Harder than easy…

I understand the appeal of ‘fake it til you make it’. It is definitely a strategy i’ve employed, but I’m beginning to wonder if maybe there’s a dangerous crossover point. Does acting like you’re ok until you can actually be alright lose it’s usefulness when OK ceases to be a realistic goal?

At the moment I’m wavering between distraction at all costs and crying in the dark. I’m filling the days with as many fun or productive things as I can physically manage. I carry on with the wee ones; go rascalling to farms & libraries & soft play. Have lunches & chats & belly laughs with people I love. They temporarily pull my edges together. I’ve been busying myself with tidying the spare room. Organising my wardrobe. Hanging art that’s been waiting in boxes for months. I keep going until my body screams. When I stop I realise the calendar is still set to my due date & there is just no way I can open the curtains today.

Calendar on pile of books

Some days I can almost fool myself that I’m doing ok. I can keep from asking what’s the point. Push the existential thoughts aside & paint on a smile. It never lasts long. I’m still hollow. I don’t know when the forced productivity becomes a lie. Left to my own devices I am pretty sure I would lock the door & perpetually reopen my wounds. Is this manufactured well being what people mean when they say ‘just keep swimming’? I have to be honest I feel like eventually I’ll probably drown.

Person submerged in blue bath water

I’m holding onto the possibility that it might get better. Time heals and so on. I’m not sure I believe that, though. I think most of the time you probably just get used to pain. Intellectually I can work our what’s happening. I’m grieving. Not just the baby I lost, but the idea of any baby. I’m grieving the entire life I wanted. All the babies I never got to hold and all the theoretical ones that might have made that easier bear. I no longer have hope. That’s what is making it so hard.

I’m worried that this is it. My life will always be waiting for the next life raft. Clinging to a few hours of something good before I wade back into nothing. Emotion aside I don’t even have the energy to keep up this level of diversion. The recovery to doing ratio is creeping up. It is getting harder to put on make up & push my arse out the door. I fear my real mood is leaking out.

How long can I keep this up? Congratulating myself on finally emptying the washing basket feels like a shallow victory when I can’t write anything that doesn’t make me weep. I really don’t know if I’m nailing the life goes on thing or just closing my eyes to reality. There are still pre natal vitamins in a cupboard I no longer open and a box of positive pregnancy tests under my bed. The perfume I wore when my own made me nauseous remains on my dresser. I can’t sleep. I’m struggling to imagine a future that feels fulfilling. I can’t help thinking that avoiding these truths won’t change them.

Moonlit sky

I can logic this out, but that doesn’t change the problem. I can’t afford to get crazy again. I also cannot stop wondering if this is all there is. This keep on keeping on farce is wearing me out, but I don’t see a functional alternative.

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Welcome to my nightmare…

I didn’t sleep last night (shocker, right). Actually, I did kind of sleep. I was so dog tired by 11pm that I decided to try going to bed like a normal person. I read for a bit and much to my relief, I fell asleep. For about 45mins.

I was awoken by the first nightmare around midnight. By half three and the fourth nightmare I had given up on the idea of sleeping. Nightmares are the part of PTSD that I don’t really talk much about. Maybe because they are an intermittent problem. Probably also because it’s not something that people (in my experience) take seriously. Responses to my attempts to discuss my nightmares have ranged from vaguely dismissive to full on belittlement.

I think when I say nightmares people hear bad dreams. You’re probably thinking of anxiety dreams (teeth falling out, failing exams, getting fired etc) or standard scary dreams (trapped somewhere, being chased, really bad person creeping around your house horror movie type stuff). Maybe you’re even imaging those childhood bad dreams that are terrifying in ways that are incredibly specific to you. All of which are horrid, but not at all debilitating. I suppose I do understand why folk say things like ‘well, they’re not real’ or ‘as soon as you wake up it’ll be gone’; that’s their experience. Oh, how I wish it were universally true.

Creepy face

PTSD nightmares are a whole other thing. They are related to trauma. For me, they often mirror my flashbacks. Sometimes they’ll get creative and go abstract. I’m trying to get some rest and my mind will just be replaying amplified versions of the most distressing moments of my life. My head is a terrible editor; it just rapidly cuts from one horrendous image to the next. All of which are graphic. Blood and dead babies are the common denominators. They’ll begin in a very realistic & upsetting fashion and degenerate into gruesome bloodbaths (sometimes literally).

