The Scars Are Real… and I. Will. Never. Forgive…

TRIGGER WARNING : THIS POST DISCUSS SEVERAL TYPES OF ABUSE.

Abuse of any kind stays with you for a very long time. Even the kind of abuse that is committed by one of the people who is supposed to love and protect you beyond anything else. You can remember some of it. You can remember the first day that it actually happened. Every touch, every smell, every taste. Then the hand patting the top of your head like you were a freaking dog and telling you that this was our little secret and we mustn’t tell anyone, and especially not mummy because she will only get hurt and I will make her cry.

No way on this earth was I going to do that to my simply amazing and wonderful mum because she did not deserve to be hurt because I was being naughty. This went on for years until I became fourteen and all of a sudden it stopped. I was never sure why, but I was so relieved. But I realise why now. I was too old for you wasn’t I? Too old and too past it in your eyes. I didn’t offer the same set of thrills for you anymore. I wasn’t “fresh meat”.

My wonderful mother died when I was 16 years old after a long battle against breast cancer. I spent a couple of years after my mum died drinking and taking every drug I could swallow. I applied for my nurse training. I got accepted but my head kept on telling me that once they knew what I was – something dirty, something tainted that they would rescind my offer and send me on my way. One morning I woke up and realised that I had to get clean otherwise I would never be anything in life. So I went cold turkey and sweated it out for that was the only option open to me. It was hell but I did it.

I had a job and was doing it to kill time until I started my nurse training. It was only waitressing but it was a job and it kept a roof over my head. Being kicked out at 16 makes you grow up pretty damn fast, it really does!

I met my ex husband on a night out with some friends from work. He was 11 years older than me and incredibly charming. By the end of the night he had managed to isolate me from my friends and manoeuvre me into a corner all by myself. I guess that should have been the first red flag that something was not at all right in this whole situation

He basically, for the first six months of our relationship, treated me like a princess. He put me on a pedestal and gave me everything that I wanted. Within a week of us meeting, he had persuaded me to give up both my job and my apartment, getting me to move in with him. He was effectively isolating me and I never saw it happening. I had to depend on him for food, shelter, money – everything. He had me totally under his control. He started to apply pressure on me about my friends. Why did I need them he would ask me. Why did I need them when he was everything that I could possibly need? I began to talk to my friends less and less and before too much longer, I had none. He had me totally isolated.

This was when the gaslighting started. He was slowly engineering sets of circumstances that would make me doubt my own sanity. I began to think that they were all my fault and that I was starting to lose it. He would make a point of telling me that I would never cope on my own and that I needed him. That I needed him to survive. I believed him so totally. One of his favourite tricks would be taking my door keys off the key hook and putting them in bizarre places like the bathroom, next to the toilet, or in the kitchen cupboards. I believed him so completely. I had done that. He would never do something like that. Maybe he was right. I was crazy and I would never cope in the world without him. I needed him to survive. Before too long I was utterly convinced I couldn’t function unless he was by my side.

The verbal abuse was so subtle at first. He would criticise me for wearing too much make up when we went out. My clothes were too slutty, my heels were too high. Soon I was going out in baggy jeans and long sleeved jumpers and trainers and no make up. The plainer I looked, the happier he was with me.

The closer that I got to starting my nurse training, his attitude and his behaviour started to change. It was so subtle that I never even noticed it. There were lots of snidey remarks about doctors and nurses and the things that they “got up to behind the scenes”. He constantly accused me of having affairs with doctors and also of having bisexual affairs with women as I had “dirty filthy queers” as friends and they rubbed off on me. (Yes, I had some properly amazing friends in the LGBT+ community and they kept me sane) but I never once had an affair with anyone.

The first physical blow came when I had been on my first ward placement about six weeks. I came home from my shift and he was hurling abuse at me and screaming I was a whore and I should admit my affairs. I burst into tears. How could I admit to what I had not done? The pressure became more intense, until he struck me with the back of his hand right in the mouth and knocked me flying back onto the bed. That was the first of many times that he raped me.

