Brain Is That You?

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Hi everyone

I’ve had quite a couple of weeks. Some of the worst ones in a long time. Self confidence in the bin, self worth in the bin. At one point I wasn’t sure if I’d get up.

The fog has lifted somewhat now, but I think the last couple of weeks have changed me in some way. I don’t know how to explain it but I know for certain that the Steph that started the last fortnight, is not the one that ended it.

I feel almost numb. Like these preceding weeks have caused a shut down of some kind.

Don’t get me wrong, I have shut down mentally many times in the past, but this feels different. Like something has been damaged in myself. But what?

I’m thinking more than usual, and that is a tricky feat, trust me. But I’m thinking logically. The conversations I am having with myself, my internal monologue, is being highly logical. I’d go so far as to say, cold.
This differs massively from what my normal monologue is like. Usually my brain’s conversations are pretty wild. They are full of dreams, imaginings. They make up my positives and negatives in a way I can process. Or at least they try. But one thing they are not, is cold.

I’m wondering whether this version of Steph will make it through this Beta stage, or whether it becomes the norm because of its simplicity.

One thing I usually am not is ‘simple’. I reason logically sure, but I always do things my heart makes me do. My brain offers advice and common sense mainly, which are usually ignored by my heart and onwards we go.

There seems to have been a -maybe- temporary disconnect between my heart and mind.

I’ll let you know how it plays out.

Sending love to those who need it.

Steph

Throw It Or Keep It?

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I didn’t feel like writing today. I haven’t felt like writing for a week. Do you ever have times like that, where even though you know it will probably be helpful, you avoid it anyway?.

I am having a prolonged period of depression right now. It hasn’t been this lengthy for quite some time, and no matter how many times I have been in this position, it always comes as an unwelcome surprise. No matter how familiar I am with the kinds of thoughts I am currently having, some of them still shock me.

I have started to do some clearing out of drawers and cupboards. I have so far in the last week organised my wardrobe by colour, packed away my winter clothes until I need them again and this morning I cleaned out my chest of drawers and got rid of all the stuff I I have, for whatever reason been hanging onto, even though there is zero reason to do so. Things for example like, a single shoe lace and a half burned candle that has lost its scent.

The urge to hold onto things is something I have to fight. Don’t get me wrong I am not and never will be a hoarder, but I do keep things that really don’t need to be kept. Things that don’t have any sentimental value, but things that I think may come in handy for some bizarre reason later on in my existence.

I’m positive that I am not alone in doing this, so why do we keep hold of stuff that means nothing? I’d love to know. Maybe somewhere it is rooted in a longing to make time stand still for a while? I could use that explanation for sentimental items like birthday cards and stuff; but a single shoelace? What’s the deal with that? There is certainly no nostalgia attached to that, no memory that I may have forgotten.

Maybe possessions like that are part of our need for control in our lives? It’s a stretch I guess but somewhere it does ring true for me. I guess when we open that drawer and look at all of those little trinkets and pointless objects we know that we have made the drawer like that, we have control over what sits in there like a time capsule. In a world with little personal control, such as the world we live in today, I can see how we might find solace in our cluttered drawers.

But on the reverse of that, it felt good to fill a bin bag with those possessions that – as Marie Kondo would say – don’t bring me joy. The de-cluttering process was therapeutic. After a slow start, looking at the sheer amount of stuff that was in there and feeling overwhelmed; I started to get into the process. Throwing miscellaneous objet d’art into its bag of oblivion was satisfying. I’ll be honest, I did worry that I would feel empty and rueful after the process of elimination was complete, but I didn’t. Instead I felt almost accomplished.

Maybe both of these ways of dealing with things are ok? Accumulating a drawer or two of junk fulfils our need to control, and the eventual purge of these items is a relinquishing of control when we are good and ready? Maybe. I’m certainly no psychiatrist.

Anyway folks I’ll be back soon, until then keep safe

Love to you all

Steph

Can You Contribute? Experienced BPD love either as a sufferer or loved one?

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My intention with this blog was to try and talk about what love feels like for someone with BPD, but I realised after thinking of things to say over the last few days, it is just impossible to explain it succinctly with one blog. So, that being said I decided to break it up a bit. The idea being that I would talk about it on different days and in different moods to hopefully give a more robust explanation than just me, three sheets to the wind on a Wednesday night. I’m thinking that I can’t force it so this isn’t going to be a once a day for a while things, rather, it will be a spontaneous thing – if I can – that will show that BPD love isn’t as scary as it may appear to the diagnosed and the people who care about them. But also that it isn’t something that should be taken lightly either.

I would love for any of my readers to share with me their own experiences with BPD love, as a loved one, or a diagnosed person.
You don’t have to tell me your name, it can be completely anonymous if you prefer.
If you are happy to share I would be very grateful, or if you know someone who may have something to contribute please by all means send them here.

Anyway, that’s all from me at the moment. I look forward to hearing from you!

All my love

Steph

My Life In 100 Images (In No Particular Order) 31-40

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Hi guys here is my latest instalment of my life in pictures. It is getting quite tricky now, and I’m not sure I actually have 100 things to make a record of; but I am determined so although these may take more time to produce I will make it to 100. Anyway, enjoy.

31. Kuchi Kopi

Kuchi Kopi

If you haven’t already guessed from my previous lists, Bob’s Burgers is a favourite of mine and Kuchi is the beloved toy of Louise Belcher. I just love the startled expression he has and that he is luminous green.

32. Givenchy Interdit

I love perfume, the more complex a scent the better. Over the years I have tried many perfumes and this one just happens to be my current favourite. I tend to enjoy oriental scents the most but I always have to have base notes that are slightly sweet, such as vanilla or bergamot.

There is something remarkable to me about how perfumes are created. I just love it when people smell nice, it’s hugely important to me, so I have to smell nice too.

33. Google Home

I love my Google Home Pod. She is very polite and she allows me to play any of my favourite music from Spotify at the same time as telling when my oven chips are ready to come out of the oven. She is a lovely little companion that helps me be as idle as possible.

34. Ghost Fairy Lights

Boooooooo!

As a lover of all things macabre as I know I’ve already mentioned, and included in that is a love for all this supernatural/paranormal and spooky in general. I’m not a believer of everything I see and hear, but I will never stop trying to be convinced, even if that means a ghost slapping me on the arse. Above all else I just love a good story, and ghost stories are a lot of fun, as are my ghost fairy lights.

35. The Dictionary Of Obscure Sorrows

This book is one of my favourites though I haven’t had it very long. Basically this dictionary contains words for thoughts and feelings that you had no idea there was a word for. For some reason it is so important and comforting to have the words.

36. Fresh Flowers

One of the things I promised myself when I was about to move into my flat on my own, was that every week – if I could – I would buy myself flowers. I enjoy their colour and fragrance, and they bring me a lot of joy.

37. Crossword Books

I enjoy doing crossword puzzles to relax. It’s the only puzzle I like to play. Apparently doing mental puzzles helps keep the brain in shape, and I very much need that.

38. Chromebook

I moved from a laptop to a Chromebook fairly recently, and as someone who loves to write, it has been a game-changer. It boots up immediately, and the battery lasts for hours; which means I can work at the moment inspiration strikes, from anywhere I like. It’s also compact and lightweight, so no problems toting it around.

39. Orange Squash

When I’m at home, as much as I enjoy a cup of tea, my favourite drink is orange squash. I drink it a LOT. Of all the drink flavours, orange is the best.

40. Tropic Superfood Hand Therapy

I have tried loads of hand creams over the years, both budget and luxury, and this is my favourite one. It’s the only one that makes my hands appear younger, as well as being vegan and free from artificial ingredients. Oh and they make my hands super smooth and feeling lovely.

A Little Hope?

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Make a wish. It doesn’t matter what it is, or who it’s for. Just make one. Tell nobody what it is, they don’t need to know, this is just for you, but don’t forget it and keep asking for it. It may not happen, but where’s the harm in holding on to it?
The reason I start with this is simply that as human beings we need hope. I hate it but we do. I have always considered hope to be a state in which madness lies; a false sense of security; and in a way it is just that. The faith that what you wish will come true, is as useful as it is problematic, but the thing is, the difference in my mood depending on how I’m thinking is drastic.
Without the hope in my heart I am helpless, dejected, despondent, broken. But at least I am facing the truth right? At least I’m not fooling myself with hope of something I long for right?
Wrong. A life with hope is a life holding onto the goodness that is sadly lacking in the world. A life with hope doesn’t require any repentance, or devotion to any deity if you don’t want it to. It just asks that you have faith in something better.
And that is my wish.

Sending love to you all

Steph

A Blip. It’s Just A Blip.

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Hi guys

I wasn’t intending to write anything today but sitting here in my flat on a miserable Sunday evening in the Midlands I feel compelled to.

The last couple of days have been a bit miserable for me. All of the last week I have been sick with a cold. Thankfully it wasn’t Covid or Monkeypox or anything; just the shitty common cold, but there is really no time like a cold to remind yourself of how much you take clear nostrils and a clear head for granted in your day to day life.

Anyway, when my head started to clear a bit I thought I’d be back to my old self, but as it turns out I haven’t bounced back in the way I hoped. I will say that I still feel permanently exhausted. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia a good few years ago and to be honest most of the time I can handle my exhaustion levels quite well, but I know I’ve been burning the candle at both ends a bit recently and this is what contributed to my picking up a cold and the consequent exhaustion. I have been trying to rest, and this weekend has been helpful because rest was somewhat enforced by having no plans. The trouble with that is I always see a significant drop in mood when I don’t see my friends at the weekend. It’s something that I have been trying to work on. For example, I have been trying to make little plans for myself, set tasks that I can do while I am forced to stay home. This weekend for instance I have sorted through my CD collection – yes I am that old – and reminded myself of music that I haven’t heard in a long time. I also planned to get some washing done, do some extra reading and so on.

Little things like these tasks allow me to distract myself for a while. The thing is, is this the right way to tackle it? Is distraction all I have in my toolbox? I have been in a low mood funk all weekend – granted some of that low mood is down to tiredness – and well, I’ve realised that even after all these years, I still have problems with my own company.

I think I should specify that the part of my own company I don’t get on with is that horrible little imp that sits in my psyche bullying me all the time. I know that being around my friends allows me to listen to other people and allow them to drown out the noise already inside me. Distraction is the easiest way to keep the imp at the back of my mind for at least a while, but when you are exhausted like I currently am, productivity is not something that comes easily. Thankfully I have this blog that I know has made a positive impact on my little life, since I started utilising it properly. I think the main reason is that my blog is somewhere that the imp isn’t allowed to travel to. It isn’t in control of what I write here, even if it is sometimes in control of my other behaviour or other thoughts.

So as much as my mind is soggy right now, I know deep down that these days have just been a blip. I can congratulate myself that these days I know there are better days ahead, rather than never being able to see the sunshine no matter how hard I looked in the past. I will also have blips like these. Blips are as certain for me as the sunshine days, and I can at least recognise that.

Today is not the rest of my life. Today is just a blip.

Sending all my love

Steph

Stop The Ride I Want To Get Off

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Hi guys

I’ve been thinking about a topic I’d like to write about this week and I drew a total blank for the most part but then I remembered something I thought about briefly last Saturday and I realised that it is actually something that I think of often.

