Hey, I’m back. Here’s a post about neglecting stuff

Hello? Is there anybody out there?? *creeps out from cave*

Ok, I couldn’t resist a dramatic opening like that seeing as I LITERALLY feel like I’m one of those characters in a film who’s been living in a cave on a mountain or on a hidden beach somewhere, away from civilisation, and has no idea what time or even what year it is and has finally made the decision to make contact with the outside world again and get on top of their life (and appearance). Ok, so that may have been a tad extreme, (and I do have a hair cut booked soon fyi), but in all honesty it’s not too far from how I feel. Because both me and this seemingly fictional character I have just made up, which, thinking about it, don’t actually think is from any film (maybe it was a dream?) have one thing in common. We’ve neglected stuff.

Just like this person – let’s call them Clarence – Clarence in this cave and I, have neglected – well, everything pretty much (but let’s go with the parallels of Clarence’s existence and this little blog of mine here). We got to a point where we’d neglected the world – or, in my case, a passion, for so long, that the gardens of time overgrew (much like Clarence’s beard I would imagine), so much so that we thought that it was going to be more and more pointless to go back to, so we just didn’t. Until now.

Turns out, unlike an aloe Vera plant (seriously, no water and two baby shoots have turned into an attack of the triphids in a matter of weeks), a blog IS something that needs maintaining. It’s a bit like making a stand for something, wanting a change and then just putting it to one side and never actually doing it. Apart from anything, as well as the whole thing being completely unproductive, you also look like a bit of a fool. ‘Oh hey, remember me when I said I was going to share my mental health journey? I know I only blog once in a blue moon anyway and this time I haven’t properly in a year but I’m back again’. Seriously. I’ve thought ‘How can I go back to something and expect people to carry on reading when I have given up on it myself?’ I’ve thought sometimes about what IS actually stopping me from opening up my laptop, and just writing something. Something relatable. It’s not like I’m out of ideas (at least, if the notes on my phone are anything to go by). So what is it? Laziness? Procrastination? Lack of motivation? The whole ‘what is even the point anyway’? Now as well as the last couple being classic symptoms of the ol’ depression, I’ve come to realise that this is pretty normal when faced with something you feel passionate about maintaining.

Just like a job, a social life, your skin’s PH balance, your cat’s worming treatment, your interest free periods on credit cards, a healthy diet, a positive bank balance – it all takes work, and it all takes time. And because time unfortunately is not infinite (well, in that hours go by to a point where the day ends), it’s actually really hard to maintain everything, all at the same time. Especially when things don’t go as they expect. You have new things to sort out and yes- maintain, and it all kinda gets a bit hectic and before you know it, things are slipping and you feel like all you’re getting on top of is a giant rock you fancied standing on when taking a nature walk the other day.

Thing is, whatever the reasons, we do slip up. We’re human. We do forget to pay that credit card bill that we forgot to set up a direct debit for, and we do miss that deadline for that job application we forgot to bookmark, and we do accidentally forget our nephew’s birthday, or our cat’s follow up check up at the vets. More than that, we’re so preoccupied doing the vital maintenance tasks, that we forget the background ones. You know, that ‘been meaning to do that’ stuff that you just never get around to doing but actually really kinda care about? I don’t know, like sorting out the linen cupboard or backing up your photos on your phone to some overpriced cloud product or colour-coding your wardrobe, or cleaning out the goldfish bowl (Do people still have gold fish?) – you get the idea. Whatever it is, you’ve neglected it and it’s making you feel like poo. You’ve neglected the idea of it, the responsibility of it, the thought of doing it, needless to say – you’re not doing it. More specifically, you’re not maintaining it. It’s not something you do that once it’s done that’s it, it requires constant maintenance, like your eyebrows (or the above examples). You have to do it again and again.

