As usual I have so much to say, so much to say I fear I will never be able to pull it together into one clever, coherent, mental illness stigma challenging, hilariously entertaining, educational, accessible blog post.
I don’t know where to start; I could fill the internet with an account of the last fifteen minutes of my life.
Yet again I am in a new phase of mentalism, it’s probably got a name, I think the Fantastic CPN mentioned “acceptance” earlier. I don’t know what it’s called but I know I don’t like it.
Where to start?
I last blogged properly on Sunday the 19th of June but probably left more unsaid than I actually said and in the interests of sharing every detail of my life with the whole wide world I feel I must go right back to Wednesday the 15th of June, feel free to stop reading now but I urge you to hang around, it’s going to be good. Anyone reading could be forgiven for thinking I have a photographic memory- I don’t, I have a Tweet stream and a rather comprehensive diary, verbosity fills in any gaps. So get a cup of tea and your biscuit of choice, grab an extra Hob-Nob for me and enjoy.
Wednesday 15th June 2011
That day I set out to buy a new fridge- in fact I was determined I was going to source, buy and install a new fridge before the day was out, little warning signs of impending mental crisis were evident even then. I was completely uninterested in fridges- that’s not mental that’s normal, fridges, particularly integrated fridges are spectacularly boring objects- I am referring to my inability to stay in a fridge shop for more than 4 minutes, my desire in B&Q (where I purchased a rotary washing line) to climb on to one of the shelves and sit there forever, weeping and rocking, pausing only occasionally to scream.
I carried on.
I emailed the Fantastic CPN and hinted that I wasn’t very well- physically or mentally. As usual I didn’t say enough, the Fantastic CPN urged me to visit the Lovely GP and most unusually I heeded her advice and made an appointment for the following day. I was surrendering, another little warning sign that I seemingly chose to ignore completely.
Thursday 16th June
I saw the Lovely GP, I’m not sure what I said to her but I have it noted in my diary that she weighed me, I had lost weight again and she was going to contact the Fantastic CPN and the (still haven’t though of a suitable adjective) Psychiatrist and get back to me. I realise now I never did hear back from the Lovely GP. The fantastic CPN visited and again, according to my diary she informed me I was “severely cognitively impaired” and I cried- a lot. An emergency appointment was arranged with the <insert suitable adjective here> psychiatrist for the following Monday (she was off sick) or as I have it in my diary “supposed to see drug-pusher on Mon- not going”. Also have noted in my diary “haven’t eaten a thing since Tuesday, couldn’t decide food/zopiclone, went for zopiclone, sad” and so Thursday drew to a close.
Friday 17th June 2011
The day started innocently enough, I woke up full of energy, I chose to display this both in real life and on Twitter as a good positive, industrious energy. In truth I could feel myself being slowly mentally poisoned. I had that infuriating urge to run away (see “P” for Paris and “S” for suicide) I had many intrusive thoughts and I knew it was only a matter of time before I snapped completely.
Being the self-aware and self-compassionate kind of girl I am I completely ignored all the massive warning signs that I was teetering on the verge of yet another crisis and I carried on. My first mission was to obtain a spiky thing in which to insert my new rotary washing line. This may come across as a very trivial pursuit indeed but to me this had become the Holy Grail.
The new washing line had come with a spiky thing- I had installed the spiky thing but the ground I had chosen was too soft and the washing line began to list precariously. I requested that the social worker rectify the situation by moving the spiky thing and then the next day (Thursday 16th June) I demanded that he move it and stood over him whilst he did it- the spiky thing broke. I asked the social worker to buy a new spiky thing as soon as possible to prevent a backlog of laundry or an over reliance on the very expensive to run tumble dryer. The social worker assured me he would see to it and would return from work on the Thursday evening with a new spiky thing. He didn’t.
I returned from Argos (having sat outside for some time waiting for it to open- I was ahead of the game- yet another ignored warning sign) with a brand new spiky thing. I had a go at installing it but for some reason, seemingly unknown to me and certainly not due in my mind to the very early stages of malnutrition, I didn’t have the strength to complete the job. Again I demanded that the social worker install the spiky thing and he did- as I stood over him.
THE BASTARD SPIKY THING HAD A SMALLER DIAMETER THAN THE NEW ROTARY WASHING LINE.
