It’s in progress. I will post more soon. I am really struggling at the moment. I’m sorry.
Bloody hell. It’s taken me 18 weeks to write this post. I imagined a dam would burst when we told everyone at week 12. And I, who diarises everything and have done since I was a child. Anyway- better late than never. This is my news…
I found out I was pregnant on the day Rik Mayall died. My already not inconsiderable boobs seemed to have become zeppelins of ache, so I decided to grab a pregnancy test on my way to work to wee upon in the peaceful surroundings of the disabled toilet. I yawned as I waited for the results, expecting it to be negative like all the others had been. It wasn’t.
The first person to find out wasn’t my husband, but my much beloved friend at work, Ellie. Robert had just gotten off his week of nightshifts and as I’d left for work, had been barbecuing in the garden with his friend Ben. As I waved goodbye there was the, “hhsssstt” of an opening can and a peal of already-rather-drunk laughter. (In fact, this was him that very morning:
I bumped into her as I was dashing across to the Superdrug to buy another four pregnancy tests. I’m one of those incredibly unlucky (or lucky, depending on how you see it) people to have gotten a false positive pregnancy test (two in fact- fuck you Sainsburys own brand). That positive test was met with jubilation, calls to buy fizzy wine, shock. This time it was rather different. I got home from work, having sent Robert a few subtle, “Hey, you sober now? Wow, about that Rik Mayall eh?” texts throughout the day. When he texted back to tell me that he was turning into an otter, I thought it was best to break the news in person. Which I did by shaking him awake at 7pm and quietly telling him the news. It took him a while to shake off the alcohol haze and for the news to be understood.
We had approximately 19 hours with which to enjoy the news and to imagine a future with a child. The next day, our bastard landlord. the criminal scumbag Gabriel Edun whose negligence could have killed us in the house fire it caused, was heard casually talking over the garden fence with the landlord next door about their offer on the flat. He was selling. We confronted him and he admitted that he would be serving us with a section 22 notice of eviction. We’d only lived there 3 months, and those 3 months we’d lived in a sooty, fire damaged whole, taken days and days off work, not just for hospital treatment after the fire but to sit around waiting for this lazy piece of shit to come and make the flat breathable again. We’d only endured it because the flat was very cheap and he had assured us, repeatedly, that he wouldn’t be selling and we could finally have somewhere to make a home.
Fucker. We left him this as a present.
(The shitbag scumlord couldn’t had evicted us legally anyway- he didn’t protect our deposit and I got it back when I threatened him with court. I had spent the day cleaning his shithole and as I left, he offered to carry the hastily packed bags of an unwanted house move to the bus stop because of my “condition”. I declined).
We could have waited three months until he served the eviction notice, but in the three months since we’d moved to Lewisham, we’d already been priced out of it. We had to move quickly. The next weeks I could barely sleep, and could barely eat because I was throwing up everything that passed my lips (“morning sickness” my HOLE. All day sickness. All 15 weeks of endless dizzying sickness). We were both hysterical, me crying often, totally screwed financially having spent everything we had on moving three months previously. It absolutely ruined the first month as all I could think about was where we were going to live and what we were going to do. We ended up having to borrow money, and kind friends helped, too, and finding a place in Streatham, far, far more than what we were paying but still below market rent. What a fucking joke London is. (Incidentally, we moved to Streatham to be close to Robert’s family, who are now all moving out of fecking London).
Having to move also meant that I had to end therapy. I had *just* started therapy (finally) for panic disorder. I was struggling to get to appointments on the bus due to sickness, so she said she thought I’d be better referred to Lambeth, which I agreed with. Couldn’t transfer, had to do a new referral. Which I’ve yet to do. Because…
This got long. In the next entry, I’ll discuss the NEVERENDING APPOINTMENTS you can expect if you’re both pregnant and mental!
And I’ll also talk about how GREAT it is being FAT and how you’re basically told you’re KILLING YOUR BABY just by EXISTING WHILE FAT!
MARVEL as you VOMIT for 15 weeks!
To be continued…
I’m really sorry that for the longest time I have been awful at responding to comments. This is because, for ages, I haven’t received notifications for them. And I’ve tinkered around in both emails and the site and still don’t get them.
I see comments when I read back posts so I *always* read them. I am very often on mobile Internet so struggle to type and tend to read late at night half asleep.
