not the slide
My boyfriend has Psychosis. It means that he sees, hears and talks to people who aren't actually there. At least if they are, they are very very quiet and very very small, as no-one else can see or hear them...I can't anyway.
It only happens when he's been drinking heavily and is therefore either dangerously intoxicated or starting to withdraw. Which currently is most of the time right now, and it's a worrying, and often disturbing experience for anyone around him, watching a fully grown man sit and have an animated conversation with people that only he can see.
During Psychosis he loses touch with reality. He only sees and hears the scenarios in his head that to him are real conversations, but to everyone else are the red flags that indicate that his drinking is once again spiralling out of control and that he is mentally and physically extremely unwell and in serious need of professional help.
Sometimes he talks to me too, but not very often - at least not to my face. In reality he talks to me all the time...it's just that I'm very rarely in the same room when the "conversation" gets going. I'll be in the kitchen or the bathroom maybe....he'll be convinced that I'm sat there next to him on the sofa in the living room. But when I try to say as much he accuses me of lying and playing games with his head...when in reality it's not actually me playing headgames at all. It's vodka and the copious quantities of it that he continues to drink that's busy distorting his reality.
It's upsetting to see and hear him like this. Talking away to himself for hours on end...having full-on conversations with these imaginary people that aren't actually there. But if I try to hold a conversation and tell him that he's talking to himself he doesn't believe me.
Especially when it's 3.00am and I can't sleep because his imaginary friends are keeping him up all night again...He's usually having a 'discussion' about me and how he's scared that he'll lose me if this carries on. Which he will if he doesn't get help. Because seeing and hearing him like this is excrutiating...I actually can't take much more. His alcohol induced mental problems are starting to consume us both.
The whispered conversations are horrendous...the look on his face when I try to explain to him that there is no-one in the room breaks my heart. Because he genuinely doesn't know what is going on around him.
It makes him paranoid.
He thinks that I have an agenda. That I'm filming him / recording him...taking photos. For the record I'm not. I wouldn't. Although I have to admit that it has crossed my mind...because maybe then he would see what everyone else sees...that he's talking to himself. But it would terrify him. The thought makes me sick. Its not an option.
My boyfriend desperately needs help. He's very very sick. He's been hospitalised several times because of his addiction. But he refuses to see the doctor more often than not...presumably because he will be told in no uncertain terms that he needs to stop drinking. Which he continues to do on a daily basis and which is slowly but surely killing him...because he physically and mentally can no longer do without it.
So the talking continues and every day he gets worse. He no longer needs me to talk to... his friends are all consuming. If they tidied up after him too then maybe I would be more tolerant. But they don't...they just continue to talk cod-shit, which he in turn talks back...24/7. Unless he's asleep...
It makes him incredibly hard to be around and even harder to listen to. I constantly have to leave the room just to breathe for a second. Ever increasingly I'm leaving the flat completely...because I need some space from him and some real conversation...with real actual people.
It's breaking my heart...I'm at my wits end and I'm ready to leave. I love him so much but I have no idea where to go from here. Except home. He doesn't even know if I'm there or not anymore... I may as well be invisible...except that if I was then maybe he would talk to me more...
My boyfriend needs help. Without it he will die. He can't carry on like this. His body is screaming for him to stop drinking alcohol. It can't keep up with the strain that he's under and his head is slowly turning to blancmange. Things have to change...because at this rate, as much as we all love and care for him, one by one everyone else will leave him too....for the sake of their sanity if nothing else.
So my boyfriends imaginary friends had better be loyal...because if he continues to refuse the help that he needs, then those invisible mates of his will be all he's got left...which is heartbreaking...
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...
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've always been a 'fixer'. I'm brilliant at it. Which is a shame....because up until now, this amazing ability that I have to pick people up, straighten people out and get them back on track again has seemingly never applied when it's my own problems that need to be dealt with.
The last few years have been ridiculously hard for me. An incredible amount of shit landed in my general direction and it's taken me a long, long time to claw my way out of the absolute madness and mess that that caused me and begin to regain enough confidence to attempt to rebuild.
Today has been hard.
I've been on a training course. A few hundred yards from my ex boyfriends house. We broke up recently...needless to say I struggled to concentrate. All I could think of was him.
The course was centred around addiction. My ex-boyfriend is an alcoholic. I was one too back in the day. Until I went into detox and re-wired my brain... I'm tee-total now.
He was too, when we met - at least that's what I thought. It's what he told me when we got together anyway, otherwise I would never have gone there. Looking back though, now I'm not so sure. Maybe he just hid it better than he's able to these days...because right now he's currently drinking his own body-weight in vodka. He's disappearing in front of me and he's breaking my heart. Because this guy is going to die if he carries on like this.