From then on in, the verbal abuse was a daily occurrence and the physical abuse occurred at least three or four and sometimes more times a week. The sexual violence was slightly less because a lot of the time I was simply too scared to say no to him. A no meant a beating and being forced.

I simply could not understand why this was happening to me. I had never done anything to deserve this treatment and I just had no idea why it was happening. I tried to think why. Was it truly me? Had I really done something so very wrong to deserve all of this? Many nights I lay awake whilst he was in a drunken stupor and I cried for the girl that I had lost.

When he proposed I accepted without even thinking. I thought that agreeing to marry him would calm him down and convince him that I was somebody that he could trust. Sadly not. The abuse picked up and became worse. It was a daily thing now.

Even having two beautiful babies did not convince him of my loyalty. Several more years went by and slowly the abuse got worse and worse. Many times I have been asked why on earth I didn’t just leave him. Nobody who has not been through this kind of abuse can ever really understand the answer to this question. I could not find the courage to leave because I was so utterly crushed and dragged down by his abuse that I believed every single word that he said. I was stupid, dumb, a moron. A fat, ugly bitch who would never ever cope without him to guide her.

Then one day came the straw that broke the camel’s back. He threatened the lives of the boys. He threatened them both with a ten inch long machete. That was enough. I waited until he was passed out blind drunk in the early hours and grabbed my bag and the boy’s coats and we ran. We left every single thing that was owned behind us, fleeing in only the clothes we stood up in. I don’t think I’d ever been so scared. I kept on thinking that he would find us and stop us. It was when the train was about 40 minutes out of the station that the “where the fuck are you?” phone calls started.

I fled to the house of a very good friend of mine. She protected me, made sure that I got the right help and was always there. In the end, the police took my mobile because my idiot ex actually made death threats and left them on my answerphone. Those messages were evidence in my court case.

Eventually I decided that I needed to return home. To make sure that my boys were safe and happy. I decided to come back to Scotland. I was raised upon the largest of the Shetland Isles until I was 8 years old. My ‘father’ one day decided that he was going to take us back to where he was born, just outside of Manchester in England. I missed my homeland so very much that I could not have truly considered settling anywhere else and knew that it would be the safest place for the three of us to begin to heal.

Luckily for me, I had a friend in Aberdeen. He was one of my friends from Shetland and he now lived on the mainland. I contacted him to let him know I needed his help to flee and he gave it willingly. He drove down to where I was staying, helped to pack up the meagre possessions that we had into a van and he drove us back to Scotland. He let us stay at his place until I was able to find the house that I live in now.

My life is safer now. The kids are no longer at risk from him and that is all that I care about. They have good lives which is all that matters.

I carry a great deal of scars both physical and mental from my 25 years of abuse. The mental illnesses illnesses that I have to live with as a result of the abuse are never going to go away. That I have accepted now. But I fight hard to keep my kids from seeing any more tears or pain from me. They have seen enough. They don’t deserve to see more.

I’m moving slowly through my life and I’m doing the very best that I can. I can think of two people I would stick my middle finger up to. My ‘father’ and my ex. They both told me that I was useless, fat, ugly, pathetic and would never cope without them. I have coped. I have escaped and we are moving on with our lives. My story is not over yet. ;

I guess that’s why I’m trying to write this piece. Fuck the piece of shit monster who abuses you. You can get out. When you feel the time is right for you, you can work. You can fly free.

But one thing I will say is this. I. Will. NEVER. EVER. Forgive. No fucking way. I’ve had therapists a plenty tell me that I should let go. Fuck that. I want to remember. I want to hate them. I want to loathe every single pervert who put his hands on me. I will never give them the satisfaction of knowing that they have gotten away with what they did. Suffer bitches. Just like you’ve all made me suffer. Burn in hell. Fuck you. All of you. You will never ever know peace while you know that you are not forgiven for your crimes.

To my fellow survivors (I refuse to use the word victim), I salute you. You can escape. You can fly and be free. I promise you. Be safe beautiful people.

