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>Decision

>So I suppose today has been vaguely productive, even if I have felt shit. I showered. It is so weird the way you don’t realise how disgusting you smell until you are clean. It’s lucky I hadn’t left the house since Monday. Something as simple as showering really shouldn’t take so much effort and feel so difficult. People do it every day. I do it every day when I don’t feel like this. I never find it difficult. Then full blown depression hits, and it suddenly seems like a completely pointless, and rather strange thing to do. So what if you stink and look like shit? It involves being out of bed for more than 5 minutes, and therefore absolutely is not worth the effort. In the end my mum tells me how revolting I am and makes me shower, and I then realise that I am indeed revolting, but still don’t actually care. So anyway, I showered and washed my hair. I am sure that I must deserve a medal of some kind – I managed to do something that the rest of the population do daily without even thinking about. What an achievement.

I also had rehearsal. I managed to make myself rushed and slightly late by getting up too late, which was because it was 7:30am before I got to sleep, so I fairly naturally then didn’t want to get up. I then spent half an hour persuading myself to get out of bed, then spent over an hour showering, throwing on the clothes from the top of the pile, and drying my hair for 3 minutes. Oh, and cleaning my teeth. I seem to do everything in slow motion at the moment – I am still trying to work out how those things took over an hour. I didn’t spend time wondering what to wear – I just threw on some dance trousers and a top and cardigan that were conveniently at the top of the pile because they were what I wore last time I left the house. The cast probably think I only own one set of clothes.

Went to rehearsal. It wasn’t quite as painful as last week, but I think only because I was there for an hour less. I still spent the whole time wanting to go home. Felt useless because I hadn’t warmed up my voice properly (ie I had sung for about 5 minutes in the car on the way there) because I just couldn’t be bothered, and so I sounded like shit. Typically the director wanted to listen to me sing my biggest solo for the first time. Never mind. Sung a bit more, pranced around a bit, said a few lines, had a few kisses, came home. I think I must have been functioning on auto pilot, and at least partially dissociating, because there are big chunks I don’t remember, and one time I remember starting the number, and then realising we had finished, but not being aware of anything in the middle. My concentration is all over the place. I have to go to another rehearsal tomorrow night, after ballet. That is a full cast rehearsal, whereas today was just me, the male lead, the director/choreographer, and the musical director, so I need to try and be a bit more focused tomorrow or I will probably end up looking like a complete idiot. Again, I don’t want to go, but it would fuck up the entire rehearsal if I wasn’t there, so I don’t have a choice.

I made a decision today. That sounds a bit monumental doesn’t it? And it isn’t, or not really anyway, given that I quite frequently change my mind. But I realised I have been a bit hypocritical lately, because I have been planning to kill myself, but allowing myself to forget something I have said to friends when they have been feeling suicidal. That I think suicide can be a valid option once you have tried all other options that are realistically open to you at that time, but not before then. On Thursday I have an assessment appointment with a Clinical Psychologist whom I have never met before. I have no idea if she would be able to help me, and to be honest at the moment I still feel like I would rather be dead regardless of whether I might start to feel better at some point, but it is something that is currently an option I haven’t explored, and I think I would be very hypocritical if I were to ignore that, so I decided that however bad I feel I must at least keep going until then. Deciding not to kill myself within the next four days probably doesn’t really sound like a very big deal, but it feels like it to me, because I am just feeling so terrible. So I need to really focus on getting through the next four days. After that I have no idea what will happen – I am not going to commit to anything further ahead than that, because that would feel impossible right now, but at least I am making the effort to go to the appointment and meet her etc. So I just have to get through tomorrow, when I will probably sleep the majority of the day, then have to go to dreaded ballet and rehearsal in the evening, then Tuesday I am seeing L, but I am not sure what I can do after that. My mum has a hospital appointment, but I find hospitals kind of triggering at the moment – they make me want to kill myself even more than I do usually. I suppose association of ideas. Anyway, then Wednesday will maybe be another sleeping day, and then I will have to go to another rehearsal. And then it will be Thursday and I will see the Psychologist. And that is as far as I am going to think or plan, because it gets too overwhelming after that. It all feels quite scary and difficult – even just thinking about being alive in four days time is hard, and I really wish I could get out of rehearsals and things, but realistically I can’t without getting a lot of very awkward questions and inconveniencing a lot of people, and even if I could it wouldn’t help really, because it is my head I need a break from, and I can’t get that any more at home than I can out – it is just easier being at home because I don’t have to hide behind a facade all of the time. I still desperately want out. I am exhausted. But I will stick to what I believe and at least go to the appointment on Thursday. Obviously I know nothing will change then, and that she won’t be able to magic me better. But at least I will be going and meeting her, and getting an impression of what she is like. If I still want to kill myself after that then I think it is pretty much fair game – no big dates coming up for a few weeks, not too close to the show that I can’t be replaced, no particular reason stopping me that I can think of. But I won’t make a decision before Thursday, or I will try not to. I can’t not see suicide as an option, because it is basically, but I am seeing it as an option I can explore after Thursday if I want to, not before. That’s not something I can do long term, or keep doing time after time for various reasons, but I think I can do it for the next few days. I suspect this entire paragraph would make no sense to anyone but me, but I understand how my mind works. Or I do some of the time. Sometimes I find it utterly baffling.

