Phoenix Fights

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




There’s a joke that comedian Harry Hill used to tell about his Nana, and it went something like this:

‘Ah, my Nana she’s always knitting.  She sits in her favourite armchair and she goes <miming the actions, elbows bent and jiggling furiously> “Knit, knit, knit!  Knit, knit, knit, knit, knit, knit, knit!”.  Then one I day I said “Nana, you might want to try it now with wool and needles?”’

OK, so you had to be there…..

But that’s been me of late; head bent, arms out, knitting away furiously, at top speed, counting all the knits, cables and pearls in my head in order to drown out those voices of doom whispering in my ear.

And because they keep trying to break my concentration, I keep going wrong.

In fact, I’ve had to unravel half of this wretched garment at least three times, because I didn’t pay enough attention to or fully understand the instructions, and each time I go wrong, I groan, pull out reams of stitches swearing profusely, then stuff it back in it’s bag before going to the kitchen to seek comfort in a soothing cup of tea or glass of wine.

But I always come back.

I don’t quit.


Because no one knows that I keep messing up.

No one can see.

Or judge.

Anyway, this bloody yarn cost a fortune and I’ll be blowed if I let a bit of applied mathematics bamboozle me 😉

It’s the same with baking.  I’ll have a crack at something, it usually turns out, in which case I’ll try and make it even better next time, but when it doesn’t I’ll figure out what went wrong and try again until I get it right.

In this instance however, it’s also a good way of procrastinating and avoiding doing something I should have done weeks, no, months ago if I’m being honest.

I have an test I need to pass in order to move my business venture along, but for some reason I’ve done everything I can to avoid it.  I doubt it will be that difficult, and if I study enough I should easily pass it, but they prefer that you do it at a centre with other people rather than online.

Other people who’ll find out how thick I am because I’ll get all nervous and get it wrong.

Other people who’ll judge me.

And find me wanting.

And laugh at me behind my back.

I don’t like being tested.

I’ve bailed on practically ever course I’ve ever embarked on and if I’ve managed (or had) to see something through to the bitter end, I’ve put very little effort into studying for it and just about scrape through.

In the workplace if I had to present or take conference calls, I would need beta blockers to quell the panic and stop me shaking as everything I ever knew about the subject would fall through a trap door in my head and I’d stumble and fumble over every sentence like an eejit.

It’s extremely annoying and frustrating and I had no idea why it kept happening to me.

Until now.

Today I remembered.


If you follow this blog, you’ll know that I fully remember my loveless childhood, the indifference of my parents, and the friction between me and my brother, but today it hit me how much it all affected my confidence, hence my education and career.

It wasn’t so much that my parents didn’t really care how I did at school, it was more how little they praised me when, by some miracle, I did achieve anything academically or otherwise.  I grew up in a working class town oop North where praise was hard earned and for the most part, everyone had to pretend to be humble therefore most kids weren’t told how wonderful they were in case they ‘got above themselves.’

Mine weren’t any different.

But that was only part of the problem.  The biggest Jeff Goldblum sized fly in the ointment was how i was treated by the male members of my family.  Especially my brother.

I want to make a point here that, for once, I’m not judging him, because when I look at it objectively, he too was a product of his environment and as a typical boy and a consumate tease, he did everything he could to put me down, wind me up and make me cry.

And because I was (and am) HSP and had no one to love and reassure me the way I needed, or tell me I was anything other than shit, whist I gave as good as  got, I believed everything he ever said to me.

And because I didn’t take it well, he ended up hating me and the teasing rapidly turned to bullying, sneering, mocking and violence.

Which made everything worse for both of us.

I keep walking away from writing this, and coming back to it.

Everything I did was laughable, crap, stupid, pointless, desperate, idiotic, needy, ugly, selfish and WRONG.

I could not do anything good or right in his eyes and if for one single moment I found myself thinking that I looked nice, fitted in. had done something good or had some fun, he would be lying in wait in the wings just waiting to jump out triumphantly and hoot derision at me for ever being stupid enough to believe in myself for one single second.

