It’s been a while so hello Blog. I’ve had some good days (yay) and some bad days (boo), however, things felt like they were moving in the right way. But, there is always a bloody but! Let’s start at the beginning:
What is ‘Normal” what is this ‘better’ I’m striving and fighting for? It’s easy to say I’m moving in the right direction. It’s true, I’m not the dishevelled person who was admitted to hospital. I can cope with certain functions in life. I’m nailing the bus rides these days. But. I’m surviving. There is so much more I want with my life. But it’s my ‘want list’ that’s making me feel such a failure. This is me, Person C, so, you can believe that the ‘want list’ is a living, breathing, colour coded excel. Just like my ‘failure list’. There’s s quote somewhere that comparison to others is a form of torture. I believe it as I’m living it right now.
On a spur of ‘let’s do something nice for yourself for only being £30 over budget this month’, I bought a last-minute theatre ticket. The play was reviewed in The Week, a magazine which is currently keeping me somewhat anchored to real life. The title, and reason, to treat myself… Anatomy of a suicide. This is going to push a number of buttons for me:
- Two busses in rush hour
- Going somewhere that people expect you to go with others but going totally alone – F5, be kind to me! (turns out the Man in seat F6 is also alone)
- Is this going to give me the answer to how to get out this black hole?
So, with a large glass of Rosé (£6) as Dutch courage, I’m here. I’ve bought the text (£3) and another text, killology (£3 – hence £12 of the over budget cost). I’m hoping that the texts may just hold the answers and therefore become my textbook out of hell.
The theatre is small and intimate. I love anything live: music, ballet, opera, theatre, comedy. You can, for 120 minutes (other times are available!), check out of real life and become immersed in another reality. The intimacy will only add to my ability to switch off from Person C’s life for a while.
I’ve never done this whole ‘doing it alone’ malarkey but this is going to act as a practise run for, the eagerly awaited, highly anticipated… Despicable Me 3! Yes, the Pixar addiction lives on.
The play was phenomenal. I don’t type that lightly. It was incredibly powerful and, for the few seconds after it ended, the theatre was completely still and silent. Then the applause erupted. The impact on each generation was huge. Each daughter was living their life with the ghost of the past hanging over them. Suicide is selfish. But, hear me out as that isn’t meant as a loaded statement. I never considered how my family or friends would be impacted. I’d assumed there would be some upset and grief but I had never thought longer term. What would it do to Sister in 30 years’ time? What would her (hypothetical) children be told? What would they feel growing up knowing Auntie C had killed herself?
A very important thing for people to remember though, the person contemplating suicide is NOT selfish. It’s the ill brain that is lying to you that’s selfish. My intentions were to make life better for everyone around me.
The play focusses on 3 women, one in 1970’s becomes a mother, her daughter, in 1997, gets pregnant and her daughter, in 2030 is living with the knowledge her mother and grandmother killed themselves. My personal experience of wanting to end my pain was that life felt really shitty and really bloody tough. Carrying on felt like asking me to push water up a mountain. It felt impossible. I truly believed everyone’s lives would be better off without me. I had a spreadsheet to support said facts:
- Sister would inherit everything and she’s be ‘set up’ for life
- Mother wouldn’t need to ‘worry herself sick’ about me anymore
- I wouldn’t have to sit with my cats at 0200 crying anymore
- I would be able to stop hating myself
There were lots more but I don’t feel strong enough to bare them all.
My point being is that I did think of everyone else. More that 50% of my list was to benefit others. But (yes, another one), my brain was lying to me.
The play had a huge impact on me that I am still digesting 10 days later. I am pleased I went but it’s raised more questions for me and I’m hoping that therapy will help me with them. The play didn’t provide a textbook of how to get through this but I think the emotions it has raised are important for me to work through.
Moving on from said deep and dark play, I felt, on the whole, things were ok. I was having a few wobbly moments but on the whole, life was moving in the right direction – I’m still looking for the map as to which direction that is but life is moving! Cue Friday 30th June. I had plans. I was leaving the flat. I went to my psychologist appointment but I was completely frustrated by it. We talked a lot about Mum, especially as she’s just got back from holiday so the texts and calls have started up again with gusto. Focussing on Mum was wrong though. That was the ‘safe’ subject. I needed to discuss other things but I couldn’t face bringing them up.
