“This is the part where you run away…”

So I reckon I’m about five sessions into therapy with Wizard Psych, and progress is being made I must say. Over Christmas we were with The In-Laws and had a strangely (to me, anyway) functional time with zero fights, no drink-fuelled arguments or drama boiling over; and during this time it was noted by my mum-in-law that I was doing heaps better than the last time I’d seen her. Before we went up north, I saw my nan who also noted how much ‘better’ I was – she was so happy to hear that I was finally getting some treatment that had potential to help me. Husband has been happy to have his wife back as I’ve been following all the advice that Wizard Psych had been giving me.

But, Christmas was tougher than I expected. From an early age I struggled with the festive period and the unpredictable, often volatile season. Then as I’ve lost loved ones with each passing year, it’s got worse. Even in recent years with just my Husband I’ve found Christmas to be tense and exhausting. That definitely wasn’t the case with my in-laws, we ate, we slept, we drank and relaxed in front of the telly. It was definitely not something I was used to, and it was wonderful. And it threw me for a loop. Along with Husband having the time off work which totally unbalanced both our routines, I felt some of the good work I’d been doing in therapy being undone.

A few days into 2017 and it was time to see Wizard Psych again. While I have been putting a lot of our time into practise, I haven’t been doing the written work she has wanted me to do. I’ve also started putting up the Wall again as I always seem to do when being challenged by someone who might have a clue of what’s going on in my head. I don’t know if it’s a defence mechanism or a subconscious tantrum that the BPD causes my brain to have, but it’s an undeniable pattern. Professional questions why I don’t do this, why haven’t I tried that, eventually asking questions and digging deeper.

Suddenly – NOPE. The brakes are slammed, Claire shuts down and when she walks out of the door she never comes back. And I can safely say we’ve hit that point in therapy now. I even said that to her when I started crying out of frustration and confusion when confronted about the time that’s being taken by me simply not doing as she’s asking me to. It’s clear Wizard Psych has an idea of where she wants me to end up, I think she knows more of what’s going on in my head than she’s letting on – after all, I need to find this for myself – but she’s said that she wants to help me equip what I need to deal with life with BPD. She said that if I don’t have those skills, then we can’t start digging into the past. And with the brakes slammed down hard, she said something that unnerved me; “There’s something in your mind that deep down you don’t want to find, I don’t know what it is but it’s there and there’s a reason it’s been pushed right back.”

I’ve spent most of my life very aware that my mental state was more than just depression as I’d been told. I knew something was wrong with my mind, I just couldn’t explain it until I was diagnosed with BPD. It’s a gut feeling. Along with that, I have worried that there is indeed something in the deepest corner hidden away that has been pushed there for a reason. It frightens me because of the stuff I DO remember because if I can remember those despite the trauma, how bad does something have to get for my brain to go, “NOPE, FUCK THAT, IN THE CUPBOARD WITH YOU”? That’s one body that I would want to keep buried – unless Wizard Psych thinks it best for me to dig it up.

At the end of our session, she did say very gently that she hoped I would return. I left feeling very raw and vulnerable about the things we had spoken about, pretty sure that it was time for me to cut my losses and run again. But that’s all I’ve done whenever it’s got too scary or too tough for me – I can’t keep doing that forever. Not now I have a family I love and a future that I can see for myself. I don’t quite know what exactly I’ll be doing in that future, but I want to be in the thick of it and not spending my years thinking myself into an early grave.


One of the big reasons for working my way into recovery is the fact that for the first time in my life, I truly do have an amazing bunch of people around me. I am much closer to my family now than I probably ever have been, and my friends are all brilliant. Before Christmas, we had a Secret Santa between a number of us and not only was it hilarious, but the gifts exchanged showed just how much we all ‘get’ each other. I got given the brush pen that I’ve been lusting over for my art, while I did a painting for my Secret Santee (is that a word? It is now) and some of the other gifts included vegan cakes, fake drugs, a scratch and sniff book of whisky and a Waka Flocka Flame CD.

Yes, you read that right.

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Pictured: Some of those said dorks

That same weekend we all went out drinking, and not only was it fun but I didn’t have an alcohol-fuelled BPD episode either! I was so drunk I ended up buying blue lipstick online. Sober Claire would not have made this sort of decision.

I have my own cheerleading squad it seems, consisting of my Husband and these adorable dorks I call my best friends.

