In my last post I talked and Juliette and what a caring, fun, creative, loving, colourful person she was, when she died I said I’d get a bee tattoo not a worker bee I wasn’t looking to copy her but a bumble bee to remind me of her and our friendship which started from matching underwear, a reminder of the memes and pictures of bees with fuzzy butts we used share. On Monday I got my tattoo of my own fuzzy butt bumble bee with a purple watercolour background to match Juliette’s hair. I know she’d approve of this
Long time no blog.
This post is about suicide though there is no mention of methods.
I’ve been wanting to write this for 6 months but it was too hard. A potentially creepy comment about owning the same underwear on a drunken toilet selfie did not get my blocked but instead was the start of our friendship. We met through an internet mental health “community” and there were many eye rolls about such places and some of the people in them (though we were aware that we were far from perfect ourselves).
I soon found that Juliette had a wicked sense of humour, she was attractive and creative and had various different hair colours in the time I knew her. She loved animals and owned four gorgeous rats, she had an accidental memorial leg of tattoos for people in life who’d died. Despite her intolerance to bullshit (and lactose) she was loyal and supportive to those she cared about. Hummus memes were frequently shared and still pop up on my Facebook notifications, some of the jokes we shared were truly terrible.
Living in Manchester she got a worker bee tattoo with ‘don’t look back in anger’ going around it after the Manchester bombing and bees became her ‘thing’ online. A gif of a cat dressed up at a bee (creatively dubbed beecat) falling slowly off a sofa became a of conveying frustration/ crap day/ crap mental health and often summed up how we felt, her mandala cat tattoo was also dubbed beecat.
We had a group chat with three of us in it which was 90% complaining about life, mental health and the internet and the rest was probably random memes and beecat gifs.
I knew Juliette had attempted suicide previously but part of you doesn’t want to accept that it could happen and when it did I didn’t want it to be real. It felt like someone had punched me in the chest; a feeling that’s come and gone for the last 6 months, I cried for hours and have cried for many more since.
Her funeral especially broke me, when many of the person who cared about her had mental health issues and were scattered around not only the country but also the world only a few of us were able to go but a request for people to change their profile pictures to bees spread and on the day of her funeral my social media was full of different types of bees. I’ve never been to a funeral full of people wearing cat ears before but as soon as we arrived we knew it was the right place.
People talk about grief and stages as if it’s linear and as if it doesn’t come out of nowhere and punch you in the stomach, it’s not that simple or straightforward. Oasis makes me cry, pictures of furry bumblebee butts hanging out of flowers make me smile and part of me still expects her to be online, sometimes I’ll make a really inappropriate joke and I know she’d have laughed and we’d both joke that we were the worst. I thought the 6 month anniversary of her death yesterday would be hard but instead I was caught out on Friday crying for several hours (the ugly snotty puffy face version).
Tomorrow I’m going for a consultation for a bee tattoo so I’ll always have a reminder of our friendship.
I miss you
Beecat loves you x
Helplines aren’t a replacement for proper mental health care but if you’re in distress and need someone to talk to you can contact the Samaritans or if you’re under 35 Papyrus. Text support is available from Shout.
If you’ve been bereaved by suicide SOBS can give you support and advice
I was trying to explain to someone recently the conflicting feelings that come into my head around self harm. I want to self harm but really I don’t, I keep thinking how much better it was to have an outlet for the way I feel but really I know that it wouldn’t help, it didn’t help, not really, not properly but that doesn’t stop my mind jumping to it when I’m stressed or anxious or overwhelmed.
I haven’t self harmed in 391 days but I self harmed from the age of 17 to 32 and intermittently before that, it’s not that I want to self harm it’s just that I want to breathe and not feel like I’m suffocating, I want to stop feeling like I’m dragging a weight around with me or wading through custards and when it’s been something I’ve done for so long it’s an immediate thought an ingrained reaction that my mind jumps to when I feel bad.
I’m not naive I know that just because or not self harmed in a long time it doesn’t mean I won’t ever do it again because I can’t say for sure that I know I’ll never self harm again and even now it’s not that I never do anything unhealthy/ potentially harmful or things that could be soon as negative ways of managing things they’re just less destructive and don’t involve me ending up in a&e. The longer time goes on the bigger the stakes, once I was past 6 months I’d beat my previous longest time, then it was 7 months, 9 months and finally a year.
Sometimes people say what can I do to help or make things easier but I don’t always want them to do anything other than listen or try and see things from my position, I know some people are more practical than others and their reaction is to look for a solution but sometimes the solution is just please listen to me and hear what I’m saying when I say how overwhelmed and stressed I feel, how I miss people I was close to, how alone I feel, how the light at the end of the tunnel feels very dim and distant right now that’s what can be done to help.
