Cancer, Crohn's and Crappy Days

Someone please write Saturday’s TWIM for me (thanks to the lovely sanabituranima for writing this week’s TNIM at short notice). My head is too mushed to even think about This Week in Mentalists at the minute – it’s not just that I can’t face writing it myself; even approaching potential authors is a task pathetically beyond me right now. So please volunteer. Ta.

Firstly, may I refer you to the rant at the start of this post. I had written up a shitload of this entry, then went to look for some links to add into it, only to return to find that the WordPress iPad application had crashed in the interim. Granted, I should have learnt my fucking lesson the last time this happened and saved the thing frequently – but really. What is it with the device that hates my blogging self so? FUCK YOU, STUPID APPS.

With that out of the way…OK. Now. Me. Not dead. Well, not dead in the biological sense, but certainly without any form of the life-emitting spirit that I believe less cunty individuals refer to as the ‘soul’ (an amorphous concept to my mind, but then nothing much makes sense to me). Writing is not something to come easily to me right now, so Maisie’s funeral saga will have to continue to wait. Thank fuck I have no professional deadlines at the minute. So, in brief…

Monday

My mother had an appointment at the cuntspital where Maisie drew her last breaths. She had been recalled, rather urgently I’d add, to the dump after a recent mammogram, the implicit suggestion being that something untoward had been found.

Naturally, as if I have not been mental enough over the last week or two, this sent me completely round the bend with worry. I lay awake all night on Sunday night/Monday morning dilemminating about it, wondering what I could possibly do to maintain even the vaguest semblance of sanity – possibly of life – if Mum had cancer and died.

This panicked frenzy of morbid thoughts was not aided by something that I heard about over the weekend. About 10 days ago (from today) one of Mum’s closest friends, Lucy, had been taken into (the same) hospital after being unable to breathe. Her breathlessness was caused by a large lump in her throat, which her genius GP – on several occasions – had perceived to be an “infection”, for which he kept throwing her anti-biotic scripts.

Upon her hospital admission, predictably enough, the lump was found to be cancerous.

Despite the GP’s incompetence, though, the medical staff thought that they’d probably got it in time. They stabilised her breathing through her neck, and undertook further biopsies on the lump to see whether they would favour chemo- or radiotherapy as treatment. There was no, “we’re sorry, but you only have x weeks/months”. Despite being unable to speak, Lucy was apparently in cheerful spirits, passing convivial notes of communication to her husband Andy and other assorted family members. This was on Wednesday or Thursday of last week.

My mother contacted me on Saturday to advise that Lucy had died in the early hours of Friday morning.

Another death. Thanks, 2012, you’re really loving everyone in the Pandorian plane, aren’t you? Now, in all honesty, I was never close to Lucy, and my mother and her had, in recent years, not been the good mates they once were – but overall, for quite a while, she’d probably have been Mum’s second best friend. So whilst I wasn’t upset for my own reasons, I was for those of my mother. First her sister, now her friend. Who fucking next?

And of course, Lucy’s passing only served to reinforce my concerns about my mother’s breast screening. I tried to rationalise it. I tried to weigh up statistics and likelihoods of x and y in my mind. I tried “positive thinking”. Unsurprisingly, none of this did anything whatsoever to assuage my concerns – if anything, it only worsened them.

After the appointment time had long elapsed, I voluntarily rang my mother. Yes. I chose to use the phone; that was my level of concern. To my abject horror, she didn’t answer either her mobile nor her landline. I started catastrophising that she’d been admitted right away, due to the severity of whatever had been found.

As time passed with further no-replies, my apprehension turned into a full-blown mentalist panic. Should I ring the cuntspital? Should I go to it? Should I just kill myself now – why wait to hear that the fuckers accidentally killed her whilst she was in a scan or something?

Ridiculous, but real. When I finally saw her name jump up on my mobile, I was stunned and relieved (though still paranoid – “it’s one of the nurses or doctors using her phone to tell me that she’s dead”). As I answered it, however, I feigned nonchalance. My mother worries about me being worried.

This is what happened, as I reported on Twitter:

Mum has a mass in her left breast, spotted from a comparison of her recent mammogram and the one prior to it. They performed three more mammograms and an ultrasound. Apparently the mass spread out under pressure – which they claim it probably would not have done were it malignant – and the ultrasound was clear. So they are “happy enough”. It’s a relief…”

Yay! Great news! Surely that was the end to my panicked worry?

Not quite:

It’s a relief, but the tests were at the shithole hospital where Maisie and half the rest of the country die(d), so I can’t settle despite them giving what Mum described as “the all clear”. Paranoia, I know. Should just be grateful and relieved. I am, obviously, but catastrophising was/is always my default setting. Just hope that she really is OK.

I mean, there was a mass. Is an ultrasound and a mammogram sufficient to tell what that mass’s true nature is? I’m no oncologist – maybe it is. But the fact that they didn’t give her a biopsy or any such tests keeps my nervousness from abating entirely.

When I logged off from Twitter, I was suddenly overcome with a great sadness, as well as the severe depression and anxiety I’d already been experiencing. And I started to fucking cry again, sitting alone on my sofa. Pathetic. But then I remembered that the cameras were there and I dried the fuck out of my eyes and sat there pretending to be normal. Which was a fail, it seems, because A was struck by how palpably black the house felt when he got home from work that evening.

Tuesday

Up early to get Srto Gato to the vets for his neutering operation. Went back to bed upon return to the house and spent most of the day there. Dozed in a haze of non-sleep drowsiness for a bit, spent most of the time staring at the wall as the seconds languorously ticked by. Vets sent a message about 2pm to tell me to collect the cat about 5pm. Blocked number then called, but naturally enough I ignored it. For once, though, the caller left a voice message.

Turned out that, in the wake of our re-assessment sessions, it was Paul offering me “ongoing counselling” from Tuesday 28th February. He asked me to call the office to confirm whether or not this was suitable. I duly contacted Nice Lady That Works for Nexus and advised that this was fine.

But it’s not fine. I mean, I am glad to be going back – ultimately, psychotherapy with Paul was an enriching and helpful experience – but I’m dreading it too. Through no fault of his, working with him fucked me up on several occasions in the past. It’s the inevitable, gruesome nature of trauma therapy. And whilst it is, in the long-term, important that all the trauma and related issues are thrashed out, in the short-term it makes for a very difficult mindset. So. I don’t mind admitting it for once. I’m scared.

Went to get the cat, and forced myself to stop at the shop. Bought pancake ingredients and made A and myself two batches that evening. I’ve no idea how I managed to fight teh m3nt@Lz for long enough to be able to have done this, but whatever the case, I’m glad of it, and count my pancake-making as a win.

Wednesday

Mother phones. “Rhona McFaul is in hospital,” she tells me. “They’re doing her operation tomorrow.”

I mentioned briefly towards the end of this post that Rhona was being admitted, and that her husband was worried that said admission would be to the cuntspital where Maisie died. Unfortunately, that is exactly where she ended up.

Worry about Rhona. She is one of the McFauls that I like. The operation – to help relieve her very severe form of Crohn’s disease – is major. They were cutting out her entire large bowel, sewing up her rectum and attaching a colostomy bag to her stomach. Poor cow.

Go to mother’s house, as per weekly convention. Manage to maintain an utterly deceitful façade of pseudo-sanity to stop mother worrying about me. Mother asks if I will go with her to cuntspital to see Rhona before she is taken away to the gas chambers goes through the operation on Thursday morning. Agree.

Go to cuntspital. Wave after depressing wave of oppression and misery emanates from every atom of its building. Force self to carry on to Rhona’s ward. Ward is even worse.

Rhona and family – just her, her husband and their two children – are in surprisingly cheerful form. Rhona is having a blood transfusion and being forced to take ridiculously strong and foul tasting laxatives. Do not envy her one bit.

Why am I writing this in the present tense? This happened on Wednesday. This is Friday.

So, I didn’t envy Rhona at all, but was encouraged by the positivity she seemed to be demonstrating. We didn’t stay with them that long – it was only right to let her have her last time before the thing with her immediate family – but wished her well and told her daughter, Student, to keep in touch the next day to advise on how the operation had gone.

We returned to my mother’s, and I continued to exhaust myself with the maintenance of my “sane” façade until bedtime.

Thursday

At 3.30am I decided that I was evil and should ergo ingest about 60 Zopiclone. This was a moment of sheer idiocy, as I know full well that that sort of Zopiclone OD is unlikely to be fatal (to me, that is. I am not for one second suggesting that it is in any way not dangerous for others). Got up to get Zopiclone, to find that I only had three of the fucking little shits. It didn’t seem worth it, so I took one for sleeping purposes and abandoned my plans.

The rest of the day was uneventful, except for my mother’s worry at several points about not having heard from Student. When we eventually did learn how things had gone – quite late in the day, perhaps about 4pm – it turned out that the delay had been caused by Rhona being in severe pain straight after the procedure, meaning that she had to have an epidural and stay in the recovery ward for much longer than expected. Other than that, though, the operation apparently went well and there were no complications.

That didn’t stop my mother’s neuroticism, however – yes, I know, I know, I’m one to talk – instead, her need to worry fixated upon me instead.

“You know, Rhona might not have had to have such a huge operation if something had been done about her Crohn’s a lot earlier,” she said, reasonably enough.

“I know,” I replied, “it’s a fucking disgrace.”

“Yes,” Mum said, in that expectant tone she uses when there’s something more she wants to say, but she’s unsure as to whether or not she should actually say it.

I waited.

“You should really go back to Lovely GP,” she complained eventually. I asked why.

“Your IBS has gotten ridiculous. You can barely keep anything even down, and when you do, off you have to go, straight to the toilet.” This is true. So much so that I’m genuinely mystified as to why the fuck I’m still so fat.

“But Lovely GP and his colleagues have already told me that there’s nothing they can do about it,” I reminded my mother.

“Fuck that,” she said defiantly. “What if you have what Rhona has? They originally told her that she had IBS. It was only when she insisted that they examine her more closely that they found out she had Crohn’s – and now they’ve removed her bowel, and she’ll have to use that horrible bag thing for the rest of her life. Just in case, go and see him and ask for a referral. Please. Hopefully it’s not Crohn’s, but if it is, then the sooner they find that out the better.”

I think I’m as likely to have Crohn’s disease as I am to be sanctified by Benedict XVI, but I made the appointment, if only to put her mind at rest. Things are really bad IBS-wise, but nothing has helped – medication, removal of x and y and sodding z from my diet, eating the fuck out of fibre-rich products. Nothing changes it. There is nothing Lovely GP can do, save for referring me to a specialist. And then I’ll go through the trauma of having a fucking camera shoved up my arse to find that – surprise surprise – there’s nothing they can do, but have I tried a nice bath before bed?

Still. If it calms my mother, then good.

Friday

Sitting in bed typing this. Consider the following as a scale of depression: zero is when you are awake but so full of blackness that you can’t move and might as well be comatose. Five is hide under the duvets. 10 is being able to comb your hair or something. That means that something like 100 is feeling OK. I think right now I’m at about six. This is actually good, because the rest of the week was generally hovering at zero/one, with occasional threes or fours.

I don’t entertain the notion that I’m coming out of the depression, mind you (though obviously I’d welcome it greatly if I were). I still feel fucking awful, and although I’m not going to off myself (despite the Zopiclone wobble), I keep seeing helium, bodies flying off buildings, the usual cal, floating nefariously in front of my eyes like Macbeth’s dagger. But I’ve survived this long, so don’t worry.

(Can’t be arsed to proof-read this, sorry).

Death, Corpses, Wake-Like Things, Shite Hospitals, Fuckblah, Etc

This post is continued from Tuesday’s nonsense. Thanks to those of you that commented there – for once, I’ll actually try to respond some time in the next few days.

Wednesday: The Death (Continued)

So where was I? Driving to my mother’s house? Yes.