Be kind to each other.x

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Irrelevant Me…

I’m irrelevant. I don’t matter. Nobody sees me. Nobody hears me. Nobody wants me. I may as well be invisible. My soul is just dying inside. Nobody tells me anything. I’m just… nothing. Irrelevant…

My soul bleeds… I scream into the void where my emotions used to be, tensing every part of me, waiting and hoping for some kind of response that will show to me that I am destined to feel more than this soul drenching pain that controls me…

I try to reach out… I reach out a hand, an arm, but before even my little finger becomes extended, she arrives. I should have known that she is on her way. I should have listened to the white noise in my head trumpeting her arrival. She grabs my arms behind my back and then she pushes me kicking and screaming into that cage she keeps for me inside the corner of my mind. Once she has me safely locked away, she is free to run the show…

Once she has this total control she begins to stamp around inside my head and the white noise turns down…

All I hear is her. Telling me that my ex was right. I’m fat, I’m stupid, I’m useless, I’m ugly and so many other insults. Then she tells me that all the people who love me don’t really love me. That they are only with me out of pity and that they will leave me soon. She screams out and says vile things to the people near me. I bang my hands on the bar of my cage and scream, trying to get people to hear me but they don’t. They only hear her. The bitch is very clever, she really is…

I’m so scared that she will get so vicious and nasty that people will think “Screw that!” and just walk away from me. After all, who wants to spend their life with a crazy, fat cripple?

I’m so terrified that I will lose my family, every time they leave the house panic sets in and she is able to take control again.

I fight every single damn day to be even a little bit normal. I fight for my family to love me.

What a Lonely Life…

I’ve been feeling very lonely recently. Despite the fact that I have people that I can talk to via messenger or WhatsApp I feel so freakin’ lonely it is unreal.

I’m not a person that likes to be with a lot of people physically. I am happy with my family – my manshape (as I call the other half) and my two boys. This is all I need. I don’t need to be surrounded by loud chattering people. I have a condition called misophonia (which I have blogged about before) and being in a loud social situation can be hell for me. I find it so difficult to cope with. I’m a hermit, a loner, a recluse. I just do not blend well with other people, I really don’t.

Yet I love to chat with people online. It’s a great way for me to facilitate a social circle whilst maintaining my privacy and keeping to myself.

I’m severely telephone phobic and can’t bring myself to talk on the phone unless I absolutely have to. The rest of the time, my carer will speak on my behalf. Even looking at the phone which is sitting on a little table at the end of the living room – I can feel my pulse picking up… my anxiety is climbing and I’m starting to panic. I feel safe with my mobile phone because I know inside my head that all it is used for is writing my blog pieces, texting and using WhatsApp. That is my safety blanket with it.

I had to take a break for half an hour in writing this as my anxiety got to be way too bad. My carer has got me upstairs and settled me into bed and I have had a Valium. I’m slowly starting to feel a little more human now. Well, as human as is possible for me (which is not very).

Back to the point of this piece. I’m feeling inexplicably lonely. What is wrong with me? I don’t want to go out and socialise. Agoraphobia and a love of my own company have seen to that. But for some bizarre reason I feel so disconnected from myself and feel like I am in free fall just spinning time and space with nothing to anchor myself to.

I can’t cope with Facebook or Twitter. It is all just too much. I feel overwhelmed by the number of people on there. I don’t feel very together at the moment. Not one bit. I feel very down. Like my bipolar is going into a crash. When that happens, I can’t cope with anything or anybody and I need to hide away. The weird thing is that I still feel lonely and afraid. I know that as my mood gets even lower, then that feeling will slowly dissipate and I will just feel numb and hollow inside. That is all. Nothing else.

I can’t reach out to anyone at all. Life is very regimented for me. Yet another issue – my OCD. I can’t reach out because people just don’t seem to understand just how bad things can get for me and how low down this illness can actually take me. So I guess I shall be lonely all on my own today. Thank you very much for reading.

Be kind to each other.x

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?

What a Lonely Life…

I’ve been feeling very lonely recently. Despite the fact that I have people that I can talk to via messenger or WhatsApp I feel so freakin’ lonely it is unreal.

