Posts Tagged ‘anxiety’

So I am still a week and a half behind with what has been going on. Oops.

That Saturday night I was having really strong suicidal thoughts; they seemed to be getting stronger and stronger each day, and I seriously considered acting on them – I had planned what I wanted to write in my note, I had planned what I wanted to happen to what money I have etc etc. But since I had agreed to seeing the crisis team the next morning, as I didn’t want to go to A&E again, I found I was in a difficult position, as although remote, there was a chance they may have offered some more help or something, and as I have said before, I feel like if there is an option other than suicide, then that needs exploring first. I don’t mean distant, long-term things that are months away, but things that are immediate possibilities. So I forced myself to get through Saturday night, and saw the crisis team on Sunday morning. They were predictably useless. I was feeling absolutely horrific, and they just did the usual of telling me to try to distract myself, and said that they would speak to L the next morning. It was entirely pointless, which I had been virtually sure it would be, and I was desperately wishing I had just acted on the thoughts the night before.

That afternoon I had to go to a rehearsal. I desperately didn’t want to go, and was really looking for any excuse whatsoever – I had hoped the crisis team visit would coincide with it, but unfortunately it didn’t, and my mum said to me that if I was going to go ahead with the show, which essentially I had to do as it was only two weeks until the performance week, and to me dropping out at that point was not a valid option unless I was dead. The rehearsal was one of the hardest things I have ever done I think. I know that sounds melodramatic, but it was just horrible. I was there for over four hours, and I was just feeling like complete shit – I was exhausted, I couldn’t concentrate, I was very anxious, there were too many people, it was too much noise – it was just everything I couldn’t cope with. I also clearly looked like absolute crap as so many people asked if I was ok – I used the headache and tiredness excuse, both of which were actually true, as I had a really bad stress headache, and was obviously exhausted. Several times I just found the main rehearsal room too much and had to go off into another room and ended up bursting into tears, despite the Diazepam. I was also very stressed as I didn’t know my lines, because of my complete lack of concentration, and the director was insistent that everyone knew them for the rehearsal the next day when we were running Act 1, so when I got home from the rehearsal I had to try to learn lines, which was just the last thing I felt up to doing. I was wishing more and more that I had acted on my thoughts weeks before, as I was utterly convinced that was the right thing to do.

Monday was fairly uneventful, but there had been a very slight shift in my mood. Although I was still feeling terrible, I didn’t have quite the same level of desperation as I had in the days before. I skipped ballet yet again that day, and went to rehearsal – again looking and feeling like shit, but I got through it. Diazepam really is a wonderful drug! Tuesday I saw L. There was obviously quite a lot to talk about, as I hadn’t seen her for two weeks, although I had spoken to her the previous week, and of course a lot had been going on. She was really supportive, as she had been on the phone the previous week. She told me some things which explained why she had been more distant lately, and apologised for not giving me as much support as I needed. The previous week I had spoken to the manager one day, as he had been the duty worker when I phoned in, and he said that they would look into allocating someone else to see me on the alternate weeks that L couldn’t, as it seemed that fortnightly contact wasn’t enough, and that there was a new social worker starting in a few weeks and that she would be a possibility. When I saw L though, she said that she had decided that she was going back to seeing me weekly whenever possible. Although she has cut down her hours, most weeks she is there at least part of the time, and some weeks all of the time, so she said she would see me weekly unless things changed and she had to have more time off, in which case she would ask someone else, probably the new social worker, to become involved and see me when she couldn’t. So I am now back to seeing her weekly, although there are conditions involved – she said we need to make sure we are working to some specific goals and targets, rather than just talking about things generally, although obviously we will be doing that as well. I appreciate that she has gone back to seeing me weekly, as I think it was a little bit of controversy over it with her manager from what she said, as most people she is only seeing monthly, and some fortnightly. She also said that I could see Dr E the next day, but rather than seeing her at the CMHT where I usually see her, it would mean going up to the hospital, as she was the psychiatrist on duty for MHA assessments that day, and when they do that they have to be based at the hospital, but she could apparently see me first thing. I said that would be fine, and so L said she would pick me up at 8:30am. Ouch.

