Breast Up, Back Down

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In a previous iteration I was pretty active for a non sporty type. Like, I started swimming regularly because there was a laundry at my local pool at St George’s. A large load bought me a 40 minute swim. I don’t hate laundrettes, in fact, when I was a kid my mum was friends with the lady who worked at the laundrette and I got to see backstage, which I found entrancing. I pretty much love the back stage of any kind of an operation, and perhaps my love of it started there, in the dusty and oily back end of banks of driers.

Anyway, despite my lack of hatred, if there is a swimming pool actually attached to a laundry it would seem churlish to ignore it. So I swam there regularly. It’s a 33.3 meter pool, and I know I started off at 8 lengths. So that was 266.6 meters. The amount of lengths shot up over what turned out to be quite a short time before I bought my first washing machine and turned to my next fad, weight training.

Now I’m back in the pool. Not that pool, and neither the pool of life, but the pool of Ironmonger Row. Knowing I’d benefit from monitoring my progress I looked up the pool length and have been keeping a note of my progress. It’s a 25 meter pool, but I’ve had three nominal total body replacements since then, all those cells ageing and mainly on the wane. I’ve gone up two dress sizes and now have a much less active life. My aerobic fitness has plummeted over the past two years and I’m leery of getting fat clothes, but look awful in the stuff I’ve already got, and that’s if I can get any of it on. In reality I can theoretically wear about a fifth of my wardrobe, and that’s mostly socks.

swimsuit

 

I actually moved house deliberately to be spitting distance to a pool, but it has taken me a few weeks to get around to actually swimming. First off, I had to get a swimming costume that was realistically big, and then I had to do all the paperwork that is involved in getting a concession sorted out. And then I had to get over myself for having done it a bit wrong and being angry with the man who gave me the hard sell for the membership option.

A smart smack to the head with a misdirected ball thrown in the park gave me the perfect excuse. Ok, it smarted, but it wasn’t that, it was the way the fibro tickled the shock into a nice entrenched neck pain, followed by a fire storm down my shoulders and upper back, and then a few hours later my lower back and a kind of sciatica thing all the way down to my left foot. Pain killers be damned, this was going to have to be worked off physically, and swimming was just the badger for the job.

I have a fear of new buildings. Not ‘new’ new buildings, just any building I’ve not been in before. So there was an element of loin girding, but however they are laid out at least swimming pools generally have an internal logic which can be tentatively predictable. I wore the swimmie under my clothes and packed all the things I needed, managed to get into the changing room without having a nervous breakdown and stripped off and had an acclimatising shower. The interior of Ironmonger Row has been recently refurbished and is reassuringly posh. There were steps to get in to the pool so I didn’t have to out myself as a less able bodied type of a person, and the water was acceptably warm, so none of the embarrassment of spasming and drowning, then. Good.

All I had to do now was swim. I have to be really careful about triggering migraines and other fibro related aches and pains which can go on, like the ball thing, to tell epic tales in my body, so I reckoned on 15-20 minutes. I counted my lengths. First go round I did 50 meters, rested for five minutes, did another 50, rested, did another 50 then called it a day. I did that two days in a row, rested a day and then did 100/100/100 LIKE A DAMN BOSS!

Even when I was nominally well I had a problem with headaches, so I had a physiological strategy – breast up, back down, thus saving my neck from undue strain. This strategy is good when everyone is lane swimming PROPERLY but not everyone does, and going backwards into gaggles of chatting people is a drag, but everyone was civilised and the pool wasn’t overpopulated. I could relax. I could relax and trust life.

Over the course of my previous swimming patch I’d noticed a tendency to think while swimming, and a sense of not having refreshed my brain the way I’d refreshed my body, so, it being the days of the Louise Hay and other ‘gurus’ I decided to do affirmations. “I relax and trust life, money comes easily to me” scanned for the breast stroke, and I can’t remember what I did for back. Now I just count. Not all the time, but 10 years or so of meditation means I really don’t have to sweat ‘just swimming’ but after the first go round I noticed that it was third bunting, hoist, steps, end of pool, which was just over 8 strokes of backstroke the speed I was swimming at, so bunting 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 flip, stop.

As long as the alternative is drowning, swimming lends itself well to an approximation of a meditative state. Swimming is neither eternalistic by nature nor nihilistic. It is radically embodied and totally existential.

