January 8, 2018

Three days on

Posted in Health stuff, January tagged , , , at 12:02 pm by viewfromthisdesk

Or, my appointment with the dishy South African with the big chopper.

 

So, Friday was the Big Day.  After two years of saving up and then nine weeks of waiting for the consultant to not be on holiday I finally had my operation to remove my scars.

These scars have been an issue for a while.  Not only were they ugly and obvious and itchy and annoying, they also made me feel really self conscious.  I can hide the scar in my bikini line from my one operation, I can ignore the two in my belly button from the other operations.  I can kinda cover the one on my back from where I blistered up after getting sunburnt aged 16.  I cannot cover the four on my ears.  I suffer from keloid scarring, it’s a body’s over reaction to trauma or injury.  In my case, operations and piercings.  These are not normal scars, these are red or purple, they are raised and shiny and quite large.  The four on my ears were about the size of marrowfat peas, hardly subtle.

I’m not a vain sort of person but on the odd occasion that I made an effort, I’d be aware that these scars were something I couldn’t hide.  Someone commented after the wedding last August that I had really cool earrings that day.  All I could think was ‘Great, so they noticed the lumpy scars too’.

The operation itself was not fun.  He cut the scars off by burning.  And then he scraped off the burnt bit and burnt it again.  Four different areas.  I wasn’t nervous about the operation I was only concerned about the smell.  I’ve had bits of me burnt in a medical and accidental way before, it stinks.  This isn’t like catching yourself on the side of the iron.  Needless to say, after Friday I won’t be roasting pork for a while.

Once the local aesthetic wore off (about two hours)  I was a bit (understatement) grumpy.  I had been warned it might sting a bit (no lie) but no one warned me about how itchy it would be.  Oh my goodness I could have taken a metal scouring pad to my ears quite happily.

The weekend was not without it’s productiveness.  I wore my magical manatee pyjama trousers with no shame, I read lots, I watched films, I crafted.  I ate a lot of biscuits just to keep my hands busy so I wouldn’t poke and scratch.

Fast forward three days and I now just have black scabs where the lumps were.  The daft thing is, these scabs are probably more obvious that the lumps were.  Maybe people didn’t notice the scars – maybe people noticed but didn’t care – what’s important is that I noticed and I cared.

I’m not allowed to complain about the oozing yellow gank that’s coming from the areas (yellow is good apparently, I just have to worry if it goes red and hot) or the fact the sites are super itchy.  I chose to have this happen.  I decided to pay a scary amount of money to have this done to me.  And I have signed up to have four very painful (and equally expensive) follow up appointments where they will inject the scar tissue areas with steroids to try and stop them coming back.

 

This is my first selfish act of 2018 and with time, I know it’ll be worth it.

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January 3, 2018

Resolution revolution.

Posted in January tagged , , , at 5:25 pm by viewfromthisdesk

In the beginning of 2017 I made a decision to not buy any clothes or shoes for the year.  It wasn’t necessarily a New Year’s resolution because I don’t make them, no point setting goals just because it’s January. Make a change because you want to, not that you feel you have to or should.

My decision was easy, I hate shopping. I especially hate clothes shopping. Aside from the self loathing I have when I look in a mirror, I also have zero clue what suits me in terms of styles or cut or colours.

I am happy living in jeans or leggings or my famous manatee pyjamas. A hoodie or top is easy to pull on, the baggier the better. I am not a typical girlie-girl. A conversation I overheard when I was working away went along the lines of ‘I can’t buy the missus stuff for Christmas, she goes shopping every weekend’ which was an alien concept for me. Apparently this is what ‘all girls’ do ……

So I made a conscious decision to not buy anything. I’d already sorted through my shoes and gotten rid of lots of pairs, I also sorted through my clothes and made two recycling bags full. I didn’t donate these straight away, I wanted to see if I missed anything. Turns out I didn’t.

I’m quite a frugal person, I have a limited income so money has to stretch. Not shopping meant I could use my money elsewhere. Some of you know about the enormous project that has been ongoing since 2015, this is a heavy weight around my neck and so saving money is super important.

I managed the not shopping thing until August, when I was invited to a wedding. I spent less than twenty quid on a frock and shoes. It’s  important to look good for your friends. I know people can spend hundreds of pounds on outfits which I can’t quite comprehend.

Over the course of the year in total, I bought the dress and shoes, three tops and a pair of leggings. The leggings replaced a pair I’d destroyed so I feel they don’t count. Even as a shopping list, that’s not bad going. I know people for whom that’s not even one shop’s worth on one day.

