Tuesday, October 30, 2007

1 Year, 59 Days - Posted 1 Year, 68 Days

So, yeah – where was I? Ah, yes – in the middle of an email (or lack of email) crisis; on the floor, head banging. The boy in question eventually emailed and I was, as I cleverly predicted, instantly awash with giggling, naivety and floods of sixteen-year-old hormones. Fickle…or just excited to have some male attention? The latter I think, quite confidently. (“SCREW YOU”, Evil Stepmother) We began conversing, or as close as you can get via the Internet. Perhaps someone with a few more brain cells than I at that moment, would have realised that sleeping tablets and emails do not mix - but I, so intent on keeping the “conversation” going, didn’t stop to think. No sensible offering (“I should really go to sleep now”, “…it’s late”’ – “Let’s chat later.”) was made oh, no – no - no, ‘twas not. Instead I kept going back and forth, to and fro. Silly, silly girl.

Verging on flirtatious, our emails became more fervent as we danced together into the wee small hours…until he asked for the money shot. The most definitive and telling of all questions - the (possibly) sanctionable and satanic request, for a full body image. All my insane attraction and delirium gone in the swift tap of a few lower case keys. I had visions of my orca suited, inflatable self, speeding across bandwidth. Had it not been for the hefty sedation seeping atrophy to my limbs, I would probably have been retching into a bucket. There it was, staring at me from the sanctity of my previously virginal inbox in all its luminescent glory – the deal breaker of all deal breaking requests – my ass on a plate.

The whole point of having a ‘virtual boyfriend’ was to be treated as an equal. My inertia and flaws had been missing from my profile, yet they were all here now, towering above me as a virtual snagging list.

My comedic response with thinly veiled sarcasm (his desire to barter with camels) was met with stony silence. To this day, I have heard nothing more from Edinburgh Boy.

To be continued…

Thursday, October 18, 2007

1 Year, 55 Days – Posted 1 Year 56 Days

I’m sitting on the floor in the hallway with my back against the front door. It’s 7.20pm and I don’t know where else to be right now. I feel rattled and aimless even though there are a million things I still have to do and could be doing right now. I keep checking online to see if one of the guys I have been ‘chatting’ to has emailed me back since I last emailed him, be he hasn’t. I can’t pretend not to be disappointed. I keep trying to convince myself that, although we seem to have made some semblance of a connection, he has probably found the same thing with a lot of other souls looking for the same. I have tried not to put all my eggs in one basket, to stay impartial until we have actually met, but my stomach refuses to comply by doing that 'flippy' thing every time I hear from him. “It’s too early for these kinds of feelings” – I tell myself and force my eyes to look at other possible suitors to email and chat with in attempt to keep open and focused.

Fibs are told online, as in life. The less web savvy of the people posting on here don’t seem to realise that you can see when they are “online”. One dude emailed me last night to say “Hi”, and that he had food poisoning so not to expect too much from him over the next 24 hours – but he has been on and off the site all day. Another told me how he was too pushed to email as he was expecting to be busy with work commitments - yet he is online all day too. Please understand Dear Diary, that I am not sitting here, glued to my computer, checking up on these guys and waiting for them to slip up (?). The site is set up so that when you are online, you can see who else is - when they have been looking at your profile and when they have been checking their emails. Lying. That’s what they are doing. They think I don’t know. They think they can pull the wool over my eyes. They think they can lift and lay me, whenever it suits them. It makes me shout at my computer screen and makes me want to throw things. I get agitated and want to scream: “SEE! SEE! SEE! GODDAMIT, YOU’RE ALL THE GODDAMN SAME! ALL UNTRUSTWORTHY LIARS! YOU PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE AND GET REJECTED AS SOON AS YOU DO”