And because I believed him, I had no confidence, plus I looked like a classic ‘please punch me in the face’ geek, so I had no real friends to confide in.

My parents refused to take sides when we fought, and just screamed and threatened both of us.   They did nothing to stop him hitting me and left me to fight back with all my might, tears streaming down my battered face in outrage and pain.

HSP’s, more than anyone, are delicate little flowers and need a warm, nurturing, reassuring, nourishing garden plus a lot of coaxing in order to flourish and grow.

I had less of a garden and something more along the lines of a cold, dark yard made of filthy, cat piss stained concrete slabs that someone would occasionally throw the odd bottle or brick into.

But I survived.

Because I acquired and developed a number of survival/coping mechanisms in order to get me through life safely.

But there is a difference between surviving and thriving.

That said, I did learn a few talents over the last five decades. But I am only good at them because I tried, screwed up, tried again, got it right and then made the effort to hone these skills.

In sum, I allowed myself to be a bit crap at first.

But I only seem to do this when no one else can judge me.

What I really need to ask myself is does it really matter if they do?

Will the sky really fall in?

Will people really judge me as harshly as I myself tend to judge myself?

And others?

That’s the other rather nasty side effect.

In the past I have been super critical of everyone because I learned from the best.

It’s a defense mechanism you see.  If you get in there first, people will be too scared to back come at you.

But the people who lash out at others invariable do the very same thing to themselves, but even more brutally

This worked for a long time.

But as soon as the frightened, hurt child in me would dare expose her vulnerability to someone she thought loved her, then it was invariably, eventually used against me.

And my heart would harden.

And that 6 inch thick steel door would slam shut again.

And I would vow never to trust anyone again.

So I was either a snarling venus flytrap or small white daisy, just waiting to be trodden underfoot.

I suppose I should aim be more like the Rose, as I get to have a couple of nice sharp thorns if needed, but can risk coming out from under cover whatever the weather, and learn to tend my own garden rather than expect anyone else to turn up with a shovel.  And when I’ve got it how I want it, then and only then will people turn up with cuttings, seeds and the odd thermos of tea if I’m lucky.

Because it’s MY job.

Not theirs.

So I’d better get working and book that test.

Well.  After I’ve done just a few more rows of knitting perhaps….




I’ve never considered myself to be a leader.

Far from it.

Acceptance, avoiding rejection or being ‘found out‘ have been my main ambitions to date, and at my most comfortable and confident I have been a leaders ‘No. 2’ (no jokes please), feeding them ideas, strategies, solutions and generally being the wind beneath their wings.

And to date, I’ve been content with that.  Or have settled for that, some who know me better might say.

I would also say that I would make a good critic whether it be customer service theatre or restaurant.  Someone can do something and I can tell you what I think is wrong with it, and how I would do it better. And it is with some discomfort that I recognise myself to be a bit of a ‘eunuch in the harem’:



“Critics are like eunuchs in a harem; they know how it’s done, they’ve seen it done every day, but they’re unable to do it themselves.”

Brendan Behan


But the message is coming through loud and clear that no one is going to come along and hold my hand through all of this, because whilst I have been, or at least I thought I had been, putting some effort into working towards the things I need, when I look back, my efforts have been pretty half assed, in the vein of:

‘I’ll whack over my CV to whoever and if its ‘meant to be’ they’ll call me in for a meeting, give me a big cuddle and snap me up.’

But the lovely tarnishedsophia busted my cover yesterday and forced me to confront my lack of courage and commitment, and on waking this morning I realised that yet another 24 hours of my life have passed that I have totally wasted by not ‘growing a pair’ and having a go at something.

I then noticed that a new blogger had liked my last post, so I clicked on to discover more about her and this is what I found:

So the messages from the Gods are coming though loud and clear. They’re just not the ones that I wanted.

The bottom line is I’m on my own and I’m going to have to do ‘it’ myself.

