health

  • Blurry....

    Living with an addiction is horrific.

    It's Groundhog day. Where the only thing that changes is the amount and severity of bad shit that happens to you.

    I still can't believe that this is how I used to live my life.

    Or that a typical 24 hours went something like this.

    And that, believe it or not, this was what I would class as a "good day" ....(because I really don't want to talk about the bad)....

    Welcome to a day in my life back then....

    I've had better. But I've also had a hell of a lot worse.....

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  • Despicable Me....

    12 months ago I was unemployable. 

    I wore the same crumpled clothes for days on end, rarely showered or brushed my teeth and my hair was matted and tangled. I weighed just over 6 stone and was so thin and malnourished that  I struggled to walk.

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  • Blacking Out.....

    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...

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  • My Kingdom for a Haribo....

    Having us compete against each other to see which team could  make the best midget gem bridge was the brain child of one of the support workers in detox. It was supposed to keep us out of mischief for an hour while the rest of the staff had a much needed cup of tea.

    Unfortunately all it did was create chaos; For two reasons.

    One : We were none of us five years old. And told her so. And two : You don't give recovering addicts with an insatiable craving for sugar, sweets. Everyone knows that. It sent us crackers.

    Haribo was literally currency in there. Tangfastics were like gold dust by the end of each week. It's all we ever put on our shopping lists. Haribo's, and tobacco if you smoked.

    Anyway, three quarters of the midget gems  were gone before she'd even got our attention. Which meant that we had uneven numbers of sweets to play with which made it unfair. Which meant that it was a pointless exercise.  We ate the rest of the sweets while we relayed this information to her when she came to check on our progress. Which was basically none existent... Much to her dismay. 

    It was hilarious....

    Her day got progressively worse when I refused to take part in the second lesson which involved making a tower out of marshmallows and dried spaghetti. Again, because I am not five years old. 

    She tried to insist; told me to "let my inner child out to play"....to which I replied that my inner child had already consumed far too many e-numbers for one day thank you very much, and would therefore be much better off if left to read her book quietly on the sofa - in case all of the midget gems she'd consumed in record time earlier made her sick.....Long story short. I didn't have to make the tower. 1-0 to me.

    Brilliant.

    Up until this point I had been completely compliant in treatment. I hadn't dared say no to anything....but now my inner rebel was starting to stir. Which meant that I was getting better. I was finding my voice. It was time to start thinking about getting out of here and onto stage two.

    I had been a model patient in detox. They were going to love me in rehab.....

  • My Inner Diva and me....

    Wow.

    Where to start with this one? She's kind of a law unto herself. She can be hard to pin down in a description. A cross between the terrible two's and a stroppy teenager at a push, with an ego the size of a small country..... If I had to elaborate.

    She lives by her own set of rules (that she created and therefore can change at any time ) and never admits that she's wrong. She's funny and sexy, loud and insistent with occasional outbursts of Tourettes. I love her. I think she's brilliant.

    I have no idea where she came from. She just appeared. Magically.  Sometime during my little spell in detox. Possibly as a side-effect of all of the medication I was taking at the time....anyway,  It was bizarre.

    I didn't want to make a marshmallow tower ( long story) and was busy trying to work out how to rebel. I've always had cripplingly low self confidence and try to avoid any type  of confrontation wherever possible. At least I used to. This mysterious new Inner Diva of mine had other ideas.

    "What are you doing?" (Her)

    "I'm sorry, what?..."

    "I asked what you are doing? What are you going to do with all those sweets?"

    "Hmmmmnn...She wants me to make a marshmallow tower" (me)

    "Omg. Are you for real?? Why?"

    "I have no idea. It's supposed to help liberate my inner child....or something. I'm not quite sure. I haven't done it before."

    "Liberate your inner child?? By threading marshmallows onto spaghetti?? That's hilarious. I bet it took her ages to think of that little gem. Have you seen her shoes by the way? What on earth is she thinking? They're hideous....Anyway. It's a rubbish idea. You're not five years old. Jesus! C'mon. Say you're not doing it. I'll help you to eat them and then we can go and watch TV or something..."

    On and on and on she went. "What's he in for?" "Ooh he's nice, is he taken?" Blah, blah blah. I couldn't concentrate. I was afraid that she'd actually make my ears bleed if I didn't do what she said.  On those grounds I refused to make the tower. It was liberating. I ate the marshmallows and Inner diva and I went off to read a book. It was the only thing I could think of that might keep her quiet.

    From that day onwards she followed me everywhere.  A naughty fairy in sky- high heels perched on my shoulder, idly painting her nails. Me and my shadow.