I know I’m rambling (I’m out of practice, okay?!) but I think what I’m trying to say is this: Sometimes life gets hard, and it becomes harder to keep afloat with all this maintenance lark. Sometimes life throws lots of things at you all at once, and you find yourself in situations you could only ever imagine in your wildest nightmares. Sometimes you let your emotions get the better of you and don’t react in the way that is going to benefit you (or anyone) in the long run. You’ll lose people. You’ll gain some, only to find that you lose them after a while as well. Sometimes life does make you question your priorities and your purpose (who doesn’t like a good existential crisis?), and after turning on the news sometimes, who wouldn’t want to give up and go live in a cave like Clarence? But this is what I’m learning: The only thing that’s stopping you from doing all this upkeep, isn’t the world, or a certain situation, it’s your perspective on it -them. And yes, it could also be that you’re teetering under the waves of depression, and your anxiety is making you put things off, but all the more reason to fight, right?

So before you start questioning your sanity (or after, in my case), and start thinking about giving up completely on something you feel passionate about, change your perspective. Go try a meditation shower, or go for a walk or a drive. Stop letting go (unless it’s the past), and take back control, because it’s likely the very thing that is going to give you a purpose again, or at least make you feel on top of things, is the thing you’re putting off the most – making it all the more important to do.

Also, if it does feel like some monumentous daunting task, it’s ok to be scared. Scared you’ll feel a fool, or scared that it’ll be hard or take too much time or won’t make any difference anyway. Remember that cheese ball quote from Cinderella Story – ‘don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game’? Yeah, that. Acknowledge the fear and all these other negative feelings and let them leave. Go back to your place in the game (it doesn’t have to be baseball), because everyone’s waiting at the table and contrary to what you might think, you’re not on ‘miss a turn’.

It’s the start of week 2 of 2018, and if you’re going to have ANY resolutions this year – realistic ones – maybe get started on those background maintenance tasks. Because if anything’s going to make you feel on top of your life right now (or bring you out of a cave), it’s a fricking maintenance task. Do it, trust me. Let’s get this ball rolling again (or dice), because let’s face it, we all know we can.

Don’t be a Clarence.

Lori.
P.S. Hi I’m back

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SCREW YOU MENTAL ILLNESS, SCREW YOU UNIVERSE

I’ve had to reconsider about ten times how to go about this post. I ideally want to be informative, share my feelings in a calm yet entertaining fashion whilst not getting upset or hinting for sympathy or attention.  To be honest I don’t know if I’m even gonna hit one of those things this time. This time is different.

This post, in short: mental illness sucks. Literally. It sucks the life out of you. Out of the person it affects directly, and it sucks the life out of everything around that person. Indirectly. Even when you lose someone you care about to it, and think you’ve finally won the battle with it yourself, BAM it’s back – like an unwelcome guest at the door with leaflets. Except it doesn’t just want to talk to you on your porch and give you some crap to read later, it barges right on through, throws all the leaflets on the floor and starts setting fire to them, whilst doing a contemporary war dance in the middle of your carpet and smashing all the windows in the process – all before you can even work out who on earth would do such a thing. I’ll tell you who – Mr Mental Illness.

Even the name annoys me. The fact that the word ‘mental’, implies to people, that you may actually be that – mental (and not in a good way). So you’re not just ill. You’re MENTAL-ly ill. Like being disabled. Why does it matter where? Stick the word ‘mental’ in front of it and hooray – humans have created yet another box to fit our ever-evolving society into. (Sorry you are going to have to bear with my cynicism with this one).

Right, so the point of this post. I’m not too sure if I’m honest. Indeed, all the life has been sucked out of me. Indirectly, this time (unless you count tonsillitis, but we’re not talking physical illnesses here) because the person who has been taken from me this time is my parent (you now, the remaining living one). Like, it wasn’t enough for the universe to give my dad his fair share of mental illness and finish him off, it just had to go and give my mother a taster too. Every now and again. i.e. When I was an embryo. When I was 11. When I was 15. When I was 19.  I’ve lost count now I’m in my 20’s but it’s happening annually now. Literally every year. Sometimes she doesn’t even know it’s happening until it’s too late and I get back to see her frantically searching for any fragments of her soul. I get it, I do. I get how people are more susceptible than others to depression and anxiety, bio polar and schizophrenia and I’ve heard horror stories. I also get how people suffer in different ways. They get physical things like cancer and heart disease or a severe but ridiculously rare disease at birth that inhibits their quality of life. And it’s sh*t. I know it is. We know it is. For some reason, these things exist in this world and we all just have to struggle through it and just love and support each other the best we can. Respect what we don’t understand. Help when we do. Create beautiful moments whilst we can, make the most out of a life, our lives. Play ignorant if we have to.

