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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ZIPWIRE

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So, surprise, surprise, my old mucker FEAR has snuck back in to the crevice created by my tears and made a rather predictable appearance late last night.

Just as I was about to tidy up, turn off the TV and go to bed I realised that I had concertinaed up my body and was frantically biting down hard on my knuckle, every muscle of my body tense with dread and anticipation.

And, coward that I am, I quickly bottled on my resolution, and downed the tab of Sertraline I should have taken that day, waited for it to take effect, then got into bed, curling myself into a tight foetal position.

Then came the dream.

I’m in a hot country with my friend Jon and we happen upon some kind of attraction/activity, and when we get up closer I see that it’s some kind of zip wire contraption running between two little pod like rooms with a walkway that you have to walk over to get from one to the other, a bit like a motorway service station flyover. Below is a steep fall onto crags and rocks, but there is a sign saying that whoever crosses it wins $1M.  I distinctly remember that part as I was trying to figure out what that is in sterling.  There is a duffle bag filled with notes.  No one touches it.

I turn to look at Jon, but he’s a way back staring at me blankly.

It it true?  What are the legalities of it?  Will they really pay out if someone takes up the challenge?

Then I notice that the wire sags flabbily in the middle and that there is no security harness, just two handles to hang onto as you cross, as you dangle over the rocks below.

Everyone just stares at it. 

I’m thinking of how this prize will solve all of my problems.  I’d be able to pay off my mortgage, move to the coast and start again.

Again.

I look around again for Jon, but he’s talking to the others, not paying me any attention.

Then I think ‘Fuck it’ and go to pull the handles to my end via a pulley  and park my stuff next to the duffle bag.  As I do this there is some kind of commotion in the opposite pod as a stocky dark haired man dressed in white arabic robes gets up and peers across at me through the glass of the pod.

Trip trap, trip trap

I don’t like him.

His eyes

He’s creeping me out.

I know I’m not going to do it.

Then I wake up as one of the cats starts chewing my hair, keening for his breakfast.

God I feel shit today.  And piss weak to boot.

Why do bad days always follow good?

Who am I kidding?  Every day is the same, it’s like frigging Groundhog Day with a sarf London twist, and I’m going to go seriously doolally if I don’t get out of here.  Apart from the odd couple of days here and there, I haven’t this friggin’ cell for over a year now, and it’s really getting to me.  My friend has a place by the coast, and even though it’s usually unoccupied, for whatever reason he’s really weird about any of us using it, and I’m too proud to hint or ask him about it anymore.

I need the sea air in my hair, the sun on my body, and a different set of walls to stare at, and my credit card is bouncing around in my bag excitedly.

‘You don’t have the money!’

‘What about your mortgage?’

‘Get a job first!’

‘Don’t do it Sista!’

But I’m in a dangerous mood, fed up of relying on the kindness of others and tired of being afraid.

What is it with me and tightropes?

Oh bollocks to it, what’s the worst that can happen?  You’re a long time dead…

EAR WORM No. 16 LENE LOVICH – The Night (aka HARPING HYPOTHALAMUS)

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Most nights, I don’t get to sleep until the wee hours, and lay twisted up with fear of what the following day might bring.

‘Wooooo,’ howls my hypothalamus from a place where it is seemingly Halloween all year round, ‘beware sleep as it will only deliver you to the new day, where you will be eaten by a sabre toothed tiger, trampled by a mammoth or burned on the pyre by the rest of your tribe. You know they hate you.  They’re talking about you now you know; I can hear them. They hate your new puma skin and say your cave’s a mess.  Woooo….’

Hypothalamus, it’s not the stone age anymore, you twat. I’m lying in a bed, here?!

‘Woooo, do not close your eyes, there is still much danger,’ it insists, getting into it’s stride ‘those girls at school can’t wait to beat the shit out of you, and they’ll be there in assembly, right behind you, spitting in your hair and jabbing you in the back with a ruler, then they’ll get you at break time.  And there’s no point in running home and expecting sanctuary ‘cos your Mum with scream at you, make you feel like shit for being so weak, and send you right back, and then….’