    I was getting a hard time in rehab from the staff. Completely undeserved to be fair. I'd been a model patient. I refused to do something that I knew would have harmed my recovery. They threatened to kick me out if I didn't comply. They made me cry. The old me probably would have crumbled. But I hadn't factored in Inner Diva. It was like waving a red flag to a bull. Inner Diva was having none of it. She doesn't take any shit. Which means that now she's in town I'm not allowed to either. She was there like a shot.

    "Tell them to shove it up their arse. They can't talk to you like that. Who do they think they are?  C'mon, we're leaving. Nobody puts baby in the corner. You can pick up your things later. I want to go shopping...." 

    I didn't have a plan for leaving rehab. I had nowhere to go.  But yeah, I wanted to go shopping too now you come to mention it.  I'd been cooped up for months in the big brother house. Some fresh air and a bit of retail therapy would do me good. Needless to say, that was the end of my rehab days. I threw a few things together and then Inner Diva and I went to Lush. 

    We'd figure out a plan later.

    I love her. I really do. But boy, she's relentless. She has an opinion on absolutely everything. Whether I ask for it or not. When i'm in the shower for example, or out on a date...

    I'd chosen the scallops. My absolute favourite. My starter was waiting for me when I returned from the ladies.

    Inner Diva was not impressed. 

    "Where's the rest of it?" Are you kidding me? How much? Ten pounds?? Ten?? Have you seen the size of it? That's scandalous. Call her over. There's no way you're paying for that. There is literally nothing on that plate. No I won't be quiet. I don't care if I'm shouting. Listen very carefully. You.Are.Not.Paying. Ten. Pounds. For. That. C'mon, we're leaving. I'll meet you outside. We can get fish and chips or something. And get change from a tenner...."

    He didn't want to leave. Or go somewhere else. Even though his starter was bland and overcooked. He preferred to sit there and suffer until after we'd been served  our equally crappy mains.  I didn't want to sit there eating rubbish food. I wanted to be sat on the seafront with Inner Diva, eating fish and chips with the wind in my hair.

    We didn't have a second date. Inner Diva was bored rigid. So was I to be fair. And he was going bald....

    So this is how we live. She's my wingwoman. My naughty and my nice. Queen Bee without a doubt. What she says goes. And so far she is actually always right. I'm a million times more confident with her around.  I'd be completely lost without her . And the crazy adventures we have along the way. She rocks. And by default, on occasion so do I. 

    Inner Diva, I salute you...long may you reign.

  • Hermiting....

    I'm writing in Wetherspoons.

     I caught the bus into town. Had the obligatory conversations with the characters and old dears who live in my sleepy little village while I waited at the bus stop outside the post office a.k.a -  The hub of our tranquil little corner of the world. Then I buried my head in a book for the duration of the journey until I reached my destination.

    After a bit of retail therapy I'll catch the bus back. Walking through these green fields of nothingness until I reach my little van tucked away amongst the trees, out here in nowheresville.

    I'll lock myself in. Later I'll cook. Maybe listen to music. Shower, and then write or  watch Netflix. I'll either be in bed before Midnight or still awake at 3....

     

    At some point I need to think about socialising.

    People are friendly here; There's a generation gap a lot of the time but I quite like it. They probably already know who I am. A quick fling with a work colleague probably hasn't done me any favours thanks to his disgruntled ex girlfriend who, so I've heard on the grapevine, couldn't wait to tell all and sundry what a floozy I am. Maybe she needs to get over it. She definitely needs to stop taking my tips. It's been 18 months since they split. And she's welcome to try and get him back. Although I doubt that he would have her...she's a bit of a cow....(my thoughts, his words). Massive arse....

    Anyway - Socialising....It's on my to-do list. It's necessary. But it's a daunting prospect. It's such a tiny place. One wrong move here and you're screwed. And I'm kind of the queen of making wrong moves. Plus I'm scared. I find it hard to trust people. A side effect of living with drop outs and criminals during my brief stint in rehab and supported housing. I didn't really get to mix with normal. Just the broken and flawed.

    It's changed me a little bit. Toughened me up. Given me an edge that I'm not sure I like. I'm struggling to get to grips with this new, suspicious me. I give off an aura of a woman not to be messed with. Don't get me wrong, it has its plus points - I no longer get hit on in Wetherspoons for example; I've clearly moved up a few notches since those days.... But  it's a bit of a double edged sword when you are new in town and are looking to make new friends.

    Everything here is chocolate box territory. There are a lot of tractors and happy,  muddy dogs walked by equally happy "dressed for the weather" villagers. All itching to find out more about the new girl.

    There are two pubs. Proper cosy village affairs. All draft beers and real ales. I stand out in my sobriety on the rare occasion that I venture out. That, coupled with the fact that  I'm new in town makes me  stick out here like a sore thumb.