My appointment with Dr E was ok. When we were in the car park, L had her window wound down as she had to put her ticket in to get into the car park, and as L was parking someone got out of a car near us and dropped quite a lot of stuff. I said ‘oopsy!’ and L asked what had happened, and I said ‘they dropped stuff everywhere’ followed by ‘oh crap, I forgot your window was open’. Then the person turned around, and of course it was Dr E. Naturally. Her and L and gone to talk alone so that L could bring her up to speed whilst I stayed in the waiting room, and when she came to get me she apologised for running late and said she was having one of those mornings, as she thought I had seen in the car park. Ah. Yes. She did hear me then. The actual appointment was fine. Dr E isn’t the terribly sympathetic kind – she is nice but she is very matter of fact and straight talking. She didn’t really ask much about how I was feeling – it was mostly about symptoms etc. She asked about the anti depressants the GP had prescribed, and why I hadn’t taken them, which I told her, and she said that was fair enough and she wasn’t that keen on Seroxat anyway – that she found that for most people it didn’t have a massive impact in terms of benefit, and was then a nightmare to come off. She asked why I thought anti depressants might help now when they didn’t seem to have helped in the past, and I said that this had been the worst patch I had ever experienced, and that it was over a year since I had been on anti depressants, and I thought it was worth a try. She said that was fine, and that she was happy to prescribe something, but that she didn’t want to get into a pattern of one medication not working and trying another and another and another etc – that she would prescribe one, or perhaps two, but that was it – if they didn’t help then we stopped looking down the medication route. I am not entirely sure about this, as I know quite a few people who have needed to try lots of different medications, and combinations of medications, before they have found one that helps them, but I agreed to that. She asked if there was anything I didn’t want to take, and I said Mirtazapine or anything else that would make me gain weight. She said she would prescribe Sertraline, which is a medication I have been on before, but that was six years ago. She said that recent studies have shown it to be the most effective, or one of the most effective, of the SSRIs, and that it has few side effects. So she prescribed 50mg for one week, then 100mg for the next 5 weeks, then she would see me again to see how it was going, and probably increase it further then. So that was that. Actually, she did spend quite a long time with me – probably far longer than what I have written here would imply, and was quite thorough in going over everything that had happened, and what was going on, and then discussing medications – it was actually fairly long for a psychiatrist appointment. But then that was the first time I had seen her since June.

This is another stupidly long post, so I will stop now, and write Part 4, which will bring me up to date (finally!) either tonight, or sometime tomorrow.

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>DWP and friendship

>I meant to blog earlier, but I didn’t know what to say. I feel like I have said it all. Multiple times in fact. I think everyone has grasped that I feel like shit and want to die. For anyone new, or who hasn’t picked up on the situation, that is it. I mostly write as a way of trying to get all of the thoughts out of my head, but they don’t appear to be going anywhere even when I do write, so it seems quite pointless from that point of view, and I am just really lacking motivation. There are a couple of specific things I wanted to write about though, so I will try and write about those, rather than just generally rambling.

I got a letter yesterday, which stressed me out. From the DWP, wouldn’t you know? It says, and I quote (anything in red is an addition by me),

‘Dear Bippidee (of course addressed to my real name, or it would just be weird)

We need to see you in order to discuss the benefits we are currently paying you because a query has arisen on your claim. What the fuck?! We need to ensure your payments are correct and it is important that you are available so we can discuss the matter further. What matter? I see no matter to discuss. Please fuck off and leave me alone.

You should note that where there is doubt about whether the conditions for entitlement are met, we can suspend payment of your benefit. Thanks. Please fuck off, again.

A Customer Compliance Officer, Mr Nosy Fuckwit (not real name) will be calling on Thursday, 24 February 2011 between the times of 9:30AM and 3:30PM. Please note we will not be able to state a specific time. Helpful. Thanks for that.