I’ve just realised why this post doesn’t have a point and the reason is because I’M TOO ANGRY TO SEE ONE. I’m angry that my mum, like so many others, has done nothing in her life to deserve this amount of suffering. Not only that, I’m tired of it. I’m tired fighting the healthcare system to get the ‘help’ that she needs. That we need. I haven’t had a mother for over 2 months now as she’s quite literally lost in her own mind (think Willow’s girlfriend after she’s hexed by Gloria) and she can’t find a way out on her own. And unless a powerful witch with a vendetta on us has made such as curse, I’m utterly helpless to get her out of it. I need reinforcements. Professional, specialised, psychiatric reinforcements. You know, I get the whole thing with the GP ‘here’s some different pills, see how you go’. Yeah it works. If you’re a teenager, or whatever your age really and you just believe that these pills will help you – and great sometimes they do. But this is NOT the appropriate treatment when THIS HAS BEEN GOING ON FOR OVER FIFTEEN YEARS, periodically without a known cause WITH THE SAME GP. Like do they not read the notes? Do they honestly think, in their professional opinion that changing to a (low) dose of another antidepressant will actually give an improvement, given the history? I mean maybe they do. They know what they’re doing right?

All I know is this: since beginning of July, I’ve lost my mum completely. Like her body’s walking around (when she makes it out of bed), with perhaps a remnant of her soul, but she is all for intents and purposes, gone. Like that little boy describes in that book/ film ‘Room’. He was five. Again. So you’d think, that maybe just maybe, the GP would recognise this as a crisis (they like to use that word a lot actually) and you know, email a quick referral over to the secondary care team, for a lady with a strong severe history of depression who needs urgent care – and perhaps give her diff meds to try in the meantime. I mean, maybe if Labour were in power this would happen, but we’re a long long way from that sadly. I’ll share with you how this went, to at least give some purpose to this post..

So early stages – my mum arranged a telephone appointment with her GP. He changed her to an alternative antidepressant (a low, maintenance dose though). We had about 10 days of this pointless and basic antidepressant (compared to what she’s used to anyway) that personally made me feel like sh*t when I had it, so I personally wasn’t holding out any hope. But hey, these people know what they’re doing, right? She then deteriorated. Couldn’t do her birthday present with me. I then got another appointment, with someone with a ‘special interest’ in Mental Health, who decides to do blood tests and gave her more tablets if she wanted to up the dosage herself. Further deterioration 2 weeks later. Blood tests get done, and after pushing for an actual face to face GP appointment as opposed to a phone call, the GP FINALLY does an ‘urgent’ referral and tells my mum to do things to get her up and out of this ‘rut’. At least we had the referral. Great. 2 days later and my mum has missed a call. I use my CSI skills and ring back to ask if they can call me instead – they need my mum’s permission, fine ‘yeah sure we’ll call you Lorraine if we can’t get through’. My mum gets another missed call. An hour later, I call back again, only to get stopped at security again, or more specifically, confidentiality. So after an upsetting scene where my mum was actually traumatised when I said someone on the phone wanted to speak to her again, she manages to give her consent and we’re back on track. She even does an over the phone assessment (I’ll have to say to her how brave this was of her when she’s better) and the outcome? An appointment with a psychiatrist in 28 days.

28 days. So another month. Of this. Literal suffering. Why? Because she’s not actively trying to take her own life. Passively maybe, but they don’t care about that. So obviously this makes me angry as well. I’m angry that that is the only scale they have to go by. I’m angry that people will probably lie and say they ARE suicidal just to get an earlier appointment. I’m angry that the reason the waiting list is so long for someone who isn’t able to survive on their own, is because of political reasons leading to financial cut backs in the NHS. I’m angry that EVERY time this happens to her, I, and now her husband to be, have to witness her grasping for air at the bottom of a bell jar Sylvia Plath style. I’m angry that in the weeks leading up to this final stage, I have to witness her questioning her own abilities into whether she can handle what’s happening. The woman who’s meant to be the strongest I know. And she is. But she falls anyway. It’s fine coz someone’s here to catch her. But 3-4 months of her precious life is stolen, some professional gets the right antidepressant to work temporarily, only for the SAME thing to happen again. For the GP to skip the notes AGAIN, up the dosage of the current tablets, then change them, then failing that refer her, if we’re lucky. FOR CRYING OUT LOUD WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO GET IN AND STAY IN THE SECONDARY CARE SYSTEM?! I’m exhausted. My mum’s exhausted. My step dad’s exhausted. We’re all f*cking exhausted. (Except me who’s exhausted AND angry – not a good combo, fyi). Meanwhile, life goes on and we continue to deal with the every day sh*t and pettiness IN ADDITION to the nightmare going on in broad daylight at home. So yes, I’m angry, (and small angry people are the worst).