What I’m talking about is the feeling while around your favourite people when you almost seem to catch a glimpse of a millisecond of you all together from the outside; and in that moment you wish that you could slow time right down because you aren’t ready to let it go.

Does this feeling seem familiar to you?

If it does, know you aren’t alone. I’m sure that this feeling is common for most of us.

My BPD means that change is something that terrifies me, as does abandonment; and when you get older it becomes impossible to dodge. People live, they meet new people, they get married, have kids. Time just isn’t long enough to hold everyone to you the way it was when you were kids.

I know that when people started to move away from me it was difficult to manage. They haven’t moved far and I still see them often, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t get upset about it, or didn’t worry that a gap would open up between us. I worried a lot, Iost sleep. But most of all I felt out of control.
There was nothing I could do to change things, this was happening and I had two choices,
Run away,
Or make damn sure I made the effort to keep us together, even when we couldn’t be together physically.
I chose the latter.

I see a lot on the internet, memes that say that if someone doesn’t message you first you shouldn’t message them at all. Or to stop messaging people to see if anyone else makes the effort to message you first.

This my friends is bullshit. Here’s why.

As described above, life is busy. There aren’t nearly enough hours in the day for socialising. In fact there’s barely time to do anything other than work, eat and defecate most of the time. Life is hard work most of the time, so why make it harder by isolating people you love, just because they are shit at messaging?

If I did that I would have nobody at all! They suck at messaging and making decisions but I love them more than anything in the world, and they love me (well tolerate me) so I just message them.

There just isn’t any time for regrets.

Peace out

Steph

My Life In 100 Images (In No Particular Order) 21-30

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Hi guys

Here is the latest installment of my images posts. I hope you enjoy them and feel free to let me know what your favourite objects are.

21. The Twyning

My favourite book is The Twyning by Terence Blacker. I love reading as I’ve mentioned but I read before bed so I’m usually drowsy quite quickly, but I read this in a few days because I was captivated from start to finish.

22. The Count of Monte Cristo

I’m so sorry I don’t have an image for this one, so you will have to imagine a very large book for me. After mentioning The Twyning, it would be wrong to not mention the book that comes a very close second on my favourite books list. As old as the story is – 1844 – it transcends time and is in my humble opinion, as close to literary perfection as is possible. Thank you Alexandre Dumas.

23. My Bob’s Burgers Print

My Bob’s Burgers print lives on my kitchen wall. I love Bob’s Burgers so damn much. Every character is a joy and it has become a comfort blanket for me. If I’m ever down or just need a pick-me-up, I always feel better if I watch it. If you’ve never watched it before, all of the episodes are available on Disney Plus in the UK.

24. My Hare

My favourite TV programme is Inside No.9 with my heroes Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton. In every episode there is a hidden bronze hare that is exactly like this one that I received as a gift.

25. My Alien Artwork

It took me 39 years to watch Alien for the first time and it was too long to wait! It’s an amazing film with Sigourney Weaver as the ultimate female bad-ass Ripley, and of course Jonesy the cat. If you haven’t seen it, you should! It’s amazing and always great to have a movie heroine that isn’t dainty and fragile.

26. My Needle-Felted Bob’s Burger

I asked my wonderfully talented mom to needle felt a burger from Bob’s Burgers. This amazing burger was the result. It all comes apart and the detail is quite extraordinary.

27. Bison Planter

I bought my planter very recently from the Anthropologie sale. I had my eye on it for some time but I didn’t know quite how big it was going to be, but I love him.

28. Kitsch Mary Of Guadalupe

I love religious iconography, especially Mexicana and Spanish art because of the bold colours. Mary lives in my kitchen guarding my teabags and because I have a bright kitchen she fits there perfectly.

29. Let Shit Go Bunting

This bunting was a lovely gift and I put it over my fireplace as soon as I moved in. It’s a good reminder for me to let go of as many negative thoughts as I can.

30. Maureen Sowerbutts

Maureen is one of my favourite characters ever. She is a horrible woman, bitter, twisted and incredibly funny to watch. I just love her crazy relationship with her son David. I have her on my mantle because she always makes me laugh.

You Haven’t Got To Hide Yourself Away

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Hi guys welcome to Wednesday’s post

Occasionally when I am out and about I don’t know what to talk about. Nothing really springs to mind immediately and so I have a backup note pad on my phone with possible things I could chat about for a bit. Anyway that’s where I saw that I had at some written down ‘Everyone is different’. Well no shit! It is as I’m sure you’ll agree a very broad phrase, and I don’t know what I was thinking when I wrote it down. But I’m going to have a guess and see how we get on.

We all know that every person is different as we’ve all gathered by now. There are going to be people who you agree and disagree with on things and that’s a good thing. After all it would be pretty boring without alternative opinions, especially as I have a particular fondness for a debate.

But as your neurodiverse friends will tell you if you don’t already know, this can be a challenge.

Everyone gets offended by something at some point. It’s not a neurodiverse only thing. But some of us will feel offended more often; some of us will take an alternate opinion as a slight on ourselves, our personalities. This is because some of us human beings feel things more deeply than others. Some of us are quick to react badly to provocation, some people react aggressively, some people get upset.
Depending on how you feel at that moment can determine the reaction.

This is why it is important to know people before you start getting into things that can be particularly emotive.

I spent so long, especially when I worked in an office, treading carefully over the personalities, not making any ripples in the water. Let me tell you it made my work life miserable. The trouble with a close knit environment like that is you show up every day with total strangers. Nobody in that room really knew anyone else at all, and nobody tried to change it. It was all about getting the most points on the board at the end of the day. Anybody that challenged the status quo – i.e me – was shunned.

I’m not cutthroat, I certainly won’t force customers to buy shit they don’t need, and I will spend as much time is necessary with someone that needs my help. That was not conducive to the happiness of my employer (A major bank) and therefore I was ignored.

As someone who was quiet and kept my head down, I differed from my colleagues. I’m not saying that they were all horrible people, they just weren’t my tribe. I wasn’t made to sit behind a desk and sell car insurance.

So, yes, people are different. We won’t fit in with everyone and that’s ok, but I guess what I’m trying to do in this post, apart from the obvious rambling; is to say there are people who will fit you perfectly. I have found mine, but it took until my 30’s. I thought I’d found them many times before then, but things change.

My tribe is certainly not perfect. We are all fuck ups in our own way and that’s kind of what makes it beautiful to me. I love people who aren’t afraid to be authentic. Flaws are part of what makes us interesting. I’ve never craved perfection and that’s lucky because nobody ever is.

So my final thoughts are simple as always. Embrace your differences, argue with kindness if you can, and don’t hide yourself in the shadows otherwise no-one will find you in the dark.

Love to you all

Steph

My life In 100 Images (In No Particular Order) 11-20

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11. Godzilla

RWARRR!

I love monsters and my favourite monster of all is Godzilla. What’s not to love about him?, answer?, NOTHING! He goes nuclear when you piss him off, he loves a balanced life and has thicc thighs. Monstrous perfection.

12. My Bed

ZZZZZZZZZ

This one speaks for itself I’m guessing, but my bed has been one of my most recent purchases and is made all the more special because it’s the first bed I’ve ever bought for myself. I love it more due to replacing a futon which I can tell you from experience is not a comfortable way to sleep.

13. My Pen

My pen is hugely important to me as a writer. I love the way this one feels in my hand, perfectly balanced and delicate. Also it’s very pretty as far as pens go. It was a present and I intend to keep it forever.

14. My Kettle

As a British woman I have a particular fondness for tea. I didn’t want a regular kettle, I wanted something that looked, well, happy to boil some water for a lovely brew. Can’t get much happier than bright orange.

15. My Vape

I have smoked since I was 14 and I just enjoyed it so much that rather than packing it in I started vaping instead. I’m not someone who is interested in flavoured vaping, so it always has a classic tobacco flavour. It isn’t big or clever so don’t start, nicotine is a massive bitch.

16. My Earbuds

Music is one of the things that I am passionate about. I love all kinds of music because I have all kinds of emotions. I can always match my mood to a song or a tune. I had some fairly cheap buds but recently upgraded because music has to sound its best.

17. My Lucky Cat

I’ve had my lucky cat for a long time. He is shiny and gold and over the top and I love him very much.

18. My One Of A Kind Bear

I bought my bear from a lovely person called Benjamin at The Big Forest a few years ago and he still makes me smile when I spot him on my mantlepiece. I’m sure you’ll agree that his little bobble hat is all kinds of adorable. Check out The Big Forest on Facebook if you’d like a bespoke little friend too.

19. Godzuki

Godzuki is my Monstera. He is only small at the moment but hopefully will see him grow up healthy and strong. I love houseplants but I’m not very good at keeping them healthy. Fingers crossed Godzuki stays alive.

20. My V Mask

One of my favourite films is V for Vendetta. I always feel empowered when I watch it and I also love masks, so I had to have it really. Remember, remember, the fifth of November, gunpowder, treason and plot! I know of no reason, why the gunpowder treason, should ever be forgot.

Well guys that’s another few things that I enjoy having around me.

Have a great day!

Steph

x

Feeling Flat?

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Hi guys, another impromptu post from me because, well, I need to talk about something and I figured I could do it here.

Have you ever felt like there is nothing really wrong as such, other than the problems we create in our own minds, but yet still don’t feel right somehow? It’s not sadness, or anxiety, or depression, or any other of the multitude of things I usually feel. It’s just kind of flat. That’s the only way I can describe it really.

I am actively trying to avoid anything that may be a drama. I used to try and help in any way I could, but after nearly forty years of doing that I’ve finally realised that not everything is my responsibility or even my business. The trouble with always having been the peacemaker or quite often being in the middle of a drama, it is very hard to just stop doing it. Going cold-turkey with this issue has proved difficult but I have managed it quite well when it comes to other peoples drama. The thing I am in the must do better category with is not created my own drama, in my own mind.

I’m sure a lot of you will understand this. I will describe it anyway just for those that maybe haven’t experienced it personally. So, all of us know about overthinking; it is a devil of a thing that many of us do frequently. It is normal, I think, to consider the outcomes of certain events or situations. This of course includes good outcomes, but for over thinkers, more often than not the outcomes we consider are poor or negative outcomes.

I think of EVERY possible outcome. Bad or indifferent. I don’t mention good because I never think of the good outcomes; and there’s the rub. By never considering the possibility of a positive outcome, my brain just becomes a swamp of negativity. In the past this has led to missing out on entire events because my brain is convinced that something will go wrong and ruin it for me. This is irrational and I accept that completely, but hear me out.

In my past experiences, being overly/too cautious has protected me from harm or upset. This is a mechanism that my brain over the years has recognised and used for that purpose. Every time this mechanism works and I do happen to avoid an unpleasant situation it is validated and my brain strengthens the castle walls. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. I can’t blame my brain for protecting me, it has done its job over the years. I am very appreciative of it. The thing is that the negative experiences I have avoided are greatly outweighed by the positive experiences that I have missed out on; and that my friends is why I have felt the need to try harder to embrace experiences as much as I can, BUT, try to stay out of the way of drama that I really don’t need to be embroiled in.

I have to just keep reminding myself that I can challenge the assumptions I make in my thoughts; change the narrative to ‘What if that doesn’t happen?’ or ‘What if things go well?’ As always language is everything.

