Letter to my mum

This time last year I was laying next to your bed, in intensive care, being told that your kidneys have failed, your lungs were in respiratory failure and there was nothing more they could do for you.

Crying hysterically at your side as my body started going into shock to protect my heart from exploding. I couldn’t begin to image not seeing you everyday, not having you in my life for many many more years to come. I needed you. I was not ready to be without you.

The 14th of April 2017 was officially the worst day of my life. The day a piece of my heart died with you.

I miss you mum with every beat of my heart,

The pain i feel is indescribable, i hate being apart.

What i wouldn’t give to have one more hug,

One more kiss, one more moment of love.

That feeling of being safe,

Of feeling like you have a homely place.

To see your name pop up on my phone,

To hear your voice; happy, sad, angry or just for a general moan.

You never judged me,

You helped me to see,

A world of love and memories.

Always there to hold my hand,

To be my strength when i felt i was sinking in heavy wet sand.

You were my best friend,

My angel god send.

I hate life without you,

Its a lonely place without my mummy Sue.

I love you mummy with all my heart, i hope you are ok even though we are apart. i hope you have found grampy up there and aren’t causing too much chaos.

Thank you for showing me what strength and courage are and for the upmost love you gave me everyday.

You were my best friend, my pillar of strength.

I miss you deeply everyday mum!

I’ll try to keep making you proud.

I’ll take you with me on all my journeys and together we will take no shit!

I am so lucky to have had a mum like you, so caring and understanding.

You were taken from me way too soon 😦

‘A’s Easter twist

Happy Easter to you all!

Its a weird one isn’t it? (she says munching on a hot cross bun with a chocolate egg for dessert……)

Everywhere you look today there are people posting pictures of their chocolate on Facebook or Instagram. Since Boxing day we have been surrounded by sweet treats, bunnies and chicks.

It’s made me wonder how celebrating Easter became more about the Easter bunny delivering chocolate eggs and not the crucifixion of Jesus and his rise from the dead?

Easter this year is uncomfortable for me but i am trying to stay positive. The mind is such a powerful part of us and it can easily lead us down a dark path, when infact the sun is shining brightly around us.

Good Friday of 2017 (what an asshole), I was saying goodbye to my mum and its ironic because every year at Easter i would ask my mum about Jesus;

“Which day was he crucified again mum?”

“Why was he crucified again mum?”

“Which day was it again mum that he rose from the dead?”

Every year she would roll her eyes, tut at me and tell me the story all over again, it became a routine. For some reason i always forgot…

Last year on Good Friday i was praying she would rise from the dead on Easter Sunday! No such luck. Was it my mum having the last laugh? I’ll never forget it now that’s for sure.

Now i know Easter changes so its not exactly the same time as last year but i still feel sad and ‘A’ wants me to re’hash the memories and overthink the details. Instead i am trying my new approach of thinking. In my previous post ‘A’s mind games i detailed this approach and the cause and effect of our mind games.

Today i have the power to waste my day obsessing over the details of last years Easter, getting upset and spiraling down a negative thought pattern or i can take a moment and let the thoughts come and go. (The importance being – of letting them go!)

Is it uncomfortable? Yes but it doesn’t have to engulf my whole day and the rest of my life.

At the moment I have the upper hand with ‘A’ because I have spotted its pattern of destruction therefore eliminating the element of surprise it normally has on me. (HAHA IN YOUR FACE ‘A’!!!)

I’ve previously mentioned that i have been journalling all my life! i have hundreds of diaries spanning my life time and its probably one of the best decisions i ever made.

Are a lot of them full of trivia? Oh gosh yes!! Its a great read!!

They also provide me with a huge release; sometimes the only way we can rid ourselves of intrusive thoughts, overthinking and ‘what if’ scenarios is to write them down. I looked back at this day last year, not the date, but Easter Sunday, (which was a risky move because it could have fueled ‘A’ into overdrive) and what i read has really started to make me think about how amazing our life is…

It seems more relevant today than any other day.

I will share my journal entry with you……
” Sunday 16th April 2017
There are no words, there is no pain, I feel nothing.
I am completely numb.
Everytime i close my eyes I see you mum, or is it everytime I wake I see you mum? Which is reality?
It doesn’t feel real, I don’t feel real, is this my life?
How am I surviving this??? “

I felt numb for a long time, I literally felt nothing. Everyone around me was waiting for me to break but I didn’t. (I was clearly fueled by Duracell batteries…)

How incredible is the mind and body, that they can go into survival mode without you even realising? How it can protect you without your say so?

I watched my mum die, I lay with her body afterwards for 5 hours (in the hospital, nothing weird) and then my body walked me home.

The inner strength we have is incredible.

Don’t you think so?

I then spent the next 4 weeks organising my mum’s funeral, sorting out all her paperwork, finances, house etc. I picked new clothes for her to wear, I contacted everyone she ever knew to tell them and then I stood up at her funeral and read out a poem I had written for her. Not once did I break.

Yet since reality hit me ( new years eve 2017) I have felt like a bus has knocked me down, followed by a steam train and then a heard of elephants for laughs. ‘A’ has been telling me to feel this way now even though its been so long, people around me and telling me it cant be because of my mum as that was ages ago! (Idiots!!!)

I would not have survived this feeling this time last year. My body now feels ready to accept reality and here I am.

I will never be the same person I was before 2017 struck but that’s okay.

I don’t want to be, I am re-born into a beautiful survivor and I am proud of where I’ve come from.

We are amazing. Our mind and body is incredible.

Have you ever sat back for five minutes and thought about it?

With Easter being about the celebration of Jesus and life itself, i wanted to dedicate this post to all of you….

YOU ARE AMAZING!

Ignore the demons, ignore the negativity and remember that within you there is strength.

I thank Jesus Christ for my inner strength and I trust that God’s plan will guide me to happiness but it starts from within.

You have to let the love in first, go on, I dare you to!

Learn to praise yourself, learn to see the good and train that brain to erase the bad. Its hard work, ill be honest with you, but its so so so so so worthwhile!!

You can do it.

One breath at a time

One step at a time
One day at a time

‘A’s mind games

Throughout these past few weeks of reflection I have been journaling A LOT. (The majority of the time is when my unwanted hitch hiker is casting a spell of anxiety over me.)

I wanted to try and breakdown some of ‘A’s mind games so I could spot them in the future and be able to defuse a situation more effectively.

If you suffer from any mental health disorders I really encourage you to journal. It’s so helpful to be able to get your thoughts out and onto paper and it’s an awesome point of reflection where you can start to see some patterns emerging.

Journaling doesn’t come easy to everyone so stick with it. I spent my childhood keeping diaries so I have been conditioned to journal from a young age. (I’ve always been a sucker for a nice writing pad and pen!)

You can journal at the end of your day as reflection or during the day, at the time of an event. I find writing when I’m anxious very therapeutic and it helps to calm my mind.

My unwanted hitch hiker has many sides and I thought it might be helpful to list some them and how I break out of ‘A’s spell.

  • Can you relate to any of these?

All or Nothing

You see everything as black or white – no in between.

If something isn’t perfect or something doesn’t go exactly to plan, ‘A’ starts telling me:

“I am a complete failure”

I can’t blame ‘A’ solely for this as I think its part of my personality to be an all or nothing thinker. I am either all in or all out. This isn’t a bad trait to me, I love having the all in passion and determination and I think it’s a beautiful strength to have. Its only poisonous when ‘A’ starts telling me I am a failure because I got 87% on a test and not 100%, but I still passed, so I should still be happy of my achievement, but I’m not.

What I have taught myself to do with this one is simple. I reflect on why I think I am a failure and turn it around to focus on the good points and reasons why I am not perfect but I’m not a failure also.

For example:

Yesterday I had a call to say I wasn’t successful in securing a job I had interviewed for the previous week. It was extremely close; I scored 2 points less than someone else who effectively got offered the job. I was told the company felt like I would be an asset to the team and would fit in well and to keep a look out for future job vacancies. They would love to have me; it was just unfortunate that someone else scored slightly higher on the day.

‘A’ wants to focus on the fact I didn’t get the job, so again it tells me:

“I suck, I am a failure, no-one will employ me, and I will be unemployed forever”

Normally that’s where I focus my attention; I would spend the day beating myself up over it and hating myself but because I am aware of this mindset now, I challenge the thoughts.

“Okay, I didn’t get the job and that does suck but I came very close to getting that job. It was my first interview since quitting my job and I went to the interview, I managed my anxiety and I interviewed well. They want me to apply for any future vacancies and they think I am an asset. I am a strong candidate; I just wasn’t the strongest on the day.”

Instead of feeling rubbish, feeling like a failure and beating myself up all day, I congratulated myself on the achievement and the experience. Did I feel sad I didn’t get the job? Of course, that’s natural; it’s the unhealthy negative frame of mind that’s the poison.

This brings me nicely onto my next one…..

Mental Filter

You pick off a single negative detail or event and dwell on it exclusively, and then your vision of all reality becomes darkened.

Keeping with my job example, if I had continued down ‘A’s darkened path of the all or nothing thinking:

“I didn’t get the job, I am a complete failure”

‘A’s mental filter would dwell on the fact, “I lost out on the job by 2 points”. ‘A’ would obsess over this detail.

” I didn’t get the job because I scored 2 points less than someone else, where could I have gone wrong, where could I have gained those 2 points, what if I had written that instead of that, what if I had said this as opposed to that.”

It would have clouded my reality for the rest of the day. The world would be a darker place because of this. My frame of mind would be negative and poisonous.

However, I didn’t succumb to ‘A’s evil spell, I spotted it before it was too late and I flip reversed that bad boy and therefore I spent the day feeling positive over the situation and didn’t fall under the mental filter trap.

Disqualifying the positive

If I had been hooked into ‘A’s all or nothing thinking of “I am a complete failure” and fallen into ‘A’s mental filter trap of “I didn’t get the job because I failed by 2 points” then I would have rejected the positive experience of being placed second and of interviewing well, by insisting it doesn’t count because I didn’t get the job. This then spirals a negative frame of mind of that experience which had positive elements.

By focusing on the positives;

” I went to the interview, I was successful, the company feel I’d fit in well, I was only 2 points away from being offered the job. I did so well for my first job interview since my breakdown”

I congratulated my efforts. I felt a sense of achievement and I praised myself for a job well done. I didn’t disqualify my efforts because I didn’t get the job and dwell on that fact and only that fact and allow everything else to be discounted.

  • Can you see how my unwanted hitch hiker’s mind games can affect an outcome so drastically?
  • Can you relate any of your own experiences to these frames of minds?

It’s so easy to fall into this trap without even realising it. I spent months spiraling downwards because of this and didn’t even notice. It felt like a normal, comfortable, go to mindset which I was use to travelling down.

By simply journaling my thoughts every day, then reflecting on them, I was able to spot this pattern and it has helped to change my way of thinking.

It has prevented dark days of negativity and allowed me to love myself a little more, to focus on the good points in situations, instead of the bad.

I can spot that some of ‘A’s mind games go hand in hand. If i can successfully beat one at the start of the thinking pattern, the rest will fall like dominoes. (Very satisfying!)

One step at a time

One day at a time

YOU CAN BEAT THIS!

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Springing into action

A few weeks have passed since I went *under construction*, a time where I have tried to celebrate the awesome parts of myself and ignored the negativity coming from ‘A’.

Throughout the past couple of weeks I have seen a HUGE improvement within myself.

This has been as a result of a few changing elements:

  1. I went back onto medication
  2. I went back to therapy
  3. I quit my job
  4. I attended church

All massive elements that impact your life 100%, wouldn’t you agree?