But I massively appreciate comments and absorb them all and I’m sorry if I’ve seemed rude not responding. Quite honestly whatever the excuse I’m a very forgetful person and always have been. Not a reflection on any of you lovely readers sharing your experiences. I’m going to start making it a blogging priority. The art of comment and discussion is dying thanks to Twitter. Let’s keep it alive X
I’ve written about pissing into bottles when I’ve been depressed, and yet to me, this is a blog whose responses I fear the most. Because admitting that you’re lonely seems to be the most shaming thing you can do. We’re meant to be glitzy! Instagramming! Vineing our awesome lives! And this will sound like one long self pitying tract, which it is, really. All I want from it is to get some thoughts out of my system. It is not a plea for contact because as I will explain I must do those things on my own terms and not be forced into them or feel obligated because I find that scary and overwhelming. Like someone who hasn’t eaten for a bit- I’ll be sick and not want to eat again if I have a big meal. I need to have little nourishing small things that I am comfortable with.
So. Continue reading
I don’t write about other things much in this blog, but the death of Rik Mayall means that I bloody well will. Because Rik Mayall was brilliant, and now he’s dead, and I just wanted to write a short bit about how ace he was.
I’m not one to sneer at people who show emotion when a celebrity dies. Although the hyperbolic, competa-bituaries sprout up as soon as the heart-clutch hits the ground, I don’t think that it means that the grief isn’t genuine. Of course we don’t know the celebrities who die. We grieve for the person as they were to us, a little piece of our own history, and of ourselves. And it feels like a little bit of you dies with them.
And that’s the case for me with Rik Mayall. He was as interwoven into the fabric of my childhood as those I shared school desks with, the scratched names on trees, the scraped, red-raw knees. Growing up, comedy was (and still is) the ultimate kiss-it-all-better.
Rik Mayall had that elastic, silly, manic energy that was magical to a child. The flailing limbs and swivelling eyes of a childhood tantrum. How can that be gone? Rick was the kind of spotty adolescent oik that older people laughed at but the younger people (well, me) secretly wanted to be. And as an adolescent myself, with my copy of the Communist Manifesto in my leopardprint bag and vocal, uninformed political arguments, who I became in some ways.
I wasn’t born when the Young Ones first aired, but it was one of first VHS videos we asked for when we got a little combi TV. Being a bairn growing up in West Belfast, I didn’t get the satire, but still found this hilarious. Especially Stephen Fry’s complete underreaction to getting a jug smashed over his head, as if he’d gone through life like that.
On my ninth birthday, when I went to the swimming pool in Andersonstown, I wasn’t allowed in because I whipped the blue towel of my bag and did this:
reciting lines from, “Holy”. It was Richie’s face I pulled behind my teacher’s back.
And Drop Dead Fred was my first love. It’s a strange film, wildly varying in tone, either a meditation on mental illness and abuse, or a live action cartoon. But as a lonely child, Drop Dead Fred was my ideal boyfriend. A cheeky sidekick, a partner in crime, someone who who would stand up for you.
As I got older and worked backwards, I found the Comic Strip Presents (Mr Jolly Lives Next Door, Bad News and Dirty Movie are amongst my favourites, though Ade Edmondson and Peter Richardson are the stars of the best- Eddie Monsoon- A Life and Strike!), 20th Century Coyote, the Dangerous Brothers and Flash’s turns in Blackadder. As well as the execrable Guest House Paradiso, which I hated, but which my little brother absolutely adored.
Rik Mayall is part of a sense of humour that got embedded deeply inside my own personality and psyche, even the way I cope with life, and it’s strange that now the world doesn’t have him anymore, and that the next generation won’t have him either.
Edit: Before I start, I want to say that these are my feelings on my own self harm. I’m not talking about yours, or anyone elses’. This is my post about my body and my experiences.
Just a bit of a whine really. When I’ve written about self harm here before (take a wee look at the comments page of this entry, it’ll lead you to the others), it’s been with reflection and optimism. I don’t feel that way today about my scars. Just pissed off. Stupid. Now that the sun is out, I look like a bloody zebra. A slither of sunlight on my arms turns my skin red and the scars whiter. Freckles pop out. It looks terrible, and it makes me feel like a fucking fool for what I’ve done to my body.