Hope you are all well

Steph

Suicide Isn’t Rational So Don’t Expect It To Be

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It’s a funny thing with suicidal ideation. Not in a humourous sense you understand, but an odd thing.
People often say when someone makes their final journey that they don’t understand why they had left food in the fridge, or that they had a bath beforehand. They don’t understand how the day before they were in their local with friends, laughing together, or why they bought tickets to a gig that happened after their death.
I’m here to tell you that thoughts of suicide can occur at any point to a person struggling with their mental health. We don’t all wail and scream; we don’t all climb up on a rooftop in front of people. We just want a little piece of peace.
Here’s the tea. Suicidal people are not rational people. Not really. We may feel very rational, we may appear perfectly rational to people we meet. But suicidal thoughts are not rational. Not ever. Some may disagree but this is my stance.
A suicidal urge can hit at any point and at that moment we are at our most vulnerable. At that point we are not thinking of a concert next month, we aren’t thinking about the food left in the fridge. We aren’t thinking of anything at all, except of course death.
Don’t assume your friends are ok because they seem to have it together. The opposite may be true, but you’ll never know unless you ask.

Where Am I?

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Hey everyone

It’s Wednesday again and I’m here in my usual spot. The usual people are here as they are every week. I sit in the lounge which is always quiet at this time of day, and I can just about hear the bustle of the bar in the other room.
I’m thinking that I should describe the Tavern for you, so that you can get an idea of where I am. So I’ll give it a go.
It’s what I would call an ‘Old man pub’. This isn’t somewhere that young people would come to really, there’s no music or cheap shots. It’s really about a more placid environment I guess. It has tartan carpet, sort of pink and blue. It sounds gross but after years of being trodden down it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb.
It has an open fireplace which is gorgeous in the colder months and a clock in the wall that chimes every hour.
I sit on a bay seat if that what it is, I’m not entirely sure. Opposite me there are two chairs for when my friends arrive later on. From this position I can see the whole room almost. There’s a pillar that blocks one of the corner seats. This position is important for me. I can’t bear it when my back is to a room. Fills me with anxiety.
I’m trying to think of it’s smell in here. There is one I’m sure but it’s hard at the moment because I can only smell my perfume. It isn’t a bad smell I know that much. It’s like the smell of old upholstery, but not unpleasant. Just a warm scent. I can’t really smell the beer which is strange being in a pub, but I don’t.
This place is like a comfort blanket for me. I love how I can be completely anti-social and nobody minds in the least, but at the same time they always have time for you if you need it. I like being around older people, I feel so much safer.
So that’s where I spend my Wednesday nights and where I write most of my work.
I’m hoping that by posting this, that you all will feel comfortable enough to pull up a chair and sit with me a while.

Love to you all

Steph

My Life In 100 Images In No Particular Order (1-10)

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Hey readers! Hope you’re all well. I think the title of this post speaks for itself so I won’t insult your vast intelligence by explaining and I’m going to get right to it. So here we go….

Number 1. My Phone

Over the years I have had many, many phones and all of them have been my favourite tech. I know a lot of people who have mental illnesses don’t like phones very much because of how long they spend looking at them, or browsing social media that can be problematic for people; personally my phone is my lifeline and my connection to the world outside my little flat. I love it.

Number 2. My ‘Raise Hell’ human femur

Don;t worry too much it isn’t a real femur

This is a very recent impulse purchase of mine from an online shop called ‘The Blackened Teeth’. As soon as I saw it I had to have it. Don’t worry it isn’t a real femur it’s a replica, but it’s still badass.

Number 3. My Crow Lamp

Caw Caw!

I received my lovely crow as a Christmas gift a few years ago. I love Corvids. They are my favourite family of birds for their sneaky, intelligent and funny personalities; as well as their links to mysteries of the occult and the macabre.

Number 4. My Guillermo Del Toro Inspired Tarot Deck

These tarot cards were illustrated by one of my favourite artists, Tomas Hijo. I have only used them once in an attempt at divination, but mainly I like to take them out and look at them. I’m far more an admirer than a diviner.

Number 5. My Tattoo Artwork

A Tattoo Without Pain

I LOVE tattoos but as someone who is constantly changing her mind, this beautiful artwork created my the insanely talented tattooist and artist Kelly Violence brings me joy every day, doesn’t hurt, and can be admired without me having to show parts or my anatomy. Perfect.

Number 6. My Watch

Tick Tock

I love watches. I think I inherited my love for them from my dad who also has a penchant for them. I recently indulged in a Swatch Big Bold and have zero regrets. It’s bright, it’s big and just a bit silly.

Number 7. My Flying Spaghetti Monster

Please Admire His Noodly Appendages

My super-talented mom made him for me and when he isn’t sitting happily on my shelf, he sits atop my Christmas tree throughout December.

Number 8. Bing-Bong

First things first I’m not a massive Disney fan, but I must admit it does have its moments. Inside Out is an absolutely beautiful film that has a lot to teach everyone about mental health. Bing-Bong is the character that has the most impact for me, and as such, he made the shelf. He is always in view should I need to remind myself to keep hold of my childhood.

Number 9. My Kindle

Reading is so important to me. I used to read quite a lot when I was younger but it kind of fell out of favour while I was doing my degree, probably because I was already reading my study books. After finishing my degree I picked it up again and haven’t looked back. My Kindle Paperwhite was a present from my mom and it’s been a game-changer. With limited space for physical books, this is perfect.

Number 10. My Plague Doctor

Bring Out Your Dead!

My mom knows me so well and proves it with her excellent choices of gift for me. I love the plague doctor image. He gives vibes of creepiness, darkness and the macabre that I love so much. He’s an awesome little guy.

So guys if you’ve got this far, then thank you! I hope you have enjoyed the first ten of my objects. I will pop the next instalment up when I have written it.

Take care

Steph

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Bonus Round

I’ve already written today’s post but I’ve got something else to say.
Throughout my life I have been abandoned by those who promised to never do it.
Before I was on the crisis teams Christmas card list, I was a regular Human being, with regular emotional control. It’s hard to believe now but it’s true.
I’m not going to name and shame, I don’t want to do that at all. But at certain times in my life, added to certain people, my capacity to cope with life was reduced.
I learned that the people you love will drop you like a hot rock when you grow outside of their organised little circle. I learned that people you love don’t always have your best interests at heart, even though you want to believe that they have your back. I learned that love will always equal pain, whether it’s beginnings or endings.
I’m not ashamed of how my brain operates. If anything, I am proud of it. It has kept me alive all this time; it has refused to give up no matter how many times it has broken.

Back In The Pub Talking About Role Models

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Well hello there reader, this week sees me back in The Tavern and a single sheet to the wind as opposed to the many sheets later. (For anyone who doesn’t know the reference it means alcohol consumption essentially, the more sheets, the more drinks)
So this week I hadn’t got anything planned for the blog, but after being on Twitter for a while – yes it can be bad for your health – I scrolled past a video that I had seen a few times that really touches the heartstrings and it gave me an idea. The video in question is a short clip of a very famous – in Britain – footballer called Ian Wright. For anyone who doesn’t know who I mean, Ian is a great guy and after his retirement from professional football has been a guiding light for other youngsters just getting into the beautiful game, especially with young POC kids from disadvantaged backgrounds, just as he had as a child. Ian is a thoroughly good egg.
Anyway the clip is a recording of a very special moment that was a surprise for Ian. Without his knowledge the show had located and brought to him the man who guided his light when he was a bairn. The man who was a beacon for Ian when he needed him the most. It is a beautiful moment in time for the pair. Ian removes his hat immediately in a show of respect to his former mentor and the admiration and love is palpable in those few minutes.
So that beautiful moment inspired this post. Why? Because I want to talk about the mentors in our lives and how they have shaped the people we are. I’ll firstly say that of course my mother will always be my biggest inspiration and mentor in my life, but as that’s my mom I want to think about those people who aren’t relatives that come to mind.
I’m going to firstly my mention my English teacher. I had a few but this one in particular deserves the accolade of being an inspiration to me in childhood. I am talking about Mrs Kennedy – not the teacher from Australian soap Neighbours – but my Mrs Kennedy from Ireland. I remember her as always wearing black, dark hair, dark eyes. She also had a killer wit. I remember that she would hand my creative writing back to me after she’d read it and say that I shouldn’t feel so much for someone so young. I remember her for her no bullshit way of teaching. I don’t remember her ever raising her voice, ever. She didn’t need to.
I remember giving a fellow A-level kid a few pointers that I thought were useful for him, and her saying that if I should consider teaching as a career. Well we know that didn’t happen folks and I regret nothing.
My final memory of her was as I was about to enter my English Literature A-level exam after missing most of my classes for an arsehole boyfriend, and her saying to me, you know this stuff, you know you do, and me thinking there was zero chance of me passing it. In fact I was so sure, I went to work instead of going to collect my results. That day she rang my mom and asked her where I was. My mom told her what I’d done. She said I’d got a C. Of all the things I’ve achieved in my lifetime, that fucking C is one of the best.
Since then I’ve wondered occasionally what she is doing now. I know she left shortly after our final year. I have tried to find her on social media without much luck, but you know what? I’m not surprised that she isn’t into all that, in fact I’d be shocked if she was. She was a mystery then, and a mystery now and that works for me. I just hope she is happy. I would love to be able to see her again, just so I could say thank you.
Many people who knew me then would assume that my music teacher would be someone I considered a mentor, but they would be wrong. My music teacher was great, no doubt he knew what he was doing and he was very talented. But as soon as he discovered I had talent, he spent all his time getting me to sing or play the piano. Don’t get me wrong I loved performing, and still do if I’ve drank enough but one thing was missing. Be never actually gave me praise or encouragement at all. In fact the only time I knew he appreciated my efforts was when he would use me to make other kids feel bad for not performing as well as me. Then one day when I was about 15 he left to work at a more exclusive school. I was bereft. Nobody knows how much I felt betrayed by a man who had taught me how to perform.
Years later my brother saw him in a pub and talked to him. He said that his biggest regret was not taking me with him when he left.
He will never know or understand how it felt to be abandoned by someone who trusted him completely.
Anyway I’m tired and at least a few sheets to the wind now.

Who were your role models growing up?

Bye for now
All my love
Steph
X

My Thoughts This Mental Health Awareness Week

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Apparently it’s mental health awareness week. These things seem to come around fast don’t they?
Well my thoughts this year are these.
Regardless of who you are, and whether you have a diagnosis of mental illness or not, stop trying to be the perfect person, and stop judging people for not living up to your standards. As much as I don’t like bigots, I also don’t much like those people who jump on every bandwagon proclaiming that they live like a saint.
I have many flaws, way too many to suggest that I am better than anyone else.
Being a good person for clicks and flattery does not a good person make.
So I guess just leave your ego at the door and accept that we are all arseholes spinning around the sun on a giant ball of moss and bullshit.

Lets Talk About The Sadness That Follows A Nice Time

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Hi all,

I hadn’t intended to write today but that’s just how the cookie crumbles sometimes. Writing for me is usually reactionary rather than planned so on occasion you get a surprise post. Well, here it is.

What I want to talk about today is the after effects of a great day/event/weekend/add what you wish here; as someone with a mental health condition.

For most people life is full of ups and downs, that is the nature of life. I am a very lucky person and I have a wonderful, close circle of friends who I am fortunate to spend a lot of time with most weekends. I am at my happiest when I am with them. They understand my limitations without judgement, even when I am always judgemental of myself.