I didn’t miss shopping because I’ve never enjoyed it. I’m happy to continue my not-shopping rule into this year, it’s not a hardship to make the most of what you already have and have a good sort through now and again. And perhaps that’s a sentence that can be applied to lots of things in life. I’ve just bought a gorgeous turquoise hooded top from Aldi this morning, and two pairs of amazing tights from Kate’s Clothing because I trashed a pair in the washing machine last year and they were in the sale. I can see myself not buying anything more for months and months.

So I’m going to spend this year sorting through and making the most of what I already have. Books can come from the library or my kindle books can come from a voucher I got for Christmas. I can get music for my birthday, I have enough craft stuff to keep me going for a gazillion years, I don’t have need for things and stuff. It’s an interesting approach to the year. What else should I try and do without?

December 31, 2017

Another year over

Posted in December tagged , at 3:13 pm by viewfromthisdesk

Today seems a good day to write. Today seems a good day to be positive.

I dislike this time of year for a great many reasons. This year was no different, these last ten days have been difficult for a variety of things and events and causes. I have struggled to get out of bed, get dressed and face the world. And yet every single day I have managed it. I may have not been happy and there have been a lot of tears but I survived.

On this eve of another year, we all reflect on what has happened, what we wish had happened, what we would have done differently if we had our time again. I’m no different. I have experienced so much good this year, it’s cheesy but I have been truely blessed by the friends I have around me. They got me through these three hundred odd days, they reminded me that being honest is okay, they’ll put up with my manatee pyjamas and not bat an eyelid.

Looking forward I need to focus on me. It’s utterly selfish but it’s something I’ve become aware of. I don’t think of me often, I focus on those around me. Hubby commented the other day that I need to be more honest. He says it’s not right I wear myself out putting a strong and brave face on for others and then come home and collapse. He says it’s not fair that everyone else gets the best of me but he gets the exhausted and grumpy me. I tried to discuss this with him, tried to say if we did more things together that he’d get a good me sometimes too. It didn’t work. Hey ho.

Next year is the year of me. I have to be happy for me. I have to be well for me. I want to be invited to stuff, I’ve proved to myself in this year that I can do stuff on my own. I have friends who will lend an arm, find a chair, laugh with me. I do not need to be a hermit.

Next year will be my year of focus and change. It has to be. I cannot continue to live my life in the same way as I have been. I need to reclaim my life.

And so my first selfish act of 2018 is that on Friday 5th January at about half eleven ish I’m having my scar tissue operation. It’s scary, yes. It’s stupidly expensive and will only be the start of fixing the outside of me but it’s happening. My other selfish targets are that I aim to have one theatre experience a month, I’d also like one music or cinema experience a month. I’d like tea and cake with friends even if we are in our pyjamas.

My other big thing I want to do is have a ‘crafternoon’ in order to raise money for MIND. They are a mental health charity and whilst I’ve never used their services, I’ve made no secret of how crafting helps my mental state. So I want to have this event at some point in January or February. Even if I only raise a fiver for them, it will be another thing I do so I’m not sat at home on my own. It will only be a couple of hours effort and I plan on having gallons of tea and piles of cake and have a glue gun and glitter and stuff for the crafting element. I know what I want the crafting to be, I just need a date and people.

Kick me if I don’t mention it again. Remind me I said I’d do this, hold me accountable.

Wherever you are tonight, whoever you are with, be safe and happy. Thank you for getting me through another year. Thank you for your support, comments, brutal chats. Thank you for your surprise notes and gifts, you will never know what a difference they made to my sate of mind.

October 26, 2017

Music makes everything better

Posted in October tagged , , at 1:07 pm by viewfromthisdesk

A couple of weeks ago I went to a concert.  The usual challenges occurred but I had an amazing time.  Music is absolutely a magical and powerful thing.  I heard songs for the first time even though I’ve sung along with them on my ipod for years.  I heard lyrics in a different way, I laughed, I cried, I had my heart broken and left feeling happy and sad in equal measures.  It was just a beautiful few hours.

Since then, my ipod seems to be in tune with my emotional well being.  The songs it shuffles out are so meaningful and deep.  It really has helped me deal with some thoughts and issues that have been flying around my brain recently.  And I’ve gotten goosebumps during songs, I’ve cried as I’ve sung along, I’ve woken up to how I’m feeling about life, the universe and everything.

And then I found this totally by accident but totally at the right time.

I thought about doing this as a once a day thing on social media but then I realised I’d forget to do it one day or something else would happen and equaly it would get boring or lost.  So I’m doing it once, here.

And because this is my blog and I make the rules, I may have tweaked a couple of them.  And I may have more than one answer or used an album instead of a song.  However, my one self imposed rule is that I cannot use an artist twice which was super tough.