I can’t buy into all this, “your scars are a reminder you’ve survived” stuff, and all the other things self harmers tell themselves so they can live in the scar suit. I don’t view them with any profundity, though I’ve tried to. Increasingly, I see my self harming as a teenage folly gone way, way too far. Perhaps that’s just me trying to protect myself from the reality of what I did- to distance myself from it so I don’t get lured in again. I would have stopped at the self-conscious scratches in my early teens, I think, if I hadn’t been practically dared to go further as a way of proving that I was in real distress, not just faking it. People dismiss scratches but not the deep, lacerating gorges I eventually wrought onto myself. I was only 13 (or 12?!) and was experiencing the start of getting mentally unwell, and the anger imherant in encroaching “womanhood”. What a stupid thing. A stupid thing especially because after the experimental scratches (the reason I started self harming was because I’d read an article about how self harm was awful yada, but what I focused on was that they said it helped them when they were depressed) which got a, “What the fuck are you doing?” responses, I hid my self harm. I was proving nothing to no-one, I was just getting deeper into a terrible coping mechanism for my mental health. And when it was discovered by my parents I was still self harming, they went mental, my mum especially. Having pleaded, cried and hidden all the razors, she kicked the crap out of me in angry fright.
I haven’t self harmed in years. I have sometimes been close to it, but present enough in my mind where I can think about the pain, the embarrassment, the difficulty hiding. Not the pain during- it rarely hurts during for me- but afterwards. Of getting clothes on and wincing, fabric getting stuck and reopening the cuts like a zipper every time it needs to be torn off (every time, every day, every night), of crying from pain the bath and shower, of shrinking away from touch and not being able to stop myself yelling out if someone touches me, of trying to get into bed covering my cuts and being so ashamed of them I put pyjamas on that I have to peel off in the morning. The embarrassment of feeling like a dickhead, of people noticing and giving you that look (I’ve never gone to A&E for my self harm though on multiple occasions I should have. But I’ve heard enough stories of how shitty people are treated there to put up with the disfigurement and pain than to get myself help- I do not advise this and I wish I had gone sometimes). It was, to put it bluntly, a pain in the hole.
But the scars haven’t faded as much as I hoped they would. They’re still pretty severe, and there’s no way I can pass them off as anything other than what they are. There’s no hiding them if my sleeves are up. Crucially, most stupidly of all, I cut my face once, and I have little cat-whisker type scars on my cheeks. What a stupid fucking twat I was for doing that. Suffice to say, I was hardly thinking straight. I was going through one of the worst times of my life, mentally. So I could let myself off the hook. But I can’t. Every time I look in the mirror, I think, “You stupid cow. You’ve hated your face and your body all your life and you gave yourself a bloody good reason to”. Maybe that was half the point. I grew demented having body dysmorphic disorder but people telling me I’m beautiful. Liars, liars! I *wanted* them to tell me I was hideous so I didn’t feel as if I were losing my mind. Well, here, you can’t keep lying to me now. Knowing, in retrospect, that my beliefs were quasi-delusional, makes me want to scream at myself even more for what I’ve done to my body.
Now it’s summer and the world is out in thin cotton dresses and short sleeves and I am, as usual, hoodied and cardiganed up in increasingly dark and dour clothes (having gained so much weight, I’ve completely lost my style, too. No idea how to dress myself at this weight. No money, either). I have worn my sleeves up a few times outside, and in the garden. I roll my sleeves up at work if I’m too hot (often, because I chronically overdress, and don’t feel comfortable or safe unless I’ve got a coat), which is progress. But then again, I work at a mental health charity so you would expect them not to be shocked or discriminatory about self harm, which they aren’t. No-one has ever commented and I’m sure I’m not the only one who works there who has self harm scars. But when my sleeves are up, I’m so aware of it, and so distracted by my own awareness that I tend to eventually roll them back down again. When I was doing my nursing degree (I quit that last year- did I ever write about why? If not, maybe I will), I wanted to shrink into nothingness when I had my sleeves up. When one nurse demanded of me when I was in a patients’ room with her (and the patient had taken a fucking overdose!), “WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR ARMS?!” I wanted to disappear. I didn’t know what to say. I hated that, here was a patient and yet now because of my very visible marks of past distress, I’m the patient. One of my placement coordinators was also very rude about them and I felt humiliated. I have a good sense of humour- it’s my best defence- so responded in quips. But I felt like crying when she left the room. Crying from shame and also anger. Crying that for the rest of my life, I’m going to get comments on something which is as relevant now as an old leg break is. Permanent. Forever.
