My sign is vital, my hands are cold…

CW: Self Harm

Lately I’ve been having regular checks for the heart rate thing. The nurse who took my blood & vitals last week was really familiar. I had that strange I’ve definitely met you feeling, but also knew I didn’t know her, know her. I couldn’t place her at all until a loud clatter startled her. Her sharp intake of breathe shot me back in time.

She was the nurse I stunned with my self destruction in this same hospital many years ago. She either didn’t recognise me or correctly judged it best not to indicate that she had. She was friendly & kind, but the sound of that inhale shook me. I was back there, covered in blood & guilt.

I can so clearly remember walking into that triage room. Concisely explaining why I was there & seeing the doubt in her eyes. I could tell she thought the large towel on my arm was overkill. I knew she was weighing up how to nicely dismiss me. I was too tired to do anything other than unwrap the makeshift dressing & expose the truth.

Foggy picture of cars outside hospital. Words ambulance only painted on ground

The inner layers were blood soaked & the final one stuck to the wound. When I yanked it off with same the lack of self care that had led me to that room, she gasped. An entirely involuntary expression of what; shock? disgust? fear? I couldn’t discern, but I knew it wasn’t good.

The speed that she whipped through the triage routine was more about her discomfort than mine. I had long lost my objectivity. I sought treatment as a means of calling a halt to that cut. I had given up seeking enough. I knew that enough was a lie. When I looked at my arm I really couldn’t tell anymore if it was any worse than anything else I had done to myself. It was just another failed attempt to carve out some peace.

Peace that I knew was never coming. I already felt stupid & ashamed & so horribly guilty. For all the usual reasons and now also because it was obvious I had ruined this women’s night. She hadn’t bargained for my level of determined self loathing; I’d upset her. I felt selfish for not being more clear. I shouldn’t have allowed anyone to be caught off guard.

I wanted to be better. Do better. I wished I could give this nurse & everyone else the explanation they needed. I yearned to be somewhere else. I didn’t even want to do this anymore. My blades had long since lost efficacy. I could never cut deep enough. Never shed enough blood. The quiet I needed was evermore elusive. I was desperate and so fucking tired. Yet, I still couldn’t stop.

As I waited for her to finish with my blood pressure I was stuck in the past. Mired in the dread. Reliving the experience of having my arm stapled shut whilst already planning the next assault. Knowing I couldn’t escape the nagging voice in my head that insisted I must cut. I must earn any rest. I had to atone for sins I wasn’t able to articulate. I had to release all the fetid emotion with my blood.

When I left I felt blessed. And cursed. Blessed that I was wrong. I did escape. I have hushed that internal need for penance. Cursed because I still haven’t silenced it. There will always be triggers pulling me back. Days when my scars itch to be opened. You can’t play with fire & not get burned. The magic is remembering I know how to make it stop. I just have to wake up every day and choose this new, better life. Easy, right?

Black and white photo oh plus size woman looking at scarred arm

Help me if you can, I’m feeling down…

Are you losing the plot yet? I fear I’m getting there. Lockdown is getting harder. If like me you already have less than perfect mental health, you may be closer to the edge than most.

I’m with you. I’m finding all this time alone is churning up lots of issues I would prefer remain undisturbed. The isolation is leaving far too much room for pondering big issues. Existential questions that I couldn’t answer before the world went mad & are even more confounding now. I swing between Groundhog Day dread and being on jangly high alert. Trying to break the monotony of another day home alone by sorting your underwear drawer is a tiny bit depressing. My already racing heart attempting to burst right out my chest every time my noisy neighbours thump really isn’t fun either.

Am I doing anything that matters? Am I running out of time & is this pandemic melting huge chunks of what is left? Can I continue to makes ends meet? Am I doing enough for those who can’t? Can I get a Tesco delivery slot or my prescription? Will I ever get rid of long covid? Will all my loved ones get through this unscathed and will we ever be permitted to be in the same room again? This shit is only the tip of the iceberg. Beneath the surface are all the intrusive thoughts and fears of catastrophe.

Image of iceberg above & below waterline. The sea is vivid blue.

I say this with the knowledge that I am in a privileged position. I have security & a support system that many do not. Too many people are living in situations that are perilous in every possible way. Accessing even the most basic of assistance is getting harder. Half a carrot, a handful of tuna & frubes will not feed hungry children (if you don’t understand this ref, read this & try to control your rage). When you can’t rely on the system to ensure kids don’t starve you can bet that mental health services are in distress. A fact that has been keeping me awake at night as I worry about my own mental wellbeing.

With that in mind I wanted to share some resources. If you don’t feel you can wait to reach the top of an nhs waiting list one of these may be helpful.

Theses organisations offer reduced cost therapy.

Arbours Association

Frontline Therapist

Problem Shared

The Guild of Psychotherapists

Dedicated to Change Project

The Spark

Sandyford Glasgow

Most universities & colleges offer counselling services. If you are student it’s worth checking out what help your institution can give. Many also offer low cost therapy with students training in psychology disciplines.