Here’s my journey so far……..

1. Medication

I didn’t make this decision lightly, if you have read any of my previous posts you will remember I was on medication for a long long time and decided I was ready to come off at the start of 2016. This went smoothly and I was living a medication free life, the happiest I had ever been (even with a few moments of anxiety). My plan was to be able to manage my anxiety symptoms by myself, as they arise, and get stronger and more like Wonder Woman after every attack. (I didn’t quite master the Wonder Woman part…)

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I lost my mum very suddenly in April 2017 and for the most part of 2017 I was coping, I was surprising absolutely everyone. I was a strong machine of numbness and denial and I thought I was winning the grief battle. (hahahahahahaha as if right?)

Que New years eve 2017…..10…9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…1…….HAPPY NEW YEAR……….WAIT……WHAT………..

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!

I went crashing into 2018 with a hard hit from reality, a realisation that I wouldn’t have my mum by my side. After that everything was a massive blur of sadness, tiredness, isolation and guilt. I tried to carry on for a while but I simply wanted to die.

My unwanted hitchhiker was attacking constantly, I feared everything, I couldn’t leave the house, I couldn’t wash, I wanted to die but feared death at the same time. One Sunday evening in early February I stood in the kitchen holding a knife having visions of killing myself…Monday morning I was at the doctors.

Since then I have been battling with the side effects, one being increased anxiety, suicidal thoughts and crazy vivid dreams. I preserved and stayed strong and have finally come out the other end.

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I am on the lowest dose possible and I’m starting to feel a difference.

I know it was the right decision to make now I am here.

Why do we torture ourselves?

Why do we listen to others instead of our own bodies crying out for help?

Everyone around me was saying:
“don’t choose medication”
“it will just mask the symptoms”
“it will pass”
“just think positively”
“chin up”

….blah blah blah…..more like…………

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2. Religion

All my childhood I grew up surrounded mostly by Atheists, I knew no different. I even got dumped by a boy in school because I had no idea who Jesus was. (abit harsh I thought). My mum was Catholic and started attending church when she split up with my father but I wasn’t living with her at the time.

It was during one of the side effects of my medication – vivid horrible dreams, that I found religion. I was having a very emotional dream about my mum, she was crying and saying her goodbyes to me, telling me how proud she was of me, how she loved me and never wanted to leave me (a moment I never got when she died). In my dream I was crying my eyes out and awoke with a crash and a sob, it felt so real. Whilst dreaming I had managed to knock over my bed side table, at the time I was so emotionally raw I got out of bed to get some water. I was sobbing uncontrollably, I felt so sick. when I returned I put my bedside table back where it belonged and noticed a book had fallen out and opened up. I picked it up to discover it was my mum’s bible and it had opened up at the start of John. So i read it.

Just from reading the book of John I felt stronger, I felt as though there was hope for the first time in 12 months. I was interested to learn more so I visited my local church and have been attending bible study ever since.

I know religion isn’t for everyone, but it seems to be helping me. I ignore the remarks, the smirks and the talking behind my back from my atheist family. God has reached out to me and I welcome him into my heart.

3. Therapy

As a person I am better at helping others, I get strength from being needed and being helpful. I can listen and offer encouragement, I can guide and offer support. Easy Peasy.

I can’t however lean on others for the sake of myself. I cant reach out, I cant let others in and I keep everything close to my chest and in my head. It’s just how I am made. I have realised that although i don’t want to be a burden to anyone, not talking about what i’m going through has only set me back further, and only damaged myself more, so I decided to give counselling a go.

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It’s tough, my goodness it’s tough. The first couple of sessions I was like one of those old shaky dogs waiting outside the supermarket for its owner. It was uncomfortable and emotional and it brought horrible sensations along with it. I haven’t given up though.

I am learning techniques to be able to manage my anxiety and my grief side by side and after 8 sessions so far I am starting to see/feel a difference.

Again people around me told me:
“counselling wont help”
“it will make you feel worse”
“why would you want to talk about it?”
“it’s a waste of money”

They are right, for some people, counselling doesn’t work, makes people feel worse and wastes their money but for me? It is helping.

Did it make me feel worse to start with? Hell yes!

Did I want to talk about it? No!

It’s helping me and that’s all that matters. I choose to ignore people’s comments and opinions because they are not me and they do not know what is right for me.

We are the only people who know whats right for us. Don’t let others opinions manipulate you into not doing something you want to do.

ITS YOUR LIFE.

4. Jobless

It’s pretty scary to quit your job without another job to go to right? Most people are unhappy in their jobs and just get on with it right? Some people spend their days wishing their weeks away until the weekend right? Wrong.

If your job is making you ill you shouldn’t have to endure it just because everyone else apparently hates their jobs but they get on with it. You don’t need to pull yourself together and you certainly dont need to get a grip.

My job made me ill, I was a ball of anxiety from the minute I left the house until the minute I got home (sometimes longer…), I was constantly run down, constantly negative and I hated everyone around me. I spent hours in the toilets trying to hold it together, trying to calm anxiety attacks and get my breath back. If you can deal with that everyday and still go to work and live your life fine, then good for you. I couldn’t.

So I quit. I have re-evaluated my life and what’s important to me and realised i need to be kinder to myself, i always try to do too much and it comes crashing down. I am always way too hard on myself to prove to everyone that I can succeed. Do they even care? Probably not! So I’ve decided to look for part-time work instead, this will give me a chance to work on myself more and build myself back up to the awesome person I once was.

I will never be the “2016 happy girl” I was striving to get back, she’s gone, but I can be the “now girl”, a new and improved wonder woman machine. I cut my hair, us girls know what that means… I’m ready and serious to change my life!

Baby steps though….

One step at a time

One day at a time

I’ve spent way too long trying to prove to others I am ‘normal’ that I can succeed the way they want me to. Well screw them, not any more, I will strive to be my weird and wonderful unique self and the only success will be for me.

Who wants to be ‘normal’ anyway?!

Don’t ever let others dictate your happiness, or try to steer you away from a decision that you feel is best for you (unless that decision is life threatening!!)
Be yourself

You are unique, You are powerful, Your are beautiful

Find what feels good and stick with it.

Even if it does turn heads and start people talking….

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‘Under Construction’

Ever since I lost my dear mum, I have been striving to get back to that person, the person who had her shit together, the person who was strong,  the person who felt happiness in her life.

With Mother’s day looming, what I have finally realised is that I am being too hard on myself.

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I am never going to get back to the person I was before the loss, how can I? I have lost one of the most important people in my life, I have lost the only person who cared for me and the only person who was there for me day in day out, through good times and bad, through stupid decisions and great ideas, through the I told you so moments, through the come here have a hug and let it all out moments.

There is never going to be someone in my life whose whole existence was to take care of me, who I wanted to make proud every single day. There is never going to be someone who I love as much or who loves me unconditionally; even when I am being an utter monster.

I need to stop trying to get back to what I think is normal me, erase that idea and start building a new me.

A me I am proud of

A me that I love unconditionally

A me who will always be there for me

A me who is a survivor

A me who is a fighter (even at times I didn’t want to fight)

A me who has somehow still managed to live my life without my mum

A me who is strong (even at times when I have been my weakest)

I don’t give myself enough credit for going through such a sudden loss and still being here today.

Is my life a mess? 100%

Is my mental health shattered? 100%

Am I an emotional wreck all the time? 100%

Have I given up? NO. – I don’t give myself enough credit for that.

Have I been able to do this without the help of medication? NO – but I tried my hardest for months on end and I couldn’t function.

I know my mum would want me to take medication to pick me back up because she knows it will only be temporary, she knows I am strong, she knows I am the most stubborn MOFO to exist and will want to conquer this. I get all those amazing traits from her. Even at the end she fought so hard.

I miss my mum every single second of every waking moment, I even dream of her when I am asleep. It’s never nice dreams at the moment but I know with time it will ease, I know with time the feeling that my body is splitting into two will ease also, I just have to weather the storm.

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Last mother’s day, my mum was too unwell to celebrate it, a week later she was taken into hospital and never returned home.

So to all who are reading this, don’t wait for Mother’s day; ring your mum, go visit your mum, tell her you love her, hug her that extra second longer because one day who’ll think back to those last moments and wish you’d held on. I never got to say goodbye to my mum, I never got to tell her it was ok and that I loved her very much one last time and that will forever stay an unfinished chapter in my life.

Did my mum know I loved her? Yes, I told her all the time

Did I hug my mum one last time? Yes, but I wish I had held on longer.

I shall begin my new chapter, a chapter of me, a chapter of reconstruction.

One step at a time

One day at a time

In the words of Sylvester Stallone “Keep Punching!”

 

To my fellow readers out there, who are ‘under construction’, take your time, reconstruct yourself with love and kindness and remember to enjoy the ride.

You are awesome, you are strong, you can do this.

 

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Me, Myself & ‘A’ return

My hitchhiker and I are back….

You probably didn’t notice but….

I retreated into my shell of armor for a few weeks, everything got on top of me and ‘A’; my unwanted hitchhiker, was screaming at me constantly. There was no peace and quiet, the storm was raging on and the waves were crashing into me over and over and over again, no pause to catch my breath and straighten myself back up.

I was drowning, ‘A’ was laughing.

What use to happen was ‘A’ would become uncontrollable and I’d disappear into my shell for a few days and normally come out past the worst of it but since my mum died and I am dealing with ‘the wanker‘ grief, it seems that both of them twist me from the inside and days turn into weeks, where I am retreating and hibernating.

This time it became unbearable because I couldn’t function. I couldn’t go to work, I couldn’t leave the house and I couldn’t live like a human being. (I was more like a Duracell bunny that had run its batteries low and was just twitching on the same spot until eventually the battery died completely.)

I think the trigger for me was the night I was planning on going out for food with my friend. It had been planned for weeks and I was dreading it. When my friend got here I put on my war paint and pretended I was fine, ignored the knot in my stomach and tried to act like an acceptable human being. (One of the first signs of anxiety for me is going cold and I was shivery cold that night.)

We stepped outside and ‘A’ started attacking, I had a very bad anxiety attack which I couldn’t control and completely freaked my friend out.

She couldn’t understand what was happening to me.

She kept telling me:

“SNAP OUT OF IT!!!

She kept yelling at me:

“YOU’RE BEING STUPID!!”

“ACT YOUR AGE!”

“YOU ARE INSANE!!!!”

I tried to explain it’s ‘A’, my anxiety.

She called me:

“A LIAR…”

“A COWARD…”

She kept repeating that I should just tell the truth, if I didn’t want to go out I should of cancelled, that I don’t need to make up lies about anxiety when I was fine to go out for a meal before Christmas and am perfectly fine now…

(I was completely broken, infront of her, crying, shaking, hyperventilating. I was like one of those old shakey dogs you see sitting outside a supermarket waiting for its owner)

I was telling the truth, for the first time, I was telling someone the truth and I was called a liar for it.

How many times have you cancelled on someone because your anxiety has been too bad?

I didn’t want to let my friend down, I wanted to try and beat ‘A’ but I failed.

Now normally no one would have seen that anxiety attack and I would have been able to keep it on the inside, but the grief doesn’t allowed me to conceal any feelings anymore, it smashes down my walls and allows the flood gates to open.

My friend left me in the peak of my anxiety attack; I crawled into bed with a hot water bottle, turned my phone off and cried until I passed out.