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>Firstly, I just want to thank everyone for all their support on my last few posts about my childhood. I was slightly apprehensive about posting them – I knew I felt like I needed to write about it, but I felt like people would see them and think ‘oh whiny, irritating, obnoxious brat who has had no real problems in her life’ because I suppose that is how I think of myself. I suppose in my mind if you have experienced trauma of some kind then mental health problems are perfectly understandable – it makes sense that if, for example, you are abused as a child, then you may grow up with some issues. But I have always felt like I have no issues and therefore I am a fraud in some way – that there must actually be nothing wrong with me, and I am making it all up, because if there is no reason for it then it can’t exist. Particularly given that one of my diagnoses is BPD, which is almost synonymous with trauma. Of course I know rationally that a) not everyone with BPD has had a traumatic childhood, although it is a large majority according to studies, and b) that not having experienced this does not make my problems any less real. But it is hard to always think rationally about things like this, and deep down I do just feel like a fraud a lot of the time. There have been occasions when I have convinced myself that there is absolutely nothing wrong with me, and that I am making it all up, even if I have been feeling desperately suicidal all the time. Sometimes I feel like I need to tell someone that I have been lying for all these years, and wasting all these resources, because actually there is absolutely nothing wrong with me. Except there is. And not having a reason for it – not being able to justify why I have these problems and feel the way I do makes it even harder to deal with in some ways, because I feel guilty and weak and confused. Professionals always ask about triggers and what caused things, and when you can’t tell them, not because there is something too hard to talk about, but because there actually isn’t anything, it does make you feel like you are wasting their time in some way. So thank you very much for all the responses. They meant a lot, and actually felt very validating. At first I have to confess that I wondered if people were taking the piss, because there was all this sympathy coming from people, and I didn’t see what there was to be sympathetic about, because there was nothing traumatic in my life – there were a couple of difficult periods, but everyone has them. Pandora, who experienced such real and terrible trauma in her childhood saying ‘This is heart-breaking to read’ about my childhood, which in many ways was so privileged, and normal, and ostensibly happy, just didn’t make sense to me – I didn’t understand how she, of all people, didn’t just dismiss me as a whiny brat after everything that she has been through. But I realised that these comments were coming from people I trust, and who would have no reason not to be genuine in their response, and so I tried to take them at face value. Which was hard, but I do believe that they were meant, even if I don’t understand why, and I want to thank you all for that.

I think talking it all over with L has helped too. I saw her yesterday. Although I usually send her pretty much everything I write between sessions, I hesitated over sending this. It felt like such a trivial thing to have written so many thousands of words about, and obviously she knows a lot of what happened in my childhood anyway, both from my notes, and from what I have told her before. Plus it just felt too much like navel gazing. So I debated with myself about whether or not to send it, and in the end decided I would, but to point out that it probably wouldn’t be of any relevance, and veered off into navel gazing, and that she really didn’t need to read it. Again, I was surprised by her reaction. For some reason she was impressed that I had been able to write about it, and didn’t think I would have been able to do that until recently. I have to admit that she made a lot of sense (she generally does to be fair!) and talked about how as a child changes in your life can completely change your whole view of the world, because everything seems secure and safe, and then something happens to destroy that, and as a child you don’t know how to deal with that, and so even things that on the surface are not massively traumatic, ie not neglect or abuse etc, can have a big impact on you. Or something along those lines. I don’t have the type of memory to quote what was said in appointments verbatim, particularly as I had only had 3 hours sleep before that particular appointment. She also said that seeing your parents unable to cope can be really difficult to deal with when you are young, as you have always relied on them and expected them to look after you, and if you are suddenly faced with a situation where they aren’t coping and you have to look after them then it confuses everything you know basically – they are supposed to look after you, not the other way around. She said she could completely see why I would have formed attachment issues after that, although we did also briefly talk about biological predisposition to things like that, and the nature vs nurture debate. I think I probably have characteristics and personality traits that would probably have made me vulnerable to mental health problems regardless of my circumstances, although of course it is difficult to judge how much of your personality is what you were born with, and how much is a reaction to environment etc, for example I am a perfectionist, which is a very common trait in people with mental health problems, and particularly eating disorders. But was I born a perfectionist, or was it somehow the result of my upbringing? I suspect that particular trait was one I was born with, as my dad is also a perfectionist, although my mum absolutely is not – ‘it will do’ tends to be her motto! I suppose you can never know how much of your character and life is a result of your experiences, and how much is just you, as you came into the world. You can guess, but you will never know for sure. I think an interesting case is identical twins, who obviously come from a split embryo, and therefore should be born with all of the same personality traits I would have thought, and are then brought up in exactly the same environment, and presumably treated the same, and yet can end up with such different personalities. I don’t know how that happens. How can one egg split and form two very different people, even when they have had the same upbringing? It is strange the things you think about when blogging. That is never something that had even crossed my mind before, and yet now it seems fascinating. Or maybe it is tiredness making me think that, since it is now 5:30am, and I wasn’t actually very late up today….. Time for sleep I think.

