Phoenix Fights

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


EAR WORM No. 24 – Duran Duran – THE REFLEX #bodydysmorphia #eatingdisorders

I have this morning ritual that I wasn’t even aware of until recently.

Actually it’s more of an unconscious reflex, hence this bloody ear worm.

Every morning (OK, sometimes afternoon) when I get out of bed, I go to the loo then afterwards swing past my full length mirror, lift my top and examine my midriff.  Then depending on state of said abdomen I flinch, pull a face, remain impassive, then stumble off to put the kettle on.

Given that I have a history of eating disorders I’m guess that I’ve been doing this shit since my early mid teens, but of late I’ve doubled up to twice a day as, due to a lack of exercise, and, let’s face it, my extreme attachment to the sofa, my girth has expanded somewhat.

Back in the day, a.k.a. Duran Duran’s hay day, when I was a gym obsessive I would work out fervently, ever striving for that elusive six pack, then I’d lift my top and scrutinise my sweaty midsection, crunching my sunbed bronzed abdominals in an effort to justify that super strenuous 90 minutes of pumping iron.

Flex, flex, flex, flex, flex..

. 19801

But despite what watching bystanders might have thought, it wasn’t out of vanity that I did this.  There is no doubt in my mind that looking back 25 years ago to that time, I must have looked good, but all I saw were the imperfections. To be honest, I could have been a cross between Rachel McLish and Jamie Lee Curtis and I still would have pinpointed something that was pudgy, pathetic, or disproportionate that needed work, so the endless search for perfection became an obsession.

And whilst the net result brought me attention, it was only ever of the physical kind and no one ever saw or wanted to see who I really was.

Now I’m not even desired for my physical appearance, so I no longer use it, let alone bruise it. And whilst this in some ways is an enormous relief, in a way it is the death knell for all of my hopes and dreams to be loved, have a family etc. etc.

At least when you’re young you have hope.

And time.

But to this day, whenever I can make myself work out, I take myself into another world where my body sings with gratitude and all my mind has to worry about is counting the reps and committing to the burn, which if I’d realised it at the time, was the real benefit to pumping iron, and not to attract a life partner out of the bunch of muscle bound boys whom my protein shake brought to the yard, who only wanted to bump up their ever inflating ego by ‘conquering’ me.

Which, in fairness to them, unbeknownst to me, was all that I could offer at the time anyway.

Back to the present I’ve decided that if i’m going to do this damn fool thing every morning that I might as well go back to the weights room, and then at least I’ll have a fighting chance of not having to greet my reflection with a grimace of disgust every day.

And I’ll be giving something back to my ageing, neglected, much maligned carcass in the guise of self love, the only kind that counts when it all boils down.  And whilst I know it won’t bring admiring gazes anymore, it will bring me physiological release, endomorphin hits and great bone density.

27 years ago I found myself in London fucked up and lonely with no friends which is coincidentally where I find myself today. But it was getting out and indulging my obsession that brought people into my life, so I’m hoping it works second time around.

So wouldn’t I use it?

Namaste x



If you were to pass me in the street, you’d probably think that I look like the average, mild mannered, rapidly ageing, peri menopausal maiden, if a little frosty about the edges.

But I have a secret life.

I’m a very adept, dedicated, highly skilled, sniper.

Not the kind that fires semi automatic weapons at passing civilians, of course. Although in the neighbourhood I live in, it’s not unheard of and sometimes a prudent course of action if you’re carrying a designer handbag, the latest iPhone or even a six pack of Fosters.

I’m one of those really annoying people that goes on eBay and just when the last seconds of an auction are ticking away, jumps in at the last moment and bids for your item, and usually stealing the deal right from under your nose.

Nice huh?

But I don’t do it to annoy. I’m kinda of addicted because it’s (a) something to do, (b) a cheap(ish) thrill and ( c) I’m hunting, not wabbits, but crafty stuff, antiques, retro shoes/boots and especially, super warm, beautiful cashmere goods.

I’ve always wanted a 100% cashmere coat, but would never stump up for the price of a new one, as, rather like buying a new car, it’s one hell of an investment and loses value the minute you walk it out of the shop. Plus, I’m unemployed. So in the winter months I peruse eBay just waiting for the right item to pop it’s head up, then I can monitor my target and wait those 45 seconds at the end of the auction to strike.

And it’s turned into something of an obsession.

Especially when something I want is elusive or in short supply, then I’ll usually end up hunting it down to some small village in the Cotwolds and demand to buy it, which is why I ended up driving 40 miles to a small exclusive boutique the other day to purchase a beautiful mohair car coat that I hadn’t even tried on, as it was the last size 10 in existence. Fortunately it fit me, but to be honest I barely ever go out anymore, haven’t worn it yet and am unlikely to until Autumn, so quite why I felt compelled to buy it right now I do not know.
But when it’s winter, cold, and as a tallish person with long extremities I always get the urge to swathe myself in warm sumptuous layers to protect me from the weather. I’ve always been quite a sensuous person too, so am very attracted to natural fabrics that feel good against the skin. Cashmere, wool, brushed cotton, alpaca, you name it and you’ll find me buried under a pile of it come October through to March.

And in the summer, when the weather is hot (ha!), cottons, silk, linen and light denim make up the majority of my wardrobe.
I’m not rich or a snob, it’s not about that. I love brushed cotton as much as virgin wool, but I can’t abide anything unnatural, itchy or sweat inducing against my skin.  Nice fabrics and yarns feel like caresses to me, which probably boils down to the fact that in my day to day life, I am rarely physically touched.