Yesterday I had the loveliest day. It wasn’t anything particularly special but I went into Birmingham with my pals for a day of cocktails and laughs. It was a long day as most of us went to have a spot of breakfast together before we left for the city.

It was a lovely day weather wise, sun-drenched and warm which always helps lift my mood. We went to places I have never been before, and although my hyper-vigilance and anxiety were very high at times, I always felt quite safe with the people who are always going to have my back. We ended the day with a curry nearer to home, and I came home happy and content.

So, after such a lovely time, why do I feel so sad and deflated today?

This isn’t an unusual occurrence for me. In fact it is very common. It is very common in a lot of people with mental health conditions so I’m told, so why? and why isn’t it talked about more?

I guess the first thing that enters my mind as a potential reason is waking up to a day where I am going to be alone. I love my own space, it isn’t a loneliness issue as such. Maybe it’s because I know that I won’t laugh as much today. Maybe I miss the connection with people that was in abundance a day prior?

I know that I am a person that lives for joy. My weekends bring me joy when I get to spend them with the people I love the most in the world apart from family. This way of living means that the week can be very long, and it is easy to just write those weekdays off because they feel somewhat inadequate. I am trying to find joy in other ways during the week so that I don’t have the massive fluctuations in my mood come Sunday.

The other reason for the post weekend comedown is my difficulty with object permanence. People with BPD including myself find that unless we are with people all the time, the minute we are away from the people we care about we start to think that those people don’t care about us anymore and we start looking for validation. This is a large problem for me and I spend a lot of time in therapy trying to unlearn this behaviour as well as understand the reasons why I do it. I don’t think I will ever be totally free of this behaviour but I hope to have a little more control of it before I say things that I will regret in the future.

If so many of us suffer from the post-weekend/nice time blues then why aren’t we talking about it more? There is nothing wrong with me because I miss the day before, so why can’t I talk about it? It doesn’t make me more needy does it? If anything it is a lovely thing to have people in my life who I love that much.

So today, I have had a little cry, and I am choosing to be gentle with myself while my mood is low, rather than getting annoyed with myself for having feelings.

Could you be gentler with yourself today too?

Sending all my love

Steph

Have I Told You That I’m Partially Sighted Yet?

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Hi all,

This is a different post to the ones I usually create, but it is still one predominantly about mental health, it is just taking a different route to get there.

So a few years ago – I say a few years because with the Covid years on top, I have no idea what time even means anymore – I had a headache. This isn’t anything abnormal. I occasionally have aura migraines, these are the migraines that make you see rainbow colours and other eye abnormalities. I was heading to the pub with my then boyfriend and thought I could just shake it off. I did. I felt much better eventually and I just forgot about it. That was until I woke up the following morning. I awoke to find that the eyesight in my left eye was gone. Just gone. Just blackness. I thought it was just a particularly bad aura migraine and that I would be ok after a good rest. I wasn’t ok. I ended up in hospital to see if we could find out what was wrong with my eye and after many tests it was thought that I had inflammation of the nerves behind my eye and that it would eventually return to normal – Spoiler – It didn’t.

So for all of these years since then I have only been able to see light and shade in my left eye. My right eye is fighting the good fight but after these years it is showing some wear and tear.

So here’s the mental health element – eventually – There is a certain type of grief that fills you when you lose something physical that you have always relied upon. Of all the types of grief that I have experienced during my life, this one is the hardest to explain, especially to other people. The tricky thing about losing my sight is that nobody can see it. Even my friends and family sometimes forget. I don’t really mention it much unless I need to.

I think what people fail to realise is that with my already tenuous mental health it can become almost impossible to be in certain places. I already struggled with crowded places, but when you have basically no vision, or peripheral vision in one eye, a crowded place also becomes a confusing, even frightening place. Low hanging shelves or displays in shops and supermarkets become hidden dangers. Crossing the road has to be done very carefully as do other household tasks. I have to concentrate very hard to do things that once were simple like pouring hot water into a teacup for instance; I find distances very difficult to estimate so if I’m not concentrating hard enough I spill it. These things are very tricky to explain to people who aren’t experiencing it first hand, and that lack of understanding can breed a feeling of loneliness.

I’m thankful that I have very supportive family and friends who continue to help me adjust to new ways of coping, but that doesn’t mean I always deal with things incredibly well at times. I think that this post is just to show solidarity with others who are dealing with physical disabilities alongside difficult to navigate mental health problems, and also to raise the profile of hidden disabilities, both mental and physical.

Hope you guys are well.

Love to all

Steph

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I am going to level with you. I like to keep my blog upbeat if I can, and because this is a little swerve from the normal course of things I figured I’d warn you.

My truth then in

3…
2…
1…

I will never be well. It’s not that I am being pessimistic, it’s not that I am down at the moment, it’s not that I don’t want it enough.

For me, for whatever sanity remains, I must admit it to myself and you guys.

I am instead learning new skills to live with the beast within. Well let’s not call it a beast, after all it is far more like a scrawny, humpbacked, bitter little person trying to keep me prisoner by whispering it’s bile in my ears all the time.

I am learning then. I’m growing. I’m learning how to put that little imp in its box more often. I’m learning to challenge the opinions I have that are problematic, mainly relating to loyalty.

But most of all? I’m trying my best.
Trying my best to live in a world that makes me so sad, every single day of my little life.
Trying so hard to be grateful for that life.

In a world that hurts like hell, I’m kicking it in the shins as much as possible.

X

Some Notes On The Current Trial From A Borderline

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Hi follower,

To many people, Borderline Personality Disorder is something they wouldn’t have heard of before. Some strange diagnosis in the back of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Psychiatric Disorders to the uninitiated) But this week a hell of a lot more people learned something about it.

For those of you under a rock – I don’t blame you – these last few weeks have seen the trial of Amber Heard. She has claimed successfully in past court appearances that Johnny Depp had subjected her to domestic abuse, and now Depp is fighting to clear his name and prove that he is many things but an abuser isn’t one of them.

I know how I feel about the whole thing and this is not somewhere that I wish to discuss my thoughts on that. Plus my opinion means diddly squat, so instead I will talk about the part of the trial so far that I know a lot about and that is Heard’s diagnosis of Borderline Personality. In fairness she was also diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality also but I am no expert on that, so just the one for me to talk about here.

Borderlines have what you’d call bad sides. Elements of their personality that are sometimes troublesome. We can be obsessive about things or people, we can be incredibly destructive within our relationships, sometimes mentally, sometimes physically, sometimes both.
We can be manipulative because we are desperately trying to have our plans come to fruition, sometimes without any thought for those who get caught in the crossfire.
We are likely to have periods of deep depression that can include suicidal ideation. We can have serious rage sometimes. We might punch walls or scream, and yes some of us will be physical with others. We might use drugs or alcohol to medicate ourselves from the issues that afflict us.

But.

Read that list again.

Neurotypical people can and will do those things too sometimes. Sometimes the person you least expect to be a monster is the very worst of all.

Borderline people are NOT all the same. Nor are people with other mental illnesses or disorders. We are individuals, with individual characteristics. We are your mothers, brothers, father’s, friends. Don’t write us all off because of something you saw once on TV.

The other borderlines I know are beautiful people. Truly. They are far more likely to hurt themselves than others. They give love in amounts that are sometimes detrimental to their well-being and suffer pain that none of us can explain with any accuracy.

There is good and bad in every single one of us. That’s what makes us unique as a species and that uniqueness is a cause for celebration, not something that should be feared.

So when you are asked your opinion on Amber Heard, remember that she can’t see what you say, but your mentally ill friends will.

Embrace the differences.

Peace out
X

Even When You Reach Out You May Not Find A Branch

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Hello to all of my readers,

I’m sorry I’ve been lost in action for the last week, sometimes my brain is full and I don’t want to write it down – strangely enough this happens – and so I have instead digested events solo instead. I know that it isn’t always the best way, in fact people are always telling you to talk more about your feelings; but that is sometimes a double-edged sword and this is why.

I think it would be exceptionally rare if one of your friends, family, or other close person told you that you couldn’t talk to them about your emotional issues. It just isn’t something that is deemed acceptable within close circles. But it really should be.

There is a popular saying that goes, “You can’t pour from an empty cup” and as much as I loathe a cliche, this one is right on the money.

No matter who you are, mentally healthy or otherwise, life is a tough break for most, no actually all, of us at one time or another. That doesn’t mean that people don’t care, it just means they are busy, mentally or physically. Or, that they simply can’t afford to hold your problems in their head.

This doesn’t mean that the relationship you have with them is defective in some way. Don’t be angry for someone who wants to protect their headspace, it is after all a very expensive commodity.

As I’d imagine, all of my mentally poorly readers will understand how important a healthy brain is, because of how hard it is to fight it is obtain one.

But, my friends, what I’ve just said is true; of that I have no doubt, except the glaringly obvious problem this truth presents, and that is, how fucking hard it is to believe. We know for sure that if this has happened to you, where someone close can’t listen to you, it feels likes a personal slight. The narrative you have with yourself might go something like this ” You’re a terrible burden”, “They don’t love/care about me anymore”, “They are so selfish, they aren’t there when I need them” and on and on it goes with the familiar repertoir inside your head.

I have struggled with this myself. From both sides of the interaction and I can tell you that it sucked from whichever direction you are coming from.

I won’t advise of course, I can add my twopence worth as I like to do, and it is the following. Don’t always assume that you are disliked because you wanted to talk to someone who couldn’t give you that. I know I have to take a deep breath and try to accept this and I will keep trying. I hope you can too.

All my love
Steph

Grief

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I have waited a while to write this post. I would say the reason is that I wanted the dust to settle, but if I’m honest I just wanted to be drinking when I wrote it. Call it Dutch courage if you like. I’m going to just pop a little trigger warning here for death of a loved one before I go on.

I’ve thought endlessly about you since you left us two weeks ago.

I have experienced loss before. I don’t think you can be nearing forty and not experienced it. I’ve watched people leave this world or about to leave it. As devastating as these losses were, the one thing I could always rely on were the words ‘They had a good innings’ (for none British people this is a cricket reference to mean a batsman was around for a while)

So what do you do when the ‘Batsman’ hasn’t had a good innings? What words do you use to sooth your soul when that batsman has an early bath?

You were only a couple of years older than I.

I know you suffered in your waking years, I know it was hard to get out of bed, I know you were living with the worse kind of devil, the one that lives within yourself. You were tired and wanted to rest and I understand bab.

I understand in the way that many cannot. I too have that devil inside of me. I carry him wherever I go, night and day, an endless stream of bile spewing from his grotesque lips. I know how hard it is to make him quiet, and how easy it is to believe him.

I know you loved with everything you had, how you would help anyone who needed you, without question. I know you spent so much of your life bringing people together; spreading that infectious joy that permeated through your very pores. How even though that devil continued to bend your ear, how hard it was to sleep, how hard it was to show up, you ALWAYS did.

I could say that if only you knew how much we loved you, you would never have left us. But that would be wrong. There was never anyone who could say anything to stop you from going to sleep, because you just knew this was your time. The one thing in your mind that you could control over everything else.

I will never be angry with you, I will never blame you for anything that has transpired, and anyone that does, doesn’t deserve the love you so freely gave. You finally silenced him and for that I can’t help but be glad.