Well. I drove, and duly arrived without mowing down half of the Western hemisphere as my mother had apparently feared. As soon as I stepped into the house, I went straight into my now-renowned-by-A crisis mode. I’ve alluded to this somewhere before, haven’t I?…Ah yes, here it is. Don’t I have a good memory?

My mother was not alone. She has this friend from down the street who, whilst a pain in the arse in many ways (ways far too boring to go into), would drop anything and everything for the sake of my mother. After Mum had called me, Aunt of Boredom, and Aunt of Evil, she’d rung this woman (let’s call her Eimear), who stopped whatever she was doing and came to Mum’s straightaway.

My mother burst into tears whenever she saw me. She later revealed that she hadn’t cried at all when one of the McFaul dynasty had phoned her to advise her of Maisie’s demise, but she fucking wept when I came in. Cue long hugs, other forms of tactile comforting and several emergency cigarettes from me. I gave Eimear a tenner and asked her to get more fags for my mother, then asked Mum what I could do.

My mother expressed concern for Paedo and Maisie’s children, who were at that juncture presumed to still be in residence at the hospital. My Mum opined that Paedo would be distraught and ergo unable to drive home. So. I rang Hotel California. Yes. I was able to employ the usage of a phone. That alone shows my competence in a crisis.

I spoke to Rhona, Maisie’s daughter-in-law (wife of my eldest Maisie-born cousin, Chris. It gets confusing, I know). I offered to collect Paedo et al, but Rhona relayed the information that Kevin and ScumFan had made a dash to the hospital to collect everyone and their myriad of vehicular transportation. I had a brief conversation with Rhona about how stunned I was to hear of my aunt’s death, a view that she echoed. I let Mum talk to her for a minute, then sat down and considered my next move.

My mother wanted to go to the hospital, and then Hotel California; I stated that I would drive. My mother vehemently refused to allow this, instead stating that she wanted to drive herself. Eimear (now returned), A and I threw a fit about this – if she had expressed concern for my driving (see last post), then there was simply no way she could drive herself. She continued to protest – but she was out-numbered, and eventually gave in.

Just before we were about to leave, the phone rang. It was Merv, Uncle of Evil, calling from the States. Now, I am a bitch for saying this, I really am…BUT. Mum had phoned Aunt of Evil to advise her of Maisie’s death. There had been no response on the landline. My mother rang AoE’s mobile, which was successfully answered. My mother told AoE why she was calling; perhaps unsurprisingly, AoE broke down. Now here’s the bitchy bit: AoE was in the middle of a shopping centre when this call was received, and – being the twisted, bitter cow that I am – I actually found the image of her breaking down in the middle of a crowded place quite amusing. My strong dislike for AoE is well documented on this blog, but even so…what a fucking cow I am! What kind of disturbed, fuckwitted cunt finds something like that funny?

(Though in my defence, it wasn’t just me. When Daniel rang me to express his condolences, he agreed with me. So did A. They detest AoE too, and they are not ‘disturbed, fuckwitted cunts’).

Anyhow, Merv advised my ma that AoE was trying to get a flight as soon as possible, and that one of them would contact her with more details when they were known. This perturbed me somewhat; I always knew the day would come when Maisie would die and AoE would descend upon Northern Ireland for the funeral, and that I’d have no choice but to see her. Still and withall, I have had absolutely no interaction with the woman nor her arseholes since I severed contact with them in the Summer of 2009. She/they had been here three times since that, and I’d successfully avoided her/them on each of these occasions, yet here I was, reality slapping me round the face like a wet fucking fish, presented with the immediacy of interacting with her. Is Aunt of Evil my nemesis? Moriarty to my Holmes (notwithstanding Moriarty’s feeble presence in Arthur Conan Doyle’s canon)? It feels like that sometimes.

Wednesday: The Cesspit Cuntspital

Anyway, by the time we finally got to leave my mother’s house, nearly two hours had passed since Maisie’s last breaths. To that end, Mum was fairly sure that the family would have left the hospital and returned to Hotel California, but whilst on the road up to that formerly matriarchal domain, she told me to pull into the hospital anyway. I did.

A and I silently followed my shaking mother to the ward in which Maisie had been imprisoned. After brief consultation with a dismissive member of staff, it indeed transpired that the McFauls had returned home. However, a nice care assistant turned up and asked my mother if she wanted to see Maisie. My mother confirmed that she did. Nice Care Assistant asked us to wait in the corridor for a few minutes whilst they made the body look socially presentable “cleared things up a bit”.

I don’t know how long we waited, but the interminable nature of sitting there – looking at the depressing non-descriptness of the ward around us, the vapid expressions of the poor patients ensconced in the fucking bastardhole – meant that it felt like 20 billion eons. My mother sobbed on and off throughout. I did the whole supportive daughter thing as she did. Some cunts stared. I stared back with viciousness in my eyes and anger in my face. They looked away. Ha! Twatbags.

Oh God. This is over a thousand words long and I haven’t even got to the bit about the body. The delineation of the funeral might have to wait until a third fucking post. Maybe time to create another series? “Fuck – The Chronicles of Maisie’s Demise”?

Yeah. Anyhow. Eventually Nice Care Assistant (NCA) returned, and escorted my mother to Maisie’s sideroom. NCA was very kind; she put her arm around my mother and said words of quiet comfort to her. I take it she’s on the redundancy list then, on the grounds of incompetence at her job for not being utterly shit at it.

My mother and I went into the room whilst A waited outside, apparently being of the view that it was ‘inappropriate’ for him to be present. Maisie had been tastefully ‘tucked in’ under some well-tightened hospital issue blanket rubbish. She looked like she was sleeping, as my mother indeed commented. We both stared at her in some disbelief; dead bodies look dead. Fuck all that shite that people say about ‘being peaceful’ or yadda yadda; they don’t. That’s bollocks. People say that to delude themselves into some form of anti-grief condolence during times of mourning.

And yet, to contradict myself, Maisie didn’t look dead. Peaceful? Maybe. But more accurately simply sleeping.

My mother approached her and stroked her hair. She murmured some quiet words to the body – that Maisie had always been a good friend to her, and that she hoped she’d found “the peace [she] deserve[d]”. I watched as silent tears dripped off her chin.

This is Instance One of Pandora Being Crap.

Tears stung my eyes. MY fucking eyes. What in the blue fuck? I don’t do crying. Well, apart from when I see animals in pain or being mistreated. Not when people die, especially people who were far from faultless. It was partly out of sadness for my mother, who – despite ups and downs – had essentially been friends with this woman for her entire life. However, it was partly for my own reasons too, which shames me. I DON’T DO tears.

I could speculate at a couple of reasons. Yes, she was a manipulative old bag for a lot of the time, but (a) she was always very personally friendly and generous towards me, and (b) even if she hadn’t been thus welcoming, she had still been a major focal point of my life for over 28 years. There was never a time in my life when she wasn’t there. Well, not literally there, obviously. Despite her probable desires, she didn’t follow me about everywhere. But you know what I mean; for all my life, she was somewhere at least on the periphery of my existence. And now she never will be again; regardless of my reservations about some of her motivations and behaviour, that is still quite a dramatic loss. As I said just after her death, Maisie wasn’t just a person: she was an entire lifestyle.

My mother moved away, and asked me if I wished to interact with the corpse (to, y’know, paraphrase her slightly). I kissed it/her on the forehead, stroked its/her hair, and said something simple like, “rest in peace, Maisie”. I’m sure she was looking down feeling hugely touched by my poignant expressions of grief. Not.

As we left, I sort of padded her on the shoulder, then my mother ‘said goodbye’ (like Maisie was going to hear it), and we left the vile, disgusting, ineffectually-staffed fuckhole that attempts to pass for the major hospital in the region. Words to the wise, readers: if you ever happen to be in Northern Ireland, or more specifically in the region of this vacuous sewer, contact me beforehand so as I can remind you not to become sick or injured during your visit. We have some excellent hospitals, but this is not one of them. No wonder Maisie croaked it there; being admitted to that wankshaft dump is the Western equivalent of being caught peddling drugs and illicit snuff pornography in the far East. A death sentence. (Incidentally. Said hospital killed my grandfather, and A’s grandmother. Furthermore, Rhona, mentioned way above, is due to undergo a major operation. Her husband is not so much worried about the procedure per se, but about having said procedure there. I can entirely understand his position).

[Aside – I’m sitting typing this in my mother’s living room as she converses with a neighbour regarding Maisie’s death. By bizarre coincidence, just after I’d finished typing the above paragraph, my ma started telling her neighbour about the staff at the hospital. “They have a terrible reputation,” she muses, “but individually, they’re lovely.” Well, I never. Perhaps Mum was unwittingly on LSD that week; you never know what they put in the water here these days. Whatever the case, what is the use of ‘lovely’ in medicine/nursing? Only ‘good at his/her job’ is important in medicine/nursing, for Christ’s sake].

So, having left the hospital, on we proceeded to Hotel California. To my surprise, my mother kept her backseat driving to what is, for her, a minimum, though she made general discussion that avoided the surreal circumstances in which we found ourselves. Frankly, I had no idea why we were even going to Hotel California, but I wasn’t going to say that to my ma, and instead verbally batted back to her with responses to whatever conversation she was trying to make.

Wednesday: The Pseudo-Wake (The Wake-That-Was-Not-A-Wake-Because-Technically-You-Don’t-Have-Wakes-In-Protestantism-But-It-Was-Like-A-Bit-Wake-Though-Not-As-Much-Like-a-Wake-As-The-Wake-Like-Thingy-After-The-Funeral-But-I’m-Going-to-Call-This-A-Wake-Anyway-Even-If-It’s-Factually-Inaccurate-And-Even-If-I-Use-The-Word-Wake-To-Describe-The-Post-Funeral-Gathering-As-Well-Which-I-Will-And-If-You-Don’t-Like-It-Then-That’s-Too-Bad)

Just prior to entry into Hotel California, we got stuck behind some old git of a slow driver. I cursed and moaned and shouted at the windscreen in frustration – it doesn’t change the unfortunate circumstance, but it makes me feel better – but was further horrified when I saw him putting on his indicator to denote his intention to turn into HC. Hilariously, though, the entire front yard (which is not at all insubstantial) looked like the M25 at 5.15pm on a Friday evening. The old git had to go and turn his preposterously sized car and re-evaluate his parking intentions, whilst I winged my magical little beauty into a tight spot in the yard. HA HA fucking HA.

Hotel California was packed. Except for Maisie’s great-grandchildren, Marcus and Sean, their father, and two relatively insignificant step-grandchildren (don’t ask), everyone from the dynasty was there. Even a cousin or two (offspring of one of my late uncles or other) that I’d never met. The fucking undertaker was there, the people from across the road were there, some random cunts I didn’t even recognise were there, la la la. Typical Hotel California. The old git I’d been behind on the road turned out to be the minister of Maisie’s erstwhile church (‘erstwhile’ because, whilst she had purported to be a Christian, she hadn’t actively attended Church for years due to her ill health. Not that one needs to go to Church to be a Christian, to be fair to her. I never saw any major signs of it, but she could well have been personally spiritual rather than wishing she was still a member of organised religion).

Until the Saturday following this – the funeral itself, to be summarised (summarised? As if I’m capable of summarising anything) in the next post in this epic series of death – I have never, ever been so glad I smoked in all my life. After having quit for four years, I recommenced the habit some time around the end of 2010 – a foolish thing to do, one might have thought, and quite correctly so. However, I thanked (a) God(s) in whom I don’t believe that night that I’d started back on this filthy habit. A even lamented the fact that he didn’t (and doesn’t) smoke. Going out the back to indulge in cigarettes was the only escape from this crowded, oppressive atmosphere that Maisie, rather ironically, would have absolutely loved. Even though I didn’t imbibe a drop of the hard stuff at any point in which I was in Hotel California over the days following Maisie’s death, I think I got through more fags that Wednesday night and on the following Saturday than I did before the smoking ban on occasions when I’d had 28 pints and six shots down the pub. (That’s an exaggeration, by the way. I think I’ve only ever had as much as 27 pints and five shots on a single night out ;)).

