Hiatus over??

Well it was a forced hiatus. Sorry I was away for a whole bloody year and more, but I have been reading and keeping up with all you amazing bloggers surviving and (somehow) thriving and being generally inspirational 🙂

I was super ill. I had a massive manic period, followed by a bout of deciding to stop eating, followed by getting better and realising that I had to do something to get my family out of the trap we’d found ourselves in, so I returned to work. Fuck mental health my god if there is anything that will put a person into poverty – which yes, exists in in developed countries too, all things being relative – it is shitty mental health.

Did I also mention I melted off my hair nearly a year ago? I was trying to go blue and made the mistake of leaving the bleach on for too long. So as well as feeling like crap I had Doc from Back to the Future hair for ages (well I still do but at least I can tie it back into a pony tail now!). I literally did not leave the flat for 4 months till I had to at Christmas.

So far so good ish? It’s a senior role, it’s tough and I have been in floods of tears and had to take days off when I just could not get out of bed, but I am doing it and have lasted beyond six months in a role for the first time in Fundraising since I was 30 (I am 38 this year – actually in less than a week). I have so much I want to share on my blog and so many ideas for things I want to do – but the good thing is that I am on Fluoxetine which has helped with the crippling anxiety and paranoia I was getting on top of the lithium and quetiapine, and we stopped psychotherapy because regressing was was actually making me worse.

We are MOVING HOUSE which such a big deal I cannot even begin to tell you how much I have come close to committing suicide because of our horrendous neighbours (and you know, it is serious not just an expression – their shit dance music is blaring and keeping my baby awake as I write but NOT FOR MUCH LONGER WOOOO). Once I am into my new house, hoping work does not kick my ass too much and so on, I want to return to this blog properly.

The most important thing is that my beautiful baby girl is thriving and doing so amazingly well. I am proud to say she is a typical toddler now at 2 and so gorgeous she makes my heart burst every time I look at her. So, more to follow, I will return to this slowly. Thanks for hanging in there with this blog of mine 🙂

Update from my scribbles post

DH opened a letter just now with a blood testing form. My lithium is apparently too low. I guess that would explain my capacity to write over six thousand words a day for my fan fiction? The compulsion to write literally came out of nowhere two months ago – apparently about the time my levels began to drop and the shit with our neighours kicked off (I forgot to mention it in my last post – we had to call the police. I just wanted to die, feeling unsafe in my own home), and my frenzy began.

Now, perhaps the dumbass psychiatrist might actually acknowledge I have bipolar instead of asking me whether I think I have it which is what I got at my last appointment! Why the fuck would you ask me if I have bipolar! Isn’t that your job?!

Anyway, watch this space. I have to test urgently apparently and they want to review my medication. Hopefully more normal service will resume soon.

Writing and scribbles and disconnect

It’s been quite some time since I wrote on my blog. The simple fact of the matter is that I’ve been incredibly unwell. I still am. The only time I have left the house has been to walk the dog. I have been to the supermarket twice in three months. I think I went out with my daughter twice too. I let her daddy take her places, and to her grandma for days at a time because mummy can’t move, can’t cope with anything outside of her head. The real world is too much hard work. I read  blogs from all you lovely people and it’s like I can’t engage my brain with what is going on that I’m reading. I’m completely disconnected from the world.

Suddenly it’s nearly my birthday and the end of summer. Where did it go?

I’ll tell you where it went (you’ll have to click on pic – can’t get it bigger for some reason).

archive of our own

Yep, 257,739 words later and my fanfic is not nearly finished. I’m on my fourth Word document of which there’s an awful lot more that didn’t make it into the story. I started at the end of June – that’s two month’s worth of writing every single day. I think I’m putting out one of the longest stories about Cullen Rutherford and a female Inquisitor from BioWare’s Dragon Age: Inquisition that exists anywhere.

It is probably all complete crap as well.

Every day I spend eight to ten hours a day, sometimes longer, doing nothing but writing. I  have a compulsion to publish – I literally neeeeeeed to publish a chapter a day, even if I know I haven’t edited it properly. I almost faint at the thought of not putting up something, anything on the site. And if I don’t publish then I am agitated beyond belief until I can get behind my laptop, put some music  on and ignore everything but the characters playing out their lives in my head and translating that to Word.

All I do is type, spell check, sense check, publish. Every day.  I have this tension between my eyes I have never noticed before because of the amount of staring I’ve done at my screen. My wrists and shoulders hurt because of the amount of typing I do, and my back is slowly getting ruined by the amount of slumping on the sofa I’m engaging in.