My final thoughts on this – apart from wishing I’d brought tissues to the pub – is this. Some people are in your life for less time than you would like; they hit life like a hurricane, where everything they do is memorable. He was the epitome of ‘Here for a good time, not a long time’ And he will live on forever in those memories.

He was the best of us all, with a soul as beautiful as they come.

I love you Neil. Always.

The Self Information Station (For Beginners)

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Welcome friends.

I can’t remember ever really introducing myself properly in this space, and it got me thinking about who I am as a person outside of my mental illnesses, and so here I am sitting in front of my laptop thinking about the things that make me, well, me.

I’m not predisposed to a cheery disposition. I wasn’t blessed with optimism, and I am positively non-bubbly. I like my men how I like my comedy; sharp, smart and borderline offensive.

My life is like an open book, my spine is cracked but I smell fucking amazing.

I am quite small, 5″2 in total so you won’t catch me reaching for the top shelf in the supermarket, but if you need someone with small hands for a fiddly bit of D.I.Y. then I’m your girl. As well as being weeny I am quite a chunky bird, although I do have pretty good bone structure for a fat lass.

I guess I should mention hobbies right? I don’t really have any to be honest. I do have a few things that I am vaguely enthusiastic about. I love writing, but that shouldn’t really come as a shock considering you are currently reading this right now. I do have a particular fondness for writing reviews of things, especially places I visit. Google tells me I am in the top 10% of pub reviewers which is quite the accolade (well I think it is).

Music is incredibly important to me, which is something everyone says really, so enough about that one. Mainly I just enjoy being creative when I feel well enough.

Anyway, Google tells me that this list is just perfect for getting to know people so I will answer these in the hopes that they will be illuminating.

  1. When is your birthday? I won’t say the day but it is in December. A positively festive birthday for a positively un-festive person.
  2. What is your favorite animal? This is a hella tricky question because I love all of them. I guess dogs would be at the top. It is easier to tell you which animals make me feel sick and they are frogs.
  3. What do you do for a living? Very little. Are you in school? Thankfully no.
  4. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? I would go to Costa Rica purely for the sloth sanctuary.
  5. What was your favorite school subject? English
  6. Do you have a small or big family? Small I guess? Average?
  7. What genres of music do you like best? Mainly 90’s music, but I like music from all genres.
  8. How do you like to spend your free time? Wasting it.
  9. Are you a morning or a night person? Constantly exhausted pigeon.
  10. What is your favorite food? Pizza
  11. What is your favorite movie or TV show? Bob’s Burgers
  12. What is your favorite childhood memory? Hmm can’t think of anything specific right now, soz.
  13. Who is your celebrity crush? Sam Rockwell
  14. Do you speak more than one language? Nope. Hopelessly English.
  15. What is your biggest pet peeve? Poor manners.
  16. What is your favorite holiday? Don’t really know.
  17. Where did you grow up? West Midlands
  18. What is the skill that you would like to learn? I’d love to be more tech savvy.
  19. What do you value most in a friend? Loyalty over everything else, but I do love someone who I can debate big ideas with.
  20. What is your biggest irrational fear? Small spaces. I have extreme claustrophobia, but I guess that is quite rational? Irrational is my fear of spontaneous human combustion. Or is it?!

So that’s that then. My apologies for the – turns out – very dull list. If you have any questions that you would like me to answer for you, please let me know, and I will answer if I want to.

Enjoy the rest of the day folks

Love to you all

Steph

Crying Over Cheese

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Well hello all my lovely readers.

I am still posting from my holidays in Cumbria so fewer posts than usual, but I will be back in the Midlands and my home on Saturday where normal service should resume. There has been a lot going on, the details of which I won’t go into here; suffice to say I haven’t been in a frame of mind conducive to writing.

However, I do have a small selection of things I would like to write about at some point safely contained in my phone notebook, which has really come in handy here. Therefore the topic up for discussion tonight is as the title says, “Crying over cheese”.

So what do I mean exactly?

I’d like to tell you a brief story about a woman (me) and a whirlwind of emotion in my Sainsbury’s local.

Sometimes when we are particularly poorly, we find certain activities more difficult than others. I remember, around the time in question, I was struggling to get on my feet financially after moving in by myself for the first time and navigating the benefits system. I won’t get into the Devil that is the benefits system here, mainly because it is way too depressing, but suffice to say I was somewhat short of funds.

I had received some help from my family for most costs at the beginning (I am incredibly lucky in that regard) but as someone who was reclaiming or even discovering my own independence for the first time in my life at the ripe age of 38, this help was soul-crushing to me. At no point was I made to feel guilty for accepting some help, except from my own head, my pride to be exact; and although I do agree with the adage that comparison is where madness lies, it certainly didn’t stop me from considering myself a failure compared to the other people in my life.

The back breaking straw turned out to be what should have been a fairly benign trip to my local Sainsbury’s. I walked around with my basket, looking for things that were reasonably priced or that could be spread out as a few meals rather than just one. One of the things at the top of my list was low-fat cheese – note the low-fat part – I had to have low fat because since having my gallbladder removed a couple of years ago my belly can’t process fat at all well, so it’s low-fat or no fat only. After some looking at the cheddar, I found the only low-fat block that was in the fridge; and…..I couldn’t afford it. It was four pounds and something pence, not sure exactly, but I simply couldn’t justify spending that kind of money on one block of cheese. I placed it back and stood a second, trying desperately to think of some other money pot I could squeeze a fiver out of. It was a pointless endeavour; at that point I was scraping the barrel as cleanly as possible, it just wasn’t happening that day.

And then I began to cry. Thankfully it was still compulsory to wear a face mask in the supermarket, so most of my tearful face was visible to any other shoppers. The mask stifled some of the little sobs I was trying to keep in too. I just remember thinking that moment, “What if this is all my life is going to be from now on? Counting the pennies to buy a lump of mature cheddar”. I finished my shopping sombrely and headed home.

The thing is, when I got home, had a brew and sat down for a while, I started to think of the lunacy of that scenario.The first things I thought was how it was just fucking cheese. The world would still turn without it. But on really getting down to brass taxes, I wondered about the kind of world in which we live unable to afford the most basic of items. Being poor isn’t a shameful thing, and yet for those of us that struggle to get by, it is hard to not to feel deflated and embarrassed.

But I’m here to remind you that you are doing the best you can in a difficult climate. I know it’s hard to believe that sometimes, but you really are. If you have to rely on a foodbank for essentials, or go without sometimes because you can’t afford to eat some days, you are a fucking warrior. Being poor is a club that so many of us are in and you have to do what you need to do to survive. Don’t be too embarrassed to ask your council if they can help you in ways you don’t already know about, don’t be ashamed to email your local MP to ask what can be done to help the poorest in our society.

In fact, don’t be ashamed of scraping by, at all. You are far stronger than you realise.

Love to you all

Steph

Why Haven’t I Got A Poltergeist Yet?

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Hello!

OK so, Wikipedia, that font of trusted knowledge (I jest of course) explains the Poltergeist as follows “In ghostlore, a Poltergeist, German for ‘rumbling ghost’ or ‘noisy spirit’ is a type of ghost or spirit that is responsible for physical disturbances, such as loud noises and objects being moved or destroyed.”

Well thank you Wiki for those nuggets of wisdom.

I knew that already but after scanning the Wiki entry it became clear that one of the most popular tropes among paranormal experts and amateurs alike is that poltergeists are sometimes created by pubescent girls. Take for instance the Enfield poltergeist case from many moons ago. Their Poltergeist was assumed to be assisted somewhat by the presence of two teenage girls, with Janet, the eldest, assumed to be the main source of energy for the troublesome spook.

Enfield isn’t an isolated case. Hormones play an active part in many Poltergeist hauntings around the globe, so my question is pretty simple really. Why didn’t I get one?

Obviously this post is a little tongue in cheek; I am currently holidaying in Cumbria and to be honest it’s nearly my bedtime so I didn’t want to be too serious (you know, nightmares?)

As I’m sure many of you with BPD will attest, it can feel like we are somewhat emotionally stunted. The alternative name for BPD, Emotionally unstable personality disorder, outlines the problems posed by our emotions. Sometimes it can feel like we have never really grown up emotionally. I know that even now at 39, I still feel quite childlike when it comes to dealing with some things. Since moving into my flat and living alone for the first time, some of these issues have been improved upon; such as making phone calls, sorting out bills and living expenses, for example. But others, like relationships with people and socialising still pose some considerable problems for me. My first instinct when encountering an interpersonal problem is to turn my back on it and let bridges burn rather than stay and tough it out.

I’d probably say that actually the issue isn’t with instability in my emotions, but rather the fact that my emotions are incredibly basic. Consider if you will the black and white thinking of the BPD mind. It is a very simplistic way of looking at the world. In some situations things really are black and white but for the majority of everyday issues there is plenty of grey shade in between, even though I can’t usually see it (Hence the therapy). So if we think of emotions in the same way, i.e reduced to their simplest forms, it is – I think – working in the same way as black and white thinking. Our minds are keeping tidy little piles, with tidy little notes and tidy little pieces highlighted in vivid pink.

Thinking about things in a simple way isn’t necessarily a terrible thing. We understand things very well as long as they fit the descriptors we have assigned to them. The problem arises when we are faced with multiple emotions, when our brains can’t fit them into their neat little boxes. This leads to confusion and sometimes depending on the severity of the situation, panic. This may show itself in a number of ways, we may withdraw completely, we may sink into the depths of depression with feelings of hopelessness and despair, we may become irritable because our minds are too crowded, or we may kick off completely. There are loads of ways emotional overload can present itself, and it doesn’t have to be the same way each time.

So to conclude,

Where is my poltergeist? Surely with all of the times I have been lost in my own mind, I at least deserve a spooky friend to throw plates at the walls for me? Maybe I would love it if I had a phantom that opened cupboard doors for me, or rattled the pipes? But alas! For now I’m going to have to do it myself.

Thanks for reading this far

Love to you all

Steph

Why A Dentist Telling Me My Teeth Look Great Is So Important To Me As A Mentally Ill Person

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As many people with mental illness will understand; personal hygiene can be a touchy subject. In fact, I would go as far as to say that it is a taboo subject for many. The reason for this is quite clear. Personal hygiene is considered to be something that people just do regularly. We primp and preen ourselves to maintain an outward appearance of having our shit together. We like to smell good, we like to look good and we want our appearance to be appreciated by others. (Please don’t kid yourself by thinking you aren’t affected by the opinions of others. Of course, at times of peak confidence we may not care, but if we aren’t feeling cute or handsome, it tends to make us self-conscious).

For those of us that are mentally unwell personal hygiene is sometimes difficult to maintain. To a neurotypical person, this doesn’t make a whole lot of sense; after all having a bath or a shower, washing our hair or painting our nails is an activity that makes most of us feel good. The trouble is that when we are particularly low, our minds don’t get any enjoyment from anything at all, and unfortunately that includes personal hygiene.

As I said earlier on, cleanliness is almost a taboo subject. Because let’s face it, nobody wants to admit that they haven’t washed their hair in a week, or can’t remember the last time they brushed their teeth. I have mentioned in a previous post about how I treat hygiene and beauty regimens as acts of self-care. This fits quite well here. Anything that I do that makes me feel a little better, or gives me a break from misery is received as self-care. (I still hate the phrase but it is at least easy to understand, even if it is a cliche).

