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Posts Tagged ‘christmas’

>Support

>I’m not really sure what to say. I am feeling bad. I saw L this morning. It was fine, but I just felt completely numb throughout it really. I am having trouble to really concentrate and think properly. There is also some not great news that I could have done without at the moment – I am going to have to switch from seeing her weekly to fortnightly. She is having to cut down on her hours for personal reasons, which means that some people are being switched to other care coordinators, and then some people that she has been seeing fortnightly will be switched to monthly, and those like me who were being seen weekly are being switched to fortnightly. I understand why it is necessary, but that doesn’t make it any easier, particularly when I am feeling as terrible as I have been lately, and now am supposed to get through the next two weeks alone. I can’t help comparing the support I have now, with what I was getting this time last year – last year I was seeing L weekly, and then also my old support worker N weekly for a couple of hours, and my psychiatrist Dr E monthly. I am now reduced to seeing L fortnightly. If this was due to an improvement in how I was doing then that would be great, but it isn’t – it is unfortunately almost entirely due to staff circumstances.

N’s job was cut due to funding issues – she was only on a one year contract with MIND and was then seconded to the CMHT, but MIND had their funding cut, and so her contract was not renewed, so there was no longer a support worker for me to see. That didn’t bother me too much – I liked her, but I didn’t have any attachment issues with her, and although sometimes it was nice to get out the house with her etc, it wasn’t too difficult to stop seeing her as I still had L, who was my main source of support. My psychiatrist stopped seeing me because she had stopped all of my medications except my PRN Diazepam, which meant that she no longer felt like it was necessary to see me. Again, I didn’t really have an issue with that as 15 minutes every month or two with her never felt particularly helpful, and I didn’t really feel like she listened to me much. Now my contact with L is being cut because of her circumstances, which is really difficult, as essentially that hour or so a week I spend with her is the only time all week that I feel able to actually be honest about how I am feeling, and can be around someone without feeling a need to put on a front and pretend everything is fine.

Throughout my appointment I couldn’t stop thinking how much I wanted to die, and how I desperately didn’t still want to be alive in 2 weeks, and also what a long way away that felt, and how was I possibly meant to get through that on my own. I just felt like sitting there and crying my eyes out, but I didn’t want to make her feel guilty about something that isn’t her fault and that she can’t do anything about. When I left I wanted to burst into tears but I couldn’t because I was then in the car with my mum and a) she wouldn’t have understood why only seeing L fortnightly was such a big deal, and b) I don’t like showing emotion like that – I have never been good at it, and I just feel awkward and uncomfortable. I am on my own now but I just feel numb.

I have been really struggling with my weight and eating lately. Whenever my mood goes down I get increasingly fixated on my weight, and since it is post Christmas that isn’t really helping at the moment. I gained a couple of pounds over Christmas, which I was expecting and so could kind of accept. But now Christmas is all over, and I am still struggling with it. I always find that when I start eating more often, like I was over Christmas, I find it more difficult to go back to my usual eating patterns, and that is the only way that I am ever able to control my weight. It doesn’t help that I still have some chocolates left over from Christmas that I am working my way through, but it is more than that – I am just eating more generally than I feel comfortable with. On Saturday I was back down to my pre-Christmas weight (which is still higher than I was to be), but then Saturday and Sunday I ate too much, and so gained a pound, and expect I have gained even more as I ate a lot yesterday, but I haven’t weighed today because I had to be up early to go and see L, and I have particular times I will weigh myself. But my middle of the night weight last night was considerably higher than the night before, and that is generally a fairly accurate indicator. I feel disgusting. I hate myself for being so greedy. And yet I feel so shit, and food is somehow comforting, despite being distressing at the same time. So I am comfort eating I suppose, and yet not even remotely comforting because it makes me feel shit. I don’t know. I am just desperate I suppose, and in a way it feels like I may as well eat whatever the hell I want, because it isn’t going to matter anyway if I am dead.

I don’t know. I don’t know what I am doing. I don’t know how to cope with things. I don’t know how I am expected to get through my life with one hour of support every two weeks. I don’t even feel like I want to at the moment. I feel like such a fucking mess, and I am bloody exhausted.