I'll give him six months - A year at the most which is absolutely tragic...
He's only thirty-three.
I stayed in a B&B last night. On my own. Instead of staying with him. Because I made that mistake last time and it didn't work out too well. He massively overstepped the mark and did something terrible. Because he was drunk.
Anyway it was a huge mistake. I knew straight away. I should never have gone there in the first place... And these days I learn from my mistakes. Not always immediately granted... but at some point the penny always drops and I start to see sense...hence the B&B.
Which was fab by the way. I loved it - It felt like I was home.
Which it will be one day.
Because this is where I'm headed when I'm well.
Just not with him this time.
If things were different I'd be with him now. In his flat that I fell in love with, with this guy I fell in love with...
But things aren't different. Because he's a raging alcoholic. And my heart has been broken far too many times by this man. So this time, tonight when I walked past his house, I resisted the urge to phone him. Ring his doorbell. Try and 'make him better'. This time I did what's actually right for me for once. And kept on walking....
I took myself out to a restaurant. Then I went to a bar. The same one I've started to go to when I run to this town. Because I love it here. I feel safe and confident and alive in this town. I've already started to make friends.
Like the guy who works in the photo shop. The one I take my features to, to get them printed so that they can hang on my walls.
And the guy behind the bar in The Dolphin...and the people I've met in there.
I'm in a town that I adore. That calls to me. Every single time I come here I know I'm coming home. I'm absolutely head over heels for this place. It fits me perfectly.
So having to leave it behind, get back on a train and go live in a field again unsettles me. I feel scattered and torn. Upset and anxious.
I can't keep on doing this...being pulled in two directions. It's bad for my head...
Published as "What happens in detox" - Ivory magazine. February 2018
I'm not pregnant.
In case I was wondering....Which I wasn't. Mainly because they hadn't told me that I was being tested for that when they insisted on me providing a sample. They were supposed to be looking for drugs....
Which they found. Obviously. There's not much that gets through a piss test in detox. Luckily for me they were prescription. Which meant no naughty step (always a bonus) - because I was so drunk when I arrived that steps of any kind were to be avoided like the plague....I didn't really trust my legs to be able to do the maths.
Instead I found a chair, sat on it and stayed there until the staff came to check me in... Safest option all round to be honest.
I'm finally starting to value myself.
It's hard work.
It goes against everything I've ever know or been told. It feels weird.
Like I'm pretending... which I am. Obviously. But I'm secretly hoping that the 'fake it till you make it' approach rubs off...and then one day I won't have to pretend anymore.
Thats the cunning plan anyway. It's pretty much the only one I have to be honest. So I'm giving it a go.
My feet are freezing.
They literally feel like two blocks of ice.
I have my heater on, I'm fully clothed. I'm huddled under two double duvets in my bed. I still can't get warm. Because my caravan it appears, isn't built to withstand winter.
Neither unfortunately are homeless people.....
I try to see the best in people.
Even when I know that it's futile.
I keep looking for the good in someone even when I'm being treated appallingly - I'm the kind of woman who would find something loveable about a rabid dog. In fact if I thought that I could get near it I'd probably take it home.....
But the last fourty-eight hours means that I'm starting to learn from my mistakes. So thats progress.
I'd only popped out to the shop.
The fridge and the cupboards were bare. We needed something for dinner and so I left him in charge of making the bed while I went on a quest to feed us both.
When I got back, my boyfriend was drunk.....I'd only been gone fifteen minutes.....
It's alright for Beyonce.....wriggling around blasting out "All the single ladies" and then scampering off home to Jay-Z.....but what about the rest of us? Us 'actual' single ladies, who don't have a Jay-Z or any other kind of guy for that matter, to get our groove on with or snuggle up to once the lights go down......what about us?
What if you don't even own a leotard? Or sexy shiny shoes like Bey? Well, maybe you did.... once. A long time ago......when you were still young and foxy, with the whole world at your feet and when you didn't give a shit about imaginary lumps and bumps or cellulite.......What if anything even remotely resembling foxy hasn't made an appearance from your wardrobe in a very long time.....because everything that does has been tucked away on a shelf somewhere gathering dust - along with your self-esteem and your confidence after the last disastrous relationship you had eventually bit the dust.....
Because I'm a single lady at the minute and trust me..... it's really not as glamourous or as exciting as Bey makes it look in that video.....
I'm a mess.
