Mental illness runs in my family.
Addiction and suicide are rife - My fathers side mainly.
I have his hair. And the same blue/grey eyes. I wonder if this counts? That one day this will be enough to tip me over - and I get to join the ranks of all of those who came before me.
They grew up in and out of care my fathers family...Seven institutionalised adults came churning out of the machine after my nan decided that she didn't much like children after all once they'd arrived. I can only imagine the damage that did to them all...I can't even begin to imagine how that must have felt.
I'm sat in the sunshine with an old friend.
And so I don't see that he's walking through town until he's right at my table...telling me he's had a drink.
And those words cut through me like knives and everything changes in an instant, as the grim reaper himself takes a seat right in front of me, grinning like a cheshire cat, pointing at his scythe and mouthing the words "I've got another one..."
I checked out of my head today.
I walked out of work, threw some clothes in a bag, jumped in a taxi and got the fuck out of Dodge while I was still able to think straight.
And no it wasn't planned and yes it came like a tsunami and I ran for the fucking hills before my over-loaded head exploded.
And I've been here ever since.
It's not quite Wonderland - although it absolutely could be. I'm a million per cent sure about that.
That whacking great spectre of addiction following me around...one claw round my windpipe with every step I'm taking, ready to throw my bag of clothes in his car and drag me straight back to hell...
Well he can fuck right off.
It's not happening.
Because I know who he is and I know what he looks like and even though I'm on the fucking floor today I'm still one step ahead of him.
I have a mental illness.
It tries to take over my head and tell me things that aren't true so that I can be a statistic.
It hangs out with my addiction, giving me "solutions" to my problems knowing full well that they will make everything a million times worse and play me right into the grim reapers hands...
Not going there.
So those two can knock themselves out throwing their curve balls and their skittles at me...
I'm not playing.
And when they are done and bored of that, they can fuck off back to Wonderland and give the place they set for me to someone else.
Because I'm a little bit freaked out and a little bit overwhelmed at the minute granted...but that won't kill me....what I'm not doing is ever drinking tea or eating cake with those two fucker's ever again...because that shit will.
I can't sleep with this guy.
And it's not like I don't want to.
I really fucking do.
I just can't get over my nerves.
Mainly because I really fucking want to...like you wouldn't believe.
This hasn't happened before and it's freaking me out.
I don't know what to make of it.
I've had sober sex.
Only with him it's not and so by default it is...
Before I gave up drinking I'd say that we'd be pretty evenly matched in the bedroom department...both of us curious...both of us hedonists...
Both of us clearly fancying the fuck out of each other...
The chemistry is palpable.
But I did give up drinking and little miss hedonistic had to get her marching orders...and now in bed around him I feel like the red dwarf cat who's just lost all his cool and has realised he's turned into Dwayne Dibley...
I could cry.
I could really fucking cry right now.
I feel inadequate. I feel shy. I feel like there is absolutely no way on earth that I can show my moves to this man without getting at least a tiny bit shitfaced and losing my inhibitions...
Only getting shitfaced is not an option.
Because this man is pretty awesome, granted...
But awesome enough for me to flush my life back down the toilet for a second time just so that I can sleep with him...?
There's nothing in this world "awesome" enough for me to ruin my recovery for...
So it that means that bed with this guy maybe won't happen...then fine.
I might not be cool but I won't be an addict either...and in the big, grand scheme of things that's really all that matters...
Dwayne Dibley it is then...
I have a friend called Ryan.
I saw him last week.
He was sat in the place where he always goes when things are going wrong for him...
The nearest shop doorway.
I just looked for the pile of clothes and his tatty old trainers...the ones that they didn't take the last time he got robbed.
He wasn't too hard to find.
He's not doing too well right now, Ryan.
He's just got out of prison.
We had a little chat, but then he picked up his can of cider again and within a few minutes I'd lost him.
I hate seeing him living like this.
He sleeps in doorways that smell of piss.
And he picks up dog ends off the floor.
He has the mental age and capacity of a pre-adolescent..
He's also a really nice guy.
I used to look out for him in rehab.
Some twat called Mikey used to bully him.
He thought he was a big man...
But then there was an incident with an ashtray and well, Mikey nearly met his maker...
I kind of wish he had if I'm honest.
See Mikey tried to bully me too...but I stood up to him.
And then he overstepped the mark one night and nearly got deaded...
So I worry about Ryans safety...out here on the streets.
Ryan worries about what's going to happen when he runs out of cider.
Because that's as far ahead as you think when you have an addiction.
I should know.
Except I slayed my demons...
Eventually he falls asleep.
I go home.
I can't take him with me.
I don't have any drugs or alcohol to give him. He wouldn't last 5 minutes. He needs them just to function now.
I can't help Ryan.
He's my friend and I can't help him.
Because he's out here on his arse on the streets here and twats like Mikey prey on that.
And people like Ryan don't stand a chance when they are having to fend off Mikey's
I fucking hate addiction...