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>Christmas and New Year

>Christmas Day was actually ok. It was pretty quiet, as it was just me and my parents for most of the day. It was actually nice to just be relaxed and for it to be quiet, rather than busy and noisy with lots of people – it felt easier to cope with. Food was difficult, but then I think that food will always be difficult for me, and particularly at the moment, when food plays such a central part in trying to control my mood. I didn’t eat an obscene amount I don’t think – it is just far more than I am used to eating, and when there is constantly food out then it can be difficult to deal with. Plus alcohol calories always bother me. But it was quiet and relaxed, although in retrospect I am not really sure what we did with ourselves. Then at about 6 one of my sister’s friends came over for the evening – he is single and had his children with him until 4, and then they had gone to their mums so he came to us, and we played Jenga and cards in the evening/night. I wasn’t excited or enthusiastic about it being Christmas, but I got through it, and it was fine and not too stressful.

Today was more difficult. Both of my brothers came over with their families, so there were 8 people in the house, plus me and my parents, so it was much busier and louder, and I just found it a bit much really. I went down for a while and then just found it all too much, so came upstairs for a while to spend some time on my own and then went down again. It wasn’t that they were doing anything wrong – I just wasn’t feeling very good, and I didn’t have the energy to put on my happy face or sit and make small talk. My parents are going to visit my brother tomorrow, but I have decided to stay here for a couple of reasons – firstly I don’t see a need to see them again when we saw them today, it seems pointless, but really I just can’t face another day with a lot of people – all of his wife’s family will be there tomorrow as well, and I just don’t want to have to see lots of people, and it is much harder to escape when you aren’t in your own home, so I will stay here with the dog.

I am feeling really quite awful. I wasn’t feeling great yesterday, but I put on a happy face, and because it was all pretty quiet and laid back I got through it alright. Today was a lot more difficult, but I was trying to hold up but it was like a big wave of desperation and hopelessness came and hit me this evening, after not feeling good all day. I don’t really know why – I just know I feel really awful and nearly burst into tears in front of my parents for absolutely no reason, which is so unlike me. I even said that I felt really crappy, which I very rarely do. I just didn’t want them to think I was just being grumpy or ungrateful or anything. I suppose that although I haven’t been consciously thinking about it, I am very stressed about New Year. I do not want to be alive by then, it feels like more than I can deal with, and I don’t see the point, and the speed with which it is approaching is really quite terrifying, particularly now that Christmas is over. Not having anyone I can contact to talk to doesn’t help, but then I don’t think talking would make any difference – I have felt for months like I didn’t want to live to see 2011, and I still feel like that – telling someone that I feel like that won’t change anything, so maybe it doesn’t matter anyway. I just feel really horrible.

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>Christmas

>It has been a rather busy few days. I went Christmas shopping on Wednesday. That was a fairly good resemblance of hell I think. It was of course pretty busy, and I had been very organised and made a list of everything I needed to get, and when possible what shop I was getting it in. Naturally everything I had planned to get was out of stock and so I then had to search around for alternatives. Then shops I had hoped would have the type of thing I wanted didn’t have. And basically it was all quite crap, and I didn’t end up getting anything at all that I couldn’t have got in a much closer, smaller, less busy town. During the afternoon I had a headache which got worse and worse, and by the time I got home it was really quite agonising, so I had dinner and then ended up going to bed at 8:30. During the night I woke up feeling really ill, all shivery and cold, with a really nasty cold and streaming nose and just feeling crap. Ended up going back to sleep after a couple of hours, woke up in the morning not feeling any better. Got a hot water bottle and took a couple of paracetamol and went back to sleep for an hour, and woke up feeling a little bit better, and so made myself get up because I had lots to do. Went off shopping again – this time to much closer, smaller town, where I managed to find everything I wanted within about half an hour, and then spent another hour and a half pacing the streets in the cold because my mum was at my sister’s house, where I am obviously not very welcome. I noticed my sister left me off our Christmas card this year – she really does have it in for me.