And I’m scared.

Because even if I start a new business, market stall, book or whatever, I can’t do everything by myself, so how will I cope?

I guess if I’m going in the right direction and being true to myself, that’s when I ‘Ask, Believe and Receive.’

And I have no doubt that I will fuck up, lose money, waste my time and effort, fall on my ass, end up a laughing stock etc. but I’m just going to have to suck it up and get back on my feet again like everyone else does.

Plus for all my yogic posturing, I have avoided any kind of proper attempt of meditation and going within to get to know myself.

The thought just terrifies me.

I don’t know why.

So thanks to all of you for putting up with my whining and procrastination, I am going to dig into some yoga and meditation this weekend, ask for guidance properly, acquire a new backbone over the next few days (even if I have to knit one 😉 ), and start next week with hope, confidence and renew vigour.

God bless you all for your support and friendship xx




The last week or so has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster for me, but knitting this bad boy, along with the company of good friends has to take a great deal of credit for bringing me out the other end.

Craziness and creativity have long been firm bed fellows, and having a creative outlet does more for me than any of my meds.

Well.  At least as much as 🙂 .

When I first looked at this pattern, I nearly went cross eyed with confusion, but once I got into the flow of it, it all made sense.  And the end result, if it looks anything like this pattern will be worth all the hard work, as it is so my style.


Something lovely from feeling horrible.

Sounds like win/win to me.

I wanted to share the love so to speak so if you click on the link below, you’ll be able to download the pattern; treat yourself to some nice yarn, and off you go!

Back to the needles…..will show you the end result.

Happy healing knitting!

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Whoever thinks that knitting is the domain of slightly batty old ladies is seriously way off base.  Anyone who is skilled at this must have minds like razor blades…..

I’m starting to wonder whether I’m out of my depth with this lovely cable sweater pattern, as it appears that you need a degree in Applied Mathematics just to get beyond the ribbing.

I spent over an hour last night un-knitting about four rows as, unbeknownst to me, I’d been reading the pattern charts wrong.

These things are not read top to bottom, from left to right.  No, you have to read them from bottom to top, from right to left unless it’s an even numbered row, then it’s left to right.

And blank means knit and dot means purl.  Unless you’re on the wrong side, there is an ‘r’ in the month and your moon is in Uranus and then you do the exact opposite.


This project is, however, probably the best Easter present I could have given myself as when I’m beavering away at it, mouthing the mad instructions, squinting at the multiple charts and graphs and swearing like a navvy, I’m not thinking about anything else,  i.e. my deepest, darkest fears.

Which is just as well, as for the first time in a long time, I’ll be on my own for Easter Sunday.

I did however decide to have a posh dinner with an old friend, H, in Oxford the other night by way of compensation.

I’d like to say that it was fun, but it wasn’t.

When H is on form, there’s no one like her. We met on a hiking holiday in Scotland a few years ago, and she had me in complete stitches every single day.  H has a wry, caustic, coruscating humour, little patience and no buffer, so like her or loathe her, there is no way of ignoring her, especially once she’s had a few. She is also a hugely talented, creative individual and a real inspiration.

On the minus side, she is hugely depressive, extremely self sabotaging and another one of those people who expects everyone to heal, rescue, understand, help, FEED HER in every which way possible.

She is also of late, very negative, nothing is her fault and she can fall out with her friends at the drop of a hat.

Know anyone like that Sista, hmmm?  Recognise any of those less than charming traits?

H spent the entire dinner documenting her woes, moaning about people who’ve let her down, telling me how horrible everything in her life is right now, and generally vomiting up all her shit onto the table for my perusal.

The worst part of this was that it was like looking at a great, big, frightening, distorted mirror image of myself.

‘Is this me?’  I inwardly asked myself as she droned on and on and on, without asking me a single thing about myself, unless it was something she needed to know for her own benefit ‘Is that why I can’t keep my friends?  Is that why no one calls?’

