Scarred

(Image source – Phoebe Kay – Pinterest)

NOTE:
Just to reassure my readers that I don’t self-harm anymore. Unfortunately, I have scars that will never go away, which I have to live with for the rest of my life. It’s not easy – I carry a lot of shame for them, although I appreciate that was my way of surviving the intensity of the agony at that time. My scars are sadly worse than those in the image. I get judged by strangers who stare sometimes. It makes me want the ground to open up and swallow me. I can’t say I’m never tempted to do it again at times when I’m desperate, but I know that I won’t. I owe it to myself, my children and my ever-curious grandchildren. I have a tattoo across some of my scars – it says, “THIS TOO SHALL PASS,” and I know it will in time.

I want to heal and my writing is my way of beginning that journey. Thank you for bearing with me and supporting me with my recent outpourings of grief.

Tramlines embedded

permanent reminders

in soft, yielding flesh

disguising the pain of existence

~~~

The beginning of the slippery slope

the agonising journey

following tracks

side by side by side by side

~~~

Ensuring her instruments

gleaming in the moonlight

spotless from the flame

as she attacks with ferocity

~~~

Pearls of crimson gathering

on her lily-white skin

offering relief

from the shame and guilt

~~~

Never speaking of his sin

holding it all within

brain freeze

a blade on the skin

~~~

Silenced with threats and blame

memories, flashbacks abound

cutting the evil and torture out

of the time when cries went unheard