It was a week later that my sister turned up at my home, seven days without any communication with the outside world, seven days of crying, self hatred and lack of nutrients. (This was very new to me because in the past, no matter how crappy I felt I always had to keep going because my mum needed me, without this need I had no strength or desire to fight it.)

On day 8 I was taken to see a psychiatrist and put back on medication, ever since that day I’ve been riding the side effects rollercoaster.

I didn’t want this day to come, especially after being strong and able enough to come off tablets completely in 2016 but I have to be kind to myself and understand I am dealing with a great big loss and sometimes extra help is required.

It’s not forever; it’s just for the now.

One week into my new medication I was having a horrible, vivid nightmare. I must have been moving around in my sleep quite spectacularly as I managed to push over my bedside table, which woke me up from my nightmare. After getting up, picking up the bedside table, grabbing some water and heading back to bed, I noticed a book had fallen out of the draw and had landed open on the floor. I picked it up to reveal it was my mum’s bible and it had opened onto the book of John. I read it, not once but twice, I don’t know how or why but the gospel gave me a small glimmer of hope and so much strength and since that day I have started to gain mental strength bit by bit. Every day is still a test but I am rebuilding my resilience once again, in my own time and at a pace I can manage using the bible as my guide.

I don’t know whether it was the Lord himself, my mum or sheer luck but someone wanted me to pick up the bible and seek guidance from it and that’s exactly what I am doing.

So here I am on this new path, hopefully I will lose my hitchhiker on the way…I definitely lost a friend.

Remembing to breathe, take each moment as it comes and keep fighting!

When everything overwhelms you, what’s your coping mechanism?

Do you also find strength from the bible? Send me your favourite passages 🙂

‘A’ and the public

Before I begin to waffle on about my waffling waffles of life…. (hmmmm waffles) I wanted to touch on breathing.

Breathing you say?

Yes that’s right, the thing that gives us life. The very thing most of us go through their everyday lives not even noticing that we do it.

Breathing in life, breathing out waste.

For me ‘A’ has always focused on my breathing. Whether that’s shortness of breath, hyperventilating, day to day breathing and the occasional choke on your own saliva kind of breathing. (I don’t recommend the last one, very unpleasant!)

Infact the very mention of breathing gets me all tight in the throat.

I quite often go through my days watching people breathing and swallowing, observing how their own body is self sufficient enough to breathe without reminder. (I am also aware how strange that is for me to observe but if you have read any of my other posts you’ll already understand that it’s a pretty normal thing for me to do really 😂)

Anyway moving on…..

Are you aware that there are so many different ways to breathe?

It’s the one thing I struggled with when starting my Yoga journey because as someone who was already more conscious of my breathing, to have to focus on it even more, was an anxiety attack just waiting to happen. (It did happen…over and over and over again)

I do however find it extremely useful in anxious moments to take a few moments to inhale deeply filling my lungs completely, holding the breath for 3 seconds then exhaling in a controlled slow manner for the count of 6 seconds. I repeat this until im feeling more in control.

The great thing about it is you can do it in public with ease.

So, have you taken time out of your day to day to breathe?

Try it.

Now we’ve taken a moment to breathe, onto what I originally planned to write about today.

‘A’ with other people.

You see ‘A’ isn’t content to cause anxiety just for me, oh no that would be selfish! ‘A’ also torments me about others. I literally worry my little brunette head off for the sake of others, strangers, passers by and maybe even the occasional animal.

  • Does anyone else?

We live in a techy society now where people don’t even need to watch where they are walking for fear they will bump into a lamp post or human, instead they surf the web using the power of WiFi to guide them. A society that would rather stare at a phone screen than watch the world go by. This saddens me.

How can you live in the now if you’re not paying attention?

How can you be present?

Sometimes I think if I wasn’t present in these situations then maybe I wouldn’t have ‘A’ on my back all the time but if I am looking at my phone screen I am missing the world go by and therefore not in this amazing, not to be missed, limited time only now….

For example…..

If I had sat and surfed social media in the doctors surgery yesterday I wouldn’t have noticed the gentleman sitting opposite me. He seemed like an average person. Nothing stood out to me as strange, except one thing…his shoe laces were un-tided and flopping about like long dog ears.

Off goes ‘A’….

Why are his shoelaces un-tided? Should I tell him? What if he knows they are? What if he has a phobia of tying shoelaces? Wouldn’t he just tuck them inside his shoe? He’s going to trip, what if he trips and falls on me? What if he hurts me? What if he falls on the walk to the doctors office and there’s blood? What if he has a blood virus? What if I get his blood on me? Maybe I should tell him? No I won’t, he must know? He has a wedding ring on, why did his partner let him leave the house like that? Was he in a rush? He looks clean, I should tell him? No I won’t…i should though…he might hurt himself? Why do I care? It’s his life maybe he likes taking risks?

*name gets called by doctor*

“Excuse me, (he surely can’t be aware) your shoelaces are un-tided…”

“….I know”

Oh. Well. That ends that. Idiot!

I spent the next few hours thinking about this guy. Is he ok? Did he fall and trip somewhere? Was he trying to fall and trip and claim compensation? I should have recorded his response incase i see him on the news! Why were his shoelaces intentionally un-tided?! I guess it will have to stay as one of life’s long unsolved mysteries!

Another example….

At the train station I was particularly focusing on this one women because she was going to town on this sausage roll, it was sickening. I have zero tolerance for loud eaters, I won’t hold back. I was imagining shoving her sausage roll up her left nostril when I noticed her handbag on the floor. I thought to myself if she pays anymore attention to said sausage roll she will lose that handbag! Then her phone rang so not only was she inhaling sausage, she was also talking and venturing away from her handbag!

Que ‘A’…..

Is she aware her handbag in under the bench? What if someone steals it? What is she leaves it behind? I should tell her? But she eats like a pig? Screw her. Maybe I still should tell her? What if she has a family heirloom in there or a long lost treasured letter from her great aunts, nephews, brothers, son? What if her purse has cash in it and only cash? How will she get home from the train station she gets off at? Should i tell her? Screw her, she clearly doesn’t care either way.

*train arrives, we all pile on…i wonder if the handbag made it…

Next thing I’m sitting opposite the sausage monster and have front row seats as she slowly realises her handbag is nowhere to be seen. She’s clawing at the window, unable to do anything but watch the train drive away with no handbag in tow.

I should have told her 😭

I then spend a good couple of days what iffing about what would of happened. Why didn’t I just tell her? What if she was stranded the other end? What if it had valuable in it? (Normally at 3am when I’m trying to sleep)

Still want more? Okay, one more 😂…

A night out in my city, a very rare occurrence! I was out with my sister and her friends and I noticed a girl at the bar, tall, dark hair and wearing a gorgeous sequin black dress. (It sounds tacky but I’m a magpie, I love anything that’s sparkly and in the lights it sparkled, so cut me some slack here!) I was revelling in the beauty of this dress when I scanned down her legs to see an almighty ladder in her black tights… (Oh no what a party pooper to my dress ogling!)

Drumroll for ‘A’….

Does she know she has a ladder in her tights? If she does she must be upset about it? Wait she can’t know, if she did she would surely have taken the tights off? It’s ruining her look, maybe i should say something? I’d want to be told wouldn’t I? What if she gets mad at me? What if she punches me? She might break my nose? There would be blood if she did that, everywhere, then my dress would be ruined too. What would we have gained? I’ll leave it. Why do I even care? Stop thinking about it….

*2 hours, a few vodka’s and a bathroom trip later…

“Excuse me? Hi, firstly can I say I love your dress? Where is it from?” Blah blah blah. “Secondly, I noticed a few hours ago (oh why did I have to mention that?) that you have a ladder in your tights, I’m guessing your not aware because you still have them on so…”

“Thanks, I’m aware, I just don’t care and neither should you. Enjoy the rest of your evening.”

Oh. Right. Well yeah she is right. Why do I care?

I then spend the rest of the night convincing myself she has told everyone what a weirdo I am. Why did I care? Why did I bother to mention it? Why didn’t I just wash my hands and keep my mouth shut? Now she thinks I’m a weirdo stalker women. I bet she calls me the tights police or something. I’m a loser.

This is a daily occurrence for me. Literally daily.

Why can’t I just go through my life ignoring everyone and walking by a problem like the majority of the human race do? When I do butt into people’s lives, it’s not well received and when I don’t I wish I did!

‘A’ makes me over care and sometimes it’s not a good thing!!

Will I stop? Probably not, I can’t.

‘A’ makes me….

The annoying thing is I can’t remember what day it is half the time, or even what planet i am on, yet I can remember every single awkward ‘A’ run in!

  • I wonder if anyone can relate?

I’ll probably over think about it for a while now…🙄

A day out with ‘A’

As I grow older and wiser (why is there laughing in my head…) I’ve started to realise that I avoid a lot more of the situations I use to just think ‘Just do it!’ (Not a Nike promo)

Going out is alot more like a Rocky Balboa montage of prep, blood, sweat and tears, and screaming at the top of my lungs from mountains, table tops or wardrobes.

Reminiscing over the days where I freely walked out the house without a care in the world. No ‘A’ giving me what if scenarios, no sweating, hyperventilating or stomach cramps. (I miss those days!)

Roald Dahl said it best:

Easier said than done right? I’m the biggest what iffer there is!

Worst case scenarios are my comfort zone, aslong as I know the worst possible outcome I’ll be prepared….right?

What usually happens is I stress and worry over the worst, most horrendous scenario, really taking my body through a disaster of emotions, then of course the horrendous scenario never happens but at least I was totally prepared….right?

I know what you’re thinking, I’m totally wrong, I’m causing myself such stress for nothing. I know this, ‘A’ knows this, even my sister’s dogs, cats, fish knows this, yet I still do it!

It’s like an addiction to me, I can not stop. It sucks alot of the time but there have been times it’s actually helped me because once I realise the world isn’t going to end I actually feel relief and start to enjoy myself.

If you have a hitchhiker like me you’ll understand that it picks certain concerns for you to worry over. (If you haven’t read any of my other posts my hitchhiker is called ‘A’, which stands for asshole…haha opps…i mean anxiety)

For me ‘A’ makes me fear throwing up, shitting my pants or fainting in public.

Have I ever experienced any of the above in public? No. (I’ve never shit my pants period, incase you were wondering)

It means I can’t take public transport because I freak out over the above mentionables, it means that wherever I go I have to scout out the toilets, (know where every single service station is in a 250 mile radius if driving), a soft patch of land or grass to fall on if I faint or a nice concealed bush with minimal critters. (Exhausting right?)

I don’t discuss this with anyone for fear I’ll end up alone with 17 dogs, 5 cats, a parrot and a pet pig, with a rep as the creepy lady in the corner house that everyone avoids like the plague.

For all my hitchhikers bad points it has ONE good quality (I am not drunk!!), with ‘A’ comes obsession, granted it’s unhealthy obsessions controlled by fears mostly but I also have other obsessions.

Fluffy animals

The fluffier the better! Alive or stuffed (as in teddy bears)

I particulary love dogs, yes I know many people do but I LOOOOOOVEEEEE dogs, I can not refrain from hugging any dog I come across, I greet dogs before I greet humans and the love I feel for every single one sometimes causes me to cry uncontrollably (whilst I’m in the midst of hugging a dog) because it’s just too damn cute and fluffy. This can then cause the dogs human to quickly become very uncomfortable and start tugging the cute dog away, there’s normally restraint on both sides and everyone leaves feeling abused. I give zero fucks about this. My reasoning is ‘A’ made me do it.