Blood splatter

As I mentioned the nightmares are a sporadic problem. They almost always have a trigger. That can be a really tiny thing that I possibly didn’t even pay that much attention to until it starts becoming a pivotal detail in my dreams. It can also be a major life event. My nightmares are usually accompanied by & linked to flashbacks in my waking hours. They always come in clusters. I never have just one upsetting dream. They plague me every time I close my eyes. All of which adds up to a significant disturbance.

The torment doesn’t melt away when I regain consciousness. There’s always more to come and it is real. Every scene is drawn from my reality. I end up scared to sleep and just as scared to be awake. I can’t be alone in this because nightmares are close to the top of every PTSD symptoms list. Any psych evaluation or questionnaire will ask about them. Yet, I don’t see much discussion of the topic. I include myself in that. It’s an aspect of my mental health that I feel really uncomfortable being honest about. I don’t know exactly why we’re all so tight lipped, but I’d bet stigma plays a part.

Sleeping ly

It’s always the messy parts of mental illness that we shy away from. Anything that feels uncontrolled or dark or too close to crazy is glossed over. Those who haven’t experienced it don’t want to think about. Those of us who have don’t want to deal with judgement. Where the nightmares are concerned I think there’s also an element of feeling stupid. Kids get frightened of bad dreams. It’s hard to shake off the feeling that you should be able to handle it. Especially when that’s the message the world is giving you.

I’ve yet to discover anything that’ll chase the dreams away. Sleeping pills aren’t helpful because they make the nightmares more vivid. Thankfully they occur less frequently than they used to. Keeping quiet certainly isn’t helping. Perhaps if people knew what I was referring to when I say nightmares they would be less patronising. A little empathy can go a long way, but you have to understand someone’s experience before you can offer that.

Most of the time…

I haven’t cut myself for a long time. Realistically speaking, I cannot ever cut myself again. They call this recovery. Apparently, I’m recovered. I just don’t always feel it.

Tonight I looked through my old self harm pictures. Yes, I have pictures. When I was in the thick of it I always took photographs. Firstly because I felt compelled to, it was part of my ritual. Also, because I couldn’t trust myself to judge the severity of my wounds. Those pictures gave me the tiny bit of distance required to see what level of medical intervention I could get away with. Now, they’re a stop gap.

They’re the thing I do when I want to cut so badly it hurts not to. I look at those images of gore & miss it.

I miss the blood. The hot, flowing, staining everything I own blood.

I miss the smell & that crackling sound my skin makes when I slice into scar tissue.

I want the pain. I want the deep, sharp trauma my blade inflicts & the hot throb of infected tissue. I long for the ache of putting a butchered arm into a sleeve.

I know that doesn’t make any sense. I know it’s sick & crazy. It is still true. There’s a reason I yearn for the carnage; it works. Only briefly and, sure, it also fucks up your life, but those moments of respite are everything. Physical pain is nothing compared to the relentless agony that can exist in my head. Most of the time it’s manageable. Most of the time I can make it sleep. Most of the time I’m in control. Control isn’t easy. It is work. Exhausting, consuming labour.

The blade is easier. In the short term it’s beautiful relief. All those horrific feelings pour out with the blood. I can slash through my anguish just as easy I hack through my flesh. That’s why we do it. In case you were wondering. The reason some us do insane things to ourselves is because it’s effective. We hurt ourselves to heal ourselves.

The calm just doesn’t last very long. The sickness comes back. It returns stronger every time. The crazy grows. You need bigger, deeper, scarier cuts to keep it quiet. Then the self harm becomes a crazy of its own. You need it. You find yourself listening to drs who say you’re going to die. And even though you really don’t want to die. It’s hard to care. Now the crazy is trying to destroy you & the cutting is competing to do you in first.

So, I don’t cut anymore. I can’t cut anymore because I cannot control it.

If I want to be in charge,

If I want a chance at living a life I love,

If I want to not hurt everyone who cares about me,

I can’t cut.

Sometimes, though, I desperately want to. The easy way out looks good. The horror movie in my head wants to come to life, but I can’t let it. I don’t cut.

I just look at old pictures

And

Write all the things I can’t bring myself to say out loud.

I don’t cut anymore & most of the time I’m glad.

Whatever gets you through your life…

I’m the kind of person who can be prone to feeling a bit too sad. Sometimes there are specific reasons for my sombre mood, others I’m blue without a clue. Obviously this necessitates developing sad day strategies. One of my most straightforward techniques is pop culture distraction.

