Sick and Tired…

I am really sick and tired of being sick and tired. I became seriously ill back in 2007 and fought it off and worked every single day that I could. I was determined to cope with things.

Then in February of 2009, I became even worse. One morning I woke up, and I simply could not move. Every time I tried, a searing pain would shoot the whole way around my body and that made it impossible for me to actually get my ass out of bed. My body was sick and tired of being forced through that shit every single frikkin’ damn day.

I shouted and shouted and eventually my eldest got up out of his bed and came through to see what the hell was wrong. When he saw the state I was in, he just ran forward and gave me a huge hug. I had to really bite my lip to keep from screaming on that one, because my eldest is severely autistic and if I had reacted in any negative way, it would have severely affected his mood and I will never deliberately do that to him. Ever.

Eventually, around ten minutes later, he went and got me what I needed – my own mobile phone so that I could call the boys school and tell them that they would be a little bit late as I was having some difficulties. Luckily the school understood and were really fine about things. Then I had to call my partner who was at work and wasn’t happy about having to come home. That was until he actually got home and saw me sweating and vomiting over the side of the bed into my rubbish bin because the pain I was experiencing was literally that bad.

He rang my doctor’s surgery and they advised him to call 999 to get me to hospital. I fought against this because the ambulance service are under enough stress. They don’t need to be dropping the blues and twos for my pain they really don’t. So I begged for a doctor to come see me at home instead. Foolish me thinking that he would see me and just tell me to rest a while and all would be well. Oh no no foolish woman! Guess again! After being poked and prodded around, he pulled my partner off to one side and started talking to him which really did piss me off! Ummmm, hello? It’s my legs that aren’t working, not my brain.

The doctor then announced that I did have to go to hospital and he was calling ahead to get me a bed and also arranging for ambulance transport (not paramedics) to come and take me in. My partner packed my bags and then took the boys to school so they wouldn’t have to see me leave in an ambulance. He was back before they even arrived. A fast ambulance ride later and I arrived on the medical emergency ward. A few hours later, I was taken onto one of the medical wards. My care was undertaken by a group of consultants. Medical, Orthopaedic and Rheumatolgy. I went through two long weeks of scans, X-rays and blood tests. This resulted in me being given one hell of a shock. I didn’t get just one diagnosis. I got several, and all of them were life changing.

I was told that I had both osteo and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Then Fibromyalgia and type 3 Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome which also led to me being diagnosed as having Dysautomia due to Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. After that came osteoporosis.

Just as an afterthought, I have restless leg syndrome, trigeminal neuralgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, asthma, a cardiac murmur and a small congenital hole in my heart. Couple that with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and IBS and you can imagine that since February of 2009 that my life has become hugely different and I had gone from being a totally independent woman who worked bloody hard and had been a registered nurse for most of my working life to being a totally dependant woman who needs help with pretty much every aspect of my personal life and care. This really gets to me. It makes me so sad and so freakin’ angry. I used to bake some pretty awesome cakes (I did a mean lemon drizzle) and I just can’t do that anymore. I can’t cook, clean, take care of the house or myself. I literally am dependant on my carer for everything. Yup, at 46 years old, I have a carer. 😭😭😭 I hate my life.

My day starts when I wake up, normally around 4am. I’ll have had around three hours of broken sleep and been tossing and turning like a fucking washing machine. I then clock (almost typed cock then) watch round to 6.30am when I can take my morning medication – hey, it’s only a handful of 15 pills. Shake me and I’ll rattle! Then I need to wait until around 8.30-9am for my carer to arrive. I’ll then get my hot water bottle made for my back. If the day is a very bad one, then there is a less than zero percent chance of me getting out of bed. I know if I do my pain levels will shoot through the roof and if I’m lucky, only one joint will dislocate. I have learned how to pop most of my joints back into place. I would be spending half of my life in the emergency room otherwise. The only joint I can’t do is my shoulder. So days like that see me with all of my braces on and resting in bed.

◦ On the rare days when I feel well enough to get out of bed, I will have help to get changed into a clean pair of PJs. I have hyperathaesia and my skin is so sensitive, most days I can only tolerate soft cotton PJs. On bad days, I have to go nekkid. If my bad days fall on a day where I have to leave the house for an appointment, I really suffer and have to strip the moment I get back home. I hate it.

On good days, I’m able to prop myself up in bed and either do some colouring or write letters. On a bad day, I just tend to cry and read on my Kindle.