(I am a hobbit amongst elves, story of my life…)

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Carrie Fisher, and why everyone needs a Gary

To say I’m devastated about the sudden and sad passing of Carrie Fisher is no exaggeration. Growing up I only ever knew her as Princess Leia, who my dad (and probably everyone else’s dad) fancied from Star Wars. In more recent years I’ve learned more about this amazing woman and the trials she went through very publicly with addiction and mental illness. It was hard NOT to look up to her, especially as I read about her candid tales of self-destruction and the dark, sharp humour she presented. If I was to survive my worst days I wanted to be like Carrie Fisher.

Over the coming days and weeks, you’re going to read a lot of people’s own personal stories of grief for this icon. Her story meant a lot to so many and her role on Star Wars was no small feat. Yes, she was a princess – but nothing like the ones we’d seen up until we met the fiery and fearless Leia Organa.

I was with Husband and some friends last night as we played some Magic and I marvelled over some new art goodies I’d treated myself to (art has been a big part of my life again recently, something I’ll talk about in a future post) when I looked through Facebook on my phone and very literally cried out in horror. ‘Carrie Fisher passes away at age 60.’ I had been horrified when she had a heart attack days ago, but I was hopeful that being stabilised meant she would make a recovery and we would have her back. I was immediately saddened by the news, but oddly my thoughts didn’t fall to Star Wars, her battle with bipolar disorder or even having only seen her days before on TV.gary1

I thought of her dog, Gary. And then I had to stop myself from bursting into tears.

Gary was Carrie’s floppy-tongued French bulldog, a stoic little chap that followed her everywhere she went. It wasn’t uncommon to see him by her side on the red carpet, TV appearances and on social media too. It was no secret that this dog was a lifeline to Carrie when she needed one most, not only as a therapy dog for her bipolar disorder but as someone who needed her just as much. “Gary is like my heart. Gary is very devoted to me and that calms me down,” she had said in an interview. They were loyal to one another, and now Carrie was gone.

How would he know she was gone?

It made me think of my own pups. Shandy and Lady had always been in the background as I went through my teenage years, I found myself having to tell my mom to take it easy on them both as they presented with anxiety after my dad died. They were disobedient, often ignoring her as she’d shout, and sometimes they would try to escape despite Mom insisting they were ‘house-dogs.’ There were times where she wanted to get rid of them. Manipulative Ex wanted rid of them. They were noisy nightmares. I was asked to get rid of them once while Mom was in hospital. I couldn’t do it. In some of my darkest hours, they were there for me when all the people who supposedly loved me had left me. I didn’t understand these dogs; but it wasn’t their fault that they were brought into our family and left to their own existence. I loved them. My mom wasn’t cruel, she didn’t beat them or physically harm them, but she was old and frail (as much as she wouldn’t admit to it) and two young, demanding dogs were too much for her. But that wasn’t their fault and I wouldn’t see them abandoned for it.

When Mom died, my brother T insisted that I get rid of them. I wouldn’t be able to look after them, they would be a burden, they would be nothing but trouble. Those dogs gave me a reason to live. My dad was gone, my mom was gone, people had come and gone from their lives and they would never understand why – I wasn’t going to do the same to them. When I howled with grief upon returning home from the hospital when Mom passed away, Shandy and Lady joined me. I cried with my dogs as Husband comforted us all. I wasn’t sending them anywhere. I had just lost the last piece of the family I had known, losing them would have given me nothing left to live for. I was suicidal every single day for months. I wanted to stay in bed and rot away, some days I didn’t eat and some days I ate too much. I wouldn’t shower or change my clothes. But I would get up regardless, because Shandy and Lady needed feeding as did the cats. They would all need to be let out to do their business, the cats would need fresh litter, they would also need warmth and comfort.

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My own beacons of hope

When we had no heating in the house, I would have all four of them (even antisocial cats Munch and Pip) under the quilt with me to huddle for warmth with a tiny, shitty electric heater in the middle of the room. I’d do this night and day, and when I took the flat that is now my home, I kept their welfare in mind. Before Shandy passed away nearly two years ago, I worked with Husband to bring their more ‘destructive behaviours’ in check. All it took was patience and love. I’ve never been prouder of those pups, and I would never have sent them away or left them behind.

The love of a dog in the bleakest of times can be a beacon that you never expected. And seeing Carrie with Gary was a reminder of what I went through with my pups and what I would give to have Shandy back with her sister. I couldn’t imagine their faces if I left one day and never came back.

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The tweet that broke all the hearts…

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Has it been nearly a month?