I'm stood in his kitchen surrounded by bags, frantically trying to repair my ravaged face. I know that it will be dark soon anyway but there is absolutely no way that I'm leaving the house like this. I'm upset granted, but I still have standards...
Ten minutes and some frantic sleeve wiping later and I'm heading out the door and down the stairs. I didn't stop to say goodbye. My head was obviously pre-occupied with the black smears around my eyes and I'm mentally giving both barrels to R*****l..... because this latest mascara of theirs is seriously shit...
Imagine watching a car with no brakes about to hit a brick wall. At 100 mph.
Now imagine that behind the wheel is your best friend. No seatbelt, and seemingly oblivious to the danger in front of her and literally a split second away from self- destruction unless you can do something.....like stop the car.
Which is impossible.
And so all you can do is wait for the inevitable. And hope that she gets out alive....
I was driving that car. And I wanted it to crash. Because it had to. I needed all of the craziness to stop. And so I put my foot down. And kind of closed my eyes....
I have an appalling track record with men. It is truly, ridiculously, horribly bad.
Misogynists, psychopaths, sociopaths. You name them, I met them. Then I dated them.
I used to joke to my friends that I could pick out the badman out of a crowd of a thousand identically dressed, identical looking men....whilst wearing a blindfold. Only I wasn't actually joking. Because I really, honestly could. I can. I do.
Which isn't something that fills me with glee.
Because my bad men aren't exciting, or alluring like the ones in the films.
My bad men are trouble... spelt in bright red capital letters.
So this is a story about a man.
A funny, intelligent and articulate man who has recently snowballed into my day to day life. Out of the blue. From Nowhere. Completely unexpectedly, and completely unannounced. I'm still attempting to process it all. It's kind of a complicated story. Involving an extremely complicated man.
We crossed paths via social media. He'd followed me on twitter. I checked his profile and clicked onto one of his blogs. And time kind of stopped for me. Literally. As I re-read his words and struggled to take in exactly what this guy was telling me.
Because as I read this blog it was clear that this guy had had a plan. Which didn't involve following me (or anyone else for that matter) on twitter if it had worked. He wouldn't have had time to sit about surfing the internet and making new aquaintences. He would have been way too busy being dead. Which is kind of a full time job once you've comitted to it. And from what I could see he was pretty comitted. Up to his neck in it actually.
Anyway. Long story short.
Despite his well thought out and carefully articulated plan, involving ingesting enough prescription medicine to knock out a small country, washed down with copious amounts of tepid white wine, coupled with the fact that nobody actually knew quite where to find him whilst all of this topping himself on social media business was going on, (which didn't help the emergency services who were at this point frantically attempting to locate him), for some unknown reason, somewhere along the lines that night it didn't quite work out.
Mainly because he found himself very much "Not Dead" . When he woke up very much alive on an acute psychiatric ward. From an induced coma. With tubes going into places that really should only allow for stuff coming out. Along with various other pleasantries that had been carried out in a desperate attempt to save his life.
And that's how the weirdest friendship in the world began. I sent him a message. He messaged me back. The rest is history.
He's bringing out stuff in me that I can't describe.
I feel an incredible protectiveness towards him. We are similar in lots of ways and share the same history. I'm hearing my story but told by a man and from a mans perspective. We are both alive when we didn't actually want or plan to be. And dealing with the implications of that. Our similarities are beyond weird.
We talk every day.
I try and walk the line between keeping him cheerful and making conversation that isn't going to be too overwhelming. There's a lot going on in that head of his right now what with him still being alive and all....
I take the piss a lot. There is no elephant in the room during our conversations. It's how it should be. And I send him stuff. Snapchats. A song from the movie "Suicide Squad". I call it "My cheer up song." It's a private joke. Thankfully, he thought it was funny too when I explained. We share the same dark humour at times.
He has an adopted sunflower.
He didn't get a say in it really. I just gave it to him. It lives in my bathroom where it gets plenty of sun. He gets regular updates and photo's - as though he's signed up for some random charity or other off the TV. "Look Nick - here's "Sunflower" chilling out on my windowsill." ( He doesn't have a name. He's just "Sunflower"), or "Nick, check out Sunflower and his brother in this pic. Your's is kicking ass. He's grown loads"....
Although obviously Sunflower is a metaphor, Sunflower is real. He is growing. Every day I see tiny changes in him. My friend is growing too. He might not always think so but he is.
I've known him no time at all, but I have the greatest respect for this guy and I wish that I could do more to help. I want him to be well. And far away from a psych ward. Being comfortable in his skin. Being happy. But that's not my job to do and not my thing to wish for. It's his. It has to be his.