Day 1 – a song you like with a colour in the title
– Blackbird by Alter Bridge
Day 2 – a song you like with a number in the title
– Highway 20 Ride by Zac Brown Band
Day 3 – a song that reminds you of summertime
– Goodbye Earl by Dixie Chicks
Day 4 – a song that reminds you of someone you’d rather forget
– War of the Worlds Soundtrack *Note – this isn’t a person I’d rather forget but a period of my life
Day 5 – a song that needs to be played loud
– Enter Sandman by Metallica
Day 6 – a song that makes you want to dance
– My Life Would Suck Without You by Kelly Clarkson
Day 7 – a song to drive to
– Backstreet Symphony by Thunder / the entire Hysteria album by Def Leppard
Day 8 – a song about drugs or alcohol
– Whiskey Lullaby by Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss
Day 9 – a song that makes you happy
– Days Go By – Keith Urban
Day 10 – a song that makes you sad
– You Should Be Here by Cole Swindell
Day 11 – a song you never get tired of
– Abandon by Dare
Day 12 – a song from your pre-teen years
– One and Only by Chesney Hawkes *Note – as cringe as this is, it’s all I sang aged 10 and 11
– Blood on Blood by Bon Jovi *Note – this is my teenage years, not pre-teen.
Day 13 – a song you like from the 70’s
– Romeo and Juliet by Dire Straits *Note – I changed this to the 80’s
Day 14 – a song you’d love to be played at your wedding
– You are My Woman – Danko Jones
Day 15 – a song you like that’s a cover by another band
– Sound of Silence by Disturbed *Note – this was the first question I answered.  It’s beautiful.
Day 16 – a song that’s a classic favourite
– Summer of 69 by Bryan Adams
Day 17 – a song you’d sing as a duet with someone in karaoke
– Dead Ringer for Love by Meat Loaf and Bonnie Tyler *Note – not that I’d ever do karaoke
Day 18 – a song from the year you were born
– I was Made for Lovin’ You by Kiss *Note – thank you Google!
Day 19 – a song that makes you think about life
– Home by Daughtry
Day 20 – a song that has many meanings for you
– In Case You Didn’t Know – Brett Young
Day 21 – a song you like with a person’s name in the title
– Carrie by Europe / Lola Montez by Volbeat
Day 22 – a song that moves you forward
– Affirmation by Savage Garden
Day 23 – a song you think everyone should listen to
– 12 Redneck Days by Jeff Foxworthy *Note – I don’t think I should make anyone listen to anything because we all have different thoughts on music and taste.  I didn’t want to answer this question but this song is funny and is only played in December.
Day 24 – a song by a band you wish was still together
-November Rain by Guns N Roses *Note – I’m rubbish at whether a band is still together or not because in my opinion if it’s not the original line up it’s not the same band, so Bon Jovi without Richie Sambora is not Bon Jovi for example.  And Google says GNR have split up.
Day 25 – a song you like by an artist no longer living
– Hurt by Johnny Cash / Heavy is the Head by ZBB ft Chris Cornell
Day 26 – a song that makes you want to fall in love
– Faithfully – Journey
Day 27 – a song that breaks your heart
– Things my Father Said by Black Stone Cherry
Day 28 – a song by an artist whose voice you love
– Just Might (Make Me Believe) by Sugarland because Jennifer Nettles is amazing.  But everyone needs to hear Sky Hunter sing from StoneWire.
Day 29 – a song you remember from your childhood
– What About Love by Heart
Day 30 – a song that reminds you of yourself
– All Kinds of Kinds by Miranda Lambert / Strong Enough by Cher

 

Some questions were easier than others.  Some I really struggled with.  And there are artists that I’ve wanted to include but haven’t and feel guilty about that.  But I have 3428 songs on my ipod, it was a tricky task but such fun.  I’d like to know your thought on my list.  Did it make you listen to any new tunes?  What would your answers be?  Email me, introduce me to new artists and songs.  Share the magic.

October 4, 2017

A double-edged sword

Posted in Health stuff, October, Weight Watchers tagged , , , at 11:50 am by viewfromthisdesk

I’ve shared recently about my eating issues – it’s been a really tricky six and a bit weeks if I’m honest.

I have gotten over the permanent nausea feeling, this just comes and goes now and is triggered by new smells usually.  There’s no consistency to what triggers the nausea though so I can’t avoid it.  And I’ve not been ill physically, I just feel rotten but eventually it passes.

