Tiptoeing around chronic physical/mental health issues and pain…

Seriously. Enough already! People need to stop tiptoeing around these issues. I am quite open about the fact that I have severe physical health issues and also mental health issues. I’m very lucky to have a small, close knit group of friends who understand what I am going through because they, like me, have seen the film and got the t-shirt. They really help to keep me from losing it.

I can talk to them. Every single day we can talk about what ails us. We can talk about our pain safe in the knowledge that someone is going to be there to hold us up and give us the love and support that we need at any given time. With our mental health issues too. We can talk about our bogeymen and our demons without anyone judging or laughing at us.

Yet if we talk about any of those things outside of our group, then eyes get rolled and people tut. We are accused of moaning and complaining. We are told that we should suck it up and suffer in silence. People who do not understand will tiptoe around these issues and expect us to bury our complaints and tiptoe around the illness and it’s symptoms. Well hell no!!!

Enough already. People can bitch to the world that they have a cold and how ill they feel. Yet we must suffer in silence and on top of that, also sugar coat what we say so that it’s palatable for other people to swallow.

Enough. We should not have to hide how we suffer just to make other people feel better. Like now. I’ll tell you that it feels like all my muscles are wrapped in barbed wire and each and every one of my nerves feels like they have been dipped in acid. To cap it off it feels like little men with crowbars are trying to prise open my joints and I have a pride of lions chewing in my lumbar spine. That’s pretty much every day for me.

Oh, lets talk about the elephant in the room – mental health. I have just about clawed my way back from being on the edge of a nervous breakdown. I’m thinking about things and I feel so physically sick that my mind is fractured and shattered into thousands of tiny pieces. Paranoia haunts me. I feel like I’m a useless fat lump. I hate myself. PTSD from a lifetime of abuse from the two men who should have loved and protected me more than any others. That rages in my mind. Bipolar type 1 also rules me. But I have to fight as hard as I can. They will not beat me. Those men took my innocence but they will not take my life.

So anyone with chronic health issues, hear me. Be loud and proud. You don’t have to sugar coat how you feel to make other people feel better!

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Chronic illness, panic and exhaustion…

I’m seriously exhausted. My eyes keep on closing of their own volition and my mind aches with tiredness.

I’m also caught in the middle of being the most worried that I have ever been. Someone that I love with all my heart and soul is suddenly ill and I’m terrified. This person is my soulmate and my world. The thought that there may be something wrong with them is filling my soul with dark, sick anxiety that is destroying me from the inside. I wish it was me and not them.

My pain has been really bad today and my kneecap dislocated this morning so I have roboleg (my leg brace) on. I don’t care about my pain today. I only care about the one I love being OK.

Please, let them be OK.

Having “that” conversation with your child…

The birds and the bees. There comes a time when you realise that you have to do the “talk”. You notice that you have a child with a serious girlfriend. They are both almost 16 and seem very serious about each other.

So you sit your child down and as you start to try and approach the subject, he announces to you that yes they have and yes they used protection.

I was fighting two emotions. Pride because his was clever enough to use protection and nausea because I really didn’t want to think about him having sex. Not one bit. It was one of those moments where you stick your fingers in your ears and sing Lalalalalala!

However, this brings me on to the important part of the talk. I told him he must never have sex without protection as I am NOT ready to be a granny yet, no siree, I am not! I’ve purchased a box of condoms for him and I’ve told him when he needs more to ask me. I’ve also told him never do it outside. The thought of them up some disgusting urine soaked back alley full of broken glass and used needles makes me recoil in horror it really does.

So I’ve told him that if they’re going to do it, then they either go to her house or they come here.

I’ve also given him the boring part of the speach about the legal age of consent. I realise by purchasing condoms and giving them a place to go is encouraging them to break the law, but if one takes the attitude that they are going to do it anyway, I am just doing my best to help them.

The funniest part of the conversation was the dawning horror in his eyes when he realised that his aged, crippled mother got upto everything that he had just been telling me about! 😂

Emotional blackmail is just wrong, wrong, wrong…

Any form of emotional blackmail is morally bankrupt and the lowest of the low in terms of behaviour. It’s plain wrong!

Just how can it be ok to reduce another human being to tears with your words and threats? How can you think it is ok to tell another person that they are fat and ugly and will never cope without you? Or that you will kill yourself if a person does not come back to you after a break up?

