Awkward

Ah, the hairdressers. A kingdom of intimidatingly beautiful women and hydrogen peroxide fumes and my own special brand of social awkwardness. The horrible hot black cape around my shoulders, Velcro fastening itching the back of my neck, music I’ve never heard by a band I’ve never heard of playing behind the whine of 100 hair dryers, me staring off into the middle distance…

I hate going to the hairdressers. Hate it. I’m terrible at small talk and I’m awkward and I’ll garble “yes please thank you very much one sugar” when I’m offered tea and then watch sadly as it sits cooling on the shelf in front of the mirror because I don’t know how I’m supposed to drink it when I can’t move my head and there’s bits of my hair floating on top…

What am I supposed to do while my hair is being washed? Do I keep my eyes open and risk awkward eye contact with the stranger running their fingertips over my scalp and make it feel bizarrely intimate? Do I keep my stare at the ceiling resolute, even when one of their nipples inadvertently grazes my eyelashes as they lean over me to reach the towel? If I close my eyes will it make it seem more intimate?

The single saving grace is what I lack in small talk and tea drinking skills I make up for in expressions of delight at a haircut I knew I’d hate before I’d even sat down. Oh yes that’s great please do show me the back with the little mirror because I never know what to say when you do its all lovely thanks so much of course I’ll tip you take all my money just let me leave.

Mid-snip, this hairdresser delivers a concerned “are you alright?” type comment which snaps me out of what was actually a really nice daydream and back into the real world of forced anecdotes that are mostly (totally) lies because I don’t have any real life ones.

When I daydream I don’t have one of those ethereal, porcelain faced expressions, all slightly parted pink lips and eyes sparkling with distant magical worlds…In fact, when I stared back at myself in the fucking unflatteringly lit mirror, wet hair hanging limply around my shoulders, random sections pinned up awkwardly, chopped split ends stuck to my lip balm, the eyeliner on my right eye making its way down my face because please stop flicking me in the eyeball with my own hair, my face is pale and my expression is one of gormless…terror.

Oh no I’m fine, that’s just my face.

*strangled breezy laugh*

People often think I’m in a thunderous mood when I’ve floated off into a daydream or I’m thinking about food or what happened in Eastenders or why my shittest tweets always get the most stars. I’m actually perfectly happy. Fine at the very least. Probably not even actually thinking of anything at all.

I’m not a bitch, I promise. I’m not putting a hex on you and your family and anyone you’ve ever loved. I’m not snobby or rude…I’m just a shy person with a face and I’m really, really sorry you thought I was looking at you funny that time at the thing.

Not unlike my face, my brain is a pretty good tool in my arsenal of social incompetence. Especially around people I don’t know particularly well.

I’m massively self deprecating but that’s usually me trying to be funny. And it’s a jolly little shield that prevents me getting too close to anyone – everyone I care about always leaves ahahahaha maybe it’s because of my face ahahahaha – and because I like to make people laugh (validating innit) and observational humour doesn’t always work. Especially online where you can’t see the funny thing that I can and there’s no tone and you can’t see my upturned face with the hopeful look of a puppy begging for the validation of at least a half smile, please like me, lovely human, I funny, I nice.

One of the problems with a sprinkling of light hearted self mockery is that, being someone vocal about their own madness, alarm bells are going to ring when I say “OMG I’M SO SHIT WHAT A STUPID IDIOT I AM FOR THAT THING”. Because I’m all depressive and stuff often what was actually just a throw away comment about me being genuinely idiotic mutates into one hundred and one U OK HUNS and me saying over and over that yes I’m fine I promise I was actually an idiot that time I end up sounding so desperately sarcastic I regret ever thinking I could successfully put words into a sentence to be unleashed from my mind and into the world.

Sometimes, because you have to laugh or you’ll cry amirite, I’ll drop an accidental and extremely poorly thought out joke about The Bad Things into what was, until that moment, a normal conversation.

The Bad Things are such a norm to me now; I have to talk about them whether I like it or not to GPs and nurses and psychologists and, in a less obligated way to people I love and people I don’t and Twitter…I used to talk about them a lot on here. They’re just part of my life.

I don’t answer the door to the delivery man (who actually accounts for at least 75% of my real life human interaction because Amazon Prime) and lament about my medication or that really funny time I was so mentally unwell I heard a dismembered voice telling me jokes while I was in the shower. I’d tell you lot though. It was fucking weird and you’d all think I’m properly mad but it WAS funny. In hindsight.