Nearly two weeks into December, and apparently nearly a month since I last wrote a blog entry here. In all honesty, I had forgotten mostly about this blog until I got a notification on Facebook to show that someone had unliked the page for it. Ouch. Not that I blame them, given my recent silence/self-imposed exile from writing. In fact, I haven’t written anything really since a post over on my writing blog about how I didn’t finish NaNoWriMo this year. I’ve been struggling to write my novel, and I’ve been trying my best to write something for this blog too.

I’ve managed to ride out one hell of a storm over the last five weeks or so, the storm I’ve been in since I left my job. Halfway through November I dropped into a very deep, unrelenting depressive period which was accompanied by almost crippling anxiety. Which didn’t mix well with trying to write 50,000 words over a month, let me tell you. The state that my brain has been has been quite frankly nonsensical. Pokemon Sun/Moon came out halfway through the month, so I traded in some of my old games and consoles to get it along with a new Nintendo 2DS – I’ve switched the console on, but I have yet to actually play the game. I’m looking over at it as we speak. Still not played it. Every time I write it’s like the words don’t actually make sense as I construct sentences. I’ve forgotten a lot of things about how grammar and spelling works, something that embarrasses me no end. I have fallen back in love with painting and drawing again, though. I feel it might have been brought on by my starting therapy.

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The sort of art I’ve been getting up to lately…

Yes. Therapy. Thanks to Wizard Psych, I’m going through therapy relatively well. I won’t go too much into what we do behind closed doors so as not to paint too vivid a picture of what therapy is for me – it differs between patients after all. But the exercises and conversations have involved a lot of unravelling and rewiring, digging into unhappy things and trying to work around them. I now have an exercise book with what we’ve been doing, and what I continue to do in the weeks between sessions. My next session is going to be just before Christmas – Husband’s going to be joining me for this one.

In those rougher weeks, I’ve had a lot of shit from other people thrown at me. Some inane comment online by someone who is no longer part of my life, wittering on about things that they only know half of – if that – who also felt the need to tell me that I’m ‘not Little Miss Perfect.’ 

A) I never said I was.
B) That’s ‘Mrs’ to you.

Along with that, there’s been some attempts to stir up drama from last year based on the internet which has been frankly quite laughable – in the sense that, I keep hearing over and over that I am toxic and that I will never change. Yet, the obvious thing is that I have changed over the entire year, and that sort of shit just doesn’t bother me like it did before. Maybe I’ve finally hardened to that sort of nonsense now, after nearly a decade. It feels like it.

And if I’m so damn toxic, how come I’ve got so many people in my life who like being round me? Or are they immune to my particular venom?

…fuck that. I’m not a bad person. I’ve just been through some really bad times, and I’m doing my best to live around it. I’m going to try and write more, and get back out in the world again. My self-confidence and self-esteem has been shattered, but not so much I can’t glue it back together I hope.

But before all that… The other C-word. CHRISTMAS.

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I’m trying, I’m TRYING

I waited until after 5pm on Tuesday to call Capita back to make another appointment – hopefully a home visit, as visiting the centre in town left me drained and anxious. I spoke to a lovely Irish chap who told me that their procedures at Capita aren’t that simple, as the sour-faced woman at the centre put me down as failing to attend my appointment which means my case has to go back to the DWP.

Failure to attend? I WAS THERE. I might have been late, but fucking fuck I was there. And I was close enough to see that her eyebrows were fake and her liquid lipstick made her look like a corpse.

This has left me feeling very anxious, as I’m going to have to call the DWP and explain to them what happened, and pray that they don’t stop my benefit purely because of this. Despite knowing that I would struggle with the clinic appointment, I went to it instead of requesting a home visit right away, or putting it off.

On the same day as my appointment, I went to my Slimming World group. I haven’t been as committed to it in the past few months as I was to begin with. I loved going to group, talking to all the ladies there and I even got into the social team, helping with taking payments and doing the weigh-ins. But once I became focused on getting the job that I no longer have, it fell by the wayside. I spent nearly two months away from group. As well as this, I’ve missed out on writing groups that I’ve enjoyed being a part of, I haven’t been back to my volunteering post since the first half of the year.

I realised something as I sat in group surrounded by some of the loveliest folks I’ve ever met. I don’t know who I am. Even on my good days, I’m still depressed. I’m depressed. I can’t honestly remember the last time I felt genuinely happy. Was it my wedding day? Was it that long ago? Everything is cloudy and very grey at the moment. The one thing I’ve heard a lot lately, is that I look sad. In my eyes, in my stance and demeanour, I exude sadness.