I’ve learned to accept that my day is peppered with taking pills and having my time consumed by struggling to do even the most simple of things. I’ve had to learn not to be sick and tired. I’m just so very lucky that my friends and family are tolerant and I am so bloody lucky to have them in my life I really am. Without them I would be less than nothing.

Most of my days are now spent reading, writing letters as I’ve already said, and trying to think of interesting things that people who follow my blog might like to read. I try hard to balance what I write and I also try to fact check anything newsworthy as I don’t like spreading stories that aren’t true. It can do a lot of damage to people.

So why write this? I guess just to show how things can change in the blink of an eye and you should never be ungrateful for what you have. I see myself now as very lucky. People have asked me how I can say that given how my life has changed. It took me a while and a lot of adaptation before I could say it. I have two fabulous kids, a partner who worships me, a gorgeous if slightly potty cat and some of the best friends that I could ever wish for!

Be kind to each other!x

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Why Take Those Stupid Pills – They Won’t Work You Know (NOT)…

I’ve had many people say that they think that antidepressants are just chemical wastes of time and do nothing to help you. Au contraire! It took me three attempts to get the right medication for me. OK, I had better tell you which ones I had. I will do so in a minute.

I’ve just heard so much stuff recently about blah blah, antidepressants bad, blah blah antidepressants evil, etc etc. I hear people saying things like “Ooooooh, you don’t need those pills! Just get up and go for a brisk walk in the fresh air!” Ummmmm, no. Just no. That is not a cure for severe depressive disorder. If you haven’t been there, if you haven’t suffered and had the big black dog barking at your heels then you have no idea at all what the hell of having a major depressive illness is like. You just don’t.

When I first acknowledged my depression in 2005, I had already been suffering with it for 15 years. My abusive marriage is what caused me to spiral down into it. Events from my childhood also played a major part in this whole thing.

So, this all came to light when I was seeing a clinical geneticist at my local hospital. She noticed that I could not stop crying and she just said to me, “Has anyone ever validated your emotional pain for you?” That was it. The damn burst and I was bawling like a newborn. She called my doctors surgery then and there and made me an appointment. I was taking the first step towards finding out just how crazy I really was.

My doctor first of all started me on Prozac. The famous, so called “happy pill”. It did absolutely sweet fuck all to make me happy. All I had were increasing thoughts of self harm and suicide. The self harm had been here before but not the suicide. This was a whole new, and very frightening mindset for me.

After around four weeks of hell on Prozac, my prescription was changed over to Citalopram. Absolutely no difference whatsoever. I was beginning to feel afraid that I would never be able to feel happy again.

After another four weeks, I was started on a drug called Venlafaxine. After around three weeks, I slowly started to feel only slightly better. If I’m honest with you guys? That was a win for me. Given the fact that I’d spent the last couple of months wanting to kill myself, a little bit less depressed was a bonus.

After a little while, my psychiatrist massively increased the dose and it did start to make a significant difference to my mood. There was one other thing. My GP has told me take the medication at bedtime, which I had been doing. My Psychiatrist looked at the box in scorn as he wouldn’t believe me. He insisted nobody would do something like that. Then he saw the pharmacists label on the box and believed me. He said straight away I had to start taking the medication in the morning. Taking the medication at night when I would be asleep wasn’t really the best way to do it. It needed to be in my system at the appropriate time for it to do any good.

Then came a new challenge for me. I began to develop mood swings. I would go from being so low that I didn’t even care about washing. Eating was another thing I didn’t give a flying fuck about. I started to develop the swings in mood from very low and unable to focus to so high and manic that I was like a toddler jacked up on E numbers. *sigh*. It became more. So much more, I became hypersexual and totally loud and overspent in piles of things I never needed. High heeled shoes. Me. I can’t freakin’ walk, why do I need high heeled shoes of all things?

My Psychiatrist diagnosed me as having Bipolar 1 with rapid cycling. I was started on Lithium. I was on it for a long time and then had Depakote added in to my treatment plan. Not too much longer after that, I had got to the point where my worst side effect, a tremor, meant that I could not even hold a cup of tea to drink it or a pen to write a letter. I went in to see my Psychiatrist ready for a battle about Lithium but when I asked about stopping it, he did! Just like that, and upped my dose of Depakote instead.

One thing that also began to develop was my anxiety. It became more and more severe. It got to the point where I would be physically puking if I had to leave the house. I was in the grip of full blown agoraphobia (I have many others but we’ll save those for another time). My anxiety rules my life. It has done for years now. I take Buspirone and I also get 7 Diazepam a month to help me when I have to leave the house. I can’t get out without them.