Emotional blackmail is basically a system of threats and punishments used in an attempt to control someone’s behaviors. Not ok!!!

In a nutshell, emotional blackmail is a psychological-emotional ransom note that says, “if you don’t do what I want then I will make you hurt”.
In order for emotional blackmail to occur there must be four things present – a demand, a threat, a blackmailer and a victim.
The Demand – Emotional blackmailers demand something the victim does not want to give, in an attempt to gain the upper hand where there are conflicting interests or wants.
In general the blackmailer is usually asking for something which the victim regards as unreasonable and which the blackmailer believes they can get – if they apply enough pressure. For this reason emotional blackmail patterns are often cyclical – with both the blackmailer and the victim learning over time what level of demand will be tolerated without retribution and what degree of blackmail it takes for the victim to comply.
The Threat – The blackmailer may threaten to hurt the victim directly, or more commonly threaten to hurt something or someone the victim cares about. This could take the form of damaging or destroying their reputation, an object, an agreement, a relationship or a trust. Blackmailers may also threaten to hurt themselves to pressure a victim into compliance.
The Blackmailer – Although an emotional blackmailer is fighting for control over their victim, they often have little control over themselves. They may feel desperate inside and justify their actions as a means to an end of soothing their own desperate internal pain. In some cases, an emotional blackmailer may not always realize the extent of the hurt they are inflicting on their victim (and ultimately on themselves). They may not be able or willing to “snap out of it” and change their behavior.
The Victim – In order for emotional blackmail to work there has to be a willing victim – a person who is willing to sacrifice their principles, values, goals and boundaries to “keep the peace”, “turn the other cheek” and give in to the demands. Victims are often bridge builders – people who have compassion or pity on the blackmailer and are willing to go the extra mile for them. Victims may have low self-esteem of their own and be generally afraid to stand up for their own ideas and principles. They are caught in a vicious cycle as each time they yield something important to the abuser they suffer a loss of their own self-esteem and begin to feel more powerless, hopeless and trapped in their situation.
What it looks like
“If I ever see another man look at you I will kill him.”

“If you ever stop loving me I will kill myself.”

“I’ve already discussed this with our pastor/therapist/friends/family and they agree that you are being unreasonable.”

“I’m taking this vacation – with or without you.”

“Your family hates me. How can you say you love me and still be friends with them?”

“You’ve ruined my life and now you are trying to stop me from spending money to take care of myself.”

“I took the money because you always put yourself first and don’t seem to care about my needs.”

What NOT to do:

reward emotional blackmail demands or attempts.

Don’t stay in a situation where there is a threat or an action of violence towards yourself or others.

Don’t allow yourself to be blamed for somebody else’s bad behaviors or poor personal choices.

What TO do:

characteristic of emotional blackmail and understand that to give in to the demands of a blackmailer will only make the situation worse.

Recognize that no-one who truly loves you will threaten you with harm or expect you to act against your own best interests.

Recognize that the emotional blackmailer is not like you and is unlikely to respond well to reason, arguments or attempts at counter-manipulation.

Work on your own personal boundaries and be willing to defend them.

Remove one of the four components of emotional blackmail – the blackmailer, the victim (you) the threat or the demand. Since you can’t control the other person that usually means you have to detach yourself enough to protect yourself, your children and the resources and relationships that are precious to you. Then allow the blackmailer back in only to the extent that they cannot threaten or destroy what matters to you most.

Call the authorities if there are any threats or actions of violence.

I’ve been through this for years and so have some very dear friends of mine. The scars we bear are very deep. PTSD is my shadow. But it is possible to escape. To come out of the darkness and stand in the sunlight. To be you.x

Is being angry really worth it?…

Seriously, I’m wondering if it is. Why I hear you cry? Well, my 15 year old has come home from school with one of the worst temper meltdowns I have ever seen him have. For a neurodiverse child with autism, ADHD and pathological demand avoidance, believe me when I tell you he has had some really bad stinkers of a meltdown. But this one? It was visceral!

Normally Im quite able to not rise to this and just put him in a quiet space until he calms down. But today? I have the flu. I feel like hell. My temperature is 38.9 and I’m alternately shaking and sweating like crazy. So when Captain Gobshite came through the door in this ball of fiery anger, I just couldn’t cope.