    The old me wouldn't bat an eyelid at being sat on her own amongst strangers in a strange town. But I'm not the old me anymore. My confidence took a hiding after the pyschopath boyfriend episode. So I'm much quieter these days. Bordering on shy. Which is making me just want to stay a recluse. It's so much easier than contemplating putting myself out there....

    I've lived here for three months and I don't know any streetnames, or cut-throughs or anybody's name apart from those of my work colleagues. That's a bit unsettling. I feel almost agoraphobic which isn't especially helpful to my state of mind after the year I've had already.

    So I'm not sure how to handle this right now. It's all a little bit overwhelming. I feel damned if I do and damned if I don't. I'm lonely but I'm scared to socialise. Not exactly a winning combination. Especially if in the future I want to think about dating again....because at this rate unless any future potential Mr Right breaks in to my caravan  he's unlikely to find me. And if he was to break in then obviously I would be phoning the police - not contemplating going out with him.....God. Sometimes I wish that our little post office/convienience store sold new heads. They sell just about everything else. That way I could trade this one in and just crack on. Unfortunately, although they do a mean line in novelty keyrings and postcards for those amongst us just passing through, they don't appear to have any heads in stock. 

    Bugger. 

  • Despicable Me....

    12 months ago I was unemployable. 

    I wore the same crumpled clothes for days on end, rarely showered or brushed my teeth and my hair was matted and tangled. I weighed just over 6 stone and was so thin and malnourished that  I struggled to walk.

    People laughed and talked about me...when they weren't trying to take advantage - Which was most of the time.

    I was a skeletal suicidal mess.

    A horrific year drove me to have  a mental breakdown and completely wrecked my once normal happy and stable life. It rendered me virtually incapable of anything except drowning myself in alcohol, and forcing myself to make  the everyday  necessary walk to the off-licence to buy more supplies.

    But there were valid  reasons behind my erratic  behaviour and lack of personal hygiene. Apart from the crushing depression that threatened to consume me on a daily basis....

    I didn't not change my clothes or shower because I was lazy -  I was sofa-surfing and the truth was that I was scared to take my clothes off in a virtual strangers house - I couldn't bear the thought of him knowing that I was naked just the other side of the door. For all sorts of reasons. Even though I'm sure that his intentions were good. So to be on the safe side I wore everything I owned. Constantly. Boots included. Even when I got into my sleeping bag. Especially when I got into my sleeping bag..... I was vulnerable in the day. I wasn't taking any chances at night.....

    I didn't brush my teeth because simply attempting to put a brush into my mouth made me sick. Bile mainly. I wasn't eating enough to throw up properly.

    And my hair was tangled and matted because of the way that I was living. And the fact that I didn't have a hairbrush or the money to sort it out.

    I was signed off on long term sick.  I was addicted to alcohol and my life was a car crash....

    No-one would have wanted to employ me. I wouldn't have been able to hold a job down if they did....

    It was horrific. No. It was beyond horrific. I was living in hell.

    Almost 11 months later and it is a completely different story.

    I'm free from my addiction. I  have a job and a nice place to live. I sleep in my own  bed every night. I shower and brush my teeth every day twice a day.

    I wear nice clothes. I change them daily too.

    I cook for myself and my fridge and my cupboards are full.

    My hair and my home gleam.

    My boss doesn't know about the horrors of my past. I take pride in the fact that he would never guess. He took a chance on me and my CV full of gaping holes because he saw something in me that he could trust.

    I work hard and I've never once let him down by being late, slovenly or disrespectful.

    In the mornings I clean toilets. I do whatever job he asks of me with a smile on my face and a spring in my step. In my spare time I write. 

    All I needed to help me to turn my life back around once I'd sought help for my addiction was someone just to give me a chance.

    He did and I make sure every single day that I repay him for that.

    Thankfully, more and more employers are waking up to the fact that Mental Illness exists. That it affects a lot of people, and that it isn't going to go away anytime soon. 

    Living with Mental Illness is hard. A lot of people who have this feel isolated, inferior and inadequate; Because they've been made to feel this way -  People with qualifications, and transferrable life skills. People like me  who are an absolute dream to employ if someone just  takes the time to reach out and offer that chance without letting outdated ideas and social stigmas get in the way......

    Like #the888collectiv. A Social Enterprise with Mental Health firmly rooted in the heart of its Constitution - because they understand. They "Get it". They get how hard it is to sell yourself to an employer when your self esteem and self confidence are on the floor. They've opened their door anyway. No lengthy explanations needed.

    Throwing a lifeline for people like me when other people prefer to look away.

    Girls I salute you. Long may you reign xx

    Follow them on #Twitter @the888collectiv or catch up with their latest news at www.the888collective.com 

  • Alices Demise....

    Part 2.

    Alices Demise....

    He was mad of course.

    Clinically insane at one point. But by that stage I was borderline losing it too so we were to get on well together.