Shopping finished, came home, felt ill so had a couple of hours relaxing time and then cracked on with the wrapping. Wrapping is a time consuming affair because I like making presents look pretty. I like using lots of ribbons and bows and curling ribbons, and so trimming a present to make it look pretty takes at least as long as the actual wrapping. And then I decide which ribbons and labels I will be using before I wrap the present, and choose the paper accordingly, so it is all rather time consuming and complicated really! I don’t bother when I am wrapping for the children, because they just rip paper off as they are children, and my dad doesn’t care what his presents look like, so I don’t spend that long wrapping his, although I must admit I find it really difficult to leave a present just with paper and a tag, so he sometimes ends up with a little bit of ribbon because I just can’t help myself…. But my mum really loves presents to look pretty, as do I, so we both put lots of effort into wrapping our presents for each other, and so it takes hours. Plus I have to help my dad with his wrapping, because he refuses to touch a ribbon and will use completely inappropriate paper unless I stop him, so I either have to wrap and trim all of his presents for my mum as well as my own, because I think she deserves to have them looking pretty, or I do what I did yesterday and make him wrap them himself but then tell him which paper he has to use for each present and which label he has to use, and then do all the trimmings on them myself. So lots of hours wrapping. I may be ever so slightly obsessive about wrapping.

Today was surprisingly calm. Scarily calm actually for Christmas Eve in our house. Generally that is when most of the wrapping gets done, plus pretty much everything else, but I had finished my wrapping (and my dad’s) last night, and my mum only had to wrap about 4 presents for my nephews today, so that didn’t take long. And then she made some mince pies and sausage rolls, although not that many, and that was about it. We think we have probably forgotten to do something vital, as it was all far too laid back and relaxed – we have never had such a calm Christmas Eve before! I watched 4 films. Miracle on 34th Street (my favourite Christmas film – I watched the original yesterday and the remake today), then The Queen, then Prince Caspian, then Chocolat. And the fire was alight and the tree looked all pretty and it was nice and cosy. And had a couple of glasses of chapagne which always helps matter. Champagne goes straight to my head. I blame the bubbles, because it is much worse than any other alcohol – I am always pretty lightweight because I don’t drink very often, but I feel the effects of Champagne rather quickly. Probably doesn’t help that I still have a nasty cold and am therefore slightly lightheaded anyway! I have had a cold and sore throat continuously for a month now – as soon as one starts to go another one comes along and replaces it.

I should go to sleep since it is 2:15am and I have been told I have to get up at 9. Father Christmas has already been. We all came upstairs to bed, and my stocking was empty, and then I went down an hour later and it was full – how’s that for proof?! I may have watched Miracle on 34th Street too many times the last couple of days….. I am not feeling too stressed about Christmas – food is always an issue, but I think because it is just me and my parents here tomorrow it is less stressful than it would be ordinarily as it will be pretty quiet. Both brothers and families are coming Boxing Day, so that might be a little chaotic, but neither are coming for the whole day, just the afternoon, so hopefully it will be ok. It is New Year that I am really dreading. I can just about cope with Christmas, despite the food situation, but New Year is hideous.

I hope that everyone has a good Christmas, or at least as stress free as possible. I leave you with a picture of my Christmas Tree……

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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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>Still here

>So I am staying put until further notice, but am in the process of moving. Deciding on a name is surprisingly difficult. Obviously I have become known in the blogosphere as Bippidee, but I feel like I am going to need to change that even if I do move to WP, which is the current plan. Unfortunately, the only other name I have thought of so far has a rather unfortunate shortening, which is what I would end up being called all the time. Hmph. When I do move I will make sure that anyone who wants to follow me to the new blog can do so.