I calmly smoked and requested that the social worker “please get it sorted”. Again he assured me he would………
The social worker and I then set out to attend the 6 year olds school assembly. The six year old did us proud, wore a hat with a beetle on it better than any of the other pupils and read his part, clearly, fluently and confidently. I marvelled at how unaffected by my descent into mentalism my baby appeared and I spared a moment to be grateful for the stability and nurturing he had received in school. I obviously couldn’t take any credit.
I don’t remember much from the assembly but I know I was on a knife-edge the whole time. I chose to ignore another big warning sign of impending mentalist doom- I had hypersensitive hearing and olfactory senses- I Tweeted in typical humorous fashion about the smell of the school (Plasticine, wee and mashed potato) and my general discomfort at being around others. How I didn’t hear and alert others to the alarm bells I have no idea. I was able to sit through the assembly and engage with the necessary small talk that such occasions demand and other than being alerted to the fact I had drunk a bottle of diet coke in approximately 50 seconds by the social worker, I probably appeared completely normal the whole time. Appearances can be very deceptive.
I vividly remember one particular part of the assembly as for some reason it marked the total destruction of what was left of my ability to continue functioning normally.
Hymn books were distributed amongst the audience- I Tweeted about it again humorously and remained seemingly unmental. Inside my head I completely and utterly lost it. I don’t know if I am skilled enough to articulate how I was feeling and what was going on or indeed why but I’ll try.
I am an antitheist, I’d much rather be a meh-theist as I truly believe that mehtheism would be a sensible healthy position to take on organised (or disorganised) religion. I am a vehement antitheist; I could accurately be described as a devout antitheist, a fanatical antitheist indeed a religious antitheist. I have particularly strong views on religious education and activities in schools, I’ll resist the urge to go into them too much here- suffice to say, I don’t like its heavy focus on Christianity. I very purposefully didn’t send my children to a faith school but it appears the Scottish curriculum has some of its roots firmly intertwined with the teachings of the church. I don’t think the practising of religion; any religion has any place in our schools. I am in favour of educating children about religion but would rather schools avoid the insidious, furtive indoctrination.
When those hymn books were handed out I froze, my head was filled with noise and was empty all at the same time, the social worker tried to hand me the book but I recoiled in horror. The chosen hymn number was announced- by the 6 year old- in that moment I was convinced this was a deliberate act by school staff done purely to further aggravate me. I was not angry but I was considerably disturbed and paranoid. The audience rose for the hymn- I remained seated, from that point on I was completely immersed in total and utter mentalism. My brain had turned into a noxious soup of unhappy, incoherent thoughts.
I returned home, the social worker went to work; I embarked on a cleaning frenzy- another sure sign that something is amiss. I despise housework and my enthusiastic doing of housework should always, always be viewed as a symptom. So I cleaned and hoovered and dusted and of course, Tweeted updates. All the while my brain was getting noisier and noisier, by this time the noise was nothing coherent just a general mix of thunderous rumbling, crashing and whooshing- a bit like having Niagara Falls take up residence in my pre-frontal lobes. The only distinctive part of the noise was the repeated instruction and compulsion to “Go Out!”
Going out is an everyday kind of thing for most people as it is for me- I do the school runs and make the occasional trip to the shops/bank/post office when necessary. My urge to “Go Out!” on this occasion was however just my brains lazy code for-
Take massive stash of saved up medication from hiding place in bedroom
Get in car
Stop somewhere quiet
Take aforementioned medication until death occurs
So I made preparations- I put my stash in a bag and located my car keys.
My hazier than usual memory will now, unfortunately impede the telling of the next part of the story so I think I’ll resort to a handy list format, which might in turn help to make this epic piece a bit easier on the eye for those of you still reading.
-The Fantastic CPN visited, I think she had also called, by this point I was making no sense at all but I think I expressed my vehement desire to “GO OUT!” (my volume increased every time I made the demand) I was instructed to go nowhere until she had visited.
-The CPN came round and there was a protracted standoff in the bedroom where I spent variable amounts of time a) Demanding to exercise my right as an adult to GO OUT! And b) regressing horribly and weeping at the Fantastic CPN.
- The Fantastic CPN laid down an ultimatum- I could go out but she would phone the police. I was able to rationalise that if police involvement were necessary this would probably involve me being touched at some point so I was keen to avoid it. The Fantastic CPN contacted the Different GP and he was on his way. I continued to ask the Fantastic CPN if I could GO OUT. She made a futile attempt to hide my car keys but I snatched them back and put them in my pocket.
