a plan, breathe, be kind, be compassionate

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I do all these things and am back to the start. Just breathe.

Bubble

When I started to write a post about mental health the other day I deviated. I was supposed to write about mental health in general and ended up just pouring my heart onto the page. So back to the original post…

I have many wonderful and talented friends who my life crosses with for fun, creatively and also with work. A few years ago a former student of mine introduced me to Katie, as we both had Lupus in common (I guess the disease is good for something). Immediately we got it, the whole chronic illness thing and everything that comes with it. To make it even better she’s a fellow creative soul.

We collaborated a few times in our quest for invisible illness advocacy and creative therapy. Over the past year Katie has been away studying for her screen writing  MA. We’ve missed having her around but the best thing is that she’s been growing her amazing talent. I know it’s not been easy with battling the daily illness thing and the lack of support she’s had. That just makes it more inspirational that she wrote and directed an amazing short film, Bubble.

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In Bubble we meet Erica and Paul, a couple struggling. ‘Erica’s desperate to burst Paul out of his depression, but on the first day he takes medication, she pushes too hard.’ The film is not really about the depression or how it manifests. It is about a couple and how their relationship copes with the the effects of depression.

Katie explains:

‘The representation of Depression in modern media is so often the sad person, who takes medication, and is sad. The human experience of a mental health problem, for both the sufferer and loved ones observing, is much more complex.

When spending long periods of time with a loved one experiencing Depression, I realised I had no idea how to help, or how to act around him when a black mood descended. I realised I was making things worse, but had no guidance on how else to be. It was then that I realised that there are no examples of stories or films that I knew of which exemplified what I should or could do for my loved one who was suffering so clearly but so internally.

Bubble endeavours to be one such example.’

I knew a little about what had inspired her and she told me a little more :

‘Two things really. Firstly I watched other short films and wanted to have a go to see what I could manage. And secondly I struggled to know how I could help friends  with their depression, so wanted to explore that.’

The film is a snapshot into understanding mental health from all angles. It cleverly puts emphasis on the couple rather than the illness. I think this comes from Katie’s innate understanding of invisible illnesses of all kind. After all we all live with, and experience the the illness someone has when we are close and care. We all learn to cope with it and don’t always get everything right. Invisible illness needs to be talked about, accepted and challenged.

Ohh and I almost forget to mention it, Bubble is up for an award. It’s part of the  Nottingham International Microfilm Festival Audience Award. You can watch and vote for it here:

Today

The streets itch with discontent,

The map was off centre all day.

Childish tears threaten to break through the adult face.

The stone walls sweat yesterday’s rain,

I pound the concrete with sticky heat between the layers of my clothes.

The lipstick curdles and I wipe it raw with paper.

 

Fingers bandaged from no fight,

I’m neither citizen or tourist just broken knees.

Guts cramping propel us from cafe to cafe.

Food sticks in my throat as I push it round the plate.

My hands tremble as they try to raise the cup,

Thick black coffee drives my blistered feet.

 

Something is not right in the world, I’m not quite here or there.

It’s ugly criminals saunter like they own the roads.

We ask ‘why are people so cruel?’

Then the man stops to pick up some other’s rubbish.

A women tends the silk and velvet with more love than she knows.

The smile of the woman on the bus is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

 

The flash from no camera, the sky opens and moans.

White then orange makes my heart pound.

‘Don’t walk on the floor with bare feet’ she says.

It makes me want to feel it’s force, to feel alive,

to take off my socks and dance with life on the cold tiles.

I bleed with the sky and prepare to begin all over again.

Sick in the head

So lets have a little chat about mental health… well my mental health.

I actually don’t know where to start. From about 15 I experienced manic and depressive episodes. I’ve also had severe anxiety for a long long time. There have been a plethora of traumatic life events and my physical health is screwed. But the past few years have been relatively stable for me compared to the past. It’s had its ups and downs.