~~~

Child of her child’s curiosity

she tells of a fall on broken glass

submerging her truths

hoping the child’s thoughts will pass

~~~

No surrender of life or sanity

She needs no permission to write

expressing her pain in words

she’s not giving up on the fight.


THE DOUGHNUT AND SANITY CHALLENGE

Photo Bridget moment Blurt

Well, I’ve pulled myself out from the mire that I’ve been in lately and I’m feeling up to a challenge … nothing major yet but it’s a start (from little acorns mighty oaks do grow) so there’s hope for me yet.

I love writing, especially my blog, all be it a bit sporadic sometimes but reading, I struggle with. It’s not the spelling and grammar side of it as I’d say I’m fair-to-middling compared to most bloggers. In fact, I quite enjoy a tête-à-tête with a bit of vocabulary and an occasional close encounter with the English language.

I’ve borrowed a book from a colleague at university and I’ve got to hand it back within one week. So, in my spare time, which doesn’t amount to much these days, I’ve set myself the challenge of reading and digesting it in this time. No problem … except I have the attention span of a weary ant.

The book in question is a relatively new one called, ‘A Sane New World‘ by Ruby Wax. It’s a brilliant, clever, witty and informative book about her own journey through depression and mental health issues and how she went about improving her situation. Mental health affects 1 in 4 adults, including myself, but this book is written for everyone as anyone of us could become that 1 in 4 ‘mentally unravelled‘, (in Ruby’s words), at any time.

I know most people could knock this out in a couple of days as it consists of a mere 260 pages which I know is nothing compared to Homer’s Iliad or War and Peace but for me, it’s quite a challenge as my concentration when it comes to reading novels leaves an awful lot to be desired. I am determined to fulfil this challenge mainly because I’m interested in finding alternate routes to overcoming mental illness. I’ve made a start have already encountered a good dose of humour and many poignant observances. Hopefully, by the time I’ve got to the end, I will have gained a bit more sanity.

I came across this idea for my second challenge from a local Facebook page. It’s a page for those of us who find life a struggle sometimes, (so, that’s all hands up, is it?). We set ourselves small (or large if we are feeling brave) targets to achieve, to help overcome some of the situations that we find difficult for whatever reason.

My difficult situation? Well, I’m fine going out with Charlie, my wheelchair who some of you might have already met. I can go almost anywhere depending on whether the battery and motor are up to scratch that day but I’m really not good at stopping somewhere to grab a coffee and cake and then sitting with it in a café or coffee shop on my own. I’m great if I’ve got company but sitting alone, I feel a bit of a prune!

So, this challenge is to take my book to a café every day this week; order a coffee and something nice from the menu; sit by myself and then to read as many pages as I can in 30 minutes (just long enough for me to get out of the shop before the usually occurring uncomfortable squirming and panic kicks in).

Today, I had every good intention and headed straight for the coffee shop just after lunch, got to the counter and was just about to order a coffee and pastry when panic suddenly set in and I bolted out of there. I was really cross with myself but I’m going to have another go tomorrow. In the meantime, by way of compensation for my atrocious disappointment, I stopped off at Tesco and bought myself a large jam doughnut, took it home and indulged guiltily. However, I’m determined to repeat the jam doughnut affair tomorrow, only in a coffee shop while reading my book and thereby, at the end of this week, I will have completed both challenges (and probably gained half a stone in weight to boot which I could well do without). Next challenge: to lose that half a stone I’m going to put on this week!

PETITION – MY RECOVERY COLLEGE IS AXED (2)

FOLLOWING MY LAST POST, I HAVE NOW BEEN GIVEN PERMISSION TO POST OUR PETITION HERE.

PLEASE, PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION TO KEEP MY RECOVERY COLLEGE FROM BEING AXED BECAUSE OF GOVERNMENT FUNDING CUTS. EVERY VOTE WILL MAKE SUCH A DIFFERENCE. THERE IS NO MONEY INVOLVED AND ALL INFORMATION IS KEPT STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR TIME – VOTES NEED TO BE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. X

https://www.change.org/p/mid-essex-clinical-commissioning-group-reinstate-funding-for-the-mid-essex-recovery-college-and-hub

MY RECOVERY COLLEGE IS AXED!

a college

Why can’t the government leave things alone if they are working well?! They have decided to stop the funding for my college which is a Recovery College. It’s a college for 500 people like myself who are living with or recovering from (or trying to) mental health conditions. It’s a great place and has really helped me gain my confidence and learn new coping strategies. I’ve also made lots of friends of all sorts there and got to know all the tutors and other staff really well. We’ve been running for nearly four years now, learned a lot, shared a lot and had a lot of fun. Also, on a more serious note, I and we have all learned so much about coping with our lives with a mental health disorder and some of us have been able to move along to voluntary or paid avenues. I attend there 3-4 times a week and have benefitted enormously. It has given me structure to my week, a purpose and a social life, all of which have contributed to my improved mental health.  I am upstet and devastated.

The government promised that they would spend more money on mental health yet they are shutting down organizations like ours all over the country. We are campaigning and petitioning fiercely to defend our college but it is not looking promising and students are becoming very down and disheartened as a result.

