Phoenix Fights

Fighting the FEAR, depression and BDP on a daily basis AND making my own bread. Bring it on 2016….


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ASHES TO PASHES

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I bought something today.

Not food shopping but clothes.

And it wasn’t second hand, and it wasn’t discounted.  It was full price.  And whilst not a flash, ‘look at me’, attention getter, it was my style but brighter, made of beautiful fabric and not at all ‘background’.

I allowed myself because I worked my butt off for six gruelling 12-16 hour days on a job that left me changed as a person.

Because, even though it was something that is usually low key where I can stay anonymous, I was somehow miraculously made to feel important.  I was actually called ‘important’.  As in ‘No, sort Sista out first, she’s important.’

If this makes me sound pompous, then I’m not telling it right.  Because I’ve never really felt important to anyone, and I know for a fact that no one has ever told me that I am.  And I know it was a throw away comment from a young person who has no doubt forgotten of my existence as we speak.  But somehow, some way, I was dragged out from the shadows and put into a scenario where it was crucial that I attended day after day after day.

You can always tell when this is the case, because instead of receiving computer generated ‘if you can do additional days please tick this box’ emails from the agency, I was getting personal communications saying ‘it would be amazing if you can do Monday’ and ‘I know you must be tired, but you’re doing a fantastic job and we really need you to do just one day.’

I was bumped to the front of queues.  Interacted with the real important folk.  Heard my hero speak to me by name.

And I was totally one hundred percent comfortable with my environment and with what I was being asked to do.

Giddy stuff.  And whilst as a usual rule of thumb I get twitchy after being on a job more than 3 days (because that’s when relationships start to form) with it came a shot in the arm of pure confidence, and with that came a cumulative positive series of side effects.

I became more aware of my behaviour.  I was less spiky.  I made new friends.  I even attracted several members of the opposite sex.

However, on that note, there was one shaky moment when one very pushy guy (who was chatting up all the women) sensed my reticence and instead of backing off, laid siege to me. 

This was a disastrous move on his part because the more people pursue me or try to force me to approve and/or pay attention to them, the harder I try to avoid them, and in the end I was a hair trigger away from punching him in the face and screaming at him to get the fuck out of my aura.

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Why do people do that?  If I get one inkling that someone isn’t into me, I leg it before they do.  But everywhere I turned he was there, feet, inches, centimetres away from me staring anxiously into my eyes, voice at full, deafening volume (for God’s sake someone, pass the remote) and breathing his stinking, full English breakfast miasma into my hair.  At one stage he even laid the full length of his hand creepily onto my hip to make me turn around and face him; I could feel the disgustingly intrusive heat of his palm through the silk of my dress, and how I didn’t break his face right there and then I’ll never know.

But I digress, as typically Sista style, I am giving more attention to that one negative in a veritable ocean of positives.

Because somehow I held my temper, and merely treated him to an icy excoriating glare before being rescued by a fellow female and carted off to play scrabble with less sleazy members of the crowd.

Don’t get me wrong.  I never forgot that this was an enclosed, faux fantasy world, and that the real world was waiting for me outside, with all it’s banal, draining, terrifying challenges, and that within a matter of hours I would be transformed, Cinderella style back to that anonymous, grey drone that everyone ignores, discounts and under estimates again.

And that, dear Reader is what came to pass.  I am back home in rags, grovelling around the ashy fireplace, surrounded by many chores.  No one is pandering to my needs, clawing for my attention, fluttering around me or calling me ‘important’ anymore.

But I feel a change has taken seed and I learned a few lessons which are as follows:

  • You don’t need to be pushy to be noticed.  Really you don’t. Whether it be pure fluke or that my sang froid was mistaken for confidence, and ‘don’t look at me’ attitude to be pure insouciance, I was chosen out of a flock of beautiful, talented, qualified young things to have a key role.
  • If someone really important likes you, others follow suit. Whether this be in a work environment, on social media or in a social situation, people are sheep and will come trotting after you trustingly if the popular folk approve of you and what you do.  This can either be extraordinarily, depressingly predictable news or something that can be used as a tool.  Sure, don’t kid yourself that all of these bleating masses are going to become your forever friends but you can potentially cherry pick along the way.
  • If you pretend to do something for long enough, you can almost make it feel real.  In other words, fake it till you make it. I had to flirt with some guy for six days, and whilst I was initially at an emotional distance, he was a fun person to work with and a real chemistry grew which almost certainly brought ‘the boys to the yard’.  Not only that but my libido woke up howling and demanding to be fed. Oh dear….but maybe it’s about time?  Not with him I hasten to add; he’s attached, hugely popular so categorised as ‘dangerous’ in my book, but maybe just maybe I’m not destined for the relationship/sexual scrap heap just yet?
  • Contact with the human race gets easier the more you do it.  The same principle applies to hiding away so we have a choice.  Don’t get me wrong.  I said ‘easier’ and not ‘easy’.  I did not find 6 consecutive days surrounded by my fellow homo sapiens easy.  There were other people as well as Mr Needy who grated sorely on my nerves, and I find that after about 3 days, people run out of small talk and start asking questions that are difficult for me to answer.  Like:
    • ‘What’s your main job?’ (I don’t have one.  It’s challenge enough for me to do this)
    • ‘Where did you go for your holidays?’ (Holiday?  From what?  I haven’t had one for years because I can barely afford to feed myself)
    • ‘What are you doing for Christmas?’ (No idea.  My relationship with my family is tenuous and fraught with danger.  Two friends have invited me and I’m going to end up pissing off one or both of ‘em if I accept either invitation.  Plus I may even end up on my own in a new house in a new town with 2 stressed out cats and an M&S turkey pizza for one.  Ask fucking Santa, as right now, anything might happen)