The McFauls were talking to the undertaker about the funeral arrangements. The man was surprisingly jolly, which I found mildly amusing; I know this is their job, and that they deal with death every day, but surely the correct decorum is to at least affect sombreness? A and I stood beside the door like absolute pricks with no purpose. I fiddled with my nails; he stared at the floor. After 20 years, someone – Sarah, I think – noticed that we were there, and demanded that various McFauls vacated seats in deference to our presence. We kept trying to tell her that it didn’t matter, but in a stylistic homage to her late mother, she insisted that it did.

One newly-free seat was in the corner, beside the undertaker. The other was on the sofa beside a gaunt-looking Paedo. In an instant, I considered how I should play this dilemma; let A sit beside Paedo and keep myself away from him, or vice versa? I had already decided that A should take the corner seat rather than the one on the sofa, owing to his abhorrence of Paedo (as compared to my ambivalence) when Paedo himself caught my eye. He then gestured – by tapping the sofa in a sort of fond fashion – that I should occupy the seat beside him.

This circumstance did not worry me as such, but it did rather piss me off. Presumptuous cunt. Just because you decided to (literally) fuck me years ago doesn’t mean you should (figuratively) do so in the here and now, by trying to employ me as some sort of perverted support system. Rather than have the balls to ignore him though, I did my social duty and sat. I was careful about it though; I sat on the edge of the seat, and with my back to him. I pretended to take interest in the meandering words of the undertaker, even though the funeral arrangements were frankly none of my business. After a few minutes, I pretended I wanted to smoke, and left. (For the unimportant record, I did smoke, but the notion that I actually really wanted to was for show).

A and I stood outside in the dark with ScumFan. A discussion broke out as to the future of Hotel California, and I regaled ScumFan with what has seemingly become my mantra vis a vis this whole mess: ie. that Maisie was a way of life as well as a mere person (though I took care to proffer this view with language that I hoped ScumFan would understand). He agreed, and then voiced the opinion himself that Paedo was pretty fucked (irony?). His contention was that, certainly in the last decade plus of Maisie’s life, she and Paedo lived symbiotically off each other, and that the non-existence of one would surely lead to the non-existence of the other (to kinda paraphrase once again, claro que sí. Just a little. A teensy-weensy little bit. Not that much at all. Oh noooooo.).

I think this is a potentially valid hypothesis. Some of you may welcome it, some of you may not wish death on anyone. Me? I simply don’t give a fuck.

Cigarettes regrettably terminated, the three of us went inside. To avoid the hustle of the living room, A and I hovered around the kitchen. I was unsettled when Kevin came in and stood in general proximity to us: I had quite deliberately not spoken to him in over a year, owing to the fact that he had behaved like something of a dick. He had been being sick for about 10 minutes prior to this near-collision, owing to the shock of the situation.

My ma, having observed – well, not literally observed, for that would be grotesque – Kevin’s vomiting, placed herself in front of him and asked if he was OK. Kevin lied and said that he was. Everyone, A and I included, stared at the ground for a few expectant minutes, before Kevin burst into a Niagara Falls of tears (more specifically, a Canadian Falls of tears).

[Why am I writing this in such a facetious manner? Am I trying to over-compensate for something? Oh well].

Mum threw her arms around him and muttered what were actually not particularly comforting lines:

Kevin: I can’t believe I’ll never see her again!

Socially Acceptable but Utterly Meaningless Platitude of Response: There, there. She’ll always be in your heart! [*vomits*]

My Mother: No, nor will you ever again hear her voice.

Well, all credit to her for not spouting the same tired old bullshit. Kevin was particularly upset because, although he’d taken the Monday and Tuesday off work, on the understanding that his mother’s condition was improving, he had returned on the Wednesday. As such, he “didn’t even get to say goodbye.” I considered defending him on this point, on the usual grounds that he couldn’t possibly have known what was about to transpire, but that would have been utter hypocrisy given that I espoused the exact same sentiment on this blog the other day.

Instead, despite the disorderly relationship that Kevin and I had (not) shared in the preceding year, I kept my gob shut for once and sort of solidly gripped his shoulder as a means of expressing comfort and some level of empathy. He appeared to appreciate this.

I heard the undertaker leave with a cheery, “all the best, see you tomorrow!” as if he were meeting his mates at the airport the following day for an 18-30 holiday to Ibiza instead of bringing a dead body back to its former residence. At that point the crap-driver-bald-headed git of a minister remembered that he was religious and not just a drinker of other people’s tea, and decided to oh-so-poignantly “bring everyone together” in the supposed comfort of prayer.

I wanted to smite the old git. Which is not really fair, given that Maisie was sort-of Christian-y, and that many of her myriad descendants claim to be also – but meh. The self-righteousness of the suggestion that we could all find comfort in the fact that Maisie is “with God” both nauseated and irritated me.

He wanked on with his prayer for about 500 millennia before he realised it was a politic time to take leave of the little (huge) gathering. I tried to escape for a fag as he left, but someone saw me and made me return to the living room, so that I might say goodbye to him.

Why the hell would I want to say goodbye to him, and – more pertinently – vice versa? I was Maisie’s niece, not her Siamese fucking twin. As observed, I had absolutely no right to involve myself in the structure of her funeral service, which was the man’s primary reason for being there. Oh well. I suppose it wasn’t a massive chore to shake hands with him and wear a false smile. It was certainly a trick I had to pull off multiple times in the days that followed this one.

I finally got out for my smoke, made some smalltalk with ScumFan, a random cousin I didn’t know, A, my mother and Sarah, who occasionally decides to smoke one cigarette and who then doesn’t touch the vile things again for months. For some reason the smalltalk developed into a discussion of what, specifically, had caused Maisie’s death. None of us (namely, Mum, A and I) had been apprised of the details at that stage.

After coming back from a scan – which had apparently gone well, despite Maisie’s concern about such procedures (see somewhere in the last post) – she was brought back to the ward, and seemed fine. Paedo, Sarah, and two of Sarah’s three brothers, Chris and Robert, were there and engaged her in light conversation. Suddenly, however, Maisie went into a fit of breathlessness; Robert ran into the corridor and called a doctor, who – along with some nurses – came flying into the room, ordering the family out. By that juncture Maisie had started vomiting and, unable to sit up herself, choking on said vomit. The last thing Sarah saw as she was ushered out of the room was her mother’s eyes filling with blood and rolling back in her head.

When the quacks emerged from the room, Maisie was still breathing – but they basically advised the assembled gaggle of McFauls that she wouldn’t be doing so for long. As far as I can ascertain, she was, at this point, braindead. The McFs went back into the room and sat with her as she took her final breaths and quietly died.

It wasn’t a pleasant story to hear, and even typing it makes me slightly sad, despite the fairly bitchy tone of most of this post. Of course, in saying that, hearing it was nowhere near as bad as experiencing must have been for Sarah (and, of course, the others), and regaling it unsurprisingly upset her quite a bit.

Some time passed. Suzanne and Student tried to make conversation with us, but everyone seemed too shocked to partake in anything particularly meaningful. I managed to avoid Paedo, I managed to be shocked at Chris (who was clowning around as if at a child’s birthday party, rather than his mother’s wake-that-is-not-a-wake-but-which-I-am-calling-a-wake), I managed to employ the usefulness of smoking on a few more occasions.

When things mercifully started to die down, my mother – bless her saintly soul – asked to be taken home. For a few short minutes, I thought that perhaps there was a God.

The thing with leaving Hotel California is that when you check out (because, kids, you can never actually leave), you spend three geological eons attempting to make it even outside (and then you have to fight to get to the gate and out onto the road). This was historically because, as soon as she heard the slightest vague suggestion that one might be departing, Maisie would recoil in abject horror and demand that Sarah put the fucking kettle on and make some bloody sandwiches. Even if you got out of that – or, more typically, after you’d engaged in it – Maisie would rabbit on about something for ages to delay your sort-of-departure. I think the average time it took me to get away from HC when she was alive was probably about an hour. Possibly more.

I thought it was a phenomenon that would die with her, but then I didn’t consider the fact that the woman had only been dead for about five hours by this point, and they were all still operating on the deeply-entrenched Maisie-lifestyle. It didn’t take us as much as an hour to get out, but it was certainly a while. I played the part of Very Supportive Cousin and hugged a few people – Sarah and Rhona, I think; Kevin, I know (because it struck me how silly our little feud had been when put into this kind of perspective ((despite the fact he’d sort of threatened me)). Whatever the case, he seemed to genuinely be grateful that I’d come to HC, and he was perfectly pleasant to me on the occasion which I am so verbosely detailing, so I’ll forgive him. Grudges are stupid and destructive anyway).

I did not hug Paedo. However, I once again caught his eye as I was walking out the front door, and he regarded me with what was a forlorn, dejected sort of look. I felt guilty for a few seconds – the poor sod had just lost his wife of over 50 years, don’t forget – but then I waved at him and walked out anyway.

Wednesday: The Final Problem

We were about half way home when Mum’s mobile went off for the millionth time that night. It doesn’t ring much, either for text messages or calls, generally, so this serves as a small measure of what a big deal Maisie’s demise had turned out to be. It was Merv, Uncle of Evil. Over the engine of the car, Mum couldn’t hear a great deal, but the word ‘airport’ was bandied about a few times. I didn’t think much of it at the time, because I knew Georgie (Aunt of Evil) would be coming anyway. It was only a few minutes later that I wondered why Merv, rather than Georgie herself, had phoned.

When we arrived back at my ma’s gaff, she returned the call. She was heard to ask Merv, in some surprise, the fatal question of “she’s left already?” A and I breathed a collective sigh of annoyance.

Mum finished her conversation, and came back to us. “Bad news for you, Pan,” she said. “She’s got her connecting flight, so she’ll be getting the transatlantic flight to Aldergrove [Northern Ireland’s main international hub] in about an hour, and will be there at 9am tomorrow.”

“Oh,” I pointlessly returned.

“Which means that I’ll have to go up there and get her, and…well, bring her back here.” She downturned her lips at me apologetically.

“That’s OK. We’ll stay here tonight, I’ll take A into work in the morning, and then just go home,” I said. “As long as you aren’t alone, that’s the main thing.”

“Are you sure?” Mum pressed. “What about your Seroquel hangover?”

I waved my arm in false dismissal. “Oh, don’t worry about that. If I get up early, it goes away for an hour or two and comes back later. So it’ll be fine. Honestly.”

She nodded in acceptance, and was about to say something when the sodding phone piped up again. This time it was Eimear, introduced a million miles in the far North of this post, who’d seen my car returning.

My ma prattled on about Georgie for a bit, then started waxing lyrical about how wonderful A and I were for supporting her, driving her to Hotel California, etc. I don’t take compliments easily, readers, and I don’t often hear them from the mouth of my mother. Once again, I felt myself fidgeting nervously.

To her credit, as we went to bed, she reiterated these points to both of us, suggesting that her appreciation was truly genuine and, to use a word I absolutely detest, heartfelt. I told her that she was welcome and, traumatic and hateful as the entire evening had been, I meant it. In respect of how grief can lead to insomnia, I gave her four Zopiclones, and told her not to take them all at once like I commonly did. She threw her head up, aghast, in response to this statement.

“I was joking,” I lied. She affected a polite laugh, thanked me for the sleepers, and kissed me on the cheek before retiring.

A and I lay awake staring at the ceiling for a bit. How the conversation came about I don’t recall, but at one point A asked me if I was actually personally affected by the loss of Maisie. I considered the question for a few minutes, before responding that yes, I thought I was.