Some irrelevant crap like stuff they want to see, none of which I know where to find etc etc.

Yours sincerely
Mr Nosy Fuckwit
Customer Compliance Officer’

This fairly naturally sent me into a complete tailspin. Firstly, what on earth is there to query about my benefits?! The only thing I am claiming is old Incapacity, although due to lack of NI contributions it has always been paid as Income Support with illness/disability premium. I live at home with my parents, which they know, I have some savings that are within permitted amounts, which they know, I don’t work, I am not going out partying every day and claiming under false pretences. I don’t claim Housing/Council Tax benefit as I live with my parents. I am not even claiming DLA, which I have been told by multiple people I am eligible for. So what is there to discuss? What can possibly have been queried? I asked on Twitter yesterday, and also did some Google research, and it seems like they are essentially the overspill of the fraud department, and are generally sent around when someone has said you are making a fraudulent claim, or if they suspect you are living with a partner and have claimed you are living alone etc etc. A few people have said they occasionally make random checks, but I would seem a bad person to make a random check on, given that my claim is so straightforward to most people’s – I claim one benefit. I am not at all happy about them sending a man around to my house. I don’t want some strange man in my house making accusations that I am a benefit fraud. I don’t want some strange man in my house full stop. And them not being able to give a time is completely shit. I wasn’t planning to go anywhere, but it is very rare at the moment that I get to sleep before 6am. I will have to be awake by 9:15am in case they do come in the morning. And then what if they don’t come until 3pm. I am meant to stay awake all day having probably had 2 or 3 hours sleep, waiting for them? That won’t happen. And what if I wanted to arrange for someone to be here with me for support – are they supposed to stay for six hours?? It seems totally unreasonable. I tried phoning the number on the letter that it says to contact immediately if you are unavailable etc to a) find out what the hell it is about, and b) try to pin them down to a more precise time, for example morning or afternoon, but I got no reply. And it didn’t even go to answerphone. This stress was absolutely the last thing that I needed right now with how I was feeling. It actually made me even more determined to kill myself before then so I didn’t have to deal with it. I don’t know where my driving licence or passport are, I have no utility bills, I have no rent agreement – all of which they want to see. I have a bank statement. But I have two bank accounts and only have a statement for one of them. They will hate me. I just really didn’t need this stress. I know I have done nothing wrong and so I have nothing to be worried about, but my experience with the DWP has shown me that you have to be worried even if you haven’t done anything wrong, as they will treat you like a criminal regardless. Fuckwits.

Right, onto a nicer subject. Today the most beautiful bouquet of flowers arrived for me. It was from La Reve and I can’t say how much it meant to me that she had done that for me. It was completely unexpected, and nearly made me cry. I can’t believe that someone whom I have never met, and have only known a relatively short time, would want to do something so sweet and generous for me. The madosphere is a wonderful reminder of how many fabulous people there are out there, who really do care for others, and will do things to try and help. She knew she couldn’t stop me feeling like this, but she showed me she cared, and that meant so much. And does every time I get a supportive comment or email or tweet. It reminds me that people care, which is a really big deal when you don’t feel you are getting any care from the professionals, whose job it is to care. There will always be people who say it is a bad idea to talk to people you have met on the Internet, that you don’t know who they are, that you should never meet anyone you meet online, that talking to other people with mental health problems is a bad idea etc etc, but I have never found any of this to be remotely true. I started meeting up with people I met online, on theatre and dance messageboards, when I was 16, and have since met others from all sorts of sites, and whilst I haven’t kept in touch with everyone I have met from the Internet, I have met some of my closest friends online, and I can quite honestly say that I think it would be very unlikely that I would still be alive if it weren’t for people I have met online – both those in person, and those who have supported me on here. The support is absolutely invaluable, and I wish more people would realise how wonderfully supportive the Internet can be. Here is a picture of my beautiful flowers;

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>Just stop

>It is 5:15am and I am not remotely sleepy, and am feeling very tense, despite taking 10mg Diazepam. The suicidal thoughts are really in full swing, and although I am not intending to act on them tonight, it doesn’t make them any weaker or easier to cope with. I think I might have to have another Diazepam, as when I feel like this my thoughts just go into overdrive and I have absolutely no chance of sleeping.