I write sometimes through till 2, 3 or 4 in the morning, having maybe three hours of rubbish sleep. I dream about the story, waking up with my phone clutched in my hand so I can go back to the chapters and read them again. There is simply no room in my head for anything else but this demand my brain has for me to keep going with my story.

Then I get obsessed. Why don’t people say anything ? Was that chapter just a pile of shit? Why hasn’t anyone liked my work today? Who are all these people looking at my story then not leaving anything at all? If someone un-bookmarks me it’s like I’ve been stabbed through the heart.

Someone commented negatively – oh no I need to have more sex in the story. Oh wait, less sex in the story. More violence, more angst, less fluff. No, there needs to be more fluff, they should be in love, the story needs to move on, no it needs to do this. It becomes crippling. What was something that I did for fun and distraction has suddenly become stressful and competitive. I’ve lost all confidence in myself. Yet I still continue.

I get frustrated and edgy with anything that takes me out of the alternative reality that I am living in – it’s outright panic sometimes that I am being taken away from my story. Geez, even writing this blog is making me feel a bit like, when can I get back to my story? It’s ridiculous. But I can’t help it.

Everyone that is, except my daughter. But even then, I have neglected her. In more sane moments I have sat there, holding her, weeping, guilt overwhelming me that I have not spent time with her that I should. She is fed, watered, changed, clothed, kept clean. But my emotional distance from everything around me is so great at the moment, I am pretty sure she doesn’t know me at all.

She’s fifteen months now, toddling around like she’s a miniature walking undead. She’s a daddy’s girl. Because daddy gives her attention that mummy simply can’t. The majority of my brain can’t engage. The tiny part of me that is well has her heart breaking that her daughter prefers her daddy to her mummy.

I had an appointment today with the government doctor who assesses me to see if my long-term sick benefits continue. When I  described my average day there was no hiding his concern, particularly when he said it was a clear-cut case and I should not be working right now. For a Dutch government benefits official to say that, you know there’s something wrong with you.

The funny thing was that my husband and I had a heart to heart the day before – first time in months – and I said how much I just missed going to work, going out after work for dinner, or eating at home, exercising, then crawling into bed with a book before going to sleep. That routine and self-fulfillment that working gives you is lacking in my life. Yet if I were to try working right now I’d end up in an even worse state than I am now. I can’t bloody well win.

The only benefit is that I’ve lost around 20 kilo/three stoneish and only have another two stone to go. It’s nice to fit into clothes again. The only downside is that I don’t eat at all. I have survived on two litres of diet coke, the same again in water and the odd bit of chicken or beef.

When I write it out and when I talk to the doctor about it, I realise how abnormal it is. But I can’t stop. Why? The alternative would see me dead. It is better that I exist somehow until my circumstances change, than sit there in my car wondering where the nearest cliff is so I can drive off it. For my husband and I this is the lesser of two evils. It’s been almost impossible for him too. We made it to the zoo the other day, which was fun. So I am trying to get out a bit more.

So that’s the bad side. But there is a good side.

I really do, on a good day, enjoy it. And I am a bit frustrated with myself because I know if I took more time then I’d actually have quite a decent story on my hands. I have always loved writing and in this genre I think I’ve found my niche. Fanfiction has provided me with a means to start exploring my writing and writing style. Not for a minute do I think I’ll be the next Robin Hobb but it’s become my own thing. It’s nice to have a thing for yourself.

I’ve also explored the issue of trauma and how it impacts on a relationship. The main male character has PTSD (genuinely accepted in the fandom as true and BioWare have always referenced Cullen as having experienced significant trauma as a result of torture). The main female character also has trauma as well and I wanted to explore some of the issues I face myself through them. It has been really therapeutic.

It makes my story intensely personal to me as well – I mean, it is for all authors, but I think when you start writing about things that have happened to  you and your state of mind at the time it really becomes something else. There is something about writing about an anxiety attack and putting it out there for people to read about that becomes empowering for me. I have no idea why – it just seems to work. It does then leave me vulnerable too but it’s worth it.

There are lots of authors and editors among our Tumblr mental health community and I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts on what is normal and what isn’t normal because I”m pretty sure wanting to lock myself away in a mountain cabin with no one else to bother me so I can write for days with no sleep is not normal.