The government say they want to save money yet can’t they see how bloody and stupidly short-sighted they are! As a result of the college closing, our students will need more support from NHS services such as the Acorn Centre (inpatient), the Crisis Team, our Social Workers, Psychiatrists, CPNs (Community Psychiatric Nurses) and GPs which will in the long run cost far more money.

I will be lost without my college which is set to close at the end of June this year. I have spent hours there, learning, studying, buddying, getting excellent advice and support, socializing and making good friendships and relationships with staff and managers.

So far, we have had a photo and article in the county newspaper, we have been on the radio, have been to see our local MP, have put a petition out there etc, etc, but all to no avail. We are NOT giving up and will continue to fight right up until the doors have to close. We must keep fighting!

As per my following my post, for anyone reading this would you PLEASE PLEASE sign our PETITION to keep this college open. All information is kept strictly confidential. THANK YOU SO, SO MUCH.

https://www.change.org/p/mid-essex-clinical-commissioning-group-reinstate-funding-for-the-mid-essex-recovery-college-and-hub

A WOUNDED DEER FIGHTS BACK!

Oh, sod it!! That’s put a spanner in the works, hasn’t it? That’s told me!! There’s no pleasing some people, is there? I’m referring to my last post ‘Skeletons From the Closet’. And there was me, actually allowing myself (for once) feeling pleased with myself for the progress I feel I have made….until I spoke to a family member I shall call *Carol* who pulled me up on this one. After I told her of my progress and my decision which I so carefully thought through, I was told that I was either selfish or not as ‘recovered’ as well as I was ‘making out’ to be! I am sooo angry! And hurt! And disillusioned! Apparently, according to *Carol, if I have recovered this well then surely I am being very selfish in not wanting to attend the ‘Telling Your Story’ group to work with other students to enable them to have hope that it is possible to move on (all be it in babysteps).

If I attended that course and listened to other students recounting their awful experiences, I know this would have a negative impact on me and in fact, set me back in my recovery. On hearing this, *Carol pronounced, “Well, if those sort of things still affect you badly, perhaps you haven’t recovered as much as you think you have”. I was brought from feeling a good 8/10 on the positivity scale down to somewhere around my ankles on the positivity scale! I’m speechless, almost! I cannot win. Does she think the sort of memories I have from my past can be simply washed away or disregarded, even after all these years? Yes, I’ve had therapy, lots of it and still do but I now don’t need to talk endlessly about my abuse as I did not so long ago. Okay, yes, sometimes I still do need to talk about these things but how could anyone who has been through such atrocities just wipe them clean from their memory?!

So, now I’m left doubting myself, my decision, my self image, my confidence….I can tell you, this has really ‘knocked me for six’ (as they say) and left me feeling like a wounded deer on the side of the road which I could have well done without. I have been ‘shot down’ many times but always got back up again in the past.

brokenDeer

(Later in the day)

But this time, my anger has risen and I can taste the bile rising from my stomach. I know that I have spoken at length to my college course tutor who has made it plain in no uncertain terms that at no time am I to risk my own mental health by putting myself in a vulnerable position such as this one. But *Carol hasn’t considered that I might not lay down and play dead. She has not bargained for the fact that I will get up again and fight the good fight. Hence, I am still determined not to be dragged down again by some ignorant, thoughtless idiot who I am unfortunate enough to have as part of my family. I will continue in my studies in a way where I know I am keeping myself mentally safe (and I’m sure my psychiatrist would agree). And yes, I do still see a Psychiatrist, my GP, my therapist and my CPN but that’s partly what keeps me on the forward route. It doesn’t make me weak, or any lesser a person. I don’t intend to sacrifice my future well-being because of one unpleasant person’s attitude. So, to *Carol, I say ‘UP YOURS!!’ as I continue to get on, one day at a time, with the rest of my life.

boxing ring fight

Watch this space…..

CELEBRATION! :)

I’m having an amazing day today (and they are so rare). There is so much going on in my life right now, I’ve hardly got time to sneeze! I have college tomorrow again which I’m determined to make a success. I am enjoying it so much. The Autumn prospectus will be out soon and then I intend to enrol in some more, deeper studying. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and never thought I would achieve it having been told as a child that “I wasn’t clever enough to stay on for ‘A’ Levels or go to university”. I always wanted to be an Occupational Therapist which I guess is ironic in that I need one myself now! Nevertheless, I’m thankful for what I have.

books for blog

The best news today is that I’ve been offered a contract for my third book….hooray!! I am so delighted and excited! I’m currently working on my fourth book now and thoroughly enjoying it even if I am burning the candle at both ends. There’s something special about being up at two or five o’clock in the morning, and  often I am doing both within the same 24 hours! It’s so quiet everywhere. The world is asleep and I can hear the regular owl sitting on my roof calling out, the occasional goods train running through at the back of the garden and I love the sound of trains and I can hear the clock ticking regularly and evenly. I look up at the clear, dark sky and see a half-moon and far away stars, maybe containing life (who knows?). For a few moments I feel at peace.