My concern is palpable – I don’t like this dependent/dependable, obsessional thinking that I am feeling and the ob(li)vious anger horrifies me. I never expected in a million years that I would become a Man Hater; and here I am, a Man Hater. I used to think those women (Man Haters) were all bra-burning, tie-dye wearing feminists, the much stereotyped “butch lesbians” that had had bad luck with men who had turned to their own fairer sex instead, and the cursed and angry women of divorce and betrayal, but now I look in the mirror and see that the much fabled Man Hater is me. Maybe you are not surprised - but I sure am - knock-me-down-with-a-feather surprised, more than a bit aghast and slightly ashamed. I have always been made to feel that I over dramatised the mistreatment during that “bad relationship”. I was always made to think it was my fault, that I was to blame and that I was the liar and the cheat. I suppose now, many years later, the worms are creeping out of the infested wood. I don’t know if I ever really accepted that he was a bully and how he bashed, what was left of my confidence, into the ground. I suppose it’s similar to the way I think about my father. I’d much rather believe that I was at fault - they were right - than put the blame they deserved, firmly back on their shoulders. This subject makes me squirm. It sounds so cliché. I suppose it is. Textbook. Girl has bullying, intimidating father that crushes her, she attracts male that eventually does the same, and keeps perpetuating the cycle, filling the void of the aftermath with anyone close enough to ensnare, rather than take the time to breathe and reboot.

Even during my two year sabbatical from relationships – I have still been constantly obsessing - obsessing over the past and falling head over heels, again and again for the same people. I am living in my own little fantasy world where each and every one of those boys comes back to me, all changed and ready to give me everything and anything I need, in return for letting me love them as I need to. Going virtual was supposed to be a happy distraction, a way to help me move on, yet I seem to be deploying the same Bunny Boiler behaviour of old, not even old…of always. Even the language I use is stereotypical of negative male perspectives that I still hear ringing in my ears. No woman came up with that term. I don’t want to be Glenn Close. I really, really don’t. Shit, shit, shit. I have always been of the opinion that I was the one at fault, that I was the one who pushed those boys away, I was too weird, too pushy, too clingy, too…too…too…too damn much, and maybe all this proves that I am after all, that I am smothering, maybe I purposely stand in front of the light so all they can see is me. Gross.

With my now well-known and well documented history of falling (in love/lust/obsession) hard and fast, building up attachments quickly and fiercely, I’m scared to have these feelings so early on in the game – I don’t think this is normal or right. I know that I can stop this online dating ‘thing’ at any point, but at times it has bolstered my confidence, leaving me squealing round my flat like a teenager at the merest “wink” from someone online (“They like me! They like me!”). It has been bolstering my confidence to know that others are interested in “Online Me”. She is so different to who I feel I am most days and I like her, that girl. I doubt they would like the person that is sitting here in knots on the floor this evening, unable to face food yet again, wondering how long she can hold off without taking the Valium.

Maybe I am safer on my own, maybe I can come to and cause less harm; maybe it is all too soon. I obviously haven’t learned how to be balanced in matters of the heart, without game playing and freaking out. Where might I find the rules of appropriate behaviour? I scour the bookshelves looking for answers – “Women Who Love Too Much”, “He’s Just Not That Into You”, “The Highly Sensitive Person” “How to Walk in High Heels” – where is the bloody formula? Where are the rules on how to behave properly and conduct ones self in a less daunting, less dramatic fashion?

I just need to check my email one more time…

The trouble is if he does email back (why wouldn’t he – we have been emailing most days for two weeks now – but oh yeah, I have fucked it all up by saying something nice didn’t I? SEE, too damn pushy…) my mood will turn on a dime and the twisty, turny, bubbling excitement will return. My evil stepmother once called me fickle and I have hated that word ever since. But it seems I can apply it here. Clunk, goes my stomach into the floor, shaming the devil on the way down.

Earlier today I was out with my old friend (The One Who Came Back), she is gloriously pregnant with her second child and we had a gorgeous morning of shopping, coffee drinking, catching up and laughing. I was F-I-N-E. Then I came home for my 3pm appointment with my CPN and by 3.05pm, while she was running late, I was well on my way down the slippery slope. Dammit.