Do I have the potential to turn into Lenny from Of mice and men? MAYBE…

I get tagged daily in posts, videos, pics and events all involving fluffy animals and I love it. Society seems to be able to accept my weird obsession with fluffy bums so I roll with it. I show them ‘A’ in the form of fluffy overloads.

Overthinking

Don’t get me wrong now, there is a side to overthinking that if I could, I would lock up in a box, attach extremely heavy weights to it and throw it out to sea never to be seen again. Those nights of lying awake watching the time tick on as you over think about the way the neighbours squirrel never buries it’s nuts in your garden. Why? Did I offend it somehow? Does it think my mud isn’t good enough? Should I re-do the garden with new mud? Maybe every squirrel hates me, what if all the squirrels in the world are in cahoots to murder me in my sleep?…and so on.

That side of overthinking is complete torture.

The other side however I think is endearing. I care a lot, I put a lot more thought into my feelings and that makes me a very loving thoughtful person. Do I border on the side of stalker at times? Yes. Does everyone enjoy it? No. Am I too much for some people? Hell yes.

If you are lucky to be in my very small circle of trust you will be in safe hands, you will have someone watching out for you and someone who gets you the most amazing presents, presents you never thought you asked for but that I picked up on. You will be loved unconditionally and I will do absolutely anything for your happiness. I will always be there to listen and support you and I will remember every single detail good and bad.

Do I ever ask for the same in return? No.

Over the years I’ve tried to suppress my unwanted hitchhiker, I’ve tried to body slam depression and blindfold grief but what I always fail to see is that my hitchhiker makes me unique in many ways and it makes me warrior. I am trying to accept it because the more I ignore it the louder and louder it screams at me.

Lately ‘A’ and it’s sidekick depression have been kicking my ass and I don’t like it. I want to be able to sit down without a pain in my ass, I want to be able accept me for who I am which includes an unwanted hitchhiker.

If the world can accept my obsession with fluffy bums surely the world can accept ‘A’ to? Right?

I’m going to try and obsess over the things I love about myself, not the things I hate. Have you ever tried that?

Wish me luck…..

All aboard the ‘A’ train

What do you do when the one person you loved unconditionally, always relied on and was always there for you leaves?

I don’t mean like…okay bye…have a nice life…ill probably get drunk and call you later kind of leaving.

I mean their soul leaves and their body stops.

• You cant get drunk and call them later
• You cant go stake out their house in the hope of a glimpse or restraining order
• You can’t accidently (on purpose) bump into them at the gym looking all awesome in your super tight pants
• You can’t text them and watch them read it and ignore you still (but at least they read it right?)
• You can’t cling on to the hope that one day it might all work out and you’ll live happily ever after with 3 dogs and a Jacuzzi in the back yard.

Instead you are faced with the crippling reality that they are gone forever.

• No more hello’s
• No more goodbye’s
• No more I love you
• No more tomorrow’s
• No more memories
• No more hugs

The only blanket around you for comfort is called the ‘what if wanker’, who rears its ugly head in moments of vulnerability. Moments that are inappropriate or at times when you are completely alone.

Those mundane moments that you’ve done every day without thought are now like your riding a really high rollercoaster up and down this what if wanker.
Just when you feel you cant hold on any longer and you cant breathe in any more air without combusting, you coast over the peak and drop vertically. Your body straining as a tornado starts to form, you hit the rocky bottom raising a massive tidal wave that crashes through your eyes and down your cheeks; Overwhelming your entire body and mind with no courtesy that your in a public place or trying to sleep.

Before you can compose yourself, you’re back on the incline of the next what if wanker…struggling to cope, desperate to breathe, fearing for your life.

Over and over and over again.

No control, Relentless, Ruthless

There’s no exit off this ride, this is your life now.

• How do you cope?

Well my first plan was to bottle it up and sell it off cheap to the nearest sucker…….until I ran out of bottles……. stupid bottles…….

What I was faced with then was 6 months worth of bottled emotion all overflowing out of me without any control.

No amount of beavers could help me.
Niagara falls had new competition.

My once strong foundations were riddled with termites and buckling under the pressure, desperate to pour out. People started returning the cheap bottles and I was surrounded by bottles and bottles of emotions.

Nowhere to turn without seeing bottled emotion
No release
Too much pressure
Lots of pain

What happens to anything that’s put under extreme pressures for a long time?

Yes, it breaks.

Safe to say I shattered into a million pieces.

So here I am in a million pieces scattered everywhere on the ground, my only option is to find small bits of me each day (before the ants runaway with my best bits) and start rebuilding myself.

Piece by piece, Step by step, Day by day.

The what if wankers will come, they will overwhelm me and they will hurt me but I must try to let go and allow the ride to pass.

Ignoring what people will think of me when I’m overwhelmed and overcome with the grief in a random place.

To the women in the supermarket who turned down aisle 3 to see a broken girl crying at a tube of toothpaste, I saw you. I saw you see me, freeze and quickly turn around and walk the other way. I don’t care that you thought I was a crazy person.

Do you know me? Do you know what I’m going through? Did you bother to take 30 seconds out if your day to ask if I was ok?

Noit’s okay I would have told you I was fine anyway.

To the leaf (yes, from a tree) that blew past me in the dark that made me jump, which resulted in an arm swing, that knocked a cyclist off his bike, thanks for snapping me out of a bad gripping memory.
To the cyclist who got angry with me when I apologised and explained a leaf scared me.

Do you know me? Do you have any idea what I’m going through to jump over a blowing leaf in the wind? Did you bother to check if I was ok?

Nobut its okay I would of said I was fine anyway.

To anyone out there riding the rollercoaster of grief, let it come and go. It’s the only advice I can give.

My theory is the more I can allow my rollercoaster to take me through this ride, the more strength I’ll gain from every turn.

Eventually building up a tolerance so that the incline doesn’t take all my breath away and the drop doesn’t shatter me quite so hard. (I’m using super powered glue to stick myself back together)

No matter what part of my ride I am on, I will always be there to ask:

Are you ok?

That’s what makes the broken so beautiful, not just on the outside but inside to. We understand.

I can’t speak for any of you but I see the world a lot differently now.

I feel the fresh air on the face, I taste the rain and I watch the nature and people around me pass by.

My perspective on life has changed.

P.s – I knew there was a reason why I never liked rollercoasters…..

The hitchhiker’s journey continues

I’ve been fairly quiet in life, not just on my blog but in all aspects. I have continued to retreat and lick my wounds whilst ‘A’ takes more victims inside of me. (‘A’ has now taken over the part of me that didn’t fear venturing outside)

‘A’s sidekick grief has been quiet, I’m not sure whether they split up to cover more ground and grief got lost. (Don’t get me wrong I’m not complaining, I hope the ugly thing stays lost forever). I’m also not stupid and know that it’s probably morphed into a bigger predator and is stalking me silently, awaiting the perfect moment to spring back onto me.

I’m currently not an early bird or a night owl instead I am a permanently exhausted pigeon.

If they cut my brain open they would find it filled with jelly and blancmange.

I’ve made a pact with myself though, tomorrow is a new week and aslong as the Vikings (NFL) win (probably even if they don’t but I’ll be less enthusiastic) I will be getting up early every day and starting my yoga regime.

‘A’s bodyguard depression is kicking my arse and it’s about time I started to fight back. (At least then I can be a ripped exhausted pigeon!)

It’s so hard to motivate myself to get going when I already feel I’ve run a 7 day marathon in my mind.

  • Anyone have any tips?

I’m either a dribbling tired mess or an irritated grumpy crab at the moment. I have no tolerance for life.

For example……..

Last week my laptop decided to go at a snail’s pace when starting up (this irritated me), then Windows spent an HOUR doing updates (bloods boiling by now) to then be welcomed by the blue screen of death (patience meter explodes). I tried EVERYTHING to recover it but in the end I lost my temper and launched it out of my top floor window (yes you read that right…insert eye rolling emoji here).

I then spent ages researching a replacement to find that the one I want is sold out in the entire universe so I retreated back into my shell and gave up.

Why are small tasks that should be easy such hard work?! Urgh!

When my sister asked where my laptop was the other day I calmly told her I’d thrown it out the upstairs window (then proceeded off the subject and offered her a cup of tea as if it was an extremely normal thing to do) her face was a Kodak moment and actually made me smile (inside). That aside it also alerted me to the fact that it wasn’t a normal thing to do ‘re-enforcing my self hate. (‘A’ revels in these moments!)

Commence mantra and march on…

  • Keep fighting
  • Keep moving forward
  • I can do this
  • I will do this
  • ‘A’ WONT keep me down

(One day I’ll start to believe this…until that time I’ll keep repeating it to myself…)

P.s VIKINGS, VIKINGS, VIKINGS, VIKINGS!!!

‘A’ charges as I retreat

The past couple of weeks have been tough for me and my battle to win over my hitch hiker. (It’s being very hormonal!)

I seem to have fallen into a very deep trough of worry, pain, fear, guilt and insomnia. (Someone please throw me some rope?)

Christmas was tough but I knew it would be I was armed for it with energy reserves, grenades and weapons at the ready. 💣💥💪

What I wasn’t expecting was that going into 2018 would bring me such pain. Without any resources left to surge forward from, I feel like I am drowning in mud right now. (Think mud in an eternal bog of stench)

It’s been a very long time since I felt such exhaustion; even when my mum left me I had some fight in me to battle on.

Right now?

Right now I feel completely defeated simply from going into 2018 without my mum.

I’m just hoping something will click back into place soon and I’ll pick myself up. 🙏🤞 (Will accept being picked up…)

It’s so hard to digest because I feel like I am broken into 3 separate pieces, all clawing for my attention. (Not like a cute puppy, more like a pissed off wasp)

Piece 1questioning life, not wanting it. My own mind giving me ideas on how to end it

Piece 2 petrified that I will die too soon, petrified to leave the house for fear I catch this deadly flu going around.

I am weak, I won’t survive it, I want to survive, I need to live my life

Piece 3telling me that others have it worse than me and I’m being completely self centred.

  • How can I have such conflicting parts in me?
  • How can I hate feeling so lonely but have no desire to change it?
  • Why won’t ‘A’ let me sleep when I am exhausted?
  • Why is shit so hard? 😭
  • Why can’t I pull myself out of this?
  • Maybe I can’t do this without medication?
  • Maybe I’m not as strong as I thought I was?

Oh ‘A’ doesn’t just have her bodyguard grief, (oh no that wouldn’t be as much fun) it brings along that annoying friend who no-one likes called SELF DOUBT.

‘A’ is charging forward with it’s best soldiers and I’m just curled up in a ball bracing myself for impact. (Every now and again throwing a limb out in hope I hit something)

I had a counselling session over the phone this week and my counsellor thinks that the reality of going into this year without my mum by my side has finally hit me and I am now feeling the grief.

To be honest I was hoping I’d just skipped the majority of it. I had some terrible days in 2017 and the flashbacks have been the worst part but they were days separated by days I could handle – this is constant.

I forced myself to the supermarket on Wednesday and whilst looking at toothpaste (toothpaste!!!), I had a flashback in the middle of the aisle of brushing my mum’s teeth in the hospital and how thankful she looked at me. I literally froze in the aisle for some time, managed to keep it together walking back to my house and as I walked through my front door I simply dropped down to the floor. I couldn’t control the sobs and of course ‘A’ came out to play. (Bitch)

  • Why can’t I have the constant numbness and denial I felt when my grampy left me?
  • Why has it taken me 8 months to feel this pain?
  • If you’ve experienced a loss, how did you survive it? 😦

I’m literally waving 77 white flags at ‘A’, her bodyguard grief and sidekick self doubt. Hoping that for once they are kind on me. (I won’t hold my breath, I know how sadistic ‘A’ can be.) 🏳🏳🏳🏳🏳🏳🏳🏳🏳🏳🏳🏳🏳🏳🏳🏳🏳🏳🏳🏳🏳🏳🏳🏳🏳🏳🏳🏳🏳🏳🏳🏳🏳🏳🏳🏳🏳🏳🏳🏳🏳

I’m taking advice from memes in hope I gain some strength from them.