How do you deal with it so you don’t exclude all else? And where do you go to read up on things to make yourself a better writer? How do you not make it too personal if you write about your own experiences as a form of therapy? Is there ever a way of stepping back from it all?

I have tons of story ideas now, both fanfic and fantasy and I have decided to try and focus myself more on writing.

My husband reads it and helps me with the plot line. Sometimes we have fun with it, and it became easier when he played the game too and knew what I was on about. It hasn’t been an entirely bad experience for our relationship. But often he has hated the story and wished my laptop to combust so I don’t have anything to type on. Even then, I’d find a way.

Still, here it is. If anyone on the offchance fancies giving it a critique and plouging through so many words I’d be happy to hear it. It’s fun writing about two people in love. It makes me feel all nice and squishy inside. It’s far too long and too repetitive on certain themes but I like the story itself so far.

But, as my husband says, it’s my story and my Cullen and my Inquisitor. Does it matter what people really think so long as I’m pleased with it?! I shall keep telling myself that for the time being.

Cullen x Mage Trevelyan – A Dragon Age: Inquisition fanfic

Hola

Well, it’s been a week or so since I last had a freak out about things. We’re currently in the middle of a heatwave here in The Netherlands and I’ve found that having several fans going at once 24 hours a day does much to block out the noise of the idiots upstairs. So things have been better in that regard.

My baby turned one a month or so ago. I didn’t find it as awful as I thought it would be, parents and in-laws notwithstanding. She gets more beautiful, awesome and temper-tantruming by the day which always makes me laugh rather than freak out. I find that I’m finally taking pleasure in her growing up and doing stuff, instead of being stuck in hospital at her bedside in intensive care as a newborn, or feeling that I missed out and failed her the first seven months of her life. I’ve not quite moved on yet but I am slowly getting there, and really notice it in her reactions to me now as well. We are much closer and I love it. She’s my little shadow.

I also had to go back to the useless psychiatrist who still didn’t have a clue about my dosage or really what I was about full stop. It wasn’t quite as bad as last time as she seemed to slightly give a shit about me as a human this time round. But to say I have zero confidence in her would be an understatement. I also had to attend the appointment on my own as DH had to work and she couldn’t wait to get me out of the door. Which suited me fine; my case worker always attends those sessions as well and he’s fantastic so I felt quite ok about it all. He was the one who got my prescription correct and really understood what I was getting at when trying to explain certain scenarios I have found stuck in a loop in my head.

What she did do which was alter my lithium so I now take 400mg in the morning and 400mg in the evening. I noticed that I was really struggling in the afternoons, to the point of refusing to move sometimes. We’ve switched it round so my dosage is more spread out and I am also getting fewer side effects now too. Even though it’s only been a couple of days I really notice the difference so that’s good.

We also discussed the rapid escalation I have to noise sensitivity, so I go from normal to suicidal at a rate of seconds if too much sound encroaches on my airspace. I’ve been doing a lot of headset on, but that only works when I’m not caring for my daughter of course. I still cannot tolerate any level of stress without freaking out. This also applies to when my daughter refuses food or won’t sleep, for example. I was getting better but that seems to have gone backwards a bit.

So until my mood stabilises, which I think the lithium is helping with greatly right now, they can’t do any treatment of whatever else it is – which is what they have said since I began treatment nearly 3 years ago so nothing new there. They were upping my psychotherapy when I fell pregnant and had to stop. So it’s been paused for nearly two years now and I am not sure what else they intend.

What this useless woman is also still hinting at is whether I have bipolar or not. She actually asked me whether I thought I had it and for a few seconds I was like wtaf, why the hell are you asking me? You’re the doctor! So I could only reply saying yes, as this was very different to the behaviour I had displayed before we moved – bipolar dominated everything in me before – and I got my diagnosis and your colleague on the floor above you told me categorically it was bipolar 1 not BPD. Dumbass.

Urgh.

What I didn’t have the opportunity to point out was that I had been doing rather well pre-pregnancy and that a huge amount of this had been bought on by the trauma of the difficult pregnancy, labour and then spell in intensive care. I’m pretty sure it bought out latent whatevers in terms of PTSD and has aggravated that significantly. There are several excellent bloggers on here who have made me realise what a massive impact going through pregnancy and childbirth can have on  your mental health.

Whether I get listened to is another matter but, whatever. The way I see it is that I have to do this to get my benefits and my lithium, and I’ll mark time till I get a better psychiatrist.They tend to rotate every year or so, I just have to bide my time. If she tries to change my diagnosis I will demand a second opinion.