Sometimes I just want someone to take me down to the carpark and let me cry
Before the earth makes that turn moving the UK into 2019 I thought I’d do a 2018 roundup post because it’s been a pretty intense year. At Christmas 2017 I said my goal for 2018 was to become permanent staff even if it was still on reduced hours but to have the security of a proper contract not a zero hours one.
The year didn’t get off the best start with my first trip to a&e of the year on the 2nd of January this was also the only visit to a&e all year, just over two weeks after this I started a new medication Lamotragine a mood stabiliser. I’m sure that lamotragine has been the biggest reason that I haven’t self harmed its almost like it’s turned something off in my brain that’s made me not want to self harm anymore.
My main goal for the year came true in May when I became permanent staff and took over running the youth service, in November I passed my 6 month probation so now I’m officially permanent staff running a service, managing volunteers a year after I said I wanted to be permanent.
I’ve been under the mental health service again this year slowly adjusting my medication and I’ve now come off the antipsychotics, reduced one of the medications I was taking for anxiety and only taking the bets blockers as needed. I’ve gone from taking 5 different medications for my mental health to 3.
For someone who often struggles with change there have been so many this year, changes with my job, and the people I work with, two of the people I was closest with at work both left within a few weeks of each other which has been hard and still hasn’t fully sunk in. The office is definitely quieter and I’m missing my verbal sparring partner, I’ll also the person who will always find something positive in everything who took me outside to the carpark to cry because she knew I wouldn’t want anyone in the office to overhear me.
I’ve also become closer to other people at work including two who started at the same time as me, I’ve been out for various drinks and social events (enough to maybe get a reputation) and I’ve had some lovely feedback and support from my volunteers.
As an incredibly indecisive person who struggles to make a choice when there are too many desserts on the menu I bought myself an early Christmas present and got my first tattoo covering some of my self harm scars something very permanent but positive and I love it so much.
So 2019 will be off to a busy start with work but also starting with a huge milestone of a year since the last time I self harmed. Of course my love for a certain tv show about a certain grumpy dr has been in full force in 2018 (is a tattoo taking the fandom too far?) and I’ve spent my time off over Christmas working my way through Sherlock, 2019 is looking like a busy year for my fandoms.
Happy new year or happy January or happy Tuesday whichever suits you
I’m not a fiction writer, not that I consider myself a writer as such I enjoy blogging and writing workshops and training but I can’t write stories. I admire people who can write fiction, recently I’ve been reading quite a lot of fan fiction, now I know the reputation a lot of fanfic has and the sort of images it brings up in a lot of people’s minds – badly written sec stories often with interesting pairings and while there is plenty of that it’s not what I read.
I read a description recently where a character was described as “walking a tightrope across a canyon of pain, trying to keep his balance, occasionally swaying slightly“ although this was a metaphor for physical pain I think it’s also very accurate for mental health and the balancing act of trying not to over balance from one problem or another and stay on course. I’m struggling with anxiety and low motivation and the 8 -10 week wait for another CMHT appointment has now been 15 weeks with no appointment in sight.
My tightrope is currently swinging between work and benefits with a chasm of fuck knows what beneath me too deep to see the bottom but with nothing good down there.
I’m behind with work and struggling to talk to anyone about it, I’m frustrated at myself and I’ve come to such a roadblock with this that it’s making me feel stupid which is why I’m struggling to ask for help or admit that I’m having a complete mental block, I’ve always struggled to ask for help with things I don’t understand for fear of looking stupid (or being told I’m stupid). Other issues at work currently stressing me out are things beyond my control such as not enough volunteers and having to rush training new ones and now someone close to me is leaving. Have a mentioned before that I struggle with change? Especially changes with relationships? The last couple of weeks have been an emotional shit storm from hiding in the toilets crying because I’m actually devastated that they’re leaving to losing my temper and shouting at them due to a build up of stress and frustration.
On the other side the benefits and money stress which is something that doesn’t just impact on me, my tax credits have been stopped in what I can only see as an hmrc cock up which has also had a knock on effect in stopping my housing benefit and having to repay the council what they’ve paid so far, I recently had to reapply for my PIP/ disability benefits and still haven’t heard back from that, the scary thing about this is if I lose it completely I won’t be eligible anymore for tax credits and my boyfriend will lose the carers allowance he gets for supporting me.
As I can’t currently see an end to the tightrope I just have to hope I can keep my balance and not fall over the edge like the character the quote was about.
A young drunk dino.