You can find online support here:

Samaritans

Mind

Calm

Age UK

Women’s Aid

Beat

The Mix

Childline

There are also local services across the UK, a bit of google research may lead you to affordable (or free) help in your area. I know that none of these options are perfect, I wish I had the answer. In the absence of a complete solution I hope these options might be helpful.

As always when discussing mental health it is important to state that I am not a professional. Please seek advice from your GP in the first instance and contact emergency services if required.

Everyday it’s getting colder…

I managed to sneak in a little trip to the park before we completely locked down. I took the opportunity to wear some Xmas pressies since it’s unlikely I’ll be out of lounge wear for quite a while.

The only possible fashion choice in this weather is layers. I piled them on for my icy outing. My excellent Mum found this lovely vegan brand & showered me with their accessories. While my sister indulged my leopard print love.

ly I’m standing in park with walking stick wearing jumpsuit & faux fur coat
Jumpsuit -Asos Curve
Scarf – Pom Boutique
Coat – Marks & Spencer
Cardigan – Boohoo
Boots – Dr Marten
Glasses – Where.light
ly is  wearing leopard print jumpsuit & navy maxi cardi. The photo had Forrest background superimposed
All those mirror selfies are getting boring.

The boy found new ways to play with my walking stick & slid around on the ice with his Mummy. We completed our winter adventure by feeding the wildlife. Those swans are so beautiful, but not above squabbling over grub.

Toddler in coat & Woolly hat in playpark
Pink post it note on frosty leaves
Swans on an icy pond

A Very Covid Christmas…

Like many others, last minute covid restrictions scuppered my Xmas. I was bummed not to be able to see my people, especially the wee ones. Ultimately though, it wasn’t so bad.

My digestive tract is still struggling with the long covid, so Christmas dinner was never going to be an option. I’m way too sore & tired to relish the idea of getting all gussied up. The wonder of video calls mean I could still watch the kids open presents & have a carry on. Thus, Xmas day on the sofa wasn’t as bad as I had imagined.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a magical day. I don’t fancy making a habit of it, but needs must. I still had lots of gorgeous presents & messages of love. I think more than anything what got me down was just the lack of distraction. Enjoying the kid’s exuberance takes my mind off not having made any of my own little people. This year I couldn’t help but dwell a little longer on the the Christmas traditions I’ll never be a part of.

2020 has been a wash out for most of us. I still feel I’m stumbling blind when it comes to discovering a new focus. I have actually achieved things I’m proud of this year. I’ve smashed some career boxes that I didn’t think would even get ticked. Those successes don’t fill that motherhood chasm.

My Corona Christmas has been reminiscent of the whole 2020 experience. I’ve felt a lot aimless, a little sad and entirely capable of making it through. Surviving is the only goal this year & we’ve almost reached it.

ly is wearing red glasses & leopard print. She is cheersing with a glass of bucksfizz

We’re on each other’s teams…

On Thursday my Dr confirmed that she believes I have ‘Long Covid’. It’s been two & a half months since I tested positive and symptoms persist. It’s likely they will continue you to do so for some time.

My Gp took bloods and checked my vitals. My oxygen levels are a little low, but not worryingly so. My heart rate in the other hand is way too fast. We’ll need to keep an eye on that. The Dr is trying to get me referred to a covid rehab clinic, but in the meantime, there’s very little that can be done. At all stages of this illness drs have stressed that there is still so much that no one knows. New complications are cropping up all the time. The more complicated your medical history, the more complicated covid can be. For me it’s constant breathlessness and fatigue. All my usual chronic symptoms are heightened. My pain levels are through the roof, my appetite is decimated and when I do eat my digestive tract objects.

Ly is Weston big glasses and a feminist af face mask

Long term effects of the Covid 19 are far reaching. Everything from strokes to kidney failure has been reported. This virus is dangerous. Please take it seriously. I know the safety measures we have to take are hard. I hate spending so much time at home on my own. The emotional & financial toll has been huge for many, but we can’t afford to be reckless.

If you can, stay home. Wear a mask, wash your hands and observe social distancing rules. Everyone wants to be seeing loved ones & spreading merriment at this time of year, but it just isn’t safe. It will take time to get the vaccine out. Covid doesn’t care about Xmas. There will be more opportunities to celebrate. It won’t kill us to scale back festivities. It could kill people you love not to.

A mask in blue background with  text ‘wear a mask’

You gotta give a little…

The world is in an extra big mess this Christmas. Corona have wreaked havoc and not many of us are feeling financially or emotionally buoyant. With that in mind I thought a little giving might do us all good.

A little can make a huge difference to the life of a person dealing with homelessness. Social Bite can provide a Xmas dinner or emergency winter food pack for just £5.

Kids out work with children living in refuge. At this time of year the ask for donations of Xmas gifts for little ones who may not otherwise receive any. They simple requests are so humbling. They are hoping for so little. You can select a gift that suits your budget & but it online here.

Xmas tree with giving tree decorations

Centre Point so amazing work with homeless youth. Christmas dinner can be a really important symbol, especially for young people who cannot be with family. Ten pounds can cheer up a lonely Christmas with a delicious xmas dinner.

