Archives for category: Mental Health

I’m absolutely incredulous at the amount of time it is taking to move out of this phase. I can tell you how I got here: physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, philosophically, sociologically, economically… I have done the reading as a means of trying to find my way out of it.

The last time I healed an emotional wound I looked back and I could list accomplishments like ‘got a degree’. I clearly could not have been doing ‘nothing’ in that time. It’s just that then, as now, I did it all in a haze of dissociation. I was completely overwhelmed by my circumstances whilst refusing to bow to them.

I have to some extent let life wash over me. Sometimes believing that I was giving myself a kind of spiritual once over. I think that’s probably bunkum. I’m just immensely lonely, and very sad. I can not tolerate how deeply I feel that life is passing me by. One year rolls into the next, and I think with each passing year, “you’ve never been so fat”, “so lacking in energy”… and think of all the things that I could have done.

I was the first in my family to get a degree, I was the first to have a career, I went sailing, I engaged in the arts, I actively threw off the shackles of poverty and went to get mine. And now capitalism is functioning like it aught to, the middle and upper classes are squeezing me out of work and maintaining their privilege. And I miss my life.

Knowing this is what’s happening doesn’t make it easier to cope. It highlights the injustices and reinforces my lack of confidence. It successfully gaslights me into compliance. I am the only one complaining. The only other person that understood how this feels, declines to talk to me.

So here I am. Equally loathing myself for feeling sorry for myself, and trying to pep talk myself into taking the least awful routes out of this impasse. I already gave up on taking PIP to tribunal AGAIN, because of the fucking psych evaluation that I had done. The one that confirmed that other than depression (because of my circumstances) I am in fact perfectly sane.

In the long run, this long line of CPN’s and psychiatrist’s and counsellor’s stamp of sanity will be beneficial, but right now, it feels like chains. I am running out of ways to defend myself self against the social. I am living in terror that eventually they are going to sanction me, and that my worst fear will come true: I will end up homeless again.

I can’t handle the pride I feel, and the shame that lives with it. I hate to admit to anyone that knows me that I am out of work. It’s the worst kept secret I’m sure everyone knows, but it’s my Achilles heal. I got a degree, just to end up on the dole. Just who did I think I was anyway.

I was supposed to have a medication review for some anti-depressants that would not interfere with my IBS. A routine referral, has turned into a full psych evaluation. Thanks, tory government. Thanks.

After many years of managing my depression, anxiety and/or PTSD on my own, I’ve finally hit the wall I hit back at the beginning. How do I survive. Where do I draw from when the well is dry. I don’t know. I don’t. Let me tell you how it came to this…

I’ve been told by the government that I am well enough to work, but I know I’m not well enough to do the work I’m trained to do, and no one will employ me anyway. I look for work. As a dyslexic person, I find this very difficult. As a dyslexic person with mental health problems, it’s painful. Honestly: painful.

I broke down in my PIP assessment, not that you would know it according to the assessors write up. She was more interested in this (allegedly) massive IQ I have. I’m having to ask for a reconsideration. After only two days, they are ringing me and I don’t know why. That is hardly enough time to mount an appeal is it?

In December and January I had a ton of doctors appointments, and three were missed. Despite the fact that I did not DNA at least one of those appointments they kicked me off the service. They did this before I could appeal, despite the letter saying that I had time to appeal if I thought the decision was wrong.

The mental health team rang, to tell me they had cancelled my appointment and would rebook in a few months. I rang to tell them I didn’t have few months, in short. They then told me they wouldn’t see me if I didn’t have a doctor. I rang the doctor to complain and beg to be reinstated.

The practice manager said that they would bring it up with the doctors at a meeting. My mother and my nephew come to visit and my mum decides to have an alcohol induced break down. By all accounts, she was jabbing her finger at my brother and calling him by my name. My nephew witnessed this, and my brother opened whoopass.

I’m still ringing the doctors to find out why the practice manager has not been back in touch. My counsellor was away for a week and so called First Response, is unresponsive. What ever energy I gain, I lose. I take a step forward and then I’m plunged back into fuckery. I finally get through to the practice manager and she reveals she forgot to ring me back. And she’s been on annual leave.