This is Instance Two of Pandora Being Crap. Sadly, it turned out to be far from the last.

“I mean, it’s still surreal,” I began, “and I can’t quite believe it – but then that’s the point. Regardless of my issues with her, she’s always just been there. I think I’ve taken that for granted all my life, despite her well documented health issues.”

He told me that it was OK for me to cry if I wanted to. I scoffed at the suggestion, downed a few Zopiclone and rolled over. Before I slept, though, a few silent tears did escape. What a fucking failure.

To be continued as soon as possible. If you’ve actually taken an interest in any of this, dearest reader, then I can only guess at the levels of your masochism.

Fuck – Rows, Illness and Death

I accidentally published this post last night, titularly known merely as ‘Fuck’ – but I mistakenly hit the ‘Publish’ button several narrative eons too early. Sorry to any of you that got confused by its disappearance or whatever – I know there were quite a number of hits to it, so I feel like a bit of a dick. Sorry. FAIL!

Jesus. I don’t know where to start with any of this. Everything in the run-up to, during, and in the aftermath of, Maisie’s funeral was shit. I was shit, a circumstance that I will explain why when I’ve reached the correct chronological juncture.

So then, in order…

The Lead-Up

I had previously written a full-length post about some of the stuff that happened in the days and weeks that preceded Maisie’s death, but actually publishing it would feel rather disrespectful. I mean, I know I’ve made a point since she died of not making her out to be something she wasn’t, and I’m not going to discontinue that philosophy, but the level of detail to which I’m characteristically drawn really isn’t required in this case. Suffice to say that Maisie and Kevin (my cousin, her live-in son) had a massive row with Sarah (another cousin, Maisie’s live-in daughter) and ScumFan (Sarah’s son and, you guessed it, Maisie’s live-in grandson). It was so vicious that Kevin and ScumFan came to blows, though curiously Kevin – who, despite his mild-mannered exterior, has a propensity for unacceptable behaviour – later apologised to his sister and nephew. They accepted this, and duly said sorry for their part in the row. Maisie, however, would not let it slide, and in true Hotel California style, the resultant atmosphere was as thick as a combination of treacle and vomit.

I went to my mother’s house on the Thursday before Maisie died to find Sarah and ScumFan sitting there, having apparently been in situ since the Tuesday evening, their escape intending until at least the Friday night. Unkind things were said. Some were true and just, some were less forgiveable. It was more or less universally agreed that Maisie was manipulative (yes), that she always seemed to have a particular problem with Sarah – as opposed to her three sons and two-daughters-in-law – (yes in duplicate), that life in the house – at her behest – was frankly bizarre (yes in triplicate). But we also cracked a few rather unpleasant jokes at her expense, about which I now feel slightly bad. Not OMG I’m such an evil human being, burn me at the stake RIGHT NOW bad, because there were occasions in which she deserved a good parodying, and it’s human nature to pick up on a person’s faults and criticise them, even if you can also see the good.

But what I feel worse about is some of the bile I spewed here about the woman. In my defence, a lot of that arose in the summer of 2010 when she was incredibly nasty to my mother. I reacted with anger to this – rightly, I feel – but perhaps I went too far. Not that she’d ever have read it, but the fact that I thought (and wrote) such aggressive, bitter enmities – without at least later qualifying them – leaves me with a gruesome metallic taste in my mouth (or is that the Lamotrigine? ;)).

Anyhow, due to an engagement on the Saturday, ScumFan had to leave (along with his mother) on the Friday. Sarah especially was dreading her return to Hotel California owing to her mother’s behaviour during the week, and I honestly don’t know what happened when they arrived home. All I know is that on Saturday, my mother rang me to advise that Maisie had been taken into hospital.

One thing that’s important to understand here is that Maisie’s life completely revolved around being in Hotel California, or at least with 4,083,832 family and friends around her in some other ostensibly normal setting. She abhorred the notion of hospital admissions in the past so much that she’d have preferred to fuck up her health to avoid them. She was admitted several times over the last decade, but never once had she not steadfastly fought against the idea. On that Saturday morning, though, someone had called a GP to attend to her. When said GP opined that she should be hospitalised, Maisie did not resist in the slightest. This, my dears, is the micro-social equivalent of the Earth circling the Sun backwards.

Despite whatever had gone on between them, Sarah went with her ailing mother in an ambulance, whilst Paedo (and Kevin? ScumFan? Not sure) followed in the car behind it.

Her initial prognosis was a bit meh, but not – as far as could be ascertained at the time – by any means critical. In fact, at one point the quacks thought it was something as apparently simple as a bug (complicated a little by Maisie’s weight, respiratory problems and diabetes). Over the next few days, they did all the usual faff of blood tests, chest x-rays and so on. At one point, they wanted to do an MRI scan, but Maisie refused; her grounds for this were that if she had to lie flat on her back, that she’d not be able to (a) breathe and (b) get up again. If that sounds bizarre, be advised that for the past several years she had slept upright in a chair in her living room, because lying in bed would have had these results.

Anyhow, as the days went on, she had seemed to have been feeling better. ScumFan, apparently (alongside his mother) reconciled with Maisie, proffered the view that his grandmother would most likely be discharged by the weekend.

Alas, his optimism was to be short-lived.

Wednesday: The Death

A and I were intending to take another trip round the Emerald Isle from the Friday of that week until the weekend just passed. As such, I was intending to leave our cats with my mother on the Wednesday, stay over with her that night, and visit Maisie in hospital on the Thursday afternoon. At one point on Wednesday when I spoke to Mum on the phone, she initially suggested we go to see her sister that day; I demurred, however, on the grounds that “I [could] just go tomorrow.” My mother was seemingly quite content with that, not envisaging any great deterioration in Maisie’s condition. In any case, I found myself massively delayed by the sheer idiocy of Mr Cat, who didn’t bother to come home that afternoon (and, in fact, he only turned up 24 hours subsequent to it). Beyond being irritated, however, I was relatively relaxed. Herein comes the “…if only I had…” bullshit. If only I had put our cat-accommodation concerns to one side for one measly, poxy afternoon, then I could have seen Maisie one final time. Whilst that may not have benefited me greatly (although by the same token, neither would have been greatly offensive, Paedo’s probable presence aside), it would have made her day.

What ifs are fucking pointless, stupid and usually wholly irrational. I consider myself a thinking person, as opposed to a feeling one. So why am even I afflicted by this phenomenon? I’m not a normal human being; I’m a self-styled dickhead providing no service with plenty of sneer. So what the fuck? I mean, let’s get some perspective on this: the what ifs are not totally overwhelming my psyche or anything. I’m not so consumed by guilt and self-loathing that I bawl my eyes out every time I inhale, or that I intend to throw myself off the Si Du River Bridge (though that said, should I ever wish to leap to my death, the backdrop to that piece of civil engineering genius would encompass a pretty spectacular and dramatic scenery on which to fix my final gazes). But it is there, and it is there enough to upset me. ‘Disappointed’ is not a term I frequently use in a self-referential context, but it it is apt here. I’m not disappointed because I’m apparently not a robotic droid; I’m disappointed in myself for letting down this complex person that was, until less than a fortnight ago, my aunt.

Bah. This introspection requires a post of its own. This one was meant to be about the chronology and specific events of the last fortnight, so let me return to that.

I contacted my mother about 5pm to apologise for my lateness and to verbally pour scorn on Mr Cat’s inconvenient – and, I am convinced, deliberate and pre-planned – decision to jaunt off on an extended mission to find himself a bird (post-feminist double entendres, anyone?). She told me not to worry about it and to come whenever I could.

Less than twenty minutes later, she rang me again. For once, I am glad I answered the hateful, repugnant device that is the fucking telephone. Having not been able to support her in those brief, shocked, horrified seconds she experienced would have been tantamount to abuse.

“Pandora,” she gasped. “Maisie’s dead!”

“Oh my God,” said some robot somewhere, speaking in what appeared to be my voice. Maisie being ill was not uncommon; as observed above, being forced into hospital wasn’t unheard of either. And ScumFan – and Mum in some ways too – had either inferred or even explicitly stated that the woman was getting better. And now she was dead? What the actual fuck?

My reaction was odd. I wasn’t struck by anything like one would normally expect – no horror, grief, overwhelming sadness. Arguably, given my quietly fractious relations with the McFauls, one might argue that I could have felt relief, or at least a release. But I didn’t experience any of those things; instead, I experienced a strange, unpleasant rush of adrenaline that stung every nerve in my body. I suppose, retrospectively, it was a quite normal experience: that of human shock. At the time, however, it seemed weirdly inappropriate.

I don’t remember if I quizzed my mother on what had specifically happened. I don’t remember saying much, in fact, but then the phone call wasn’t long. I do recall that I told Mum I’d come over to her gaff straight away, but she urged me not to drive until I had A with me. Yeah, because someone who’s partially sighted and at least partially emotionally detached from the whole sorry saga is going to magically turn me into a slow but still competent Lewis fucking Hamilton (I’m sure A won’t mind me saying that; he says as much to me himself). What I did instead was drive to his workplace, pick him up, and then we set to going to my ma’s.

We hit traffic. I chewed my lip nervously. A fiddled with his phone as he apprehensively scratched at his face. Even the car engine seemed to empathise, emitting as he did a (quite probably imaginary) sound of churning, vague discomfort. I looked out the window at all the world-weary faces of the home-commuting rat-race. They returned my stares of empty sympathy with their own piteous gazes. The sky was dark grey, brooding ominously like an amorphous Edgar Allen Poe.

The setting was well and truly set for the following few days.

I’ll continue this tomorrow. I have to go and see Paul. Did you see that one coming, readers?! I shall attempt to explain and detail that over the next few days too.

Agoraphobic Persecutory Delusions of Familial Evil and Seroquel. Etc.

In the absence of Paul – I know I’m still catching up on writing about my final few sessions with him, but they did in fact finish about three weeks ago – I’ve been seeing Christine at fortnightly intervals. The last appointment was last week.

Although things have been generally going OK, as testified by this blog throughout recent months, over the last week or so they’ve taken a slight downwards turn. As things stand, I can manage it;I suppose it could perhaps be a mild depression (by my standards – I think that probably equates to moderate by official scales? [EDIT: I am correct, apparently. I just took this test again and scored 52, which is within the bracket of ‘moderate to severe’ depression. Well, it’s better than having gotten 82 back in February, I suppose..!]), but we’ll see.

I guessed that the whitecoats would claim that my mood dip was reactive, for the following reasons:

  1. the cessation of the treatment with Paul;
  2. the burglary; and
  3. the fact (as yet unmentioned on this journal) that FuckBitch Queen of All Levels of Hell Aunt of Evil arrived in the country on Wednesday morning (more on this anon).

Appointment With Christine

I guessed correctly. It didn’t come as massive shock to the system when Christine carefully opined that it was “hardly surprising” that I “wasn’t at” myself. In my view, my moods are, by and large, non-reactive (I’ve always maintained, and I continue to maintain, that my particular blend of clinical depression is melancholic rather than atypical), but I can see why she came to the conclusion she did. I’m not saying the above has not affected my mental status at all, but I think this goes in cycles too. Interestingly, NewVCB seemed to primarily agree with me, but I’ll get to her later.

I was with Christine for quite a while, though not quite as long as the last time I saw her. In a supposedly surreptitious fashion, she kept glancing at her watch, which mildly irritated me, but I do appreciate that she has other people to see. Anyhow. We discussed how I’m feeling in the wake of the end of therapy (fine, though I’m not sure she was convinced of that, given that she kept bleating on what a “big deal” it apparently was for me), how I’d dealt with the burglary (relatively well) and medication.

Seroquel has been a wonderful drug for me. It really has made my life a lot better. However, predictably for an anti-psychotic, it has sent my appetite completely out of control, and a lot of weight I’d lost has piled right back on. It wasn’t always like this, though; I’ve been taking Seroquel for about a year and a half now, and it’s only since the dosage was increased to 600mg daily that this has happened. I did a fair bit of whinging about it to Christine.