When I was at school you always had to really hurry to get dressed after swimming. I really hated it. Claggy clothes and hair clinging coldly to skin, all to rush to a lesson I doubtless had no interest in anyway, and under the apparently watchful eye of our resident pervy gym teacher.

Now I am an adult and no one is the boss of me. I take my time washing and drying, resting and mindfully taking the next thing I need out of the locker and ultimately packing everything away in a sane methodical style. The building mirrors my own carefulness back to me – here is even a bank of five hair driers awaiting use in the most civilised manner just before the exit.

A couple of days later and I dial it back to 200 meters in total.

I’m back in the swim.

Of Beds and Bedrooms

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Being somewhat criptastic. Or spoony. Disabled? Certainly I have the dread Invisible Illness. I have spent the past couple of months in bed. I have also spent this morning, in a short window of relative wellness writing to my MP and encouraging others to do so too, on the subject of the reviled Bedroom Tax. For those who don’t know about this it’s a measure apparently designed to help families move into under occupied public housing -which seems fair, right? The way it works is by docking Housing Benefit for low income or non working people so that they can’t afford to live in their homes. This has had two main effects that I can see – first of all, claimants who have what is designated as a ‘spare room’ are pushed to move into private rented accommodation at whatever cost and inconvenience that entails only to have to claim a much higher rent for less space. The second thing is that this affects families with disabled members disproportionately, since they often have extra room for various reasons (storing equipment, quiet area for Autistic kid, bedroom for someone who might otherwise share a bedroom but can’t because of illness) and their home is often specially adapted for disabilities (ramp, grab rails, non slip flooring). I am not personally affected by this ‘bedroom tax’ but as a disabled person of some description I have been affected by other measures this Govt has taken in it’s war against the poor and disadvantaged, and I don’t like it.

I can’t bring myself to write a straight political post, it’s not in me. And there are plenty out there who are doing so anyway (here and in more detail here. If you are in the UK and your MP voted against repealing this punitive and pointless legislation or, maybe even worse in a way, if they were Labour and they failed to bother voting then do please write to your MP here. It’s the work of moments, really easy, and if there is ever going to be any point in voting for these lazy half wits again we need to remind them who’s actually boss. WE ARE.

The bedroom tax debate full list of Labour non-voters, all 47 of them:
Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington
Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth
Bob Ainsworth, MP Coventry North East
Douglas Alexander, MP for Paisley & Renfrewshire South
Jonathan Ashworth, MP for Leicester South
Ed Balls, MP for Morley and Outwood Clp
Hugh Bayley, MP for York Central
David Blunkett, MP for Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough
Gordon Brown, MP for Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath
Chris Bryant, MP for Rhondda
Ann Coffey, MP for Stockport
Huw Irranca Davies, MP for Ogmore
Geraint Davies, MP for Swansea West
Gloria De Piero, MP for Ashfield
Jim Dobbin, MP for Heywood and Middleton
Frank Dobson, MP for Holborn and St Pancras
Brian Donohoe, MP for Central Ayrshire
Frank Doran, MP for Aberdeen North
Clive Efford, MP for Eltham
Frank Field, MP for Birkenhead
Paul Flynn, MP for Newport West
Mike Gapes, MP for Ilford South
David Hamilton, MP for Midlothian
Margaret Hodge, MP for Barking
George Howarth, MP for Knowsley
Lindsay Hoyle, MP for Chorley
Siân James, MP for Swansea East
Alan Johnson, MP for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle
Tessa Jowell, MP for Dulwich and West Norwood
Gerald Kaufman, MP for Manchester, Gorton
David Lammy, MP for Tottenham
Ian Lucas, MP for Wrexham
Siobhain McDonagh, MP for Mitcham and Morden
Alan Meale, MP for Gateshead
Meg Munn, MP for Sheffeild, Heeley
Jim Murphy, MP for East Renfrewshire
Pamela Nash, MP for Airdrie and Shotts
Dawn Primarolo, MP for Bristol South
Joan Ruddock, MP for Lewisham, Deptoford
Anas Sarwar, MP for Glasgow Central
John Spellar, MP for Warley
Gerry Sutcliffe, MP for Bradford South
Chuka Umunna, MP for Streatham
Joan Walley, MP for Stoke-on-Trent North
Dave Watts, MP for St Helens North
Alan Whitehead, MP for Southampton, Test
Shaun Woodward, MP for Se Hellens South and Whiston