I’m not a person that likes to be with a lot of people physically. I am happy with my family – my manshape (as I call the other half) and my two boys. This is all I need. I don’t need to be surrounded by loud chattering people. I have a condition called misophonia (which I have blogged about before) and being in a loud social situation can be hell for me. I find it so difficult to cope with. I’m a hermit, a loner, a recluse. I just do not blend well with other people, I really don’t.

Yet I love to chat with people online. It’s a great way for me to facilitate a social circle whilst maintaining my privacy and keeping to myself.

I’m severely telephone phobic and can’t bring myself to talk on the phone unless I absolutely have to. The rest of the time, my carer will speak on my behalf. Even looking at the phone which is sitting on a little table at the end of the living room – I can feel my pulse picking up… my anxiety is climbing and I’m starting to panic. I feel safe with my mobile phone because I know inside my head that all it is used for is writing my blog pieces, texting and using WhatsApp. That is my safety blanket with it.

I had to take a break for half an hour in writing this as my anxiety got to be way too bad. My carer has got me upstairs and settled me into bed and I have had a Valium. I’m slowly starting to feel a little more human now. Well, as human as is possible for me (which is not very).

Back to the point of this piece. I’m feeling inexplicably lonely. What is wrong with me? I don’t want to go out and socialise. Agoraphobia and a love of my own company have seen to that. But for some bizarre reason I feel so disconnected from myself and feel like I am in free fall just spinning time and space with nothing to anchor myself to.

I can’t cope with Facebook or Twitter. It is all just too much. I feel overwhelmed by the number of people on there. I don’t feel very together at the moment. Not one bit. I feel very down. Like my bipolar is going into a crash. When that happens, I can’t cope with anything or anybody and I need to hide away. The weird thing is that I still feel lonely and afraid. I know that as my mood gets even lower, then that feeling will slowly dissipate and I will just feel numb and hollow inside. That is all. Nothing else.

I can’t reach out to anyone at all. Life is very regimented for me. Yet another issue – my OCD. I can’t reach out because people just don’t seem to understand just how bad things can get for me and how low down this illness can actually take me. So I guess I shall be lonely all on my own. Thank you very much for reading.

Be kind to each other.x

I Hate Myself…

I look in the mirror and you know what I see? I see a monster. I hideously ugly monster. I honestly make myself feel sick when I have to look in the mirror. If I could avoid them, I wouldn’t have a mirror in my house but the boys need one. I want to puke when I see my own face. I can hear them both. You’re fat… you’re ugly… you’re hideously foul and they are right. When I see myself in the mirror, that is all I see.

Why do I see this? Apparently, according to my psychiatrist I have something called body dysmorphic disorder. I loathe my face and my body. My physical appearance really does make me sick to my stomach.

I have an awesome partner who tells me that I am beautiful every single day. My problems is that I just can’t accept/believe that it is true. I try very hard to avoid looking at my face. When I have no choice, and I do see it, I actually want to vomit. My foul features and fat and horrible body are enough to make anyone vomit. I just hope that the men who did this to me never ever feel the way that I feel right now. Because I wouldn’t wish this on my own worst enemy.

Be kind to each other.x

Things You Think a Spoonie Won’t Notice – But We Do – And it Hurts…

Being chronically ill is absolutely draining and it can leave a person utterly wrung out to a degree that you can’t imagine. We can be wiped out for most of the day after we have cleaned our teeth (true story – I was literally crawling back to my bed with tears in my eyes). It is a truly shit experience.

Now if you have ever felt this way, you will understand where I am coming from. If you have no clue what I’m talking about, it’s going to be a head scratcher for you. 12th May is Fibro awareness day. Fibromyalgia is the bane of my life. It has destroyed me in so many ways. So I will happily sit in my wheelchair and stamp my booted feet to raise awareness of this utterly vile shitbag of a disease. If you are newly diagnosed then there is a really rather brilliant piece written by a rather fabulous lady called Christine Miserandino. The piece itself is called “the spoon theory” and you can find it here…

https://butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/

Seriously, if you really ache to understand why your partner/best friend/colleague feels the way that they do, then I urge you to go ahead and read this piece of writing. Of course, there are many other pieces written and available on the internet, but I have found Ms Miserandino’s to be the best about.