So, today I went for my check-up at the dentist. It is usually quite a difficult affair because I have in the past neglected my teeth while I have been particularly ill. Especially pre-diagnosis. But I have been trying my best to brush twice a day even when I am experiencing a low. It is hard to describe how difficult it is because to many, this is just something that comes as easily as auto-pilot. But imagine if you will trying to brush your teeth when during the short trip to the bathroom you are wading through knee-deep mud; only to find yourself in front of the sink too exhausted from the mud to raise the toothbrush to your lips. It is a shit analogy but as I said, it is incredibly hard to explain. Add to that feelings of shame and embarrassment because you haven’t done it, plus the ensuing thoughts that you are not good enough and nobody likes being with you anyway so why bother keeping up with your hygiene routines; and so on and on in a seemingly endless cycle of the same events. Does that seem like a lot to think in so short a space of time?. Yes is the answer to that, but is it true? Also yes.

I know for me personally, the main problem I experience with my BPD is the speed of my thoughts. They are sometimes so rapid that I can’t hold a single thought in my head long enough for them to make any sense. Imagine sitting in a room with lots of people and trying to follow the conversations of all of these individuals. It is exhausting and you never remember anything for long. When these thoughts are whirling around in the maelstrom that is my brain, the last thing on my mind is whether my teeth are brushed properly.

I think that the time to acknowledge that this happens to many of us is now. There is nothing shameful about being mentally unwell and we are very slowly beginning to realise that as a society, albeit very slowly. But if we accept that as a fact then we need to also accept the ugly truths that we try to keep hidden. If you already do share this information with people then all kudos to you! It is hard work! I have spoken about it here as candidly as I feel I can, but I won’t lie to you dear readers and say that I am completely open with everyone in my social circle, because I’m not. But I will try harder, that is my promise to you all.

Anyway, bye for now.

Love to you all

Steph

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My Pot Is Calm Or Boiling Over. The Real Difficulty Lies Somewhere In Between

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So guys, a little impromptu post on a sleepy Sunday night.

During my therapy sessions from the very beginning we speak about my state of mind at various times and in various conditions. We work on the idea that there are five cooking pots that are representative of my ability to cope. Pot one being calm, sitting happily on the stove to pot five where I am boiling over completely; and pots two, three and four in various stages between the two extremes. This is a very tidy metaphor that describes the steps from contented to breakdown very simply. Now obviously this is just meant to be a broad representation; it doesn’t include any specifics or details, but that is where the beauty of it lies. Think about it, when faced with a mathematical or scientific problem the easiest way to begin is to break the problem down into its basic or fundamental parts.

My first job if you like, was to try and begin to recognise when I am standing in these stages. It is more difficult than I had imagined it would be. For starters I don’t really think about my state of mind all the time, in fact I often actively try to ignore it. So it was rather like opening a can of worms. I tried to check in with myself often during the day just to see if I could feel which cooking pot I was in. Turns out that at first I could only recognise when I was boiling over. This makes a lot of sense when you think about it; It is a massive surge in emotion that you can’t help but recognise when it’s there. Pot one was quite tricky to nail down purely because I’m not often content. Instead I have come to see pot one as when I am feeling numb. So those are the two extremes recognised. Now how about the middle ones? In truth I am still working on recognising those. After talking to my therapist we have agreed that the main reason for this difficulty is that my emotions are rapidly fleeting. I can dip my toe into all of the pots numerous times in one day; sometimes even in an afternoon. That is the nature of the BPD beast sadly.

Anyway, have a go at it if you like and see how you get on.

Love to you all

Me

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The Favourite

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The favourite. BPD peeps will know this immediately. You thought of them instantly didn’t you? Let me guess, it either felt fluttery and beautiful, or like a boulder in the belly? I say this because I’ve never come across anyone who isn’t at either end of these extremes. 

When the BPD person has a favourite person it is rather like the way a lot of us see the world, it is either one extreme or the other, no grey areas. 

This person could be someone we love in a platonic way, or in a romantic way. Both of these can be hellish. 

We are switched to the favourite channel at all times. We crave consistency, but life often doesn’t work on a fixed schedule, times and places will change, meetings will be postponed or cancelled. There’s nothing we like much less than changes to routine.

If we get a lot of time with our favourite person, we become greedy for more, it’s not our fault, we just want to be around you as much as we can. We know this can be annoying, we know that having to provide almost constant reassurance is exhausting. We know how tiring it can be because we spend a lot of our time thinking about you. We want to make you happy. But it can feel suffocating. But we feel suffocated by our need for validation and reassurance.

People often don’t know that people with BPD are full to bursting with love to give. We get clobbered for manipulation and selfishness, but all too regularly that’s all that people see. 

One thing I guarantee to all of the people lucky enough to be someone’s favourite is simply this, there will be nobody in the world who could possibly love you more. Your peace of mind is theirs also. But please go gently. Be mindful of consistency, and treat them the way you would wish to be treated. That’s all I ask of you. 

Love to you all

Me

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Stop telling me to love myself when tolerating myself is a closer goal

Let’s talk for a minute about goals, aspirations, dreams, wants, needs. #lifegoals if you must.
A shit ton of neurotypical and occasionally neurodiverse people like to throw soundbites into the arena because they think that mental illness isn’t something that controls much of your life unless you allow it to.
One of my favourite soundbites that I would like thrown into the sea is ‘Love Yourself’.
This is a perfect example of the wannabe Tony Robbin’s of the world, that reduce the reality to fit into a 2 hour seminar. This next one will no doubt smell familiar to you, how about ‘Live, Laugh, Love’? Of course you have and the mere thought of it makes me want to punch a wall.
We hear them all the time, and they are memorable by design, in the same way that advertising is memorable. It sells product.
But hey if you find the soundbites useful in your journey then I’m not judging.
Heading back to the first example, let me explain why it needs putting in the bin.
So, LOVE YOURSELF.
Imagine now if you will, those words through the middle of a picture of a sunset, or a beach, or a pier. Very lovely.
But importantly in this instance does it make you want to love yourself? If so, great! Me on the other hand find it cringeworthy enough to crawl back inside my own body.
‘Love Yourself’? Go fuck yourself.
A piece of advice for people who create this content is this; stop telling me to love myself when tolerating myself is a closer goal. It’s a good starting point! Wind your necks in and make these things doable: and before you jump on me saying that people buy this shit merch all the time, yes I know, but that’s just because it’s the most relatable to mentally ill people and nothing more accurate exists! We need inspiration too!
I don’t want my life to be reduced to a cute comment on a T.Shirt or poster.

So here’s one for you all to stick on to a picture you find pretty

I AM FUCKING TRYING

Peace out loves

Steph
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Born Into Loneliness?

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I’m sitting in front of repeats of Inside No.9 (My favourite program of all time) and I am in a thoughtful mood. My mood has been up and down more than usual the last couple of weeks, and trust me when I say, BPD mood swings are always frantic anyway so any acceleration is particularly unpleasant. Anyway, I thought I would share what I was thinking on this Sunday evening.

I have been wondering about loneliness a lot. Trying to figure out if that is what I’ve been feeling. Turns out it isn’t. It’s not loneliness, it’s fear. Not fearful of being on my own, I like my own company, it’s been liberating since starting over to really get to know myself as someone who, has before last year never lived alone. I got to know whether I would still be a tidy person if I lived alone (I am). I wondered whether my personal hygiene would be ok if I didn’t have anybody to do it for when my mental health is particularly bad (It was fine). I wondered whether I would feel safe on my own (For the most part I do, but I did have to door stop my front door for a few months).

I eat better now, far more nutritious food, partly because I can’t digest fat very well since having my gallbladder removed and partly because I need to treat my body a bit better than I did.

Back to the topic at hand anyway. The fear I feel is not of being myself in my little flat, but being alone socially. For years I thought that I was introverted. Turns out my extroversion has been masked for years by crippling social anxiety. I love the company of family and friends when I’m feeling well enough, in fact it is a massive part of keeping me feeling well. Part of my BPD means that I have an urge to seek constant reassurance that the people I love are happy with me. This can be difficult to obtain because I don’t want to pester people but sometimes it is just something I have to do. As an example, if I have seen people on one day and I have felt content, the second I leave and return home, or those people leave and go to their homes, my mind starts to analyse the conversations I’ve had, the reactions, the gestures. Until I become convinced that something is wrong. As soon as that happens, I feel the need to seek reassurance. It’s something I fight, but unfortunately can’t help.

Fear is a terrible thing. Almost as bad as guilt for me. I have been dealing with it by over-compensating with loved ones. What I mean by this is that the fear of being abandoned or rejected is so strong that I tend to tailor my personality to please the people I am with. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t give up my principles. If I disagree with someone’s view I will hold my own in a debate; but if I get carried away or even cross with a person the guilt eats me up and I tend to apologise for living.

All this got me wondering about when we develop our sense of belonging, and when we develop feelings of loneliness. I certainly can’t remember when these emotions first occurred in my life, I don’t know about you guys. It made me wonder whether a sense of belonging is something we are born with. A need to be a part of a tribe? Other people are certainly very important during our formative years; we are urged to mix and mingle with other infants and other children so that we become comfortable around others.

So maybe that’s it? Maybe we are born searching? Not for meaning, but belonging.

Update On Self Esteem Post

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Earlier in the week I wrote a blog about self-esteem. Essentially my self-esteem, and I as usual posted it in a few sites. I posted it on The Mighty and I had no clue how self-image issues present themselves in different people. I have been in tears reading some of the replies.

There are so many things that can affect how you see yourself in the mirror. Some responses were from people who have lost someone by suicide all because they couldn’t face their reflections anymore. I haven’t had the energy to reply to any just yet. All I do know is

that people all over the world, from all walks of life are struggling to accept who they are, for numerous reasons. I won’t be running to the cliche that has become self-care, or be kind. They are used so much by people who care so little.

Instead I will just say, I don’t know what the answer is to what is obviously an epidemic. But shit, we really need to stop being so judgemental of others, because from where I’m sitting that is the path it has taken.

Self Esteem What’s That?

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Sometimes, I have trouble looking in the mirror. Sometimes I wonder where I lost half of my life waiting for it to start. At school teachers would say I was ‘coasting’ through my education; I would say I never stopped. I have coasted through the days of my youth and nearing forty I am coasting into middle-age too. A perpetual time waster, I daydream myself towards oblivion.
Im not using this post to say that I am changing my ways, in my experience, as soon as you tell somebody about your plans, those plans change. Almost as if the accomplishment was just to share a desire.
No. What this post is, is me looking in the mirror and telling you what I see.
I have tried to change my image over the last few months. I have chopped my hair to within inches of its life, I have dyed it chocolate. I have started making an effort with make-up, trying to correct the flaws that make me recoil in horror every time I see them. I have tried to stop myself from bringing my sadness to my loved ones. Once you have glossed over the cracks a few times it gets easier.
Self esteem is a difficult thing to gain when you have never really had any. It’s learning to accept something that you don’t really believe at all. I’m hoping repetition has an impact.
I am a beautiful person
I am a beautiful person
I am a beautiful person……..

The One About My Loathing Of The Change Of Seasons (Including Summer)

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A lot of people would categorise themselves as sufferers of S.A.D. For the uninitiated S.A.D. stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder, and is described by the NHS website as a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. What is commonly assumed is that S.A.D. is only around when we are entering the autumn/fall and winter seasons. In fact it is commonly known as ‘winter depression’.