If you, or any one you know has ever had a relationship with an addict, you will know that being around one is bloody hard work. It's the emotional equivalent of letting a hungry, muddy rottweiler loose in a show-home. It's carnage.
Even when you are prepared for the tantrums, the lies, the plea-bargains and the often empty promises, it's a mammoth task and one that shouldn't be underestimated. Because getting emotionally involved on any level means that like it or not, you become an "Enabler". And according to pretty much every professional ever, thats "naughty"....so don't do it.
An "Enabler" basically does what it says on the tin. Because, by providing practical support like providing hot meals, cooking, cleaning, buying food, toiletries, clothes or whatever, you are basically "enabling" the person you care about to continue blithely on feeding their habit while you run around after them getting the shit end of the stick....
I used to be a substance-misuse support worker. I know all of this. I know that certain things are frowned upon. I "enable" my boyfriend anyway. Because I love him and I know that at present he struggles to do these things for himself.
I'm not prepared to let him lie around under a filthy duvet because I'm not supposed to do the laundry. Or watch him go hungry because he's too sick or weak to make himself a sandwich. I don't want the flat where he lives and where I spend my spare time to be a shit-tip. So I make sure that when I am around that these things get done. Am I enabling him? Yes. Am I happy about that? Not really.....no. But I know that at present and for as long as I stay with him, then I'm just going to roll with that.
I get angry with him. Frustrated. Upset....because I want him to be well and he isn't. I wish things were different. Because he was sober when I met him the second time around. He seemed to be doing ok. But then he went to the shop and bought vodka and now he is anything but. That was two months ago.
I went to see him on Tuesday. He said he was low. But what he actually meant was that he was drunk. He had been for days. Since I walked out on him Thursday in fact. He denied it of course....even though he could barely stand. I didn't bat an eyelid. It's becoming the norm. The place was a pig sty. Thats becoming the norm too. Broken glass on the floor....food everywhere. Sandwhich crusts mainly. He can't make much else.
I cooked us a roast. "Enabled" him again. He didn't want to eat it in front of me.....which in alcohol speak interpretes into "I can't pick up my knife and fork". I left him to it and went and sat in the kitchen where I ate mine. His went in the bin. Minus the gravy. That was all over the duvet. Which bought a whole new meaning to the term "damp patch" when we had to sleep under it later.
I couldn't be arsed to tell him about it. He wouldn't care anyway. I'll wash it in the morning.....with everything else that I picked up off the floor earlier.
Because that's what us "Enablers" do. Well.....I did. Because actually I'm not doing this anymore. See, when I scraped his plate into the bin earlier, I saw our relationship in there...right there at the bottom. Hidden under the scraps. Which deep down is all that he's offering me....and that's on a good day. On nights like tonight, you don't want to know.
I'm worth more than scraps. Plus I've decided that I don't like cleaning up sick.
So I'm leaving him. In fact I left him on Wednesday. I packed all my things and I caught the train back. I just don't think he's noticed yet.
Which is in itself "enabling". It enables me for a change. It enables me to move on from this and to not look back. Because even I am not that stupid....
#flogging a dead horse
I'm not an angel.
I've never claimed to be... and I wouldn't qualify anyway; there are far too many notches on my bedpost.
Because sadly, I'm not an 'etch-a-sketch'; I don't have an 'erase' button option like they do in "Black Mirror", so basically everything I've ever done in that department has been written across my soul in either permanant marker or giant neon letters.
For better or for worse.
Mainly for worse...
But anyway -
It's not supposed to be like this.
I'm supposed to be a Princess.
It's what all the books said when I was little and still believed in fairytales...I was just waiting for my prince and my very own castle and then we'd both live happily ever after...
Well the books can fuck right off.
Because there is no prince and there is no castle...
Not for me.
There's just a world of shit in this scummy little back street life of mine where I spend my nights on my knees or std and crab dodging.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing...
Because if I'd had that to start with I'd have run a fucking mile.
My name is Pandora.
Pan to my friends
But you can call me jaded...
*** A snapshot of something I'm working on with @iemmaturner that will showcase soon...***
Have you ever had a friend who's not really a friend?? ...only you don't know that at the time because they are busy being all friendly and stuff...and it's only later...further down the line that you realise they are not your friend at all - never have been and never will be.
But by then it's too late...
You're hooked now...
Because that new best thing that they convinced you to try the day that the sky fell in, has got it's hooks in you...and now you are fucked.
With a Capital F...
And you can't do a fucking thing about it...
Except keep buying more...
Because you are one syringe too late in realising that you're exactly where they wanted you all along...and you aint going nowhere now.
I'm in my hotel room.
This bed is amazing.
My window is open, sirens are blaring, car horns are beeping and the sound of a million different city dwellers rushing out and about in the city below me fills my ears.
It's a quarter past Midnight.
I really should be sleeping...
But this city is awake right now and so am I...
I'm too excited to sleep.
I'm so not sleeping...
"So...what do you think?"...
She's beaming - and she's got that hopeful, expectant expression on her face which means that I'm going to have to lie...