So what with all the posts about my childhood, and then the identity crisis yesterday I seem to have been neglecting day to day stuff somewhat. I am not sure how I have been doing. I am, without a doubt, better than I was a few weeks ago, but naturally I am still not feeling great. I am slightly confused by my sleep lately. I have always needed about 10 hours sleep ideally, to wake up and not feel tired and stay reasonably alert the whole day. I used to end up napping every afternoon, virtually without fail, even if I had slept ok the night before, but definitely if I had got less than 8 hours sleep.  But there have been several days lately when I have only had a few hours, and yet after the inital pain of dragging myself out of bed, have been surprisingly alert all day, and still not been able to sleep that night. Thursday was an example of this. I only got 4 hours sleep, which is nowhere near enough for me, and yet I stayed awake all day, no naps, was pretty awake and alert, and still couldn’t get to sleep before 5am. There is surely something wrong with that? I should have been exhausted and been able to get an early night, but I didn’t get to sleep any earlier than I would have if I hadn’t woken up until the afternoon, and had 9 hours sleep. I was out for a lot of the day too, which should have made me even more tired. And I never nap anymore. I am always tired, but my ability to sleep properly seems to have disappeared.

I am singing in a carol concert on Sunday, just as part of the choir. Well, it is just the choir and silver band. I realised at the rehearsal tonight that I don’t have a bloody clue how the descant goes for While Shepherd Watched, which is slightly problematic, and I have no idea how that happened. I have sung in so many carol concerts/services, and I know all of the descants really well, but I actually don’t think I have ever sung that one before, but I don’t see how that could be possible when I have sung in carol concerts for 12 years. Although the audience can never hear the descants properly anyway, as by the time you have a full choir, organ, silver band, and all the congregation singing, I think the descant gets somewhat lost. Someone had the bloody brilliant idea of making Twelve Days of Christmas a song that everyone sings, ie audience too. I have no idea what they were thinking. The arrangement that we use is very much a choir version – all the voice types sing different days etc, and the tempo changes loads – at one point it gets really fast, and one of the other sopranos pointed out that there is no bloody way they will keep up with that, and it will end up sounding like we are singing it in a round. Bloody ridiculous idea. I always get bored of that song after about 5 days anyway – I am sure the other 7 are unnecessary. Or we could just start with 12 rather than 1? The Hallelujah Chorus goes on rather as well, although I probably shouldn’t say that. And I can never sing For Unto Us properly. I cheat. I can do it slowly, but then when it gets up to speed I just can’t fit all those notes in. I am not really a classical singer, I am a musical theatre singer – The Messiah is a bit much for me really!

Christmas. Hmmm. I still have shopping to do. I have actually done most of it online, but I need to go to the shops to buy things for my mum – the things I wanted to get for her weren’t things I particularly wanted to buy online. And then I need to get something for one of my nephews, but I know what and where to get it, and something small for one of my nieces to go with things I have already got for her, and a few boxes of chocolates for various people, and then I will be finished. I have stopped buying for siblings, since they all have children now, so I just buy for the children, although I haven’t bought for my eldest nephew this year for the first time, because he is 19, works full time, and has far more disposable income than I do, but has never bought for me, despite me buying for him every year. It is a bit weird, because I am his aunt, but he is only 5 years younger than me. So I have always bought him presents because he is my nephew, but it is kind of weird because he is so close to me in age, and now that he is working full time and I am on benefits it just seems a bit ridiculous to be spending money on him really. So that just leaves his younger brother, my sister’s 2 boys, and my brother’s daughter, and step daughter and step son. And my parents of course. If I get time/inclination I might try and make some fudge or something for siblings and their partners, but it was getting too expensive buying for all of them and all of the children – even just with my parents and nephews/nieces I had 8 people to buy for, and it would have been 9 if I had bought for eldest nephew. Oh, and I buy something for my dog…. I wouldn’t actually mind buying for my sisters in law – they are both easy to buy for, and I quite like buying presents for people who are easy to buy for, but my sister (who still isn’t speaking to me) is a nightmare to buy for, and so are my brothers and brother in law. I haven’t started my wrapping yet. Wrapping takes me forever. I am a real perfectionist with my wrapping – I will take ages deciding which paper to use, and which ribbon and label to put with it etc, and then ages making it look pretty. Takes bloody hours, particularly given that I also always have to wrap everything that my dad buys for my mum, a) because he doesn’t have time, b) because he can’t be bothered, and c) because he doesn’t make it look pretty – he just wraps with paper, and my mum really loves prettily wrapped presents with bows and ribbons and things. So I have to do it for him. I tend to get all my presents and find cheesy Christmas films on TV and wrap it all whilst watching them.