Things should be good right now. But they’re not to me, and it’s a frustrating feeling. I don’t want to be disabled, or ill, or fat, or sad. I just want to feel like I did last year, like I did for the first half of this year. I felt positive, like I was doing some good with myself and my life.

I’m trying so fucking hard. What for?

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The trials and tribulations of Capita and PIP

What a morning.

The last time I had a medical assessment with Capita – the people behind the Personal Independence Payment that most disabled people receive in this country – they came to my home. This was something that eased my nerves about the process I must admit, as the woman who came out was very friendly and supportive. The outcome was positive too as I was approved for PIP and that has been my income ever since, only supplemented by the brief time I was employed last month. It’s a very small amount of money, but 80% of it goes into paying some bills to take the pressure off Husband and allow us to have at least some spare cash. We have a roof over our head, bills paid and food in our bellies.

But if I didn’t have this money… I don’t know how we’d survive.

So this appointment with Capita was a big deal. Husband managed to get the morning off work to come with me, as my anxiety was through the roof. (Not helped by Lady being poorly recently, as well as still recovering from the flu myself… I don’t know how many times I need to blow my nose until the tap stops dripping.) Traffic was a nightmare getting into the centre of town, but time wasn’t too much of a problem as we knew where we needed to be.

Except… well. The building that Capita is based in, has the same name as another building only a quarter of a mile away from it. As Husband tried to park somewhere nearby, I walked into three buildings looking for the right one to get no help when I explained what I was looking for.

Try walking into a fancy building full of solicitors, their names adorning silver plaques that cover a whole fucking wall as they sip champagne with clients – then there’s me shuffling to reception, in my tattered jeans and parka, no make-up, covered in spots with my wet hair up in a bun. It was humiliating.

By the time Husband found me, I was on verge of throwing up out of fear and nerves. We were running 20 minutes late, but after another gamble on the GPS he insisted that we rush to the other building and not leave until we’d seen someone. That plan didn’t work however.

Like I say, the actual place we needed to be was only a couple of minutes away on foot. We got there, got to the reception, explained why we were late and apologised profusely. The receptionist wasn’t all that sympathetic and explained that they only allowed 20 minutes for late shows. We were just over 25 minutes late. Before we could say anything else, she’d already turned to her colleague and confirmed that there were no more appointment slots for that day. She said again about the 20 minute allowance, to which Husband showed her the letter we’d received that said NOTHING about being late. She nonchalantly said that it should have been.

Well, Barack Obama should have been given a third term in office, but there’s sod all to be done about that. They could’ve put in a late clause in the large print letter they sent me.

Husband asked if we could rebook a home visit instead, to be told that they can’t do that at the centre. Husband asked if we could book an appointment there as a placeholder, try to get a home visit and if we did then allow us to cancel the centre appointment. She said I’m only allowed one re-book of an appointment, and doing that would essentially screw it all up. There was no wiggle room at all. Husband kept his cool despite clearly wanting to shout at her, I desperately tried not to throw up on her and cry.

We came home, Husband called the Capita number and was told they had no home visit or centre appointments available to give. When he asked if the length of waiting time would affect my benefit, she didn’t sound positive that it wouldn’t. So I’m going to wait until after 5pm today to see if anything’s available – if there’s no home visit option then at least I know where the centre is, but I’d have to go on my own as Husband’s job means he can’t spend an awful lot of time off work. And also try not to puke everywhere when I get there.

My present and future relies on this money. If I don’t get seen and subsequently lose my right to this benefit, then I don’t know what that will do to my family. That frightens me.

I’m shattered. I’m still not 100% over the flu, I’m exhausted from looking after a poorly pup – she had me up two nights in a row with her bad tummy – and I know Husband is stressed and tired too. I just want life to give us a bit of a break right now.

Am I still disabled? Yes. Is that going to change? Not any time soon. Do I need this benefit to survive? Definitely.

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Starting therapy…

I had my first therapy appointment yesterday. It was supposed to be with a new psychologist, but some logistical stuff has got in the way so instead I’m going to be continuing with the wonderful psychologist who has restored my faith slightly in my treatment. Seeing as she’s going to be a semi-regular fixture, she has now been dubbed Wizard Psych. Because she’s a wizard. And a psychologist.