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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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>I am not feeling that great. I had my appointment with L this morning, but it didn’t help as much as normal. Usually I email her what I have written during the week, mostly the same as I write on here, but there are some bits I don’t usually send, for example if I have written about what we talked about in an appointment I obviously don’t bother emailing that, and there are some things I send her that don’t come on the blog, but about 90% of it is the same. Anyway, then she usually reads that before she sees me, and then some of what I have written about she picks out to talk about, and will ask me about certain things. We talk about other things as well, but we usually at least start based on some of what I have written. I find it works quite well, as I don’t have to try and remember what has happened in the last week, and she already knows what is going on so I don’t have to start from scratch with explaining things etc. Obviously I then go into more detail about what I am feeling/thinking, but it is so much easier than just walking into a room and someone saying ‘So how are you? How has your week been?’ etc.

Anyway, today it started slightly wrong because she was running late – not that much, only about 15 minutes, but she is never normally late, so I was starting to get a bit twitchy. Then I saw her come out with her patient before me, which has never happened before, and immediately take me in, and although that shouldn’t bother me, because obviously she has lots of other patients, but it was just a bit weird. And then because she was running late she took me straight in, and so I just felt a bit weird about it all. I don’t know. And then she said she was sorry but she hadn’t had time to read what I had written, as she had been caught up in a complicated case all morning. That is fair enough – I know she is often very busy, but it was a shame it was this week, as I think maybe I could have done with talking about the suicidal thoughts and what was going on with them. Of course I could have talked about them anyway, but I didn’t really what to say. ‘I am feeling suicidal but I don’t think I am going to kill myself, but knowing that if I don’t kill myself in the next few weeks I will have to live for for the next two months, and that feels like too much, so I want to kill myself now’ seemed a little random and complicated, so I just didn’t mention it. And there are some other things that I touched on in my writing, that I thought when I wrote ‘Oh I should talk about this with L’, but I couldn’t remember what they were or anything, so I obviously didn’t talk about them. And then often my appointments run longer – they are usually anything between an hour and an hour and a half, but L had to finish fairly promptly as she had a meeting to go to, so actually I think I was only with her about 50 minutes, which I do realise is a standard therapy hour, but it isn’t standard for my sessions. So overall although it was fine, but it didn’t help me as much as it often does. So yes, I am just not really feeling that great.

I am quite tired. I didn’t get enough sleep last night really. It wasn’t actually that few hours, but I really do need a decent amount to not feel like a zombie, and then I obviously had to get up this morning to see L, so I think I only got about 6 hours, which isn’t enough for me. I was going to nap this afternoon, but I decided to stay awake in the hope I would sleep better tonight. That never does seem to work, but I feel like it should! Other things going on – my weight had gone back down yesterday, and stayed the same today. I am really hoping I can get it down a bit more tomorrow. I just want it to keep going down, even if it isn’t fast. I didn’t go to ballet last night. I just didn’t really feel up to it. I wasn’t in the mood. But then I felt guilty because I had eaten what I usually eat before I dance on Monday, and so I stressed a bit about not burning off the calories etc. I suppose in the end it was ok because I maintained my weight, but maybe I would have lost if I had gone to ballet… I did go to the sing through. It was ok. I still don’t know what I want to do about it, but I thought I may as well go to the sing throughs to keep my options open. I have another one tonight. Then ballet tomorrow. Which I must go to. Blah. I just don’t feel like leaving the house at the moment at all.