burning candle

Meanwhile today, I have a friend in who’s painting my previously dull hallway for me which is so kind. It’s going to be white…simpler, cleaner, brighter, like I feel today. Then I have to save up to have the floor recovered.

Then there is my potential new church! I am going to visit a new church on Sunday. I’m very excited about it as I feel it is time for a change because where I am presently, I find my faith is waning and I have to admit that I was even questioning myself as to whether there was a God! And I do need God in my life. He is my Father. I know He will guide me to the right place to express my faith.

Open-Bible-glowing-with-Cross

So, all-in-all, despite the pain in my life of losing my children and grandchildren to ignorance, my mental health problems and my disability (all of which is nothing compared to what some people go through on the planet), I am on a high today and for once it is not a drug or alcohol induced high. I managed to end my addictions and alcoholism with the help of AA and CA and have now been clean and sober  for two years exactly, today!! Another celebration! :))

 

EATING DISORDERS BITE BACK

I’ve had an eating disorder ever since I was a child. At times, it has been severe both as anorexia and periods of bulimia. I have been hospitalized (sectioned) twice in 1996 and 1998 as my anorexia was severe and my weight dropped dangerously low to five stone only. I was in my late thirties at that time as contrary to popular belief, eating disorders affect both men and women of any age, not just teenagers although I was in the minority being that age on my ward.

I don’t intend to go into details about my past eating behaviours as this post isn’t about encouraging anyone who is struggling with tips on how to eat less and all the other negative practices associated with an ED. This is just about my feelings about myself.

eating  disorders are not optional

As most of you know, I am now in my early fifties and over the years my weight has gone up and down like a yoyo. I have also acquired, as a direct result of my ED, severe osteoporosis and problems with my teeth amongst other issues. (NB. This isn’t the cause of my disability although it obviously aggravates my symptoms).

Suffice it to say, I still have great difficulties with my eating and know I have a distorted body image but despite counselling, I still have a daily battle. My weight is fine (although I would like it to be less [but that is the anorexia speaking] and classically, think I look far too fat). I come slap-bang in the middle of the healthy range on the BMI scale yet I still see this as bad instead of healthy and good. I generally eat fairly healthily but maybe a little too less than I should. But, this is interspersed with sudden desperate urges for chocolate, cakes, ice-cream etc for which I go out of my way in my wheelchair to the local supermarket or newsagent for too large a quantities! I don’t keep any ‘naughty‘ food as such, in the house because I wouldn’t be able to control my bingeing on it.

I hate having an ED – it rules my life and is just an added stress on my mind and body along with the effects of my child abuse, rape, PTSD etc which I have written much on previously. Many people consider that once you have gained a healthy BMI, you are ‘cured‘! This is not the case, unfortunately, speaking for myself that is. I only wish it were. EDs don’t always get better; they may wax and wane or be mild or severe at times). Currently, I would put myself in the middle of that scale which is a constant battle.

I detest my ED. It’s the first thing that springs to mind whenever I am stressed or have experienced current feelings of trauma such as flashback and new memories surfacing. I think about food first thing in the morning until last thing at night. When I was younger and in out of hospital, I truly believed at times that I had become free of my ED. However, this is not the case….eating disorders can bite back! However, I still have fight in me and will never give up believing that one day, I will be free of all this.

hold fast to your dreams

BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER (THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN)

Black-and-White-Abstract-ACEO

This is me giving myself a good talking to about trying to be more positive after a session with my therapist today where i’d said that i was fed up of being down or in other words, i’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.

I have Borderline Personality Disorder (see my last blog). I see everything in black and white.There is no grey in my emotions: positive or negative; up or down; happy or sad; calm or manic etc. I know my emotions can and do, fluctuate in a matter of hours, if not minutes. I never know where i am at, where i will be or where i’m going with my heart. My heart feels everything including feeling deeply for other people too. I care about others, i worry, i want to help, i want to be there for them.

But then my therapist asked, “well, where are you for you?” And she had me stumped, till i answered “nowhere” and was then taken aback by my own response.

OK, so i have BPD – i know that, and sometimes i have good days and sometimes they are bad and i can’t predict when these tidal waves are going to crash. Today happens to be a ‘happy’ day (tomorrow i could be in the mud again). Today, i can tell myself not to take everything to heart because that’s when i hurt the most. When i let past memories intrude and bring me down, quite understandably so and with good reason to, and sometimes, i have to go back there and visit; but i don’t want to let that to become my place of residence.

I have to stop and think; try to act less impulsively. A difficult one that as anyone with BPD will know. Maybe i’m writing this impulsively: I probably am as it’s midnight, my time and i should have gone to bed ages ago as i have to up for my carers to come (i’m disabled), at 5.30am which i’m quite happy to do most days, at least when i’ve had enough sleep.