We went and bought our Christmas Tree on Tuesday. It isn’t really what I wanted – it is a bit small. But the place we went to weren’t going to be getting any more in, and it was a nicer shape than the bigger ones. We then tried a couple more places, but one didn’t have any, and the other only had 3 left, and 1 was enormous, and 2 were tiny, so we just went back and got the first one. We will put it up this weekend. We will stand it on a box. That will make it look bigger, and keep it out of reach of the animals, which is always a bonus. My old cat will love us putting the tree up. It is his favourite day of the year. He gets ridiculously excited and starts playing with tinsel and baubles etc like a little kitten, despite now being 15. The other cat never plays. The dog will be excited, but the dog is always excited. I don’t buy presents for the cats, but I always buy for him, because he will unwrap them himself and it makes me laugh to watch him. I am trying to think about the positive things about Christmas rather than the things I find stressful, although it is hard. New Year will be worse, because it always is. I hate New Year so much. It makes me feel like such a failure, and I find it incredibly difficult to get through without resorting to self harming behaviours. I tend to end up in a complete state crying hysterically and saying that I want to die. Which I do, but I can usually keep it hidden, but for some reason I just completely break down on New Year’s Eve. I am already dreading it.

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>Yuck

>It hasn’t been a great day, and I am absolutely exhausted, so I am going to leave Childhood Part 3 until tomorrow. There is nothing major wrong – I have been been incredibly tired all day, and my weight was up which made me feel like shit, and then I have eaten far more today than I feel comfortable with, and so I know it will be up again tomorrow, and I am just angry with myself and frustrated. It was the Christmas Bazaar at the school where my mum works, and sometimes I manage to pick up a couple of Christmas presents there, and since I’ve still not done any shopping I thought I had better go down, so I did, but I then ended up eating shit loads of cake – I had one little fairy cake, then my mum bought me a chocolate cupcake, then it was the end and they had cake left over so they were just giving pieces away free and so we both had a little piece of a Thorntons chocolate/toffee cake each, and by that time I was feeling incredibly sick and desperately wanted to purge, but obviously couldn’t. And I didn’t even manage to get any bloody Christmas presents there, so it was a complete bloody waste of time and just made me feel crap about myself. And then soon after that we went off to the Christmas late night shopping in the local town – my mum was taking my nephew to look around the stuff on the street – rides and street entertainers etc, and I wanted to go in the craft fair (again, to try and get Christmas presents – can you smell the desperation??). I bought a couple of little bits, but nothing major, and then went to find my mum and nephew, and we ended up having a mince pie each as someone was standing giving them away. I am not even that keen on bloody mince pies – they don’t particularly interest me, so I don’t know why I did that. And then we came home and I had my dinner – a bowl of fruit, and a slice of bread and peanut butter, and yet another bloody little cupcake (they made us take a few home when they had them left over at the end). So I have eaten an absurd quantity of cake today – 3 cupcakes, a small slice of toffe cake, and a mince pie, and then a bowl of fruit, and a slice of bread and peanut butter. I feel hideous and absolutely disgusted with myself. After my weight going up anyway, and feeling so shit about myself because of it, I just can’t believe the way I have eaten today. I am just really hating myself right now. And I am blacming Christmas. And scared because the next few weeks are just going to be hellish in so many ways. I am feeling pretty crappy about everything, and I am absolutely exhausted, so I am going to try and get an early night. I just hope I don’t wake up in an hour or two because my body thinks I am just having a little nap.