I think I might have a cyst or a tumour. I know that sounds a little melodramatic, but I do. I have had a lump on my face, literally just below my ear, for quite a while now. I can’t remember when I first noticed it. It was definitely within the last year, but it might have been more recent than that. Maybe only a few months ago. I don’t know. My memory is atrocious. I did mean to mention it to my GP last time I saw her, but I forgot. Anyway, last night I decided to google it, as you do. I wasn’t quite sure what to search, so I started typing ‘lump face’ and google’s first suggestion was ‘near ear’, which I thought was quite interesting, as it means it must be quite common, so I searched for that. It came up with lots of information about tumours on the salivary glands, mostly the parotid gland, and in pictures that looks like exactly the right place, although all the ones in the pictures are big and mine isn’t. It is only very tiny, not even as big as a pea, and it doesn’t hurt at all, but I suppose I should probably get it checked out. I have an appointment with my GP on Friday, so I will mention it then. I perhaps won’t mention I have diagnosed myself with a paratid tumour with the help of Dr Google, as I think Doctors prefer you to allow them to do their job themselves.

A friend of mine took an overdose this afternoon. It is my friend A. She came online and talked to me and said she was really sorry and that I was going to be angry with her, and I said I wouldn’t be angry, but asked what she had done, and she said taken too many Paracetamol, so I asked how many, and she said 32 and a few Zopiclone. She said she was feeling really bad and she had done it before she had even really thought about it. She doesn’t live anywhere near me, so there wasn’t much I could do, but I asked her for the phone number for her housing support worker, which she gave me, so I called her, and she got an ambulance round there for her, so she is at the hospital now. I wish she could have talked to me before rather than after, but I am glad she told me and that she is being treated. I am not angry obviously. I am just concerned. And part of me wishes it was me, although I wouldn’t have told anyone. It sounds awful, but when I was looking up the lump on my face last night I thought maybe it would be cancer and if I didn’t have treatment it would kill me, and then I wouldn’t have to kill myself. And then I hated myself for thinking that. So many people are so desperate to live, and sometimes I just feel evil for even thinking about wanting to die and suicide.

Overall it hasn’t really been a great day…

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>I am not feeling good. I had gained weight today, as predicted. And as predicted, it made me feel terrible. I tried not to eat too much today. I did have quite a big dinner, but I didn’t eat anything else, apart from a few sweets that my friend brought over. I ate too much to have lost any weight, but I am just hoping I won’t have gained either, although I am feeling quite full and heavy at the moment, so I may have. I will go and weigh myself in a little while and see what is going on.

I didn’t really do much today. My friend arrived about half 12, and we watched the Oklahoma DVD with Hugh Jackman (so sexy!) and just chatted. And then she stayed for dinner, and then left at about 8. I then watched the X Factor results (boring) and Downton Abbey. I love Downton Abbey. Period dramas are great. I got annoyed because my mum made a cake, but it was a fruit cake and I don’t even like fruit cakes. And I don’t even know who will eat the bloody fruit cake – originally she had said she wanted to make a chocolate cake, as she got a recipe for a good one from my old next door neighbour, and said she would make a fruit cake as well because my dad likes fruit cake. I said having 2 cakes at once seemed pretty excessive, and also somewhat strange since the last cake she made was in July, and that I didn’t want to end up eating most of the chocolate cake myself, as she would also be eating the fruit cake. So she just made a fruit cake, but my dad isn’t even that keen on cake – fruit cake is his favourite, but he can take or leave cake really, so he won’t eat much of it, I won’t eat any of it as I refuse to eat fruit cake on principle (it doesn’t have icing, and is therefore an inferior cake, and although I don’t dislike it, it feels like a big waste of calories eating something I am not bothered about), and so that pretty much just leaves my mum. And she prefers chocolate cake really. I don’t know why she didn’t just make the chocolate cake. So I was pissed off about the lack of cake, despite me saying it was a silly idea to make 2, as I didn’t want to eat an entire chocolate cake. I am so awkward really. It is probably for the best really, or I would have had a piece every day until it went, and that wouldn’t have done my weight loss plans any favours, and I would also have purged it sometimes, as I tend to do that. But I still would have liked a piece of cake. Or a cupcake. Just not stupid fruit cake. I could of course make one myself, but then we would have the 2 cakes in the house situation that I wanted to avoid. I don’t need cake.