And I would sit with a friend and absentmindedly say “this cup of tea is so bad it’s making me want to die”.

*all of the air is sucked from the room*

*sits in the deafeningly silent vacuum of awkward*

“OMG guys, just because I have, like, literally wanted to die doesn’t mean I literally want to die now, this isn’t a cry for help or a serous statement, this is just a really really shit cup of tea”

Admittedly, this only happens with people I’m not that close to or people who don’t know me very well but I have no self censor. I don’t think and it’s terrible. My brain’s so quick to throw these things out of my mouth because it’s obviously a sick, sick organ that likes to watch me cringe myself into a puddle while everyone slowly sidesteps away.

I’m really, really lucky to know people who can find a bit of gentle humour in my mentalness and joke both at me and with me. To know people on a level that they can take the piss and it be genuinely funny and not make me want to cry or kill them, but who also know when I’m poorly and need love, that’s pretty spesh.

If I’m really not well it won’t be a stupid try hard joke poorly delivered before my mouth could stop it from falling out that lets you know. It’ll be when I’ve not spoken for days. Or when I say “I’m really struggling what do I do?”.

I’m sorry that sometimes I can get it wrong or cause worry and I am forever baffled and endlessly appreciative that there are people here who care. So that’s all sort of why I’m struggling a bit to write at the moment. I’m trying to get a handle on how I’m feeling and how to translate it here and…that’s all something else for another time. But I don’t mean to scare anyone. Unless I do, in a cruelly perverse way.

…but mostly, that is why I can’t make small talk with hairdressers. (It’s also a bit because I HATE YOU I SAID I ONLY WANTED A TRIM YOU POWER CRAZY SCISSOR WIELDING HAIR DEMON).

Soliloquy

Mind: Just gonna do this for a bit…

Red Guy: Look, it’s fine. She’s going to do great. It’s not about you. She’s going to blossom and thrive and give ’em hell

Blue Guy: SCHOOL IS SHIT YOU ARE SHIT YOU HAVE SHITTED UP THE LAST 4 YEARS FOR HER SHIT SHIT SHIT

(I think, in this scenario, Slinky Dog is me, watching in third person as my psyche self destructs)

Red: Maybe this is a weird kind of relief that…

Blue: RELIEF? YOU ARE RELIEVED?! YOU ARE A SHIT

Red: …that somehow we made it through, that’s she’s an amazing little creature and she can go off to school and…

Blue: NO THANKS TO YOU. SHE’S AMAZING IN SPITE YOU AND NOW YOU’RE GLAD THAT SHE’S GOING OFF INTO THE WORLD? YOU FAILED. YOU FAILED ALL THE BABY BITS AND THE TODDLER BITS AND NOW ITS OVER AND YOU’VE FUCKED IT ALL

Red: …

Body: Hey. It’s me. Do you want me to shut down a bit? Send you to bed and render you useless so you can just sleep and pretend none of this is really happening…

Red: Don’t you start

Blue: YOU’RE MAKING IT ALL ABOUT YOU. YOU’RE DISGUSTING AND SELFISH AND YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO, EVEN LESS SO BECAUSE YOU’VE BEEN SHIT, REMEMBER? SHIT SHIT SHIT

Red: just because…

Blue: SCHOOL WAS SHIT FOR YOU AND IT WILL BE SHIT FOR HER TOO AND THERE WILL BE NOTHING YOU CAN DO TO MAKE ANY OF IT BETTER. THERES NO CLAWING THIS BACK NOW. SHE’S OLD ENOUGH TO KNOW AND TO RESENT YOU FOR BEING SHIT

Red: I just..

Blue: YOU’RE SHIT

Red: no, I…

Blue: SHIT

Red: can you just…

Blue: YOU. ARE. SHIIIIIT

Red: I hage those PRN meds…maybe the PRN is now

Blue: MUM OF THE YEAR

No Hurt(?)

“No one can tell if you’re having suicidal thoughts, you can just keep going. Ideation shouldn’t stop you from cooking dinner or looking after your child…”
– My Shit Psychiatrist, 2014

 

You know that pain scale thing with the laughably bad comic faces where you/doctors/who knows place you between 1-10 based on which face you jab at/how zig-zaggy your mouth has gone…Is that actually a thing?

This:

Universal pain scale
Do they really use it in hospitals or did I just see it in Scrubs and I’m actually making this up?