Within five minutes, I had royally lost it and was screaming like a possessed banshee at him. He had started yelling and blaming me for losing a form he could not find that he needed for school. No way was I taking the flack for that. He is not using his autism as an excuse for laziness. The form should have been back in his bag after he showed us.

He was being so rude and confrontational and he knew he was pushing all the right buttons. Yet most of the time I don’t react. I wonder if my being ill has lowered my guard on my emotions.

I screeched and yelled back at him until the damn thing was found and then I burst into tears and had to take a Valium.

As my temper levels returned to normal, I began to wonder if there was a point at all to anger. All it does is break you down and destroy you heart and soul. It leaves you feeling sick and broken inside. Is that short flare of temper really worth it? Is the two minutes of tension relief it brings to you really worth the destroyed voice and love that it brings? Here’s the rub… I don’t know, I really don’t. But if I had to, I’d choose that it is horrible and simply isn’t worth it.

I guess the point of this post is a little self centred. But I just want to us to remember that anger is toxic, and if you can at least keep that going, the thought will slowly help us remember to be calm in those situations.

Have I made sense here? I’m waffling on as a result of my temperature. Bleurgh. Pass me the sick bags.

An open letter to those who have prejudice against the mentally ill…

I see you. You point and whisper. Your words slither through the air and slide down my ears like a poisoned caress. You make horrible comments. You use words like retard and think it perfectly OK to do so. You don’t see the wounds that your words and actions can cause.

OK, I get that it that if you are seeing someone have a meltdown/panic attack and you have never seen this kind of thing happen before, then yes – it can be a scary thing to deal with. But you wouldn’t point and whisper about seeing somebody having an asthma attack, so why should the reaction to meltdown be any different at all?

Do not use words like crazy, insane or psycho to describe yourself. Those words have been used to mock, dehumanise and exclude mentally ill people since their conception and they are not yours to reclaim.

OK, sure, it is human nature to fear what we don’t understand. Since many people don’t understand mental illness, they fear it. Mental illness also carries a stigma (a mark or sign of disgrace), and that stigma prevents a significant number of people from seeking help. People use stigmatizing words like “cuckoo,” “psycho,” “wacko” and “nutso.” Just as we wouldn’t mock someone for having a physical illness, we should not mock someone with a mental illness. The following are examples of some myths and facts:
Myth: Mental illness is caused by a personal weakness.

Fact: A mental illness is not a character flaw. It is an illness having nothing to do with weakness or lack of will-power. People do not choose to become ill.
Myth: Those with a mental illness are violent.

Fact: Those with a mental illness are more often the victims of violence.
Myth: Schizophrenia is split-personality.

Fact: A person with Schizophrenia may have audible hallucinations such as “voices” talking to the individual.
Myth: A person with Depression can just “snap out of it”

Fact: Until the brain chemicals have been balanced or the precipitating factor has been resolved the individual will most likely continue to have the symptoms
Myth: You can’t recover from a mental illness

Fact: With proper treatment and support you can recover

So next time you think it’s cool to mock somebody with a mental illness, I’m here to tell you before you start that it is not OK. You have no idea at all of the damage that you will cause by your ignorance. If you see something that unnerves you then take a step back, walk away and make an effort to try and learn something before you open your neurotypical mouth and cause an immense amount of damage.

Learning about mental illness should be a part of every school’s curriculum. Every school should have a mental health nurse available during school hours – the number of teenagers who have been diagnosed with a mental illness or experienced suicidal ideations in the UK in the last 12 months is one in four. They need support at school. Not ignorance from others.

Likewise adults should be able to access mental health care when at work. They should have the support to be at work if they wish to be there.

You know what stops people from functioning and living their lives? Your ignorance. People have worked so very hard to try and get through the day and then your callous words can rip it all down in a matter of seconds, and the person is back to square one and has to fight through hell to get back there.

So please. The next time you are about to make an off the cuff remark about any aspect of mental illness, don’t. You have no idea who is standing near to you and what they will hear.

Thank you.

Just don’t move…

I’m exhausted. I’ve had about two hours of broken sleep. Fuck you pain for keeping me awake like this, what have I ever done to you to deserve this?

I’ve lain awake feeling like every single nerve ending has been dipped in acid. Everything burns and the pain is mind blowing. It really is. Even my ritual waiting until the kids have set off for school and screaming fuck, fuck, fuuuuuuuuuuck at the top of my voice has not helped.