Basically I immerse myself in literature, tv, movies or music that either soothe or swallow up my sadness. It’s a shallow technique. It has no chance of curing what ails me, but it can get me through a rough day. There are times when whatever gets you through the night really is alright.

My all time favourite tv show is pretty effective. Pick any random episode of Grey’s Anatomy and there’s a very high chance I will cry before it finishes. Select an episode that pushes my weepy buttons & I’ll have a mini breakdown. I can see why some may think this would be terrible viewing for a sad person. They’d be wrong. Crying is so incredibly cathartic. Balling your eyes over someone else’s pain, even more so. You get all the release with none of the troublesome self examination. I know, I know, you have to deal with your issues to solve them. However, when your issue is not entirely fixable & not even always knowable, Grey’s works. Throw in amazing uncliched female characters, very hot men, proper happy endings & your heart wrench is balanced. Need a good wail, but to still feel like there is good in the world? Meredith & Cristina are your girls.

Jane Austen serves the same, save me from drowning in melancholy purpose. She just does it in a very different way. Austen soothes me. I know those books inside out. I know I can trust Jane to guide me to a satisfying ending. There will be no traumatic twists. Manners will keep almost everyone in line. Characters I love will learn their lessons gracefully & reap their rewards. The baddies will get their just desserts, cads will rue the day. All with a dash of wit & a knowing wink from Austen. I know these novels have zero relevance to my life. To be honest that’s kind of the point. Ordered escapism is a marvellous distraction from messy feelings.

Lost in Translation combines both functions. It lets me cry whilst letting me believe. Unconventional happily ever after is the best kind. Meeting someone who can help you find yourself spoke to my deepest desires for a very long time. Now, I can enjoy the film safe in the knowledge that I managed it all by myself. All of those arty shots of Tokyo at night calm me. Bill Murray dispersing quizzical wisdom lifts me. Sad people finding there might be answers to their frustrated situations gives me life.

Which brings me to my ultimate sad girl medicine; Alan Bennett. Every single word he puts on paper is a tiny cure. His writing is both real & magical. His diaries reveal a decent man. His fiction & his life are built on a solid social conscious. Biting wit, cosy sentiment & articulate commentary somehow abide comfortably together in his work. I love Alan Bennett. I can lose my pain in his pages, sedated by seemingly effortless talent.

I’m grateful my bad life evolved into just bad days. It doesn’t always happen that way. Plus, when the bad days stack up it doesn’t always feel like they’ll fade away. We all need ways to temporarily escape. Those of us who’ve had a brush with crazy, even more so. These work for me. Perhaps they’ll help you too.

Like the moon needs poetry…

I didn’t have time to mark World Poetry Day through the week, but it would make me sad to ignore it all together. I’ve been smitten with the art form for as long as I can remember. It has basically provided me with a literary landscape to wander around with my feelings. Thus, I must pay homage to some poetic masters & share a few lines of my own.

What better place to start than with Plath. I suspect Sylvia Plath is probably a favourite of every girl who’s had a brush with crazy. I actually read her prose before her poetry, but obviously fell hard immediately upon discovering her poetic genius. This is one of my favourites because it mixes prime fucked up Sylvia with some classic romantic imagery.

Melissa Lozada-Oliva is new discovery, but I can’t get enough of her. Her work covers feminism & race & more. She gets right to the nitty gritty of the female of colour experience with both clarity & humour. I love the structure of her poems & the words she chooses to place her emphasis on.

If I Got Paid For All My Emotional Labour.

Maya Angelou is another writer whose poetry came second to me. I read her autobiographies first & once I had begun reading her words I never wanted to stop. Every single line she ever put to paper is so utterly & completely Maya. A women who knows who she is & embodies herself in everything she does is the ultimate inspiration. Her poetry gives me life, which I believe is exactly what she intended it do.

Which just leaves me. I wrote a lot more poetry in my darker days. It seems my mind reaches peak poetic prowess when in despair. So, this one’s an oldie.

This week I have been mostly…

Been having too many feelings. It’s been a busy old time on the emotional front. There have been a bunch of triggers that I’m not going to go into, but the result has been a pretty messy me. I’ve done what I always do when I don’t think I can trust what I feel; retreat whilst I decode. I’ve spent a lot of time with myself listening to music that either comforts or acts as a conduit for those emotions. Thus I present, all the tunes that I’ve been hitting repeat on.