I am feeling so alone. I know I have support online, and I am truly grateful for that, but in real life I have absolutely nothing, and it is hard. Actually it is much worse than hard. I desperately feel like I need some support, but there is nowhere to turn. My GP works Wednesdays, but there is no point contacting her, as I have grasped exactly what she thinks from my mum speaking to her last week, and she has certainly been turned against me. I could phone and speak to whoever is on duty at the CMHT, but a) I don’t trust that it won’t be a fuckwit on duty, as there are several of them, b) they will all be against me too, and c) they will either suggest going for a walk, having a bath, or listening to music, and none of those are remotely helpful suggestions at the moment. I always find walking very anxiety provoking – I am always paranoid that someone is following me, and it really does scare me. I find baths the opposite of relaxing. I hate just lying there with my thoughts. I don’t see how that is supposed to be relaxing or helpful. And I usually love music, but as I have explained on here before, I find it really difficult to listen to at the moment unless there is a particular song I need to hear – otherwise it just sounds like irritating noise that is drilling through my head, even if it is a CD I usually love. The TV is similar – I get a headache within about 5 minutes of turning it on as it just overwhelms me. And I can’t concentrate to read. So essentially, anything they might suggest I do is useless, and therefore I am fucked.

I miss L. I know that sounds weird, given that she has been turned against me, and hasn’t done anything to help me lately, but I do. I guess that is why attachment issues are such a bitch. Even when you know someone isn’t helping, you can’t get over them. I was thinking about it, and actually I don’t think things have ever been quite the same with her since that time in November when I felt very let down by her. Things did get back on track and feel ok after that, but I suppose I never had quite the same level of trust in her following that, and now I feel like she doesn’t care about me at all and doesn’t care what happens to me, as she just left me with an appointment for a fortnight’s time when she knew how awful I was feeling. And yet I still miss her. That is wrong, and it pisses me off. I am angry with myself for wanting to talk to her. I don’t want to miss her. I want to be angry with her. But every time I am feeling desperate I just get this overwhelming desire to talk to her. And yet last Thursday and Friday when she was in work, and I could have rung her, I didn’t because I was just too upset. I feel really confused about the whole thing. I suppose it is a bit like the situation with my mum. I still feel like she has been turned against me where my mental health is concerned, but I still love her despite that. I feel let down by her, and I feel like she either doesn’t believe me, or doesn’t care about me any more, in much the same way I feel about L, but she is still my mum, and I still love her. I just have to accept that I can’t rely on her for support. And I suppose it would be the same with L, except our whole relationship is based on support, as that is why she is there, which makes it much more awkward, But of the CMHT she is still the only person I want to talk to. I feel lost and alone and desperate, and like the people I have relied on and trusted the most are no longer there for me. I really feel like I can’t cope.

I have rehearsal again tonight. It is going to be a long one, as I have to get there an hour early to work on my solos with the musical director, and then I have the normal rehearsal, so I will be there from 6:30 until at least 10, possibly 10:30. It’s all too much. I want to scream and shout and cry but I don’t think that would be appreciated by my parents or my neighbours given that it is 5:30am. I just can’t cope. I want out. I want to make everything stop. Just stop. Why isn’t it getting any easier? Surely it should be getting easier. And it isn’t. It just gets harder and harder. I don’t believe that these thoughts and feelings are going to go away without me acting on them. It is too intense. And it feels like the right thing to do. I don’t want to wait for them to pass. I just want to make it all stop.