The long and the short of it was that I should discuss the issue with NewVCB (well, I’d never have thought of that…), but – reasonably enough – Christine thinks that this would be the wrong time to reduce my dose of the stuff. I agreed that I’d like to retain this level of relative stability for several more months before I’d seriously consider reducing it, particularly if there are likely to be stressful events hovering about.

She kept emphasising how important it was that I remained free from psychosis. In light of our last meeting, where she said that NewVCB was reconsidering my previous diagnosis of BPD, I am now wondering if they think that I actually have some sort of specifically psychotic illness – Christine, at least, puts very heavy emphasis on that side of things. She’s worried that if I started reducing my intake of Seroquel that all the voices and visions would come flooding back. Her concern troubles me, because when she heard that I had suffered from command hallucinations and hadn’t been sectioned (or voluntarily admitted) at any point in my life, she was utterly stunned. So if I go mental again, if ‘They‘ come back or some other(s) turn up, will she recommend the bin for me?

Am I Still Proper Mental?

She asked me if I was still free from the voices, and I was pleased to respond in the affirmative. But then she asked me about possible delusional thinking. I denied any, but I must have shifted my eyes suspiciously because she kept probing me about it. I admitted, then, that yeah – I might just have a little bit of paranoia hovering about. Might. Just maybe. Perhaps.

In an admission of narcissism that shocks even me, I blathered on about how GCHQ read this blog, and about how people still have cameras up watching me. The funny thing about the cameras is that they go wherever I go. Yeah, I am really that important!

Naturally, Christine enquired as to the strength of these alleged delusions. I said that I rationally knew they were a load of bollocks, but that…well, that I still had the fear that the “paranoia” was grounded in at least some truth. For example, I have a friend, William, who’s a policeman. None of us know exactly what it is that he does, because it’s some shady, cloak-and-dagger, national security-esque thing that requires his utmost discretion and a solemn vow never to speak about it in detail to anyone. What he has told us, though, is that the amount the security services know about people, their movements, their online habits, etc is truly shocking. He also confirmed that yes, they probably are scouring insignificant online bullshit like this blog – though he contends that it’s probably based on keyword searches, patterns and the like, rather than some agent sitting in a dimly-lit room in Cheltenham reading every word that people like me are typing.

You see? As the old adage goes, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not watching you.

I told Christine about all this, and of course she pointed out that, given that this is a public blog, it probably could be read by GCHQ and their kin. However, she picked up on William’s point that it’s unlikely to be in any detail, unless something suspect comes up. She laughingly asked if I had somehow threatened national security in my writing of this blog, and I had to concede that I haven’t. She sorted of tilted her head as if to say “I told you so,” and then started quizzing me about the cameras.

“I know the cameras aren’t there,” I said, exasperated with myself, “but I just can’t shake off this stupid irrational belief that they are.” I’m a walking conta-fucking-diction.

As I said to her, in a way having this kind of insight is almost worse than being completely under the control of a delusion. Not that I’m saying the latter is nice – far fucking from it. But when you know that your beliefs are (potentially) psychotic (is it even psychotic at all in that case?), then you have the added pressure of arguing with yourself about the damn thing all the time. You might as well have one of those tossers that doesn’t believe in mental illness with you at all times, telling you to “wise up” and “pull yourself together”. The rational, ‘well’ side of my mind isn’t particularly sympathetic to the sicker part.

The upshot of the conversation, though, was that the “paranoia” isn’t too intrusive. It doesn’t stop me from doing things I want to do (no, anhedonia, avolition and agoraphobia are the culprits there), and most of the time it’s operating at a fairly peripheral level rather than being right in the middle of my conscious mind. Christine seemed mostly satisfied with this, though I suspect she’ll be coming back to this issue at each session for the next foreseeable future.

Rant: Aunt of Evil is on this Landmass!

We then moved on to an issue about which I was, according to her, “very angry”. I thought I’d been speaking perfectly reasonably and rationally, but Christine did not concur. The topic in question was the arrival of Aunt of Evil in this country. Those of you that have been reading this in the long term may realise that this means that this is the third time the stupid fucking bitch has been here in less than two and a half years. If you’re not so intimately acquainted with this blog, or indeed if you’re a normal human being who doesn’t have a photographic memory for bullshit, I have a long running dispute with the woman and her immediate family. They reside in the USA, and frankly their existence in Ireland makes me wish that air travel had never been invented (other than for the flight that sent them across the pond in the first place, that is).

The story of my feud with Aunt of Evil, Georgie, is a protracted and convoluted one that I’ve never discussed fully here – not because I have a problem with any of you knowing about it, but simply because other people’s familial dramas are really not that interesting. Indeed, most of it is not that interesting even to me, so I’m not going to waste my time or bandwidth or put myself at even greater risk of repetitive strain injury by detailing it all. You can see contextual posts here, here, here and here. There’s probably more, but those links should give enough information, and I can’t be arsed going through any more archives.

Now, of course given my history with Aunt of Evil and her spawn, I am not going anywhere near any of them. In that way, their presence doesn’t particularly bother me – but what does is that I know that (a) Aunt of Evil (AoE) has a skewed perception of why it is that I loathe her, and have no time for her family and (b) I will be talked about between them all, behind my back, despite my express fucking instructions to my mother – and to AoE herself – that I am not a suitable subject for their conversation.

My ma told me the other week that AoE has been going around whinging that V, the deceased lump of shite that forcefully donated his sperm in order to facilitate my conception, “has achieved something in death that he didn’t in life – the breaking up of the family.”

This fucking enraged me. AoE has always been a wanker, and I’ve never liked her. However, given that she purports to be a Christian and should therefore have a corresponding set of morals, I did expect her to at least behave honourably when V snuffed it. I did not expect V himself to behave thus, in life or in death, so her contention is completely erroneous. V was a cunt. I expected him to behave like a cunt. I did not expect her, her offspring and her offspring’s mate, to be have like cunts. And they did.

What is so fucking difficult to understand about that? It’s not fucking about V. It’s about them. Simple.

I advised my mother in no uncertain terms to appraise AoE of the above – but I don’t think that she will. My mother is lovely, but she is, in this instance, also a hypocrite. She agrees with my position on AoE and her twatpack, yet she has quite happily arranged to see them, have them stay with her, etc etc. In fairness to her, she has this idea that [cue best EastEnders-esque put-on accent] faaaahhhmmmlaayyy is one of the most important things that an individual can have on this Earth. I respect her view, but I fundamentally disagree with it. One of our friends, G (of intellectual fame, waaaaaaaay back in 2009), put it best:

Family is genetics; friendship is earned.

Quite. I don’t get this societal obsession with family for its own sake. If the people concerned are nice, if you have something in common with them, if they’re a laugh, whatever – fine. If not, why bother? Seriously. I don’t understand it. What ties do you have to such people other than DNA?

I so wish I could show you my cousin’s wife’s blog, so that you could have a laugh (or, indeed, recoil in repulsion) at her utterly nauseating nice-middle-class-ism, and pictures of the nice house that they bought with the money that should have gone to my mother and me (tangential point of amusement: she has 23 blog ‘fans’ on Fuckbook. I’m not exactly some bigshot on the hateful service myself, but at least I have over 670. Mwhahahahaha! :D). I see from said blog that she’s up the duff again. I wonder how they’re funding that brat Gift from God?

No, no, no – I’m not bitter or anything 😉

Aaaaaaaanyway, I gave Christine a redacted version of the story, and as I said, I thought I’d been fairly calm and reasonable in my narration thereof. It certainly wasn’t a rant like the last few paragraphs here were! However, when I’d finished, she said, “you’re clearly angry about this.”

Well…yeah. I sort of am. I then proceeded to rant a good bit about V, justifying my view that he was a knobend of Rupert Murdoch proportions by referencing his actions towards my mother during the joke that was their marriage. I said that I was furious with AoE for believing that my problem with her and her family was about him because, as noted, no one expected V not to be a dick.

She was curious as to why I care about what someone I can’t stand thinks of me, which was a fair question. The answer is that it’s not so much about what AoE thinks of me – she still “loves” me according to My Mother the Messenger, but I really couldn’t care less whether she adored or despised me – but, rather, about her consistent and unwavering failure to accept responsibility for her actions. She still thinks that what she and her family did is right. It was legally permissible, I’ll give her that. It was, however, ethically repugnant.

None of this, of course, even acknowledges my more general, more long-lasting disdain for AoE. She is self-righteous, patronising and a Queen proselythiser (she’s one of the key reasons that I had such a profound and blanket hatred of Christians until I met lovely people like Phil Groom and bourach). Once, when she asked Mum why I didn’t like her, my mother – bless her – was honest, and told her exactly that. AoE affected to be shocked by this information, but honestly – on this side of the Atlantic there is no one in this shittily sprawling dynasty of mine, including my mother and the other Bible bashers like Suzanne, that strongly disagrees with my stance on that.

Back to the Fucking Point, Pan…

To get back to the original point of this post, Christine feels that it is a positive thing that I am avoiding these people; I know my limits, apparently, and “not everybody does, you know.” Nevertheless, given my levels of resentment, anger and general frustration towards them, she also thinks that this is a massive stressor for me. Perhaps it must seem that way – the rant above would appear to be clear and present testament to that – but I actually don’t think it is. I’m staying out of their way, and as long as my mother does not provide me with a running commentary on all the inevitable back-biting, I am happy to sit here at A’s in my blissful ignorance until they all sod away off again.

The appointment was basically left with her saying that if my mood dips any further before I see her again (next Friday), I can contact her, presumably to arrange an emergency appointment. NewVCB (after this week) is off for about 408 years – Christine says that all the consultants just disappear over the summer – so it’s good to at least have some professional support, especially when I don’t have Paul to bleat to. I better not go really mental though, because if it were to come to the bit and some SHO or other had to assess me, he or she would inevitably take advice from Christine as the only present person within the CMHT that knows me. And as I noted above, Christine is stunned I’ve never been binned.

So. I must retain a modicum of sanity at least until NewVCB is back from her summer gallivanting.

Speaking of her…

Appointment with NewVCB

This is Friday (albeit only into its early hours). I saw NewVCB first thing on Wednesday morning (9.30am) and felt that the appointment went fairly well. I told her that things weren’t quite as positive as the last time I’d seen her (which I didn’t record here at all, because I was in and out within minutes, and all was deemed to be well), but also said that I was happy to leave my medication as it was, and that if the downer got worse or, indeed, if it lengthily prevailed, then we could possibly reconsider this at a future appointment. She seemed to think this was a fairly sensible course of action.

I did raise the weight gain on my current dosage of Seroquel issue with her however, whilst stressing that I didn’t want to reduce the dose right now. She agreed that this was something we could think about over the coming months; according to her, a standard maintenance dose of the stuff is usually 300mg. That said, I wouldn’t like to whack the dose in half at any point, even if life was absolutely fucking amazing, so if that’s where we ultimately want to return to, then I’d have to insist that we slowly taper it down. She’s not stupid, though, so I’m sure she’d agree with that.

I told her that I was worried that, if we go ahead and do this at some point, the voices would return. “At the end of the day,” I said, “I’d rather carry some extra weight that be persecuted by ‘They’.” She nodded her assent to this, and added that in a case like mine – where the mental illness may remit at times, but usually returns in some fashion – it would be fine to have xmg as a maintenance dose, but that it would at times be necessary to whack it back up.

It sounds odd, but I was quite pleased by this statement. I took it as recognition on NewVCB’s part that my mental health problems are chronic and recurrent, and not necessarily the reactive issues that Christine had perhaps suggested (though I’d add that I don’t think that Christine thinks it’s all reactive – just that that, to her, is probably part of it, and maybe it is). This isn’t me saying, “yay, it’s all biological,” because clearly it isn’t (even if it was then that would be pretty shit – therapy would be an utter waste of time, would it not?); would I be so fucked up were it not for the ‘trauma’ I experienced? Probably not to this degree. But I’ve always maintained that I hold to a biopsychosocial model of mentalism, and she seems to concur with that.