Of course with anxiety on one shoulder, paranoia wanted to come along and sit on the other one. She whispers in my ear every single day about how shit I am, how ugly, how stupid, how useless… her sister, anxiety, she likes to make my heart pound and my muscles quiver as I feel sick with fear.

I experience hallucinations. Mainly of spiders crawling all over my arms. I have severe arachnophobia and the ones I see are always the size of my fist and hairy. They are terrifying.

I have also been diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder and have frequent existential crises. One of the real hard things to deal with is C-PTSD. The many traumas that have contributed to the mess inside my head are responsible for this. Raised male voices are usually the worst trigger. Night terrors also serve to trigger flashbacks too. I take a sleeping pill every other night to try and get some rest. I was also started on Quetiapine to try and help me sleep and help with some of what was going on inside my head.

I can honestly put my hand on my heart and say that my mental health medications have saved my live. I know other people who feel the same way. Many other people. Please don’t be guilt tripped out of taking mental health drugs by people telling fresh and exercise are all you need (of course they are great as a tandem treatment). Don’t be afraid to tell people how you feel. Reach out. Take that help. Don’t do what I did and end up nearly dead before I sought help. Go get help. Now. Please?

Best Buy ever… and talk about poo…

Now then. I’m going to talk about something that, if you are chronically ill, can be a huge part of your life. Pooing. Yes…. poo. Lots of people don’t like to talk about it but it is one thing that needs to be talked about.

Taking a poo is something that healthy people don’t think about. It’s a normal, everyday function and you just get on and do it whenever you have to.

However, when your health starts to change and your body becomes affected by chronic illness, that can change dramatically. It can change as a result of your illness or as a result of your medication. If you are especially unlucky it can be as a result of both.

I have severe IBS but my Fibromyalgia also affects my bowel function. I am either hugely constipated or permanently on the toilet because of almost torrential diarrhoea. The other thing that affects me is my medication. As I have a number of illnesses that require strong pain medication, I am even more constipated than I usually get. When I do go, it’s like pooing pebbles. Rock hard and hugely painful.

Then I watched a review of something called the “Squatty Potty” by a lady called Antonella the Uncensored Reviewer. The woman is fabulous but very blunt and NSFW or not safe around young children. She does product reviews of all kinds of stuff, but it was the Squatty Potty that caught my attention due to my issues.

I hunted around to find out a few more facts about how it actually works.

The idea of squatting to poo is nothing remarkably new, and many cultures across the world have public restrooms with squatter instead of toilets. It’s hard to deny that it’s a cleaner way to go as far as sharing a toilet with someone, but there are also several key benefits to squatting vs. sitting that just make sense.

It’s also easy to see that this is the way that our species was designed to relieve ourselves, and that the only reason we stopped going that way is because the use of a sitting toilet became widespread in the west. Aboriginal people all over the world go in this manner, and unless you train a young one to use a sitting toilet their natural inclination will be to squat.

In the squatting position, gravity does most of the work. The weight of the torso presses against the thighs and naturally compresses the colon. Gentle pressure from the diaphragm supplements the force of gravity.

Squatting relaxes the puborectalis muscle, allowing the anorectal angle to straighten and the bowel to empty completely.

Squatting lifts the sigmoid colon to unlock the “kink” at the entrance to the rectum. This kink also helps prevent incontinence, by taking some of the pressure off the puborectalis muscle.

The colon is equipped with an inlet valve (the ileocecal valve) and an outlet valve (the puborectalis muscle). Squatting simultaneously closes the inlet valve, to keep the small intestine clean, and opens the outlet valve, to allow wastes to pass freely. The sitting position defeats the purpose of both valves, making elimination difficult and incomplete, and soiling the small intestine.

Sure, the first time that I mounted the royal throne and sat with my knees up around my ears I felt very bloody odd. I can’t lie either. It did put my lower back in a painful position. But I was willing to suck that up in order to potentially have a proper poo. Which I did!!! Woohoo!!! Yay for me I was so happy!

Do you buy the squatty potty? Shop around on Amazon. I found one that was much cheaper than the original squatty potty and it does exactly the same job. Also, if you go for the squatty potty, you have to do measuring of the toilet. None of that involved with the one that I chose. It was a damn sight cheaper than the squatty potty as well.