I think I have been struggling more again this week. I generally notice concentration first. My normal judge of concentration is my ability to read – when my concentration isn’t too bad, which is when my mood is better, I probably read a book in 2 or 3 days on average. I have been reading the same book for a week now, and it isn’t a particularly long book (shorter than my average book) and I am only half way through. There is a possibility that I just don’t like the book and so can’t be bothered to read it, but I have noticed other signs of my mood slipping – increased obsessiveness with my weight (that happens in the period between doing slightly better, when I do focus on my weight, but not to this extent, and feeling too terrible to give a shit about what I weigh, which is when there is probably genuine cause for concern about my safety), a genuine decrease in hunger (although I continue to stuff myself most days, but normally end up feeling sick as I wasn’t hungry in the first place), not bothering about what I look like at all and living in the same clothes every day, on the rare occasions I manage to get out of my pyjamas, increased suicidal thoughts, and a complete inability to cry, even when I am feeling really terrible or upset. I think that is all for now. I guess I will just have to keep an eye on things and see what happens. Although to be honest that is fairly pointless, as even if things plummeted to the point where I knew I was going to kill myself the following day, there wouldn’t really be a lot I could do about it. But it seems like a good idea to know if my mood is on the way down or up, and to what extent, even if I can’t do anything about it.

Tomorrow I am doing nothing during the day, then I have ballet at 5:45. Then at half 7 I am going to a sing through for a musical I am thinking about auditioning for. I haven’t actually decided for sure whether I am going to audition or not. There is another show on a month before I am also considering auditioning for. I couldn’t be in both, but I am not sure which I would rather do. I prefer the company doing one, and I prefer the show being done by the other. Both are good shows actually, but the female ensemble have more to do, and there are more female parts, hence me saying I prefer it. If I audition for one of them I will probably audition for both – the auditions are only a few days apart, and then I could decide based on casting etc. But I am not sure if I want to commit to doing another show or not. Partly because it feels too soon – Carousel has only just finished, and although auditions aren’t for a couple more weeks, and therefore rehearsals probably wouldn’t start for a month, it feels quite soon. But partly because I don’t know if I want to commit myself to anything else at the moment. To an extent, committing myself to being in a show feels like committing myself to stay alive until that production has finished, and right now I don’t feel in a position to say that I will stay alive until March/April of next year. That is a long time away, and I am not feeling good at the moment. I am having a lot of suicidal thoughts currently, and I don’t want to feel tied to anything. On the other hand, maybe it is good for me to be rehearsing something, and to have a goal. Maybe it makes me feel better. And it doesn’t have to be as much of a commitment as I make it. People drop out of productions all the time. As long as you aren’t a lead it doesn’t matter too much – you are replaceable. Well, anyone is replaceable if they need to be, but the bigger the role the harder you are to replace. But if I was in the chorus for one of the shows, I wouldn’t have to see that as a commitment to staying alive for a long time – if I wasn’t able to do it in the end then it wouldn’t actually affect the production – they might just have to slightly alter a couple of big dance numbers – it wouldn’t be a big deal. A principal part would be another matter, but I very much doubt I would get a principal role in either show. I don’t know if I would feel able to commit to a principal part at the moment. Firstly because that really would feel like a commitment to staying alive until the production was over, partly because sometimes I just can’t cope with going to rehearsals when I am really struggling, and that is problematic if you are a lead, and partly because learning lots of lines is an issue when I am having problems with concentration and memory. There are probably more reasons too, but they are the ones that immediately spring to mind. Being a lead is a lot more pressure than being in the chorus. The old adage ‘There are no small parts, only small actors’ is bollocks in my opinion. Ok, there are some very important small roles, but basically, if you are in a small role, it is going to be far easier to replace you than it is the lead – that is just simple logistics. If someone has hundreds of lines and 3 solo songs and a dance number, then it is going to be far more difficult to recast their role 2 weeks before the show opens than it is someone who has a cameo part with 10 lines and sings in the chorus of 2 songs. Of course I understand the sentiment of it, and I realise I am taking it somewhat out of context here, but for me a lead role is a far bigger commitment than a small part would be, and actually is more important – you can’t do the show without the lead, but is anyone really going to miss that person in the 3rd row of the chorus? Unlikely. I have gone off on a tangent again. I was saying something. Oh yes. So I don’t know whether to audition or not at the moment, because I don’t know if I can handle the commitment. I will see how I feel next week when the auditions come round. I may audition and then decide. And I only have to see it as a commitment to life if I get cast in a lead role. I might not audition for a lead role. That goes against everything my actor-ey instincts tell me to do, but I couldn’t honestly take on a part now for a show in March or April and know that I would be alive to do it.