Where do I start with how my illness has decimated my life and just how certain I am that I know people look at me when they think I’m not looking and mutter some poisonous bullshit under their breath when they think that I cannot even hear them. Well guess what bitches? It’s my body that doesn’t work. I have one ear that can hear just fine and that is more than enough to hear you (if you wanted to know, I sustained hearing loss in my left ear after a firework was thrown at me and exploded near my head).

I was a qualified nurse for 15 years. I worked long and hard shifts and spent many days trying to advance my professional ability. I ended up working as a Macmillan nurse before I escaped a very violent marriage. I ran back home with my kids to Scotland and then mcy diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis (received in 1998) began to make life real hell for me as a nurse. The time came, after that , for me to take a different career pathway.

I had to give up the career that I had loved for fifteen years and that just hurt so much. But my body just was not able to cope with the physical demands of a career like nursing. We had been through a hellish time and I needed to be around for my kids. I took up a part time job in my local food mini market (Co-Op for anybody British).

The kids settled after a while and I was able to extend my hours and earn a little more for them. However, my body had been pushed beyond its limits thanks to the pressure of being a carer and then a nurse as well as all the years of physical abuse that I endured, and in February of 2009, my body finally knocked me on my ass.

I woke up one morning and I couldn’t move. I could only just about flutter my eyelashes and that was it. My partner was amazing. He got me to a doctor who sent me straight in to hospital. After a butt load of tests and scans, I was rocked by a long, long list of diseases. As well as my rheumatoid arthritis which I knew about, I now had osteoarthritis in my spine and neck. I had Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I had osteoporosis, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome Type 3, and had also had a stroke and a cardiac murder as well as a small congenital hole in my heart.

This list of diseases has changed my life for the worst. I am now wheelchair bound and need a carer to help me do pretty much everything that I used to be able to do for myself.

So here are the things you don’t think that we notice but we do: When we park in a disabled parking space and our carer comes round to our side of the car with our wheelchair, we see you looking at us like we are just lazy and we don’t need to use that space. Believe me, if I had a choice, I would push my wheelchair into the North Sea if I could! I need that parking space and have more right to it than the yummy mummy in her Chelsea tractor who has just popped in for croissants and coffee on the way home from dropping little Tommy at school. Where is her dirty look? Is it because you think I look too young for this chair? I see your dirty look, and it hurts.

We see you give the dirty look to the young woman or man who desperately dodges into the disabled toilet in the queue at the cinema. You judge them as lazy or not deserving of using the disabled loo. Well just think… that person may be in desperate need of changing their colostomy bag before it bursts all over the cinema foyer. Think people!!! Your selfish judgement can really cut like a knife!!! When that person gets into the bathroom with tears stinging their eyes, they feel ostracised for their illness. As they open the bag to empty it, someone from outside yells, “Eeeeew, what’s that stink?” The person in the toilet? They notice what has been said.

You look at me in my wheelchair. You judge me. I’ve heard people whisper “She’s too young to be in a wheelchair” (I’m 45 – what age do have to be before my butt cheeks can kiss the holy grail of a plastic cushion that is going to make me sweat like a pig all day?) You think I like being stuck in this chair? I hate it with a fiery passion I really do!

So next time that you see someone that doesn’t belong somewhere in your judgement just stop and think. That Spoonie may have a damned good reason for doing what they did. We are invisible illness warriors, but your words can cut us down. THINK before you speak! We hear you every single time… and guess what? It hurts.

Be kind to each other.x

Our Mental Illnesses Are NOT Your Cute Personality Quirks…

Seriously people. The next time that I hear”Oh I must tidy up, I’m so OCD today” or “Oh she’s up one minute and down the next – she’s so bipolar!” I am going to stuff my walking stick right up that person’s asshole and turn them into a fucking lollipop. I swear I am.

Listen up people. Suffering from mental illness is no triviality and neither is it a fucking joke. I have struggles with several mental health issues, OCD and bipolar being two of them, so it really does set my teeth on edge when I hear someone coming out with an off the cuff, totally fucking moronic comment like that.