They have discussed my case and have decided that I can appeal… by letter. I just imploded. Its like telling a wheelchair user there is pain relief available, but they have to get up and walk to the other side of the room to get it. They want me to write down what I have already told them three times. With each telling the injustice of the situation creates more distress and hopelessness. And now, I have to decide what appeal is more important, AND look for work.

I have to skip some steps, you wouldn’t believe them. Today, I rang the mental health team to let them know that I have a doctor and want an appointment. They said it would be months. I said I didn’t have months. One of the managers rang me within twenty minutes and I said I couldn’t go on, being managed off of lists because of my intelligence. She said it was time for me to have a proper assessment, and I laughed.

I told her that every assessment I have ends in reactive stress or depression, “go get counselling”, was it worth wasting everyone’s time. I said I never thought I would beg for medication, after refusing them for so many years, but that I was begging now. (SSRI’s do nothing for me, except give me a bunch of side effects). She said she thought it was time for a more in depth assessment, and that they would find a medication that didn’t fuck with my IBS.

“When?”, I said. With out pause, she replied, “A couple of months”.

This is a longer post than usual. I am quite agitated. My electronic world is beginning to impinge on my right to peaceful enjoyment. My stomach is in uproar: I do not know if this is anxiety, antibiotics I’m taking for a nasty water infection or the cream based raspberry compote I ate yesterday (it was tiny!).

I suspect it’s a little of all three, though I suffer the latter two with fortitude. I do not, however, suffer the former with any thing other than dread, anxiety, a sense of impending doom, the desire to flee conflict and the utterly infuriating insomnia as a result of mentally writing letters. Fine! said I, and roused myself from bed.

Time was when one could read ones emails on an evening and find nought but fun and smiles. Now it’s a Temple of Doom. The worst offender being The Letting Agents, but we’ll save them for last. Let us deal with a person who recently befriended me on-line; we play scrabble. As a result of our conversations, he says he would like to meet me.

Whoa. I did not sign up for this. What do I want? You might be satisfied about me as a person, but I remain unconvinced, even though you do pleasantly surprise me… He is the uncle of a friend of a friend, and when I approached the mutual friend about this, she spoke positively about him, saying she was meaning to introduce us as we have similar interests. Indeed we do.

But I’m not in a meeting people frame of mind. I’m in a paranoid and anxious frame of mind: unwilling to make myself feel vulnerable to any extent. I have enough going on with out adding ‘new people’ to the mix. To his credit, he hasn’t pushed since I said I would think about it, but today, I had to show him my feminist credentials. After I shrugged at his baiting and replied ‘three strikes and you get relegated’. He admitted to feeling a little hurt.

While I have no desire to hurt anyone – I do not have the desire to massage any mans wounded ego. Whether I like them or not. This is my motivation for all to witness: I am not allowing any form of external fuckery to dominate my life.

Which brings me on to the woman who is coordinating volunteers at a place I have expressed interest in. I have the feeling that as a former volunteer she is eager to show that she has the capacity to lead and coordinate. However, she is going to have to apply her belt and braces approach elsewhere. I find a phone call, a text message and two emails somewhat excessive. If I have missed a call, an email OR text would suffice. Please, step back, sister.

And then The Letting Agent. Dear Letting Agent, Section 27 – 33 of The Housing Act 1988 (Right to peaceful enjoyment). This is the thing that is keeping me awake. This is the thing that is creating an undue sense of insecurity. Today, I received two emails, from two different people, seeking access to my property on two separate days one week apart. One of the emails states the landlord will let himself in if I aren’t home.

No. He will not. No, no, no no. Hey nonny no!

They want to inspect the property, as is their right. Only, this will be the fourth inspection in 17 months. Enough. If The Landlord wants to remortgage the property, he can have the valuation done while I am present. There is no reason in my mind why they can not combine the two.

Before you get to thinking that is all… When I first moved in, I had a subcontractor try to gain access to the property, both with out permission and with out warning. Worse, I was in bed at the time, and in a state of dishabille had to call out to get him to stop trying to force entry. The door is not jammed, it is locked!