I’ve considered asking for surgery but they are too multiple, and it would leave me with new scars. When I met another blogger who also self harms, she gave me some camouflage make up, which did a great job of hiding the colour (but not the texture). I may use it this summer. It’s not that I’m afraid of peoples’ reactions in the street (and you do get them), it’s the feeling of difference. My scar suit doesn’t suit anything. There’s nothing I can wear that makes me feel confident. Even with the (hot, itchy) make up, I know they’re under there.
I hate my scars. I think they’re ugly. I hate that when people see them, I can see their mind working. They’re filling in my past for me, and my future. Abused, they think, unstable, they think, angry, they think, impulsive, they think, attention seeking, unsafe, unwanted, mental, violent, aggressive. They fill in the space where I’m standing with someone else. Literally marked for life. And it’s maddening.
It’s happened a lot with doctors and nurses, especially. Before I even open my mouth, they’re telling me my life story. And I want to reply:
It’s one of the reasons why I find myself asserting all my little trappings of the Normal Person. LOOK, I’M MARRIED! SEE? FUNCTIONAL RELATIONSHIP! We watch Netflix! We do boring bullshit together! I don’t just sit there whacking chunks of my arm while he plays a sad song on a cello in our dank basement! LOOK, I WORK FULL TIME! AND WORKING FULL TIME IS WHAT THE MENTAL HEALTH GATEKEEPERS SAY MEANS YOU’RE A NORMAL SHINY RECOVERED PERSON WHO HAS NO PROBLEMS AT ALL! I’m not going to eat your babies! I’m worthy of being treated like a human being! etc.
Yeah, I hate them. If I could go back 15 years, I’d do two things. One, I’d smack the first cigarette I smoked out of my paw and say that I’m going to regret inhaling that more than anything else I’ve ever done in my life, even if Dearbhail looks cool doing it. And two, I’d have become distracted by a cat or something when I picked up that article. I never stood a chance, though, given I was also a fanatical Manic Street Preachers fan. Then I’d have scrawled somewhere in the notes of the Holy Bible, “Look, Richey was brilliant, but he was fucking miserable and he went missing. If you’re struggling to cope with your mental health, and all the trappings of adolescence that will make you hormonal and even more unstable and confused and looking for something to cling to, then take up a nice, socially acceptable way of coping, like drinking heavily. And then, in 15 years time, you can look back and laugh at it all with your mum and da…
I’m just letting you all know that I won’t be running the Bupa 10k this month. Lots of people have sponsored me and it won’t be in vain- I’m in touch with Addaction to do another fundraising thing later in the year, something bigger than 10k when life isn’t totally shit. I’m not just sacking it off and I promise I will earn the sponsorship.
The reasons I’m dropping out- over the past few months a lot of stressful stuff has happened. I’ve been struggling with my mental health and with resulting exhaustion. I have found it much harder than I expected- not in a, “oh, running is hard” way but on a, “oh, running is hard on antipsychotics and customary winter total lapse into low mood” way. I keep judging myself by Normal Person standards. When I have gotten out to run, I’ve injured myself- once with an asthma attack and twice with ankle injuries.
But all that aside, I planned on powerwalking the fucker if I couldn’t run it and was intending to spend this month doing loads of walks (I’ve done a lot of walks already).
And then we had the greatness of our new flat (we only moved in 2 weeks ago) going on fire due to the landlord’s negligence with electrical safety and me ending up in hospital and now wrangling with our landlord who seems totally unconcerned that we could have died (and I didn’t only because Robert wasn’t working that night- he was the night before and would usually either be there or asleep. There was no smoke alarm) and is leaving us with a bombsite bathroom, a smoke damaged flat and me feeling quite traumatised, and coughy and now having to spend the next few weeks in a fight and trying to sort the place out and also possibly having to find somewhere else to stay for a while.
We’re alive, obviously, but it’s the latest in a long line of, “OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE”.
I am at the limit of what I can cope with and I can’t take the next three weeks worrying about doing more training or failing at the 10k. I know I should persevere but I am struggling to cope right now.
I feel awful and shit about this and like a total failure and if anyone wants their sponsorship money back, please let me know by emailing me at anne dot elk at gmail dot com. I will be doing something else later in the year- probably not running, though.
I’m really really sorry and I promise I will do something even better when things aren’t totally shit. Thank you to everyone who has donated to me.