Should you think about this? Absolutely! Once you get over the weird way you are sitting, you “go” much more comfortably and no angry thrutching and groaning is needed. A highly recommended product! 10/10!

Be kind to each other!x

Get a Grip!!!…

Seriously what is wrong with people at the moment? Why are people acting like there will be no more milk or bread in the entire world for at least about around an entire flippin week! Really people you need to get a grip of yourselves.

 

I know it has been a while since we last had any decent snow, but surely we haven’t forgotten how to cope with deep snow?

 

I can remember having to walk to school in knee deep snow in waterproofs and then get changed at school. We could see our breath and there was ice on the inside of the windows. Yet now? Three snowflakes and school shuts for a freakin’ week! Laughable!

 

This whole “panic buying” is yet another sad aspect of the consumerist greed that now enthrals society. Why can’t we see that we don’t need to behave in such a way? There are so many people who go out and buy what they know they don’t need and for what? To see it go mouldy and then have to throw it away.

 

I get so cross when I think of this. There are so many people in this country who are now on or below the breadline and they are lucky to get a piece of toast to eat. Yet selfish greedy consumers who cannot cram enough food into their shopping trollies to then cram into their kitchen cupboards to then have to throw it all away because it has all gone off. That is all food that could have been given to hungry people!

 

As poor as I am, I always buy a couple of extra tins of human and animal food (yes, there are hungry pets too) and pop it all into the collection point at my local supermarket. It’s easy to do, and could take the place of all the extra freakin’ bread you bought that is going to go mouldy!!! *shakes head*

 

Seriously people, get a grip. This is snow. Deal with it like a grown up. You do know that in Canada they are howling with laughter at the way we are behaving, and rightly so! Let’s get ourselves back to normality. When did you last bake your own bread? You could do that instead of buying six loaves at Tesco!

 

Take care of yourselves.x

Fibro… It f**cking hurts… think about it!

Fibromyalgia is becoming more prevalent and we see more and more people diagnosed with the condition every single day. Before I continue on with this piece, I need to point out – so f**king what if a person happens to be famous? It doesn’t change the fact life is going to be utterly shit for a long time for them now. Perhaps for the rest of their life. There’s not a single day where we can’t think, “Oh poor Lady Gaga has got fibro.” because the press tell us that’s how we have to think. Well I couldn’t give a shit. I’m too busy thinking about myself and the other thousands of spoonies (to be explained later) around the world. People bang on about how brave Lady Gaga is for moving with all that pain. Well fucking bully for her. What about me and the thousands like me who can barely move. Because we are not favoured by a screen career or we are not singers our heroic efforts really do become nothing. We become nothing and our struggles are nothing.

Then comes the fact that we achieve things and they are not even acknowledged by our significant others. That, for me really does sting. Then he wonders why he gets a short, sharp fuck off when he develops spaghetti arms later that same day.

Our loved ones can try to be as caring and understanding as possible and they can either crack being understanding and wonderful or they can do nothing but blunder heard first into an enormous pile of caca with all the style, grace and tact of a fucking woolly mammoth. It’s true, it really is!

Should you, like me, enjoy trying to flog a dead horse, you can of course try to bring some semblance of knowledge to said almost dead horse in a vain attempt to make these people gain a little more understanding and to not speak to you with all the tact and decorum of a 20 pound lump hammer!

Seriously the way that I’ve been spoken to by both friends and complete strangers in the past? They have been experiences that I can liken to being slapped across the face with a three week old mouldy kipper.

Now many people that decide that their infinite wisdom presents them with a plethora of little nuggets of wisdom all of which they can and will bestow upon us with monotonous regularity.

Some of those nuggets can be found in the article below.

What not to say to someone with Fibro…

Y’know guys, the next person to say that they are going to pray for me is heading for a swift kick between the legs – male or female, it gets the point across nicely.

There are so many comments that are so downright hurtful but people don’t even realise that they are hurting you. They honestly think that they are being kind and supportive. Well guess what buddy? You’re not.

People don’t understand just how draining having a chronic illness like Fibro is. The energy that even just brushing your teeth can drain from you. A lovely lady called Christine Miserandino devised something called the spoon theory, which helped to explain to significant others/family/friends just how debilitating it can be. You can read about it here:

The Spoon Theory

It’s such a simple way to describe what we go through every single day, but my gosh does it ever get the point across. This explains my use of the word “Spoonies” before. This is what many chronic illness warriors will call each other. It’s who we are.