Given that it’s my health up for debate here, I feel remarkably sanguine about the whole thing. What will happen will happen. I got a letter from the agency that pays benefits the other day saying I will switch from unemployment benefit to long-term sick in the middle of next month which I see as a good sign. I don’t have to pretend to want to work any more. No idea how it all works, but DH is in charge of that so I can relax.

I had a good day today. I walked to the supermarket, leaving DH who had the day off with the daughter and dog. I realised that, even with neighbours I could happily shoot on sight, I am actually very content right now we finally have our own space back and for the first time, I can be the mother I want to be with no one over my shoulder. The weather is super toasty, my baby is doing wonderfully well and I have such a great husband. We are completely stony broke but I actually appreciate things so much more than when I was able to buy whatever I wanted. I’m more thoughtful about things and the lithium controls that impuse urge to spend, spend spend.

I have been trying to do small things to make positive changes in my life. I’ve struggled with illness on and off the last few weeks so had to park running for now, but I intend on starting up again once the weather is less oppressive. Instead, I’ve changed my diet and cut out almost all carbs and sugar in an attempt to kick-start my weight loss. And it is amazing! I used to do this before to help me improve my diet and basically ditch donuts and chocolate, and so far a week in I’ve lost around 7 pounds and have way more energy than before. I am not uber-extreme as I do have sauces like ketchup and eat sweet potato etc – and I can’t live without Diet Coke right now – but I hope this will help me get back on the straight and narrow. When I was diagnosed hypothyroid I switched to a gluten-free diet and noticed a huge difference in bloat, weight and general cognition. So that’s my aim over the next few months is to getting to eat healthily and properly.

I am a bit wary as last time I lost a lot of weight I stopped eating – something that happens in every manic phase – and I lose a lot of weight. So DH and I are watching me closely to see if there are any signs of that but so far so good.

The other thing I have discovered is fan fiction. I’m going to write about that in a separate blog but in a nutshell I’ve been writing quite a bit since completing Dragon Age: Inquisition. I  have always wanted to write a proper fantasy story and the tale of my inquisitor caught my imagination like nothing has before and I found an outlet to share it. I’m also a sucker for a good love story – man Cullen is just the hottest character BioWare could have come up with – and it is so cool to craft my own fantasy romance 🙂

I have been writing a lot late at night. You could call it manic but I don’t think so. The signs are not there. There’s no starting and not finishing projects, obsessing madly over completely random things and the impulsive behaviour isn’t there. I only write when I have downtime i.e. my baby has been taken care of and is asleep or with someone else. Otherwise I do stuff with her and put this to one side. And sleep has been fairly lacking, but it is so hot I can’t get much rest anyway so I’m taking advantage of it. And sleeping during the day when my daughter sleeps helps too.

Don’t get me wrong – I could if I was able to write nonstop for weeks at a time about this story that has intrigued me  and I am always thinking what direction it’s going in next. But I can control it. Writing has made me feel alive again and I’m absolutely loving the outlet it gives me.

Useless woman thinks I am disassociating and I don’t agree. When I mentioned what I was doing – because I recognise that it isn’t normal to sit up eight days in a row to write and write and write with about 3 hours sleep a night – she immediately said disassociation which was rather frustrating. I just found it thoroughly enjoyable.

See here’s the thing. My psychologist tells me to stop associating everything with my illnesses. My psychiatrist doesn’t do anything but associate everything I do with my mental health. I feel like I can’t just BE. What is so bad about having my alternate universe to escape to? It isn’t actually any different than gaming for days on end. Why can’t I just enjoy this story telling that I want to do? It won’t last forever. I’m fed up of scrutinising everything and not just allowed to explore my own life without an axe of mental illness over my head.

In other news, I finally made it to a playgroup and it was actually ok. DH came with me which made it much easier. I still struggle to leave the house and do stuff like that on my own but it is getting easier.

Oh and DH and I also made it away for a weekend sans child! We went to Rock am Ring in Germany and it was fucking awesome. We only went for 2 days to save money on accommodation but we were one of the fortunate ones to catch Foo Fighters before they had to cancel their tour. I turned into Mama Smurf, going a bright electric blue for the event and DH got loads of ideas about the new vinyl business he is starting up. And it was fun to just drink a few beers and enjoy time with each other (DH doesn’t drink, bonus for me on not having to drive to and from the hotel). German festivals are awesome, so laid back and relaxed. DH quite rightly pointed out the difference in atmosphere compared to the UK, where everyone just releases all that pent up straight-lacedness and ends up in a huge fight, whereas in Germany even the drunk and drugged up people were so polite to each other. No undercurrents of aggression and it was so relaxing for me. The weather was also fantastic – I’m waaaay too old to be slumming it in the mud and rain just for the sake of the festival atmosphere 😀 in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed that in my life.