- The Different GP arrived and proceeded to bombard me with questions, I dazzled him with my cognitive abilities by remaining folded up in the foetal position on my bed repeating my mantra of “I’m fine” over and over again. I had naturally assumed that he would fall for this and disregard the fact I never looked at him once, spent an inordinate amount of time wailing like a wounded animal and refusing to do anything other than insist I just wanted to GO OUT!
- The Different GP then issued his own ultimatum- be taken to the local acute psych ward in an ambulance or be taken by the Fantastic CPN. The mere mention of the local acute psych ward sent me reeling and I refused to go- I switched the mantra from “I’m fine” to “I’m not going anywhere, no, no, NO”.
- Somewhere in all of this the social worker appeared, until this point, in spite of me telling him otherwise in very graphic detail earlier in the week, the social worker had assumed I was fine. I’m not sure what he was thinking when he launched into his passive-aggressive anti-suicide pitch as I stood determinedly in the bedroom, completely mental with only going OUT on my mind and half a pharmacy in my bag. I now had another reason to GO OUT- the social worker was mad at me.
- There then followed a period of waiting whilst forms were filled out and phonecalls were made, I prowled the house all the time plotting my escape- hence the reason the Fantastic CPN followed me everywhere.
- To my relative relief the Different GP announced there were no beds available on the local acute psych ward- I immediately assumed this would mean I would be given carte blanche to GO OUT unimpeded. A bed was found on a psych ward in another part of Fife. My “I’m not going no, no, NO” mantra returned.
- The fantastic CPN somehow persuaded me to get in her car and to agree not to jump out of her car at any point. I love the Fantastic CPN so would never do anything that I think would directly have a negative affect on her career- just in case they took her off me.
- So off we went to Kirkcaldy and to the scabbiest, mankiest, most unkempt psych ward I’ve ever seen- and that’s saying something. I didn’t want to leave the Fantastic CPN as I feared she was going to leave me there- at this point I still believed I could convince the duty psychiatrist I was fine and should be sent home and given a nice cup of tea. I was prised off the Fantastic CPN and taken to a room to wait. It did not escape my attention that the room was adjacent to the main exit from the ward- from my vantage point I could still see the Fantastic CPNs car so I knew she was still there so I sat and waited.
The next part is such a blur that I will probably have to make it up but in the interests of bloggers integrity I will try and list what I can remember-
- I was offered a cup of tea, I never refuse a cup of tea but when I saw that cup of tea in standard psych hospital issue, green, stained, plastic beaker I couldn’t even bring myself to touch it.
- Various members of staff came to see me at various points and they showed themselves to be far lovelier than any of the staff I’d encountered at the previous psych hospital. I didn’t care though; I had decided that the minute the Fantastic CPN left, should she leave without me- I was off.
- Unfortunately for my cunning plan I was then the victim of a kind of mental health professional pincer action- the Fantastic CPN returned to the room with the duty psychiatrist and another member of staff.
- In an unbelievable, very non-therapeutic fashion that will haunt me forever the duty psychiatrist for some reason came bounding in, ruffled my hair and then physically tried to get me to lift me head up to look at her, she grabbed my head. I lost it and screamed “Stop touching me!” and I think I repeated it under my breath several thousand times in an almost self-soothing fashion.
- The fantastic CPN had to leave- and I was not going with her. There followed a period of my clinging and shrieking “Please don’t leave me here Fantastic CPN (not her real name) I promise I’ll eat and I won’t kill myself, just don’t leave me here” she prised me off and left and I just switched off completely, fully immersed myself in lala land, it’s always much safer there.
-I was assessed by the duty psych who finally realised that I really fucking meant it when I said stop touching me as at one point she patted me on the arm and I said “I really fucking meant it when I told you to stop touching me”.
- I stated repeatedly that I wasn’t staying; I didn’t need to be there and finally after a long gruelling assessment got told the following “you need to agree to stay or they’re going to detain you”.
Now had I been in my right frame of mind or indeed any frame of mind, this clear abuse of the Mental Health Act would’ve been apparent to me and I would’ve challenged it. As it was I was led away, defeated, offered tea and a place to smoke and handed a bag of toiletries (I had left the house with nothing- assuming I would be returning home) and horror of horrors- an NHS nightdress.
I don’t do nightdresses, I do pyjamas, to me a nightdress symbolises helplessness and trauma as they invariably attack you at some point during the night and attempt to asphyxiate you.