When we said we wanted mental health disorders to be spoken about more, we didn’t mean for you to appropriate them into your everyday conversations.

Lately (and unfortunately), it is becoming something of the norm that mental health disorders find their way into everyday discussions, and not in the way we’d like them to. I can’t count on my hand how many times I’ve heard someone who’s had a minor inconvenience or mishap go on to complain about how ‘depressed’ they are. Not only is it infuriating, but it’s hurtful.

For those diagnosed with depression, you’ll know it’s not something that suddenly happens after something goes wrong, or you’ve had a ‘bad day.’ It’s a constant state, you’re trapped in it, and it is definitely not something that can be used as an adjective.

No, Sarah, just because your boyfriend hasn’t texted back in three hours, doesn’t mean you’re not depressed.

You are upset, sad, down, blue (see ‘unhappy‘ in the thesaurus for more synonyms) but you are certainly not depressed.

However by comparing your sadness to a mental health disorder, what you’ve done is silence the kid three seats down from you who’s been dealing with this disorder for months, who’s struggling to wake up every morning, who’s on medication just to get them through the day.

You’re comparing a moment of sadness in your life, to a lifetime of theirs.

But it’s not just depression that is used as an adjective, it’s next to all mental health disorders. I remember sitting in class once whilst a group of teenage boys were stalking a girl’s Instagram page. They reached a picture of her where she looked skinny, slim, and thin, and all they could think to say was, “Wow, she’s so anorexic!” I was thinking to myself, “Really? Out of all the words to call her, you had to relate it back to a mental health disorder?”

The list goes on; calling someone who organizes their work neatly on a table ‘OCD’, calling someone who’s mood has changed from the last time you saw them ‘bipolar’, not getting a good nights sleep and complaining that you must have ‘insomnia.’ They are not adjectives, they are our real mental health disorders that real people face. We have not come forward about them for you to simply misdiagnose yourself after one incident.

So next time you feel the need to compare your sad moment. tidying of your room or unexpected mood swing to a mental health disorder, open a thesaurus. There are plenty of synonyms; use a different one.

Things You Take For Granted…

There are many things in this life that we all take for granted and are not in the slightest bit grateful that we have the ability to actually do them and do them without even thinking about it.

Little things like brushing your own hair and brushing your own teeth are so underrated… until you cannot do them by yourself. I cannot brush my own hair. My carer is awesome, but has so much to cope with that little things like my hair get forgotten about. Then I end up feeling guilty that I have to ask. Then half an hour later I have to ask again as it has been forgotten and so on and so on. I end up in floods of tears as I feel like I’m nagging for something that is so simple that is so simple, I should be able to do this for myself. Yet I can’t. I try to lift my arms up to get my hands to my head and my shoulders crack and searing agony shoots across the top of my body. My shoulders will not move more than an inch before they crack and pop, and if I’m not careful, they will dislocate. That, my dear readers hurts like a bee-otch I can tell you. I can’t brush my own freakin’ hair and I hate myself for it. I feel so freakin’ useless because of it. I really miss just being able to lift up the brush, style and go.

Brushing my teeth. That, like most of the hygiene related tasks that I can relate to is so difficult. On the good days when I can stand at the sink, I have an electric toothbrush, but when I can’t make it? I have to use listerine strips.

All of these little things. Hygiene, dressing, getting to the loo and even pampering yourself. Little things that you take for granted when you are “healthy”. You simply do not realise just how much you miss them until you can not do them, and the effect that this can have upon you as a person can be quite devastating, it really can.

I miss ironing. Yes, I know that you will all recoil in horror, but I genuinely did love ironing. I would put on some classical music and happily stand there till it was all ironed. Socks, underwear, towels, the lot. Even something as mundane as housework. Even things you hate (for me that was hoovering) but ironically I even miss that.

I guess that my point here is that you do not realise just how valuable little mundane aspects of your life truly are. Things that you would do without even thinking about it. Spreading your own butter on a piece of toast. Opening a can of fizzy juice. Those are the kinds of things that you do not miss until they are no longer a part of your everyday life.