I left frustrated but I started to write in my notebook again. This is a step forward. We’ve agreed we’ll now start sessions with notes from my notebook. Onwards and upwards as the rest of the Friday was set up to be great. I went to see Friend EM who has recently got 2 kittens. Yes, crazy cat lady extends to other people’s cats too. After that, I was due, yes due, to meet Friend ML for a long overdue catch up and supper. The afternoon didn’t go to plan though. Friend EM made a yummy lasagne, we sat having lots of cat cuddles and tea. That was all going so well until an opportunistic man decided to try to break into the flat downstairs. The neighbour, understandably, was annoyed and called the police. Once the commotion died down, Friend EM went upstairs briefly (she has stairs, in London, I am so jealous!). Neighbour came to the door to update us. Trying to be the helpful person I am, I jumped up on a dead foot and went over on it. There was a sickening crunch noise and I couldn’t move. Cue manic shouting to Friend EM. Apparently, I went a lovely colour of grey. So, Friday ended up with a night in A&E. It’s not broken but I am on crutches. I used to think they were so cool. They are not, this is a myth. They hurt like hell! Now, the palms of my hands hurt almost as much as my ankle.
I got home via a taxi which I am not even going to count as a negative as I think a taxi home from A&E is perfectly acceptable, especially whilst looking like drunk Bambi on ice in new stilettos. If you see that image coming towards you in London, say hi, it’s probably me.
Supper was cancelled. Saturday spinning was cancelled. Saturday shopping for a baptism card was cancelled. There is a problem though. I was already on day two of dry shampoo on Friday so by the end of Saturday, my hair was not in a good place. Sunday was also my God Son’s baptism. Washing was non-optional. But, (I know, there are a lot of them in this post), I only have a shower over a bath. When one footed, that’s hard. I perched precariously on the side and then slid myself down into the bath. I washed and scrubbed but then faced a new challenge. How do I get out the bath with only one foot? It took an hour. Honestly. I nearly pulled the radiator off the wall, I slid back in more times than I can count and scared the hell out of the cats. It ended with a crawl type hands as feel manoeuvre.
The baptism went smoothly bar Madam Limp-a-lot over here. God Son WT was so well behaved but I couldn’t have any cuddles with him. Holding a baby and using 2 crutches isn’t a good combination. I also had to change my outfit. I was going to wear a lovely long summer dress with wedges. Well, wedges went out the window so a skirt and top it was. I felt like I looked a less. I am dreading seeing the pictures. I felt so self-conscious being ‘the fat one’ on crutches. Being asked to be a God Mother was such an honour and I absolutely adore my two God Children but I felt like the odd one out on Sunday. I am fed up of being the one with ‘something going on’. Why couldn’t I just be ‘Normal’? No injury, no illness, no overweight binging, no greasy hair. Just ‘Normal’.
Given the injury, I’ve spoken to Mum more than usual. I do need to reassert the boundaries though so we agree to next speak mid-week.
Monday rolled around and that meant another psychologist appointment. This time we did talk about things I needed to talk about. We started with the notebook which meant I said things that were hard. This included the foot. It really does deserve its own moniker as by now, it’s taking up its own postcode and only growing in painfulness and size. I’ve spent the weekend photographing ‘the foot’. Why? It’s not just a weird fascination with its size but also because I felt I needed to prove to my friends that I really had injured myself. I worried they would think I am lying. I worry this for many reasons:
- My life really could be a plot in Eastenders
- I seem to always do something stupid to injure myself
- I’ve been injured or ill more that most in life
- As a kid, I used to make up illnesses or injuries for attention
Yes, #4. It’s hard to admit this but I am going to swallow my shame and try to get it out here on the blog. When I was younger, ~7-13 years-old, I’d make up injuries or illnesses. What do I mean? I’d pretend to hurt my ankle so I’d be taken to the school nurse. The school seemed to have an endless supply of tubigrips which were dished out freely. Then, I’d limp back to class and everyone would want to know why I had one on. It was attention seeking. I remember having to write a post it note on my bedside table to remind me which leg I’d ‘hurt’. It worked though. People did give me attention. People wanted to know what I’d done to hurt myself, wanted to know if I was ok. Wanted to help me. This was something I obviously felt I was lacking and illness or injury was the only way I could see to overcome it. So, now that’s out there. The thing is, I’ve not done it in years. The anorexia was real. The bulimia was real. The mass on my liver thanks to online ‘diet’ pills and subsequent collapse in Paris was real. I mean, I could carry on listing my injuries but we’d be here all day as it’s a really long list. They are all real though. I’m so paranoid that people won’t believe me, I go to extreme lengths to make them realise they are real.