Hypothalamus, I’m 50! I don’t go to school anymore, and my Mum is dead! What the fuck is your problem?

‘Wooo,’ it insists ‘beware the night, as it will surely bring the day where….’

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Where what? I sleep late, stay in, eat too much, lie on my bed with the cats and watch ‘Real Housewives’?

It is silent for a while but then creeps back just as I am nodding off.

ooooooooo,’ it keens softly only adding to it’s menace, ‘you know that you can’t stay in that cave forever.  And when you go out, such dangers and cruelties await you, the like of which you have never seen. You think you had it bad as a teenager? Just wait and see what the world has in store for an out of work, menopausal depressive with a bad reputation and a mob of ill wishers just waiting for you to trip so that they can fall upon you, spit in your face and tear your throat out. Night, fucking, night.’

No one can say that the ancient brain is rational, but in the cold, wee hours of the morning, it ain’t half convincing.

But I think I have turned a bit of a corner this morning.

I think.

I’m not going to promise anything or make any elaborate claims, as you’ve heard it all before, but I do feel that I finally know what has been going on for me. As in someone who has actually been slapped around the face, rather than remembering it in the long distant past or fearing it in an uncertain future.

And I’m hoping it might have woken me up.

My cheek stings, my neck aches and a white handprint emblazons my cheek.

But the day is fine, the cats are purring, and as yet, I see no monsters out there.

Only trees, people and the occasional fox slink past, it’s fur burnished orange in the Winter sunlight.

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Namaste x


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EMILY PREVIN, CAPTAIN TRIPS AND THE ART OF ACCEPTING ONE’S FATE

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I had to go back to the Doctors this morning, and as the cold Bank Holiday took its toll and left a multitude of casualties in it’s wake, they couldn’t guarantee me an appointment with Dr B, but I ran out of meds on Sunday, so I had to take part in the free for all that is the ‘Drop In Clinic’.

This is something of a new initiative for my surgery, but even I was taken aback at the number of people crammed into the waiting room.  It looked like a home game crowd at Stamford Bridge, albeit less chanting and hooliganism and a whole lot more sniffing.

Grateful that I’d brought a book, I squeezed along a row, into a plastic chair and hunkered down for the duration.

Two hours I waited.  Two. Hours.

In the meantime I was surrounded by people sneezing, coughing, hawking up snot into hankies (is there a sound worse than that?  It makes my blood go cold), wheezing, burping, screaming and running around.   The latter two, kids were the culprits of course.  Apart from one old boy who couldn’t find the exit…

Did I mention elbow nudging and seat kicking?  What is it about people that they don’t know or don’t care that they are impinging on someone else’s personal space?  Back in the day, when I was a little less tactful, if anyone entered my aura when I was reading or leaned on me on the tube, I would glare at them witheringly until they edged away.  Today, I bit my lip, held my tongue and tried to concentrate on my book.

Unfortunately that book was Stephen Kings ‘The Stand’.

You know the one?  The post apocalyptic horror story where 99.4% of the population of the planet gets killed off by the ‘Captain Trips’ flu-like plague?

The plus side of this was that I got to listen to free sound effects whilst reading, on the minus side I started to get quite paranoid about catching something.  If anyone was feigning illness to chuck a sickie this morning, they sure as hell wouldn’t be feigning by the time they left that place.  It was teeming with bugs.  I discretely inched my pashmina over my nose and mouth and prayed to whoever was listening for that knackered old tannoy to call out my name.

Then the woman behind me started talking about her sons nits (head lice), how he got them at a kids soft play area, infected the entire family, burning towels, prescription shampoo, blah, blah.  My head started to itch.  I put up my hood immediately causing the conversation to cease and resentful muttering to start.

Whatever.  Don’t know what they were bitching about, it wasn’t them sitting there looking like the oldest hoody in town.