I thought that I had made myself clear at that point: I would always insist on Myself or an Agent Acting on My Behalf being present for any repairs, inspections or other requirements needing access (emergencies excepted as per The Housing Act 1988). I am therefore most upset to see in writing “the landlord will let himself in”. No. Just no.

Also, on the subject of inspections, it is not the job of contractors to carry out ad hoc inspections when they come to do a repair. I knew at the time that I should have raised a grievance, but you know, I’ve had a bit on. Furthermore, the contractor was asked to look at a none existent problem with damp. I have never had damp. I believe the previous tenant did, due to a hole in the roof, but it was successfully fixed.

What she is talking about is mold in the bathroom. Mold which I was told to leave untreated so they could check the progress of, and if necessary treat with another coat of anti-fungal, anti-mildew paint. Which I did. Which was then subsequently signed off as satisfactory. Which I am now worrying about.

This all needs to be put in a letter. But as several people have told me I seem angry, I am even more keen to get my tone right, lest it lead to eviction for antifuckingsocialbastardbehaviour. Of course I am angry, and legally, in this instance, I have a right to be, but still: I am tired of living embattled. I am tired of living under the threat of poverty (worse poverty) and homelessness.

I whole heartedly refuse to believe that my behavior is some how unreasonable, or unwarranted. I am feeling particularly vulnerable at present, and I do not have a constant ally on whom I can rely “to act as a buffer”. There’s just me and some boundaries. I am adamant they and I, will be respected.

I don’t want to do those lists anymore. Maybe it’s a mood thing. Maybe it takes me so friggin long to log into my account that it robs me of a small parcel of my soul. This is not my bank account, there is no need for these ridiculous passwords.

Yes, ok, I started with Dyslexia despite the title. I’m finding that common these days, I say one thing and do another. I used to be so diligent about being reliable and honest. In previous years I would have been mortified to be so <insert appropriate word here>. See that? That’s me not judging myself. Trying. I’m more ‘human’ now.

I feel less like a 2D cut out, but at the same time, I feel so deflated and heavy. I started with my new counsellor today, and before I realized what I had said I was laughing. “This world is not big enough for me”.  I was detailing how my last counsellor opened up space for me, and after a few tears, this.

The truth is I am a big ideas person. Details don’t just bore me, they kill me. I know some people adore detail, I’ve met them. And while I can clean something to military precision, I still object to having to look at this spotlessly clean tap and be displeased to see a watermark. Come on! (I don’t clean anymore, that’s another post).

I’m a scientist, it’s the thing I am most qualified to do. I follow some Buddhist precepts. I never found either to be at odds, and yet people like to have you in one basket, or worse, box. These labels feel like coffins. Claustrophobic, dark and life ending. How can anyone live freely with all these labels.

Fat lot of good either of them did me. I move closer to a PTSD diagnosis, I’m resigned to it. I avoided the mental health professionals (and was rejected by them as being too sane) for my career. As long as I was working I had all the therapy I needed.

All the hidden threads are leading back to one big fucked up ball of wool. Sleeping problems, stomach problems, emotional outbursts… things that are perfectly ordinary reactions to real and present stress: joblessness and poverty will do that. I haven’t the energy for the mental gymnastics anymore.

The things that are escaping from me now I have no diligence are consistent with PTSD. Or more precisely, complex PTSD. What a shitty world. What a shitty, shitty world. I wouldn’t fair better in any other time: I’d have been burnt as a witch. What a shitty world we make for each other.

Over Christmas I learned something that helps me understand my family and by extension me,  better. Not good things, imagine if you will a Fibonacci sequence of shit. Hopefully, in the descendant, she says with a lackluster pun. I said years ago that it would all end with me. Now I know what ‘it’ is.

I haven’t felt Christmacy in years. Can’t say I’m excited, but I am looking forward to spending time at the female parental’s. Change is as good as a rest.

My dad was in hospital again: pulmonary embolism, pneumonia and left lung lower lobe collapse. I’m pretty sure there is a poem in there somewhere. He’s home now, and oddly happy. Then again, people do find relief when they feel heard. He’s had a sore nose for 14 months (this is an understatement) and they are going to have a look and see what damage was done when they had to pack it (that was one severe nosebleed!).