But people need to understand that there are days, many of them in fact, where I cannot remain stood for more than 30 seconds to a minute without dropping to my knees in pain. Days like this mean standing in the bathroom and caring for my basic hygiene impossible. Even on a good day, I cannot brush my own hair as my shoulders won’t go up that high. Nor can I wash myself or put on my own clothes without help. It’s soul destroying to not be able to do that it really is.

May 12th is international Fibro day, and I will be writing more posts about it before then. I’m so sorry if the tone of this post has come across as hostile or aggressive at all. All I’m aiming to do is promote an awareness of the disease and help explain the things that make make a Spoonie a little bit cranky.

Thank you for reading.

Be kind to each other.x

Bullying in the Workplace…

I have a longstanding history of being bullied. I was bullied by my so called ‘father’ until I broke all contact with him at the age of 16. Why was he a bully? Apart from the fact that he was a violent, alcoholic asshole, I honestly don’t know. My best guess is that he made himself feel bigger by making me feel small. I was badly bullied at school, from the age of 9 to the day I left at 16.

All of this had combined to give me some serious self confidence issues. I felt less than nothing. It was heartbreaking for me. I always tried my very best to be a valuable person, to integrate into whichever team or group of people I was in and to blend in.

It never happens to me. I never blend in. I am always the one that may as well have a flashing blue light above her head and a bullseye painted front and back.

I had wanted to be a nurse for a long time. Yet my father did not like that idea and was making every effort he could get to bully me into going to uni to study Law. When I got my first college form, he swept it out of my hand and demanded they were changed to Law, Sociology, psychology and his favourite chemistry. (No’ frikkin’ way jose!) He threw me out of the house two weeks after my mum’s funeral. I was 16 years old. The woman who he threw me out for was the woman he left my mum for. I’m glad I didn’t have to be around to see her move into that house and into my mum’s bed.

I had one relationship with an emotionally manipulative bully, whom I managed to escape from. We were together for just two years. Then when I was 19 I met what I thought was the love of my life. He treated me like a princess, married me, and turned into a carbon copy of my ‘father’ – a violent alcoholic. Within a few weeks, I was so under his control I wouldn’t lift up my head unless he spoke to me.

I know all of this is not relevant to workplace bullying. But it is relevant to me as a person and it is important to understand my past in order to understand why my workplace bullying affected me in the place that it did.

I qualified as a nurse at the end of 1995. I was so very excited to have finally become a nurse after three long years of study and hard work. I had always wanted to work in medicine – surgical wasn’t for me. So I was thrilled to get a job on a medical ward.

My first shift was a very quiet one as it was Christmas Day. That was not too bad. I felt a little like a square peg in a round hole, but I put that down to the awkwardness of it being my first day on the ward.

My second day however, everything changed. The deputy ward manager was working with me and asked me to go and get her a specific bag of IV fluid as her patient’s IV was almost finished. It took me about five minutes to locate it as I hadn’t been given a proper tour of the ward and shown where everything was. When I got back to her with the bag of fluid, she screamed at me in front of the whole ward, patients and staff, “Are you dumb?”

That was soul crushing. I could feel the tears stinging the back of my eyelids. I mumbled a sorry and managed to make it to the staff toilets. Then the tears came down thick and fast. I couldn’t believe that she had done that to me in front of the whole ward.

This was the beginning of almost a year of intense bullying and victimisation for me. There was a clique of staff in that ward and if you didn’t fit in to it then you were ostracised and ignored every single day. I was only ever spoken to if it was to make a direct work request or to belittle me. I was ignored, had backs turned to me, was given all the worst shifts and it got worse with every single day that passed.

The bullying got so bad that I would walk around with my head down. I walked to my patients’ beds with my head facing the floor and would only look up when I got to them. It got so bad that I used to cry every single time that I had to go in to work. Then it would intensify and no matter how I tried to be a good nurse and part of the team they hated me. Big time! One of the few people I was friends with there, who was subject to the same kind of bullying told me that one of the staff had said every time she saw me she wanted to slap me. That made me feel awful. It must be me. My husband beat me and now a colleague wanted to? This made my life hell.

Then I found out that one of the junior staff on the ward was going to be moved to a different ward and oh boy did I hope it was me. I couldn’t bear the atmosphere there anymore and was getting more upset day by day.