Then ninety minutes in, the smell of excrement suddenly filled the air.  What?  Really?  Could this possibly get any worse?  Is nose picking, snorting up mucous and hacking away and spraying strangers with snot not gross enough for these bastards?  Has one of them shat himself?   Med-less and beside myself, I turned to glare in the general direction of the stink in order to communicate my distaste, and my eyes immediately locked with those of a sweet, saucer eyed infant who beamed back beatifically at me.  This little bundle of joy had clearly produced it’s own body weight in poo and dropped it’s guts with a happy gurgle into it’s nappy.  His/her mother seemed not to notice.

Nonplussed and charmed despite myself, I smiled back at it queasily.  How can something so beautiful stink so bad?

Then just as I was about to give up and go home, my name was called out.  I staggered into the waiting room, beyond agitated, twitching and itching from head to foot.

The GP was unsurprisingly not Dr B, but a nice, plump, smily lady who beamed at me encouragingly.  No mean feat as she must have already seen at least a hundred people since the surgery opened.

‘I need 100’s.  I can’t reduce my meds,’ I declared defensively, ‘I have tried, but I either get angry or frightened or very, very sad, and the Fear has come back at night.’

‘OK!’ she replied, brightly.

Really?  No lecture, no quizzing me about finding work?  No pushing me to do the dreaded CBT therapy?

Nope.

It was a breeze.  I left that snotty, nit infested sewer of a surgery for the chemists and by the time I got home I was dosed up to the max, stoned and serene.   I forgot all about contracting noro virus or SARS, armed myself with my knitting and settled down to an afternoon of watching my boxed set of ‘Six Feet Under’.

So guess which episode I was up to?  Yes that’s right, the lovely, cheery ‘Invisible Woman’.

‘The Invisible Woman’ opens with a single lady in her forties sitting down by herself to a ready meal dinner and choking to death on what looks like a piece of chicken.  Her body isn’t found for a week by which time it is badly decomposed, fly blown and beyond tarting up.  Not only that, but she had no friends, no family and no one was willing to come to her funeral.  Ruth had to pick out her burial clothes and force her own family to witness her farewell.

The Fisher family spend much of the episode trying to figure out what was so bad about this woman that she could be allowed to depart from the world without having anyone in her life.

Well it’s actually quite easy, Fishers.  It goes something like this:

  • If you’re over 30 and single, you are immediately handicapped.  You’re at an age where most of your friends don’t/can’t go out much anymore so your social life suffers.
  • It is also very hard to meet a partner unless you are willing to settle for the sake of conformity.
  • Also as a single person, you don’t get invited to the soirees couples are, unless of course you are invited as a plus one to pair up with some other poor social pariah.
  • If you get tired of being the one to make all the effort, and stop trying, people don’t notice that much and it is very easy for you just to slip out of peoples lives, off their Christmas lists and into obscurity.
  • If you are not working that has something of a stigma attached to it and people are wary about inviting you to things in case you can’t afford to attend.  Or they see you as just not very interesting anymore or lacking identity.  Because, in some peoples eyes, how you earn a living is who you are.
  • Speaking of stigmas, if you have mental health issues and it gets out, you will probably shed at least three quarters of the people you know in one fell swoop.
  • Family also get a bit wary if you’ve been ill as they don’t want the responsibility of looking after you should anything happen, so can also keep their distance a bit.
  • It also doesn’t hurt if you are hard to live with, outspoken, extremely paranoid and sensitive and don’t suffer fools gladly 😉

Et voila!  Guaranteed isolation, lone demise and closed coffin.

This heartening little episode would have finished me off had I watched it on Easter Sunday.  But today, thanks to my 100mg of super Sertraline I am back in La La Land, where I quite frankly do not give a fuck. Bollocks to 50mg.  One day I hope to be off meds for good but right now?  It ain’t happening.

Granted it makes me feel a bit muzzy but you know what?  Sometimes it’s good not to feel anything.  And it works which is more than I can say about praying.

My aim is to improve my situation in all aspects, but I don’t want to think about all of the challenges ahead, or the effort it takes to make and keep friends.

Right now?  I just wanna hang with the Fishers.  ‘Cos they make even me feel normal.

Would anyone notice within a week if I died and was half eaten by my cats?  Probably not. But at least the cats wouldn’t starve.