I’m thrilled to bits with the new diet, despite the problems that it’s causing me. The lack of pain is a major bonus. Combine that with the sleep that I have been getting and I’m feeling quite alert. And hopeful. Ish. (Let us not jinx this).

I’ve been making a shirt. I made my own pattern for it. I’m feeling really accomplished, or I will do when I sow the arms on and figure out how to make a neck line…

I don’t have much to say: things have been incredibly intense and I’ve been worried about all the stuff. I wanted to make a post that was a bit more positive and uplifting. I don’t know why… but I feel light and I’m not going to look too closely into that.

I’m going to wrap myself in a blanket and read a book. I’m not going to do anything else till after Christmas. That feels like a very normal and peaceful thing to be able to say. Hurrah! The calm after the storm. Hope the next one passes me by, I’m all stormed out and hoping for better weather.

Which reminds me of a poem I wrote many years ago:

Batten down the hatches

We’ve headed for stormy weather again

Close all the latches

Before you see my shame

I’ve studied all the catches

And still they’re all the same

Still batten down the hatches

And we’ll see if the weather will change.

I don’t think it’s a particularly strong poem, but it’s nice to look back and recognize how much growth there has been in these years of relentless destruction and destitution and hopelessness.

My writing group came to an end, but there are plans afoot to reinstate it next year. I’m also looking forward to being arm deep in clay. Might there be other wonders on the horizon yet to be uncovered? Imagine that? Things to look forward to rather than feel like I have to cling to scraps to survive.

Yes, I am feeling gratitude and that is a joyous thing.

So, dear friends, I wish you all Joyeux Noel and hope that the coming year brings you a lot of what you need, and a little of what you want. Dare I say, I hope you see a glimmer of things that you had not thought to hope for.

Before I begin, I have to tell you I am sick of resetting my password every time I sighn in. I want a cigarette. A mcfonals burger (u no hu I mean). And I want to get laid: well and often. I don’t think these are unreasonable requests, only 2 of the 3 will kill me, the third being mildly perilous. Well, the third is probably more likely to kill me presently but this is a wish list, shut up.

Having made a cross declaration to several people that I felt trapped by my inability to sculpt, someone said you can always use free things. Did I want to stab that person in the head? Yes, I did. Mindfulness, be damned. So and so uses cardboard, they’ve made some amazing things… blah blah kill me.

I want what I want, and for a change I’m going to get it. A friend has offered to be my patron. Imagine. A proper patron. It’s not enough to earn a living kind of patron, but it is a life saving and life affirming door opening kind of patron. I will be making ceramics very soon.

I’m still fighting the fight with the meds and sleep, but I have slept. Can you tell? I re-read some of my old prose and its really bloody good. Shame my recent stuff is very much me circa 1994. Painful. I’m bored of this bit already. Let’s move on.

I decided to accept a place on an assertiveness course. So far I have learned that you can ask for things and you will be given them. No, really. I needed help with travel, I got it. I told them I couldn’t eat their biscuits they bought me gluten free ones. This has been a week or two of receiving. How pleasant.

The assertiveness course… I’m. I’m. I’m.

Look. Things need to change in women’s services.

Women need to be stopped being asked to prevent their own abuse.

Seriously.

Just stop it.

And this notion that a ‘bad man’ is always a ‘bad man’ needs to change too. We need to be taught how to spot these bastards before we go to bed with them. That’s the problem isn’t it. They come with hearts and flowers and smiles first.

Apparently, assertive people talk with a warm voice. I told her I had issue with that. She was a bit surprised. Half the reason why myself and my class mates are in the mess we are in is because of our warm words and forgiving natures. We are saps. ill equipped to deal with the more predatory of our species.

We are here to get help to route them out before they bleed us dry. The bosses, friends, boyfriends, parents: whom ever chooses to leech off us… And we won’t learn how to do that with your Disney villain caricatures. We are no princesses, there are no knights, there is no justice. Just us and a packet of biscuits, gluten free or otherwise.

You run out of steam. Where once it might have taken you 18 months, suddenly, it’s six weeks. Or worse, six days. The things you want to do are continually put aside in order to have the reserves to invest in your health and well being. The doctors appointments, the dole appointments, the job interviews…

You want to keep up with the house work, but it crowds you out. Moving the bedrooms round so you can minimize noise pollution from your neighbour is more important than washing up: because you need to sleep. The tablets the doctor prescribed affect other health conditions, so the ten day respite you’ve had, becomes a painful nightmare and the sleep train is brought to a halt.