I’ll keep trying to survive, might just set up camp under my duvet and master human hibernation……………………wish me luck.

When ‘A’ met Grief (Part 2)

This blog post continues on from When ‘A’ met Grief (Part 1)

In the previous post I wrote about my experience of grief from losing my grampy, that it took a whooping 8 years to finally accept it.

The extract at the end of the blog was:

I had two years after that of some normality and at the end of 2015 I had convinced myself that the asshole hitch hiker was a result of not accepting or acknowledging the loss of my grampy and against the doctors wishes I came off my bipolar medication.

Against the doctors wishes meant that if I came off my medication I gave up the help, the support of the mental health team and I was on my own. My mentality at the time was screw them and screw the asshole hitch hiker. I felt it was safe to be able feel again.

Queue the return of ‘A’….drumroll please…

‘A’ came back, pissed I’d disrupted its vacation time but I could manage it. I started Yoga and meditation to become more mindful and it helped. The meditation side was a lot harder to master because my mind was always racing but I did 10 minutes everyday and persevered. Eventually I was finding I could sit for 20 minutes with a peaceful mind allowing my thoughts to come and go.

After 9 months of Yoga and meditation I felt a lot stronger in my mind and body, I was starting to feel in control. I even travelled to California by myself which was the biggest achievement to date. I was smashing ‘A’s ass hard!!

Jan 2017 saw me starting a new job, one I was excited about, one that would kick-start my long-awaited career.

I was finally in a good place.

March 30th 2017 was when it all came down with an almighty bang.

Every day before and after work I would visit my mum; I’d do anything she required, make her breakfast, sort her medication out, make her dinner, monitor her drinking and make sure she washed.

My mum was in her 10th year of battling alcohol addiction, it was at the stage now where she didn’t even enjoy drinking but had to because without the alcohol her body hurt, her mind tormented her and the withdrawals were too intense. She had been to rehab 5 times; 3 times forced by me and 2 times at her own will but the demons in her mind would always win because withdrawals were tough on her. She was awaiting her 6th rehab visit but there was a waiting list; I felt like this would be the last time, that she was ready to conquer it, she seemed different and more determined.

On March 30th I went round as usual in the morning but my mum didn’t look very well, extremely pale, very confused, and was in pain so I rang an ambulance and we were taken into hospital with sirens on. (I remember feeling excitement at this moment, what an adventure we could laugh about at a later date)

She was diagnosed with a water infection and started treatment alongside a detox due to her withdrawals.

‘A’ brought out the attacks with force, it felt like if i let go and succumbed to the pressure that an almighty attack was there waiting. I was always tinkering on the edge of an ‘A’ attack, it was waiting in the wings for an opening to present itself.

Of course the many years of masking this hitch hiker I was an expert in hiding it. I was the only one that could ever make my mum laugh; we seemed to get each other and were very similar. I stayed by her side every single day and hid the pain my hitch hiker was causing from my mum. We even had a few giggles and I saw my mum smile.

In reality though I was struggling.

I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t relax

Every new day the only goal I had been to get through it, win that daily battle and not worry about the next until I was faced with it.

Over the course of 5 days she started to get better, back to herself again. I went home on the fifth night for a shower (my mum forced me, said I needed it!), it was the first time I had left my mum’s side in 5 whole days. (I remember walking back to my car with a smile on my face: everything was going to be fine)

However,

On day 6 I woke to see my mum had started having breathing difficulties, this escalated extremely quickly and by day 7 my mum was diagnosed with pneumonia.

My mum was allergic to Penicillin and because she wasn’t well enough to answer for herself so I had to decide between:

  • Trying an alternative medicine to fight the pneumonia which my mum wasn’t allergic to but may not act fast enough
  • Give my mum Penicillin which would fight the pneumonia but could potential cause my mum further harm and ill-health

My mum was severly allergic to Penicillin which meant she could potentially go into anaphylactic shock so it was a no brainer for me to try the other medicine.

The alternative medicine wasn’t acting fast enough and the doctors were talking about intensive care; putting my mum to sleep for a while so her lungs could repair but my mum begged me not to let the doctors take her there because she wouldn’t wake up from it.

At this point my other sisters were in the hospital visiting which was helpful because every 5 minutes I had to leave the room to control ‘A’, at one point I even had to have oxygen because the attack had started to aggravate my asthma. I remember feeling annoyed because i would leave to get ‘A’ under control and my mum would ask one of my sisters where I was.

I hate myself for feeling agitated that she needed me.

This also started a feud between myself and my oldest sister, she barely saw my mum, infact, at that point in time the last time she had seen my mum was Boxing day 2016. (26th December)

I stayed by her side that night, the nurses wouldn’t dare to kick me out to the relative room. This made ‘A’ taunt me; did they already know she was going to die?

‘A’ was constantly pumping adrenaline into my system with the mini relentless attacks so I was wired anyway and unlikely to sleep. My heart was constantly racing and the amount I perspired wasn’t human. (Even my butt cheeks sweat, whose butt cheeks sweat?) It was crazy.

My mum fought so hard to breathe, I prayed so hard that night. My mum was trying with all her might to keep breathing. I was so proud of her.

She would fight this.

The next morning my mum went into respiratory failure and was taken to the intensive care unit. This time it wasn’t a choice, it was life or death.

The next 5 days I sat by her bed all day and night while a machine breathed for her. I talked to her, told her about Oscar (her beloved dog), I told her jokes, sang to her, played her music and held her hand. Sometimes her eyes would twitch and I knew she could hear me.

The doctors would continuously ask me about my mum’s health prior to this infection, they couldn’t understand why she wasn’t getting better. (I didn’t tell them about the 10 year battle with alcohol or the constant ill-health she suffered because I wanted them to keep trying, afraid if they knew that they would give up)

April 14th, 2017 (Does the date ring a bell to you? Apart from it being Good Friday, it was the same date 10 years ago that my grampy died. SAME DATE!)

The doctor sat me and my younger sister down and told us that there was no more they could do for my mum, her kidneys and liver had now failed. We had to turn the machines off.

I didn’t get to say goodbye, I didn’t get to say I love you I more time.

Now if I had been alone at this news I would have dealt with it better but my younger sister was hysterical crying, which allowed ‘A’ to creep through and I had one of the worst attacks id ever had. So bad infact that I thought I was going to die myself and I ran, before I realised it I was running down the stairs, through the hospital and into the fresh air before collapsing onto a patch of grass and violently throwing up my insides.

At around 5pm on 14th April I watched my mum take her final breaths surrounded by her daughters and brother and then I lay my head on her chest for the next 5 hours until they took her to the mortuary. I went over and over what had happened, feeling like I had failed her, feeling like I could have done more.

Why didn’t’ I just take her to the doctors for the water infection? She wouldn’t have caught pneumonia from the hospital then.

Its my fault she had died like this.

I don’t remember to this day when everyone left, I don’t really remember the 5 hours by her bedside just when the nurse interrupted me to say they had to take my mum away. I then walked home at 1030pm from the hospital; even though I had driven.

My mum died 14th April 2017 around 5pm – the exact same time and date as my grampy.

To this day that blows my mind.

So here I am in the cycle of grief again. This time its different.

The next couple of weeks I was possessed with something, I had this strength from somewhere. I organised the funeral, I organised all my mum’s affairs and I made sure everyone was ok. On the day of the funeral I stood up and read a poem I had written about my mum, I never cried.

After the funeral my dad (who I wasn’t particularly close with) came up to me and hugged me, for what seemed like a lifetime. He told me how proud he was of me, that to him I was the weakest daughter mentally and physically but somehow I had become the strongest and was holding everyone together. He thanked me for writing such a beautiful poem about mum and keeping everyone strong.

Everyone was thanking me, I didn’t understand it. I wasn’t doing it for them, I was doing it for my mum. I didn’t want any thanks.

Two days after the funeral I was sacked from my job, I hadn’t been back yet and they felt I wouldn’t be back for some time and felt it best to let me go. (Thanks a bunch!)

I had lost my mum, my routine and now my job.

So since then I have literally been surviving, day by day, with ‘A’. The doctors constantly trying to put me back on medication but I refuse. ‘A’ is crippling me but I want to beat it.

What better way that in a place of complete defeat? I couldn’t break any further.

Eventually the strength disappeared and I pleaded for the numbness like with my grampy but I didn’t get it. What I did get though instead was crippling flashbacks when I least expected them, moments replayed in my dreams over and over again, night sweats, night ‘A’ attacks and completely uncontrollable emotional outbursts.

By day I felt physically sick, exhausted, random outbursts of extreme emotion and constantly fearing I was going to die from something. The tiniest thing could make me either want to kill someone or cry uncontrollably.

By night my heart would race, I would sweat everywhere, id had flashbacks and horrible dreams and I would sob my heart out until I was sick.

Everyday through the sickness, the headaches and the extreme exhaustion I would force myself out of bed and do some Yoga and then walk to my youngest sisters house to see her.

The days I’d think I had a handle on it finally then like a wave in the sea it would all coming crashing into me again, harder than before. It would suck the life and strength out of me.

I’d pretty much given up, ‘A’ had convinced me I was going to die soon anyway so there was no point in trying. I was ready.

Then just like before with ‘A’ when I was younger, something clicked in me and I found some inner strength. I got a new job.

The job has been hard, everyday is an uphill battle to even get to work, then I have to tolerate people who irritate me, have to pretend I am normal (and without my hitch hiker) and try to act as if I care. I don’t care, I am constantly tinkering on the edge with ‘A’.

Christmas hit me hard, my younger sister went away for it and I was left here alone. I put a brave face on through video chats but I felt dead inside. I rang in sick for the first week back in work and I cant bare to go back, almost at the mindset of quitting. ‘A’ is winning the battle, day by day and this job has worn me further down than when I was unemployed.

I don’t want to go through another 8 years of my life not committing to anything again, feeling detached and isolated but I don’t feel strong at the moment, I feel like I’ve gone backwards. The flash backs are back, the lack of sleep and the emotional outbursts.

I guess it would appear I missed out on skipping the different stages with my grampy that this time I’m being taken through every stage several times a day. (Except numbness and denial which seem like the jackpot right now!)

Loss, hurt, emotional outbursts, anger, fear, fear, fear, fear, emotional outbursts, hurt, disorganisation, guilt, guilt, fear, guilt, guilt, fear, emotional outbursts, hurt, loneliness, isolation, isolation, isolation, loneliness, guilt, fear, fear, fear, anger, guilt, loss, emotional outbursts, depression.

My grampy use to always say “When nothing goes right…go left”

  • Maybe I should go left?

Quit everything from 2017 and start a new life in 2018.

Me and ‘A’

Change is good right? (or should that be left?)A’ doesn’t think so….

When ‘A’ met Grief (Part 1)

I have had quite a few face offs in my life already between grief and my hitch hiker ‘A’.

I know that its a right of passage as you get older that people will pass away and leave you.

Grief is associated with losing something or someone where a bond or affection has been formed.

You can grieve for many different reasons and because of this you can not define grief in one way.