My painkillers I take four times a day. I have to, otherwise I don’t function. The downside of this is that between 9pm and 7am I have no pain relief. Nothing. Nada. Zip. So painsomnia is a huge part of why I don’t sleep.

I’m so fed up of this. Right now I feel like one giant, raw nerve ending that is on fire. The slightest movement sets everything off and I feel myself ripping over the edge and free falling through a world of fire and agony.

I’ve begged my doctor for help and been made to feel like a junkie for asking. People with chronic severe pain are not junkies. We are just desperate for some relief from this hell we live in.

So Im lying here feeling like hell and gritting my teeth. I’m OK as long as I just don’t move.

To swear or not to swear…

WARNING: THIS POST WILL CONTAIN A LOT OF SWEARING. IF THAT’S LIKELY TO OFFEND YOU THEN STOP READING NOW.

In my years on this earth, I have learned that there is one thing that I can do really well, one thing that makes me feel better with a minimum of effort. Swearing. It’s fucking awesome.

Now, I may have a potty mouth, but I never swear in front of my two kids and I totally accept that there are times and places that swearing is neither appropriate or acceptable.

But for the most part, yes, I swear like a bastard. One of my friends has very kindly bestowed upon me the nickname sweary Mary. Personally I think he’d just been drinking too much Toilet Duck that day. 😉

As I have pretty much constant severe pain, I have learned that letting loose with a string of expletives actually works just as well (if not better) than taking my medication. Screaming “fuck fuck fuck” into my pillow really does seem to help. So fuck it. If it feels good, I do it.

I’m not just making spurious claims here. There has been research done that shows swearing can be good for you. This article comes from Time magazine in 2014.

Swearing is fucking good for you.

This article from Psychiatrist Neel Burton shows why swearing is awesome.

Psychiatry Today article.
Remember when I told you that swearing can help with my pain relief?

Here’s proof.
Swearing has been shown to prove that people are more emotionally expressive.

Fucking emotions!
People who swear have a better vocabulary.

Swearing lexicography.
There is evidence that swearing can produce better social bonding between colleagues.

Let it fucking rip!
Nine reasons swearing is fucking good for you!
The following quote comes from one of my all time heroes, Stephen Fry.

The sort of twee person who thinks swearing is in any way a sign of a lack of education or a lack of verbal interest is just a fucking lunatic.

  
Stephen Fry defends the art of swearing.
So you see? I’m simply showing the world just how fucking awesome I really am!

To shave or not to shave: That is the question…

Most, if not all of the women I know are slaves to Venus razors, Immac cream or waxing strips. The second even the slightest bit of hair has the audacity to poke it’s head above the skin horizon, women dive screaming for their weapons of choice in the war on hair removal.

The whole attitude towards body hair really does piss me off. Women who chose not to remove their body hair are described as dirty and disgusting. Mainly by men, but women also join in on the abuse caravan. Why is this? Who made the rules? Who set it in stone that it was an obligatory part of a woman’s routine to shear every possible follicle of body hair from their bodies?

Extensive poking around has lead me to discover that the routine of body hair removal is not a new thing. It has been around for thousands of years.