You phone a ‘help line’, who is there to support you in your time of need… They fire off so many questions it’s plain they are not listening to your answers: they have their own agenda. Basically, that’s to punt you onto the online forums so you can have a whinge and a moan with other people in your situation. No thanks. With my level of skill and self awareness I become an unpaid support worker. Fuck you, pay me.

Having a minor panic attack you phone the Samaritans and hope to god that you get to speak to someone who is not going to patronise you. GOLD!!! You strike gold. This woman is clearly born into money, but she has empathy in spades. She’s intelligent and humorous and sees you. I mean, she really did see me. I felt held. I felt encouraged. I felt less of an alien for her observation of “You’re clearly quite cultured”.

I have described myself as a working class person with middle class tastes. I internalize a lot of snobbery and inverse snobbery and all kinds of other class war, class consciousness issues. I am pained sometimes by the things I like. The things that I am unable to access, to participate in, and enjoy guilt free. If I had money, these pleasures would not bring pain. It’s perverse.

Then you start to thinking about what kind of pet project you have been and have become. I want to take this lady out of the equation, she was fully congruent, she knew some of the emotional battles I was going through if nothing else. And there have been poorer (in every sense) people than her to not get the fact that £3 to get to a free community event is not free.

I am not putting blocks in my own path. I can not afford to pay for clay. I can not afford to pay for travel to doctors appointments, let alone social gatherings for the poor and dispossessed. And I do want to go, I do want to engage, but it takes energy and money both of which are finite. If you work in support, can you be more mindful of the realities of the people you are trying to support.

As I sink into yet another abyss, I reach out to support agencies for help. I hear the same refrain again and again. “Step back”, “Be kind to yourself”, “Take it easy”, “You’ve been through more in 5 years than some have in decades, don’t put so much pressure on yourself”. This is victim blaming. It’s not often I identify as a victim. But I feel it so keenly at the moment.

The pressure is not coming from within me: it is external to me and is being exerted on many thousands of people. Some of whom have buckled under the weight and have taken their own lives.

I have been close.

I am close.

I am tired.

As a person being forced to look for work that she is not well enough to do, I am being persecuted by the state. Why? Because I am poor. I can not afford to recuperate with out state assistance. As I try and address the mess that led to this disaster, I have to search for work, under the threat of losing what little money I have. This is tantamount to financial abuse.

I have worked. I have worked hard. I have paid taxes. I have raised myself up, from my externally perceived humble beginnings, educated myself, and the reward for my self sufficiency is victim blaming and abuse. Even in my addled state, I can provide better support for myself, than the agencies that I have reached out to for assistance.

Even, as the pressure mounts, and my myriad low level illnesses conspire together to create the impression that I am going to die from anxiety, I am best placed to help my self. All I need is time, or money, or a little of both. Instead, what time I might have is being permanently diverted to other less deserving things. Or more deserving but ought not to be.

Such as : Have I enough food to eat; Can I cover my rent this month; Is buying this cheap food worth the resulting pain I will end up in; Am I going to pull another muscle if I walk to the doctors and back; Will I sleep tonight; Can I squeeze another few wears out of these jeans before they finally give in.

What absolutely makes me howl, is the fact that a woman of my age, and my size being actively discriminated against in the work place, in one of the most underprivileged cities in the UK is being forced to look for work for people who will not employ her. Take my ‘free to them’ labour, yes, but not employ me for remuneration.

Where exactly am I supposed to take refuge in this mess? Am I being mindful they ask. Are you fucking kidding me? I am nothing but mindful. ‘You’ tell me? You keep telling me about how self aware I am… AM I MINDFUL? I am too mindful. I am too keenly aware of what is happening to me, and completely unable to do anything about it. This way madness lies.

Sometimes, mindfulness, in your secular sense of the word is a middle class luxury. It is a kind of mindfulness that I can not afford.