In other words, you get asked normal questions that apply to normal people.  The kind of questions that could potentially expose me for being the freak that I am.

What do I do in those circumstances?  Lie like I used to?  Make up some kind of creative adaption of the truth.  Avoid answering and turn the question back on them?  I’m not sure. But I can’t let that stop me moving forward.

And I wasn’t spotted!  As the most amusing thing of all was that several people chose to confide in me about others in the group that they suspected to have ‘mental health issues’.  Oh the irony….

So I am trying harder this time.

I’m trying to do all the stuff that I’ve aimed to maintain throughout the life of this blog.  Work out, get out, make myself look attractive, take chances, interact more with people.

Get a life.

I can’t promise you or myself that I won’t stumble and fall again, as the humiliation of failing to successfully climb out of my painful pit of doom during the years that I have been blogging is one of the factors that made me abandon it and stop writing.  The shame.  But I’m trying to scale that slippery scratchy wall once again, and one day I will make it.

As being kinder to myself and others is all part of the plan this time.

As perhaps I don’t have to be a witch to get what I want out of life.

And maybe just maybe I’ll get a snog from my very own Prince (OK, so, maybe some dastardly old uncle is more to my taste) before the year is out.  I can but hope.  I may even don that silk dress again 😉

Namaste x


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SOME PEOPLE SAID I’M BONKERS, BUT NOW I THINK I’M FREE

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About a month ago, I did one of the most risky, drastic, scary things I’ve ever done.

I walked out of my therapy group.

I had been thinking about it for months before, as I had started to feel how I used to feel before going to work, i.e. dread, depression, feeling that I didn’t belong, that I couldn’t trust people, that I had to squish down who I was in order to fit in and get along with everyone.

But of course it wasn’t work, it was 3 x 90 minute sessions per week in a grotty room in south London, so every now and than my rage, frustration and resentment would eagerly burst out through the tiniest crack in my composure, to which the shrinks would leap up in glee, parry it, and press me back into the confined identikit one sixth of an egg box which replaced my desk in that office building in Soho as another, less salubrious, prison of my own making.

Back in the day I used to manage my fury by working out, and if that didn’t work, I would stay away from the rest of the human race in order to protect both them and myself from the aftermath of the explosion, but I was urged to attend therapy however I felt, the moodier the better.

At first I thought this was to make me feel accepted, but I soon realised that footage of me throwing a fit was great material for Shrink 1 & 2 to exploit by sallying forth to use their book sourced, emotionally inept techniques to try and bring me under control, which invariably only made things worse.

Not only that but on that final fateful day, I told them that I was not in a good place and they once again insisted I attend. And when my irritation started show Shrink 2, Ann, making sure the camera got her good side, took me to task with a faux puzzled expression, telling me that I sounded very angry, that she didn’t like my tone and was taking issue with it.

So they blatantly laid a trap and set me up, and I, the fool that I was, staggered smack bang into it.

That was the last straw.  I reacted badly, but on realising what was going on, took a deep breath, gathered my belongings and left that room for good.  And as I exited onto that sunny street that morning,  I realised just how much it had all been chipping away at me.