You know what angers me most though, and this is really selfish of me I know, but I’m past caring. I’m angry at the universe. Like, seriously, you with all your planets and beauty and nature and sh*t thinking you’re all that – one parent wasn’t enough eh? You just HAVE to go and keep taking my mother and my best friend as well? Well you know what, screw you. My mum may have given up fighting but I sure haven’t. It may not even be depression but I sure as hell won’t let it beat us. It might nearly destroy me in the process – hell I can’t look after myself properly half the time (literally off work on antibiotics writing this) but one think I know for sure is that we will come out the other side. AND STAY THERE. Honestly, I’ll be damned if I’m losing another parent, to not just mental illness, but our healthcare system. IT AINT HAPPENING BRO.

So yeah, slight angry post I wrote there. (Alright Yoda I hear you say). And all is not lost – of course I found a loop hole with her work health care and have a consultant secretary calling me back tomorrow. But you know what, I’ll be damned if I lose my ability to make light of this situation. Because, once you lose your mojo, your sense of humour – even your sass (heaven forbid), is there really any point, to anything?

Thank you for listening. This is the therapy I need right now.

Lori.

Mental Health Awareness Week

HEY there you. To give you a mental image right now, I’m writing this on the train and I’ve just gone by a circus. The sun is slowly setting and I’m now overly conscious of the fact I’m still wearing my sunglasses (as precautionary measure for a migraine than anything else- honest) So, as I’m having a significantly deep ‘girl on the train’ moment, (and writing everything that’s popping into my head- can you tell it’s been a long day?!) I thought now would be the perfect time to write something for Mental Health Awareness Week. (Aside from the fact that my phone has died and I need to keep myself awake for the next hour so as not to miss my stop.)

So, feeling how I’d imagine Emily Blunt to have felt, say, if her train journeys were real life, (except i’m not drunk, obvs) I’m quite literally rambling away on my keys, and sipping my extortionately priced Innocent Smoothie – as that was the only thing I had time to buy if I wanted to get this train AND survive the journey. Anyway, enough of me. I wanted to post something for YOU guys to relate to.

So I think this Mental Heath Awareness Week came from America, but hey – if it gets us talking about mental health, I’m all for it. Although more people are talking about mental health now, which is obviously great, there seems to be some stigma behind it still. Some stigma behind the stigma. I’ve only seen a few mental health related posts this week, and I can’t help but feel (judging by the lack of ‘likes’) that people see something like that (me included) and feel like it still stands out, like some sort of unusual, away-from-the-norm contemporary art piece, when really, it shouldn’t phase us at all. In the same way that ‘gay marriage’ really doesn’t need that ‘gay’ label in front, mental health really is just heath.

Chances are, somebody will know someone that’s suffered with their mental health, so why are we still, even subconsciously, stigmatising it? Why do we get that uncomfortable feeling when we see someone’s posted a hotline for suicide prevention? I personally find it so sad that people genuinely think that the only escape from their own mind is to leave this world altogether. Trust me, I’ve been there. I’ve never wanted something to badly in my whole life. To just get out of my head. I even managed to justify that because my mind was so broken and that it was impossible for me to live a normal life again, it would be okay if I just killed myself as there was no other option. F*cking scary really. The mind really can be a frightening place. Like, I was speaking someone I met at a dinner the other week, and they were saying that they’ve had a tough week at work as a girl she knew in the office had killed herself over the weekend. It was a shock to everyone as she had just lost her mother, but had been dealing with it a lot better and was moving on with her life. Or so it seemed.