Cats Protection can feed a cat in their care for 50 days with a £10 donation. I’d adopt them all if I could, but helping others take excellent care of them is the next best thing.

Black and white cat wearing Santa collar

If you have no cash to spare, but still would like it help keep someone warm this winter, The Big Issue can direct you to a drop off point near you. As temperatures drop coats are desperately needed. If you have an unwanted winter warmer in your wardrobe please pass it on!

Give a little in black letters inside red love heart

It must have been the mistletoe…

I’m usually a stickler for leaving Christmas until December. I get started on the shopping, but the tree et all must wait. This year has been an aberration in so many ways and I needed a little cheer. The tree has been up for a week.

Now it is time for my manicure to get in on the act. Since I won’t be having any actual parties any time soon, I’ve thrown a festive nail party. This is my first attempt at a disco ball & I’m loving it.

Xmas nail art.   Glitter ball and mistletoe on green background

Present wrapping is my next Xmas distraction. I have an idea that I hope will be as pretty in reality as it is in my head.

Shop Small this Xmas…

I always enjoying supporting small business, but this year more than ever they need our custom. If you’re after for some beautifully different presents for your loved ones, look no further.

Illustrated by Charlie can cover two Xmas needs, gift & cards. Their fun prints would make a fab present and humorous take on festive cards are sure to make everyone smile.

Candles can be a passé as a gift, but not if you find some that are really special. ESH do exactly that. All 100% soy wax, handmade beautiful designs. I have my eye on those pillar stars.

Jessica Jumpers creates beautiful prints, portraits and totes. Her work often features two of my favourite things, ‘kitties & titties’. She also takes commission for portraits. Her unique style ensures any purchase would be a delightful gift.

Tote bag  with ‘titties & kitties’ slogan Sms drawing of naked woman bending over to stroke  a cat.

If African prints warm you heart, My Ankara Love is the place for you. These fabrics are divine. They stock everything from interiors to jewellery. I would die if I found any of their pieces under my tree.

Lamp, bangles, dress &  cushion is African wax print fabrics

Hatch is a retail space in Glasgow that curates independent makers from throughout the UK. They have so many beautiful things that would make amazing gifts. If you’re local I definitely recommend you check them out.

Dried flower wreaths octopus plate, good posnt holder with ivy, stained glass robin window decorations

Curated by Girls have the most amazing feminist tees. All of which are already on my Xmas list. If you know a woman who takes no shit one of these would make the perfect present.

Women wearing t shirts with feminist slogans.

Not your pin up girl…

I recently received delightfully BoPo gifts that instantly inspired an idea. Since the presents in question are a hat & socks, they seemed perfect for a cute top to tail photo.

As I put my vision into action I became frustrated. My attempts to capture a simple, joyful picture of my fat body were complicated by the reaction I knew it would receive. No matter how carefully one covers provocative areas or unseductive the pose female presenting bodies are sexualised. Marginalised bodies receive even more pressure to up the sexy in order to be perceived as worthy of viewing.

Nudity isn’t inherently sexual on green and purple swirly background

As a fat woman I know from experience that any picture I put in the public domain will be insulted & ogled. No matter the context or reason for my showing the world the image I can predict a portion of the responses. Some creepy men will always make creepy remarks and fat phobic comments will appear. It can feel like I am being asked to either apologise for or eroticise my form to make it acceptable.

I’ll never apologise. I won’t forever play the sexy fatty either. My body is just as worthy as any other. I am attractive, I can be alluring. I’m also just a person. I like myself in jammies & unwashed bun. I like myself with hairy legs and tired eyes. I’m worthy when I’m limping along with my walking stick. I can find pleasure in my body just as it is.

Plus sizesd naked women sitting on floor one arm across her breasts and one leg crossed to cover pubic area.Wearing a hat & socks
Riots not Diets Beanie – The Spark Company
Socks – Crudely Drawn
Glasses – Where.light

Naked doesn’t equal sexual. All bodies are glorious and remarkable. I Iove the idea of embracing the normal. I want to celebrate all the different incarnations of me. I want others to see that they are enough.

Pretty things…

I’ll never live in one of those perfect show homes. I hate the idea of constantly redecorating, I’m messy and I like too many random bits. When it comes to interiors I tend to sod the rules & just do my own thing.

I call it homey. I’m sure others may have other adjectives. As usual, I couldn’t care less. It all feels like me and that’s a thing I wanted to carry that onto my walls. Amongst the many photographs I want to hang art that means something to me. The best way to accomplish that is buying from independent artists. Not only do I get a special piece, but I can support talented & amazing people too.

Home is a feeling in a background of multi coloured bubbles

My latest is from the gorgeous Robyn Boyle. A beautiful artist & person, Robyn was offering a limited number of reduced price portraits to raise funds for art activism. I snapped one up and was amazed when she produced this stitched drawing. The frame I ordered has been delayed, but I couldn’t wait any longer to share this.

Portrait of man wearing glasses.  Black thread on white paper