Then I found out it was me to be moved. First of all, I was told that a draw on names had been done to “make it fair”. A part of me thought oh, ok, at least that makes it all fair. Then it came to the surface that wasn’t the case at all. That horrible cow who had bullied me to the verge of a nervous breakdown had set it up so that my name was guaranteed to come out. I was thrilled to be moving from that hell hole of a ward but the fact that these horrible people could be so mean and pathetic as to set me up and then lie about it like that? I almost felt as if it was a kick to the stomach.

I moved to the new ward and even though the staff were super nice, they were worried about me.

I was referred to occupaitional health and put onto nights (which I loooooved!)

However, one night two very senior managers arrived on the ward asking to see me! *gulp* Oh boy what had I done??? Then they told me to get my cigarettes as I might need them and got ma a mug of coffee! This really was not a good sign!

They were both very kind and put my nerves behind me right at the start. They were here to talk about the the bullying that I had endured for over a year. It seemed to be fate that so many people had gone through the bullying. That so many people were affected was horrifying to me. I should have been and opened my mouth to the nurse director but I didn’t. I started do feel like utter crap for this!

I slowly talked about my experiences and about the fact that my lack of action over the other people was eating me up inside. I got told that right up front it wasn’t my fault, as every single one of us (there were many) that had been victimised by this woman and her clique of cronies all felt the same. We all wishes we had spoken up, but we were all too scared.

The more we talked, the more memories came spilling out. It was like picking a scab. You really wanted to stop, but once you had started, then you had to keep going until all of the scab was gone. I remembered all the little details like them making a tray of drinks (tea and coffee) for them and there was never a cup for me. Offers would be made to go to the canteen on Sunday morning and I was never asked. If I overheard and asked, my order would be conveniently be forgotten every single time. A million and one tiny things very quickly built up and they pushed me right to the edge of breaking. I hadn’t realised just how close to breaking I was. I turned out that this interview was the catalyst that pushed me over the edge and into the abyss.

I sobbed for about thirty minutes non stop as they finished the interview and they were really good. They held my hands and said I may need to give evidence of my experience at a tribunal which made me sob even more but I understood why. They also said I could go home for the night as I wasn’t fit to finish my shift and they would understand if I needed time to heal.

That time to heal turned into almost three months off work. I couldn’t face it. I felt sick to the stomach about going back there and even when I did go back, I didn’t feel confident for a long time.

This whole experience sickened me to the core. Instead of being brave and reporting things, I let them multiply until I became very ill and that was what left me off work for so long.

I’m telling my story now in the hope that I can inspire even one person to have the courage to speak up and speak out about the workplace bullying that they are either witnessing or undergoing.

I am now medically retired due to physical health issues. However I have seriously bad anxiety and paranoia which are attributed in part to the way that I was treated by that group of people at work. I would seriously urge anyone who is going through workplace bullying to please go to someone and speak out. Don’t make the mistakes I did and end up so ill that you cannot function. Don’t suffer. Speak up and speak out for the sake of your sanity. Please don’t suffer alone.

My blog can be found here: https://arwenfreebird.wordpress.coma

Cut off from the world by my own head…

Mentally, today is not a good day for me. I feel cut off from the entire world by my own head. I am feeling my illness stomping around inside my head, looking to see what damage it can do today.

I see my illness as a complete entity. It’s female as well. Don’t ask me how I now that, I just do. She is a mean and nasty bitch. She takes over part of my head, whether it be my paranoid part, my bipolar part or one of the many other parts she could go for and manipulate.

I just feel that it is so important to get this down before I get too unwell. My carer is with me so the boys are fine (they are 18 and almost 17) and both autistic. As long as they have a games console in front of them and someone pushing food at them along with the occasional can of coke, they are happy.

So back to the she bitch otherwise known as my mental illnesses. She seems to be quite keen to be giving my bipolar a good poking and she has been doing since around 4pm yesterday. Instead of listening to my head and getting the hell off Facebook and getting some rest, I carried on and eventually being that stupid I allowed myself to be triggered over a stupid bullshit news article. I posted in in outrage that could happen in the free world, that people could allow this to happen. Then, one of my best ever friends (and rightly so) posted her reaction to the post.

I lost my shit because I thought that I had upset her ( I know I haven’t now) but at that time it was horrendous. That insidious creeping guilt.

Then my head bitch took over. It almost feels like she locks me in a cage inside my head and I’m rattling at the bars and shouting that I’m in here but people just cannot hear me.