Removing hair from the head and face of men was originally not for vanity purposes but for survival. It is known that not only cavemen did this but ancient Egyptians as well. There have been speculations that for safety, scraping off the beard and hair on the head would take away the advantage of an adversary having anything to grab onto. For cavemen it was possibly known that those with less hair had less mites, hence scraping the hair from the face.
They didn’t have Gillette or Bic back in the day…They would take sharp rocks, sea shells or flint blades and literally scrape the hair from their faces. I’m sure not only hair came away…um…OW!!!
The ancient Egyptians were known to have better forms of razors made of flint or bronze. They also used a method of depilatory called sugaring. A sticky paste (bees wax was sometimes used) would be applied to the skin, kind of like waxing. Then a strip of cloth was pressed onto the paste and yanked off, removing the hair.
There is a rumor going around that women have only been removing hair from their legs for the last hundred years or so. Well that is true for American and European women. The fact that removal of body hair for Europeans wasn’t popular gives sense to the fact that American women didn’t shave, because most of the immigrants were European. However in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Middle Eastern countries, removing body hair was important. In fact these women removed most of their body hair, except for t the eyebrows. Egyptian women removed their head hair. Having hair down under was considered uncivilized. Now any men reading this should know the women were not the only ones to remove their pubic hair…
It was also considered uncivilized for men to have hair on their face. Having a scruffy face meant you were a slave or servant, definitely of lower class. Is that why corporate guys and politicians always have clean shaven faces? Do we associate a clean shaven face with someone powerful?
In the ancient Roman Empire, hair removal was often seen as an identifier of class. The wealthy women would remove their body hair with pumice stones, razors, tweezers and depilatory creams.
There was also another technique used called threading. The women would take some string or yarn and lace it through the fingers of both hands, then vigorously rub it on the area therefore tugging, ripping, pulling the unwanted hair away…
We do know European women did not engage in body hair removal during the middle ages. In fact it wasn’t until Elizabethan times that Euro women began the practice of hair removal…except they didn’t remove leg, armpit or pubic hair…they removed their eyebrows and the hair from their foreheads to give themselves a longer brow.
This look was so fashionable that it is said, mothers would often rub walnut oil on their children’s foreheads to prevent hair growth. They were also said to use bandages covered with vinegar and cat’s poo. Gross!
The Perret razor was invented in the 1760’s by French barber, Jean Jacques Perret. It is an L-shaped wooden guard that holds the razor and is supposed to reduce the damage done to skin (ex: cuts!) when shaving.

However it wasn’t until the 1880’s that a much safer razor came along. Meet King Camp Gillette. He wasn’t a king, that was just his name. He was an American businessman, and in case you didn’t recognize his last name, he was the inventor of the Gillette razor. 
In 1915, the first women’s razor came out. It was in this same year that an edition of Harpers Bazaar magazine came out with an issue featuring a model wearing a sleeveless dress and *gasp* no hair in the armpits! Thus started the ritual we have today of shaving away unwanted hair.

I’ll freely admit that I do not shave my legs or under my arms. I do not smell and bathe every day. So those who cry that having underarm hair makes you stink? You’re talking utter crap. Why don’t I shave? I have a number of physical conditions that cause severe chronic pain. Not only can I not lift up my shoulders to shave my armpits or bend down to shave my legs, the additional pain of a razor scraping away on my skin feels like somebody is slowly pouring acid on to my skin. I’m sorry, but I’d rather have body hair than that any day of the week. It’s sheer hell.

When a guy shouts out to a girl who does not shave her body hair, he is body shaming her in an unacceptable way. When a woman does it to another woman? It’s even worse! We should be respecting eachother’s choices, not belittling them! I mean when famous women dare to display armpit hair, such utterly vile things are said in the press it makes you wonder whether these women have flashed their pit hair or butchered a box of puppies! It’s only hair! Please get a grip can we people???

The smallness of self…

I’m feeling very introspective today. It’s one of those days where I feel like I could look inside myself and be taken aback by just how empty I am.

It’s like there is a hole where my heart used to be. I can put my hand into my chest and wiggle my fingers. There are creeping tendrils of blackness where my heart used to be. Where I used to fill a space, where I used to be a somebody, I have began to shrink and wither and become nothing but a fraction of what I used to be. I feel small. Just tiny.

Why does this happen? In my case it’s a very simple trigger. I was spoken to like crap by someone on Facebook. Now you may think that I’m a grown up and I should be able to shrug off nastiness like that. But I can’t. All my life I have been ostracised and criticised by the men in my life. When somebody tells you that you are nothing every day then eventually it starts to stick and you believe it to be true. So when anybody says anything even remotely confrontational or angry to me, I dissolve into a small caricature of myself. I get carried away on a sea of memories that reduce me to panic. They almost seem able to take over the spaces in my body where my organs should be. I become the smallness of my self. Of what I am reduced to. I often wonder how I would have been if things had been different. If I had not been a verbal punching bag for 33 years.

I have been told so many times that I should just “get over it” or “move on”. When people say that to me, my urge is to scream at them. They have never been where I have been. They have never had to live within the smallness of self. I want to tell them that they need to shut up. That its ok not to be ok. That it is ok to feel this pain and to be angry that you had to endure what you did.

These people have never climbed inside our heads and tried to dance with our demons. My demon is always in me. Taking up so much space. Pulling me in and making me small. Creating that smallness of self.

One day I may learn to at least partially refill the empty space inside me. Until that day I have to fight against folding in on myself. I have to fill the space within myself.