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>Today has been yet another difficult day. I am finding I am wanting to cut myself off from people – I think that not trusting the professionals or my parents is making me suspicious of everyone, even the people I talk to online, who I know are always supportive of me. So I haven’t spent much time online today. I came online earlier and tried to read a few blogs, and I sat and watched Twitter for a while, but couldn’t say anything. Everything feels very overwhelming. I seem to be spending more and more time staring into space and not being able to do anything, because even the internet is starting to feel like too much, and I found that ok until the last couple of days, as it didn’t make any noise and didn’t involve any concentration. But now I find it gives me a headache. I am absolutely dreading rehearsal later. I am terrified. I am scared of leaving the house. I am scared of being around people. I am scared of having to interact and pretend to be ok. At rehearsal last Wednesday I was told by about five people that I looked ill or pale and was I ok. Since I had missed the Monday rehearsal by saying I had a stomach bug, I told them I still wasn’t feeling too great. I can’t do that again tomorrow, but when I am feeling this bad my ability to pretend to be fine seems to leave me. I can do it all of the time, and not being able to is really a sign of things being rock bottom for me. I have to go to ballet too, and the same applies, although at least there is less time for socialising there, and I can get by better on auto pilot there, as I know the syllabus so well. Ok, I may not be dancing it as well as I could, but I can get by without drawing too much attention to myself. When I am at rehearsal and learning choreography or singing a song I don’t know particularly well, or being told my blocking for a scene, I have to concentrate more, and I can’t concentrate at the moment. I am finding it a lot of pressure at the moment.

Plus it is my mum’s birthday. Since I never know what date it is, I didn’t realise how soon her birthday was until the middle of last week, so I haven’t got her much in the way of a present. I feel like a shit daughter. I made a cake today, although I cheated and used a packet mix, as they always turn out so perfect, and later I need to make icing and decorate it. We won’t have long at home – we only have about 45 minutes on a Monday between her getting home from work, and having to leave for ballet. I had planned to have the cake all done for then and give her the little present I do have for her and her card, but she said tonight that my sister is coming over. This is my sister who hasn’t spoken to me since October and does a bloody good job at ignoring me completely if she is unfortunate enough to see me somewhere, for example when we were both singing soprano in the same carol concert at Christmas and therefore saw each other at rehearsal every week. I made effort with her, and none of it was reciprocated, so I have had enough of her – I have no desire to have anything to do with her, and I am pissed off that she is coming over in the only time we have at home tomorrow. I can’t face seeing her when I am feeling this shit, as even when we were speaking she always seemed to go out of her way to make me feel like crap, so I will just have to stay upstairs whilst she is here and not give my mum her present or card or cake. I love my mum, despite what they have done to her in turning her against me. I just need to remember there is no point in speaking to her about my feelings as she has been indoctrinated by them.

I can’t wait for today or tomorrow or whatever it is to be over. I am confused about days and times. Since it is 4:45 in the morning it is technically tomorrow, but since I haven’t slept yet I am still thinking of it as Sunday. Just need to try and get through the day the best that I can, however much I don’t want to. I wish so much I didn’t have rehearsal and could stay home though. I really am panicking about that. I wish I was feeling better. If anything it still seems to be getting worse, and a week ago I would have said that was impossible. But things just seem to be harder and harder. I really want to die. The thought that they expect me to cope for over a week more by myself before I see anyone is laughable.

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>I feel like today has gone completely wrong and I am feeling really hopeless. I was told yesterday that the crisis team would call today at about 10 – 10:30am, and then probably come out to see me again. I left my phone on vibrate so that it would wake me up, and didn’t bother setting an alarm because I knew that would wake me as it always does. I had said to my mum last night that I didn’t feel comfortable talking to people when they were in the house so could they go to see my sister or something, and she said that was fine, but how would they know what time to go, and I said that the crisis team would be calling in the morning and so I would know what time they were coming then. That was the plan. And then I was going to try and tell them how bad things were.

I woke up to my phone ringing at 1pm, and it was a woman from the crisis team asking if I could tell them how to find me. I was thoroughly confused, as I hadn’t had the morning phone call as planned. I assumed they needed vague directions, but when I asked where they were it turned out they were actually already outside the house – they just didn’t know which house it was, as we like to confuse people by not having a name or number or anything on display. So that threw me into a complete tail spin, as their phone call had woken me up, as yet again it had been about 6am before I got to sleep, and obviously my parents were home as we hadn’t had any warning, and I didn’t even have time to do things like go to the toilet, so I was feeling really flustered and confused.