So, name of the game going forward – continue to lose weight, get some more regular exercise, sit out the heatwave and play as much as possible with my baby. And ignore what I can’t change i.e. wankers upstairs and useless police forces. Just work on our escape route in the long term and in the short term plan lots of nice one-night trips away!Rock and

Fight or flight

TW: discussion on suicide

I no longer know which one is which. I seem to want to do both at the same time.

It has been a while since I posted. Various reasons, mainly that I have been very busy moving back to our flat and my little baby is so active now at the end of the day there is not an awful lot else left in me.

I was mixed about moving back here. On the one hand it is our little space; we own it, and we have the room to just be a little family. Six months of living with the in laws is six months too long. It was making me ill in ways I hadn’t realised, undermining my authority and confidence as a mother, as a woman.

But within a week of being back that which I dreaded has occurred. Our neighbours are cunts. I do not use that horrid word lightly. If I have to listen to one more fucking Polish dance track at full pelt, shaking my furniture and pictures on the walls I won’t be responsible for my actions. It literally is driving me crazy. There are supposed to be noise laws and the police are supposed to come and take noise readings. Of course, in this poor part of Rotterdam, it’s never a priority. This has been going since 2pm – my family were told there was a party tonight just to let us know. Well fuck you wanker, my mental health and wellbeing of my daughter trump any boozefest you may have planned and I fully intend on having  my sweet revenge once your hangovers and comedowns kick in. As soon as our new speakers arrive. Wheels On The Bus at full pelt 7am anyone? I know my baby for one will love it.

We had to leave today. I was driven out of my home by some selfish twat thinking of their own self gratification. Same as most of humanity, no surprise we are so fucked as a species. The noise cuts through me like a knife, giving me such a strong physical reaction. I want to vomit with the intrusiveness of it all. This sound invading my personal space, my safe haven. I feel demented with it all, with the need to flee to the top of the nearest mountain (and I’d have a bloody long trek from The Netherlands to get there), warring with the descent of the red mist to do physical harm to those causing me this pain and trauma. It is all DH can do to stop me hurling bricks through their window when they refuse to answer the door, knowing that we are asking them to shut the fuck up. I dream of having a shotgun that I shoot through our ceiling, or smashing their door down with an axe and jettisoning the sub woofer (which we have repeatedly requested they move from the floor and put a towel under) into the nearest canal, weighed down by their super expensive stereo.

The problem is that these visualisations become close to hallucinations and in the moment I am so lost to my senses I can’t snap out of it. I feel so under threat by this plague of noise I am close to actually doing something illegal – and driven by my illness – in this case PTSD – I actually have no control over my actions. I actually want to die to make.this anguish in my head end. To make this noise stop. I am a suicide risk right now. My baby is safe with her daddy so I can go knowing she is in good hands. Oh how seductive that thought is. I am no use to anyone like this.

I went and drove my car up the road and sat in it for two hours today just to have some peace and calm. Only the need to look on my sleeping baby got me back into the hellhole that my home feels like. The noise amplifies in my head and I start to hear things that are not there, feel vibrations that don’t exist. I am plugged into Spotify, my own dance music on at full pelt to try and drown out the other noise. I almost wonder if I am in some way autistic, my extreme reaction to such noise being so distressing to me that, like my cousin with Aspergers, I need to listen to music with a headset on to face the outside world. Or in this case, be inside with the outside world sat right in my living room like an unwanted guest that refuses to take a hint and fuck off.

In between all of this is despair. How did my life get to this? I don’t live in places where such people live. I left that behind me so long ago. That’s why I worked so hard at university, got myself a career. Yet here I am, unable to change a thing because the mere thought of work leaves me feeling paralysed and we simply can’t afford to live anywhere else. Mental health is wrecking my life, taking my options away, leaving me impoverished both financially and emotionally.

I’ve taken two of the dreaded Quetiapine and I’m on the sofa waiting for them to knock me out. I hate them but I think I need them. I have to detach. I’ll review this tomorrow. I’m sorry this was so ranty. In a way I want to capture this so I can look back and learn from it when I’m not worried about someone falling through my ceiling with their overenthusiastic and undeniably shit dancing.

