The Inevitable 'Goodbye' Post

Not Dead, Just Sleeping…

Happy birthday to me
Happy birthday to me
Happy birthday, dear Confessions
Happy birthday to me!

Confessions of a Serial Insomniac began exactly three years ago today with the first incarnation of the ubiquitous About page. It seems fitting and right that it meets its pseudo-demise on its birthday. It’s a nice, round timeframe.

Those of you that are regular readers will have seen this coming for months. Indeed, I’ve discussed it with several of you over the last…I don’t know, eight or ten weeks, maybe more. My passion for this place – once overwhelming – has waned profoundly, and it would feel a disservice to the blog to simply abandon it, rather than tying up its loose ends.

There’s so much I want to say that I hardly know where to start. I’ll jump in, then, with practicalities.

  • I said in a recent post that I intended to discuss my new set of sessions with Paul on the blog. I’m not going to do that after all, for which my apologies are due. I’ll outline the primary reason for this later.
  • I never did finish my series on my aunt Maisie’s demise. Again, apologies for those of you that were mad enough to be interested. To be honest, although I could have made the further details of the funeral into an epic yet dull piece of prose, not much of note really happened. Her coffin was carried up the road a bit, the eight men underneath it bulking under its weight. I once again, inexplicably, envied my cousins’ comforting of each other. Maisie was buried, atop a hill, in the sunlight. I cried again, like the sad cunt I apparently am. We went to the tedious, oppressive wake (on which, ironically, Maisie would have completely thrived). The only real out-of-the-ordinary incident was to do with Aunt of Evil. After hours of successfully avoiding the accursed woman, she managed to catch me out whilst I was aimlessly talking to her brother-in-law, Uncle of Boredom. Long story short: although she apologised to me for “whatever it was [she] ha[d] done” (as if she didn’t fucking know!), I ended up apologising to her too! I raged with myself for weeks, because I had done nothing to the heinous witch to warrant any words of atonement, but then I remembered she’d gone back to USistan without my having seen or spoken to her again, and I settled a bit.
  • Twitter and Facebook. I’ll keep them both ‘officially’ open, I think – Twitter especially holds so much history for me – but I’m very unlikely to be updating or checking either. Don’t unfollow them, though (unless you’re sick of me, which is obviously reasonable enough); you never know where and when I may re-crop up…
  • Although I’m finishing my writing tenure here, I’m not taking the blog down; it’ll still be fully accessible. Many of the search terms over the years – and the regular readers I’ve picked up therefrom – have suggested to me that some people have actually found parts of this rubbish useful, or at least enjoyable (!). I don’t want to deny others the opportunity to explore it should they so wish, and in any case the domain name and hosting are paid up until at least January 2013, so they might as well be made use of.
  • You can still contact me, though I’ll be disabling the contact form soon and, as observed, will probably not be hanging about Twitter. Instead, email me at pandora dot urquharthuxley at gmail dot com. This arrangement will most likely not be permanent either, but it will bridge a gap at least.

Now then. I suppose I should try to outline my reasons for leaving this place, my much-loved home for three years – the place where I met so many amazing people, garnered so much support and spouted so much crap that offered a surprising amount of catharsis. As I sit here and write this, it almost feels like folly to quit; Confessions has brought me so much, and here I am rejecting it. I will mourn it, and do so profoundly; it has shaped my life beyond my wildest dreams during its course, so how could I not?

But I am not this person any more.

I think there comes a time in the lives of most mental people where they realise, or accept, that they are defined by something greater than their diagnoses. For the most part, I have seen my life since 2008 – and, to a lesser extent, since I was a teenager – as an experience which was shaped by my diseased mind and its treacherous idiosyncrasies. Of late, though, I’ve begun to think differently of myself. I’m not naive, and I’m not an idealist: I have a mental illness, and although that can potentially be managed, I will almost certainly always have it. My views have not changed so radically that I now see myself as someone who has ‘pathologised her humanity‘ or some such other patronising fucking nonsense. Nonetheless, ‘mental’ is no longer the first word jumping from my lips when someone asks me about myself.