Here’s what Lib Dem MPs did on Labour’s motion to abolish the #bedroomtax

Absent

ALEXANDER, Danny, Mr
BIRTWISTLE, Gordon, Mr
BROOKE, Annette, Ms
CABLE, Vince, Mr
CLEGG, Nick
CROCKART, Mike
FEATHERSTONE, Lynne, Ms
HUPPERT, Julian, Mr
KENNEDY, Charles, Rt Hon
LAWS, David, Mr
LEECH, John, Mr
LLOYD, Stephen, Mr
MULHOLLAND, Greg, Mr
REID, Alan, Mr
SANDERS, Adrian, Mr
SWALES, Ian, Mr
TEATHER, Sarah, Ms
THORNTON, Mike, Mr
WARD, David, Mr
WILLIAMS, Mark, Mr
WILLIAMS, Roger, Mr
WRIGHT, Simon, Mr

Aye (voted with Labour)

FARRON, Tim, Mr
GEORGE, Andrew, Mr

No

BAKER, Norman, Mr
BEITH, Alan, Rt Hon
BRAKE, Tom
BROWNE, Jeremy, Mr
BRUCE, Malcolm, Rt Hon
BURSTOW, Paul, Mr
BURT, Lorely, Ms
CAMPBELL, Menzies, Rt Hon
CARMICHAEL, Alistair, Mr
DAVEY, Edward, Mr
FOSTER, Don, Mr
GILBERT, Stephen, Mr
HAMES, Duncan, Mr
HARVEY, Nick, Mr
HEATH, David, Mr
HEMMING, John, Mr
HORWOOD, Martin, Mr
HUGHES, Simon, Mr
HUNTER, Mark, Mr
LAMB, Norman, Mr
MOORE, Michael, Mr
MUNT, Tessa, Ms
PUGH, John, Mr
ROGERSON, Dan, Mr
RUSSELL, Bob, Mr
SMITH, Robert, Sir
STUNELL, Andrew, Mr
SWINSON, Jo, Ms
THURSO, John, Mr
WEBB, Steve
WILLIAMS, Stephen, Mr

Teller: Noes
Liberal Democrat WILLOTT, Jenny

***

Now then. Back to the world of me and mine. What’s weird about getting a bit better is that it doesn’t necessarily make a person feel  better. When I first got ill, or should I say when I crashed so hard I could no longer ignore the multiple systems failures occurring around my body and mind, it was really very very bad. I lost all sense of who I was – I’d forged my identity through work and socializing, like many do. I wasn’t in a relationship, didn’t have my dog, was just totally incapacitated. Actually, at first I felt a bit scared, but my brain was really foggy so I didn’t really feel much at all for weeks and weeks, running into months. Also, one of my major things was some really weird stuff going on in my back which had been giving me referred pain – so, in fact, my migraines were at a peep. I was mainly a vegetable. After a few months I took a little job backstage at the Shaftesbury Theatre with the idea that if I was used to working every day over the summer I could go back to teaching that September without too much trouble. Unfortunately, because of one thing and another, a shitty doctor, a prescription med that made me go quite mental, for a start, I missed that moment, and also couldn’t continue with the theatre work either. Between inappropriate care and medication and the continuation and exacerbation of various symptoms I actually got worse. The brain fog faded somewhat, and the back pain was less incapacitating, but the migraines got worse. A lot worse. 16+ a month is the definition of chronic, and I was starting migraines during migraines, and was lucky if I got a handful of days a month not in writhing pain. This went on for several years. A few months ago I started getting Botox treatment, and it is helping a bit. What it does is make a bit of distance between trigger and pain which in turn helps the triptans to work. I am still taking as many most of the time, but I had quite decent breaks in the summer, so when the weather hit, I actually took it pretty badly. I’d got used to being able to write, and Pattern Recognition went down well at October’s Have A Word. And they asked me back for March, so I started writing a second piece. Then the pain and the brain fog and the usual crap kicked in, but I’d had this taste of being normal and I’d liked it. Some of you who know me on facebook saw that I was really beside myself on Monday, because I had a really massive unmanageable day of pain – absolutely nothing by comparison to the endless days and nights I used to get, but now I’m not used to it, and it frightens me half to death. It’s like although the medication is all about giving me a higher pain threshold I actually have a lower tolerance to it when it comes.