I listened as sympathetically as I could, trying not to let the green black sludge suck me back down into my own, only recently vacated tar pit, and changed the subject every chance I could, but there was no good/positive/fun news to be had from her.

I think that in three hours we must have laughed once and that was when we were saying goodbye, she, because of the joke she cracked, me from relieved hysteria that I had managed to survive the evening largely intact.

I was desperate to get back to my knitting though, to hide amongst the knits, the purls and thick white cables, and try shoo away the thick black clouds circling around my head.  I think that was when I rushed through it and fucked it up instead of reading the pattern properly.  Dammit.

H is also on her own tomorrow and something inside me was thinking that I should cook a roast and invite her over.  Cheer her up instead of compulsively, maniacally nit picking at her in my head.  Be a fucking Christian for once.

But I couldn’t.  My home is my sanctuary and to be locked in here with her for hour after hour, as she gets more and more pissed and maudlin, not knowing when she might leave, would (a) tip me over the edge, (b) quite possibly end the friendship if I try and evict her, and I’m not willing to lose her ‘cos I like her far too much to risk that.

This is the tragedy; Aunty C always bangs on at me to make ‘healthier friends’ but I’m a magnet to my own as they are to me, and sadly, I’ve grown to realise that I can’t rescue them.  I can offer advice if I’m a good place myself, but if they don’t take it or at least try and help themselves, then I’m powerless.

I don’t respond well to guilt.  I was made to feel guilty by my family right throughout my childhood for everything and anything, and it left me very defensive and extremely angry, and I have finally learned that you can only give what you can give.  If you don’t have the emotional readies (or real ones actually) in the bank then you can’t withdraw them and give them to someone in need.  It’s impossible. Especially as some fucker has blown the door off my safe and completely cleaned me out.

I need to heal myself before I can properly help anyone else, and even then, it may not be my place to do so.

In the meantime, all I can do is love her, be a friend and see her when I can.  I will continue to gently rebuff her hinted demands, help manage her expectations and hopefully  even make her smile and bring back the H that used to have me in tears of laughter.

As for me, I’ll enjoy the peace and serenity of my home, continue to wrestle with this bastard jumper and see what tomorrow brings.

The snow has arrived.  I gaze out of my window and smile.

Suddenly, I don’t quite feel so lonely anymore.



Photo 2013-07-10 8_58 PM

I had two artists dates this week.

Not because I’m being a goody two shoes.  It is because neither one was planned.

Artists dates are meant to enable you to be on your own with your inner artist, and on both occaisions I had plans with others that went awry, so I kind of cheated if you will.  So as penance 🙂 I will count each as one half of a date.

Both also had something in common; they came about from my inability to be on time.

My consistent tardiness is something that dogged my life for as long as I can remember, and is particularly prevalent when I don’t want to do something.  That said, I am often late even when I am happy to go to out or am really looking forward to an event.  What hasn’t helped in the latter years is my increasing diffuseness  and  scattiness.  I am also easily distracted and the side effects of my meds do not help make me sharper or more focused, and there is absolutely nothing I can do about that.

I always start out with very good intentions and a lot of the time I leave on time, but am then scuppered by shitty London Transport and/or traffic problems.

What I don’t tend to do is allow for delays.  I think a lot of it is to do with the fact that I have great difficulty leaving my home to do anything, and many times struggle to actually get out of the door at all, and once I am out there I am usually very keen to get back to my lair.

The first Artist’s Date was post an argument with a friend, who insisted on repeatedly berated me for being a mere 15 minutes late (whilst 90 minutes away, I was freezing my arse off at a bus stop and she was in a warm office, only yards away from the venue).  Hardly the ideal precursor for a fun, convivial evening.

On coming out of the tube station, I received such a carping, whinging, bitching text, that I could no longer envisage spend the evening with her without a full blown row ensuing, so rather than allow things to kick off, or waste a hideous journey into town in foul weather, I cancelled the dinner, turned tail, walked in the other direction and found myself in Liberty of London with a taut neck, prickling temper and itching fingers.