But I still don’t want to eat.  I have no desire to eat, I have no urge to apply to face.  It’s really odd.  I’m eating because I know I have to.  There’s no taste, there’s no pleasure, it’s just a requirement of life and I hate it.  I really despise the fact I’m forcing the situation.  I don’t think this is linked to my ME or my fibro either.  The insomnia is but this weird not eating thing is different.

I love food.  I love the companionship of a meal with friends.  I hate the cutlery struggles and the efforts of sitting still but eating has always been a great positive.

And the double edged sword?  Weight loss.

I’ve lost half a stone in the six and a bit weeks.  No one has noticed and that’s pants because half a stone is a decent chunk.  I’m wearing jeans that I haven’t worn for five years and I’m sure I look different.  I’ve tried to tell myself that people don’t see the gradual change but even people I’ve not seen for ages haven’t noticed.  It hurts because I want that positive reassurance about my life.  No, I *need* that positive reassurance.  I know asking girls about their weight is a bit taboo but this girl wants to know.  This girl wants to understand they’re not insignificant, that they haven’t faded into the wallpaper, that they are noticed.

I’m unsure as to how to view this current situation.  I’m struggling to be positive because it’s not fun.  And I’m having this dilemma in my head that if I think ‘I could aim for this target weight by this date’ that I’m encouraging the not eating.  I’m sure this is just my over thinking things and being particularly sensitive right now but I promise you all, I want to eat, I want to be that greedy lass you all know and love.  I don’t like not eating because I feel sick or don’t feel hungry.  It’s not me.

It’s a tricky situation because I don’t know how to manage it.  I want people to notice the weight loss and make some comment.  I want someone to slap my bum as I walk past in these gorgeous levi jeans and say ‘looking good’ or wolf whistle at me.  Sexist and derogatory as that it, I just want noticing.  But I don’t want you to notice I’m not eating.  I don’t want you to ask what I managed to force down today.  I don’t want any comments about how half a sandwich isn’t enough or I leave half my meal because I’m super full.

So notice me but don’t notice the details. What could possibly go wrong with that request?!

August 31, 2017

One month on

Posted in August, Health stuff tagged , , , , , at 11:05 am by viewfromthisdesk

It’s been a very strange few weeks.

On the 28th July I posted ‘when the darkness wins’ and I was at this very desk when I wrote it over those few days.  I’m working away again this week but my outlook and attitude are very, very different.

It’s curious how writing that post has been very cathartic.  Admitting all those things and releasing them has been brilliant.  Yes, it was hurtful and emotional but it’s been good for me.  I can’t drag that baggage with me forever.  Whilst I’m never going to be free of those thoughts and memories, they are not dragging me down right now.

Sitting at this desk again is odd.  I remember how hard that week was, typing the words, remembering the things I wrote, revisiting stuff in my head I didn’t want to go back to.  Sitting here this week I feel like a different person but it’s probably that nausea thing I had.

The ‘nausea thing’ as it’s been titled really did knock me for six.  I had probably ten days of it in all.  Last night was the first night I ate what could be considered a normal plate of food.  It took ages though and my taste buds still haven’t come back but at least I’m eating.  I lost four pounds in a week – not that anyone has noticed – and they’re still off.  I checked this morning.

My weight is a constant battle.  Being sedentary and unable to do much by way of exercise is a huge factor to this.  My joints and energy levels are just not like other people’s.  I can be exhausted just walking up the stairs and so the idea of doing a couch to 10km thing for example is unthinkable.  This nausea thing, however horrific it was, has helped me realise that if I’m ever going to be a skinny minny then food is the only way to that.

Not eating ‘normally’ these past ten days has been truly horrible.  I can promise you that.  Watching hubby inhale an entire pizza whilst I’m struggling with one scrambled egg was a particular low point.  Making a sandwich last two meals and not wanting it at either of them was also pretty pants.  The questioning from himself ‘what have you eaten today?’ felt invasive and accusatory.  I wasn’t deliberately not eating, that is not me in any shape or form.

I was intrigued as to whether four pounds made any difference if the doctors knew.  Turns out my BMI is still in the obese range but it’s getting closer to overweight.  Two more pounds off and I’d just be overweight, not obese.  Pah.  Life is too short.  I’d find it easier to grow another three inches than lose another two pounds whilst actually eating food.

That four pounds was in a whole week, Sunday to Sunday.  I’ve not lost anything this week (Sunday – Thursday) but I’m going to convince myself that whilst I’m still not eating properly, my body is in shock and won’t lose more weight this week.  Not that eating any form of food is going to make me a heifer again.

And I’ve come to another big decision too and it’s a proper selfish one.  I’m struggling with the guilt of doing something for me but I’m hoping I’ll get over it.