I was helpless by this point, completely helpless so I cleaned my teeth, put the nightdress of doom on, got given medication and went to bed.
Saturday 18th June 2011
I slept for two hours as is the norm these days (I still haven’t written that post on sleep, don’t think I’m going to it’d be incredibly boring) and when I awoke at 2am a member of staff came rushing to my bedside to inform me I was on constant observation as I was “At risk of self-harm and absconding”. Given that I had just woken up and actually at that point had no idea where I was or what had happened all I did was nod and accept the green sheet of paper outlining the details of the constant observation. Basically I was being watched- constantly.
Extract from the 1995 CRAG document Nursing Observation of Acutely Ill Psychiatric Patients in Hospital (revised 2003)
5.9 Constant Observation
The constant level of observation should be used for patients considered to pose a significant risk to self or others. An allocated member of staff should be constantly aware at all times of the precise whereabouts of the patient through visual observation or hearing. The method and purpose of maintaining observation must be clearly determined and stated at the time of review. Respect for privacy should be an important consideration, but a balance should be struck on the side of safety in all matters such as escorting to the toilet, bathroom, or public telephone, etc. In some circumstances the patient may be permitted to leave the ward or other clinical area in the company of an escorting nurse, other informed professional worker or appropriate relative. This decision must be part of the risk assessment process and the comments referred to in the previous section should be noted. Appropriate members of the multi-disciplinary team (generally a minimum of the nurse in charge and duty doctor) should review the need for constant observation at least every 24 hours.
Being under constant scrutiny was a major irritation for me, having someone watch me sleep, watch me smoke, watch me drink tea and watch me lie in a fetid cloud of my own misery was very strange. It seemed like psychiatric overkill but to be fair, I have form. It was unusual for an “informal” patient to be on constant obs though and even the staff were a bit bemused- a fact that, to my delight they shared with me. The psychiatric profession can be very bitchy when they want to be; obviously I encouraged it as it was all fuel to the fire I was building in my mind.
So I had a constant minder, every time I moved- they looked and followed. My minders also watched me Tweet and rushed in every time to ask who I was calling/texting, I couldn’t be bothered to explain Twitter.
Which brings me nicely to the bit in my blog where I gush about Twitter for a bit.
Yet again in my moment of need, Twitter came to the rescue and I received many messages from followers. As is my wont I even created a # tag for my stay (#inthebin) though I often forgot to use it- a good reflection of my mental state during that weekend. This next bit may be very touching and poignant or it may just be quite “sad” as the kids would say.
When I Tweeted my distress call that Friday night Twitter responded in a way I never expected and I received messages from followers who I never expected to care about my mental crises. Something strange happened to me over that weekend, I started to realise that people genuinely did care about me- even people I had never met. I am plagued by a general sense of unworthiness so I’m always surprised when people like me but I actually began to think that maybe for as repugnant as I found myself there was something there worth caring about. A little bit of self-compassion finally started to seep in to my emotionally vacuous, soulless body.
My weekend on the psych ward was hard, they are not good places. This psych ward was far better in every way than the one I spent so much time on last year but no amount of tea and friendly staff can ever erase the utter horribleness that is time spent on a psych ward.
Nothing especially interesting happened that weekend; I spent most of it lying in bed, hopeless, foodless and cold. I was the personification of misery. I attempted to get discharged on the Saturday (in order that I could go home and go out) but was persuaded to stay and have the constant observation lifted instead.
Being in a psychiatric ward always presents one with the dilemma at some point- tell the truth or get out. Nothing makes me want to escape more than being put on a psychiatric ward and told not to leave- leaving becomes my all-consuming focus. I become obsessed with getting away- to the point where walking past the exit gives me butterflies and an urge to flee. I spent much of my weekend deliberating over whether to tell the consultant how I was really feeling or tell him what he wanted to hear.
Sunday 19th June 2011
I have no idea what happened on the Sunday, I have noted in my diary “still haven’t eaten (5 days) I need to learn how to lie and quick”
Monday 20th June 2011
Nothing could say it better than my diary entry for that day so here it is-
“Waiting to see consultant, all showered and dressed sane. Fantastic CPN says she can’t look after me at home if I’m not eating. I don’t know what I want; I think I still want to die. Terrified if I tell the truth I will be detained and I know my reaction will be to run.”
“Saw consultant he said “there is nothing more we can do for you”.