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>A lot happened between the ages of about 9 and 12. My brother moved out, to move in with his now wife. Although obviously before that he was out a lot with friends and at work etc, I do remember being upset when he moved out. My maternal grandfather, who I was very close to, died when I was 9 or 10. I remember going to see him in hospital, but he wasn’t the person I knew really. And then he died. I wasn’t allowed to go to the funeral because my parents didn’t agree with children being at funerals. I was sent to C’s house for the day to play. I have a vague recollection of playing in the garden with her, but feeling upset about my grandad dying, and everyone apart from me being at the funeral. My paternal grandmother died a few years later (I am very hazy about dates throughout my childhood). I hadn’t been close to her – she lived further away and I only remember seeing her about once a year. My mum and I went to see her in hospital, but I don’t remember anything about it, I just remember going. My dad was in Japan on a business trip when she died, and was still away for the funeral. I remember he wrote a poem which my mum read out at the funeral. I was allowed to go to that one. I suppose I was that bit older. I don’t remember much about it.

The main thing that happened in my childhood was my parents splitting up when I was 12. I remember that quite vividly. I remember seeing my mum upset a few times, and my dad comforting her, but I didn’t know why. Then one day, I was at C’s house, and my mum called and told me to come home. I didn’t want to because her cousins were there, and we were all having a good time, but she insisted. I went home and my parents told me that my dad was moving out. I was incredibly upset. I had absolutely no idea that there were any problems – it was completely out of the blue. My parents were the type of people who everyone expected to be together forever, so it was a complete shock. I remember getting very upset, and I remember my mum getting very upset. She phoned my brother and he came over. I was told initially it was just going to be for a few days, to give them some time apart, and I believed that. My dad took some things off and went to stay in a hotel. For some reason, they must have decided it would be a good idea if I went with him for the evening and went home later. I think my mum was too upset to look after me. So I went off to this hotel with him, and I suppose I went home later that night, although I don’t remember. I have only just remembered that he took me with him. Obviously it wasn’t just for a few days. He started looking for somewhere to rent. I went shopping with him one day and helped him buy things he would need – I remember choosing a duvet cover for him. It all feels quite surreal. Again, I am unsure why they thought it was a good idea for me to go shopping with him to buy things for his new home, when I was still being told it was temporary – it had just been changed from a few days, to a few weeks, to a few months. I was told at some point, I can’t remember when, that he had been having an affair with a girl who worked for him. I say girl, because that was how I thought of her. I think she was about the age I am now. It had been going on for some time, but nobody knew. As soon as he had moved out, he broke up with her anyway. I never met her.

My sister had been at university in Edinburgh, but was upset by my parents splitting up, and took a year out and moved back home. I am not entirely sure why it affected her so much, as it wasn’t her dad – my siblings have a different father to me, and although she always got on fine with my dad, she had never called him dad or anything like that – she never thought of him as her parent. But she did come home, and her attitude towards me had completely reversed. When I was a young child she had been besotted with me, and spoilt me. As I got older she was still very fond of me, and when she was living in London she used to take me there and we would go to a museum or something, and she took me to the ballet once, and the theatre another time. She used to buy me lots. I went to stay with her twice in Edinburgh. We were always close. But when she moved back for the year when I was 12/13 her attitude had completely changed. That was the point where she started having issues with me. She would say that I was a spoilt brat and a little witch and just generally wasn’t very nice to me most of the time. I certainly never, ever had any support or understanding from her.