I’ve felt grief when every single one of my hamsters, rabbits and guinea pigs died (there were alot!)

I’ve felt grief at the end of a relationship. I always struggle with the concept of relationships. You give yourself to someone, you are in eachother’s lives everyday, you share affection (and bodily fluids) and you trust them then one day – GONE (there haven’t been alot of these!)

The first time ‘A’ met the loss of a parent it buggered off on a long vacation and the asshole hitch hiker was sent in ‘A’s place. (The Affair )

The second time ‘A’ met the loss of a parent it brought reinforcements and went kamikaze on my ass and the only option I had was to surrender. (Current situation)

The doctors have recommended I have bereavement counselling, that there was a 3 month waiting list however I have been on the list since April 2017 and the last time I chased it up I was number 23 in the queue so I should get seen around April 2018. (I find this absolutely unacceptable)

My grampy died of lung cancer when I was 20 years old; up until that point in my life the only people I could depend on were my grampy and my mum so this was a hard time for me. (My previous blog post The Affair touches on this)

My grampy got diagnosed in the November but we quickly found out it was very aggressive and chemotherapy wouldn’t help, it was simply about quality of life now. Looking back I never asked or was told how long my grampy had left, he would say he would fight it and not to worry and I would believe him.

My grampy had never let me down in the past.

I trusted him 100%.

Sadly by the following April he had got a lot worse and everyone was saying there goodbyes. (I wont share what our goodbye was because its a personal, precious memory between myself and my grampy)

On April 14th at around 5pm my grampy passed away surrounded by all his children and me. He wasn’t dead for more than 10 minutes before the witches were stripping him of his jewellery. (A gold necklace that I had handmade a ‘D’ on, a gold wedding ring and a gold ring with the initial ‘D’ on it)

Stage 1 – Shock & Denial

I feel like I set up camp in this phase for 6 years. My asshole hitchhiker joined me and ‘A’ went off on vacation. I felt numb and detached and that was my personality for over 6 years. I felt a lot of fear about how I would cope or survive without my grampy’s hugs and strength. I felt weak. There was definitely no normal functioning in this stage.

Stage 2 – Anger

Zero time in this stage. ‘A’ had disappeared completely and I never felt an ounce of anger.

Stage 3 – Depression & Detachment

This is another stage I camped out in, my neighbour was stage 1 and I literally moved from stage 1 to stage 3 to stage 1 back to stage 3 over and over and over for at least 6 years. I was numb, tired and lacked any sort of enjoyment or happiness throughout that time. I was medicated and treated for Anorexia and Bipolar at the same time I was flitting between these two stages.

Stage 4 – Dialogue & Bargaining

I never met this stage until 6 years later.

I never reached out to others, I never told my story (anyone new I met over the 6 years I would talk about my grampy as if he was still alive) until I met a guy at the end of the 6 year battle and for some reason I told him about my grampy. That was the first year in 6 years I visited my grampys grave, I spent the 14th April visiting my grampy’s favourite places with this guy telling him about the memories and every year thereafter we did that.

Stage 5 – Acceptance

I owe a whole lot to my boyfriend throughout that time because if it wasn’t for him I would probably still be in denial about my grampy’s death. After another 2 years something lifted in me and I felt I accepted that my grampy was gone finally.

8 WHOLE YEARS?!?!(WTF!!!!)

Throughout that time I was never treated for bereavement because I had a whole different mess of disasters stirring inside of me. The anorexia, the body dysmorphia and the bipolar. The asshole hitch hiker really did a number on me.

I had two years after that of some normality and at the end of 2015 I had convinced myself that the asshole hitch hiker was a result of not accepting or acknowledging the loss of my grampy and against the doctors wishes I came off my bipolar medication.

Against the doctors wishes meant that if I came off my medication I gave up the help, the support of the mental health team and I was on my own. My mentality at the time was screw them and screw the asshole hitch hiker. I felt it was safe to be able feel again.

Queue the return of ‘A’…drumroll please…

The Affair

I find it so easy to talk about ‘A’, but this hitch hiker I am ashamed of and writing this has caused me a lot of torment. I wrote this post the day after The ‘A’ Train and I’ve stared at it for days, deliberating whether to publish it or not. (I guess it’s no surprise if you’re now reading this)

I wanted to try though, I needed to try.

This hitch hiker was a particularly tormented dark soul; I was way too busy blocking ‘A’ returning that this one knocked me for six! This hitch hiker is the one that left the judgement in people’s eyes, the one that made me feel worthless and ashamed and the one the majority of my family see when they look at me. It’s the hitch hiker I am mostly defined by, the one I couldn’t hide like ‘A’ and for that reason it’s the hitch hiker I hate the most.

This hitch hiker isn’t worthy of a name. (Unless you count asshole as a valid one?)

We all go through journeys, it’s a part of life, nobody should be frozen in time because of their past, nobody should be held accountable for the rest of their lives for their actions (unless you committed murder or something). For me it has always felt that when I am around certain family members I go back in time and get put back on trial. I go back to feeling worthless and ashamed and leave having teleported back to that time in my mind when a dark hitch hiker tormented my soul.

My family have chosen to never talk about it, just silently judge me for the rest of my life. I’ve never really opened up to any family about it and I don’t know whether it’s just a ‘me’ thing or whether there are others out there that feel the same? I spent many years punishing myself over this hitch hiker, holding onto a deep dirty dark secret of disgust.

  • Am I the only one who seems to morph back into a dark time around certain people or family?
  • Family time is supposed to be a happy time, isn’t it?
  • Am I only person out there that practically dies inside when there’s a family gathering?

All those feelings of being the runt of the litter, the diseased and broken child, simmer to the surface and I can no longer function in anyway other than how everyone judges and sees me from my past, reiterating what they already think they know of me.

That’s what this hitch hiker loves to do.

Torment, shatter, destroy

I can’t really remember how the affair began; it sort of crept up on me without my knowing, took control and embedded itself within me. It bought me rose tinted glasses to wear and literally went by unnoticed for a very long time.

I guess looking back now I can probably pin point when it began and the possible reasons why.

I can probably justify my actions.

  • That’s what our hitch hikers love to do to us isn’t it?

Look back at the ‘what if’s’, over and over and over again.

At some point in my parents relationship something broke and when I was 18, after being together for over 30 years, they divorced. They sold the family home and went their separate ways. I had no family home and was temporarily living with my nanny and grampy until either parent could claim me.

My nanny and grampy had three children, my dad, and two witches gifted from Satan himself. The younger witch was a particularly jealous type, I don’t think she was ever fussed on my existence from the off and quite often threatened to hurt me. Weirdly, I never worried about that, I literally ignored her yet I would cry hysterically in the middle of the night because I couldn’t pin point (in my mind) where my school tie was for the morning! (Cheers for that one ‘A’!)

Anyway losing concentration again…where were we…PIPE DOWN ‘A’….

This chapter of my life could be a whole book and I’m not ready to write a novel about this time, so I’m going to summarise the next 6 years of my life and then come back to it in bits throughout my blog when I feel ready. (I am about to have an ‘A’ attack writing this, I can’t stop shivering which is normally my first sign of attack)

Disaster 1 – Parents split taking away the stability of a family home

I believe this is where my new hitch hiker came on board, I needed stability I was petrified without it. This new hitch hiker came in the form of a dark grey cloud of depression, unlike ‘A’, where I feared and felt everything, this was different; I felt numb, detached and didn’t notice this hitch hiker for some time. I welcomed the numbness after years of anxious symptoms. (What a fool I was!)

(I need to stop here and get some camomile tea, I use to laugh at people who recommended this tea but it really does calm me when I’m a shaky cold mess at the onset of ‘A’.)

……I’m back, where were we? Oh yes the disasters…..

Disaster 2 – Moved in with grandparents until parents were both settled and the decision on who goes where can be decided.

This doesn’t sound like a disaster I know but I was back in my childhood second home, back experiencing my nanny’s good and bad days. The bad days didn’t help with my asshole of a hitch hiker, I found I had less tolerance for these days, I always ran away to my boyfriends to ignore them. (I still hate myself to this day for doing this)

Disaster 3 – My grampy gets diagnosed with cancer

One of the most important figures for me growing up was now potentially going to leave me, I couldn’t grasp the concept of being without my grampy, and I needed his strength to keep my mind well. I wouldn’t survive without him. I stayed in denial throughout my grampy’s illness, he was the strongest man I knew, of course he would win this battle. I had nothing to fear, I was numb.

Disaster 4 – My boyfriend and I hit our first hurdle and broke up

He betrayed me, cheated on me. I caught him having sex outside a nightclub with his ex. I did try to stay with him because he was familiar and still wanted me and I honestly thought that nobody else would want me. After 6 years of on and off, I finally felt ready and let him go. My first taste of heart break seemed to stretch out for 6 years. It didn’t seem to come in tears and pain, I stayed detached. Eventually I felt nothing for anyone. I was incapable of feeling anything at all.

The ice queen was born.

Disaster 5 – The Satan spawned witches kick me out of my grandparents when my gramp got a lot sicker

This one caused a crack in my frozen heart, my grampy was moved into hospital permanently and I couldn’t tolerate my nanny’s bad days anymore so they had no use for me living there. The ice queen was very much activated permanently now and because I hated myself for not being there for my nanny when she needed me the most, I didn’t care what happened to me. I needed punishing and I had no value left to my life. I was without my grampy and my mother hadn’t claimed me yet.

Unwanted, irrelevant, Frozen.

Luckily at the same time my mum had moved into a two bed flat so I had somewhere to go. What I didn’t realise is that my mum had taken the divorce extremely badly and had turned to alcohol to mask the pain. (This was a separate battle to my hitch hikers that I spent 10 years trying to fix. I didn’t care about myself all I ever wanted to do was fix other people, people who were more important than me.)

Disaster 6 – Death claimed the wrong life

After spending a month visiting my grampy everyday in hospital, pleading with the universe to trade my life for my grampy’s he sadly lost the fight and passed away. The witches ransack the house with my nanny still in it for valuables. (It was literally like an episode of fun house)

I broke.

I become anorexic.

I couldn’t depend on anyone, I withdrew from everyone. I was watching my mum become an alcoholic and I couldn’t go through another loss. I couldn’t lose the two most important people to me. So I starved myself.

**If you are recovering from an eating disorder I advise you not to read on and pick up from the next set of ** in bold, further down**

It started off feeling great; I had moments of feeling pleasure from my body’s cry for hunger. INFACT, if I’m honest, at the time, I loved it. I had control, I had the power and I would eat when I wanted to.

It all depended on whether I was having a good or bad day.

Good day – The hunger almost turned me on, I felt awesome, I felt like I was the prettiest, most powerful girl on the planet. I could do what I wanted, I could have who I wanted, and I could be anyone I wanted. I didn’t care that I was hurting the people around me. The ice queen was the most powerful being on earth. She controlled her body and her mind. (Or so the hitch hiker wanted me to think, the difference with this hitch hiker was at the time I had no idea it existed, whereas I always knew when ‘A’ was in control)

Bad day – I hated myself, I couldn’t put a single calorie into my body because if I did it felt like fatty maggots moving through me, and it felt out of control. I cried a lot, I cried to my mum a lot, I apologised for letting her down a lot, for letting everyone down a lot. I apologised for hurting everyone. I felt the most over whelming guilt id ever felt, the fear I felt because of that guilt was crippling. I was often sick to my stomach because of it.

At the age of 23 I was sectioned under the mental health act because of my anorexia. I went into hospital weighing just under 5st. It’s weird to look back because at my lowest weigh I couldn’t see it. I would look in the mirror and see a whale version of my reflection back at me, a version of myself riddled with fatty maggots.