Despite waking up feeling like hell – physically, for a change – I still got myself there and only managed to be ten minutes late (it sucks when your first bus is never reliable, but the second bus is…) Wizard Psych told me about what had happened with my original psychologist and then told me that I would be seeing her every two weeks for sessions of therapy. She told me that this first session was to establish what I wanted from therapy, and to also put down a contract of sorts where we agree to certain terms in what’s to be expected.

I told her about recent events that had lead me to A&E a few weeks ago, as well as how I felt afterwards. She was happy to hear that I am trying to recognise negative behaviours and such, but she also said (quite rightly) that what I deem to be positive behaviour, others may still struggle to understand.

We also spoke about how open I am with regards to my illness. The topic of the blog came up, and she wanted to ensure that I was keeping myself safe online as well as not jeopardising anyone else’s safety or privacy. I’ve been on the internet since before social media was really a thing (forums were the best ways to chat to people, and chat-rooms were basically Satan) and I recognise trolling and bullying, etc. As well as this, I’ve had quite a few negative experiences with giving away too much information – the infamous Blog Wars that took place between 2007 and 2009 being a prime example – so I’m aware of what’s good to share and what not to. There’s a good number of people who read my blog who know me and Husband personally, yet I still want to protect him as my husband and as someone with his own life, hence the pseudonym.

She said categorically that neither she nor Nurse Awesome want to see this blog. All they want is for me to assure them that I don’t put things on here that I wouldn’t share with them, as that will definitely affect my treatment. I’m chuffed with that, as this blog isn’t me. It isn’t who I am as a person. Rather, it’s something I use to reach out and talk about something that should be talked about.

We discussed potential areas that need work, as well as the parts of my illness I struggle with the most. So the vulnerability, relationships with others, dealing with how others view me.

The other thing we spoke about was how it seems currently that my mental illness is a large part of my identity – and how I will cope when I’m in a better place. I have seen online cases where someone has entered recovery and suddenly feel very lost at the prospect of no longer having that part of themselves that they’d had for so long. Husband agrees that my BPD is a large part of who I am, and I can agree but to an extent. Up until 2012, I kept all knowledge of my struggles with mental illness confined to myself and those closest to me, such as my parents, closest friends and boyfriends. I kept telling myself that one day I’d be normal, so there was no point in telling anyone else – plus, I was ashamed. But when I broke down in 2012, I couldn’t hide it anymore.

After losing Mom in 2013, I became really ill. In 2014 I was finally diagnosed with BPD, and I’ve made a lot of progress since then. I’m aware that one day I may no longer be so ill, and could be close to being as functional as I can. That’s what I want. And it doesn’t take away what I’ve been through, or my experiences. BPD gets a lot of shit for being such an ugly, uncooperative illness, and that affects sufferers in a huge way. I want to be one of those people that can say, “Yes it is a horrible disorder, but you can survive it as you’ve survived everything else.”

It was only a difficult session because of my fever and sore throat. After I got home yesterday, I went to Slimming World then came home and went to bed. Husband took one look at me and said, “You’ve got the flu.”

…awesome stuff.

Despite a long day yesterday, coupled with feeling like death warmed up and the fact that an orange-faced sex offender is now President… things are looking up.

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The mirror and the knife

Being borderline is smashing a mirror up in the hopes of using a shard to harm yourself – and using the handle of a very sharp knife to smash up said mirror, despite the knife being much sharper but you’re so damn focused on that mirror…

(Yes, that actually happened.)

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It doesn’t even take a book to understand me…

I was in A&E last night with the very real desire to end my life if I didn’t go there. For a Friday night it was actually pretty quiet, so we didn’t have to wait long to see a psychologist from RAID (the crisis team) which was a bonus. I spoke to her about how I’d been feeling about some things that have been affecting me in a very bad way. This was after I’d spent a few hours with Husband talking and calming myself down. I even asked one of the A&E doctors if I could just go home – but when you go in during a crisis, understandably they can’t just let you walk away. So I saw the psychologist who cleared me to leave as she was satisfied that I was well enough to go, and then I went home.

 

Today, I quit my job. It was the best decision all round, and I feel lighter for it.

Now I’ve got to start the long, possibly painful process of putting myself back together. I want to get back to doing the things I enjoy and that make me happy. Whilst visiting my in-laws during the week I painted for the first time in months. I don’t write any more – something I’m hoping to change during November with NaNoWriMo – and to be honest, I can’t remember the last time I found anything truly enjoyable. I feel drained of all positivity, exhausted right down to my bones and generally like a husk. I want to get rid of that feeling.

It’s going to take time. Bear with me, world.

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