About eighteen months ago I tried to get treatment for some scar issues I’ve got.  But the treatment I had years ago for other scars is not offered anymore on the nhs, there’s no money.  Course I had to wait sixteen weeks for an appointment to be told to get lost but hey ho.  The nhs doctor told me I’d have to go private and at the time I was super upset.  But since then my scars have bothered me more and more and so when I’ve been working here I’ve tried to put some money aside.  So my selfish decision is that I’m going to make an appointment to see a doctor about them next month, going to try and get them sorted.  It’s going to be super expensive and I’m aware I might not be able to afford it right now but I’m hopeful that I’ll make it work somehow without resorting to the fantastic plastic.  If I haven’t got enough saved, it won’t happen, simple as.

Curious how not eating leads to a fresher outlook on things – Don’t fret though, I’ll be back to my usual grumpy, mood-swinging, pain filled self soon enough.  Normal service will be resumed.

August 24, 2017

Things are far from ideal

Posted in August, Health stuff tagged , , , , , at 12:56 pm by viewfromthisdesk

It’s no secret I like food.  You only have to glance at me to know food is high on my list of daily obsessions.  And these curves take some maintaining, it has to be said.

So when I go off food, it’s a glaring red light that I should pay attention to.

Since first thing Sunday, I’ve had a continual feeling of nausea.  I can’t taste anything and I’m just not hungry.  The smell of food is making me more queasy.  And I’m not sleeping.  Yeah, back to that hilarious combination of ME and insomnia.

I don’t know where this not sleeping, not eating thing has come from.  Friday night I had an amazing night at a concert seeing an artist I honestly never thought I’d see perform live.  Saturday I had a wonderful day at friends’ wedding – it was a fun day full of laughter and love.  So much positive energy from two excellent dates.  But Sunday I felt dreadful and I thought I was just suffering the effects of two big days so I just took it easy and rested up for many hours and hoped it would pass.

But then Monday rolled around.  I’m forcing myself to eat breakfast so I can take meds.  I’m not wanting to eat lunch or tea and I know it’s not an ideal situation.  This continues into Tuesday and Wednesday.  This morning (Thursday) I’ve established I’ve lost 3lbs since Saturday morning.  Usually I’d be delighted but I know that it’s not healthy.  My jeans aren’t fitting and I just feel empty.  Lost even.

This morning after yet another rubbish, broken night of not-sleeping, I’ve resorted to taking my anti-nausea meds.  These are kept in my emergency crash box so that’s not a good start.  I ate porridge so I could take them but I couldn’t taste it and I didn’t enjoy it – I was eating because I had to.  And then I made a sandwich for lunch which I have no intention of eating if I’m honest.  I was dry heaving whilst making it, the smell just turned my stomach.  The thought of eating it is horrendous.  Maybe I’ll convince myself and those around me that I’ll eat it for tea.

It’s one thing to not be eating.  It’s another to throw not sleeping into the mix as well.  I’m at the crazy point of bat season.  I have weeks left before I too can hibernate until spring.  I need to be vertical and coping.  Not sleeping is not what is needed right now.  And to have this many awful nights in a row (6 and counting) is worrying me.

But.

And it’s a big but.

I don’t feel tired.  Usually after just one bad night, I’d be asleep in the afternoons, I’d be unable to go to work, I’d be unable to speak properly.  At the moment, none of that is happening, I’m just not sleeping.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I feel well, I just don’t feel as bad as I should be.  Aside from the ever constant metallic I’m-going-to-be-sick taste and the churning in the stomach sensation I am remarkably upright.  It was even commented on survey the other night that I’d not been seen so bouncy and looking so good for a couple of years.  It was high praise and I basked in it but knew it’s not the truth.

So I don’t know what is going on with me right now.  All I know is it’s far from ideal.  I’m not asking for hints or tips on sleeping and/or eating, I’ve tried them all I assure you.  I’m just letting you know I’m not right and your support and witty messages are appreciated.

August 16, 2017

Weeks thirty-one and thirty-two

Posted in August, November tagged , at 12:14 pm by viewfromthisdesk

It’s been an interesting and difficult fortnight. However, I can’t say I wasn’t expecting it. I write this blog trying to pretend no one reads it, or at least if they do, I don’t know them. You are all unknown and mysterious.

That is a daft frame of mind I appreciate, but if I’m going to write then that’s the mindset I start from. Because if I think about you as an individual, as a friend or family member, I’m not going to be honest because I don’t want you to worry or be upset. I protect you from the truth and no one wins. You don’t know I’m struggling and I bottle it all up.

I totally know that my post ‘when the darkness wins’ has upset some of you. I also know that my post ‘One Million Lovely Letters’ was much more cheery and read by half the people.