Now, granted, most people only associate these darker months with their S.A.D. and it is certainly more common in those months. however, there are some of us (including me) who experience the symptoms of S.A.D. at any and all of the seasonal changes.

I didn’t even notice/realise it until recently. Here are some of the tell-tale symptoms for reference:

Feeling lethargic and sleepy during the day beyond what is normal for you.

Persistent low mood.

Irritability.

Sleeping for longer than is usual for you, and finding it hard to get up in the morning.

Feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but hopefully you get the gist. You know your mind after all. It can be difficult to determine what your feelings mean if you already live with other conditions. I know that taking notice of my emotions and when they occur certainly helps me to figure out what is affecting my mood. For those that find mindfulness helpful, the practices you use already can be of assistance here. What I would say is that you should go easy on yourself. If you are finding it difficult or you are thinking about your moods too much (i.e. it’s upsetting or uncomfortable) and it is affecting your life in a negative way, then stop. You don’t need that type of negativity on top of any other stuff you have going on.

I think my aim with this post is to show solidarity with others how have S.A.D. and to let anyone who struggles in the light seasons as well as the dark ones, know that their emotions are valid, even when they don’t adhere to the common trope.

Screw the boxes, we are all our own shapes.

Love to all

Steph

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If You’re Happy And You Know It You’re….. Ill?

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I want to talk about something that doesn’t seem to be covered in many places. They may be out there, and I have missed them, but they have proved elusive to me.

As someone with a lot of mental health issues it would be easy to believe that I spend my whole life miserable or at least melancholic. While this is the case for some of my time, I mainly feel somewhat numb. Emotionless even. I can still socialise with people close to me, I can laugh and make jokes and even (ahem) enjoy myself.

The above is probably common knowledge but what I want to talk about is those times when I feel ELATION. I don’t mean happy, I mean ecstatic. I don’t mean I feel love, I feel like my heart is bursting. I don’t mean I find it funny, I mean I find it hysterical.

This happens now and again. Like tonight. That how I feel, right now.

I feel like I can feel my blood moving through my body. It pulses. Through my arms, my legs. I feel electricity, static, like I could fire bolts of light of lightening through my fingers or from my head. My belly is butterflies. I have a permanent lump in my throat because I have to bottle the very real danger of lovebombing. The need to shower the world with whatever it is that has me in this moment.

There is no particular reason for these emotions to appear. I would say that music is a big trigger for it, but if I repeated a playlist from when it happened over again it almost certainly wouldn’t happen again. It happens a lot in the pub but only on a Wednesday night when I sit on my own for a good few hours, like this evening for example. But again, it doesn’t happen every time. In fact in recent weeks it hasn’t happened at all. So why is tonight different?

It isn’t.

Sometimes it just happens. In the same way that suicidal days just happen for people like me/us. You would be forgiven for believing this elation is a wonderful thing, a release from misery. At the moment it feels amazing but I’ll tell you a secret.

This mood state can be just as destructive as the suicidal one. It is certainly far more insidious. I’ll try and explain it.

Imagine if you will an out of body experience. A meditative state, that moment just before you fall asleep. Basically a bodily state which I’m just going to call floaty light.
Now add into that the sensation of joy. Think of something that made you intensely happy. So now you are a floaty light bubble of euphoria. All good right?

Hold your horses.

In those periods of floaty light joy bubbling I may feel like I can tell my deepest secrets to people because I am far more trusting in this state. This is because I only see others as wonderful beings when I feel like this.
Or maybe I feel like I want to literally shout or sing at the top of my voice in public or late at night outside when it’s dark after coming home from the pub.

Let’s take it up a notch.

How about when I feel like I can literally fly because I am so powerful?. Because I am one with the universe and she’d never let me fall. Or how about when I feel indestructible?. When I feel like I am strong enough to run over roads without thinking about traffic. Without thinking of my own safety at any point.

I hope this sums up the pitfalls of this emotional maelstrom for you. I would boldly suggest that this feeling is harder to deal with that than the epic lows. Simply because as I said earlier, who doesn’t want to feel amazing? Who doesn’t want to feel joy all the time?

Anyway that’s all for this post. Thanks for reading if you’ve got this far.

Sending all my love as always

Steph

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Let’s Be Honest For A Second. It Really Isn’t OK To Not Be OK

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Hello again dear reader, I hope this post finds you well, or if not well, getting by as best you can.

In today’s post I am going to try and explain why I feel the way I do about a popular mental health narrative. This one has been adopted by a tremendous amount of people, and charity organisations. There is even a song about it. This mantra is of course,

“It’s ok not to be ok”

Let’s think about that for a moment. On the one hand this appears to be an attempt to de-stigmatise mental health conditions. “Of course it’s not a problem if you are unwell and are behaving in a way that goes against societies pre-conditioned norm”. Or “Of course you aren’t alone in your struggle, these things can happen to anyone”.

When you look at it that way I guess it can be viewed as a positive message for anyone who is experiencing the ravages of mental ill health. But as always I like to poke my nose in to these things, and I believe whole-heartedly that the mantra above is total bollocks, and here’s why.

I’ve always had problems with so-called inspirational quotes. I find it strange that so many people just love to reduce everything into a series of soundbites. Well they may look good emblazoned on a T.shirt or plastered all over Twitter when someone passes away because of mental illness; but the reality is that “It’s ok not to be ok” is bullshit.

Of course it isn’t ok to be not ok! It is massively shit. At no time, ever in my mental head have those words brought me an ounce of comfort. Not only that but if anything the whole thing seems to feel trivialised. I view it in a similar way to being told to eat all of your dinner because there are starving children in Africa. It’s not helpful in the least, and makes us feel guilty for living.

Nowhere in that message does it say that “If you feel rubbish mentally, that’s NOT ok, and you should give your doctor a call to see if they can make life a bit better for you”.

It should! If there truly is no shame in speaking out, that there is no reason to feel embarrassed by the way you feel, then why reduce it to a tacky mantra that makes no reasonable sense?.

What we as a society really need to do, is be honest. It seems that is something that is hard to grasp. We are living in a time where our collective mental health has been impacted by the events of the last few years, and sadly for some of us a long time before that. Surely now is as good a time as any to just admit that life is a bit sucky at times, and although that is not ok, we can at least be helped to have a few more of the good days, and if we’re really lucky some brilliant ones.

Love to you all

Steph

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Why I Stopped Listening To Things That Upset Me And Why You Should Too

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Hey Reader

With everything so upside down in the World right now it’s understandable that pretty much everybody on the planet is feeling kind of frazzled. The only people who aren’t feeling the gut punch of pretty much constant bad news can’t be paying attention, and honestly I am jealous.

Being abreast of all the news and political commentary on the planet is something that most of us lap up furiously. We use our socials, our friends, online and print newspapers and news broadcasters to keep us constantly topped up with the topics of the day. But what happens when that news cup you’re carrying starts spilling the tea?

The news we are being fed all day, every day is never evened out. There is no balance of good news and bad news.

The actual good news is that we can do something about it. Just. Don’t. Look.

It isn’t an easy thing to do when you are used to looking numerous times a day. But it can be done. I started by limiting myself to looking on a news app once a day. no more! Unless something monumental happens it can wait. There will still be news tomorrow…..and the next day…..and the next day.

Secondly and maybe the thing I have found most helpful is STOP READING THE COMMENTS SECTION. I truly believe that the comment section is where the worst of humanity lies in wait for someone to stumble upon. I don’t think I have ever read anything there that I found helpful or inspiring, so what is the point?

Third, utilise the mute facility (Twitter mainly) If you don’t already know about this, you can stop certain words and phrases from appearing on your timeline. This means that you can avoid the stuff that affects you in a negative way.

Finally fourth, the block button is your friend. Just because they follow you or they once said something you agreed with, doesn’t mean you owe them your loyalty if they become problematic. If you wouldn’t hang out with them in the real world, you shouldn’t put up with it on the internet.

The truth is that in a world as connected as ours it is increasingly difficult to vet the content you come into contact with. Sometimes it is simply unavoidable. I think the main thing is that for all of the negative content you come into contact with, it’s super important to add content that is positive. Say for instance that you see something about a murder or something equally as awful; be sure to then search out something positive to counteract it, such as animals wearing hats. I know this seems simplistic and it really is. But that is the beauty of it. It doesn’t need to be a grand scheme to make the world a better place, life is hard enough. It just needs to be something that makes YOUR world a better place.

My happy place is Bob’s Burgers, orange squash and videos of cute animals. Simple but effective.

big love to you all

Steph

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Tomboys, 90’s Teenagers, Acceptance and other Ramblings

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I’d like to begin this blog with a disclaimer if I may? I will probably mention gender, sex and sexuality in the following post. I apologise if I get some things wrong. Please just comment and help me to understand, if it seems like I don’t. Anyway onto the content.

Hello folks, this time I want to talk a little about the concept of the word Tomboy in UK society and the childhood I remember. For any of my overseas readers who may be unfamiliar with this term, there is every possibility that you have your own country specific word that means the same thing.

The Oxford dictionary definition of the Tomboy is as follows:
noun
noun: tomboy; plural noun: tomboys
a girl who enjoys rough, noisy activities traditionally associated with boys.

As a child I can’t remember a lot. I mean, it’s not much at all. I remember certain aspects of it. Mainly smells. If I smell something familiar from my childhood I will instantly attach the correct memory. If I never smell something similar I doubt I would think of the memory ever again.

Sadly the thing I remember the most is guilt. That is still the same today, it is probably the emotion I have the most difficulty with. I remember things I feel guilty about from when my age was still in single digits.

I only started remembering music when I was around 10 or so? I only know I started to really sink into music when I started secondary school (High School)

The one thing I do remember though very vividly is being called a Tomboy. It wasn’t a conscious decision. I have an older brother which may have contributed to it psychologically I guess but it would only ever be a guess. I remember never really loving conventionally girly clothes. I know I liked jeans, I knew I liked comfy t.shirts. That was about all of it.

I truly believe that my biological sex was never something I ever thought about. Ever. I always preferred the company of boys, and that is something that has persisted throughout my life.

I accept completely that I, being a white CIS gender woman has granted me the privileges not given to many, and being a tomboy was never an issue in my life.

I think it also helped that I was raised in (and bear with me) a more tolerant time. I was a teenager of the 90’s. We were just learning about computers, we knew life without the internet and with it. We were still jealous of friends that had more than 5 TV channels and could order music videos on the phone to The Box music channel. It was a beautiful decade for me.

Back to the tolerant thing? Right, prepare yourself for some tea.

Many, many people would say that we are living in a time that tolerance is insisted upon and more people have the freedom to be themselves. To that I would say that yes on the face of it, it seems that it’s better than ever for people of colour, non binary people, trans people, queer and gay people, and women. (Sorry if I’ve missed any out)

I agree that as a society we have moved forward so very much from bigoted times of old, but my memory of the 90’s was that we could be anyone, and nobody batted an eyelid. We could be anyone because we didn’t have the constant barrage of images on the internet showing us what perfect should be, we could be anyone because we had close knit friendships forged in real life that embraced every aspect of us, and finally we could be anyone because we didn’t have to defend our lives to rampant internet celebrities and trolls on a daily basis.

I’m a fucked up adult. But I wasn’t a fucked up kid; and for that I will always be grateful.

I know I completely lost my thread in this post, apologies for tangents and going off them. I’m trying to cleave a point here hang on…………

Ok here’s one!