Ah well…

I’m probably an 8.5 on that scale right now. That rests nicely between ‘hurts whole lot’ and ‘hurts worst’.

[Nah, this isn’t real is it? That’s not a real thing “it hurts worst doctor what can you do for the paaaaain?”

…I’ve just googled again. It is real. Bloody hell]

I’m teetering on the edge of a panic attack which itself is teetering on the edge of some deliciously depressive thoughts. Dangerous territory. I can’t give into this because if I do, the bubbling undercurrent of anxiety currently coursing though my body is telling me in no uncertain terms that I WILL DIE I’M NOT MAKING THIS UP THIS IS FOR REAL THIS TIME DEATH IS IMMINENT.

I’d quite like to avoid death and the excruciatingly slow and painful descent into death (panic) that precedes it so let’s not, okay brain? Conversely, if I jump onto/under the depressive thoughts train then I will probably end up actively wanting to die before the night is out and that’s not exactly a fun way to while away the hours either.

So I’ll just sit here, shoulders so tense that they’re hunched up around my ears, hot and cold and sore and achy and weak. Bit of a shitter really that the whole poorly brain thing manifests in actual physical suffering too. I might feel sick for a bit in a minute, maybe shake uncontrollably, feel dizzy and spaced out…I’ll probably ruminate for a while on how I’m a terrible excuse for a person. I might spend some time feeling disgustingly guilty, achingly empty, oozing with self hatred…

So yeah. 8.5. Hurts a whole lot. Hurts worst.

My face is a glorious 1 on the scale of weird faced pain though. NO HURT ALL FINE. Because, unfortunately(?), I can mentally do up to 10 looking like 1 but if you inflicted a juicy physical 4 (hurts a little more) by, say, administering a brutal kick to the shin or similar I’d probably do a 10 face.

I probably do a 10 face if I stub my toe or drop my phone or my kid wanted the blue cup not the red cup even though she expressly said she wanted the blue cup for the love of god.

It turns out, being able to clearly and calmly express burning, searing agony doesn’t go down well. No one believes it because to anyone who hasn’t been there, that kind of pain, that kind of anything, should present in a whimper from someone curled in the foetal position. By rights, I should be doing the hurts most face with its sad eyes dripping tears.

Thing is, I know myself better than anyone because I live inside my own complex little mind. I hate, hatehatehate, the reach out for help rhetoric…It’s treatment innit? You mean treatment. Don’t put the onus on me to ‘reach out…’ or ‘ask for help’. Help denotes some kind of weakness or inability to cope and that is far from fair. I cope because I have to every day but can I at least have a paracetamol and a cuddle to take the edge off?

Don’t brush me aside because I can sit with a 1 face and talk articulately about that time heinously self harmed. I don’t know how else to talk about it. I don’t want to tell you about it and I’m ashamed and embarrassed so this is all I have.

“Do you ever want to end your own life?”

[looks at the floor] Yeah. Sometimes. [looks up, acknowledges concerned head tilt with a smile] Sometimes I’d just rather not exist, y’know?

AH-HA YOU SMILED NO HELP FOR YOU!

An elderly woman stopped me in Sainsburys last week, she asked if I would pass her something from a high shelf. She called me dear and she smiled at me. She smiled but rather than turning on my heels and exclaiming WELL YOU SEEM PRETTY FUCKING HAPPY WITHOUT THOSE RICH TEA BISCUITS SO GOOD DAY TO YOU LADY I said yeah, sure, here you go.

And then I smiled back and dropped some chocolate HobNobs into my own trolley and carried on around the shop at around a 7 (hurts even more) with anxiety because bright lights lots of things people everywhere what did I need again?

Pass the smiling old lady the biscuits for you know not of her need for biscuits; be compassionate and caring to the smiling girl asking for help because you know not her true 10 face.

Not proper no more

I’ve been doing this for four years now. Four years today, fucking hell (presents, cards, congratulations and publishing contracts can be sent to the usual address). I was proper four years ago. I wouldn’t have typed fuck or have been anywhere near as honest or as vulnerable or as openly scared/clueless/dull.

I was so, so keen then to project some kind of image of a good parent who had her shit together click here to look at my Pinterest boards of craft and baby led weaning and desperation.

I thought this blog would be transient but I took it far too seriously and I thought the fairly major illness would be transient too, possibly should have taken that one more seriously. Hindsight you bastard.