She starts to wind up whichever part of my illnesses that she wants to and she loves to make my life hell. It’s like she has a long list of the things that my ‘father’ and my ‘ex’ used to say to me and she reels them off one after the other so I’m constantly being told just how bad I really am. Then there are times when this illness decides to speak for me. She becomes a spitting, snarling demon who says the most horrible things to those who are closest to me and I cannot stop her at any time. This just breaks me inside, it truly does.

Why am I laying myself low and open to possible inspection and judgement? Because I believe that it is hugely important for people to be aware of what mental illnesses can do to a person and how we can be laid low by this uninvited visitor in our heads.

If you read this and you are feeling the same as, or worse than I do, then I urge you to get in touch with your GP. As soon as you can.

There are other things that you can do within the UK. If you are feeling so low that you can’t see a way out then please get in touch with The Samaritans Their number is 116 123 and it is free to dial from a UK landline or mobile. It’s important to know that the number will not appear on any phone bills, so nobody can check any phone calls that you have made.

There is the SANE line on 0300 304 7000 and they run from 6pm to 11pm 365 days a year.

The silver line on 0800 4 70 80 90 aims to help people over the age of 55. They run 24/7 365 days a year.

CALM is a line for men feeling distressing thoughts and feelings. They are on 0800 58 58 58 and run 5pm to 12pm 365 days a year.

Switchboard, the LGBTQ+ helpline on 0300 330 0630 which runs from 10am to 11pm 365 days a year.

Papyrus HOPEline on 0800 068 4141 are there for under 35’s who are struggling with thoughts of suicide or self harm.

Whomever you talk to, I beg that you talk to someone. Please don’t make the mistake I made and say nothing until it’s too late. There is always somebody who will listen.

It is vitally important that we take the lead and make people hear us. That we show people that mental health problems are nothing to be afraid of or stepped around and ignored. #timetotalk

I’m now needing to get the hell off the internet and cry.

Be kind to yourselves.x

Unboxing my February ’18 Blurt Foundation Buddy Box (subscription box)…

My box arrived yesterday and was wrapped in plastic, which was a little bit of a downer as I couldn’t neatly open it to repurpose it. There was a tear in the corner of the bag. Looking suspiciously like someone had tried to peak inside. However, as the boxes are plain brown apart from some gold lettering and pictures on the lid, it wasn’t possible to see what was in the box. Whoever peeked probably thought, “Dirty cow’s been buying sex toys!” 😜😜😜 However in all seriousness I would like to see some recyclable/biodegradable outer packaging. That would be nice.

Why do I have a Blurt Buddy Box? Quite simple really. It’s my friend Jenna’s fault. Yup. Blame squarely at her door, on her shoulders, however you want to say it. Hahaha, just kidding. Love you dude!

So who are Blurt?

Well, quite simply put, Blurt are like a big cuddle you can get on the internet when you feel like your black dog is snapping at your heels. Whether you are newly diagnosed with depression or have known for a long time, we all occasionally need help. Blurt are here to give that help.

What are Buddy Boxes?

Buddy Boxes are a subscription box service that exist to bring some self care and happiness through your letter box once a month. They also help The Blurt Foundation raise much needed funds to continue its hugely important work. They cost £21.50 a month and postage is free within the UK. They do ship internationally but I’m not sure about costs. They do a Buddy Box which has five items and a Buddy Box Lite which has three. Obviously the Lite box is much cheaper.

I stress at this point in my post that I was not provided to me for free. I received a box from a very kind friend who has bought me a subscription for my birthday.

What’s on the box?

As I mentioned before, the box is a sturdy looking plain brown postage box (fnarr fnarr) and the top of the box is embossed with two gold llamas and the words Buddy Box.

(See what I mean? Sorry my camera just wouldn’t take this picture any better.)

What’s in the box?

I gave said box a jolly good sniff before I took the lid off. There was a definite smell to it but I couldn’t quite make my mind up what that smell was.

February’s box theme was “You’re the llamas pyjamas”.

As the box lid came off, the smell became much more noticeable and distinct. Not an unpleasant smell but not the nicest smell ever. (My favourites being cinnamon, ginger, and patchouli). The box was covered inside with white paper with black llamas drawn on it and was quite cute. Both the gift box and the llama paper could be repurposed so huge brownie points awarded there for sure.

As I peeled back the llama paper, there were two postcards sitting on the top of the contents. The first one was an orange one detailing the contents of the box (which I deliberately avoided looking at so I didn’t spoil my surprise). The other one was blue, with llamas on, along with the words “You’re the llama’s pyjamas”. It’s blank on the back, so that one can be kept in a collection or sent to someone to cheer them up.