“Home now, can’t decide if the social worker is scared or selfish. Ended up going to B&Q for a washing line spike myself. Ate a bowl of cornflakes, feel like death. Promised the Fantastic CPN I would see her tomorrow. Fab Psychologist wants to come round tomorrow but the house is a pigsty and so am I. In bed at 9 need to sleep, want to die. So very hopeless and depressed”.
I have no idea what I said to the <insert very negative adjective here> consultant, so I don’t know what he based his rather defeatist attitude on but all I cared about was that I was out of the hospital and home- even though it is apparent that being at home did little to ease my state of mind.
Tuesday 21st June 2011
The Fab Psychologist did a housecall, I had therapy in my pyjamas. I have no idea what we talked about but I’m sure it was profound, healing and meaningful.
I saw the Lovely GP that afternoon and I note in my diary- “Lovely GP was lovely, gave me 28 Lorazepam” so it’s quite clear where my focus was that day.
The fantastic CPN also visited that day as promised, in my diary I note-
“ Fantastic CPN came round and gave me a whole heap of shit on bulimia- I AM NOT BULIMIC I AM A FAT ANOREXIC” she’s coming back on Friday”
I laugh at this now, somewhat wryly. As I stated in my confessional post on my eating disorder I do not fit the diagnostic criteria for anorexia or bulimia- the diagnostic criteria are very, for want of a better word, slim.
There is something intrinsically insulting to a “restricter” to be labelled bulimic and anyone reading this up to their armpits in an eating disorder will be nodding, the rest of you will be bemused so I will attempt to explain.
To me, as an eating disordered person, restricting food intake (AKA starving oneself) represents control, utter control over ones body and mind. Eating food in any quantity represents a lack of control- binging on food represents an extraordinary loss of control.
I have had periods in the past where I have binged- this time last year I invested a great deal of my time in ingesting large quantities of food and then vomiting. Now I largely avoid food and tend to vomit when I have eaten anything. In my eating disordered mind this is control and I am winning. When I am being rational (it has been known) I can see how absolutely fucked up this is but it doesn’t stop me. The Fantastic CPNs insistence that I was bulimic was insulting- I was better than that, I could deprive myself of nourishment for days, I never binged, I was in control, I was strong……….
I never claimed that any of this had to make sense.
That evening I drank wine and tweeted- a lot. I’ve just read what I tweeted and I’m blushing so I wont go into it.
Wednesday 22 June 2011
On Wednesday I took delivery of and installed my new fridge – in what I suspect is a Twitter first, I live-Tweeted the installation (#fridge). I enjoyed it immensely and astounded myself with my ability to turn my hand to anything.
I spent the evening with my Stolen Friend, I call him that as he is actually an old school friend of the social workers but he is mine now. For the first time ever I was honest with the Stolen Friend about how I was doing and our evening involved crying, hugging, talking and ultimately laughing uproariously at Stewart Lee (officially the 41st best stand up ever). I left the Stolen Friend with instructions to obtain tickets for Stewart Lee’s next live performance in Scotland- and he has- 12th of August in Edinburgh.
I had been mulling some things over for a while and mulled them over further on the drive home from the Stolen Friends house. That day I decided I was going to tell the social worker our relationship was over. I was also going to resign from my job.
In my diary I wrote “Self-compassion or mental and impulsive? I think it may just be the former, Look after yourself Zoë”
I often refer to myself in the third person in my diary, I do it on Twitter too, when I do it on Twitter I somehow know it’s time to step away for a bit, it’s sign of mentalism for me and one I usually manage to pay heed to.
Thursday 23rd June 2011
On Thursday I saw the Lovely Dietitian, that self-compassion was still there and after all the gruelling talk of food, weight and meal-plans I asked her for a hug and got one.
I’m not sure what I did for the rest of Thursday, I thought a lot about my decisions and I emailed the Lovely Boss to inform her of my decision regarding work.
The decision to resign from my job was actually very easy. I am not ready to go back and won’t be for some time. Career wise now is the time to go back as it’s the start of a new Parliamentary session; having missed so much of last session through illness I have no desire to return part-way through a session again. Having the job there, waiting for me to go back in to it did nothing but allow me to heap pressure in myself to “get back to normal” and encouraged me to declare false recoveries to my care team and myself. That self-compassion I talked about made me realise that I still had a very long way to go before I was ready for full on real life again- and that was OK. I needed to remove the pressure- so I did- and what’s more, it worked.