Back to the ankle… a lot of my friends got a lot of pictures of ‘the foot’ and it’s growing size. I needed them to see the ankle so there was no way, no possibility, no chance I was making this up or exaggerating it. Therapist L and I talked about this. It worked so is it any wonder I carried on doing it? Children learn that way so it’s ‘Normal’. It feels so incredibly shameful to admit though. I am writing it on here to help destigmatise it in my brain and if that works, it’ll mean my friends won’t need to get endless pictures of my ankle over the next 4 weeks.
The other thing to state is, having lied so much as a kid, I worry I am not being truthful to me. I worry I am lying and so I seek other people’s validations to make me feel reassured I am telling the truth. When friends responded saying ‘ouch, that looks bad’, I could breathe a sigh of relief that I had in fact truly hurt my ankle. I mean, the pain, that was real but that wasn’t enough. I needed others to tell me it’s hurt. For some reason, the crutches weren’t enough either. There wasn’t a cast on it so people must think it’s made up. People must think it’s weird that an overweight woman limping and losing her balance on crutches is all an act. Having shoved my ankle in Therapist L’s face, she did indeed confirm that it was very swollen and didn’t look good.
I locked myself away at home for the next 48 hours using the foot and the crutches as an excuse not to leave. I live up 4 flights of stairs, crutches and stairs are not a combination. I coloured though. Something that I am meant to be working on is colouring but being able to stop at sensible times. It’s one of my goals for the week from Therapist L. I need to colour every day but I mustn’t let it over take me. I must stop when I want to. The other goal for this week, answering the phone. I freeze when it rings. Whether it’s an unknown number or a close friend or, when at work, a colleague, I freeze. I panic. What if I don’t have a good enough answer for them? What if I don’t know the answer to their question? What if they are calling to tell me I am [enter any negative comment here]? I have a number of opportunities to test this out but I fail them all. I am not meant to use the F word but this goal setting makes the F word feel like the right way to summarise it. I stare at the call, scared they know I’m holding my phone and not answering. Avoidance doesn’t make me feel any better. That’s the thing. I don’t gain by not answering because I then sit there (I am usually always sitting!) worrying about what they wanted. Will they call back? What does the voice message say? Why didn’t they leave a voice message? The panic continues until I can face talking to them or listening to the voice message. So, I don’t even gain anything! My brain is a bitch to me, I’d really like a new one please.
I had no choice to leave the flat on Wednesday. After the bath debacle on Saturday, I’ve left having wet wipe washed and spraying nearly a whole can of dry shampoo on my hair. Turns out I’ve had a (very minor) reaction to the wet wipes so my skin is a little blotchy now too. My medical insurance (who must hate me by now!) cover appointments at a private urgent care centre. Given the foot is still growing in painfulness and size, they recommend I go to get it re-checked. I take a taxi. I don’t need to; the bus stops nearby but I can’t face it. They x-ray it again and can definitely confirm it’s not broken however, due to the pain, I should see a specialist. I get handed a large amount of co-codamol too. From one hospital to the next, it’s psychiatrist time. She has to come downstairs to me as I am not sure I’ll make it up to her. We talk, a lot. In many ways, this is the best appointment I’ve had with her. I am being very honest and tell her about faking injuries as a child, we talk about how I hurt my foot and was it deliberate. I promise you all, as stupid as the accident sounded, I can assure you all, this was simply a trip over my own foot rather than throwing myself off anything. It’s a long session and a hard session but the things we talked about needed talking about. I was going to stay for aftercare. The free 90-minute weekly session the hospital offer for past patients. I’ve not gone to one since being discharged so this was going to be the day. I’m in a bad mood though. A really bad mood. Then, I enter M&S. We all know what this means don’t we. Binge food, here I come.