So just like how you feel you need to be drunk to justify talking about something that’s been left unsaid (like for example a kiss you shared on your last night out with your ‘friend’), we need to change it so we feel we CAN talk about these unspoken things, everyday, when we’re sober. So that if or when disaster does strike and you become victim to your own mind, you’ll feel able to talk to someone about it, without getting a shock reaction and thinking that you are, in fact going crazy. (Mental illness isn’t just about getting depressed, you know). I honestly think that the people who are at most risk of suicide are those who for whatever reason keep it all to themselves and either don’t want to, or feel as though they can’t voice it. But from past experience, voicing your own mental concerns is absolute key to catching it early on – before things dangerously decline, which is unfortunately when professionals actively help you. Once you say things out loud to someone though, it gets it out of your head. Not only that – it gives others the chance to support you, and keep an eye on you. Just because it’s your own mind that’s the problem, doesn’t mean it’s all down to you to fix it. Sometimes we can’t. And when this happens, we need to be reassured that voicing it is the best thing we can possibly do.

Here’s what I’ve also found to be a common misconception: You don’t need to be labelled by a doctor as ‘depressed’ or ‘anxious’, or even ‘psychotic’ to justify what ever it is your thinking or feeling. Nothing in this world is clear cut and it’s perfectly okay to focus on your wellbeing for a second and not be associated with any label. Assessing your own wellbeing is all down to whats not normal for you. If dealing with my mental health has taught me anything, it’s the importance of being in touch with your own feelings and even your thought processes. Admitting to yourself how you truly feel. Sometimes that’s all you need to do. Sometimes that’s not enough though and you need to say it out loud (to someone other than your cat). To share the burden of worrying about your mentality. Maybe you’ve been noticing you’re struggling with mornings a lot more lately. Or feel like your swimming against the current. Or realise that feeling happy is now actually quite a struggle. Maybe you’re just having a dramatic day, and you just need to ride it out until you stop and say to yourself ‘Woah why was I feeling like that earlier?!’ Either way, it’s no big deal. Get to know what’s normal for you. And one thing I will say, if you consistently feel that something is ‘off’ with you – trust your gut feeling. Chances are it is. Take action, if you feel yourself sliding – share it. Tell someone, just come out with it. It’s okay to be random sometimes, and chances are their reaction will surprise you. Wash your hair. Change those damn sheets. Txt that friend to meet up. Do what ever it takes to make you feel happy and in control. Be the boss of you.

So yes, let’s talk more about mental health, shout it from the rooftops whilst waving a home-made banner. Mental health is something that affects us all – not those with a diagnosed mentall illness. Health is health. Just like you would go to A&E for immediate physical treatment (and mental now actually if you’re suicidal) you don’t have to be in a ‘crisis’ to ask for immediate help. I found a number the other night that I called when I couldn’t get rid of these weird feelings of anger and irritability that were keeping me awake. It was freaking me out as I’m not normally an angry person (until I watch the news) and I ended up talking to a lovely chap about the moon. Needless to say, it calmed me down enough for me to thank him and fall asleep seconds later. He said I could call any time. ANYWAY, just like you’d look out for the signs that something’s not right with yourself, get to know the signs in others around you too. If they’re afraid to speak up, who knows, you just might save their life.

Mental health awareness isn’t just about making us all aware that it’s an issue that needs to be addressed in the world. To me, it’s being aware of your own mental health, and the mental health of others. Life is bloody hectic these days, and if 13 Reasons Why has taught us anything (not that I’ve finished watching it yet), it’s that we often underestimate the fact that anyone at anytime, can just choose to end it all. Even when you least expect it. All perhaps because they didn’t feel they could talk about it, and/or because either they or others were simply not aware.

 

Practical info

For more information on Mental Health Week (turns out it is a UK thing) the Mental Health Foundation tell us all we need to know here (including the national green ribbon campaign #endthestigma).

They also have a good list of how to reach out for some support on this page. Despite all this talk about lack of funding, there’s a hell of a lot out there.

and finally..

The Samaritans offer 24 hour support (you don’t have to be in a crisis)
Call 116 123
Or email jo@samaritans.org.uk

I’ll leave you now to carry on with your Friday. Speaking of which,

HAPPY FRIDAY Y’ALL

Lori.