I never saw my true self.

** anyone skipping can pick up from here**

I came out of hospital 3 months later with all the promises in the world I would continue with therapy and although I never dropped back down to my lowest weight I hadn’t conquered the anorexia. I was also diagnosed with Body Dysmorphia Disorder and started to educate myself on the topic so I could understand it.

I continued to tell lies to hide my anorexia and relapsed several times over the years. I carried on having good and bad days and I could never steady myself mentally. I was either up or down, no in-between.

Everyone would say ‘it’s because you never eat ‘, ‘just eat and you’ll be fine’, ‘you make me sick that you think you’re so fat, you’re a bone’. I never saw bones though, I really wanted to see and feel bones but I didn’t. I never could. I also did eat healthy (when in recovery) so I knew that my ups and downs couldn’t just be because of my anorexia; sure it didn’t help but I never felt like it was the cause.

I simply carried on, on my rollercoaster with my masked hitch hiker at large.

I was put on 60mg of medication (I don’t want to name any medications in case someone reading is taking it, it may work for others) to help my anorexia and depression, apparently this was the go to treatment that would help. I can’t be completely negative it did help the depression; it just didn’t help the manic episodes or my Body Dysmorphia which was fuelling my anorexia.

I started to feel like I had a new hitch hiker and I tried to tell the doctors this.

I was told:

I’m just an anorexic dealing with grief in a bad way.

It took a particularly bad manic episode which resulted in me going missing for 4 days, causing extreme worry to my family and ending up with me being hospitalised again.

I was treated for Bipolar Disorder, my medication was changed.

After another 3 months in hospital my mind stabilised on the new medication, the Body Dysmorphia faded and I maintained a healthier weight thereafter. I was never cured of anorexia or the Body Dysmorphia but without the rollercoaster moods I was able to manage it a lot better. Some times it took a lot of work and sometimes I relapsed but I never dropped below the underweight line on the BMI matrix. (Instead I hung around of the border teasing the border control weight police because I could)

My true hitch hiker was revealed to the world.

This hitch hiker- the Bipolar Disorder / the Body Dysmorphia, the lies, the pain caused, and my thin frame, is what my family sees when they looked at me (except for my younger sister and my mother).

The medication I was on made me go through the next 6 years, numb and detached.

I spent the years jumping from job to job, not committing to anything or anyone long term, lying to people that I had achieved more than I actually had, trying to achieve things I lied about achieving but always failing, always giving up. I isolated myself, I never made friends, and I lived in a safe bubble of serenity where nobody judged me. (My teddy bears had seen it all but they continued to stare at me with their loving beady, glass eyes and soft fluffy paws).

Always thinking that without the medication I wouldn’t be in control, that every hitch hiker would come back to haunt me. I was damaged goods and I would lose everything if I didn’t let the medication maintain firmly in the driving seat.

Numb was probably for the best….right?

Me, Myself & ‘A’

Happy New Year.

I must of said this like 15 times over the last day and everytime I’ve said it I’ve struggled with the ‘Happy’, it regurgitates inside of me.

I went into 2017 very optimistic, having experienced a pretty difficult, whirlwind 2016; It had some crazy low points but some absolutely breath taking highs too.

I had HOPE, I had POSITIVITY, I had STRENGTH.

I was 100% ready to make 2017 the best year I’d ever had.

Little did I know on Jan 1, 2017 that it was going to be the hardest year of my life to date.

Little did I know that mid way through the year would I be at full war world 3 with my hitch hiker ‘A’, the asshole hitch hiker who isn’t worthy of a name (I haven’t published my post on it yet) and a newcomer.

In Jan 2017 I was starting a new job. First job I’d been excited to actually get. I couldn’t believe I got it and they were excited to have me.

ME? Runt of the litter, damaged goods…

I broke up with my boyfriend of four years in 2016 and decided because I had nothing else; no friends and only two people I classed as family (mum and sister), that I would finally throw myself into committing to a career and becoming successful. (Came off my medication end of 2015 so I wasn’t numb or brain fucked anymore…)

For three whole months I was excelling and loving my job and finally felt some happiness after years of feeling like a numb failure.

In April, very suddenly, my mum died. I stood and watched her take her final breaths

  • without the opportunity to say goodbye
  • without the opportunity to tell her I loved her one more time
  • without that last hug where you hold on even longer
  • without achieving something and making her proud of me

I spent the last 10 years looking after my mum in everyway. My life evolved around trying to make my mum happy and she was gone.

I had nothing. I was no-one.

Que the return of ‘A’, the asshole and the newcomer….

Two days after my mum’s funeral I got sacked from my job. I was suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (the new comer) and they didn’t want me anymore.

The doctors tried to put me back on medication; the flashbacks were crippling me, the anxiety had imprisoned me and the depression had formed a warm blanket around my grief riddled frame. 16 months without medicatiom and I didn’t want to go backwards, i didnt want to be numb.

I wanted to feel every ounce of the pain.

I was prescribed a sedative instead and for the next 5 months I slept and cried myself threw everyday. I had no-one checking up on me so I hid away from the world.

Giving up. Giving in. Retreating.

‘A’ was back in the driving seat, the passenger who directed ‘A’ was grief and I was tied up and gagged in the boot being tormented by PTSD.

I had no money and funeral bills to pay, i was about the lose everything including my home and then something in me clicked…

I got up, i flushed the sedatives and i washed the last 5 months off.

I got a new job. I suddenly didn’t want to lose my home and only source of security so I dug deep and pulled every reserve to the surface.

The mask was on, the ice queen activated.

I went through the motions everyday in this new job either a ball of horrendous anxiety or uncontrollably emotional. Everyday once I was home and safe I praised myself for making it threw another day. Thanking my mum for being by my side.

I now don’t want to go back, I feel nothing for this line of work anymore. I used to love it but it’s so hard to pretend you are ok, pretend you care about your work. I don’t anymore and it’s exhausting.

I feel lost, lonely and afraid

What’s the best thing I did in 2017?

SURVIVED

I’ve spent the majority of the year crying. I miss my mum terribly and the thought of 2018 without her makes me feel sick.

Every New Year I always had hope that the year would be great, I would achieve my goals, I would feel happiness.

This year I don’t feel that, I am petrified of 2018. I have no idea what the year has planned for me.

I stand before you – HOPELESS.

On my knees, begging for 2018’s mercy, pleading with ‘A’ to be kind.

My strength is depleted, I have zero resources for another hard year.

The only power I have is my mind. I used to think it was my weakest point, that one day I would crack and break. I should have broke in 2017 but something held me together when everything else was falling apart.

  • What if I am falling apart now?

I am a completely different person going into 2018 than I was going into any other year.

I am a survivor.

I’m still fighting through my biggest ‘A’ war yet without any long term medication. (I did use sedatives to avoid what felt like a heart attack and sweat attack all day long! Seriously I’ve never sweated so much, not just my armpits either. Bum cheeks, behind the knees…you name it I sweat from it!!!)

If I can survive this ongoing war, I can survive 2018, right?

All I know is I won’t go down without a fight.

I will continue to stay as strong as I can and make my mum proud.

What’s my goal for 2018?

SURVIVE

I can’t ask anymore of myself.

  • One breath at a time
  • One step at a time
  • One day at a time

I feel like I am at a crossroads and I have absolutely no idea which road to take.

  • Carry on day the same road that I am surviving? It’s familiar I know i can do it.
  • Take a risk, go a different route, re-invent myself?

One thing I do know? ‘A’ won’t be driving, whichever road I take.

Send me prayers (or maybe weapons)….im going to need them!

Goodluck on your 2018 journeys.

The ‘A’ train

This will probably be the hardest part, I don’t talk about myself or my past much, to put it on paper (well virtual paper…) makes it real and that’s embarrassing.

Why is it embarrassing? Well, throughout my journey of life, like most of us, I’ve made mistakes. No big deal really, everyone makes mistakes that’s how we learn isn’t it?

Well I should be a philosopher then….

Not only have I made mistakes, I’ve repeated those mistakes several times and been judged for them before I’ve learnt my lesson, glutton for punishment maybe? Not quite.

‘A’ made me, ‘A’ loves seeing me fail and because ‘A’ has been in my life the longest I listen to what it says.

Its familiar, it’s easier. It’s uncomfortably comfortable.

‘A’ has been with me long before I knew what anxiety was, before I even knew about mental health and way before I could identify or understand it. I still don’t know whether ‘A’ was with me from birth, hiding in my genetics and was always going to be with me no matter what or whether my upbringing had a part in activating ‘A’.

My personal opinion is that I had the genetics at birth and the extreme ill health and exposure to bipolar disorder has brought it out of me.

I don’t feel that doctors know the best course of action either. (It might just be my doctors). Every time I go to the doctors for my mental health, I get asked to fill in this pointless questionnaire about suicidal thoughts which the doctor then scores me off, (I quite often lie with my answers because honestly I find it easier to describe my last shit in detail, WITH DIAGRAMS, than answer how many times I’ve felt my life wasn’t worthwhile in the last month) then I get prescription drugs thrown at me that are likely to make me feel 100% worse in the next two weeks. After that I just battle with side effects and feel like everyday is a Monday morning after a 123 hour marathon and my mind has constant brain freeze. I personally can not live like that anymore, I did it for 10 years.

I called my hitch hiker ‘A’ because although I’ve been a bit of a slut and had relations with other mental health disorders, such as, depression, bipolar, post traumatic stress disorder and anorexia, anxiety has been there from the start. The more time I spend looking back the more I see ‘A’.

  • I see ‘A’ how come no one else saw it?

In my previous post I mentioned that I spent a lot of my childhood petrified of catching what my nanny had (uncontrolled bipolar disorder).

  • What if the people around me saw it in me but choose to brush over it?
  • Should I feel let down by them or would I have known my hitch hiker either way?

When I look back now it feels like it was a choice to mask it with medication and words of encouragement (* insert sarcastic emoji here…) like ‘get over it, pull yourself together, and snap out of it’. Words that are no longer welcome, words that have been identified as destructive to someone who is suffering from ill mental health.

  • Did I stand a chance either way?

I have been at war for over 20 years with ‘A’, a war that at times has defeated me but there have been victories, breakthroughs and setbacks. There has been treason and betrayal and unlike in the Hollywood movies the only love story apparent here is between myself and ‘A’.

Who could possibly ever choose to love me? I’m broken.

I stand before you today as a mental health war veteran.

In my previous blog I mentioned that I was one of four daughters, the runt of the litter. I call myself the runt of the litter because my three sisters are healthy; they have no illnesses and weren’t born with any defects or disabilities. I however was born with all sorts of issues. I am basically allergic to life, have severe life threatening allergies, asthma and when I was younger I was riddled with eczema.

I was a gross, scabby little runt.

I spent so much of my time in hospital and that’s where I think ‘A’ manifested. From a young age I felt like I was diseased and disgusting. I honestly don’t know how my parents and grandparents loved me. My eczema was so bad that even to move my skin it would crack and bleed; my mother use to have to change my bed sheets every day because through the night id cover them in blood. (I’m sorry for the image!)

I use to be wrapped head to toe in medically treated bandages and then had my clothes over them. I use to scream and cry my eyes out, I hated them. I remember one day removing them from underneath my leggings before school and half way through the day my leggings stuck to my legs (because of my weeping scabs… again sorry for the image) and I had to go home and be bathed in salt water so they could be removed without ripping off skin. I spent days and days being left in hospitals wrapped up in bandages or on oxygen, screaming for my mum. I would over hear doctors telling my mother that my skin would be scarred for life due to the eczema. I would come home from hospital (once my eczema had healed), my older sister would say she’d play games with me now that I looked normal but once the scabs came back she wouldn’t.