Nobody Died

When I first got ill I did have a friend who berated me for having time off, and who tried to persuade me that I should use this strategy or that to get back in the game, but at that time it was impossible anyway, and what I needed to do was to rest. I moved house and learned more about pain management and meditation. Eventually, having become effectively housebound I got a dog. You didn’t know I had a dog? Here’s my dog.

She likes yoghurt, and then, for desert, she likes the carton.

I also acquired a boyfriend, no mean feat when you never really leave the house, and haven’t socialized live for several years. Then I moved house again. The first move was a transfer – my HA accepted I needed to move on health grounds, and I was grateful at first, but then after 8 years I found I wanted something else, and the tech for swapping within public housing had evolved. (Years ago you could swap, but you had to go to the council offices and look at lists – no pictures, no real details, just lists of people usually desperate to get out of whatever version of hell they were living in – nobody at that time moved just because they wanted to.) Now, of course, it’s all online. You can upload pictures, you can set up some limited search parameters, and you can swap not just because you  have to for work reasons, or because you hate your neighbours, but because you want a change of scene or a different kind of home or locale. It’s quite civilized really. I wanted somewhere quieter, and I got it. But what I wasn’t expecting was to totally fall through the floor physically. I became unutterably ill after the move. Maybe this is why I am so sympathetic towards people being forced out of their homes. I elected to move, the new place was better for me, I could afford the move, I had no dependants, but even so, the upshot was that I became extra ill on top of my ‘normal’ level of illness, and I had to ask my boyfriend to look after me, look after the dog, do everything, basically. After a few months of spiralling out of control with inadequate health care – zero continuity except for my neuro, and a lot of difficulty getting any comprehension of what my problems and needs were I finally thought “fuck it” and attempted suicide.

As you might imagine, this took some getting over as well. With a massive bolster of psych drugs and a bit of  attention to the physical side of things I got a bit better. I started having the Botox treatment, and began managing a small kind of sustainability of daily routine in my life. If I didn’t have financial support from my family I wouldn’t have managed any of this – and bear in mind both my parents are elderly and pensioners, so taking £500 a quarter for Botox is something that can’t go on forever, but I’m hoping a year’s uninterrupted use will have some overall effect.

So yeah. Yesterday’s vote. Very bad news. Moving house is recognized as being up there with divorce and bereavement in terms of stress, and I only had my own illness to contend with, and I didn’t have financial issues or children to deal with and I did have support. Imagine any number of permutations where you have extra stress on you and you’re being forced to move out of accommodation that does work for you into accommodation you will never be able to afford on your own, might be less easy to get to work from, you might have to have your kids change schools, you, your partner or your kids might have sickness or disability issues that can’t hope to be addressed in private accommodation and you have a glimpse of why the Bedroom Tax has got so far under my skin.

I Am Not A Doormat

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This morning I was talking about anger on facebook. And my difficulty metabolizing it… At one point I said I’d been a doormat in the past, and that I didn’t want to go down that road again and my friend Angie posted this on my timeline;

“she’s not a doormat!”

This made me laugh. And THEN she posted THIS!

“OR MAYBE SHE IS!”

Needless to say, these provided me with proper laugh out loudzes.

Coming off the psych drugs is a thing in itself, but then you also have the return of the repressed and it would be unhealthy and pointless coming off the drugs if you weren’t prepared to do *something* with it…

Imma keep this short for now, but I expect this theme will be back for an airing. Just wanted to share Angie’s LOLZERS with you.

The Banality of Evil is alive and well and is represented by ATOS and the UK Govt.

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Okay, call me on it if you like, but we are way beyond Godwin’s Law right here and now. We are in the realm of Hanna Arendt’s ‘Banality of Evil’.

Susan Neiman breaks it down a little here

So, the problem is less that we need to recognize political, and for that matter big business leaders as the sociopaths they very well may be, but that there is a myriad of people who are entirely happy to carry out their cruelty. We now live in an era which splits the wrongdoing into bite sized chunks for different individuals to carry out, so that when you point out that you are not able to do whatever they are demanding of you it is not in their remit to, for instance, assess your disability, just to ensure you find a job.