And the patronizing! Dear god above have some small mercy on me. Someone praised me learning to make my own clothes. This, I am told, is mindful. Well, it may be, if I could actually get on. Only I’m so sleep deprived that I can not follow the instructions and I dare not use the machine for fear of stitching over my fingers.

I got flashed, people, that’s what happened. I had to hit that man to get him to leave me alone (he started to follow me). I told him I was going to hit him, and then I popped him, twice. My wrist was sore for weeks. When I asked you who the Boss was a few posts back, I meant my answer, I’m the freakin Boss.

I have to clear a few things up… It wasn’t my stepfather that stopped the counselling it was my mother. My mother went out of her way to make my 40th Birthday a bit of an extravaganza. I start the writing course in two weeks, and I am going to resurrect my book. I’m volunteering for two projects and I’m applying for a writing internship, a paid one! I am learning to make my own clothes.

After living in dire straights for so long a little money goes a long way. So when I nervously asked for money for my birthday, I was very pleased to find myself the proud owner of £300. I bought a lot of material and I fished out my Nan’s sewing machine. I am halfway through making my first pair of trousers.

I also bought three pairs of shoes from Blend. I spent my 30th sailing the fjords of Norway and traveling through the mountains, during that time I bought some trainers. I took a pair in every colour they had: green, blue, red, orange… Something made me look them up this year (nostalgia) and there they were. Now, thanks to the wonder of having friends in foreign places and an internet connection I am proud owner of said trainers. £50 for the lot. Thank you, very much.

I was treated to a weekend away by my mum. We did nothing but eat and drink for three days. We even managed not to descend into complete anarchy. Which is somewhat shocking since we were both drinking. I decided to give up for a few days trying to avoid ‘drunk mother’. Amazingly, my new counsellor ain’t that bad, and I’ve moved from a place of anger to real forgiveness. Not the sticking plaster kind, but a lasting forgiveness. I’m glad because anger is exhausting. So is drinking, I don’t know how people find the stamina to become addicted…

Whilst I was preparing for this writing course, I went through my books and found ‘the book’. I couldn’t put it down, even I want to know how it turns out! It’s also given me the confidence to apply for an internship as a writer. I do not publicise this blog not just because I want to maintain my anonymity, but because I fear my own writing. I worry about my consistency, I worry about my pitch and I am terrified of my grammar. I might not if I renamed the blog “Fuck off, I am Dyslexic” but I’m trying to work on my amiability.

I had a few interviews, which after years of having none is a bloody relief, and while volunteering is not ideal it does give me something to concentrate on. Both projects are in areas that I feel particularly challenged so I am hoping to get as much out as I put in this time. My waistline is also thanking me. I signed up to OKSTUPID again. I don’t know why I bother because most of them scare me, but it’s something to do to relieve the ongoing tragicomic monotony that is my life post recession.

My orchids bloomed. I stopped smoking. And I got thanked for being a feminist!

Something terrible happened yesterday.
I don’t want to talk about it today.
I’m at a friend’s cat sitting.
I’m in a lot of pain; physical and emotional.
A friend wants to know if I need anything, I already said what I needed, I’ve been saying it for months.
I look at my friend’s house and I’m transported to desperately sad and unhappy times.
Every surface is covered. Every surface has something on it. Every. Surface.
There is no view.
I think I’m allergic to her house as much as I am her cat.
I can’t believe the years I have lost to my shit.
All of it, physical and emotional.
Other people could see it, but I couldn’t.
Or at least I did not want to.
Why?
Because I was so very sad, and lonely.
Sometimes I think I haven’t moved on at all, but when I look back to yesterday, I think I’m starting to win.
It’s my time to win.
I so desperately need to travel, it’s killing me staying put. I don’t know how to make it happen, but I have to try find a way. Especially before the world implodes. Honestly, I’m really feeling the political disasters presently.
I feel like I’m in a race against time.
Only this isn’t as much fun as crystal maze.
My pain killers are kicking in now.
I hope I can sleep.
I’m wondering if I have enough masochism left in me to spend another night.
Someone called to invite me to a writing course, I can’t believe the range of emotions swirling around this one.
What is my main aim?
Freedom!
Does writing set me free, or does freedom give life to my writing.
I think we all know the answer to that.