Hard work

I finally managed to get my mother on a plane out of here yesterday. It was the longest three days and not how I envisaged spending my daughter’s first birthday. Never again. A day in my mother’s distorted, over-critical and judgemental universe was very challenging. As was an afternoon of my mother in law’s usual overbearing manner towards my child.

It has left me angry and really exhausted. I can’t really write much for the next few days as I can barely put one foot in front of the other. Two rays or sunshine in this horrendous brain state that I am in is that we are moving home this week! And DH and I are having two days alone with each other. We are going to Rock am Ring. I am such a Dave Grohl groupie and am beyond excited. In a quiet, tired way. I will miss my baby awfully though. It is the first time I have left her overnight with someone aside from DH. So it will be a bit hard. But we badly need some time out.

So I wish you all a pleasant week and look forward to reading others’ blogs as usual 🙂

Blonde thoughts

I’m doing my hair again. Just sorting out my roots (I hope – I think I bought the wrong grade of lightener) and then it’s onto the red at long last. I hope it works this time. I haven’t enjoyed being a blondie.

It is really interesting watching how people react to hair colour. Right now I am the largest I have been in my life so I often wear tunic tops, leggings and dresses to cover problem areas. Or DH’s shirts work well too. Oh and it’s all black. So let’s just say I don’t wear the sexiest of outfits. Right now I am comfier when I hide which suits me fine.

So I’m amazed at the amount of attention I receive. I was out with the dog and the daughter the other day, waiting to cross a busy road. I’m not kidding – every third car stared. Mostly men, some women. I don’t think it’s even a sexual thing – just for some reason blondes get gawked at.

It’s not something I enjoy. I am not an attention seeker. I want to slope off into the shadows and work behind the scenes, not be out front grabbing the limelight. I don’t want to be noticed. I get a very physical reaction when I am given attention by anyone not of my immediate circle of DH, my baby and my dog. And it’s not a good reaction.

I’m going for fire engine red right now so perhaps I am making problems for myself. But I resent that something I am doing for me is then used to judge me and somehow people feel they have the right to stare. Or make comments, normally suggestive ones. Fortunately my Dutch is so bad so I’d say more – but fuck off seems to be universally understood at least.

How do you blondes manage it? The constant invasion of your privacy? It drives me mad and puts my paranoia through the roof. It’s made me a bit ill. And goodness it’s high maintenance. In order to look remotely presentable I am full on make up and straighteners every time I’m outside. And I can’t manage that always of course. Which then makes me feel like rubbish for not trying.

I’m really not attention seeking with my hair. I just love the different colours. For me. Not because I’m looking to get laid by a bunch of randoms. Or because I think it’s cool to look different. Or some other bullshit reason.

Can you tell my mother is coming to town tomorrow? What possessed me to ask people along to my daughter’s first birthday in a couple of days? DH and I should have found a cave a very long long way away to celebrate with her.

But that aside, my feelings on being blonde still stand as valid. Particularly when it distracts me from stuff I would rather not think about.

Perfect

I touch on sexual abuse in this post so please don’t read if that will upset you.

Another day, another session with the psychologist. This particular day is granite grey, with wind and rain racing through the tunnels of the bus station, whipping everything in its path. That would also be me. But I like it. You can’t beat a good storm. It amplifies the gritty nature of where I currently live, all concrete and hard edges of unlovliness. Even the straggly looking trees lack colour. Post war architecture was not kind to this particular part of Rotterdam. Again though, it suits me today. I match my surroundings in emotions – unforgiving and temperamental.

I had one of those sessions where I sat and didn’t agree with what I was being told. To a certain extent. My bipolar and sexual abuse are being mixed up with my ability to parent and feel like a mother and they are all separate. In order for me to realise that it is normal to feel stressed, anxious and worried. All mothers go through this and my reactions are not based on my disorders.

Except when you have lived the life you live with abuse and bipolar actually your reactions are based on past experience. I can’t just turn that off. What happened to me has made me the person I am today and that in turn impacts on my reaction. And because of bipolar and abuse, those reactions are loaded with the weight of what I have done in the past and regularly come back to haunt me. There is no escaping it. I live it every day and at some point relive an aspect of my past every day, that either influences how I respond to my daughter or leaves me feeling like I’ve been punched in the stomach. It’s not that I want to have these thoughts, geez far from it – it’s that they appear at random. I can’t control them.