How many people would come to my funeral?  More than did for poor Emily, out of guilt if nothing else, but not that many.

How many people would miss me?  That I cannot say.  But probably not many.

At the end of the day, will dying alone make the experience worse?  I doubt it.  There are some places we go where others cannot follow, and whilst there may be comfort in someone being there holding your hand, I don’t think I need that.  I think I’ve done it before, I don’t think there’s anything to be afraid of, and I think I’ll curl up and roll into death nicely, gladly, gratefully as if into the folds of a cashmere throw.  Even if Captain Trips taps me on the shoulder one day.  I’ll also specify that I want to be buried in a onesie or my body be donated for plastination, so that’ll save some Ruth Fisher type raking through my wardrobes.

I have no idea what the future holds.  But I think dying alone is the least of my worries.  Like I’ve said before, it’s living you’ve got to watch out for.

I do have plans for my death and funeral though.  Inspired by those old black and white Ealing comedies, I plan to have a very inventive will which requires potential beneficiaries to go on a wild goose chase around London performing random, embarrassing tasks treasure hunt stylee in order to inherit the most amount of money.

Might as well get some fun out of it, and that way, they’ll never forget me 😉 !

Like the old saying goes, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish…..


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TAR BABY

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Whilst scrolling through my Facebook account, I saw this image and immediately felt drawn to it.

So, as we tend to do on these sites, I ‘shared’ it, adding the following comment/heading:

‘So true….’

These words could be translated, and the sentence completed, in a number of ways including but not limited to the following:

(a)   ….this is a lovely sentiment and I wanted to share it with you, my ‘Friends’ old and new, near and far.

(b)  ….and we, the exclusive club of the twinkly innards on our cloud of serenity, compassion and self love are always blissfully aware of this.  Maybe you too one day might find a glimmer within you and join us.  Maybe.

(c)   ….so listen up superficial arseholes, flash bastards, nouveau riche and spin masters, everyone might be fooled by your smoke and mirror show now, but if they had to find something of worth inside you, it would be like trying to find a sequin in a unlit sewer full of shit, and the day will come when you will know this only too well.  In the meantime, I’ll just smile gently when I see you, look amused when you say something brash, allow myself a discreet little titter when you flash the cash, and leave you feeling like maybe I know a little something you don’t know.  BOOM!

What did I mean by it?  Probably all three to be honest, depending on who was reading it at the time.

But if I was being honest I would have wrote:

‘I really, really want to believe this.’

And I do.  Because sometimes I do feel something within, a feeling that sometimes floods through me and makes me feel like my heart could burst with….stuff, good stuff, maybe even joy.  But I tend to discount or dismiss it as I’m probably bi-polar (I’ve never allowed anyone to diagnose me properly) and I’m presumably having a bit of a high.

But what if it’s not?  I sometimes fear that I’m being eaten from the inside and when the darkness sets all there’ll be is the heat and smell of burning pitch, roasting flesh and crumbling bones, and when I realise I’m my very own tar baby, I’ll be thankful, grateful when death takes me by the hand and smothers me into unconscious, ignorant bliss.

If I could wish for something, I would like to have just one tiny pane of glass, maybe blue, green or gold?

And if I looked after it, kept it clean, polished it, perhaps it will multiply, grow and then they’d spread out like jewel coloured snowflakes, and maybe part of me, inside or out, could one day shine just a little when the sun sets.

I have to believe this, otherwise what’s the point of anything?

For anyone who still celebrates Valentines Day, I wish you love, peace and happiness.

And if you pray, pray for me, ‘cos I’m not coping right now, the night awaits and I’m not allowed alcohol!!


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NIGHT NIGHT….

….sleep tight

Just don’t let the demons bite

Try as I will and try as I might

I just don’t seem to get respite

 

Eyes dry, shoulders tight

Right foot swings from left to right

Try as I will, try as I might

The call of sleep I cannot fight

 

Star light, star bright

Save me from myself this night

I hope you will, I pray you might

Enfold me in your silver light