I think I am now on day four of the increased dose of Venlafaxine (225mg). Days are better, less ‘manic’ than last week - seemingly more productive than ineffective bulldozing – nights are hell. Sleep is fitful. I constantly and abruptly jerk awake from nightmares, bed linen tied up in knots just like my belly. I have serious water retention so am bloated and aching and still sweating at the slightest sign of physical activity. My weight however, minus the water retention, is almost stable at a loss of roughly ten pounds.

This week, I have been aiming to create more structure in my day now that I am buzzing with excessive energy. It is hard to make myself stop working all day and all night so am imposing a curfew of 6pm. Just as if I had a day job, I am aiming to down tools and remain calm, preparing for sleep for the next few hours. I have also cut out caffeine after 5pm. Easier said than done with the former as on days like today I can’t sit still and need something to occupy my spiralling thoughts. “Where’s the bloody Nintendo?”

Yelling seems appropriate now, as I check my empty inbox again, several times again.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

1 Year, 52 Days - Posted 1 Year, 54 Days

Every bloody time I try to explain to her how I’m doing, how I’m thinking about things or doing more to be in control of this thing - she shoots me down. Her once friendly tone becomes crisp and curt on the end of the phone line, even though moments before she had been saying “Chat to me later, I want to hear how you are”, and “I miss you so much”. Suddenly, and almost instantly, she will have to go if I have dared to (gently) say that I sometimes feel she doesn’t let me tell her about my OWN achievements, and how important it is for me to tell her, rather than the other way around. How important it is for me show her how I am taking control by explaining what I have said to whom and the decisions I have made ON MY OWN. She never seems to let me get a word in edge ways when telling me what I need to say to my CPN, Doctors or Shrink. She doesn’t hear it when I try to tell her “I’ve asked all those questions”, the important ones, and never seems to accept their/my answers. I’ve spoken to her a thousand times before, asking her to ask me first - what I have done/said so she knows I am perfectly capable of doing so (most of the time) and then maybe, just maybe say - “Great, that is exactly what I thought you needed to say” – or “Good job, you handled that well”; but, no. If she does let me tell her she will focus on the things I didn’t say.

This most recent spat, (tonight’s call) I think, is a result of me telling her I decided to go ahead with the increase of my medication (the Venlafaxine) against both her and my step fathers wishes. My parents seem to think that last weeks ‘mania’ was a result of my medication being too strong – and bizarrely they seem to forget that this has happened before, time and time again, both in this flat and in the old flat. She seems unbelieving that the events of last week has less to do with my medication and more to do with my desire to sort things out, find order in disorder. That my cravings to get things ‘fixed’ in my surroundings will make me fell calmer and more in control and therefore more confident/able to move on (ah, my old friend daja vu, he commeth). How many times have I said that? Yes, I may have made more mess in my quest to find order, but isn’t that how I’ve always been? I can remember as a little girl spending weekends pulling everything out into the middle of my bedroom floor cleaning and tidying for hours in the mayhem, before putting things back in new and interesting ways. It seems old patterns die-hard.

I know there has been many a time when I have needed the ‘full disclosure’ aspect of our relationship, especially when things have become scary and terrifying, but at times it makes me weary, feeling that I have to report on every iota of my day. It also makes me feel that I have to have a list of achievements for the day, in my hand, before I speak to her in the evening or she will think I am floundering and having a bad day. She still doesn’t seem to accept that every day will have moments/hours/seconds of sadness, fear and self-loathing. She doesn’t realise that this is what I have come to expect and that this is familiar territory for me – the way my life has been for a long, long time.