The way it breaks down for me is the initial assessment form from ATOS the firm who are ‘not’ the govt, just carrying out orders, and from which they deduced that I was capable of being put in the ‘working’ group. These forms are dealt with very quickly, and it would appear that multiple disabilities do not count – my ‘points’ were based on my psychiatric status not fibromyalgia, and not chronic migraine (classed as chronic if you have more than 16 a month, at which point the World Health Organization consider a person to be more disabled than a paraplegic) and without contacting my GP or Consultant Neurologist or Psychiatrist. Nothing against nurses, but if you do get assessed (which I wasn’t) it is carried out by a nurse in a short interview, without reference to any of the hours you have spent with your more qualified GP and your very much more qualified in their specialist area Consultant/s.

THEN to add insult to injury, the govt has commissioned companies to carry out work previously done by specialist career counsellors with appropriate specialist qualifications. Attending a “voluntary” (compulsory) meeting with my unqualified ‘counsellor’, in conversation he told me he was ‘going’ to become qualified, but that he ‘didn’t read’. This may sound snobbish, but how does someone who ‘doesn’t read’ advise someone with two degrees and sundry other qualifications about the best career path for them?

For the past few months I have been left in a state of grace to get on with dealing with my myriad aliments, this being something that I am not even on top of, so how I am supposed to work as well as manage shopping and eating regularly (difficult) my medications (horrendously difficult) and personal care and environment (always a case of catastrophe management) I am not entirely sure. When I was called in for an ESA (Employment Support Allowance, the benefit I am on) group induction (with less than a day’s notice, the advisor phoning from a screened number and when the call was dropped he didn’t even phone me back to tell me which office it was going to be held at) I honestly doubt I would have made it without Ten shepherding me there. I was in full migraine incommunicado. Ten switched the mic on on my phone before I went in, because I wanted to be able to listen to it afterwards, but the sound quality was too poor.

We were herded into a room and told that from April we would be treated as Job Seekers. (Job Seekers have to show that they are applying for jobs and have to account for themselves on a regular basis.) If you do not attend for any reason you will be sanctioned. I get about £90 a week, and I have heard of benefit being cut to £21 a week for protracted periods for non attendance – even if this was because of a hospital appointment. I said that I was awaiting a tribunal to go onto the other version of the EAS which is for people deemed too ill to work. I was told in no uncertain terms that this was not their problem. They are not there to consider your disability, just to find you work. In the same breath they apprised us of their ‘Member Charter’ in which they state that they will treat you with ‘respect’. A respect which does not take into account your disability. What kind of respect might that be?

They were very keen to have us consider self employment. If we sign off and become self employed before April we will get benefits not far off what we get now, for a year. Their great idea for us is to become hairdressers or cleaners from home, or sell Body Shop products from home. This, with no respect for how many people visit us (in my case Ten, Lottie, and my neighbour Stephen and Ian and Al most months, other people less often) or OUR DISABILITY which might prevent us from cleaning, for instance. I used to work as a cleaner, you have to be bloody fit to do a good job, and I only just keep the worst of the physically endangering mess and dirt at bay at home. If you get DLA (another benefit – one I have never managed to get) or are a single parent you can consider yourself self employed if you do 16 hours a week. If not, like me, you should do 30 hours a week. That’d be 5 hours a day six days a week which would be the equivalent of me being accepted onto a space programme or running a marathon. I doubt I could do 5 hours a week. I’ve done considerably less than 5 hours a week setting up the Training With Awareness website, and it’s still quite crap. And I couldn’t have done more.

Evidently the govt wants people off EAS ‘working’ group and into work. Probably they don’t fancy putting us into workfare, since being stretchered out of their partners in crime’s premises wouldn’t look good for them. So we are being funneled into this self employment thing – which, lets face it, is going to fail for most people. Usually when people go self employed they do way more than 40 hours a week (the nominal weekly full time hours in the UK) and a LOT of them fail. This, with money to put in, full energy and ability to focus on something they are probably passionate about. So what’s going to be the reality for ‘us’? We are expected to earn £71 a week – if I could earn £71 a week I’d sign off ffs!

In the “Charter” they claim they provide “a welcoming, comfortable and positive environment” – The strip lights in the windowless room meant that I was glad I was wearing shades, there was no concession to physical disability whatever, and I consider the way they treated me as being about a -3 on “welcoming”. They were irritable, bossy, and disrespectful. Ha! Point two is “We will listen to you and treat you with respect.” Really? They go on to describe themselves as “helpful, polite, and professional at all times”. I was disinclined to communicate with them and spent most of the time in silence. When they asked if any of us had hobbies we could turn into self employed professions, the woman next to me said shyly that she liked to write. She was put firmly in her no mark place!