I am struggling a lot with suicidal thoughts at the moment. They are quite strong, although currently not at an out of control level. What is difficult is my brain keeps going into planning mode and then getting stuck. I have certain rules around suicide. I would never do it say in the lead up to Christmas, or over Christmas, or on, or in the days before, somebody’s birthday, or other significant dates. I think suicides are hard enough for the people left behind to deal with, without the anniversary of it popping up at a time when they are supposed to be happy, like at Christmas or a Birthday. So that is the first rule. The second rule is not to do it if something particularly difficult has just happened, for example I was very suicidal, and had just made an attempt, 2 years ago, and then my grandmother died, and although my suicidal thoughts were incredibly strong, I knew it wouldn’t be fair to make my mother lose her mother and her daughter within the space of a week. That would have just felt wrong. However desperate I was feeling I couldn’t have done that to her. The final rule is that I can’t do it if I am committed to something, so for example in the month leading up to Carousel I couldn’t have, however bad I felt, as I would have been letting so many people down. Prior to that it would have been acceptable, as I could have been replaced, but when there was only a few weeks to go I couldn’t. So basically those are the rules. The other thing with suicide, is I like to know when it is an option. For example, when I am having strong suicidal thoughts, but I feel able to fight them a little longer, a tactic I use to do that is to say that if I am still feeling the same by X (say 2 weeks ahead for example) then I can act on them, and that is ok. It is just something I use to help me cope with them. Sometimes things have improved a little by X, sometimes they haven’t really but I manage to find something else to keep going for, or have received more support, which has helped me to keep going etc. It doesn’t always work – if I reach absolute breaking point then X goes out the window, so I would never promise to anyone, including myself, that I would be alive until X, but I do try to stick to it, and it is an aim at least. At the moment, although the thoughts aren’t out of control, they have reached a point where I feel a need to plan when I would be able to kill myself if I needed to. And that is proving difficult. I usually try to set my first target for at least 2 weeks ahead, as that seems reasonable, and weekends are a no go because of people being around, which would make the first possible day I could kill myself November 15th. However, that is then less than 3 weeks before the concert I am doing, and so starting to encroach on the commitment rule. But the concert is in December, and so if I said that suicide wasn’t an option until after that, it would be messing with the special occasion rule. Which therefore means it would basically mean being alive until January. And that thought terrifies me. It makes me feel really desperate and scared, and makes me want to kill myself now. Really quite badly. January is 2 months away – I can’t say now that I can live for 2 whole months longer. It really scares me a lot. To the point that I am now thinking I need to kill myself now, within the next couple of weeks, to avoid that. I don’t want to be alive for 2 months more. I don’t want to be alive for 2 days more – committing to a further 2 months terrifies me. I could kill myself now. I don’t mean right now, I mean at some point in the next couple of weeks. 3 weeks maximum. After that it is too close to the concert, and then Christmas. I hate Christmas. And I hate New Year even more. The thought of being alive for New Year is hideous. It makes me want to kill myself right now. I am not going to, but I want to. So I am feeling really confused. I do feel suicidal, and I do want to die, but I feel like I could hold off on acting on it for a couple of weeks, but saying I won’t act on it for 2 months feels impossible, and not acting on it within the next 3 weeks is saying that, and that just makes me feel so desperate and out of control and scared.

Writing is so strange. I started writing this 45 minutes ago, and I had no idea what I was going to write. I just started writing because I felt in the mood to write, but I had no idea what, apart from the little weight rant and what I did today stuff. Then when I start writing everything just seems to pour out of me, and I start talking about things I didn’t even know I was thinking about some of the time. Strange.

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>Being erased

>I have been sitting here for hours now not knowing what to write. My head just feels empty. I haven’t done anything today. I am not even sure where the day went. There were a few things I meant to do, but suddenly it was evening, and now it is nearly 2am. I watched Neighbours twice. That seems a little excessive, but I was sitting here when it came on again, and even though I had watched it at lunch time I didn’t actually remember much of it, so I sat and watched it again. I probably still wouldn’t remember it. It has been one of those days.

I was wondering earlier what it would be like to have a whole day without suicidal thoughts. A whole day without thinking about it once. And a whole day without thinking about my weight, and how much I hate my body, and feeling guilty every time I eat something, and wondering how it will affect my weight. I can’t remember either of those things. Even when I am not feeling actively suicidal, I still think about suicide, and every day if given the choice between continuing to live, or being erased so I had never existed, I would choose being erased. I don’t remember the last time I had a day when I would have chosen to live. That is obviously different to feeling like I am going to kill myself, because with suicide you have to think about other people, whereas being erased would be my ideal, as I could cease to exist, but without upsetting anyone. I wish there was a way to make that happen. Sometimes I think about running away and disappearing so that nobody knows where I am, and then killing myself. If I disappeared first then nobody would actually know I had died and so it might be less hurtful. I suppose it is like trying to erase myself.

