‘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

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 four children, my dad, my uncle 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 lung 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?

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.