So unless you sign up to get these witterings by email, you might miss the happy ones. Relying on faceache to show you everything is like relying on Father Christmas to bring you that new car *and* squeeze it down the chimney without scratching it. So click on the grey box that says follow and you get to laugh with me much more than crying.

I was humbled by what followed both those blog postings. I received my very own Lovely Letter, not from Jodi but from someone else who had watched the programme and thought of me and then read my blog post about the show. That random Lovely Letter made my week. It’s amazing what a stamp and ten minutes of your time can do to cheer someone up. So I encourage you all to do it because I can vouch for the magic it makes. I also wrote three of my own Lovely Letters. I didn’t manage one a day for a week but three is better than none. And I want to do it again soon.  I may have cheated insomuchas one of them was typed and one of them was a post-it note sized card but I still did it.

I also had surprise parcels and gifts. I had a gorgeous bunch of yellow flowers from a dear friend and they also brought doughnuts which were lush. I had a packet of kit kats which you all know I have a weakness for, an engraved spoon which has more meaning than just the words etched into it and a manatee tea strainer which is so epic that I cannot put into words.  And all these things before my birthday!

So maybe I need to be more aware that people do care about me and my mental health. Maybe I’m not as alone as I thought I was. People may be geographically distant but not emotionally.  And if I upset you then please tell me, or if you have questions then ask them.  Ask me to elaborate on something or discuss further or pass on sources etc.  If you interact then I know you’ve read and are interested.  Email me, messenger me, a proper letter even!  Human interaction can be lost in this modern technology filled world.  Tell me you saw that scenario I wrote about from a different point of view.  Challenge my negative thoughts and memories.  Recommend a film to watch or a book to get on my kindle and then we can talk about it like proper grown ups.

I hide behind these sentences because I cannot meet you for a drink in town or travel to your sofa or speak to you on the phone.  I use this writing medium to explain the stuff that my speech issues prevent me from saying.  I can type at 2am a reply to a message.  So don’t read and be sad, read and reach out and tell me how things are.  Tell me it’s not like that, tell me it’s actually somehow different.  Help me look at things from a different angle, through different coloured glasses.  Remind me to stop eating everything in sight.  Tell me about your lovely letter that you wrote and the feedback you got from it.

I’m still here, just not physically.

July 28, 2017

When the darkness wins.

Posted in July tagged , , at 4:14 pm by viewfromthisdesk

This blog post has been three days in the writing.  And I’m still unsure if I’ll press ‘publish’.  So if I do, please know that as tough as this may be to read (and I am fully aware that I may be imagining the strength of my writing skills there) this has been a million times tougher to type and be fully honest.

Recently there’s been celebrity suicides and people react with ‘but they had it all; fame, money, family, why would they need to do that?’ and it’s sad.  These people may have had what we perceive to ‘be it all’ but it wasn’t enough to make them feel worthwhile.  The glass facade shattered and let’s face it, reality sucks.

Someone (a total stranger) wrote something on a social media site last week about their suicide attempt.  To try and explain that they weren’t a coward, that they weren’t looking for an easy way out because in the moment that they were trying to cut their wrists (and it wasn’t that simple, their description was awful and raw and real) it was the strongest they had ever been.  That it hurt and it wasn’t quick but it was just the last thing they had control over.  It was a powerful piece of writing and it’s stuck with me.

I’ve never tried to kill myself.  I’ll put that out there now.  But I have often felt that it would be easier to just not be alive.  I personally feel there’s a big difference between wanting to die and wanting to not be alive but you may feel they’re the same thing.

All my life I’ve lived with not being good enough.  My Dad would punish me physically when school reports came home and it wasn’t all A’s.  Apparently A for effort doesn’t count because even though the teacher felt I’d tried my hardest in everything, if I hadn’t gotten top marks, it didn’t count.  When we moved up here, I was told by the people we lived with that anything less that straight A’s or A*’s was letting my parents down, that I’d failed them.  On GCSE results day when other friends were getting money or meals out, I was asked why I’d only gotten 2 A’s and then 8 B’s.

It wasn’t good enough.  I wasn’t good enough.  I was a blue screen error message.

On school awards night, I asked if they were proud of me.  The reply was that they’d rather I was at home studying to get better marks than collecting awards.  They went on holiday rather than support me during my A Level exams.  They didn’t take me to university like every other family in my place of residence.  They charged me £60 rent when I returned for a week the first Christmas. And then my worst offence – I dropped out of university: I was a failure, a disappointment, an embarrassment.  And although I got my degree with the OU, that didn’t count.  It wasn’t enough.

I wasn’t enough.