Parents splitting up is nothing unusual – it is so common for couples to split up, and children just seem to deal with it. But I think in a lot of ways I didn’t. I think there are a few reasons for this. Firstly, it was not a straight forward case of parents not getting on and fighting, one moving out, then getting a divorce a little later. In fact, that couldn’t have been much further from what happened. There had been no fighting, or certainly not that I had ever witnessed, and our house is not so big that I wouldn’t have heard screaming matches. The separation itself was I suppose unusual to say the least. Despite my dad having an affair, my mum still loved him and did not want him to leave. And they still got on. As I have already said, I was told initially that is was just going to be a few days, then that time period gradually extended. But it was always assumed they would get back together – this was just temporary, and there was never any talk of divorce or anything. I think that my mum had convinced herself it was temporary, which meant she could easily tell me that. However, as it was a temporary thing and they had not actually split up, that meant that we didn’t tell other people. For years. Obviously a few people knew – family, and a couple of friends of my parents, and C and her family. But that was about it. It was all very secretive. My mum was devastated by him leaving. She didn’t cope well with it at all. I remember her losing quite a lot of weight, and she is naturally very tiny anyway, and being prescribed anti depressants. She went to see a counsellor. They tried couple counselling a couple of times, but my dad was very against it, and so it only happened a couple of times. Apart from a couple of my mum’s friends who knew, and this counsellor who encouraged her to punch cushions, she didn’t really have anyone to talk to, so sometimes she used to talk to me. We were very close, but of course I was only 12, and I didn’t understand why my dad had moved out when my parents got on so well, and everyone had assumed they would be together forever. I never told anyone about my dad leaving. My mum worked where I went to school, so nobody there knew, until one day in a PHSE class when there was something about divorce etc being discussed and I had to leave because I was feeling very upset. My mum then told my form tutor, who said she would avoid talking about that in PHSE again, but still nobody else knew.

To everyone else we kept up the facade of being a happy family. I don’t know why. After my dad left, in some ways things didn’t change much. He used to come over and see us some evenings and weekends. He still came on holidays with us. He always came and stayed for the Christmas period. I have never had a Christmas or holiday without both of them being there, despite my dad not living with us. I have friends who I didn’t even meet until years after my dad who had left who thought that my parents were together, because my dad would come and stay when needed, and they would still do things together. My dad phoned every day and spoke to both my mum and I. The few people who did know that they had split up said how lucky I was that my parents still got on so well, and that he still spent so much time with us, but actually I think it was just really confusing. At first of course it just perpetuated my belief that this was a very short term arrangement. Later I didn’t really know what was going on. Sometimes there would be a period when either my mum or I would get angry with him, and refuse to speak to or see him, sometimes for weeks, sometimes for months. If I was still speaking to him but my mum wasn’t then he would take me out, although I only remember that happening a handful of times. If I wasn’t speaking to him but my mum was then they would still talk on the phone but he wouldn’t come over. If neither of us were speaking to him then obviously that was that.

One of my strongest memories of that period in the first year or so after he left, or perhaps longer, was of how incredibly distressed I used to get when he came over for the evening and then left. He would come over, and we would all be getting on fine, and it would just seem normal. And then he would leave. I think pretty much without fail this made my hysterically upset. I used to sob for hours. I remember trying to chase the car up the road as he drove away, crying hysterically. When I was really upset I used to lie down in the road outside the house. My mum used to try to get me inside in case someone saw me. She used to cry as well. We would both just cry inconsolably sometimes. And most of the time he was coming over at least a couple of times a week, unless it was a not speaking to him period. So it was an emotional time. It was at this time, when I was 12, that I first remember wishing I was dead. I wasn’t suicidal, and I certainly wouldn’t have acted on the thoughts, but I do remember thinking it.

I was also increasingly unhappy at school. Probably partly because I was unhappy generally, and partly because I was being bullied. Not badly – it wasn’t physical or anything. But I didn’t have any friends. I went to a very small school, with very small year groups and classes. From age 13 or 14 onwards there were only 5 girls in my year – before that there were maybe 3 more. One was H. The one who used to lock me in her bedroom when I was little. H was a bully – there is no denying it. When we were younger, up to the age of 11, there had been far more girls, and there was a little clique of popular girls, who could be quite nasty, and did tease her, although I always stuck up for her, despite her not always being nice to me. However, they all left at 11 to go to other schools, and somehow, when we started back at school in September, she was the leader of our year group. I have no idea how that happened, but she had a very strong personality, and somehow just took over. She didn’t like me. She made best friends with the one remaining girl of the clique who had previously bullied her – this girl was actually quite nice, but rather sheep like, and would just follow others. Throughout school from 11 to 16 I was very lonely. Some days would be ok, but other times I would just get constantly teased. I was very naive and young for my age, and one of the things H liked to do to embarrass me was stand there with everyone around her and ask me what certain words and phrases meant – about sex or drugs, or other things I just knew nothing about. Of course I never knew, and then everyone would laugh at me. And then the usual childish name calling. Despite not doing much in the way of work at school and perpetually leaving things until the last possible minute, I still did well, and so got the usual ‘boffin’ comments etc. And things like making sure I didn’t have anyone to sit with in class whenever possible, and obviously staying away from me at break and lunch times. Nothing major by any means, but all things that were upsetting and confusing to me as an 11 – 15 year old child. Particularly as some days she would suddenly turn and be nice to me and ask me to sit with her and things like that. I never knew where I was. My attendance rate at school got worse and worse. More and more illnesses – some real, some minor but exaggerated, some psychosomatic, and some just faked. I was at an age where I could actually stay home from school rather than go and spend the day in the sick bed, so it was even more appealing.