It has taken me 39 years and counting to get to a self image that I can live with in relative contentedness and I will keep working at it.
I hope that everyone who struggles with who they are can take one thing from this, and that is, live life like a 90’s teenager if you can. Turn out the internet lights if it’s fucking with your mind and self image. Be with people in the physical (Not suggesting for a second that online friends aren’t real, I have some great internet friends) but know people in the physical world where you can, and always keep trying to find your tribe.

Thanks for reading if you have got this far.
I appreciate you.

X

Let’s Talk about Shame

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Something happened last week that I want to talk about and that my friends is shame. (If the title didn’t give you a clue of course)

So most weeks I head to the same pub on a Wednesday night for drinks with friends. I have been going there for a good few years now and it is my favourite day of the week because I enjoy it so much.

I always go a few hours earlier than my friends, there are a few reasons for this, it’s because I always worry about getting my favourite spot, I love to listen to music at a dangerous volume, I like to be as relaxed as possible before my friends arrive and I usually use the extra time to write. This may be a blog post or a poem or two. The relaxed atmosphere really helps with my creative process, as does the loud music. I don’t really interact with anyone there really because I’ll be honest, small talk just isn’t my forte. However I talk to any pub dogs I meet and this has meant that I usually have to chat to the owners at least a little bit. One of the reasons I love my weekly pub trip is that I have anonymity. It doesn’t matter that I may be a little strange or out of place because these other pub patrons don’t know me or my life and I find that very liberating.

So now I have laid the groundwork, onto the shame part.

I am besotted with the landlady’s dog, Brian. He is a blue Staffy with an enormous smooshy head and I love him. If I’m very lucky I see him a few times during my evening, usually when I go outside to vape, and because he is there, so is his owner. The landlady is a lovely woman. Salt of the earth, happy to chat to anyone, and has had a lot of practise because of her time as a publican. I like her very much which is a bonus because of my love for Brian the dog.

Last week I was chatting with the landlady at the bar and she asked me what I did for a living.

Simple question right? Wrong! As someone who has been out of work for over ten years due to severe and enduring mental illness this is not an easy question, at least not for me, and there my friends is the shame. Big, glaring, terrible shame. As I said this person is lovely. She has given me zero reason to be worried about her reaction, not to mention that what she could possibly think of me was 1. Out of my control and 2. Of no consequence whatsoever, but I still lied. I told her I worked at my last place of employment. So, why did I lie? Especially when it doesn’t matter? It was in fact a deeply ingrained shame, brought on by myself, because of my thoughts on what makes a person a valued member of society. This shame is deeply personal as I said and I have not and will not feel like anybody else is anything less than valuable. I see no shame in others who can’t work for any reason. I spend a lot of time trying to help others who see themselves as less than. but me? Myself? No. I have to hide my life, I don’t discuss my income, I don’t discuss how I spend my money. Because I don’t want people to know that I need help to survive.

This post is not to spout some garbage about how I am trying to be kinder to myself, or how you can be kinder to yourselves. It is simply to illustrate that if you feel like this too, you are not alone in feeling this way. I’m nearly forty and I have had this shame for most of my adult life. Yes, of course I know that this is something that is shit to deal with. Of course I know that stigma still exists in society against those of us with mental illness and that it may have contributed to the way I view myself. But it is also possible to have these feelings without dissecting societal constructs, and just being able to say, ‘I feel this way and it’s shit’.

If I get asked what I do for a living again, and I’m sure that I will at some point. Will I tell the truth or will I lie? I’d like to say that I’ll try my very best to tell the truth, but if I’m honest I will probably just lie again because I much prefer the easier option.

Maybe I’ll just tell them I’m an astronaut?

Peace out all

X

The One where I Question a Popular narrative in Mental Health Circles

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Good evening dear reader.

One of the things about mental illness that has been doing the rounds for a long time is the concept of self-care. In fact over the last few years this has made a lot of people, lots of money. The self-care bandwagon has seeped through into many parts of society. There are clothing lines dedicated to it, bath bombs, shower steamers, and all things that smell nice. There are so many books devoted to the self-care cause that it is hard to tell one from another. The motivational quote has also developed to include the be kind to yourself mantra. The products sold every day that endorse this message are numerous, and it shows no signs of abating anytime soon.

So, first things first. I am not about to start dragging the self-care message. I am totally on board with being kind to yourself. What I wanted to question was how much pressure there is to be kind to yourself. This may seem to some a bit silly, after all this is a good thing to do. The trouble is, when you are mentally unwell, being nicer to yourself seems like an alien concept, especially when you are in the ravages of an episode or a low.

I see it so much, people making bold statements on social networks about how they have been boosting their confidence using different self-care methods. It might be some hot yoga sessions, or hiking or chucking a nice face mask on before bed, and that is a wonderful thing, and we shouldn’t resent people for being able to treat themselves. BUT…….

I think my aim with this post is to remind my fellow neurodiverse people that if you are a bit resentful of those who relish in self-care, it’s OK. It is natural to be envious, or just a bit sad about it, so hopefully you can feel a little better and less guilty for feelings that are totally valid.

I see that as an act of self-care in itself.

Finally, I would say that kindness to ourselves IS difficult, and as with all social media posts, we usually don’t see what is going on under the surface. People’s lives are very complicated to put it mildly. I myself struggle with taking care of myself when I am feeling particularly poorly, and to be honest anything I do that is for my health, hygiene or wellbeing is an act of compassion for myself. So maybe you could consider brushing your teeth or washing your face as self-care, the same way that I do?

Peace out everyone

X

Who Wants a Side Order of Period Woes? No? Tough Titty.

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I guess if you are someone without a uterus you may be thinking that this post is not for you Stop right there! This maybe more useful than you think especially if you have any people in your life that have periods. So carry on dear reader and prepare to be enlightened!

For the last few years I have been receiving a monthly visit from the menses fairy. I say the last few years because prior to that I had been on the contraceptive pill and hadn’t had the monthly menace for a hell of a lot longer. After being on the pill for such a long time, I struggled to remember what they were like for me. In some ways I was looking forward to having them again. Sounds strange I know, but the particular pill that I was on had contributed to adult acne and I am far, far too vain to continue on that path. When my GP suggested a break, I leapt at the chance. She said it may help my skin, and lets be honest, my mid-thirties were in the rear view mirror and we decided together that it may be worth moving away from the pill.

Fast forward a few months and shark week appeared for the first time in years. It was painful. That sounds like a no-brainer thing to say, and I’m sure all of my fellow sufferers will be saying ‘No Shit Steph’ and quite right too; but let me tell you I had obviously blocked out how hideous the pain was from my younger days and these ouchies were not welcome.

At first I didn’t really experience problems with my moods, or at least I just didn’t notice them. Let’s recall that I already have BPD and this messes with my mood many, many times all the time. I think I started to really notice it a couple of years ago, and I was discovering that my mental health was declining regularly from a week or so before my red days until after they had ended. I had become a liability to myself during those times, emotional regulation was just a pipe dream. I had to, must, tell people every thought, every emotion, regardless of how this made me look or made them feel. I gave all of myself away in those moments, and I have made apologies every month pretty much ever since.

On my last two psychiatric appointments I had told my psychiatrist that I am at my most unstable during my periods. I expressed that I was at most danger from self-harm because on top of handling my BPD I just hadn’t got the skills or – and more importantly – the mental energy to deal with it all at the same time.

Let me tell you reader, he didn’t attempt to help me once. Not at all. Nada. Zip.

The first time I mentioned it I thought that I just had to carry on regardless, that there was nothing we could try. I felt helpless and I continued on like that for the next three months. All the while my periods getting worse and worse. So I mentioned it again on my last appointment. More stressed this time, and yet again he listened but brushed it away just as swiftly as he had the first time.

I ended up calling my GP instead and after a lengthy conversation she explained that I was having Pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder and Menstrual psychosis, but the diagnosis is of relatively little importance than the fact that there are things we can do to help me escape from the four-weekly terror. First things first! Back on the pill! As of today I have started a progesterone only pill which will stop my periods, so bye bye cramps and bye bye heavy flow days. This particular pill is apparently the safest to use when you are over thirty five so a word to the wise. If you have similar issues and you are worried about the risks, this may be an option for you to consider with the help of your clinician of course.

One thing is for certain, and that is that I will continue to fight and learn about what is best for my mental wellbeing.

Thanks for reading guys

Love to you all x

The One Where I Looked For A Distraction Behind The Sofa

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I’ve been pretty sad since I got back from Cumbria. I have been trying to work out why and I’ve narrowed it down to a couple of things.

• The weather is grey and miserable
• I am a bit lonely at the moment
• I live in the Midlands

The change in season is a big thing I think. The darker days and nights, the cold etc. Although there are cool things that happen in Autumn/Winter they still don’t outweigh the rubbish parts.
As for loneliness, it is a massive issue with older people already but the age groups that are reporting chronic loneliness are getting younger and younger.
It seems counter intuitive doesn’t it? We are the most connected humans to have ever existed and yet we are so far away from each other. Don’t worry I’m not going to blame the internet like some commentators do. I love the internet. It allows me to exist outside of four walls, it allows me to travel anywhere I want to, right down to the exact address. Of all the wonderful things it does, you cannot exist on the internet exclusively. Even if I would love that. Riding around in a tunnel of fibre-optic, I bet it would be hella tickly.
I think so many of us are lonely because we can’t stand the sound of our internal dialogue. The internet means that you can be distracted 24/7 so when we have a period of time without it, we are left with someone you can’t stand the sound of.
I don’t think this is the fault of the internet as such. On the one side of things, the internet may have provided you or someone you know with the ammunition to kill your self-esteem. Thing is the internet is always there to distract you from those thoughts that are troubling and heavy to hold.
It’s like an internet paradox.
A closed circuit.

Anyway. That’s just something I’m pondering right now.

Ciao
Steph

The One Where I Emptied The Hoover

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I know that my usual post day is Wednesday but I’m currently in my flat on a chilly Sunday evening and felt like I could do a little writing, so here I am. Hi! I hope all of my three regular readers are relaxed, content and aren’t having an attack of the Sunday night blues.

Well today I spent cleaning mainly. Thankfully my flat is petite and is easy to keep on top of. I did some more hand-washing of my laundry, sadly missing a mangle once again, and to be honest it wasn’t as difficult this time around, so not too bad.

One thing that I haven’t done before that I have recently learned how to do is successfully empty the vacuum cleaner. It is an early G-Tech Air-Ram and it is a lovely little thing; very light and easy to manoeuvre around and underneath things. I also know that it should be easy to empty but as I had never done that before, the first couple of times I lifted the lid as I thought I ought I literally scraped the contents out of it with my fingers into my bin. Anyway, to cut a long story short (too late) my friend and ex came for a visit and told me how it should be done, and now I have clean hands to match my clean vacuum cleaner.

I guess the reason why I felt the need to tell you this is pretty simple really. I was making a simple mistake repeatedly because I didn’t ask for help so I could learn how to do it correctly. Rather than swallow my pride and not worry about looking silly, I didn’t ask and got my hands dirty. The moral is that asking for help is a good thing, regardless of what it is. How else do we learn and grow? I fear that I am sounding a tad cringey so I will end it there.

Enjoy the rest of your evening, whatever you are up to and I should be back as usual on Wednesday evening. Ciao for now.