I’ve never been enough.  I’ve never made anyone proud.  Or at least, no one has ever told me.

At a family wedding a few years ago, the father of the bride gave a speech about brave men marrying into the family.  My Dad was not included in that speech, nor my husband.  I took that personally because if they don’t count, then I don’t either; a reminder of how I’m not enough.  I’m sure he didn’t mean it to be like that and it’s not as if I could have interrupted the speech and asked about it.  A wedding is not the place to question details.  And I can’t ask now because the moment has passed.  But it sits in my brain, a sharp stick poking away.

At school I didn’t fit in because I spoke funny / because I didn’t have divorced parents / because I wasn’t allowed to go out after school / at the weekend / use the phone / go to my end of year ball / get a job / came from a different school to begin with.  At uni I didn’t fit in because I had no family visiting me to take me shopping for food / help me settle in / because I’d worked damn hard for the financial scholarships that kept me afloat / was using uni as an escape.

Society views me as a failure.  The abuse I’ve received because I’ve not had kids is truly awful.  I’m a waste of a human being, a waste of air, what is the point of being alive if not to push out children?  No one will love me because I’m selfish, I’m not fulfilling my biological purpose.  And these are your everyday human beings, not religious fanatics who want to populate the world for a higher purpose.  I can ignore all this stuff because it’s utter drivel but it does get to you.

Historically the whole ‘when is he going to propose’ bombardment at events really niggled into my brain.  Really upset me and made me think that I wasn’t enough for him to love me that much.  I wasn’t good enough, wasn’t acceptable to his long term plans.  And then when we did get married it was that pitying ‘Oh, but you had to ask, not the same really, is it?’

When I work away, I’m ‘not the usual girl’ or I get ‘what are you doing here’ or ‘oh, it’s you’.  I’m not included in conversations, I’m ignored and treated less than politely.  I’m working my socks off to help them out but I feel like something those socks trod in.  There’s no support or gratitude, I may as well be painted the same grey as the walls.

I’ve felt ignored and left out and simply not enough and pushed to one side all my life.  Intentional or not, my feelings are mine and no one can tell me they aren’t real.

And so, thinking that my not being alive is somehow better, is not surprising.  If I can’t be enough then what’s the point?  If I’m not enough, then someone else could be instead.  I don’t feel worthy.  I don’t feel worthwhile.  I am an appallingly bad wife, terrible sister/rubbish friend/disappointing niece/absent cousin.  The doctors just gave me anti-depressants when I spoke up.  They don’t change anything, it’s not going to re-program the last thirty-odd years.  Counselling was tried at uni.  I can’t afford it now and I dislike speaking these words out loud.  Hiding behind this keyboard is as honest as I can be.  Don’t ask me if I want to talk, I will tell you I’m fine.  I can pretend I don’t know who is reading this, that you are not real.  That I am typing to empty my brain temporarily and these words will fade like I was writing in lemon juice.

The darkness that lingers in my brain never goes away.  I do try and ignore it but I’m only human, I’m still struggling.  The other week it got particularly bad.  I didn’t want to leave the house, didn’t want to see people, not even people I’ve known forever.  I didn’t want to have to talk to anyone or look at anyone – or even worse be looked at – or interact.  If Pirate Cat were still here, we would have set up the duvet palace and she would have been on Chief Cat Guard.  It’s never gotten that bad before and with hindsight, I’m concerned with how much that darkness overwhelmed me.  I’ve never shut myself away like that previously.  And yet, it happened and I fully expect it to happen again.  I’m not scared of it happening again, it’s not an issue for me but it’s a new thing to contend with.

Suicide for me is not an option for purely practical reasons; I dislike swallowing pills even though I’ve taken enough over the years.  I dislike pain even though there’s a constant white noise of it.  I couldn’t jump off or in front of.  I wouldn’t be so selfish as to have that memory imprinted on someone else for the rest of their lives.  I could not do the deed.  The darkness may overwhelm me but it’s not going to push me over the edge.

Suicide is a decision of absolutes.  There is nothing else after.  And it may be the one thing that a person has control of when the rest of their life is a whirlwind of madness.  And it’s going to be that they feel that their family, their children, their friends are better off without them.  I’ve felt that.  I’ve absolutely felt that very way.  No one would miss me as I don’t contribute anything to their lives – what can I give people the state I’m in?  Apparently, my illness is not real, I’m attention seeking, I’m making it up.