Liberty is not the best place to find oneself when in such a dangerous mood, especially if you have your credit card with you.  By the same token, it is a place of beauty, quality and serenity.  It is rarely packed or unpleasant to shop in, every room has beautiful things to admire, and I found myself slowly calming down the minute I entered it’s hallowed halls.

Aware of what I am capable of when in a mood like this, and as I am no longer earning, with heroic effort, I managed to drag myself away from my beloved scarf hall (where is is very easy to splurge away £300 plus on a little wisp of silk) into an elevator and up to the 3rd floor to browse the wools and yarns in the knitting and craft section.

As I lost myself in the array of colours on shelf, touching the skeins, and marvelling at the different  textures, my fingers wanted less to do harm and more to busily create and craft something lovely.  A softly spoken, dark sweatered assistant approached, and as if sensing my turbulent mood, patiently helped me find the perfect yarn for my retro cabled roll neck sweater pattern.  Eventually we decided on gorgeous Ivory aran weight cotton that would be cool in Spring and warm in Autumn.

By the time I had bought and paid for 18 balls, the store had worked it’s magic on me and I was much less ruffled and hopeful that I would be allowed to calm down and sort things out with C at a later date when we were both less rattled.  Plus knitting is the perfect activity to keep the mind focussed and the fingers busy so hopefully I would not dwell too much on what had gone on before.

However my subconscious warned me that from painful experience, it was unconvinced that this evening’s battle was over, so I treated myself to a beautiful sewing basket, and two slabs of very expensive salted chocolate from the confectionery department.  Might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb.


As I reluctantly exited the store and out into the sleet splattered night, my mobile bleeped.

Another message from C.  Here we go again.

Had I known that by the end of the evening our friendship would be at an end, I may well have dropped by the scarf hall after all….and bought something substantial to sling around the bitches neck, yank at both ends and make her shut the fuck up once and for all…. 😉

15 minutes…one for every year we had known one another.  Oh well….

Maybe it’s all for the best.

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So, I have decided to try working through the Artists Way in a group environment, to try and ensure that I stick with it for the whole 12 weeks this time.

I missed the first week last week (quelle surprise), but the second meet is tomorrow night.  I commit to this with some trepidation as I have no idea what these people will be like or how much we’re expected to share (‘Hi, I’m Sista!  I am suffer from depression, panic attacks am jobless, distrust everyone and barely leave the house!  Be my friend!  Whoo Hooo!’), but what the hell, I’ll give it a go.

I did try this last year and as I recall, participants have to relate how they found the previous week, so decided that for my first week at least, I should show willing and do my homework, so decided to go to a craft and fabric shop for my ‘Artists Date.’

For the uninitiated amongst you, an Artists Date is an activity/trip/treat that you do with your ‘Inner Artist’ (sort of a creative imaginary friend) that will give you some quality time together without anyone else there, without the distractions of family or work (not a problem for me) and hopefully spark creative insights and inspiration.

On the negative side it can feel quite cheesy and contrived, on the positive side, you’re sometimes allowed to buy nice stuff for yourself! That said, I’m not sure Coccinelle bags or a nice spiky pair of Jimmy Choo’s count, but nice fabric does, and I’ve been thinking about getting back into making things hence my rationale.

I had also discovered that a new sewing and craft centre had opened about 2 miles from my home, so I braved the snow, hopped into my car and high tailed it over there this afternoon.

The exterior of the store, I have to say was not promising; it looked pretty ramshackle and cheap with lots of old Singer machines piled up outside, it had wasteland and unoccupied buildings either side, and a bunch of guys watched whispering as I parked there. They didn’t exactly look like knitters or dressmakers, so I assumed they were feral wheel clampers. I gave them my best evil eye as I marched towards the entrance, trying not to show any weakness or look over my shoulder, daring them to touch my baby.