I don't have a magic wand. I can't just wave something and make him better. It's not that simple. Only he can decide where he goes from here. To a Penthouse or a Park bench. It's a 50/50. It's going to be a long haul. But if this guy is half the guy I think he is, he'll do it. With bells on. He just needs to cut himself some slack.
In the meantime, I'm honoured to know him. It's like I see into his soul. And hopefully my chit chat helps. So for now the songs, the snapchats and the crazy Sunflower photos are staying on the menu. To try to compensate for the terrible hospital food. While he puts himself back together however he sees fit. Until he doesn't need them anymore. Maybe because he'll have his own garden again and can grow his own Sunflowers. No internet intervention necessary.... Or no garden at all. It's up to him. It's his life. And gardens are over-rated anyway.
Basically, what I'm trying to say to this man is this. That the past is the past. It's happened. It's gone. Nothing and no-one can change that. And despite his best laid plans for his life at that point, fate appeared to have a different agenda when the shit hit the fan for him that night. And maybe there's a reason for that.
So he's alive. With a fresh clean slate. If nothing else resonates right now, it's a start.
Also known as a beginning.
But if I did have a wish for this friend of mine, it would be this.....That you would choose to begin Nick.
"I'm quite a damaged person".....
That's my reality and the one phrase that is currently going around and around in my head as I attempt to stop yet another epic melt-down from taking over me today. So, instead of doing what I want to do, which is cry uncontrollably and rage at all that is wrong with my life, I'm doing what I know is best for me and what will allow me to deal with all of this shit sensibly and responsibly.
I'm writing. I'm turning to my blog and I'm morphing into "Just a girl" as a healthy way to deal with my emotions. Because it's the only way that I can stop myself from going into full-on melt-down, when anything goes a little bit wrong. Or massively, horribly, incredibly wrong even. Like they have today.
Writing as "Just a girl" allows me to lay myself bare to the world. Without fear of judgement or reprimand. Which is important to me. Because this means that this way, I get to tell my story, my way, how I see fit, to the best of my ability, without attracting hordes of pointy fingers, graduates from the school of chinese whispers and a fuck-load of "I told you so's". Not that I really care about pointy fingers and chinese whispers but at least this way, the majority of people don't actually know who they are pointing at when they talk about me. Which means that I don't take it personally.
And as for the "I told you so's"......don't bother, its fine. Because me being me means that I probably knew the outcome of whatever it was all along....which means that I beat you to it....and just chose to do it anyway. In case I was wrong....which obviously I wasn't.
So spare me.
So tonight I'm upset. I'm disappointed and I'm angry.....and now I'm thinking about the other things that I worry about, because, to be honest, if I'm going to have a melt-down, then I may as well get my moneys worth.
And so I'm telling you some things that scare the shit out of me....The things I haven't told you yet.....
So he's coming to see me. This amazing "blast from the past" super-cool person of mine.
Because it's going to be amazing.
Me and him. A hotel room somewhere. And an absolute whale of a time guaranteed. All arranged lastminute.com which is always how we roll...
A "Hey _____ I've been thinking. I've missed your face. And I'd really love to come see you again ...are you gonna be free between ____ and _____? (Him)
(Me) "What's there to even think about? Do it. Come see me. Get in the car and get down here...will be amazing. So yes. I'll make sure that I'm free...'cos I've missed your face too..." kind of conversation.
And so he's coming. To see me. In two weeks. I'm turning cartwheels.
Fuck...I'm turning cartwheels.
I need to do a risk assesment...
My first thought, is that he's not supposed to be here. Here, in the South-West...where I am. He's supposed to be in London. Where he lives and stuff...
My second thought is "Why didn't he say something sooner?" .....
My third thought is "Thank Fuck he didn't say something sooner". Because if he had have done, we would have made a mess of things. Absolute guarantee on that front, because following up on feelings in rehab isn't the wisest of moves.....and we were both spoken for back then anyway.
But now that we are out, both single, and all fixed and stuff.... well that's a different ball game...
It's my works Christmas Party in exactly eight days.
I'm dreading it.
Not just because I get to rub shoulders with the woman behind the bar who hates my guts because I had a fling with her ex, or because I need to get all glitzy and glam and I don't have anything in my wardrobe that even comes close to being either, it's mainly because I'm shit at socialising these days, coupled with the fact that I'm guaranteed to bump into lots of random people that I haven't seen for over a year who last saw me making a show of myself in various locations in town because I had a drinking problem back then and I shouldn't really have been allowed out by myself.....