Obviously at some point soon I will have to deal with the grim, practical realities of being mental and unemployed but I will deal with them when I am ready. By resigning from my job I have indirectly “resigned” from a lot of future opportunities but I have rationalised that when I am really ready there will be other jobs and other opportunities.
That evening I informed the social worker of my other big decision- I didn’t want to be with him anymore and I wanted him to leave. In fact that’s all I said- repeatedly and monotonously.
News of my decision did not please him and there followed a rather uncomfortable standoff in the kitchen- him questioning my ability to care for the children (“everyone knows the mentally ill don’t make very good parents”) and me stating repeatedly and somewhat robotically “I don’t want to be with you anymore and I want you to leave”. He ate a peach, said he “wasn’t going anywhere”; 40 minutes later he was gone. There followed an uncomfortable exchange of text messages before the social workers adult side re-emerged around midnight. He was hurt and more than anyone else on the planet I know that hurt and how hideously painful it is- I was torn between comforting him and shouting “HA TAKE THAT YOU BASTARD! HOW DO YOU FEEL NOW?” I threw him a shred of comfort for old time’s sake and went to bed.
In truth (sorry social worker) I realised I should never have taken him back, I was vulnerable, I was aware that others were concerned about my ability to care for the children and had a huge desire for me to have a “responsible adult” at home. The mental health profession wanted me to have a carer, I needed a carer and he, motivated by love and huge amounts of guilt was there. I have some residual anger that I feel I was forced back into a relationship with someone who had hurt me so badly, I’m not very good with anger so I suspect it will either dissipate over time or fester into something huge and uncontrollable at some point in the future.
I will always love the social worker and we did have many happy times together but I can never forgive him for what he did in October 2009 and where it led me. I don’t blame the social worker for my mentalism but he certainly played a huge part in accelerating the “mental health car crash waiting to happen” that I was. On reflection our relationship was never as good as either of us would have ourselves or others believe, there was an intrinsic toxicity about it and I had to end it before I started actively hating him.
Friday 24th June 2011
I woke on Friday feeling a strange mixture of liberated and hugely hugely guilty for the pain I was about to inflict upon my children by telling them the social worker and I were no longer going to be a couple. I felt like the worst mother in the world but I still knew I had made the right decision.
The Fantastic CPN visited and I suppose we largely talked about my big decisions.
That evening the social worker and I assembled the children in the living room to tell them what was going on. The 14 year old already knew as I had told her the previous evening after the social worker left. The 6 year old reacted calmly but sadly, stated he was “worried” and I held him for a while as we both cried. The 16 year old reacted in a quite typically autistic way and stated that he was “annoyed” the social worker and I assured him that this was no-ones fault and not done with the intention to wind anybody up. We talked about how things would work from then on. The 6 year old was cheered up immensely by the thought of having two homes again “wow, 2 TV’s, 2 bedrooms, will you get a house with stairs Daddy, I love stairs”. Then we all went to a local restaurant for dinner.
Dinner was lovely, the atmosphere was peaceful and conciliatory, the social worker and I questioned how each other were doing, he assured me he would always be there if needed and I told him to take good care of himself. We laughed a lot that evening and proved that the social worker and I make much better friends and much better parents when we’re not trying to be a couple.
Saturday 25th June 2011
Again, nothing explains the day better than my diary-
“Ate too much, drank too much, purged too much. Awful self-destructive. Took Zopiclone and 2 Lorazepam, feel guilty, need escape. Bad. Not good.”
So here I was again, stuck in a sneaky hate spiral- directed against myself and not surprisingly, alcohol was involved.
Sunday 26th June 2011
I set out early on Sunday morning to get the newspapers, I don’t know why I bothered, it took me all of my mental energy to look at the pictures. The Sunday papers used to be one of the highlights of my week but the whole experience now does nothing more than shine a light on my poor level of functioning and general disinterest in everything. I’ve had a few political moments this week- largely thoughts around feeling irritated by a political party that takes £8 a month from my bank account and I feel no longer represents me in any way. I feel another big decision coming on regarding this but I’ve decided to wait for a bit to see how I feel.
The social worker took the six year old out for the day and the 14 year old and I set off on a road trip. I was determined to buy something that day, couldn’t decide between an espresso machine or a small pet of some kind. We ended up at Ikea where various things we didn’t really need were purchased.