I am trying to resist the urge to go and weigh myself at the moment. I am in this stupid pattern where I weigh in the middle of the night to try and predict what my weight will be the next day. I don’t know why I do it, because if I weighed now and knew I would have gained tomorrow then there would be absolutely nothing I could do about it, but I still do it. Somehow it feels even scarier to step on the scales without having been pre-warned about what I am likely to weigh from my middle of the night weigh in. I ate too much again today. I feel really greedy at the moment. From Monday I am going to make a really concerted effort to try and lose weight. I always think it is daft when people say they are going to start a diet in a couple of days time, but weekends are always more difficult as my parents are about, and so I tend to eat more at the weekends, plus on Sunday I have a friend coming over. She is someone I met during Carousel. So anyway, it will probably be easiest to start on Monday. Not that it is ever easy – there always seems to be things in the way. I just need my will power and determination back. It is definitely missing at the moment, and I want it back. I can’t believe how long I have been trying to lose weight for now, and it really hasn’t happened. I have lost about half a stone, but that has literally taken 5 months. I have lost an awful lot more than that actually, but I have put on a lot in between as well. I have been going up and down several pounds each month, which is why I haven’t lost more. It pisses me off immensely – I have a bad week food wise, and find I am back where I was a month previously, and that upsets me. The last couple of months I haven’t actually lost any weight at all – I am actually a pound heavier than I was during (some of) August. But I have also been 3lbs heavier than this several times between then and now. It is pretty confusing really. I just want it going steadily down. Even if it was only a pound a week. Goodness, even half a pound. As long as it kept going down and there were none of the stupid weight gains in between. I always think that I should be able to lose 2lbs a week, but it so rarely works in reality. But 1lb sounds like a realistic target. And would put me at my medium term target weight for Christmas I just worked out, which would be nice. I would still want to be lower than that, but if I lost 7 – 10lbs I would be so much more comfortable with my body than I am now. My long term target weight is unrealistically low to be healthy – it is just my dream weight. It isn’t scarily low, but it would make me well into the underweight section on the BMI chart, which isn’t really a good idea. But it has been my goal weight for 7 years – I can’t just let go of it. But my medium term goal weight is a reasonable weight, that I have been at several times before, and I genuinely feel like I should be able to get to and maintain. It is just so much easier said than done….

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>Yet more career talk…

>Firstly, thank you to everyone who has replied to my last couple of posts. I really appreciate all of the input, and I am particularly grateful to those people who have come out of hiding to do so! It is funny, because even though I know my blog gets more hits a day then I get comments, I kind of just think of the people who comment, and other who I know read it as being my readers – it is funny that there are people out there I have never spoken to who read what is going on in my life. But I do really appreciate everyone taking the time to respond. I normally reply to comments within comments, but there are lots, and lots with a similar message, so I thought I would just write another post.

I agree with everyone who said that going from nothing to 50+ hours a week is probably not that sensible, and that I would need to find some way of gradually increasing what I do. This is more difficult than it sounds though. I am already involved in about all I can be performing related at a local level – I have always done dance classes as you all probably know, and then this year I have got back into being in productions as well – I have Carousel in a week, and I did a 1 act play in May, then The Tempest in August, and now Carousel, and then the concert I have talked about in December. I do have a lot of free time, but it is all during the day – my evenings are actually very busy, and that is when all non professional performing things (classes, rehearsals etc) tend to take place. There is an extra ballet class I could do during the day if I had transport, but that is literally about it. So I am already involved in pretty much everything I can be locally in terms of performing. So basically that isn’t really an option as a stepping stone to drama school. There is also a bit of an issue going on with it. Like I said, I have done 3 productions this year now, but I haven’t enjoyed any of them. I auditioned for all of them despite not feeling enthusiastic at the time, as I hoped that once rehearsals started and I got into it I would get my enthusiasm back. But it didn’t work. I was planning to audition for another show once Carousel is over (either Crazy For You or Beauty and the Beast if anyone is interested!) but I don’t know whether I should or not. I keep just thinking that surely something will have to click and I will end up enjoying it, but this year every rehearsal has felt like a chore rather than something to enjoy – I don’t think there has been a single time when I have looked forward to going. And that a) makes me wonder if there is any point auditioning for another show whilst I am feeling so bad, and b) makes me wonder if it is totally ridiculous even considering applying for drama school. I just have no enthusiasm or passion at all. Occasionally it flares up, like when I see a show and it is really amazing and I leave almost hurting because I want to do that so much, or sometimes when I am listening to a show recording or watching a video on youtube or something. But most of the time I just feel flat. And if I can’t get interested in performing, then why am I trying to do more? Maybe I should just leave it until I start feeling like I want to do it again. Or maybe I should keep going, because at least it gets me out of the house and doing something. I don’t know.