Then I located the source of the smell. The stronger it got, the more unpleasant it got. It turned out to be a “fortifying green bath lotion” from MOA. The scents were peppermint, fennel and fir needle. The only smell out of those three that I like is fir needle. I loathe the smell of fennel especially as it smells like aniseed. However I’m not sad about it. You can’t like everything in every box every time right?

Next comes a llama keying craft kit that you can make yourself. It’s super cute!!! However as I have physical conditions that restrict my hand movement, my partner in Buddy Box crime, Jenna, has very kindly volunteered to make the llama keyring for me. She can have my bath lotion as a thank you for that. Strange girl… she likes aniseed.

Next comes a small sachet from “Conscious Water” which is a water enhancer. It has a hint of lychee rose flavour. It’s a tiny sachet, only 5mls but it does flavour your water. The taste isn’t unpleasant, but I don’t think that I would buy it again.

Then my absolute favourite part of the box. A pack of three llama’s pyjamas stickers! They are a decent size too so can decorate drawers, walls, folders, whatever you choose. I am a sucker for stickers I am!

Then we come to the fabulous book. It is called Believe in Yourself and is full of affirmations and things to boost your self esteem. I love it. Sat and read it though with a cuppa. Going to keep it next to my bed so that I can read it when I’m panicking. It’s invaluable.

Just some random page examples.

Finally we have the little “Blurt zine” that has uplifting things in it. It’s only four pages at A6 size so don’t expect it to be huge.

This is the first subscription box that I have ever had and on the whole, I loved it! I loved the whole experience of opening it up and finding the treasures within! OK, I didn’t like the bath lotion. Big whoop. I’m exchanging that in order to get help to have my cute little llama made for me (thank you Jenna!). We can’t expect to like everything, every time as I said. I loved this and cannot wait for March’s Blurt Buddy Box to arrive so I can tell you all about it. Take care and love yourselves people!x

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.

THINK before you donate…

I have always been an ardent supporter of charity. Even if I don’t have a lot of money, I will always stop to drop some coins into a charity collecting tin. I donate to the National Autistic Society on a monthly basis on behalf of my boys.
But I don’t give to other charities. I have stopped giving to oxfam, save the children and amnesty international. Why? You may or not know this, so if you do, apologies if I am repeating information that you are already in possession of.
The pay for senior level executives of charities has continued to rise, despite a campaign to curb that rise. Going back to February, 32 out of the top 150 charities’ executives were paid over £200000 which is up from 30 in 2013.
The number of charity leaders paid over £300000 has also increased from nine to twelve in the exact same two year period.
The highest paid of all was the executive at an independent hospital, the London Clinic. The person is unnamed and earns between £850000 and £860000 a year! That really sticks in my craw!
Nuffield Health, a hospital and fitness centre provider came in with the second highest salary, paying between £770000 and £780000!
The third highest payer was St Andrew’s healthcare, another medical charity who’s former chief executive, Philip Sugarman was paid £750000-£760000 in his final year with the charity.
Nuffield Health claimed their figure included redundancy payments and their chief exec, David Mobbs, was paid £640000-£650000 a year for his role.
However, I am more concerned in writing this post with regard to well known charities. With a little digging around, it was easy enough to find out Oxfam’s CEO’s wages. Lady Stocking was paid £119560 for the year 2012-2013.
Let’s now look at Save the Children. Justin Forsyth, the Chief Executive was paid £167000 last year.
Nine (yes, nine) of the executives at Cancer Research UK earn more than the prime minister! That included the chief executive Harpal Kumar who pockets £240000 a year!
The CEO of the NSPCC, Peter Wanless earns £162000 a year, which is £40000 more than the guy before him got!
Here are some more for you. Amnesty’s Salil Shetty gets £210000 and Age UK’s Tom Wright gets £190000. Marie Stopes refused to reveal Simon Cook’s wage, but his predecessor got £263000! Christian Aid’s Loretta Minghella gets £162072. The RSPCA’s Gavin Grant gets £160000.
I can go on and on about the astronomical sums that these people are getting. It makes my blood boil. If all the money that these people made was put into the charity, just imagine what could be achieved!
Call me whacky, but I thought the whole point of charity work was to give your time freely for the benefit of others? Not to bleed a charity dry of its profits to line all of your greedy pockets!