Teenage Talk by St Vincent is simultaneously sweet & deep. It’s wistful sound is definitely aided by the harpsichord & the fluid tone of St Vincent’s voice. The song pours over you like tequila smoothly warming your insides. The lyrics capture the both the nostalgic way we view the past & the reality of why our youth is so alluring. As the song says, our teenage years were before we made any terrible mistakes, but our golden days are also probably much more mundane than we remember. I like the hope that realisation brings. Simpler isn’t always better.

I first heard Strangers on Graham Norton, which is probably a sign that I am very old, but the nevertheless I instantly loved it. I just really like the sound of Sigrid’s voice, so I suspect I’ll like anything she releases. The changing tempo of this one is very pleasing. The sort of ‘anti romance propaganda’ of the lyrics paired with heartbeat like bass is incredibly appealing. I’m loving it.

I’m mostly loving this next song because if I close my eyes when I listening it transports me to warm blue waters & floating peacefully. After a few listens of Lana Del Rey’s, Get Free the lyrics sunk in & spoke to me. Being ‘crazy’ can feel like being stuck on a ride that you can’t get off. Even in recovery I often need to remind myself that sometimes I can press stop. I like the imagery of stepping out of the black & into the blue. I also very much enjoy sinking into depths of its instrumentation.

You know sometimes you hear a song & it feels like it was written just for you? That’s how I felt when the first time I listened to Lorde’s Liability. In fact, it took me quite a few plays not to cry. In describing her own very different situation she perfectly summed up how I feel about by interactions with other people. Through a combination of mental illness, physical illness & just being a pretty weird person I have learned to feel that I’m difficult to love. The lyrics of this song sum up my internal thought process perfectly. I’m the kind of person who can be exciting & different. My weirdness seems fun, my crazy a little wild, but the novelty always wears off. In the end the whole package is trouble. I’m too hard & my charm wears off. In short,

‘I’m a liability. A little too much for everyone’

For a long time I was completely convinced that summation was 100% correct. Then as I got stronger I began to believe that maybe it wasn’t true at all. Man, that negative voice in my head is strong, though. So, honestly sometimes I still feel like liability is a spot on description. Sometimes I think it’s only half true. Other times I just can’t decide what’s true at all. Regardless, it’s a beautiful song. Soft piano based sections spelling out sadness. Extended phrases that almost make you run out of breath as you rush to complete them; just like the panic you feel when you realise someone is leaving you. It’s a stunningly painful song. That leaves you hurting in all the right ways.

Snowy trees viewed through a window

The Guillemots are incredibly underrated. Their songs invariably hit all my spots & I don’t feel amazing now is no exception. From the second the song starts the music & lyrics are expertly entwined. The slowly rising chords are the perfect aural interpretation of the lyrical plea for help. The beautiful honesty of just admitting, I do not feel good is refreshing. The combination of wanting to be left alone, but also really needing someone to take your hand and make it ok is too familiar. The surprisingly hopeful note in such a despondent song is again emulated in the introduction of steel dreams to the orchestration. It lifts the song onto another level & has me hitting that repeat button time & again.

‘Just take my hand & stop the moonlight fading

Just take my hand & lead me up the stairs

Just take my hand & make me feel amazing,

‘Cos I don’t feel amazing now…’

Love your curves & all your edges…

January has been a bit of a fail on the outfit post front. I wasn’t out all that much & I had no photographer when I was. I aim to do better this month. Starting right now.

I wore this outfit to lunch with my bestie a couple of weeks ago, but didn’t get any good pics. I really did like it & recycled the look for a film with my Sis. 


This swing skirt is too big now as the combination of going vegan & taking metaformin has caused me to inadvertently lose some weight. It still looks cute if I pin it a little & I think I’ll try getting it taken in. Anyway, the print is fresh & with a simple vest it shows of my ins & outs nicely. 


Skirt – Lindy Bop

Cardi – Primark

Brooch – Posie Grenadine (Etsy)

I stuck my favourite brooch on for a touch of sass & was good to go. We had a quick, but yummers lunch at Tortilla. Great option for vegans, big thumbs up. 

We saw Split, which could have been a fairly entertaining thriller had it not gone down the tired ‘crazy’ route. The vicious killer has dissociative identity disorder & of course has alters who want to abuse people. This is basically the only way DID is represented by popular culture & is so stigmatising. It’s a shitty trope that needs to stop. In short, I’d suggest giving it a miss. 


Amusing outtake.