My mum came upstairs to do housework and was hoovering etc, so I didn’t feel uncomfortable with her being there really, but my dad was downstairs, painting in a room virtually adjoining where I was sitting with the crisis team, he had very good hearing, and the man from the crisis team spoke very loudly and had an irritating habit of repeating everything I said. To be honest the whole thing was a complete fiasco. I felt paranoid that my dad would be listening in and so felt extremely uncomfortable, I was confused about why they had suddenly turned up without calling first like they were supposed to, and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to be honest with them because I was feeling so tense and anxious. To make matters worse they knew absolutely nothing about me, and had never even seen my notes – the reason they had randomly arrived was because they were out this way seeing someone else who was only about 15 minutes away, and so decided to come straight on and see me. I still don’t understand a) why nobody called this morning, and b) why they couldn’t have called when they were 15 minutes away so that I would have had at least had a tiny bit of advance warning. So they literally knew absolutely nothing about me, my history, when I was referred to them, why I was referred to them, how long I had been under mental health services, what my diagnosis was – nothing. I know I complained yesterday about the crisis team not reading your notes properly, but this was a whole new level – they had to ask things like how old I was, and when had I been referred to them. I said I had been referred Friday by my GP, and they asked why he (she’s a she but I didn’t bother correcting them) had referred me – was it because I was feeling low, and I said it was because of suicidal thoughts, which he loudly repeated, which really set off my paranoia. He asked if the feelings had changed and I said no. I think it was at this point they told me they knew nothing about me and started asking things like how old was I, and did I work, and what had I done education wise etc, and how long had I been involved with mental health services for, and why I was originally referred, and about previous suicide attempts and hospital admissions etc. They were also in agreement with the people that I saw yesterday in that I should see a psychiatrist, they said urgently, and that they would speak to their team psychiatrist tomorrow, and I would either see them or Dr E as soon as possible. I don’t know if I will have any more visits from the crisis team, because they said they would speak to L tomorrow, and I am guessing she will probably not be too keen on me seeing them. He asked if I felt able to keep myself safe today and I just kind of shrugged. Saying yes would have been a lie, but I didn’t feel able to say no when I was feeling so paranoid with my parents being in the house etc. He asked if I would be able to call them if things really reached crisis point, and I once again explained that no I wouldn’t, because if things were any worse then I wouldn’t want help. He asked if it would be ok if someone called me this evening, and would I be able to tell them if I was feeling worse, and I said that would be ok.

I am feeling really confused. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know if I should wait for the call this evening and try and tell them how desperate I am, or whether I should call them before then, or whether I actually don’t really want to speak to anyone or want any help. I am frustrated with the way today turned out. I just felt so uncomfortable and I really had intended to try and be really blunt about how I was feeling, and I just couldn’t, and now I feel really hopeless and just don’t know what to do. I wish they had bloody called this morning like they had arranged to do rather than just turning up with no notice.

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>Weather and Christmas

>Lots of pretty snow. It started snowing yesterday afternoon and snowed all afternoon and evening, so we ended up with a good 6 inches of snow, which is the first proper snowfall we have had this winter – when everyone else had shit loads a few weeks ago we just had a tiny covering. Very pretty. Not so great from the practical point of view.

Firstly, our poor Christmas tree, which was supposed to be put up this weekend, was standing outside when it started snowing, and so got covered with 6 inches of snow, along with everything else. Therefore it couldn’t come inside, or the snow would have then melted and flooded the lounge, which would have been somewhat inconvenient. Then there is the added problem that it needs potting, which involves needing soil, and the ground being a) frozen solid, rock hard, inpenetrable, and b) also being covered with 6 inches of snow. Not entirely sure what the plan is. Can shake most of the snow off the tree, but it doesn’t help the problem of having nothing to plant it in of course.