Please don’t think this is a new surprise thing – I have been honest about how I feel.  I’ve told hubby on many occasions that I’d rather not wake up one morning because I feel worthless.  I feel more of a burden that a contribution.  This isn’t something I’ve hidden from him.  I’ve told him he needs more than I can give.  And yes, he’s told me I’m daft and I shouldn’t think like that but my brain doesn’t hang onto that fact, it focuses on how crap I am, how I can’t have a proper job, how my friends and family don’t invite me to stuff because I won’t be able to go anyway.  How all this medical stuff has made me different and useless.  In the early hours when I’m not sleeping my brain goes utterly mental shouting horrible things and I listen and I save them on a loop reminding me over and over again that I am pointless.  A waste of air and cells.

I don’t know anyone who has committed suicide.  As far as I am aware, I don’t know anyone who has tried either.  Maybe I do but they keep it so well hidden.  They are stronger than I know.

Growing up I was told that suicide is the cowards way out when someone doesn’t want to face up to their problems.  Suicide is not an easy way out.  It cannot be.  You make that decision knowing the absolute tidal wave of reaction that will be triggered.  You know that those around you will be hurt beyond all comprehension but you feel that the hurt will be better than the reality.  You’ll change their lives forever but you honestly think that’s the best thing for them.  You make the decision and you follow that through.

So I understand what the writer meant when they said that in the act, they were the strongest they had ever been.

 

I am not strong.

July 25, 2017

One Million Lovely Letters

Posted in July tagged , , , , , at 10:22 am by viewfromthisdesk

I had planned to write a post about suicide, which is nice and cheery but then that all changed last night.  As ever, I’m referring to something I saw on tv which got me thinking.  And crying and laughing.  If you didn’t watch it, find it on iplayer.

Last night on BBC1 at 7.30 was a program about a lass called Jodi who started writing letters to total strangers.  She has a target to write ‘One Million Lovely Letters’ and some of the people featured talked about how her letter had arrived at a really difficult time and had gotten them through.  One guy was from Canada and had fixed her letter to his computer so it was a daily reminder.  Letters, words, ink on paper are powerful things.

I used to love writing – my teenage years were full of writing to friends and boyfriends.  The angst of those years would pour out as my inky scrawl would fill pages and pages.  I’d look for colourful envelopes and nice paper.  I’d save any money I had for stamps which were much cheaper back then.  I’d feel full of love and excitement when I had an envelope for me when I got home from school.  That someone had taken the time to sit and write to me, take that time to think about me and want to connect with me, that was magical.

I still have notes from people from when I was 14, I’ve kept them and I re-read them.  My gratitude jar was amazing for the couple of years that it worked.  But it’s not been contributed to for a while.  Maybe I haven’t done anything with anyone worth writing about?  But that was amazing, tipping that out on New Years Day, seeing what people had scribbled on the back of a cinema ticket or shopping receipt.  Because it didn’t have to be an essay it could just be ‘I had a really nice time with you today’.  Something so simple makes a huge impact.

I miss it.  I miss writing terribly.  Holding a pen is absolute torture now and it’s all I can do to write happy birthday to someone.  Emails and faceache just are not the same.  They’re nice, but not the same.  I try and write proper letters to people but I have to type them now which I think is somewhat bad mannered.  It’s cheating.  But it’s all I can do and so I console myself with ‘at least I’ve written’ and try not to think about the medium within which I have written.

So, going back to the show – Jodi last night, had set up a webpage where you could request a letter.  At the time of filming, she had 8,000 waiting emails.  According to Twitter, she had over 1,500 emails during the program.  There are that many people out there, who feel that they need that random act of kindness from a stranger to tell them that it will be okay, that they will get through, that they are enough.  And I’ll be honest, I wanted to add myself to that list.  But now I know how many people have also asked, I don’t want to add to her pressure.  I don’t want to make her feel overwhelmed.  In all honesty, I don’t feel worthy.

So. if you find yourself with half an hour this week or weekend, write someone a letter.  Or a card.  Or just a post-it note.  Or rearrange the fridge magnets if you can’t be bothered to pick up a pen.  Tell someone you like their hair, their top, that they made you smile today, that they *are* enough.  Take lyrics from a song (with credits in case they want to listen to it) if you can’t think of anything!  Maybe challenge yourself to write to one different person every day for a week.  Spend fifty pence on a stamp, make them feel special.  It’s important.

Or do what Jodi did.  Write a note and hide it on the bus or train or in the communal fridge.  It doesn’t have to be huge.  Just a handful of words on a boring square of paper.  You don’t even have to add stickers or glitter or a smiley face.

Words hurt and that hurt lasts a lifetime.  But words can also make someone’s life turn turtle in a good way.  Words can remind someone that it’s worth persevering, that it’s worth struggling through because somewhere out there, someone does give a stuff.  Someone does care.

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