So I don’t agree. But when that happens I smile and nod and move onto something else because I do get benefit out of other things we go through. Perhaps I should argue the point. But I can’t be bothered. I have other things I want to address. And it is kind of her to want to reassure me that I am OK. And a timely reminder to me that no one knows everything. They don’t live inside the murk of my mind, so how could they get it? Doctors only go so far. The rest is up to me.

I have worked really hard to reduce the barriers I have up between me and my baby these last couple of weeks and it is slowly working. I find it very difficult but so rewarding.

I was pondering what we were discussing and why I react the way I do when something isn’t just so. Or perfect. One theme that is recurring for me is perfection. Hmm how to put this.

I have felt throughout my adult life that everything has to be perfect. I am by nature a perfectionist and I have high standards for myself in terms of performance at work, socially. I set myself up for massive failure in this regard, of course. You can’t control everything around you. I am also pretty adaptable and that has helped in striving to achieve perfection back when I was working. I like results and achievements. I am very target driven and goal oriented. Which is OK at work I suppose but not helpful when dealing with a baby.

So what, loads of people are that way, you could shrug. Very true. But when you add in the reasons why I think the picture changes.

I remember my childhood as chaos. My mother wasn’t around as she was working. I was raised by my abuser. Even after she left, the chaos continued. No one ever helped us with homework, showed us how to organise our bag, how to get ready. A teacher pounced on my school bag and showed me up in front of the whole class about homework not done. I was so ashamed. I was eight.

I do, randomly, have one warm memory as a kiddy of my mum doing my hair. That was the thing we seemed to do together. We were left to fend for ourselves mainly, and by the time I was 11 and we were back in the UK we were pretty much on our own. No one to guide us.

It’s a pretty young age to be left to fend for yourself. No one was interested in what I had to do in my life. I was expected to get on with it.

So as an adult I am going about trying to organise everything in an attempt to come to terms with my past. Which is logical I think. But it doesn’t explain this extreme reaction I have to when she throws her food around and refuses to eat. Or when she won’t keep her socks and shoes on.

See, if you are a perfect little girl, bad things don’t happen to you. So if my daughter is a perfect little girl nothing bad will happen to her. Like being abused by a C word of the first order. And so it goes on and on.

In addition to my parents obsessing at us about their totally unrealistic need for us to always be perfect, there is something tickling in my memory about having to do everything spot on. I can’t grasp it. The problem with these memories of abuse is that they are like grey grease in my head. I see something in the shadows of my mind that echoes back in my current behaviour and I can’t bloody well get to it. Then I’m back to the need to control everything in an attempt to understand what happened and bring order to my mind.

But there is something to this perfect thing. I have that nauseated feeling whenever something about the abuse comes up. I need to leave this now and explore it more. Urgh. I have head melt.

Fuck this is hard work.

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It’s not Chariots of Fire

Not by any stretch of the imagination, but I did something today that I believe is the first step towards getting better. I’m on the right path now.

A full eight hours of sleep helped massively with my state of mind (I love my husband). But I have also been getting to the point where I am so full of self loathing that something had to be done.

We Brits are renowned for whinging and with good cause. We are a nation of moaning Minnies. If it’s not the weather it will be the awful traffic on the M4 by Chipping Sodbury (I am sure you can get to Chipping Sodbury from the M4 somehow), or the coffee is too cold or these new shoes are pinching too much or the buses are late or there are leaves on the line. It could be perfection, such as a train running to schedule, and we would still find something to complain about.

I’m no different. I had a draft post called Fat where I bemoaned how trapped I was in my body. Reading it now, it was a pity fest of epic proportions and I am glad I didn’t put it out there for the rest of the world to see. I am a rolling tub of lard and no longer can blame it on my thyroid, pregnancy or post pregnancy. My thyroid is ticking along nicely and a year down the line, that post pregnancy thing just doesn’t wash. I am out of reasons for doing fuck all apart from eat Nutella with a spoon. 

By the way, I am no Katie Hopkins about food and fat. DH has a huge problem around his weight and eating which is for him to deal with (and he is trying) – a combination of learned very bad habits and psychological comfort eating. But I love him for him and size doesn’t come into it for me. I don’t judge anyone else as I see it as irrelevant. I hate how hung up on bodies we are as a society and am frightened for my daughter in this regard.

Where it does matter to me is the connection between diet and physical and mental health. It’s all part of the same package – one affects the other.