I taxi back home (nope, can’t afford it, yes, I’ll have to re-budget but I’m really not in a happy mood). I then sit on the sofa and eat my way through many thousands of calories.
Thursday was another day at home. Friend EM was going to come see me but I ask her not too. I am up, dressed, washed and teeth done but I don’t want to see anyone. Friend ML is due to be coming for a take away too. Having eaten the remaining binge food, I could do without her coming. She has keys though and she’s not the kind of person to take no for an answer. In she waltzes and, as ever, I feel better having talked and been around another human. The other benefit is she takes out my bins and brings up my post. Things that I can’t do with the foot!
Friday rolls around and I am gutted. I was going to queue for Wimbledon today but given the foot, it’s been cancelled. Secondly, the specialist can see me this morning so instead, Friend GG and I are going to watch it on a free screen somewhere in London. I also have therapy this morning. I wake up late but washing isn’t optional. I’ll have to take a taxi and probably still be late but the hair and body definitely need washing. I’m stressed when I arrive 20 minutes late. The session starts with the notebook again. The session ends with tears. I want to disappear. Therapist L is lovely about it but I want to run away. I can’t, literally can’t. It’s a slow exit as I hobble out the building. Thankfully the orthopaedic specialist is only a few 100 meters away. The consultant is running late which annoys me. Friend GG may not have time to come to London and get back again meaning the whole day may be lost. I have an MRI and am reminded of my love for David Gray (headphones in the MRI). He definitely plays music to mull over. The specialist confirms, again, it’s not broken but the MRI does show ligament damage. I need an aircast A60 (not as fancy as it sounds), a tubigrip (welcome back into my life, and this time I do need you!) and 4 weeks on crutches. Damn it. I get fitted and hope this will at least ease the pain. Friend GG and I make alternative plans and as the aircast A60 (a.k.a. weird sock with metal supporting the ankle) fitting took longer than planned, I hop (literally) into an uber. That’s the second taxi of the day. Major re-budgeting is now required.
We grab the last table outside at a wine bar and I realise, I’ve not had anything to eat or drink all day so the most sensible thing to do right now would be to down a large glass of Rosé obviously. I order some deep-fried cheese just to help the obesity along. After my fair share of Rosé, we discover the table next to us has paid our bill. They broke a glass and split some white wine on Friend GG. We weren’t bothered at all and told them they didn’t need to give us money. Instead, they went and paid. This was such a lovely gesture. There was no need but things like this remind me there are lovely people in the world. I want to pay someone’s bill as a surprise but it’s going ot need to wait until the budget is in better shape. The plus though, I’ve just had free wine and deep fried cheese so don’t need to worry too much about the taxi’s today! Yippee.
Friend GG helps me get some bits in M&S. Shopping with crutches isn’t fun. Because Friend GG is here, I don’t pick up as much as I want to. This is both good and bad. Good for the wallet and weight, bad for the devil in my head wanting to binge! I then have a choice to make. Save money and get the bus or get a taxi… I get the bus! Seriously, I choose to get the bus. It’s hot but people are nice and I get a seat. Obviously, a lot of the food then gets eaten once I’ve taken my seat on the sofa. I’m not strong enough to save money AND not over eat. I feel like I am slipping back down my blackhole of depression. It’s an awful feeling but I don’t know how to stop it.
Saturday was another day in the flat, again using the foot as an excuse. I colour, I get dressed, I brush my teeth – my new goal from Therapist L – and wash my face. I read, I eat, I eat a bit more and I eat just that little bit more again. Father has been in touch and his messages are so confusing. Apparently Step mum sends her love. Really? Are you sure about that? Unless she’s had a bang on the head I doubt she has sent me her love. Father still wants me to go to Wales with him. He’s offering to play butler for me. The foot makes Wales even less appealing. At least if I could walk, we’d spend hours each day outside walking. To be locked in the cottage without anything to distract us, I can’t see how it will end well.
My Sunday goals are to get dressed, brush my teeth, wash my face, do my food planning to try YET AGAIN to get food back on track and to do some one-legged cleaning.
See, it really is injured!