I had a carol concert tonight. I wasn’t sure if we would be able to get there or not. The roads had been gritted, but unsurprisingly grit isn’t terribly effective on top of lots of snow – I think they are meant to put it down before it starts snowing, or when there is a tiny bit, rather than when it has finished snowing and it is laying thick everywhere. So the roads are a nightmare. In the end we decided to go, but had to drive very slowly the whole way, and there was a bit of skidding at times. The concert was fine. The majority of both the band and choir had managed to make it, which was pretty impressive given how many of us live in the middle of nowhere, with terrible roads, and therefore had a nightmare getting there, although one person did point out that we must all be completely mad to have bothered. My sister is still doing a wonderful job of ignoring me – in a way it is quite impressive that we could both sing Soprano in the same choir, and her not speak to me at all during rehearsals or the concert. I have made some effort several times, but she certainly is not reciprocating, so there is very little I can do about it. I just find it quite astounding how immature she can be.

Audience numbers at the concert were down on other years, which was to be expected, but there were still probably 250 people or so I would guesstimate, so not bad given the conditions. Carols were fine – sore throat and snotty nose weren’t really helping, but it was fine – the throat is getting better, and although I obviously could have sung better I think it was fine. And nobody would have known if it wasn’t actually – the joys of singing in a choir rather than as a soloist! It was bloody freezing though. A blouse and skirt just are not very warm, and the church wasn’t very warm, I suppose because there was about half the number of people there would usually be, so I felt like a snowman by the end of it. Then had the fun of the journey home again.

We were supposed to be going Christmas shopping tomorrow but I think realistically that isn’t going to happen – it is a good 45 minute drive to where we were going, which would take much longer with the roads as they are, and it isn’t meant to get above -3, and is supposed to be foggy too, so I think it would just be dangerous to try and travel that far. We will go on Tuesday or Wednesday, although Tuesday could be difficult because I am seeing L at 11, and I think after that would be getting a bit late to go off shopping, so it will probably have to be Wedneday. Which is leaving it a little close for comfort, but never mind! The weather is so frustrating – I wish it had stayed dry this week, and then just snowed loads on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day – that would have been so pretty, and wouldn’t have caused any inconvenience. We could have just made a snowman. As it is I think it is going to melt before then and we will just end up with nasty slush everywhere. Yuck. Wrong timing by 1 week unfortunately.

I am not feeling too stressed about Christmas, but I am about New Year. I am trying not to think about it, because I get really upset and panicky when I do. I just absolutely do not want it to happen at all, under any circumstances. I just don’t. I really feel at the moment like I can’t cope with it. It is just too overwhelming and stressful. As soon as I hear the words or think about it at all, I get this sudden mad rush of totally overwhelming thoughts. I genuinely have absolutely no idea how I will get through it right now – I might try and knock myself out early in the night and just sleep through it, but then I will still have to wake up and it will be 2011, and that is just so unbelievably shit. I need to freeze time or rewind time or erase myself or something. Very anxious, very stressed, very desperate.

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>There are a lot of negatives about performing. How competitive it is. How bitchy people can be. How you are constantly being judged. The rejection. The comparisons. Lots of things. It can be a very negative industry at times, which can be very stressful, and where you can feel very alone. But yesterday I was also reminded of how many positives there are, and what a wonderful business it can be. As you know, I was singing in a concert last night. It was a charity concert, starring a well known performer, and I was one of a number of other soloists, most of whom are professionals. I felt very lucky to not only be performing alongside such a fantastically talented and successful performer, but one who was so generous and giving, and such a lovely person. I had met her before a couple of times last year when I did some workshops with her, and knew that she was very nice and genuine, but I wasn’t expecting her to be nearly as hands on yesterday as she was. We had a run through in the afternoon, and I fairly naturally assumed she would just come out to sing her songs, and spend the rest of the time in her dressing room. Instead, she sung her songs, then came and sat out in the auditorium and watched every single one of the soloists. She jumped up and down making suggestions, and helping when people were struggling with anything, and giving people advice on their song, and just generally being so supportive and helpful, which was far beyond what she needed to do. She could, and I think most performers would, have just come out and sung her own songs and ignored what everyone else was doing, but she just got really involved, and it was so nice to see such an experienced performer giving back in that way. She is a wonderful example of how great this business can be. And how sometimes even the people at the top of their game will really make an effort to help others who are still on their way up. In fact, I think it is often the people who are at the top who are the least diva-ish. Yesterday there was absolutely no bitchiness. Everyone got on really well. All the other soloists were lovely and we had great fun in our dressing room. It was just a really lovely example of what a fantastic industry it can be.