I had made a commitment to the Lovely Dietitan earlier in the week to eat a snack at around 2pm every day. Yes that was me in the restaurant in the Edinburgh branch of Ikea- panicking at the lack of food that came with nutrition information. I eventually settled on a children’s yoghurt as it was the only thing available with a nutrition information label. So at least I knew what was in it- even if I didn’t like what was in it. Being a children’s yoghurt it was made with whole milk- that yoghurt was my nemesis. For those of you lucky enough not to have an eating disorder, all of this will be difficult to understand, as I said to the Stolen Friend last night “I wouldn’t understand it myself if I wasn’t in it”. I knew it was the right and proper thing to do, to eat that yoghurt so I did, but that one pot of yoghurt (Strawberry and banana, organic, no added sugar) left me feeling so guilty, so ashamed and so much of a failure my mood dropped and I wanted to do nothing more than go home and climb into bed. That’s my reaction to one small snack, imagine having to go through that much deliberation, that much anxiety and have to risk feeling all those painful emotions every time you eat. That’s life with an eating disorder; it’s a very cruel mental illness indeed. If I was an alcoholic or a drug addict I could quit, I’m good at quitting things. You cannot quit food (well you can, as I have proved but it’s a very bad idea) you have to find a way to both consume food and stay sane; it’s a constant battle and a very long one.
I bought an espresso machine and stole the necessary crockery from a branch of Costa Coffee. Well I say stole, I reckoned that as I’d paid close to £7 for two drinks and a granola bar that cup and saucer were rightfully mine. Though technically I think it’s still stealing. I feel I should add here “I’m not proud of it” or something but I’m not going to, I wouldn’t say I was proud as such I just had a problem and found a way to solve it in my own unique mental way. It’s not something I intend to make a habit of.
That evening I realised that the one thing the social worker reliably did that I would now have to do, the ironing, still needed done. I think this next bit is going to even confuse me so you’re forgiven if you read it and it makes no sense.
I cannot iron.
I had forgotten that I spent 5 years as an RAF wife and I can in fact iron- quickly and really well (creases in sleeves and trouser legs optional). The ironing turned out to be a piece of piss; my body just seemed to remember how to do it. My mind still thinks it is one of the most incredibly boring tasks ever invented and I will still have to try and find ways to avoid it in the future though.
So Sunday all told was quite good, I enjoyed my time with the 14 year old, she is very good company. I spent far too much money on things I didn’t need and I will have to stop doing that very soon.
Monday 27th June 2011
Sleep was becoming a major issue for me; it’s too dull to go into much detail. Basically I’m not getting very much in spite of minor prescription drug misuse. I’ve cut back on caffeine (that espresso machine was a waste of money) in an attempt to help but nothing has really changed. The advice from the <?> psychiatrist is to take 2 Zopiclone at night- thereby demonstrating the psychiatrists total lack of understanding of a- the problem and b- the way Zopiclone works. But as I said I can’t be bothered to go into it, maybe I will write that post on sleep?
Monday started well, I walked the 6 year old to school and popped into town for bits and pieces and some tea. I had decided that in my desperate pursuit of sleep it was worth sacrificing my beloved tea so I was going to have no more caffeine after10am. Well that’s what I said.
If you read the previous post you will see that the 6 year old was sent home from school that day for the most spurious of reasons. As he wasn’t actually unwell and was his usual boisterous, fun loving, demanding, messy, noisy self- I managed to go 4 hours without tea.
I’m not sure what happened the rest of the day but I know I was feeling severely depressed. I hide it well though (even from myself) and was able to get on with all the things I needed to do. That evening I did an interview for SRN on mental health and social networking.
Tuesday 28th June 2011
Tuesday was a long hard day- I know that because that’s what it says in my diary, unfortunately it’s rather thin on detail as to why! Maybe that was just a bit of self-indulgent journalling? Tuesday was also the day I started writing this piece, as things stand it’s now Friday 1st July 2011 and I still have no idea if I’ll finish it, let alone publish it.
The Fantastic CPN visited, I cried at her, we talked about acceptance, I think I get it and I think I am doing it. It hurts- a lot. I was going to resist the upcoming verbal self-pity but it just appears to be flowing from my fingertips so I’ll go ahead.
I don’t want to be mentally ill, I want to be normal. I want to react to things normally, view myself normally, eat normally and lose that latent desire to cease to exist. I have accepted that I am ill and I have also accepted that I am going to take some time to recover- I think that time is currently pencilled in as 18 months, I’m trying not to be black and white about and actually set a date- that’s how accepting I am!