I’m slowly learning how to cope with this aspect of my illness, and every day that passes, I become a little more adept at coming to terms with what I no longer have the ability to do due to my illness. I’ll never be completely over it but in life, we must learn to adapt when our circumstances change and we cannot prevent it.

I guess that what I am trying to say is this. Never, ever be upset or ungrateful about little things. Be glad, be happy that you can pick up that iron or push that hoover. Be glad you can make your own cup of tea or coffee. Be glad you can stand in the shower and not have to sit on a chair and have someone wash you while you are there.

Give thanks every day for the small stuff. Never ever lose that, and always love your life.

Well, I guess that is all for this time so I’ll finish here.

Be kind to each other.x

Misophonia – The Hatred of Sound…

So, what is this weird assed sounding condition that you’ve never heard of before? Misophonia literally translates as “hatred of sound”. It really is a horrible thing to suffer from and the impact of suffering from it can only be truly understood by another sufferer of the condition. It truly can be a nightmare to live with.

However, a person with misophonia does not simply hate all sound. People with misophonia have specific symptoms and triggers and are sensitive to only certain sounds and occasionally to visual triggers. Any sound can become a problem to a person with misophonia but many are some kind of background noise. People call the collection of sounds that they’re sensitive to their trigger set. It is possible to add to one’s trigger set over time. Exposure to a trigger sound elicits an immediate negative emotional response from a person with sound sensitivities. The response can range from moderate discomfort or annoyance to full-fledged rage and panic. Fight or flight reactions can occur. During a trigger event, a person may become agitated, defensive or offensive, distance themselves from the trigger, or act out in some manner.

I first began to realise that something was “wrong” with my hearing my hearing when I remember being so infuriated by the sound of my ‘father’s’ chewing that I could have quite cheerfully have gouged out his eyes with a rusty spoon. I very quickly came to realise that eating/chewing sounds from anyone would begin to infuriate me so much to the point where I literally have to leave before high fiving them. In the face. With a chair. It gets to me that point where calmness is not an issue and I have to back away from the sound.

I have been lain awake being tortured by the sound of my own heart beating. Obviously it is a good thing to know that your heart is beating. But I’ve been thrashing around for several hours, trying in vain to escape the sound. Imagine being filled with an irrational hatred of that sound, or of pretty much any sound? Hearing people breathing/snoring literally makes me want to slap them with a wet kipper.

The one sound above all others that fills me with utter rage is whistling. The sound seems to find it’s way right down into the middle of my brain and stay there. Hearing someone whistle really does fill me with murderous rage. I’ve had to say “either you shut up or one of us leaves the room”. My hatred of the sound of it is so bad. Other sounds also affect me. Cracking fingers & knuckles, making noises with lips, tongue and cheeks and people pronouncing words the wrong way on purpose like “horsey worsey”. Aaaaaaaargh! Baby talk also drives me crazy!

The sound of fingernails scraping down a chalkboard is unpleasant to many people.

But this is a very mild example of what people with misophonia experience when exposed to a trigger sound. It lacks the intensity a misophonia sufferer experiences and doesn’t have a strong negative emotional component. Not liking something, even if very strongly, is unlikely to cause a person to feel like lashing out at the source of the offending sound. Also, it is unlikely to produce an actual fight or flight reflex. The people closest to the person with misophonia often elicit the most problematic triggers. This can make personal relationships difficult and stressful. An environment known to include trigger sounds can limit social activities because the person with misophonia anticipates problems. Consequently, a person with misophonia can pull back from family and friends in an attempt to reduce the symptoms that they experience when triggered.

People with misophonia are aware that the sounds that trigger them don’t bother other people.

A person with misophonia does not always have any control over their work environment. A coworker munching on food may be too distracting or even produce a full-fledged panic attack. An environment that will not or cannot accommodate the needs of a sound sensitive person can result in anxiety for the person with misophonia. It may also challenge supervisory staff. At times, the sound environment can be enough of a problem to make keeping the job intolerable. A school environment can be similar; having a long-term negative impact if it interferes with the ability to learn or socialize. When exposed to a trigger sound, some people feel the need to mimic what they hear. Mimicry is an automatic, non-conscious social phenomenon. It can have a calming effect and make the situation feel better to the person experiencing stress. There is a biological basis for how mimicry lessens adverse reactions to triggers because it evokes compassion and empathy.