There are other things I could do locally that aren’t performing – I have taught Speech and Drama in a school before, and could do so again, and I have also choreographed and been assistant director for another school’s musical, so I have experience, and could probably find something if I wanted to. But again, there is just a complete lack of enthusiasm. When I was doing the teaching I dreaded going in. I didn’t enjoy doing it. I was constantly told how good I was at it, but I didn’t like doing it 99% of the time. I think partly because children just aren’t my thing, partly because I don’t really have any interest in teaching, partly because I felt so awful and low and couldn’t focus properly, and partly because I didn’t like having to get up and go out and be around people. I could do it again, in fact it would probably be greatly appreciated, but I just don’t think I can make myself do it. I used to come home feeling so awful – it makes my mood worse doing something when I don’t feel up to it, plus I don’t sleep well enough to be able to get up in the morning, and then the days were too long so I was constantly exhausted. It just felt like too much. It was only a couple of days a week, but even that just felt too much. I suppose if I had been doing something I loved it might have been different, but I don’t know if I do love anything at the moment. The choreographing/ADing was better – partly because it was just a couple of hours a week, and in the afternoon, so less stressful and less tiring, and partly because the children were older, and I prefer working with older children. But doing that again isn’t really an option due to a) a change of staff at the school where I did it, and b) them choosing to do shit productions since then that I would have had no desire whatsoever to get involved in.

JaneB suggested other types of performing, ie not professional musical theatre/acting, which is a perfectly valid suggestion, but to be honest this isn’t really something I am interested in. I don’t like performing because I like standing up in front of people and talking – it is really theatre that means a lot to me. I obviously wouldn’t turn down film or TV work if offered (I would have to be crazy to, as the money is always tonnes more, even for an advert or something, and you take what you are offered in acting), but it is theatre that I am really passionate about, and musical theatre in particular. Doing something like tour guide work just would not appeal to me, and theatre in education is most actors’ worst nightmare! I do have experience of something in this field, ie something that could be considered performing, but isn’t theatre or anything – I was a participant at a well known re-enactment place one summer, and it was ok – some days I quite liked it, other days I just wanted to get out of there, but there is no way I would ever want to do something like that as a job – it just isn’t the type of thing that appeals to me.

As an actor I am fairly conventional I suppose – I have friends who have done Community Theatre, or more experimental types of theatre etc, but that has never appealed to me. I like being given a script and working with a good director etc. If there are songs and dances then so much the better, but I do love straight plays too. But devising and experimental theatre just is not my thing. I obviously want to have creative input into a production, but not in terms of devising the concept or writing the script. And I suppose that is essentially why I need to go to drama school – because the particular career path that interests me is pretty much a closed shop, and without drama school I can’t access it. But I need to be well enough for drama school, and I don’t think I am at the moment. But doing something else in theatre that wasn’t performing would just be too painful for me – working backstage or in production would just constantly make me wish I was the one on stage, and it would just be too close. I think it would be better to do something completely unrelated than try to be involved in the theatre in another way – that would just hurt too much. I would spend every day feeling like I had failed, and being close to it would just be like rubbing my face in it.

What I don’t know, is how I can take steps to get to the point where I am able to cope with moving out and going to drama school. I know the treatment I think would be most likely to help me, and have for some time, but it isn’t an option, and I feel like I have tried everything else. So I don’t know how to get better mental health wise. And in terms of taking steps activity/work wise, it is difficult. As I said, I am doing all the performing I can locally already. Getting a job feels like more than I can cope with at the moment. I feel stuck. I feel like to be able to even start taking the steps I would need to in order to build up to being ready for drama school, my mental health would need to be better – I would need to be able to get through a few hours without thinking about suicide, and feel less overwhelmed by my thoughts and feelings, and more able to leave the house. To not have weeks at a time where I would just feel too overwhelmed to go to work or whatever. But I don’t know how I can reach that point. I wish I could get appropriate treatment, but it isn’t available. And as great as I think L is, she is a CPN, not a miracle worker. She supports me enormously, and helps keep me alive at times, but she can’t cure me or change how I feel or think. I just cannot see my life ever changing, and that makes me even more depressed. I don’t want to be stuck living at home or in supported housing in 10 years time, or 5 years time, or even 2 years time. If I am alive, I want to live – not be in this weird limbo that I am in now. But I just can’t do it. It all feels too much and overwhelms me.

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