Because it smells of dog piss, is what I think; but it's too late now, because I signed the contract half an hour ago, which means that this top floor flat that smells like a urinal on the outskirts of one of the roughest estates in town is now my new pad.
"Home" I think she called it...somewhere where I can rebuild and start to get my head together.
I already have my doubts...
It's boiling outside...
I'm wearing a playsuit - the one that always reminds me of him.
The one that always reminds me of me...
The me when I was happy and carefree and gave zero fucks as long as I was out with this guy and we were rocking it out like the hedonists we were back then...
This is a blog about my mum.
I don't write about her very often. Our relationship is complex and mostly non-existent. Which I hate... but that's how it's always been so now I just get on with it.
As a child, living with my mum was like trying to balance a handgrenade.
On a see-saw.
With no hands.
My little brother perched on one end, me on the other, and my mum the un-exploded bomb in the middle, in all of her unpredicable, chaotic glory rolling around between us, the pin constantly working loose but never quite coming out completely.
The fear of that pin coming out caused me to live my life in a constant state of high alert and high anxiety, which now I mostly manage, but back then was horrendous.
When I was a kid I loved Weebles.
These, along with Lego bricks and Play-People were my absolute best things. I loved them. I didn't have a favourite, but if I absolutely had to choose between them all then Weebles would win hands down.
Don't get me wrong, Play-People were cool... They were better-looking for a start. They could do more stuff - plus they could live in the houses I built for them out of my Lego bricks, so in the versatility stakes they pretty much nailed it... but Weebles? Well they were something else.
In a league of their own.
Because Weebles were hardcore.
It didn't matter how hard you flicked them or how rough you played, those badboys were indestructible. You just couldn't keep them down, and believe me I tried - usually by flicking them as hard as I could - a manouvre which would floor a lego-man completely, but which didn't phase my Weebles... A bit of a wobble for a few seconds - a minute at most, and then they were up...while my lego men and Play People lay in crumpled heaps on the floor. Totally K.O'd.
So Weebles are resillient little fuckers.
I'm sat in the hotseat...It's my turn to go.
My turn to read out to the world, part two of my alcohol addiction homework...or, as we referred to it back then in rehab, our "Consequences".
We all hated this bit.
The bit where we are forced to see our addiction from someone elses point of view.
Someone close to us.
Someone who clearly cares about us, having taken the time out to write about how we made them feel back then...
And it's horrendous. Soul-destroying...and a teeny, tiny bit of a gamechanger.
Because it's every bit as excrutiating as it sounds ...
So I try to stop shaking and I take a deep breath and then eventually I start to read...
I was recently involved in a social media campaign in an attempt to raise awareness of what it feels like to be homeless. I wrote an article about a lady whose "home" was a tent in a commune underneath a railway bridge. Her "bathroom" the great outdoors.....
A friend of mine is writing a book - A compilation of personal accounts centred around the #metoo hashtag.
We share this in common, my friend and I. We've both experienced the devastation of rape, but thankfully, years later we've worked our way through it and come out on the other side.
We were chatting online. We talked about the book; discussed our own experiences, and I asked her if she had ever had counselling. After a minutes hesitation, her reply was "No.....unless you count talking to the fridge".......
Which she'd obviously been doing and which clearly seemed to work for her at the time.
It made perfect sense. Because the idea of my friend talking to that fridge was an absolute lightbulb moment. For reasons I've outlined below.
You see, a fridge is designed with a door that can be opened 24 hours a day, meaning that it's always there when you need it - anytime, night or day. A fridge can't talk....so it can't "give advice" or interrupt you mid-flow. It can't walk either...so it's not going to get up and leave halfway through your conversation. Its job is to basically chill the wine and keep hold of the chocolate for when you've finished off-loading and need consolation....
It's the perfect tool for the job.....
My friend Nathan knows me pretty well - We spend a lot of time together. A lot more time than we used to actually, now that I'm sober and capable of stringing more than just the odd sentence together.
Tonight we are talking about my drinking days. I don't really want to have this conversation but it's Nath and he was worried for a while and so I know that I should.
I take a sip of my drink, grit my teeth and prepare myself for a bumpy ride...
You don't need a degree in fashion to fit in in rehab....Because everyone looks the same in there. Tracksuits and hoodies by day, Pj's and hoodies by night.
We were one huge "blind date from hell" fest. Styled by W*therspoons and the stuff that J*remy Kyles wet dreams are made of.
We all looked rough as rats.
Because you're not out to impress anyone in rehab. Or meet the love of your life.... You're too busy trying to get well. And so for a girl like me who normally won't leave the house unless I'm mascared up to the max, not having to make the effort for a while was liberating.
The first few days I was in there, I did do the works.....habit more than anything. But then I realised that it would be much more productive to grab an extra half an hour in bed every morning, and rock up to morning check-in looking like a garbage pail kid like everyone else, than faff about trying to get my eyeliner straight for a bunch of people who actually didn't give a rats ass what i looked like.