    It wasn't what I expected. The living room was over-crowded and smelt of Vanilla and cigarette smoke. I hate Vanilla. The sickly sweet smell of it made me gag and I tried hard not to retch. There were cans of accelerant everywhere. Mainly lighter fuel.  He told me once that he had served time in Prison. For arson.

    I believed him.  I tried not to look.

    I slept in my clothes. I didn't have anything else. He gave me a blanket and a pillow which were later replaced with a sleeping bag, once it became apparant that the sofa may have to be on standby. I slept like a log. Exhaustion and alcohol are a winning combination.

    The sofa became my place of safety - and somewhere where I could lose my mind quietly, without violent interruptions from my psychopathic ex.  I returned to sleep there time and time again. Mostly in tears after yet another night of abuse from the twisted guy I was in a so called "relationship" with.

    I kept going back to him - falling for his lies.  I obviously had a death wish. It nearly came true once or twice. My guardian angel had her work cut out for sure. Suprised she stuck it out to be fair. I  would have thrown the towel in ages ago. "Sorry love, you're on your own - forgot to mention I have a plane to catch. Gotta go. Have a nice life, bye..." or words to that effect.

    I was ill of course. Dangerously so.  Had been deteriorating for a while. Mentally as well as physically. I know that now. I just wasn't thinking straight. I was there in body but my mind had gone awol for a while. He could empathise.

    He had been institutionalised. Hospitals, prisons. They gave him electric shock therapy. He described the horrors to me. How he used to beg them to stop. I couldn't even imagine.

    I didn't sleep well. He would come in to smoke a cigarette or a joint and I would already be awake.

    We'd chat. About allsorts and then he would wander off to bed, instructing me to wake him if I needed the company. I never did - that would have just been weird.

    He was good to me. Respectful. Again, good job really as I don't know how I would have coped otherwise. He never overstepped the invisible line that I had drawn the first night I stayed there - although the thought that he might crossed my mind several times.

    He provided the sofa and a hot shower (I rarely used it) -  allowed me to wash my clothes. I provided company and my freaked out, traumatised self along with the very occasional take-away.

    He compared me to Alice in wonderland. Pretty accurate. I had the "drink me" part of her journey down pat. He was The Cheshire Cat....C.C for short. 

    He tried to do nice things for me. He printed out photo's that I had, and made my favourite songs into a playlist.

    One morning I woke up and there was my favourite photograph of Little man staring down at me from the big screen. It was meant well but it freaked me out a bit if i'm honest.

    As I'm writing this i'm shuddering . It's hard to take it in looking back. It was beyond surrreal. But at the time it seemed perfectly normal.

    Every day I was becoming more and more ill. I was still being hounded by the horrible guy I was with. I finally managed to leave him while his back was turned. Now I was hiding from him. He threatened me constantly. I believed every word of his threats. 

    My days were spent indoors, with me only venturing out to buy more alcohol once my supplies ran out,  and my nights were spent sharing the life of a once clinically insane pensioner with a fondness for setting fire to things.

    I didn't need drugs to alter my mind by now..it was pretty much shot to bits all by itself.

    I was ill, malnourished, and could barely walk.  Personal hygiene was now completely alien to me. I couldn't brush my teeth, the thought made me retch. I was sick and shaking every morning from withdrawal. I couldn't face taking a shower or changing my clothes as I couldn't bear the thought of him knowing that I was naked on the other side of the door. It just freaked me out.

    I wore the same clothes daily so I didnt have to get changed. I finally took my boots off after ten days straight and my feet were black. It was horrific. I barely gave two shits. I had gone back to shower at my ex'es - at his invitation. He had been playing "Good cop" and  on the surface appeared shocked at the state of me. I genuinely thought that he was being nice. Instead he sent me a gloating text message minutes after I had left, debating whether or not he should go for a second shower that day...."not because he needed to...just because he could".....knowing how much that would get to me. True to form. Straight for the jugular.

    The clock was ticking. Detox was looming....I just had to keep hold of my sanity for a little while longer. I was even answering to Alice at this point and actually felt like I was her at times. Freaked out doesn't come close to I was feeling at this point.

    Alice needed to leave while there was still a chance that sanity could be restored. Her little bag was packed . She was ready.

    Her drivers name was Scott. He was taking her to hospital. She was relieved to see that he was driving a seat. She was pretty convinced that her ticket would have been for the sunshine bus.

    Alice's time in Wonderland was over. It wasn't a minute too soon. A new kind of craziness beckoned. And this time there were drugs...

    **Disclaimer** C.C was a friend to me when I needed it most. He was my protector and guardian and I am indebted to him for everything he did. He probably saved my life...this is my account of my mental health at that time only and is in no way meant to be disrespectful to him.