Of course, therapy has helped me a lot, hence the ‘psychosocial’ bit. But, as I am forever banging on, I don’t believe in cures. Therapy – and medication for that matter – may help to reduce both the severity and frequency of episodes, but that doesn’t mean that the whole sorry business is dead and buried.

Anyhow, this led onto a conversation about suicidal ideation. Christine is usually concerned when I say something like, “but of course I still have suicidal thoughts, how could I not?” NewVCB, on the other hand, says she wouldn’t even believe me if I went in one day and said that I absolutely wasn’t suicidal in the least. As she says, the horrific intensity of my preoccupation with ending my life that I’ve often experienced will not always be present, but she believes – in the short to medium term, at least – that there will be probably always be some level of it.

That’s a pretty poor prognosis, I suppose, but I’d rather she was honest with me. I’ve always respected her for her candour, and even if she’s not painting the rosiest picture in creation, better that than false hope and lies.

She said that I should use this period of relative stability to think about what I can do when things go tits up again. Well, I’ve thought about it, and I haven’t a fucking clue. One thing NewVCB suggested was that I should keep the idea with me, for the next time I’m standing on the edge of some cliff with a bottle of gin and 20 packets of Zopiclone, that I have come back from the absolute brink (remember the 4th October plan, anyone?) and that therefore I don’t need to take the jump. “Use this period as a reminder when you’re that low again,” she instructed. “You can, and you have, recovered from very severe suicidality.”

Spot on: I have. However, I know from bitter experience that the mind of a person at that kind of hideously low ebb does not think like this. Well, the omni-present rational narrator in my head would certainly say, “but look, remember how well you did in mid-2011?” but the depressed side is always going to dominate that with responses such as, “yeah, but that was then, this is different. I can’t recover this time,” or even “so what? I don’t want to recover anyway.” You might very well think that both of these (and other possible) responses are thoroughly illogical, but that’s how severe depression works I’m afraid. Indeed, continuing my standing-at-the-abyss scenario, I could look down over the cliff, knowing that The Rational Narrator was right and that everything else was a crock of shit. And it wouldn’t make an iota of bloody difference.

Still, she has a point, and I’ll try to do as she says. One thing I have now that I didn’t have when I had a major crash-and-burn in the past is this blog; one crucial thing about it is that for the first time I have a proper record of something that approximates recovery, or at least a road to relative wellness. Perhaps those positive words, penned (typed) by my very own hand, could make a difference? I’m not convinced of it, but you never know.

We spent some time discussing this journal actually. NewVCB alluded to it in the context of it being one of the things that had helped me when I felt at my worst, but was careful to remind me of the dangers of becoming too immersed in the online and mentalist world, rather than in the supposedly real and sane one.

I laughed, and told her that since I’ve been feeling better, the amount of visitors here has gone way down. I still get about 200 hits on days on which I don’t post and often over double that when I do. This is far more than I ever could have expected when I embarked on this narcissistic but cathartic pursuit, and don’t get me wrong – I’m grateful to and for every person that takes an interest in this bollocks. Compared to my hits when I was posting my most morbid, morose material, though, things are definitely much less popular. I don’t mind that – I just thing it’s an interesting statistic.

In any case, I assured her that I think I’ve achieved a good balance between being here, being Pandora, and being there, being me, in the “real world”. She asked me if I was getting out much.

Ha! As if. I’ll go out alone for little errands, such as buying milk or something, if I’m feeling game. Otherwise I won’t leave the house without A, or at least without the promise of meeting someone I know well. Even then, there’s some difficulties.

I was due to meet Brian, one of my close friends, on Monday evening. Realising, however, that I would actually have to go out and, shock horror, talk to Brian, I backed out and made a frankly idiotic excuse to avoid him. (Contrast this with my intended meeting with Aaron on Wednesday, which I was going to until fate intervened. I bring this up because never, never, never ever ever ever, have Aaron and I been able meet based on our original arrangements. Something always comes up. Famine or feast, eh?).

I admitted to NewVCB that I’m sometimes genuinely scared of seeing my/our friends. Naturally she asked why, and naturally I said that I didn’t know.

She said, to paraphrase, that I need to really take some time to work out the specifics of this social and agoraphobia. I agree that the roots of it need to be uncovered, but I thought that was what therapy was for. Oh, wait. The NHS won’t fucking give me therapy, and Nexus deals with sexual abuse issues rather than this sort of fuckwittery. So basically I’m screwed.

Maybe I’ll try and look at this through writing in a future post here. I can’t seem to get the thoughts that need to be…er…thought…into my my head with any modicum of coherence, and sometimes writing about thoughts can be more revelatory than thoughts in themselves.

And that was pretty much it. Since NewVCB is on holiday now for a good while, she said she’d see me again towards the end of August or start of September. That’s a little longer a gap than I usually have between my appointments with her, but not too much so. And it’s still a fuck of a lot better than the erratic scheduling her predecessor afforded me.

Meh and Blah and Yadda and Etc and Such

If you’re still reading this, you really must have a strong interest in self-flagellatory pursuits  – but seriously, thank you. I don’t know if anyone has the lack of wit to care about me, but if you are thus afflicted, please don’t worry. I’m OK. Really, I’m mostly OK. People have downers, whether they’re mental or not. It could be a mild ‘episode’, it could be the start of something more serious, or it could be just one of those things that happens from time to time. Indeed, I’m feeling a good bit better than I was on, say, Wednesday, so it’s probably nothing much – I mentioned it to Christine and NewVCB on a ‘just in case’ basis, I suppose. I’ll be fine.

As you might imagine, sleep is an issue for someone whose blog is entitled Confessions of a Serial Insomniac. Generally, one of the most positive side effects of Seroquel has been its soporific effects, but the downside of same is the hangover the stuff gives you the following day.

The fact, therefore, that I’d been up really early from Monday to Thursday inclusive is probably not insignificant. After the burglary, we had to replace the two doors that the robbing cunts smashed through; one was in a room that has a second (undamaged) door that we also decided to change for the sake of aesthetic consistency. The bloke we got to to do the work arrived each morning bright and early, and I had to be up to greet him, make the obligatory cups of tea and share the obligatory cigarettes. It hasn’t been a particularly unpleasant effort – he’s a nice man – but it has resulted in severe fatigue. That, in turn, can be a major issue vis a vis mentalism.

Next week sees Northern Ireland’s Lovely Loyalist Love-in, the Twelfth (or, as one council is trying to politically correctly re-market it, “Orangefest”), come to pass. I have nothing particularly against the occasion despite my unionist-nationalist ambivalence (although, of course, I do loathe the contingent of wankers that set about causing trouble around this time of year – utter cunts), but neither do I care for it either. There are two days’ holidays, though, which from a practical point of view means that our door-hanger – soon-to-be our painter and decorator – can’t come out next week. So, in this way, Orangeism has done me a favour. It will allow me and my Seroquel-addled mind to rest.

Anyway, this is the abrupt end of this stupidly but predictably long post. Cheerio.

marketing

Putting the 'Boxing' into Boxing Day

Christmas Day was surprisingly acceptable this year, in epic contrast to the nigh unbearable experience that was last year’s fuckery.  This was due almost entirely to two things: one, that the occasion was at my mother’s house, and not that of one of the bloody McFauls; and two, that only A and myself were my mother’s guests.  Perfect.

I lay in bed half the day, but upon my arising, the three of us sat down to open our presents.  I had little in the way of wrapped rubbish; A bought my car insurance for next year and a very generous £50 Amazon voucher, and my mother had given me the curious but welcome sum of £80 in cash.  Wrapped rubbish is nice – well, until you open it, usually.  I would rather have my car insurance and a few quid to save my dolescum arse for a week, thanks.

That said, the wrapped rubbish was, for once, quite good, and A and Mum seemed happy with theirs too, so that was the main thing.

Onward to dinner, followed by the customary lie-down and crap daytime film.  Then we played Scrabble until the wee small hours, finally succumbing to exhaustion circa 3am.

All in all, it was quite nice.  It seems that ‘quiet’ is definitely the way to go regarding this generally unpleasant occasion.

Boxing Day was not quite so relaxed – or, that is to say, Boxing Evening was not.  We had agreed to spend it at A’s mother’s, as A has never actually spent any Christmas or Boxing Day with her (not since before his parents divorced when he was very young, anyway), having always gone to his father and step-mother.  A’s brother Damien and, later, his mother Angela, kindly asked my mother to join us all as well, and I was pleased when she accepted the invitation.  I would hate her to have be alone over Christmas, as I know that she, if not I, attaches meaning to it.  She wasn’t going to the McFuck’s because of the atrocious weather – and anyway, I knew she’d have far more fun at Angela’s house.

Kind of.

Angela has been living with her partner, Ivan, for over 30 years now, and A’s two (technically half-)siblings – Damien and their younger sister, Lorraine – are Ivan’s children.  Ivan is a very strange man.  I generally like him, but he is…unique, let’s say.

Angela and Ivan are not like typical pensioners.  She looks about 20 years younger than she is, and they both party just like contempories of A or me, not those of themselves.  This means that Ivan drinks ridiculous amounts of booze on occasions like these, and invariably this leads to his getting over-excited.  Damien has his moments too, and theorises that both he and his father have ADHD.  When sober, though, they’re both fairly subdued.  Ivan is actually incredibly dull in such circumstances, and even Angela can’t be bothered with his desultory conversations and moaning.

Still, pissed, sober, whatever – he may be a pain in the arse and a tenacious debater at times, but meh.  I can handle it, and on previous occasions my mother has appeared to find Ivan amusing.  Certainly the other members of the family are good craic.  Off we went to their gaff at about 3pm.

Upon our arrival, Damien was already drunk, to my surprised amusement, and straight after dinner was sent to bed to calm down.  Ivan was ‘merry’, to use a euphemism of my mother’s, but in welcoming and comparatively calm form.  My mother is a Scotch whisky drinker, and he went out of his way to offer her tasteful versions of her favourite drink – sneaking a couple for himself, mind you.  The prognosis for the evening seemed encouraging, especially when Lorraine and her boyfriend Martin showed up.  To date, A and I had been unsure as what to make of Martin, who is relatively new to the family unit.  He had, on occasion, appeared off-hand, aloof or simply dull; however, on Boxing Day he wore a broad smile and talked amicably to the group, introducing himself to my mother with a courteous and even charismatic handshake.  The presence of his and Lorraine’s dog, Petra, and the family’s dog, Tommy, added an additional pleasure to the house.

Dinner was uneventful and civil, and in the immediate aftermath, we all retired back to the living room – Damien excepted as, as noted, he was ordered to sleep his early drunkenness off.  For a couple of hours several of us simply sat there like zombies, the combination of food and drink having tested all our physical resources to the maximum.  As always in these circumstances though, second winds befell us all, and soon a convivial atmosphere of “drink and be merry” pervaded the assembled attendees.

Ivan has a penchant for becoming fixated with a specific issue at a specific time.  When he very first met my mother and I back in 2003, the obsession was with the Hutton Report.  I remember well that he walked into Mum’s house, said it was nice to meet her, then without prompting asked her what she thought of the inquiry in question.  Not that I really watched it, because I think Ricky Gervais is a massive, massive cunt, and that his ‘work’ is deeply unfunny, but I remember seeing mortified facial expressions from his character’s colleagues on The Office when he had done something that seemed out of place or inappropriate.  My mother wore such an expression at the unexpected political discussion that was forced upon her that day.