D’you know what? I’m not going to go through the rest. I expect you can see from this tiny taster the sort of bullshit we are dealing with here.

So what am I going to do? Pretend to be self employed for a year and hope to god something rescues me this time next year? Tough it out and maintain my more or less silent protest? Hoping that I don’t get so financially penalized that I lose my home?

Re the tribunal – the likelihood of the tribunal happening before April is quite slim. One is considered ‘work capable’ until or unless a tribunal overturns such a judgement, but even getting a tribunal has taken over a year. From what I am hearing going from having your appeal processed to actually having a tribunal can take several months.

I guess I’d better have my St Ann’s bag packed. With a copy of Janet Frame’s An Angel at My Table in my bag for added irony? Feeling that a mental hospital is a sanctuary from ordinary unhappiness exacerbated by a slew of people ‘just doing their job’ seems to me quite a good example of ‘the banality of evil’.

Have at it, Godwin, with your Law!

Time Passes, Shit Happens, and Poppet is Opportunistic

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Sometimes it doesn’t matter how borked you are, you go ahead and do stuff anyway. Largely speaking, if you spend all day in bed you’ll get more pain anyway. Plus bone loss! As an added treat.

(For anyone not following my gripping life on fb, I fell quite badly on Sunday and now have the classic ‘pain in all 4 quadrants’ AND some. The weirdest thing is the whiplashy thing going on with the muscles at the front of my neck. If I am lying down and want to move my head, I have to do it with my HANDS!)

Also, I suddenly realized TIME IS PASSING and if I want to have a chance at this PhD application I better get my academic boots on, FAST. But I soon found that migraine isn’t a great space to be trying to understand shit from, so I gave up. I hoovered the bedroom and changed the bedding, and Poppet approved.

***

I’ve been listening to this so many times over the past few days that I probably account for at least half of the 2,054,639 listens.

***

It turns out that my loopy listening may have stood me in good stead, since I learned today that I am being hauled in to the workfare farce tomorrow morning. I don’t know how scared I should be… but at least I have BUDDHA SKILLZ in my pocket. As it happens, I had just joined a G+ group “Wildmind” who are doing a 100 days of meditation thing – bit late to the party, but so was someone else, so we decided to buddy each other. What’s been interesting so far is less that it has given me a discipline to meditate every day, because it turns out I pretty much do that anyway, but it’s more like when I blogged for Migraine Awareness Month – writing about your practice, even briefly every day for 100 days is going to make it extra conscious. Plus, the support is nice, particularly because I don’t go to an IRL sangha any more.

Although she is speaking about DLA rather than ESA, this clip gives a fair snap shot without being too miserablist.

So, without further ado, I give you Francesca Martinez

Foam Slippers Redux

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I am not good at anniversaries. Even my 21st birthday was spent in the cab of a lorry in France. My friend Helen had got me a bottle of Orangina. Orangina was GREAT. We didn’t have anything as nice in the UK. As a kid I thought the war was AGES ago, but as the years went by I realized that even in the 80’s we were still very post war in lots of ways.

i was given these to wear in hospital. i kept them and brought them home to photograph

Anyway, last year I took an overdose of pills and ended up in the local mental hospital. Via the general hospital, I am told, I don’t remember it. My memories of that time are vague and very partial.

I’d had a hard year. Every year since I got ill has been a hard year, and I thought I knew hard years. I don’t suppose I was ever entirely at home with myself, but I had some good times, and with health comes the promise of future. Without health, well, not so much. I’d moved house in the early autumn. Ten had done all the stuff I couldn’t, and the difficult summer seemed to hold that seed of hope that moving might improve things. What I didn’t expect was a flare up of every single thing that fibro had ever brought me. Weeks of being bed bound with cystitis, constant running migraines, all sorts of everything. What had happened on top of this was that this time the previous year, going into the hardest part of the year I had started having a lot of suicidal thoughts and had gone to the doctor’s in a panic. I needed some support and was given it, and then had it taken away again. This played out over a few months, and in the early summer I saw a psychiatrist who said that I was taking too many different medications, so I started coming off them – unsupervised. The psych was on a ‘rotation’ I was supposed to see another one but that never happened. I moved without medication, knowing I was spiraling and since I was moving boroughs not only did I have to sign up with a new GP but would have to start from scratch with psych services.