Of course I get light, air kissy, mwah mwah embraces from my London friends when I meet them, but apart from when I see my family, it’s rare that I am on the receiving end of a proper embrace, let alone a cuddle. And when you see photographs of me with a group of people, I’m always slightly separate/aloof from the group, even if I’m liked by them, as ironically from a body language point of view, I strongly suspect that I put out an untouchable vibe, when I’m probably more in need of physical contact than anyone I know.

And don’t even get me started about sex. The thought of it is just unimaginable to me right now.

There is no doubt that I am lonely, isolated, and as a result I have built myself a very comfortable, homely fortress here in South London, and with it’s plush carpets, log fire and cosy nooks and armchairs strewn with throws, it would be the ideal little sanctuary to come home to.

If I ever went out that is.

And as much as I love and appreciate my home and the garments that make up my wardrobe, there are times where I’d be willing to set a match to the lot of it in exchange for a cuddle from someone I can trust and am able to love and and will love me in return.

But until that person comes along, if they ever do, I will stay here snug in my lonely bunker, behind the blanketed barricades, scanning the horizon for something that will kill the pain.

If only for sixty seconds.

(Originally blogged as CASHMERE CUDDLES, WOOLEN LOVE)

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Do you ever find yourself totally taken over by one thing, one person, one incident, one insult and let it become your entire world?

As an example of this, whilst women are meant to be good multi taskers, I seem to be totally incapable of the art of balance and perspective, and am very easily coaxed down a hollow in search of that elusive something I must have and no other.

Especially since the advent of t’internet and the oh so addictive search engines, I can while away hours, no, days searching for the name of a song I heard on the radio, a pair of boots I saw in a magazine, a recipe for apple cake, a cashmere scarf or a vintage pair of book ends on eBay.

Especially if there are more sensible and important things that need to be done.

Like getting a job or setting up a business.

This handicap of mine also has a more sinister, dangerous side.

Any negative encounter or experience, be it a curt rebuff, a slight, an accident, a let down, a sneer, the tiniest of rejections and my world will suddenly be falling down around my ears.

I can be pootling along, relatively at peace with the world, minding my own business and something will happen, and then that ONE THING will suddenly totally eclipse everything that was OK, good, or downright lovely, and my whole world will be tainted by a horrible, dark, sticky, contaminating cloud of hideousness that will cause me to sink to the ground in despair, then grab me by the hair drag me down said hole like a rag doll.

‘There is no point in resisting’, it silently seems to say, ‘no one will miss you anyway.’

The last time this happened was  one Saturday.  I was having a perfectly pleasant evening chilling in front of ‘Strictly’ with my cats, when a neighbour caught me unawares and pretty much forced her way into my flat to discuss some outstanding, rather contentious issue.

As you might have guessed, I don’t like people turning up unannounced and interrupting my favourite programme.

Nor do I like this woman.

She has something of the ‘smiling assassin’ about her, and whilst I conversed with her and her lessor-of-the-two evils companion in a fairly amicable manner, by the time she left, I felt defiled, tainted, railroaded and hugely outraged that my territory had invaded.

I let her in!  How did that happen?

It happened because of my cursed British politeness of course, and because we live in a shared community, so to a greater or lessor degree, it’s better that we get along with one another.

So when she rang my buzzer, I was not really able to cry down the intercom BEGONE, WHORE OF SATAN!’

But I kind of wish I had.

Because after they left, I slid down a sticky, stinking slope of despair and got really paranoid about it.

She just came in.

Just like that.

Knowing I didn’t want her there.

Smirking and nodding with hatred and scorn in her eyes.

This is MY HOME.

And then I had to drink in order to get to sleep.

So I woke up the next morning feeling really shit after mixing my meds with booze.

These ‘one thing’s seem creep up on me and mess with my world ALL THE TIME.

The other week, some rather odd woman at one of my Meet Ups totally blanked me when I addressed her cheerily, directly and very publicly.

She may have been distracted, shy, or just plain rude, but I felt exposed, rejected and very, very humiliated.

And whilst she is one of the most bland people I have ever met, I made that encounter my all for the following three days and nights when I took to my bed and thought about ways of not being here anymore.

It didn’t matter that I didn’t and don’t desire her company or friendship.

It’s the fact that I’m shit and even she knows it.

My obsessive focus on that one thing, be it to the greater or lessor extreme is extremely debilitating as they stop me getting on and making any real progress in my life, and Aunty C (my counsellor) is always giving out to me about it.

‘Seriously what is that person to you?’ she’ll rail at me in frustration, Do they honestly matter enough to get you in a state like that?’

‘I know it was rude of that company not to come back to you about that job!  But would you honestly want to work for someone with manners like that?’

‘So you friend is ignoring you!  Get on with your life, and when she comes crawling back, you will be her equal, not some needy sidekick!’

And when I waste time searching for that elusive thing/information/must have item, she’ll accuse my ‘bad parent’ of allowing my child to run riot’ presumably whilst she’s watching Jeremy Kyle, gorging on Hob Nobs whilst swigging gin or something.

But both me and ‘my parent’ find it so hard to prioritise, balance things out and find/maintain perspective though.

So the other day when some stupid twat hit my car, the third time it has happened this year and at NO TIME my fault, I had to chant to myself, mantra style ‘It’s just one thing, just one thing, not everything’ and remind myself of:

My health

The roof over my head (well for this month anyway)

My cats

My friends

That loaf of freshly baked bread cooling on the hob

The Ceilidh dance just a week away

Those beautiful skeins of burnt orange silken yarn, sat in a duck egg blue shopping bag on top of my dresser.


And that time, at least, I kept the Horseman at bay.

But he waits patiently as his horse tears at the turf restlessly with it’s hooves, for the next opportunity to take me down.

As the next thing is invariably just around the corner.

So I will count my blessings, hold my nerve and above all, try and keep my head.

After all, it’s just one thing my soul maybe feeling….

Namaste x