This time Ivan had decided that he was a Christian.  I had previously been unaware that it was permissible for Christians to behave in the hedonistic way he is often known to do, but nevermind.  Facts don’t count in this universe, fuck that shit.  He deemed it appropriate to start a discussion on whether there was, indeed, a God.

It so came to pass that you had him and my mother on the side of light; Martin, A and myself defending atheism (or, to be strictly accurate, agnosticism, as we all freely admitted that we can never know for certain whether or not there is/are God(s).); and Lorraine and Angela expressing little more than ambivalence for the conversation.  My mother discussed her views fairly reasonably, but as you might expect, the now-utterly-pissed Ivan was rather less coherent.

A and Martin were cogent and articulate in the debate, and I got to thinking about how much I had previously misjudged the latter.  He appeared thoughtful, intelligent and calm under pressure, and the debate was actually quite entertaining for a while.

Eventually Ivan turned to Martin and said, “so what’s your opinion on all of this?”

Martin eyed him suspiciously.  “I’ve already told you what my views are,” he replied.  At least myself and A, and possibly Lorraine too, verified this.

Ivan refused to believe this, and began badgering Martin regarding his alleged deception – ie. Ivan believed that he was trying to lie about not having offered his position in the whole stupid debate.

Martin, quite fairly in my opinion, said something along the lines of it not being his problem if Ivan refused to listen to a word anyone else said, and the shit hit the fan.

I left the room at this stage to go and smoke (yes, I am disgustingly back on the things in an ‘-ish’ sort of fashion, and this was beginning to turn into the sort of night where cigarettes seem like a necessity), but even in the garden, at the other end of the house, I could hear the screaming – and the door was closed.  I couldn’t hear the specific words spoken (yelled), but I am told it went something like this.

Ivan: You’re talking shit.
Martin: No, you’re talking shit.
I: Who do you think you’re talking to?  Fuck off!
M: Don’t tell me to fuck off!
I: [Insanely] Fuck away off!!!
M: Do you want to say that again?!
I: Aye, fuck away off!!!
M: Would you like to take this outside?
I: Yes, I’ll fight you!
M: Right.  Let’s go then.

For reasons no one remembers, they didn’t go outside, but eventually Martin yelled at Ivan, “I don’t have to listen to this.  I’m leaving!” which was met with jubilated screeches from Ivan of, “yes!  Fuck away off!  Get out of my sight!”

At this point, A completely and utterly lost it.  Although he would admit to being very easily irritated, he very, very rarely gets angry – but on this occasion, ‘anger’ seems like a small word to use for the wrath that Ivan induced.

A said (screamed):

You’re a bloody disgrace and you should be ashamed of yourself! That’s no way to speak to a guest in this house!  Do you want to start something?  I’ll fucking start something with you!

As he screamed all of this, apparently A was jumping up in fury, rounding “threateningly” on Ivan.  I’m almost sorry I missed it.

“Fuck away off!” Ivan screamed in return, at which point A said that he would, with pleasure, do so.  He left the room and slammed the door behind him, at which point he came to find me.

Eventually all of us, Damien and Ivan excepted, gathered in the kitchen.  Martin accepted that he had probably over-reacted to Ivan’s harrassment, and apologised to us.  “However,” he said, “I’m an adult and I won’t be spoken to like that, so I have to leave.”  This was unfortunate, I felt, but I understood his position.

A and I were very vocal in making clear that Ivan did not in any way, shape or form represent us, and Martin was accepting of it.  When he finally left, he joked that maybe we’d be able to laugh about the whole sorry thing one day.  I hope he is right.

In the meantime, Ivan had gone about telling his family that he didn’t care if he never saw any of them ever again, a sentiment that A was glad to reciprocate.  Damien, now arisen, was – along with his sister and mother – informed by Ivan that they didn’t pay rent, and should ergo get out of Ivan’s house.

The thing is – it isn’t Ivan’s house at all.  A took pleasure in pointing this out to his insane step-father, adding once more that he didn’t care if he never saw him again.

Ivan went back to the living room and slammed the door.  Damien followed him to see if he could talk some sense into him.

For a while, things were calm in the kitchen.  Mum, Angela, Lorraine, A and I sat about talking, smoking (not A), drinking wine and liqueur coffees and listening to music, and despite what had happened earlier, things were reasonably enjoyable.  Unfortunately I had to go into the living room at one point to get a bag I’d left there, and was stunned to find Damien pinning his father to the seat.  Ivan was screaming obscenities and a thousand curses at his son.

I rushed out and told the others of the development, and Lorraine went in to video the whole ridiculous saga to show to her father when he had sobered up.  He accused Damien of trying to kill him, A of the same thing, everyone of misunderstanding him, no one of telling him what their problem was, yadda yadda yadda.  He kept trying to push Damien off, in between his whining of “fuck off you cunt” etc, but Damien remained determined to keep him under restraint.  He never did say why exactly, but the inference was clearly that Ivan was threatening violence.

I remember Lorraine telling her father, when he claimed not to know what it was that he had done wrong, that he had “been a dick” to Martin.  Ivan claimed not to know what she was talking about.  Damien said, “I wasn’t here so I don’t know what happened, but I do know that you’re being a dick now!”

Again, Ivan pleaded ignorance as to why he was being thus viewed.

Relations we re-established briefly when he came into the kitchen and apologised to my mother.  I even decided to take a place in his company once more, though Angela, Lorraine and A refused.  However, when Ivan started criticising A’s behaviour once more, I stood up and walked out.

I have not seen him since.

In a way, some of the fun of the evening was restored because of the willingness of most of the assembled to not want the behaviour of one massive wanker to spoil things.  A, indeed, said that he was all the more determined to enjoy himself to spite Ivan, and so in the end the four women and one bloke – Damien never did re-engage with us – had a bit of craic regardless of what happened.  A, Mum and I left fairly early the next day, at which point no one had spoken to Ivan, who was quietly reading in another room.  We left without saying ‘goodbye’.

Angela rang my mother later to report that Ivan had left the house, though she reckoned he was only going to the shops.  I have no idea if that was indeed his destination, nor if he ever came back.

In the pub that evening, I asked A if he really meant that he couldn’t care less if he never saw Ivan again.

“Perhaps not 100%,” he admitted, “but I certainly feel no particular attachment to him.  I wouldn’t be that bothered.”

“After thirty years?” I checked.  “I know he’s a pain in the arse a lot, but this is the first time he’s been a complete tosser on that sort of level.”

“Not exactly,” A replied, reminding me that Ivan had had a large involvement in splitting up Damien and his erstwhile fiancée, Louise (long story short: Ivan knew Damien wasn’t as happy as he might have been, got blocked, and said to Louise’s face that her fiancé didn’t want to marry her.  She stormed off.  Damien ranted at Ivan and followed her.  They tried to salvage their relationship but split a few months later).  I had to concede this point, though A too conceded that Sunday night’s nonsense had probably been the most extreme manifestation of his step-father’s cuntitude.

So God knows what the real fallout from all this will be.  We theorised that perhaps Ivan wouldn’t even remember anything of what happened, what with his severe levels of inebriation.  But the rest of us remember, and indeed have a body of evidence for it.

You know, if he would accept his culpability and apologise, at least some of what he said and did could be forgiven.  I know that Martin wasn’t faultless and probably poured more than enough fuel on an already out-of-control fire, but at least he had the common fucking decency to acknowledge that, and say sorry for it.  I have been brought up to believe that it takes courage and some measure of altruism to hang your head and admit to your wrongs, and he did that.  If stupid fucking Ivan would accept that he screwed up too, maybe some of it could become water under the bridge.  But he won’t.  He will let his nose be severed to spite his face.

I would never be a person to demonise alcohol, for I enjoy a drink or eight myself.  But I think this incident, and other less serious ones in which Ivan has been strongly implicated, demonstrate how it can be a substance of which to be wary.  The thing was, Ivan had had (copious amounts of) wine, beer, spirits, liqueurs and, perhaps worst of all, whisk(e)y.  The latter, Angela and Lorraine believe, “sends him mad”.  My mother was reminded that one of my McFaul cousins is banned from drinking the substance for the same reason.  I had been trying to develop a taste for that particular beverage of late – it’s not a typically feminine drink, and not being a typical female it therefore appeals to me – but perhaps I shall rethink my plans.

Anyway, in my live reporting of this fiasco to Twitter on Sunday night, I mused at one point as to whether Christmases with my family were really that much worse than this.

I thought about this a lot over the last few days, and have reached my conclusion.

They were.  They always will be.  So give me this arseholery over jabba Maisie, paedo Paedo and their assorted dynasty of shite any day.  Ivan may have made me furious, but he’s never made me mentally ill.

The Most Wonderful Time…

The advantage of it being Christmas Eve is that it’s only a matter of hours – and I’m counting them – until the whole farce is over.

I was asked on Twitter last night why I hated it so much.  My reply was as follows:

I hate the commercialism.  I hate the lies (ie. Santa) [as alluded to in a recent therapy session].  I hate the wankers that drink fuck all all year and then get obnoxiously pissed.  I hate the fakery and the pretence (“oooh, what a lovely gift!” when you actually think it’s complete shite).  I hate the politics (“he bought for me, so I must buy for him”).  But most of all I hate my extended family. They’ve ruined any possible joy in it for A and me both.

I left a couple of things out.  One is that I hate the hypocrisy of it: OK, it’s highly unlikely that if Christ even existed that he was born on 25 December, but nevertheless, it has been chosen to represent a Christian festival.  Now I am not at all religious, but that’s meant to be its point.  How in the fuck does this capitalist charade remotely symbolise the birth of the Son of Man?!  What complete and utter fuckshite.  (Before anyone says it, I know there are Church services over Christmas Day and days close to it, and Christians will often attend these.  But really – are they in the majority?  Are the majority not actually the pissed wankers who run out to buy their spouses shite underwear or socks in a frenzy of unoriginality on Christmas Eve?).

The other point missed in my Twitter rant was that I find the day and, indeed, the whole bloody season to be immensely triggering.  I burst into tears the other day, as I have done on many previous occasions, when I saw this Guinness ad on the TV:

…and all but the most upbeat Christmas songs send me into a crazed state of tearful and breathless anxiety.

I know that most of my childhood Christmasses were spent in the company of the McFaul dynasty, and I recall that I always dreaded that.  I have very few clear memories of the occasion until my teens, which may or may not be telling – but I can’t fathom how Paedo could have done anything significant when the house was so full all the time.  I suppose one thing of note was the crowd swelled and diminished in waves over the Christmas week, and I was generally unfortunate enough to have been there for most of that time, if memory serves me correctly.  So if something did happen in said period, I would probably have ended up associating it with Christmas – and association is the most powerful tool in the psychological box.

Anyway, this wasn’t meant to be some sort of big analytical post.  I just wanted to note that owing to the ridiculous schedule that this occasion demands, I may not be about here much.  I still have a Paul session to review, and I will try and squeeze it in at some point, but there is a lot coming up, so I’m not sure when that – or any other posting – will be.

Here is my schedule:

  • Christmas Eve – head to mother’s.
  • Christmas Day – sit around mother’s eating and drinking.*
  • Boxing Day – head to A’s Mum and step-dad’s, bringing mother with us.  A’s brother and sister – and possibly sister’s boyfriend – will also be in situ.
  • 27 December – come home for a day or two.
  • 31 December – head to hotel with A and one of A’s best friends, home briefly from his new life in the USA.
  • 1 January – come home.
  • 4 January – meet advocate woman re: battle with the Trust.
  • 5 January – head to another lovely hotel – we went there last year too – for two nights, thanks to a Christmas present from A’s Mum.
  • 7 January – finally start getting back to normal – for a bit…
  • 22 January – head to Dublin for a friends birthday.
  • 23 January – start driving around Ireland for a week.
  • 30 January-ish – come home and completely get back to normal.