I find it difficult to find a sense of achievement in the small things, like washing up a bowl of dishes, or putting the laundry on, when I feel I have bigger fish to fry, so many times I forget to mention theses small things, which for her – and anyone else, I would assume are a sign that I am functioning on some level. But what do they really think – how could I hold down keeping my own flat, living alone, shopping, cleaning, paying bills on time, getting phone lines installed, paying the stair well cleaner – signing the lease when it expires. I get to my appointments when I need to I make appointments when I need to. Yeah, things get left when the demons are running fast and furious – but isn’t that the same for everyone? I could name four or five of my friends that say to me “God, I’ve got a pile of dishes that I need to do that I’ve been avoiding all week.” Or, “”I haven’t had a wash yet this week” (admittedly this particular friend has small babies, but I don’t think she likes washing anyway), or “I stayed in my PJ’s all day today”. I realise that this standard of living is different for everyone, some cannot go to bed without cleaning up everything, making sure all is fresh for the next day – then there are others, like me, who admit defeat at 10pm and say “Fuck it, I’ll do it in the morning”, and go slob on the couch. I think because I am “unwell’ too, my messiness just proves to my mama that things are just not right. So, I have learned to list my achievements down to taking the hair out of the damn bath plughole, taking out the bins, putting out the recycling, so she sees that I don’t just lie around all day feeling sorry for myself – admittedly I might be doing a lot of this in between naps if I’ve had no sleep the previous night or am having a shitty day. I may also be whimpering when I was the dishes, or change the bed sheets – but by God, I am trying. However, when I do rattle off the list for the day – it never seems enough in her mind, and then begins her bitter diatribe against my medication, my general lack of care from my “team” – it seems anything else everything else gets the blame, but accept that it is down to the depression/anxiety/stress. Maybe she is less accepting of the fact that my medication alone will not cure me, even more so than I?

All of the above is why I haven’t told her about the online “dating”. I know she will take it and rubbish it and point out all the flaws. She managed to do that when I mentioned that I might do it (I think paedophiles and rapists were mentioned). She doesn’t see that this is an important thing for me to do – to reintroduce myself to the other sex - especially since I made the shocking discovery that I have no trust in them and think they are all bastards that lie and cheat and steal (not such a healthy line of thinking). To focus on a life I might have rather than the one I have right now. My intention of giving men some of my bandwidth was for me to regain confidence, maybe learn to trust that others could one day find me attractive, maybe help to trust again, or maybe (dare I say it) just have some fun? I like being asked who my favourite bands are and what I love about film. It reminds me that I am not just my depression. Sometimes I think they forget, like I still do at times, that I am, actually, a 30 year-old woman and I have lived my own life for the last eleven years.

I get angry when she tries to ‘take credit’ for picking me up when I have failed - my broken relationships, my rough times at college, my stressful job. I agree that yes, she has been there whenever I have needed her and for that I shall be eternally grateful, and not one second passes that I do not realise that I am lucky to have her and my families unfailing support – but, and that is a huge, big, BUT – for four and a half years I lived in London, miles away from home - initially with an abusive partner, then alone, then with a partner that couldn’t love me and then fatally, couldn’t love me or my depression. I lived through that, day to weary day, night through sleepless night. I still managed to get up and go to work; I still managed to pay the bills and still managed to live some semblance of a life. I did that. Me; not her, not my family - ME. I talked myself down from ledges when I was terrified and hiding knives under my pillow, I alone fled out into the night when I knew I was in danger. I kept trying when my partner told me her didn’t love me, I kept taking my medication when I was first diagnosed, I alone kept going to work and ran a business. I chose when it was time for me to leave. Yes, she was there at the end of a phone line and sometimes when she could get away she would come down and help out with packing boxes and sorting out finances, but when the phone was back on the cradle or the visit was over, I kept going.

I love my mother infinitely and I am proud to be her daughter. I am gifted with the family I have, and the support and love that comes with them. Yes, they have helped me, both above and beyond, but sometimes, just sometimes I would like to be praised for making the decisions that I have - instead of being reminded how I got there, and with who’s help. The stroke, stroke, stroke, slap, stroke approach of parenting can be hard, especially when you have spent most of your adult life slapping yourself (and feeling guilty) for bad choices made, or for your own screw up’s - never mind being reminded of them if someone you love is having a rough day.