It was hard to get appointments. I had rising panic. I felt like I was shouting for help – who knows, maybe it was just a whisper? Or maybe my shouting is someone else’s whisper. At any rate, eventually I had a home visit from *someone* – I forget who. I told her I needed a CPN (Community Psychiatric Nurse) to supervise me going on meds, since I was afraid of becoming manic. She told me that I wouldn’t get one unless I was hospitalized. By this time I heard ‘hospitalized’ not as  ‘turn up at hospital and tell them you need in’ but as ‘take an overdose and you’ll either die or get help’ which sounded like a win/win scenario to me.

This time last year, or, to be more specific, a bit later than that… I wrote this post and made light of it, rather. I was ready to show but not to tell.

I wanted to write this for two reasons. One, in a show of solidarity with all the other people in the UK who are currently literally being hounded to death by the current government’s sickness and disability ‘reforms’ and another to say thank you to everyone who helped me through that very dark time.

Ten, Hazel & Che, BJ, Lottie, Ian, Al, Lucy J, St Ann’s Home Team, my lovely friends on the interwebs, everyone who came to my birthday, Steven next door, my dad who wasn’t told at the time, but who takes me as I am whatever state I am in, my mum, my brother, Julie, who gave me holiday time in Brighton, and my darling little Poppet, this one’s for you:

This year has been so much better. Many difficult days, but better, always better than last year.

Goodbye to All That, New Year Navel Gazing, and PhD or Poundland

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Okay, Christmas is over, people, lets get on.

Diane Arbus, Xmas Tree in a Living Room, Levittown, L.I., 1963

It’s December 29th! Lets do a little Navel Gazing!

Year on year I don’t really seem to make many advances migraine wise. Yet I wouldn’t go back. So… something is good. Or better. Maybe increased insight is worth having even if the net result on migraines is actually nil. I do feel like I am getting somewhere. And little things matter to me. And if you can take pleasure in small things then life is a LOT sweeter. Frinstance, yesterday I blogged about Die Antwoord which is something I have been meaning to do for weeks, and changed up my tumblr theme – again something long overdue. AND I changed all my links on this blog, twitter, and tumblr to #2c749e which is a lovely blue – replacing a hot orange (so last year, my dear). I haven’t done a tumblr post for a long while – I should rectify that – but I am pleased to say that at some point wordpress decided to Xpost to tumblr, and my wp posts have been reblogged several times, which means possibly new readers – fingers crossed!

I also hoovered and mopped, which left me with a bad back, a difficult night and a migraine in the  morning, but with Ten gone the sitting room is READY for me to do stuff. The stuff I have to or want to do includes boring paperwork (urgent), painting (haven’t done any in a little while, need to get into a rhythm with that) and AND and a PhD application.

That’s right, you read it here first. Or second, I’m pretty sure I have mentioned it somewhere already. Anyway, I was in conversation with someone on twitter, and he was promoting a funded PhD. I said it wasn’t quite my thing, but I’d share and he ended up encouraging me to apply. The deadline is end of January, so I will have to look sharp. Thing is, that I had really given up the idea of doing such a thing some time ago but in practical terms it could be the very get out of jail free card that I need. At any rate, I will write a proposal and see if it flies.

So, the way they put it was about ‘Creating the Sustainable Digital City’ which, from the blurb looked like it would be rather about politics and hardware.

It’s being hosted by the department of “The Built Environment” at Heriot Watt university. Not somewhere I would naturally think of applying. I like that I have a month to get it together, though. Plenty time, but a short enough deadline to get me moving on it. If what I come up with loses steam quickly I will know it’s not for me – and same goes if they reject it. If, however, I got in, not only would I not have to live in Edinburgh, but I wouldn’t need to stay put at all, and I could go all global and travelly. Always assuming I got through the next firey hoop – applying for AHRC funding for a grant. It wouldn’t be do-able otherwise, and the great thing about being on a grant for three years is I could get out of this hell hole of being on benefits during a Tory hate campaign against the disabled.

Whether I would be up to the job is a whole other question. PhDs seem to make people ill and mental, but given that I am starting from that point things could either be just fine or go horribly wrong quite quickly. A better option than waiting to be sent to work at Poundland, anyway.