 

Those with misophonia can be reluctant to share their symptoms and triggers.

To them, sharing can have uncertain outcomes. Sometimes, people purposefully mock those with sound sensitivities. Also, they may make exaggerated trigger sounds in order to intentionally cause distress. Unfortunately, some family, friends, co-workers, and others minimize the problem. A person with misophonia is sometimes told: “try to ignore that sound,” or “you’re just being difficult,” or “don’t let it get to you.” Suggestions like these are not helpful. It is not simply a matter of making a conscious decision. People with misophonia cannot ignore their triggers any more than a person with epilepsy can will themselves not to have seizures. On the other hand, there are those who are supportive and offer encouragement. Anyone with a problem or difficulty appreciates a helping hand now and then. If you know someone with misophonia and want to help them cope with the disorder, all you need to do is ask what you can do to help.

List of Common Triggers:

Please note, some say that reading about triggers has the potential to make one take on new triggers. This is only true for some people and is not universally experienced by all people. Also, some people avoid hearing or imagining sample trigger sounds for the same reason. If you think that learning about new trigger sounds could in any way be a problem for you, then there’s no need to read the lists below.

Mouth and Eating: “ahhs” after drinking, burping, chewing, crunching (ice or other hard food), gulping, gum chewing and popping, kissing sounds, nail biting, silverware scraping teeth or a plate, slurping, sipping, licking, smacking, spitting, sucking (ice, etc.), swallowing, talking with food in mouth, tooth brushing, flossing, tooth sucking, lip smacking, wet mouth sounds, grinding teeth, throat clearing and jaw clicking.

Breathing/Nasal: grunting, groaning, screaming, loud or soft breathing, sniffling, snorting, snoring, sneezing, loud or soft talking, raspy voices, congested breathing, hiccups, yawning, nose whistling and wheezing.

Vocal: humming, muffled talking, nasally voices, overused words such as um or ah (repeated words), sibilant sounds (S, P, T, CH, K, B sounds), singing, gravelly voices, bad singing, soft whisper-like voices and whistling.

Environmental: clicking from texting, keyboard/mouse, TV remote, pen clicking, writing sounds, papers rustling/ripping, ticking clocks, texting and cell phone ringtone.

Utensils/metals: dishes clattering, fork scraping teeth, silverware hitting plates or other silverware and rattling change in pockets.

Plastic: water bottle squeezing/crinkling, breaking hard plastic and bouncing balls.

Wrappers: plastic bags crinkling/rustling, plastic bags opening or being rubbed and crinkling food packages.

Cars: sitting idling for long periods of time, beep when car is locked, car doors slamming, keys banging against steering column and turn signal clicking.

Heavy equipment: lawnmowers, leaf blower, air conditioners and chain saws.

Impact sounds: other people’s voices, muffled bass music or TV through walls, doors/windows being slammed and basketball thumps.

Animal noises: dogs barking, bird sounds, crickets, frogs, dogs or cats licking, drinking, slurping, eating, whining, dogs scratching themselves and trying to bite their fleas and claws tapping.

Baby: Baby crying, babbling, adults using baby talk and kids yelling.

TV: loud TV or radio. Body Movement related: Foot shuffling (dry feet on floor/carpet) or tapping, finger snapping, foot dragging, heels, flip flops, knuckle/joint cracking, eye blinking, nail biting and clipping, eating, chewing, fidgeting, hair twirling, movements out of the corner of eyes, repetitive foot or body movements, jaw chewing/movement.

I can honestly say at some stage or another in my life I have come very close to causing serious damage all because of one of any of these noises. This is why I wear noise cancelling headphones and simply listen to Classic FM.

So if you have never been officially diagnosed with misophonia but what I have talked about sounds like a clip from your own life, then feel free to leave a comment and we can chat. Misophonia sufferers are not alone.

Why the sound of chewing drives you crazy… no, really!