Sometimes, I would like credit for making my choice not to give up and for continuing to breathe; for today, at least.

Friday, October 12, 2007

1 Year, 49 Days - Posted 1 Year, 50 Days

Imagine if you will, a book lying open. On one side of the page you find my last entry - on this side, you see the words “I signed up for Online Dating”. What would you think to that?

I think I might be i-n-s-a-n-e. I had a moment of madness mid mania last week, thinking “My depression is not the sum of all my parts… There’s more to me than my depression – maybe I should focus on that for a while… It might be good for me”. So, I signed up, filled out all my likes and dislikes and what I was looking for. So hard it was (without sounding like a giant martyr), as I have no idea when the last time I allowed myself to think about what I wanted. Certainly not in this life it seems. Bending and shaking to last boyfriend and the one before that’s whims and fancies (or what I thought where their whims and fancies) was what I did best. Then, after all that fillin’ and demandin’, I freaked out (of course I did) and had to lie down while simultaneously checking to see if anyone had added me to their virtual shopping basket - every five minutes. Eventually some of the strangest sounding/looking people I have seen, decided they liked me and sent me the nod.

Then I freaked out again, because I decided that I had nothing to offer and that it was an entirely unforgivable act to chat away to possible suitors being a deceptive depressive.

The freak passed and I chatted with a few guys over the following week and got talking to one guy in particular. Then last night he, out of the blue, suggested we meet. Gah! That, I hadn’t expected. Then came the “Do I tell him now or later that I suffer with depression?” Jesus. So I asked friends and then I felt guilty and as if I should give him a get-out-of-jail-free-card. So I did. Via email. 24 hours later I was checking my Inbox every minute. Nothing, nada. Shit. Ah, it happens again. The rejection of the crazy lady with the doe eyes, as she is no longer fancy-able because she dribbles.

So, last night was spent wringing hands and pacing. Then sleeping for about four hours on the couch.

However, more people had put me in their lady shopping basket this morning - I think I might have been in the “Specials” aisle overnight - and that just made me more confused about my actions. Would I be considered a tease if I couldn’t deliver a non-shaking, ‘up for it’, dateable girl at the end of all of this? Or of leading people up the garden path? Women have been burned at the stake for less. Christ, all I was looking for was a bit of banter and to try and get some confidence back – this was/is not helping.

Mid boy crisis – all my light bulbs decided to go pop, I found several wasps, convinced myself I had a nest somewhere in my house, my TV broke and my Internet screwed up yet again. It was like something out of The Shining; I fully expected the blood in the corridor (I already have the twin girls). Then my CPN arrived and I found myself letting go and telling her about what had been going on last week and this with the mania, the trashing the flat thinking I’d fixed it, etc, etc, etc. I told her about the row with my parents over my medication – how they told me to decrease my meds as they were sure the mania last week was because of the Venlafaxine, regardless of the fact that I had spoken to my own GP on Friday, he had said all was OK after doing lots of tests and to carry on. I figured because I have been under the weather these past few weeks with a urinary tract infection, requiring two doses of antibiotics and a hefty chest infection, requiring a Ventolin inhaler and antibiotics, on top of all my other meds - that I was feeling pretty shitty anyway, regardless of side effects.

In my book, it's to soon/hard to unscramble it all to work out if we've got the baby, the bath water or nothin'. It’s hard to sit on the fence between retired GP (step) father, worried Mama and Shrink. I know they are worried, but them telling me to decrease my medication when my Shrink has told me to increase is difficult. Especially when I have little trust in the medical profession and am trying desperately to believe that my “team” are working with my best interests in mind.