Gah!  Too much, too much!  * But there is something wonderful about it all – and that is that we will not, at any point, be darkening the door of Hotel California, the McFaul’s house.  Do you remember I wrote recently that my cousin Kevin had threatened me, and that I wasn’t taking that shit?  Well, we weren’t going to Hotel California anyway – don’t forget last year’s shenanigans – but Kevin’s behaviour has adequately served to put the final nail in the coffin of my attendance.  Last night A and I toasted him for his most generous favour to us.

Anyhow.  I will try to drop in if I can to write up the latest session with Paul and perhaps do another End of Year Post, though of course that is likely to remind me of how much I’ve failed this year and am likely to do in 2011.  If you don’t see me about, however, I probably have not killed myself.  I’m sure A would let you know were that the case 🙂

For those of you that enjoy this time of year, may you have a lovely Christmas filled with fun and laughter.  For those of you that, like me, find it inherently difficult, I wish you as much peace as possible throughout the period, and hope it passes swiftly for you.

Much love to all.

Hugs

Pan ❤ xxx

Early Christmas Presents

Present One

Perhaps, finally, some encouragement on the advocacy front – almost exactly a year later?!

Hi Pandora

My name is [let’s call her Derbhla] and I work for the Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health (Charity B), as a patient advocate.

I recently received a letter from Charity A, regarding your request for advocacy support. I…meet and support some outpatients from your area.

Should you wish to meet and discuss the support you require, we can arrange a date and meet at [NewVCB and C’s] Day Hospital.

I look forward to your reply.

Derbhla

Hi Derbhla

Thank you very much for your email. I would be very grateful for any support you would be able to give me.

I’m not sure how much, if any, information Charity A gave you, but I shall give you a brief run-down anyhow.

[This, if you have been following this blog and this ridiculous saga, will be quite repetitive, but it had to be written, so there.]

I am 27 and am diagnosed with complex PTSD and borderline personality disorder with psychotic and dissociative features as well as major depression and anxiety.  I first presented with mental health problems to my GP 13 years ago, but have never secured adequate treatment (I can offer you full details when we meet, or I can forward you copies of detailed correspondence on the matter if you would prefer); in fact, I have usually been treated dismissively or even with disdain by NHS mental health services.

Finally, in February 2009, I met a competent psychotherapist within the system. The arrangement was to meet once a week on rolling contracts.  As you may know, both NICE guidelines and the NI Personality Disorder strategy advise the use of certain therapies (which, to be fair, I tried in other sectors and found unhelpful), and in their absence, generic psychotherapy (which was being offered by this therapist, and was useful).  Therapy for my conditions is recommended as taking place at least twice a week for a minimum of 18 months.  Despite this, I was advised in December 2009 that my psychologist could only offer a limited number of further sessions, which would amount to one year and 11 weeks in total rather than the 18×2 sessions recommended.

With my psychologist’s support, I appealed to the Trust for more time.  This has resulted in a year long complaint during which the Trust has promised things it never delivered, openly lied on occasion and acknowledged its services were deeply inadequate without offering me any alternatives.  Against my consultant psychiatrist’s advice, and obviously my own feelings, I was still discharged from Psychology in August 2010.  At the final session, my psychologist advised that therapy (in this case of a psychoanalytical bent) is often outsourced by the Trust to a private sector therapist on occasions on which it fails to deliver it itself.  My current aim is to achieve this sort of therapy, as I have come to conclude that my illnesses will not be adequately treated within the [my] Trust.

I have involved my MP, MLAs and the Health Minister in the matter.  They have been moderately helpful, in that the Trust have finally agreed to meet me “to discuss the way forward” (the personnel concerned are the AD for Mental Health, [Bint’s Name], and the Head of Psychology, [Bloke’s Name]).  Although I am aware of some of the issues requiring discussion in this meeting, due to my illnesses I do not feel I could viably present a persuasive argument to contest their assertions despite my evident need for further treatment.  To that end I was hoping that an advocate could possibly assist me in this encounter in the hope that future therapy, which is required to treat most of my conditions, could be ensured.

I apologise for any information overload in the foregoing!  I am awaiting various medical notes* from the Trust but also have the chain of correspondence regarding this matter, mainly between [Mr Director-Person], the Director of MH and LD services and myself, for reference.  If you would be able to assist me, unfortunately at the moment I am unavailable to meet on Mondays but any other day is usually fine; if you would like to suggest a time I would be happy to hear from you.

Thank you for taking the time to respond and indeed to read this.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes

Pandora

Hi Pandora

Thanks for providing me with these details.  I hope that I can support you in bringing forward and ensuring that yours needs are followed up.  [What does this actually mean?  I know I shouldn’t criticise, but these jargonistic terms do my head in.  *ponders*  Maybe I shouldn’t talk when I go about using non-existent words…]

I would suggest that we meet in the New Year, Monday and Tuesday mornings are best for me.  We can meet in the old ward [bin], [NewVCB’s and C’s] Hospital (now the new community mental health services building [aha, so that’s why NewVCB met me there today]) as I can organise a private room there.  Please let me know if this suits and if so what day and time.

I look forward to hearing from you again.

Derbhla

Hi Derbhla

Thanks for getting back to me.  Either Tuesday 4 or 11 January 2010 would suit me to meet; I would suggest 9.30 or 10am?

Thanks again and I look forward to hearing from and seeing you.

Best wishes

Pandora

If this works out, it could be Early Christmas Present Number One.  Well, OK, I’m not meeting her until January, but the beginnings of an alliance (as I hope it will develop into) have been forged this month.

* I think that I briefly reported this elsewhere.  After dithering for months, I have finally put in a request for my medical notes: I want all the correspondence between Mr Director-Person and myself (I keep losing copies, except the electronic ones I’ve recorded here, against which I will compare the material, because I don’t trust him not to have modified his communications); all my GP’s notes since 1998 on psychiatric, psychological and any other mental health-related matters; all of NewVCB and OldVCB’s note; and, finally, all my notes from my time with C.  Mwhahahaha!  They’re going to love me 🙂

Present Two

I should have detailed this ages ago.  Remember the huge bust-up between my mother and that fat jabba Maisie?  Well, predictably, it resolved itself in the end – maybe about October or early November time?  Alas. This was disappointing in the extreme.

In the meantime, though, A and I had arranged to go to a gig with Kevin, Maisie and Paedo’s youngest son (though he’s 42 or something like that).  As Kevin is both stupid and profoundly scared of anything outside his current dwelling in his parents’ house (Hotel California), A and I agreed to (a) buy the ticket for him (with him to forward on the payment), (b) collect him on the night of the concert and (c) return him on said night.  He is petrified of driving outside a minuscule radius of Hotel California, just like all the in-bred freaks barring Suzanne are.  So, no drinking and letting my hair down at that gig then, but meh.

A week before the gig, Kevin sent me and out-of-the-blue text message advising me that he wasn’t going after all and would I – yes, I – sell his ticket for him.  He was willing to accept £20 less than the asking price.  I agreed to this.

I put the ticket on Gumtree and quite quickly had an offer from a French bloke, which I accepted. Unfortunately this meant having to meet said French bloke in the city.  I’m pretty sure I could be diagnosed with agoraphobia these days, and I’m still desperately scared of strangers and suchlike so (saaaaaaaaaaaaaad), even though A went with me, this was the cause of some not-inconsiderable anxieties.

Anyway, the exchange was made in the end, and went without incident.  I had no immediate way of getting the cash back to Kevin, so I advised him that I’d send it to him with my mother when she was next visiting Hotel California (she was now reconciled with Maisie) or with Sarah/Suzanne, who would come to visit my mother quite often.

For one reason or another it turned out that I hadn’t been able to send the money for a couple of weeks.  One night Kevin sent me the following random message:

i fink its bout time u snt me da muni.trst me i am nt gna 4get bout it so gt it dwn r ELS!

Once I had eventually managed to translate this (I think it’s about time that you sent me the money.  Trust me, I am not going to forget about it, so get it down or ELSE!), I was interested to note the distinct absence of diplomacy and, indeed, the threat inherent in the communication.  This reminded me that during the battle that saw the commencement of World War III (as in My Ma v Maisie), Kevin had threatened my mother.  I also remember a few years back that he was alleged to have grabbed his sister, Sarah, by the throat and pinned her against the wall whilst screaming a barrage of abuse into her face.

Lovely bloke, really.  The fact that he is completely single and almost friendless in his 40s is a real mystery.

The long and the short of this inane drivel is that I deliberately held off sending Kevin his money, and eventually posted him a cheque, meaning he would have had incurred inconvenience in the form of lodgement 😉  Better than that, no one threatens me and gets a second chance, not unless they sincerely and grovellingly apologise.  And I’m not going to put myself in a situation where I feel threatened, am I?

So, Kevin has given me one of the best presents yet: since I do not want to ingratiate myself into threatening surroundings, I can now avoid Hotel California like the plague.  This is way beyond brilliant.  It is superb.  It is superlative.  It is sublime.  Any other positive ‘s’ adjectives I can use?  I just cannot emphasise enough how sweet and stunning and supremely delightful this new freedom is.  YAY YAY YAY!

Maisie and Paedo sent me a birthday card last month (with £30 inside.  Blood money?  Who cares?  £30 is always useful), and failed to sign Kevin’s name as they normally do.  When I received a Shitmas card from them yesterday (also with £30, demonstrating that they can be good for something then), however, Kevin’s name had re-appeared.  Well.  Fuck that.  He didn’t get a return card from me and he isn’t going to.  Knobend.

Though when you think about it, isn’t it strange that Maisie and Paedo did receive a card back from me..? Kevin threatened me, sure, but Paedo…well, we all know what Paedo has done.  And yet I don’t feel such bitter antipathy towards him as I do towards his son.

Ah well.  No one ever said I was normal.

Present Three

An apology from a member of staff at the cunting Trust!  Not a dramatic, “fuck, Pan, we’ve screwed you over for 14 years.  We admit it.  We’re shit, we’re sorry, and we’re giving you permanent psychotherapy!“, but any form of apology from these fuckwits is a remarkable achievement.

I saw NewVCB this morning, who was horrified I hadn’t seen her since September.  She apologised profusely for this, and was clearly genuine in doing so.

Well, fuck me laterally with a four-headed mop.  I thought it was written into the job descriptions of Trust employees to apportion blame directly onto the patient in all cases and to never, under any circumstances, admit that you or your department has had any responsibility in a fuck up.  Baaaaaaad NewVCB!  You’re going against the grain there, love – in fact, you’d better keep a close eye on your job.  Don’t forget about public sector cuts and all.  Your being vaguely competent and responsible could very well lead to the demise of your career when you’re on those cunts’ payroll, so just be careful there.

Seriously, she was very apologetic and I was grateful for it.  The appointment, despite my preceding whining on Twitter and Facebook, was fine in the end.  Details to come in an obligatory I had an appointment post in the next day or two.

Present Four

Me:  That’s a nice teddy bear, mother.

Mother:  …Ah.  It was meant to be a Christmas present for you.

Me:  Oh right.  Fuck.  Sorry.

Mother:  Do you like him?

Me:  Yes, he’s lovely.

Mother:  You may as well have him now then.  I bought him so you could cuddle up to him if you were feeling down.

Panacea-by-bear!!!  I’m sure he is an eminent psychiatric-psychological-neurological clinician!  I know he can cure my ailments!

OK, I really need to dispense with this acerbic sarcasm.  I was actually rather touched, despite my inclinations towards cold aloofness.  The bear is cute, soft and cuddly, and I will probably cuddle up to him when I’m bawling my eyes out like a three year who’s forced to eat Brussel sprouts.  I don’t know what to call him, though (I thought of ‘Psychiatrist Bear’, but don’t want to insult him); the tag says ‘Edward’ – presumably it’s alluding to the term ‘Teddy’, even though that originally came from ‘Theodore’, of course – but I’m not sure that it suits him. Suggestions welcome!

Here he is.

Teddy Bear of Joy