  • The blatant insincerity.
  • The being spoken to in a babyish voice as if I was some mentally subnormal infant.
  • The ignoring of me, that is to say everything about me that made me different to everyone else in the group, especially any advantage or skill that others didn’t have.  It was more convenient to pitch the course at the youngest/least educated/most damaged instead of treating us all as individuals.  For example, Shrink No. 1 Jolyon invited me to a ‘Cuckoos Nest’ style outing to an exhibition with the others soon after my defection.  Sounds innocent and perfectly pleasant you might think.   But he spoke to me, a 53 year old, a sophisticated, cultured, urbane, well travelled woman as if I’d never set foot in a gallery in my entire life.  He actually used the words ‘I really think you’ll like the pictures’ and implied earnestly they weren’t always how they appeared but sometimes the most simple image meant something else and that he would explain them to me on the day and it would be fascinating.  I swear to God had we been in the same room and that room contained a cushion, I would placed it over his earnest little vole like countenance, sat on it, squashed every last breath in his body, then legged it out of the window.  I can laugh about it now but the humiliation, the shame, the realisation of how far I’d fallen was almost too much to bear.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest 19

  • The refusal to acknowledge that my points of view in our one to one discussions were valid, well thought out, emotionally intelligent and rational.  As soon as he was out of his depth, he would either switch subjects, simplify my point so that it sounded ludicrous, or lapse into ‘you’re crazy so I’ll just fuck with your head till you think I’m right’ mode.  In this, he was as much a bully as my ex boss.  Talk about frying pan to fire.
  • The complete lack of real emotional connection with either of them.  I suspect this was down to a lack of real empathy (as opposed to textbook sourced techniques), and maybe this wasn’t their fault, but to my mind, this is something that cannot be compromised on if one is to share of themselves.  I still thank God everyday for Auntie C (my psychologist for over a decade) who was, is, and always will be, the real deal.
  • The inauthentic, horribly strained relationship that I had with Ann.  She didn’t like me, my humour, the way I expressed myself, and that would have been fine had she been honest about it.  But she would coo flattering comments at me like a constipated pigeon that both of us knew weren’t true, and I cannot bear fakes.  The truth would come out during her ham fisted attempts to address my behaviour and I truly marvel at the fact that she every got the qualifications she did, let alone her position at St Psychos Hospital.
  • The putting their study before my needs, even the most fundamental.  I’ll give you an example.

Me:  ‘I won’t be able to stay on the course long term anyway’

Ann: ‘Oh no Sista, why not?’

Me:  ‘You know why, I have to sell my home and move somewhere cheaper, otherwise it will get repossessed and I’ll lose the only financial security I have and end up homeless’

Ann:  ‘Oh.  Well, that sounds very stressful, but we hope that you can stay as we care for you very much and you need the support of the group at this time’

Cue pointed stare.

And of course, my writing stopped dead as I didn’t believe that I had any to say of value to anyone anymore.

I could go on, but I’m sure you get the picture.

Not that they believed that I meant it.  And when the penny did finally dropped, they went all out guns blazing to get me back into my cage like a good little lab rat.

Like I say, this was not easy to keep them at bay, and Jolyon the medical professional to whom my wellbeing was entrusted to, used every trick in the book to make me stay.   

Whether you believe in the Devil or not, his moniker, Father of Lies has never made so much sense to me.

I was psychologically bludgeoned every which way, time and time again, to make me stay put. 

The ‘You don’t know what you’re doing because your damaged’ tactic. 

The guilt card for letting everyone else down. 

Raising his voice at me in order to make my lose my temper so he could regain control.

Promising to not try and make me stay if I came in for a exit meeting only to renege on this the second we sat down. 

The implied backing down without admitting guilt (‘Suppose you were right about Ann behaving inappropriately…’) in the hope that this would be enough to appease me and make me return followed by an immediate retraction when it didn’t work.

The denial of my rights. 

The refusal to hear my voice, my rational, honest, emotionally intelligent voice pleading for understanding and support, because my label of EPD meant that he though he was entitled to do so.

I thought my battle with my ex company was bad, but it was a walk in the park compared with this.  But I hung in there in stuck by my decision, and instead of passing me onto someone else like I requested (as if I’m that fucked up, I’d need a replacement ASAP, right?) I’ve been flung back onto an NHS waiting list by way of punishment.

But I can tell you with all honesty that I have yet to regret that decision.

Sure, there have been many bad days and my faithful old companion Fear is never far from my side.  I still have nightmares about my future, worry about losing my benefits and am still have to deal with the stress of trying to sell up and move.

But gradually things have gotten better.

And in the last week something extraordinary happened and for a week, I was made to feel how life could truly be if only I had a little faith.  More on that later.

But to all you BPD’ers, EPD’ers etc, I beg of you, if you can possibly avoid it, try to avoid giving up on life and throwing yourself upon the mercy of the NHS.  Because when you hand the keys and allow someone else to captain your ship, you only have yourself to blame when you eventually hit choppy waters in a land far away where there’s no shore in sight, and those fuckers don’t let you anywhere near the helm anymore.

I came very close to being Randled by those fuckers, but like the Chief, I’m only just beginning to know who I am again.

And this little egg, whilst still be cracked and streaked with guano, may still have a chance to release it’s potential again.

Namaste x