I’m a mouthy drunk, not the messy head down the toilet drunk of my early 20’s or the numbing my body with vodka so I could take action to numb my mind drunk of my late 20’s, I’ve never had a problem with alcohol as such more a problem with the things I do when I’ve had alcohol.
I don’t drink much now, chronic illness and medication have seen to that and I’m really only a social drinker but I’m also anxious socially and alcohol is a great way to reduce the anxiety and my tongue. When I say I’m a mouthy drunk I don’t mean rude or aggressive (passive aggressive maybe) more that my tendency to over share increases as my inhibitions decrease adding this to a habit of using humour as a way of making light of difficult subjects it can be awkward at best and messy at worst.
But this isn’t really about alcohol, to quote thirteen “being drunk doesn’t change who you are it just reveals it” I recently did a support plan at work about supporting my mental health including triggers, what I can do to support myself, how work can support me and what signs there might be that I’m struggling. One of the things I included here was changes to my relationships with colleagues, I feel I have some good relationships with some of the people I work with and we tend to have a laugh and joke about things including each other it’s banter but if I’m struggling or not in a great place mentally I can take that too far past it being funny or harmless.
The problem with banter is when mixed with anxiety and alcohol and a loosened tongue the less fun parts come out, I’m not incapable of being unpleasant or bitchy I’m certainly no saint but it’s not always just to be a dick it can and recently was in reaction to hurt, those annoying attachment issues rearing up again at unplanned social interactions with someone who was once a source of support who then let me down and lied to me more than once. I’ve struggled with change and boundaries but I’m not oblivious to them and I’m not naive I don’t need people to lie to me and give me false hope only to completely go against what they said, the worst part is although I’m angry part of me still misses them but I don’t want to not that I particularly want to be angry either but it would be easier to just be angry.
It would be better if I didn’t have to see people who let me down or at least have some control over the interactions but that’s not always possible and while the banter may have gone a bit far and the anger crept in aided by alcohol it didn’t messy and there were no close encounters with the toilet or trips to a&e.
One day I’m going to be sued for my constant use of song lyrics
Recently things have been relatively OK I’m not saying it’s all wonderful but mentally I’ve been reasonably stable; I’ve had my first medication increase of Lamotragine and it’s hard to know whether it’s helping or not as this is probably the first time I’ve not been in crisis or extremely depressed when changing or adjusting medication, to add to this today I got a letter from the mental health team offering me an appointment in March with the recovery and support team presumably following on from the referral the psychiatrist I saw in December made. Yesterday I saw a friend I haven’t seen in a while and was telling her that I’d stopped going to the group I’d been attending due to it being a toxic and unsupportive environment that made me feel worse not better so with the recent mental stability getting the letter about the mental health appointment has just added another decision the think about, if I’m offered more treatment will it make things worse? Do I want it? Is it suitable or would I be better off considering something else I’ve been looking into?.
Life doesn’t come with a manual, I’m still trying to find out who I can complain to but for now I have to try and work things out myself and try and decide what the right thing to do in certain circumstances or what decisions to make when opportunities come along. One of the problems is that opportunities don’t always come along at the right time and that’s without the complication of not knowing when the right time is. For 7 months I’ve been working and earning on top of my benefits (all legit please don’t report me for benefit fraud) and it’s been the best, most intense, stressful, exhausting and rewarding 7 months, it certainly hasn’t all be smooth sailing with days where I was going solo bobbing up and down desperately trying to stay afloat and times when I was drowning and having 4:30 Friday meltdowns which involved texting my manager and almost quitting.
But 7 months in the grand scheme of things isn’t that long and in a perfect world I’d have more time to prepare and put myself in the best position to take on more not just skills wise but mentally too and feel as stable and secure as I can and ready to take the next step in moving off benefits another struggle here is my chronic illness I cannot manage full time and even if I was in perfect mental health I couldn’t physically cope on full time hours. I feel that so much of my self worth recently has been tied up in this job I’m told a lot how good it is that I’m working and being payed but as much as I’m enjoying having more money it’s more the feeling of being an equal on the same level as staff and things that come with it such as socials or attending the staff away day.
Sometimes I think I do too good a job at treating my mental health as something separate that I’m almost lulled into a false sense of security that comes with stability when realistically I still have to fight the urge to tell my manager everything I’ve done each day if he’s not in, let him know I’ve uploaded it onto the shared drive and where so he knows I’ve been working, of course I know that not only does he trust me to work alone but he doesn’t want to know every email I’ve sent or every webpage I’ve read for the workshop I’m writing. I’ve had a few relationship anxieties too despite MBT helping me with this it’s hard to explain to someone without mental health issues that people I’ve been close to or very attached to weren’t just people I worked with and that although they have moved on it’s still at times a struggle for me.
