Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Day 2

Today, today, today. I nearly didn’t write anything today because today all this (blogging) seems incredibly self-indulgent. I just saw a really old man - he must have been at least 80, shuffling down the street holding his privates. Hiding them from the gawping eyes of all on the number 5 bus that I was on as we sped past. He was absolutely stark naked apart from a tattered old button-less coat, flapping at his sides and shoes that didn’t lace up. One old lady on the bus said “Oh he shouldn’t be out on his own”. No kidding. He was heading somewhat speedily towards the local hospital with what looked like a companion in tow. At least I remembered to get dressed this morning and my pants weren’t over the top of my trousers.

I doubt very much that the man I saw today has a computer and even less that it would enter his head to write down how come he managed to find himself walking down the street buck naked in a crumbly coat and shoes. It makes me feel like a fraud. Then I look down at my own hands and arms and see the recent scars that I have created all over them and try to remember that there is actually something wrong with my head. For now anyway. Ever since my diagnosis – “severe depression and adjustment anxiety” - I have been begging people to give me permission to be ill. Begging anyone to convince me that I do have an illness. I still try to get my psychiatrist to write me a letter saying “Dear so and so, you are ill – you need time to get better. I give you the permission to say you have mental health problems” but he won’t. I just have to accept what he tells me he says. Slightly difficult when you think everyone around you is lying to you constantly. My Psychiatric Nurse reminds me on a weekly basis “If you could choose to be like this would you?”. Big fat no is the answer to that. It would be easier if I was covered with spots and when the spots fade you are all better – however long that takes. A bit like having measles I suppose. Right now what I go on is how long I can go without self-harming. And how many days I can keep my hands from picking at the scabs and scars that are slowly healing.

Today is yet another yellow sticker day, although after my meeting with my Welfare Rights Officer it was nearly a black sticker day. I shall briefly explain the sticker system. Every day gets a sticker; it’s a bit like being back at wee school and getting stickers for your daily efforts. A black sticker = very bad, yellow = passable/ok and green = good/very good, all relatively speaking. I think it’s a genius concept that I made up all by myself. It helps me to ‘grade’ how I have been for the week, because usually I can’t remember and think it was all crap. Anyway, so I went to visit a local Welfare Officer in Castlemilk. It’s hilarious really. It all started when I was signed off sick way back in March and I made a phone call to the local job centre to ask if I would be entitled to any help financially. For the next two months I filled out form after form after form and was made to feel like a fraudster at every step. Months later I am getting some financial help but not all I am entitled to “apparently”. Makes you wonder why one works all those years and gives god-knows-who all those National Insurance contributions. So we (the Welfare Officer and I) filled out some more forms and now I have to wait a month or so to find out the result of yet another application. Makes you think you should just keep your mouth shut about having any sort of illness and just blunder along trying to keep working. Listing how difficult it is to get out of bed, never mind get dressed is most days and how terrified I get on leaving my flat, how many times I self harm in a week, when I think about topping myself and how I avoid contact with all but a few select people made me feel ever so slightly traumatised. Remember the old naked man I say. At least I have my clothes on.

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