Inside was no better; it was all a bit old, dilapidated and musty, especially as it was supposedly a new store.  The majority of the stock looked dated, and there swatches of fabric on sale that looked so rancid, Miss Havisham would have rejected them in disgust.  I could have sworn some  items were priced in shillings and pence.  Hardly Liberty of London.

Behind the cash desk, stood three assistants, one of whom looked rather hostile, the remaining two, away with the fairies.  I smiled tentatively; they stared at me, as if I were a fox in a chicken coop.

I approached.

‘Excuse me!’

Fuck, why do I sound so posh all of a sudden?

‘Do you have any velvet in stock?’

Scary Mary, piggy little eyes layered in thick black eyeliner, an alarmingly badly dyed purple/black crop atop her head, stared at me balefully.  Clad in a grotesque neon orange jumper that made her look like a redundant pumpkin (and would make any budding knitter take up, erm, rock climbing) she managed to remain motionless for a good three minutes.

‘Erm, I couldn’t see anyt…..’

‘Everything’s out.’


I wanted to turn tail and go, not out of fear or rejection (hey sometimes even I welcome rejection), but it was clear I wasn’t going to find what I was looking for.

The whole reason I knit or sew is that you can buy amazing fabrics like velvets and linens, or beautiful silk alpaca or cashmere yarns to make things unique to you that you will want to touch, stroke and feel against your skin, and can keep and wear for years. Were I to wear anything made from the stuff on display here, I’d set myself on fire from static electricity, get a rash or walk around with my hair standing on end like Marge Simpson.

But I stayed because I didn’t want to (a) admit defeat, or (b) take my Artist out tomorrow too.  Hey these are early days, don’t want to spoil the bitch, do I?

A box of knitting patterns suddenly caught my eye.  They were clearly modeled on those naff 1950’s covers that companies now use on risqué greetings cards that are sold in those expensive little gift shops in Soho. What a cool idea, reviving retro patterns!  I grinned conspiritally at the woman next to me, assuming she’d share the joke.  She jumped as if I’d goosed her, then skidaddled towards the lining section, her hearing aid whining in her wake.

I look again.  No they’re not joke knitting patterns; they’re the original ones. WTF?

Maybe I should buy the lot and sell them as antiques on Ebay?

I continue to walk past row upon row upon row, bolt upon bolt, metre, sorry, yard after yard of cheap, nasty uninspiring fabrics, boxes of old, recycled zips, discoloured cards of buttons and ancient dummies dressed in 80’s outfits festooned with dust.  Ikk.  Other shoppers shamble around like grey bloodless zombies, without purpose or enthusiasm.

No one buys anything.

Have I wandered into some kind of creepy, bad taste time warp here?

‘Yes,’ said my inner Artist clinging to my arm, clearly unnerved, ‘we need to get the fuck out of here.  Now.’

My skin starts to feel dry.  Perhaps it’s the central heating.

Then I feel the hairs on the back of my neck standing up.  Slowly I turned towards the cash register.  All three shop assistants are staring at me.

Was it my imagination, or can I feel my ovaries start to shrivel?

Suddenly I smell something sour and fetid at my shoulder; it touches me.  My Artist whimpers.  I turn. It’s the old dear with the hearing aid her lips twisted into something that once might have resembled a smile.

‘There’s some nice seersucker on offer over there dear!’ she hisses in my ear ‘and there’s a discount today for the over 50’s!’

I swear I can feel my vagina drying up…..

Not taking any more chances with what’s left of my womanhood, I nod politely, put my head down and head for the door with my Artist in hot pursuit as they watch silently, feeling their eyes burning into the back of my head as I make good my escape.

Scuttling across the car park, I find my little car intact and unmolested, much to my relief.  I unlock the door and hop in, my poor terrified fangita finally breathing a sigh of relief, and relaxing into the leather seat.  That is one ‘creative’ outing I wouldn’t be repeating again.

‘Well,’ said my Artist sarcastically, ‘that was just lovely. I’m sooo inspired.’

You can do one as well, dear.  Don’t call me, I’ll call you.

Well not for a week or so anyway.