The actual run through was difficult for me. There were still pretty severe issues going on with the band timing wise, which was making it virtually impossible for me to know when to come in, so we had to do the start a few times to get it right, and I was worried it was me messing up, but it was apparently the band. In the end we got going and got all the way through, but my voice was really hurting, and it was getting really croaky – mostly actually in the dialogue bits rather than the singing. I was still really not confident with the timing – the scoring for the band part was COMPLETELY different to the normal sheet music, which is obviously what I have been used to rehearsing with – there were random extra bars in some places, and missing bars in others, and it was all a bit all over the place, and therefore worrying. I went down into the auditorium afterwards and was talking to the lead who said ‘That scoring is really strange – I have always done it like X (at which point both of us went da da da da da daa da da da da etc, and established we were used to the same version!). It would completely confuse me like that!’ I replied that it was completely confusing me too, and she said she would have a word with the MD (who was too stressed for anyone apart from her to dare speak to!) and see if we could go through it again, which she did, but the rehearsal ran on so late that there was absolutely no time to do anything again. But she did get her to make sure she was giving me really clear signals as to when to come in, as in the run through I couldn’t tell when she was bringing me in and when she was bringing the band in, which was obviously very confusing. Usually it is fine, because they look at you, but the band were on stage, and so the MD was behind us, and so we saw her via a screen at the front of the stage, but obviously with that you can’t see when she is actually looking at you. So it was all quite different for me, and the band part really was confusing – it would have been nice if it had been closer to the original scoring, both for the band and for me!

I was quite stressed between the run through and the performance, because I had no idea if I was going to be able to get the timing right or not, and there was nothing I could do about it. I desperately wanted another run through, but there wasn’t the opportunity. From the end of the run through, time just flew. We all started putting on our make up, and getting our hair done, and getting into costume etc, and time just flew. Suddenly the concert had started, and time just whizzed by. I wasn’t on until half way through the second half, so had plenty of time to get ready, which is lucky really, as I was still nowhere near ready by the time some of the other girls in my dressing room had already performed! I also nearly fell down the stairs at one point, which was slightly embarrassing, as it was right outside the number 1 dressing room, and I kind of screamed and swore at the same time, just as the lead had walked into her dressing room, so she dashed out to see if I was ok. Stupid shoes!

My actual performance went ok. I was nervous about the band because of the issues at the rehearsal, and I was worried about my voice. It could have been better – it would have been better if I hadn’t been ill. But it wasn’t a disaster. Through gluing my eyes to the screen at the appropriate times I managed to get all the timing right, and I think vocally it was reasonably strong apart from one note that cracked slightly due to my chest/throat. Some of the dialogue did sound slightly croaky, but there really was nothing I could do about that – I was supporting as much as I possibly could, but I have a chest infection, and no amount of support was going to get rid of that! I believe there were some slight mic issues too – it felt like it was fading in and out a bit, and my dad commented on it, but that wasn’t uncommon – it happened to several people. So overall it was ok. I wasn’t entirely happy with my performance, but then I very rarely am, and I feel like I did my best under the circumstances. And it was a really good day, where I met lots of lovely people, performed in the biggest theatre I have ever worked in, had some nice chats and laughs with a performer I have always admired greatly, and had the opportunity to sing in the same concert as her. I feel very lucky to have had that opportunity, and it reminded me of all the brilliant things about performing, and the business, and other performers. She really is true class, both on stage and off.

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