Now, with mental health to contend with, I am aware I have huge issues with body image and food. So it’s not just my inbuilt cultural instinct to bitch on about my size that’s the problem. In a manic phase I become anorexic. I stop eating for months at a time. Two pieces of Nutella on toast a day or less is my sum total. I don’t need food. I binge drink, that’s for sure. But food becomes a poison to me. Then, when it flips, I can’t stop eating. Anything that comes into my path I devour mindlessly. I crave carbs and nothing makes that go away. I put all the weight back on and more.

So in amidst this mix of random food chaos was, in the past, my check and balance. And that was exercise. I have exercised regularly for as long as I can remember. I used to train long hours at swimming as a child and then as a teen walked a good two hours a day just to and from school (who does that these days? Such good exercise!). As a student I hit the gym to battle the bulge and managed to get to a good weight. Then in my early 20s I started running.

My mother has been a runner for many decades now and still runs half marathons in her sixties. I didn’t run because I wanted to be me not her. But then I decided that was silly and put on a pair of trainers and off I went. I think that running, above all else, has helped with the stability over the years before my diagnosis, more so than anything.

I have gone from regularly doing half marathons to barely being able to walk up a flight of stairs. I wanted to try out fell running it looked so cool. Now I am scared of going somewhere unfamiliar, let alone up and down Mount Snowdon for a race.

Then I got really sick around five years ago and moved here. I picked it up again and then ran in lunch breaks and before or after work. Sure, lithium makes it harder but not impossible to lose weight. I didn’t get any larger because I started medication. Then I got pregnant. And then we moved. So always an excuse.

I tried to run in Scotland. But in the grip of such severe postnatal depression I felt every agonising minute I was away from my baby for. I also pushed myself too much – I wasn’t even three months postpartum when I was out trying to lose weight. My body was still wrecked from pregnancy and a very difficult labour. Looking back now I realise how ill I was and how dangerous things were. But when you are in the grip of it – and hey exercise is good for you right so it can’t be a sign of something bad? – it’s impossible to see and get out of.

Then the crash came and I was so ill. We left and came back to The Netherlands. Life became a misery of putting one foot in front of the other, just to get through the day. It had been this way for a good few months until something in me snapped yesterday. I decided enough was enough.

I tidied up all our stuff so our room was lovely and neat, blogged a bit about what I wanted to achieve yesterday which I did 🙂 and that really helped. Some good sleep also bought clarity. Oh blessed sleep!

But really for me this is it. No more excuses. I am tired of being this shadow of a person, this half-being that operates in the background. I don’t want to feel like an observer in my daughter’s life, unable to participate and letting others make decisions for her I should be making. I need to shake this sense of detachment, that I am just watching whilst everything happens around me. It’s my choice. It won’t be easy. There will be setbacks. But I am prepared to try.

It’s not just because I’m whingy and British – it is genuinely harder to get exercise regularly when you struggle with your brain. Also ladies don’t rush back into your size 10 jeans straight after labour – give it time. Enjoy your baby. You’ll know when it feels right to work out again.

Twenty minutes today is all it took. And I felt glorious. I was knackered after a combination of walk-run but I have still this lovely feeling of having done something positive. I’ll never be a Roger Bannister or Paula but that doesn’t matter.

I plug myself into my music, plonk shades on and off I go in my own world. It gives me a break. I think through so much. And when I finish I have a sense of achievement.

I looked absurd today as these trainers are stupidly expensive but look horrible. I had DH’s shorts and shirt on as all my stuff is in storage. My norks are enormous as I couldn’t breastfeed and haven’t really shrunk since pregnancy and I had to stuff them into a substandard sports bra (DH is being despatched to storage later today to get my stuff). Gawd make sure you have a good sports bra! I managed but you know…..

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There’s a pic of two essential parts of my therapy. One is far cuter than the other, and I’m looking forward to taking him to the beach to do long runs again like we used to. I’m cautiously excited about the future again. That can only be a good thing 🙂

What did I do next…

Well I did all of it aside from my hair. I figured out I wouldn’t have time to do it properly in my defence. And aside from a slight altercation with an exploding bag of crisps at the checkout of the supermarket, I managed pretty good. Time went so fast. The world did not end as I felt it would when I started doing stuff. Nothing bad happened. It may sound dumb but that’s a big deal for me.

So it was an achievement. And I even had a nice walk with the dog to meet my goal of getting a bit of exercise every day.

And my goodness Inquisition is a beautiful game. I’m so excited to get going on it again.

Hair pics will follow. I hope it works (gulp).

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