So matter of fact.

  • Harmless things children say to each other without thinking aren’t they?

I was always thinking, always reading into what people said and how people looked at me.

  • Surely this kind of upbringing was always going to bring out the ‘A’ in me?

I was subject to being left alone from a young age which built up a fear of being abandoned by people and it prevented me from attaching to people in my life; I was always withdrawn, always preferred my own company and I still do. I find it hard to be myself in public and it exhausts me, once I’m home I feel free.

I had my first anxiety attack before the age of 10; I can remember it like it was yesterday. At that age that’s not something I could have brought on myself, it’s not something I could have made myself do.

It was brought on by fear . I felt so much fear for a small child.

Asthma attacks were scary, I had many of them and if I left the house without having an asthma inhaler in my pocket I would have an anxiety attack; pretty sure they were linked. My hands would curl up, I would get pins and needles in my hands and face and I would cry, uncontrollably. The shortness of breath would make me think I was having an asthma attack and this was the time death would finally claim the runt.

My mother was magnificent, she would act as if it was nothing.

I was fine, and everything was going to be ok.

So when I was around my mother I felt safe, like nothing would go wrong because she was there. I know most children feel this but mine felt strong, i never wanted to leave her side. Even at the age of 11 going into high school I cried my eyes out leaving my mother at the doorstep. There was one other person I felt that safety with and that was my grampy. He was there when my mother couldn’t be; I always had either my mother or my grampy at close range. As much as I loved my nanny I couldn’t’ depend on her good days.

‘A’ manifested through my ill health when I was growing up, ‘A’ caused panic attacks, worry, fear, and irrational thoughts, further ill health and a lot of tears. My grampy spent his life looking after my nanny with ill mental health and I know he saw in me what he saw in my nanny. He spent my lifetime trying to make me mentally stronger. He would teach me not to fear, hot to break my bad habits of being controlled by my ill health and I owe him a lot. He did more good than any doctor has done for me because he had firsthand experience, he had lived through it.

As a child I never took part in out of school clubs, I never went on school trips or school days out, I never took part in any school productions and I never stayed over school friends houses.

‘A’ made sure of it, ‘A’ controlled me. I was very much under ‘A’s wing.  As long as I did what ‘A’ wanted the anxiety attacks were kept at bay, the worry was to a minimum. The older I got the stronger ‘A’ become, I could no longer keep ‘A’ a secret.

People were starting to notice I was troubled but it wasn’t ‘A’ they saw, it was a stranger.

At the age of 14 ‘A’ took a vacation, literally up and left me, no warning and no timescale on its return. For 4 whole years I was anxiety attack free, I still worried about every single thing but I wasn’t controlled by the fear of an anxiety attack. My eczema cleared up and was barely noticeable, no scars, no scabs and my skin was soft. I choose to do drama in school and took part in talent contests.

I lived without fear and it was magical.

…..Until the next hitch hiker took ownership of my body……

…….You’ll meet it next….it isn’t pretty.

I accepted ‘A’ into my life, we had a mutual agreement, but this hitch hiker….. well…… lets just say it did what it wanted, it ripped me apart and it took no prisoners.

I finally caught my nanny’s virus.

The birth of ‘A’

There is not a lot of information out there about mental health and the possibility of it being hereditary (that I have the concentration or patience to find). For the majority of my life, I was told it is not passed on through genetics that it was all in my mind – HA the irony! I could get over it with counselling. (*insert eye rolling emoji here…)
Thankfully, over the past few years I have seen that opinion change dramatically. Scientists are now looking into genetics and the possibility of it being passed down in our genes. It’s a complex area, as mental health isn’t just one single gene that can be identified but a collection of them. I’m no scientist so it doesn’t mean much to me but apparently there are 20 genes associated with bipolar disorder alone. I can’t find much on ‘A’s genetics (much to ‘A’s delight).
I have been born into a family plagued with ill mental health, my father’s side of the family particularly. I never saw it from my great grand-mother but I was only young when she was an old lady however my grand-mother (nanny), my grand-aunt and my grand-uncle all suffered with bipolar disorder (referred to back then as manic depression). I never met my grand-uncle he sadly killed himself before I was born. I met my grand-aunt many times and I would have never thought she suffered with bipolar disorder (not that I knew what that was when I was young) but she was always the life and soul of any room; so happy, so full of energy and so enchanting to be around. (I understand now because I do the same, I mask my hitch hiker in public). The day I found out she died sticks to me like a sour taste in my mouth.
I don’t know how old I was but it was between 5-6 years of age. I was over my nanny and gramps house with my younger sister and two cousins. We were playing hide and seek and I was hiding in the coffee table in the hallway below the telephone. (No one ever found me; I was such a scrawny ill child that i would fit into the most impossible places). The telephone was a big contraption back in the 80s not like our mobiles now. It was the design where you dialled by moving a dial in the middle of the phone round in a circle. (Dialling 0 or 9 was always such a mission, really took some finger strength).

old phone1

Anyway…went off track there. My concentration lets me down but you get it right? ‘A’ loves to distract me easily. FOCUS.

My gramps answered the phone above me, I remember feeling excitement because to me he had no idea I was there, he was quiet on the phone then went into the living-room and the next thing I heard was an almighty scream from my nanny. I was immediately petrified and out from under the coffee table in seconds but as children we were rushed upstairs out the way. I remember it like it was only yesterday, I knew something horrible had happened because I always had a sense for tragedy. I sat on the top of the stairs listening because I had to know, scared out of my mind that there was something wrong with someone I loved. I remember hearing ‘jumped off a cliff’. As a 5-6 year old how do you process that kind of information?

I grew up spending a lot of time with my nanny and gramps, mainly due to the fact that I was one of four daughters and basically the runt of the litter. I had so many alignments that I was always off nursery/school sick and as my parents were working class they couldn’t afford to take time off. My grampy was a retired veteran and my nanny never worked so they had ample time to spend with me. I spent a lot of time growing up in this household with my nanny, who suffered quite badly with bipolar disorder.

When I say quite badly I am massively under exaggerating, it was life changing; by the age of 10 years old I would know from how my nanny was acting whether the next day would be a good or bad day.

Good day – A manic episode, we would bake cakes, go to the park, and generally have loads of energy to do whatever we wanted. As a child I obviously preferred these days thinking my nanny was well again, she smiled, she was full of energy and she laughed. I loved hearing her sing especially after the bad days.

Bad day – I’d either be woken up by my nanny frantically crying, squeezing me to death with hugs and checking me over to make sure I was ok or my nanny wouldn’t move from bed; The fear in her eyes would make my blood run cold as she stared at nothing for days.

I would ask my grampy what was wrong, why is nanny not responding to me? Why is she crying? He never explained it to me.

I started to think it might be something I could catch. A virus that would infect me until my body fought it off because that’s what my nanny did. She got infected, had a few days/weeks in bed then fought it off. I would worry that I was too much of a runt to survive and it would kill me. My nanny had such a loving nature, it use to break my heart daily; watching her battle with her very own hitch hiker, a nasty one, that was winning the battle time and time again.

I was a small ball of fear disguised as a carefree child and no-one had any idea.

  • Is it simply a coincidence that out of four daughters the one exposed to it most days is the one that now suffers with ill mental health?
  • If it wasn’t hereditary then surely I could get rid of it like the doctors would tell me?

Erase it, Conquer it. Forget it.

  • It must be a frame of mind conditioned from a young age that I can re-condition. Right?
  • Maybe my nanny’s mother was the same when she was younger and it conditioned her, my grand-aunt and uncle the same way it did me?

I don’t think I’ll ever get the answers to these questions, all I know is I have an unwanted hitch hiker that taunts me and threatens me with attacks on a daily basis.

Nobody can completely be in control of their lives, things happen that you can’t plan or prepare for and it knocks you to your knees. It’s because of my mental health (and the fact I’m a stubborn bitch) that I refuse to stay down for fear that I will never recover.

I am damaged goods and therefore at risk of being defeated and permanently controlled by ‘A’. So I will continue to rise up time and time again after every battle ‘A’ throws at me.

Learning, Adapting, Strengthening.

Is that me winning or ‘A’ controlling me with fear again? Time will tell but for now ill enjoy being in the driving seat.

brrrrrrrrrrrrrm…….brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrm……

Join me will you?

The Introduction of ‘A’

Have you taken time out of your day today to breathe?

I won’t bore you with figures but I am one of the 450 million people estimated to suffer from ill mental health worldwide.

Yes, you read that right. Why is it that so many people suffer with ill mental health and yet the subject still feels so taboo?

I can’t talk for you but for me it isn’t a part of me I discuss. It isn’t a part of me that is on display for all to see or a part of me that people meet. What it is, is a part of my insides; inside my head, inside my heart, running through my body.

I call it the unwanted hitch hiker, it’s a part of me I don’t choose to have or want. The part of me I detest and the part of me that is shameful and disgusting. How could I possibly tell people about this unwanted hitch hiker without their judgement? Without feeling like I want to turn my body inside out and remove everything because I am diseased?

Riddled. Unwanted. Judged. Broken.

You see my hitch hiker is medically referred to as ‘Anxiety’ (with a side order of ‘Depression’). Ok if you want medical talk, its officially called Mixed Anxiety & Depression Disorder. For me though I welcome the depression side, after a particularly hard few days fighting with the anxiety it’s nice to feel exhausted and the crying provides a welcome relief sometimes, not always. (Imagine trying to explain that to someone who doesn’t suffer with ill mental health? The look would be an epic Kodak moment!)

As I have previously mentioned my hitch hiker is a part of me without my permission. It has taken me a long time to accept this squatter; I issued a plethora of eviction notices, I tried to poison it, starve it, drown it out but with no success did it leave. So just like when you buy a pet, plant, car or cuddly toy, you name it. It isn’t known as you, it has its own identity.

So ladies and gentlemen, without further delay, I’d like to introduce you to ‘A’, the unwanted hitch hiker. Don’t get too close though;

  • ‘A’ is not friendly
  • ‘A’ spares you no remorse
  • ‘A’ will want constant attention
  • ‘A’ never gives up
  • ‘A’ requires acknowledgment
  • ‘A’ is a stubborn bitch
  • ‘A’ is the dog shit you step, slide and fall in which smears all up your backside.

I have chosen to fight my battle without medication. I have tried every type of medication on the market over the last 15 years and some have helped me greatly. I am not against anyone living life on long term medication if it’s right for that individual. I personally have spent the majority of my life controlled by prescription drugs and I just want to be free. (‘A’ is loving this, quite often mocks me for being such an idiot.)

If you find yourself lost, alone and listening to your own hitch hikers spite, please remember;

  • You can beat this
  • You can do this
  • You deserve to be happy
  • You are worthy of love and kindness
  • You didn’t look at your boss funny six months ago and now he hates you
  • You don’t need to worry about the future
  • You didn’t say something wrong to your bf/gf and they are now going to leave
  • You wont die from sore throat because Google says you will
  • You wont end up alone with 27 cats or dogs (unless you want to).

Just breathe. Everything will be ok.

In company of ‘A’ will be a page filled with my life experiences with my unwanted hitch hiker. Some may be written by me, others by ‘A’. Either way they are a look into my life whilst I fight and win my wars with my mental health.

Defeat isn’t an option. Find strength in numbers.