It’s a weird thing but it’s a weird thing I’ve never quite been able to let go of. I like knowing it’s here but I hate how one dimensional it can make me feel. It makes me want to write and explore and question but it feels like a pressure and an obligation sometimes which is bafflingly stupid.

It’s held my hand in a strange way. It’s sat here quietly and so I’ll forgive it for poking me for attention every now and then because sometimes I wake it up at 2am and use it selfishly.

I suppose, in homage to who I was and what this was, I kind of want to acknowledge the passing of time. So, little blog, cheers for only costing me £8 a year and for being the vessel for my nonsense, for opening up this world of all of these amazing people to me and for not getting too fucked up when I start to make up my own CSS coding with reckless abandon. It’s been emosh.

(Can the next four years be a bit more poetic and vivid and beautiful with numerous hilarious asides please.)

What Are You Saying?

I don’t know much, I’m not a doctor or a pharmacist or a psychologist – I’m just a girl and a friend and a wife…a bitch, a lover, a child, a mother etc.

I’m scared and I’m clueless and I’m lost and do you know what? I don’t know what to say either. The cruel irony of illness is that no matter what it is, it affects us all differently but…empathy. Empathy is all we can do isn’t it?

Empathy is the fucking least we can do.

When my BFF says she’s feeling [insert any less than good feeling] I feel shit because I can’t take it away or make it better and then I feel shit again because I know. I know the pain because I’ve breathed every breath of it in my own way. But I still don’t know what to say.

So I say it’s shit. Because it is. I say it will end and it will feel better one day and you can fucking do this because all of those things are true and it doesn’t hurt to have a tiny reminder. I say I don’t know what to say but I’m here. I send stupid GIFs and I listen and I respect the need for silence. I tell her I fucking love her because I do and sometimes that’s all there is, y’know?

Invalidation is the worst thing you can give someone who spends every single second of their existence invalidating themselves.

I’m not advocating skipping around the afflicted and declaring your love for them (unless you do, then go for it) and I’m not suggesting GIFs are a cure all or even vaguely helpful at all* but here’s some desperately unhelpful stuff that no one wants to hear so for the love of all of the things stop it right now.

  • But you look so well…
  • But you seem so happy…
  • But your life is so good…
  • But look at all you have…
  • What do you have to be sad about…
  • It doesn’t make sense…
  • It’s (you’re) stupid…
  • It’s (you’re) wrong…
  • Have you tried yoga…
  • Have you tried kale…
  • Have you tried running…
  • Have you tried invoking the patron saint of mentalness and pleading for salvation…
  • You’re being silly…
  • You’re making it up…
  • You’re taking things too personally…
  • You’re taking things too seriously…
  • You’re just doing this for attention…
  • You’re making it up…
  • You’re not even trying…
  • You need to take more vitamins…
  • You don’t mean it…
  • You care too much…
  • You don’t know what it’s like to be really ill…
  • There are people much worse off than you are…
  • There are so many things to be happy about…
  • Oh my brothers friends sisters mate had that and then she did this and now she’s fine…
  • Don’t you want to get better…
  • Don’t you want to try…
  • Don’t you know how difficult you’re making this for us/them/him/her…
  • Think about what you’re doing to the people that love you…
  • Just ignore it…
  • Just carry on…
  • Pull yourself together…
  • Don’t be so stupid…
  • Snap out of it…
  • Chin up…
  • Smile…
  • Stop worrying…
  • Stop wallowing…
  • Stop overthinking things…
  • Things aren’t so black and white…

I’ve heard all of those. What a lucky girl I am. At some point all of those will have made me cry hot bitter tears of self loathing and desperate loneliness.

Sometimes we need love or silence or tears or uncontrollable laughter.

Sometimes we can laugh so hard that we laugh a mouthful of tea out of our nose. Still depressed, just with tea dripping from our chin. Sometimes we can go outside, still depressed, just depressed outside.

Sometimes we can…do you know what? We’re humans so we can and we do and that doesn’t make us more or less or better or worse.

We know all the things, trust me. We feel the guilt and the pain and the injustice of the suffering and heartache we cause to the people the surround us. We feel stupid for feeling how we do because maybe we are just being selfish and so many people do have it worse why am I moaning…We carry this around with us every single day until the pain seers so deeply it becomes numb.

There’s a really, really simple thing to remember when you’re talking to anyone, mentally ill or otherwise:

Don’t be a dick. Please. Just don’t be a fucking dick.

Thank you.

 

* This one is good though. Look at it. Look at iiiiiiiit!

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