Anyway, i’m going off the track as i often do! Basically, i don’t want my emotions to rule my head all the time; sometimes my head has gotta learn how to tame those emotions if i’m to have any control over my life. For a pessimist, i can be pretty optimistic,(on a good day this is!). I’ve lived my whole life being miserable: I don’t want to spend the rest of doing the same…..what a waste of a life!

I read a good blog this morning by a guy who has overcome BPD successfully and he really inspired me and i’m now following his blog (thanks Edward – you know who you are, i think anyway).

So, basically this  is in complete contrast to yesterday (back to the black and white thinking), but who knows, tomorrow i might feel like the girl in yesterday’s video again. So, today is obviously a pretty positive day but what will tomorrow bring? I guess i’ll just have to wait and see. I’ve got to stop wanting to be in control of everything all the time and learn, sometimes, just to let the tidal wave wash over me and still be able to stand up and say, “Well, i made it; i’m still here, i’m just ME”!

Coming Out The Other Side

 

 

Image

After my last post ‘Suicide’, i did exactly that. That dark pit had just got too deep to bear, as had my thoughts. I wasn’t insane; it wasn’t a cry for attention; it wasn’t a mistake. It was a very deliberate attempt to end my life which had become too awful to live. My family have no care for me and i was in such deep despair that i didn’t consider the impact my death would have on friends, my Mum or my sister, selfish though that may sound. Before i ‘died’, i wrote the following poem because suicide IS a very painful option; not an easy get-out as some with no knowledge of mental health, would presume:

SUICIDE

Suicide is painless!

But don’t believe that’s true

I may be dead and gone

But I’ll never forget you

 

And I’ll come back to this Earth

As your angel, to check you’re ok

I’ll stay by your side forever

Being careful not to get in the way

 

I know you worked so hard with me

But there was still so much more stuff

I’ve begged you not to walk away

Tho’ you must have had enough

 

So, suicide’s not painless

For the loved ones left behind

As I opted out of life

And as such, humankind

 

I’m not much good at anything

And now I pay the cost

I’m crying for the ones I loved

Who now, to me, are lost

 

I wonder where I’m going

Be it heaven; be it hell

The decision made by only God

I bid you fond farewell

 

So suicide not’s painless

And I can vouch for that

For someone else is sitting

In the seat where I once sat.

 

I’d made up my mind, and believe me, getting down nearly 100 pills takes some doing and is not without fear or guts.  The decision to opt out of life is a huge one but all you can think, while washing down the medication, is that soon i would be pain free. I hoped i’d go to heaven to be with lost family, friends and cherubs and angels. But i was unsure, as surely taking my own life goes against God’s wishes; it is not His timing for me. Maybe i would be cast into the permanent darkness of Hell, deeper than the darkness i had left behind. I took a chance. 

I waited for sleep and oblivion to come come but every now and then i woke from my stupor, only to swallow more pills, not even bothering to count or care what they were. Eventually i floated into unconsciousness and not finding myself in heaven, but somewhere in between, in no-man’s land.

Then suddenly, i was shaken back to life by my carer, just about, and not without anger as i did NOT want to ‘come back’. All i remember, after that was a rapid blue-light dash to the local hospital, having monitors and drips connected everywhere. I started to come round, seeing other people lined up on ambulance trolleys and instantly felt guilty and undeserving of care, having inflicted this condition deliberately upon myself where others were waiting and there because of valid reasons, car accidents, heart attacks etc. and i didn’t consider myself worthy of any care or attention. 

I was in Intensive Care for a day which i remember nothing about, and then transferred to a ward with other ‘really sick’ people. I was attached to a drip which contained a drug to counteract the damage i had done to my liver from all the paracetamol i took (and i DO NOT recommend this)! i refrained from telling the other patients in my bay, the reason for my being there; suddenly feeling ashamed. That was until the doctors came to do their ’rounds’ and stood at the foot of my bed, announcing clearly and obviously that “This is Ellie Sofia; she is here because of a drug overdose” and i thought to myself, “why don’t you announce it to all the world while you’re at it or better still, why not put a paragraph in the Daily Telegraph”, but of course, i would never, ever be worthy of taking up even a centimetre in a newspaper. I was counted as a ‘nothing’ and was treated accordingly for my wicked deed. I was there for a week, attached to drips etc and suddenly wanted to be back at the home i had left with all it’s heartache and despair. Anywhere would be better than being there, being thought of as nothing better than a WASTE OF SPACE or a BLOODY NUISANCE!

Now i am home, having come out the other side, i can’t say i’m pleased or or even that i regret what i did, purely, i wish i had died. I’ve blown any chance of ever seeing my children or grandchildren again as they dismiss me as mental health fruit and nut case, not to be touched with a bargepole.

But as i am here, i realise that i have to make some sort of life for myself that doesn’t include my children which is so very painful but i have to accept it. When i am fully recovered, i intend to build up some semblance of life where i count in the world and perhaps make new friends. Writing this blog has helped me get a lot of anger and thoughts out of my system so thank you to any of you who take the trouble to read this account. It is not written cleverly or artistically; it’s just raw feelings and the truth.