What I didn’t realise was my relationship, which once allowed me to be me, was becoming toxic. I was being suffocated and dimmed until I didn’t believe in my self any more. At home I was walking on eggshells incase I upset the one person that made me so happy and free. Or shouting because I was literally being ignored and he pretended I wasn’t speaking; I thought I was going crazy. In fact I was told repeatedly I was. I’d be ignored for sleeping on the wrong side of the bed, and cry on my own whilst he went out.

I was lured into staying at home whilst he went out because of my illness and I withdrew more and more. I tried to manipulate time together and control this not realising what I was doing and that something was deeply wrong. Anxiety at leaving the house was returning and I never spoke about my life and what I was doing. I’d listen to hours on end to his problems and help him solve them. Coaching the other person to be a better person and neglecting myself.

My physical health was going hand in hand with this silent gagging. I felt permanently guilty for the unexciting, fat, ugly monster I’d become. He always said it would be ok and I was still beautiful, these were lies.

Then there was the courting other people. Horrid toxic people. My intuition has always been good and alarm bells were ringing. But I was forced to let these people into my home and berated for questioning it. Then came the series of public humiliations in front of them. He was no longer fighting for me, or with me, but hurting me.

Alongside this my physical health with auto-immune was slipping and I couldn’t cope with any of it. I was going to appointments on my own now and feeling very frightened. He got angry when I needed an ambulance. In the end he had to be told it was odd that you’d rather be at work (or maybe fucking that girl) whilst I was having a lumbar puncture.

I was fighting a battle with the world to say I really am sick, please believe me, I’m not a fraud. I’d drive to work in so much pain I’d stop and vomit 3 or 4 times along the way. I let people down and got so muddled. It was like daily torture. I earned less and less and he made me feel like a burden. I desperately tried to keep earning and budgeting. Quite often I was covering up his big mistakes and lavish lifestyle. I agreed to put my name on a huge loan so he could get a brand new motorbike we couldn’t afford that was impractical and feeding his image. I was made to feel bad for not being able to ride it.

I heard my friend’s story about domestic abuse and alarm bells rang. I ignored them because I still believed in him but it was there, I was in love with a narcissist:

  • Love Bombing – He made me feel so special, this was it and I was the one. He promised me the absolute world and went above and beyond to win my love.
  • They can’t admit when they’re wrong. – He never ever said sorry even if he was proven wrong. You’d make me beg for forgiveness or tell me I was going mad.
  • Conversations are one-sided. – in the end I was helping him run his business but he didn’t even realise I was directing a play!
  • They’re really, really ridiculously good looking. I was made to listen to hours of how he got girl’s and guy’s numbers over the bar and was the most good looking guy at work. I was always made to feel lucky then ugly.
  • Their brand of empathy is self-motivated. Being the kindest most generous person in public was his forte, and it tricked us all into thinking he was so kind. It wasn’t like this at hime, the brooding moods and hours of silence or being picked apart showed that.
  • Your needs and requests don’t matter. So in the end I got so sick I couldn’t move, I felt terrible that he was my carer. I’d not ask for ages but then not being able to get upstairs for meds or into the kitchen for food. I’d guiltily ask for help or painkillers. He’d then stretch the time out as long as possible till I’d beg like he had some kind of control. It was torture yet always my fault. And the same was happening with our dogs as he neglected them then blamed me.

So towards the end I couldn’t work and was in and out of hospital. The experts were still saying it was OK, I was not OK. I was in pain most of the time and not coping, I was taking a lot of painkillers and 9 different meds everyday. I didn’t go out or forced myself to be exciting then be in bed for a week in agony.

All of this went on relentlessly and I was trapped in a cycle of pain, misery, bullying. Then we had to move house, I was exhausted. I knew he was cheating but made to feel so awful I didn’t have the self worth left to confront it. I was fucking up work and working like a maniac. I suddenly realised I was having suicidal thoughts.

