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.