I accept that I have to do things differently and I accept that I will not generally find life easy. With acceptance has come a little more self-compassion but I even find that excruciatingly painful, it is difficult to allow yourself to feel compassion for someone you hate.
I feel as though, mired though I am in self-pity and crippling low mood, that I have moved on in some way, it’s just very difficult to define.
Tuesday evening was sunny and warm so the 14 year old, 6 year old and I went for a walk. We walked to town, the children had ice-cream, I denied myself ice-cream and cried a little inside. I enjoyed the walk, my children are very good company.
Wednesday 29th June 2011
I woke after 4 hours sleep, I took the 6 year old to school (in the car, in my pyjamas) came home took 2 Zopiclone and 2 Lorazepam and slept for a mammoth 2 hours. I was shattered but the after effects of the Lorazepam helped me see out the day in a mellow haze of warm benzodiazepine fuzziness.
I spent the evening at the 14 year olds end of term concert, as usual the standard was high and it was quite enjoyable if a little long. I adore the sound of violins, in fact stringed instruments in general so was particularly impressed by the Senior Strings Group. I reserve my right to abhor the sound of the clarsach though and sure enough that night I think I found the worst sound ever- “Don’t Stop Believin’” plinked, plunked and dragged from the strings of a clarsach it’s like having little fiery swords of death rammed into your ears. Horrible.
The 14 year old sang with her singing group at the end, they did a great job, she looked like she enjoyed it and she made me very proud, she also looked resplendent in her blazer, shirt, tie, skirt and Converse with rainbow ribbons for laces. She is her mother’s daughter, in all the good ways.
Thursday 30th June 2011
I took delivery of a surprise trampoline for the six year old and spent most of the morning assembling it. Stopping occasionally to Tweet, smoke, drink tea and shelter from the rain.
I saw the Lovely Dietitian in the afternoon and we discussed my progress. There’s not a lot of progress to be honest but there is some. I have a long way to go and I find it incredibly daunting and scary.
I finally had to admit defeat with the stupid car and booked it into a local garage to get the gears fixed. I can’t afford the car in all honesty but I don’t think I could go without it. I don’t even want to think about it so I’ll stop writing about it too.
The Stolen Friend visited in the afternoon, we drank tea and chatted.
The social worker came to visit, he annoyed me but I’m not entirely sure I’ve figured out why yet. So he annoyed me further by texting to ask if I was annoyed at him and if so why was I annoyed at him?
By 6pm the sneaky hate spiral was back and I fell at the first fence and went out and bought a bottle of wine. I can avoid alcohol easily- when I want to but once I’ve taken that first sip I have committed to a journey on the self-destruction train, it’s a through service, there are no stops- until you get to the end.
So last night involved self-abuse with alcohol and toast (only the eating disordered can self-abuse with toast) but no vomiting! I know most people make it through most days without making themselves vomit so this may not seem like a big deal- but it was and it’s something I am trying very hard to be proud of.
Friday 1st July 2011
I can’t believe I might actually have almost finished writing this post. Today is Friday 1st July 2011; I have 2 hours and 8 minutes left before the six and a half week long summer holiday begins.
I have no idea how I’m going to cope over the summer holidays; I confess that parenting isn’t one of my more finely honed skills. I suspect we will have lots of lazy days and that trampoline will get a lot of use (if I ever finish assembling it). I think the summer holidays may provide me with many opportunities and challenges regarding eating so it could be a very healing time. I am looking forward to relaxing a bit and enjoying fluid bedtimes and hopefully some late starts. I have no plans as yet for any activities as such but we have wonderful beaches on our doorstep and provided the stupid car doesn’t die completely and I don’t get a sudden pang of responsibility when I take the Barclaycard out, I presume we’ll have some good days out.
I don’t know what I feel today. I am deeply ashamed of my trip on the self-destruction train last night and have again decided to give up alcohol for a while (I think that’s the third time this week). My mood is low and I feel aimless and a bit jumpy so it’ll have to be one of those moment-to-moment kind of days.
The house is an utter mess so I must be quite relaxed and all I have done today is pop the 6 year old on the school bus and write this post.
I still have that wonderful feeling of freedom but in a bit of a Spiderman moment I realise that with freedom comes great responsibility and I may have to take a quick reality check on just how much freedom I actually have and what this really allows me to do.
So there you go 16.5 days in my life in just under 8000 words. I really should write that book, at least then I might get some money for sharing so much with so many!