I was very scared by this point and spent hours fantasising and planning. I tried to voice it but he didn’t listen. I got so sick with migraine I needed an ambulance but he wouldn’t ring one and then abandoned me.

Then out of hospital a week later I had another crippling migraine. I left the wedding we were at telling him why I couldn’t stay. I drove myself 45 minutes home then the vomiting came. I text to see where he was. I now know he was cheating. He came home and his only words were ‘its over there’s no talking about it’. Whilst I was at my weakest and most vulnerable he baled.

That was it for me. The switch finally flipped. My first reaction was flight, so I ran, my head full of ways to hurt myself. But I walked it out and bravely returned to the house to ask like an adult to talk about it. I wanted a reason why, to fight through it. To understand the cruelty and to be stripped of all control over my own life. I know now that he chose this moment because I was so sick and he is a coward. I also think he was in a corner and cheating. This is not how you treat someone after 6 years of building a life together. My voice was smaller than ever.

In one moment my life, trust and my home had gone. I already had lost my work and income and then my health was so bad. There was not an area of my life that was OK.

So I decided to end it. Not for attention or a cry for help. I just wanted peace. It’s hard to say I didn’t want to kill myself but it’s true. I really just wanted to sleep and not wake up. In that moment the pain of the world was just too much and I couldn’t go on. I panicked. I still in a way am annoyed that I wasn’t allowed to make my own choice.

It happened again two weeks later when he said the most terrible things to me after I found proof of the cheating. Even I didn’t realise how low he’d go in the moment of my pure brokeness. Telling someone they are mental and need help doesn’t help them but makes them panic. Panic that everyone will agree and say ‘lucky you escaping from that’. Saying ‘its been dead for years’ is the most hurtful thing he could ever ever say to someone who invested so much. There are things that were said that I cannot even write now as they are too painful. They make me want to vomit they were so degrading and bad. I flipped, went through anger and crazy. I shouted as loud as I could for help to those around me and I was saying I’m not OK. The next thing I knew were the police were climbing through my window and threatening to section me. I had tried to sleep again.

See there’s always a story behind the mental health and mines supposed to be down to my physical health and nervous system damage on top of all of this trauma. I’m not ashamed of my actions at all. I only worry that I still am a burden to others and let them down or scared them silly.

I didn’t actually mean to write this post at all. It was going to be something more generalised about mental health. But it kind of all fell out onto the page. One of the hardest things I’ll ever write and this is so paired back.

I’m also not a victim, I don’t want you to see me as that, I am always trying to fix things. This time my energy and life force ran out. My buttons were pressed. My control taken away. I really did choose flight but now I know I am full of fight. Bring it on. I survived this and now I want to do it my way.

 

Bird. Moon. Mirror. Lighthouse. Wolf

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There’s a caged songbird in my chest,

It’s meant for the sky and riding the air.

It forgot how to fly.

It flutters and bleats and can see the other side,

but my ribs hold it captive.

 

There’s a moon in my head,

Its meant for the ocean and to follow the sun.

It forgot how to shine.

It waxes and wanes and can see a path,

but my skull holds it prisoner.

 

There’s a broken mirror in my eye

It is meant to reflect beauty,

It forgot to be present.

Now it only see’s a painful past,
my gaze holds it there.

 

Theres a lighthouse in my soul

It’s meant steer the ship through the storm.

It’s light is buffered by the wind.

It looks to the future and brighter days,

but it’s light is dull against the fog

 

There’s a wolf in my body, 

It’s meant to be brave and care for it’s own.

It lost it’s pack.

It licks it’s wounds and takes time to heal. 

It will bear these scars with pride.

 

Let’s Pretend…

Do you ever think we are just playing at life? Being different characters in some elaborate story?

I don’t really know where I’m going with this post because it’s mostly rambling thoughts! Maybe it’s being in theatre that I always see people as playing parts in their everyday life. Of course there’s  Shakespeare’s famous passage from As You Like It...