Although I’m handling it better I’m still not a fan of change and if anyone knows where I can hand in my resignation of adulthood please let me know until then I’ll be building a pillow fort.
Today the perks of being a dinosaur turns one, my little blog is growing up fast *wipes a tear from my eye* it’s also the first blog post of the new year, I don’t really go in for the whole new year new me thing, sure 2018 will bring new experiences and changes just as every day, week, month does no matter where in the year it is and 2017 also brought some big changes with being discharged from all mental health services for the first time in about 8 years, important people no longer in my life, leaving behind toxic environments that were detrimental to my mental health and not staying because it was the only option of support and probably the biggest of all was having my training recognized as not just good but worthy of actual money and being paid for and getting a job closely followed a second one.
None of these things have been without challenges and people who know me well will know I’ve had times where I’ve felt overwhelmed by the changes, I’m now pulling back a bit and slowing things down I’m recognizing that is all new and that I don’t need to try so hard to prove myself. This blog was another new thing for 2017 and it’s still going and people read it which is still a surprise to me, I find writing helpful often during the writing process of creating a blog post it starts to unravel things in my brain a bit and the connections seem to form better even though people say I’m articulate I still find writing easier than speaking though talking and opening up is less of a struggle than it was, I certainly never thought at the beginning of 2017 that I’d not only get on well with someone I’ve only been working with for 6 months but also disclosing things about really difficult points in my life.
When I was writing training at work I wrote long notes almost scripts to go with the slides, when it came to delivering the training I didn’t use the notes as much as I’d anticipated and on some days not at all however writing those detailed notes really helped to get all the information together in my brain from whatever dark and dusty corner it was hiding in and blogging is like that for me. I’m quite a hands on person and enjoy the interaction with volunteers and service users I tend to write these posts on my phone then email it to myself and upload it from my laptop although my hands would prefer it if I used speech to text my brain finds the physical action of writing (or typing better).
So for 2018 I hope to write more, get better at and feel more confident in promoting the blog and sharing it, I want to work on turning myself into a brand and personal development and utilizing my social media better. So happy first birthday blog and thank you to those who’ve been reading since the start and those who’ve joined along the way I hope there are even more people reading this time next year.
I don’t like Christmas, call me Scrooge or the grinch but i really don’t enjoy it. Christmas can be a really difficult time for so many people there’s a big emphasis on joy and happiness, being around family and friends but the happy family isn’t a reality for many, my family diminished over the years with elderly members moving into nursing homes and dying and now I have no contact with my immediate family though the family Christmases I did have often were rarely happy ones.
My mental health tends to deteriorate around this time of year the run up to Christmas really makes me stressed and anxious despite knowing rationally that the day itself will most likely be fine and that I’m actually going to spend it with two people (and two cats) that I’m choosing to be with. One of the struggles I have with Christmas is that most of the things I do to support myself aren’t an option, I’m off work for two weeks, there’s a big reduction in public transport so as a non driver I’m limited on how much I can get out, health services are reduced as are most other things like council services and housing association (not that my housings are any use when they are in) it feels like the world shuts down and the prospect of over a week with nothing to do doesn’t feel me with joy but anxiety.
I need routine and structure to stay relatively sane (emphasis on relatively) though this structure is mainly external as left to my own devises I tend to spend too much time in bed or watching YouTube but the idea of days with nothing to do and falling back into bad sleep patterns reminds me of when that was all my life consisted of endless days of nothing stretching out ahead of me with little point in knowing what day it was when they were all the same, where I’d stay up half the night and sleep half the day (this was mainly a way of reducing the amount of time I had to spend around my mother) although how ever much I need routine I’m not missing getting in at 8:30 to prepare for volunteer training.
Christmas is also shortly followed by new year and the thought of change and reflection, I’ve been reflecting a lot recently especially on relationships as I mentioned in my last post, I’m tired of missing people especially people who don’t miss me who made promises they didn’t mean I don’t want to miss them anymore. In January I’ll be once again going through medication changes in an attempt to finally get off antipsychotic medication something I’ve been wanting for a while.
Disability, chronic illness and mental health problems don’t go away for the holidays it just means different challenges and things that can affect pain or fatigue and trying to manage pacing while still enjoying the day.
To anyone struggling this Christmas, with isolation, pain or mental illness you’re not alone this dinosaur sends love and solidarity. If you need support during the Christmas period the Samaritans are always there and comedian Sarah Millican will once again be doing #joinin on twitter for the 7th year running, have as good a Christmas as you can a big Christmas RAWR from The Perks of Being a Dinosaur.