In restrospect, when I look back I am quite confused by some things that did, or didn’t happen. A lot of it feels very painful to think about, but I feel pathetic for thinking that, because so many people go through such horrific things, and parents splitting up should surely not have affected me at all in the long term? But when I was talking about it with L she pointed out that actually it was probably quite traumatic for me, as a 12 year old, to be in such a confusing situation, and to have to keep it all a secret. During the appointment, when we were talking about it, I would get little flashes of vivid memories, and some of them were really quite painful. I remember one day being at a friend’s house to play, and her mum was one of the few people who knew that my parents had split up, and I remember her asking me how my mum was and how she was coping, and me just desperately wanting her to ask ME how I was, and how I was coping. But nobody ever did. My parents obviously knew what a state I was in, as they saw it. My siblings never once asked how I was. And apart from that very few people knew, and those who did only thought about my mum – after all, it was her and my dad who had split up, not me. It was nothing to do with me. Except of course it was. But I never had anyone to talk to. My mum had her counsellor she used to go and see, and even my dad saw the counsellor a few times on his own, because my mum wanted him to, but I never had anyone to talk to. I was never asked if I wanted to talk to a counsellor or anything, and there wasn’t a school counsellor, and even if there had been I wouldn’t have been able to speak to them because it was a secret of course, and my mum worked there, which also ruled out talking to any teachers. I remember one time when I was particularly upset my mum asking if there was someone I would like to talk to, and suggested a couple of people I knew from performing. I said that maybe it would help to talk to this one girl (although in retrospect it wouldn’t have been fair – she is only 5 or 6 years older than me, so would have only been 17 or 18 at the time, although of course that seems completely grown up when you are 12) because her parents had split up when she was younger so she would understand. And my mum got very upset and started crying because I had said about this other girl having parents who had split up too, because of course my parents hadn’t split up – it was a temporary arrangement remember? And so she got very upset and left my room, and me talking to someone was never mentioned again. So I learnt to bottle everything up. Because actually, I didn’t have a choice. Of course I could talk to my mum, but that just resulted in her getting upset every time, so that didn’t help at all. I was angry with my dad. My siblings didn’t seem to care, or even think about me. And the few other people who knew would ask about my mum, but not about me. And there was no option of counselling or anything like that. So I learnt to put on a happy face, and started developing my happy mask. Looking back on it now, I don’t know why my mum thought that she needed a counsellor, and that my dad needed a counsellor, but that I didn’t need anyone. It seems strange in retrospect that she could see my lying in the middle of the road sobbing hysterically and not think I perhaps needed to speak to someone. But I think she was genuinely in such denial about the whole thing that it didn’t even occur to her. My dad had just moved out for a little while, and would be coming back, and so maybe she thought there was nothing to talk about. I don’t know. But I think that actually it would have helped me to speak to someone – both then, and further down the line. Because of course by the time I got older I had become an absolute pro at keeping my mouth shut and keeping everything bottled up, and not telling anyone anything, and never mentioning feelings or emotions, that I think I had become completely detached from my emotions and how I actually felt, and so consequently found therapy virtually impossible.

There is more to come in the saga of my parents’ relationship and my childhood/adolescence, but this is quite long enough already, and I am feeling vaguely emotional, although I don’t know why, so yet again I will continue this tomorrow….

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