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And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant, Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.

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It hints that our lives are predestined, and in terms of ageing they are I guess. But when do we become these stereotypes and copies of our own parents? Just now I overheard my sister’s husband asking her ‘did you find the gravy boat?’. It made me smile, I wonder if he rewound ten years to uni he’d imagine ever uttering this phrase? Then I realised I don’t have a gravy boat, does that mean I’m not an adult yet!?

If we are characters can we choose the parts we play or the dialogues we speak, or do we say certain phrases just 4d2eef3c2201ad1d82e0ce3043a006c8to conform? This is partially true with the relationships we have with others. I’m a people watcher and listener and love to eavesdrop. Over the past few weeks I’ve had 3 hospital visits in which there has been an enormous amount of time to observe. It’s interesting watching the dialogue between patients and health professionals. Sometimes it seemed as though they’re having two entirely different conversations. The doctors hone in and focus on individual areas of the body or conditions. They narrow down and diagnose and defend their decisions from the get go. Maybe this is because the NHS has a focus on cuts and blame and its created fear and narrow practice? But what these conversations do are damaging, they create a dialogue in which the patient feels it’s their right to be healed and the doctor is constantly defending the attack. Neither lead to comfort or healing or 4db5a8f3a5b0b85573115a9dc7cfdd59treating someone as a human. Whilst watching I almost wanted to jump in and direct them like actors to resolve the conflict. It’s even more scary when you find yourself in the same conversations despite having seen them happen five minutes before and promising you wouldn’t. The way we are spoken to lures us in without realising and takes real effort to remove ourselves..

If we can change our dialogues can we then we change our relationships and outcomes? I’m a great believer in the fact we cant change others, only ourselves. Sometimes its good to examine how we speak 39a826434d0482e19e4b342e6b265ec9with others and shift our relationships to something that works better.

More importantly, I think,  it’s how we speak to ourselves that seems so vital. Our inner dialogue is with us every second of the day so if it’s in conflict or defensive it leads us to dangerous places. CBT has helped me recognise this and although its not an instant cure it makes us aware of catching those thoughts that are damaging. Also being able to see the positive lifts changes our gear and puts us in a better place.

Positive thinking is not an easy task to do, especially when drowning in negative thoughts. But the rule of attraction is strong and we can 0ae880eb77832884e8a19c3e3f357953certainly influence our paths by changing our thinking patterns. I love trying exercises and activities that help with this. I like Tiny Buddha’s 10 Tips to Overcome Negative Thoughts

Then there are the times that everything seems totally out of our control. I often wonder about things being predestined. My life has been a roller
coaster of events and emotions. Without being dramatic I’m sure that I’ve endured more than the average person. Sometimes I find myself wondering if it’s something written out for me or some kind of karma. These thoughts happen 81576b699d8a8a514f8f9c01113dfb10especially when I’m down on myself. I genuinely believed that I had a Christmas curse in the past. Just ask anyone who knows me well and they’ll confirm it.

e5c9e117e8a4050b05a4c1d031710423Since being really young I also used to fantasise about being part of a conspiracy. I used to lie on my back and l9979724392b6d1da5b80638e18b720c4ook into the blue sky. Somehow looking into the brightness meant that I could see these little circles that I assume were the shape
of my pupil and iris. In my head they were eyes of bigger beings watching me, not threateningly but there watching my life go by or having a say. I know this sounds a little odd but I guess it’s part of figuring out the world. When years later I finally saw the Truman Show it played on my mind for years days. Even now I get flashes of thinking I’m being watched or there’s cameras everywhere. I did giggle when I discovered it was an actual condition. Not that I need another diagnosis but I’m sure I’m borderline Truman Syndrome

So in conclusion its seems like some of life we can control and other things happen and we can choose how to react. I’m not sure if any is predestined but I can’t think of a better way to say how to manage it than this:

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