My SPIRIT Trained CPN listened and agreed with me that the antibiotics and other tablets would be making me feel awful and unbalanced and advised me to carry on with the plan as decided between my shrink and myself at the Biscuit Centre. Phew. She would come and see me weekly instead if bi-monthly until things had calmed down. Phew again. Plus she made me promise to monitor how things were and report back to her in between times. We also looked through some SPIRIT workbooks that I had asked her two weeks ago at our first appointment if we could have a look at. They are designed for the patient to look through charts and diagrams, mull over information and complete certain tasks in the hope that it will help you get to know/have a better understanding of your illness. It also aims to give you more tools to use when decision making (using your newly found and sometimes addled way of thinking), how to identify, challenge and change unhelpful thinking and behaviours such as the self harming. I got pretty excited, maybe a -5 instead of -10 at the prospect of a bit of theory (all be it light) and some flow charts to analyse. In my case I firmly believe (I obviously have the right to scratch this theory at any given time) that information and therefore understanding is the/my way outta here.

Once she had gone, all I was left with was time. Time to think about what a dumbass I’d been to think I could be normal and have a boyfriend, never mind someone to email. I called my Kindred Spirit friend and she pretty much talked me down off my self-built ledge, reminding me that I didn’t have to divulge anything until I felt safe enough to. My original plan had been exactly that, until I let my sister and her “I would have written it on the front page of my Personal Statement” theory, talk me out of it by getting inside my head. I was reminded of the barley in the field of my last relationship, bending and swaying to keep the plonker at my side. I’d be buggered if I was going to behave like that again – or had I already? The whole point is after all – that I am the sum of ALL my parts, but no one part is my sum. Or something…

And then he emailed and I got all excited until yet another three, yes three (I changed my profile pictures last night and have received numerous new fans since doing so) lovely handsome, (some strapping) young men sent me a wink and a smile. Who said online “dating” wasn’t fun?

Not me Sailor.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

1 Year, 42 Days

Tonight I find myself bouncing off invisible walls.

Now I have taken the little white pill and the tiny yellow one. Maybe now I can sleep. I can’t breathe and feel like I want to cry but I can’t get there, my body won’t let me unravel, it has bound itself up so tightly in preservation.

Sleep has evaded me for nights now. I am being jolted awake as soon as my eyes close or my body uncoils as to let go. Erratic behaviour prevails in an action that I find myself unable to stop both during the night and day. I am embedded in a restlessness that leaves me shaking and fearful. I feel manic. I am terrified that this is it – the end, the time where daylight will cease to exist and all there will be will be dark. It’s going to swallow me up. Munch.

I keep seeing things that aren’t there – my wits have gone. The little fuckers crawl across my arm or vanish through the cracks in the floorboard, dashing behind the couch when I turn my head, before I can catch them. I want to scratch my face, I want to pull and tear and dig hollows in my cheeks and neck. I want to damage it all so very badly. I want the noise in my head to stop and the shouting to end. She won’t stop shouting. Tonight she is yelling at the top of her lungs. She wants me to destroy my life, she wants me to smash and break and scream and throw. She wants to take me under, with her. She wants me to let go and fall into the arms of another lover.

I used to find solace in writing, and tonight I find myself looking for the friend I once had in these pages. I can’t feel it – I can’t get at it. So scared am I that I have lost it, the one friend I had, the one person who made it all OK. I rack my brains to try to pinpoint where I left off. Trying to find the connection again and to stop these damn walls from rejecting me over and over and over again as I try to feel concrete against my back. To look back would be cheating.

The need to sort and straighten is rampant and comes in the form of physical pain. My veins hurt because it all feels wrong, my surroundings, my head, moving forward, staying still; it all hurts. The air has been sucked out of my lungs and the pressure has been applied to my chest, twisting like a flower in the screws of a flower press. Perhaps the blessed flaying will begin - just to extract the veins, mind. They are next to get rid of, I know it - “If I don’t how else will the aching stop?”

I remember one thing: A moment with my Friday Counsellor, last week or possibly the week before. I think she had asked me how I felt I treated myself. I had replied; “Badly”.

It stopped me then as it stops me now. What a terrible, terrible thought. Almost unforgivable.