I suppose I could adapt Confessions to reflect this – I could write about gaming, books, pubs I like, holidays I’ve been on. But it does not, in any fashion, feel right; this has always been a blog about mental health, and I feel it more apt to let it stay that way. So as I as a person move on, so must my blog.

There are wider issues than just this, of course. Logistically speaking, I don’t always have time to write here any more, at least not in the essay-ish style to which I’ve always been prone. Again, I feel it would be a disservice to the legacy of what I’ve done with this journal to modify my writing style to facilitate shorter posts; it’s just not what this all became over the course of its life. I’ve had it said to me by a few people that my longest posts – probably because they’re the ones in which I’ve become most immersed – are my best, and I’d rather be remembered for that than for something that just dribbled dry over time. At the risk of employing a vulgar cliche, as Neil Young (and, more famously, Kurt Cobain) put it, it’s better to burn out than to fade away.

Additionally, to quote one of my favourite writers who has also lately bowed out of anonymous blogging, I am tired of pretending. I’ve long-since hated the anonymity that this place affords me – not because I hate the persona that you all know as Pandora, for she has become an irrevocable part of ‘me’, and despite it all, I actually don’t hate myself (and am not sure that I ever truly did). It’s because I am not ashamed of who I am, of who I have become, of what I have, and of what I don’t. The matters discussed on this journal have actively required that I cloak myself behind a pseudonym, but, again, I no longer see myself as someone solely prescribed and designated as a victim of sexual abuse or vicious hallucinations. To that end, I presently don’t need my anonymity (at least for pursuits unconnected to this website).

The final straw was in therapy recently. Nominally, Paul and I were having a proper therapeutic conversation, though he did at the end comment that it had been a strange session. It was, because I was not properly in it. Thankfully – or not – that had nothing to do with fucking Aurora; it was me playing games with myself. To get to the bloody point, I was sitting there considering in detailed terms how I could frame our discussion in dialogue-driven, prosaic terms – did he raise an eyebrow here, did I sneer at something there? – for this blog.

That is not healthy. I knew right then that I had to stop writing here. Therapy is meant to be a life-enriching, remedial experience; it’s not fucking blogging fodder. In the sessions that followed, having made up my mind to close things down, we were able to do much more fulfilling work together.

Naturally, this has a downside; I am unable to express to A, for example, the kind of material covered in session. I regret that, but I feel that healthy psychotherapy is more important for all concerned than others having insight into the process as it happens to me. If that sounds blunt, please forgive me: my point is that if I am unwell (as, without adequate, concentrated treatment, I will be), then everyone around me is affected. That’s no more fair on them – and probably you, as a reader – than it is on me.

I am a horrendously jealous person – I freely admit it. When I log on to that bloody curse that is Facebook – I really should deactivate it yet again – I see people I went to school with having brats and developing the careers they always wanted. I’m not envious of the former per se because, as you know, I’m childfree. But I am jealous of them having what they want, and of their apparent happiness with their lives.

But, you know, when I think about it all in context, when I think of all I’ve faced and all I’ve done – or at least tried to do – it doesn’t seem quite so bad.

I didn’t have the best start in life, whether through social factors, chemical ones or ones relating to my own psychology (or, in my view, a combination of all thereof). I could have let my resulting mental illness fuck me entirely – and at times it nearly has, and indeed it still might – but I fight with every weapon my arsenal allows me; I actively try to help myself get better. I engage with all services available to me – psychiatry, nursing and therapy (indeed, I had to go out of my way to secure the latter, after NHS Psychology shat on my face, rather than lying down under it like I could have done). I co-operate with them all despite the fact that they – like almost anything – are not perfect, because I don’t want this non-life any more. I want that sense of contentment that those twats on Facebook appear to have.

Although I’m still ill, I refuse to tolerate the idea that I should stay on state benefits indefinitely. That is most indubitably not to say that mentals (or anyone else with a serious and/or enduring illness) should be forced off ESA and other benefits. Fuck the Coalition and their myopic, dangerous biases; our first concern as a society should be to support individuals who are disabled, ill and/or vulnerable, rather than lowering taxes for people who can afford to fucking pay for them.

Still, I ultimately want to be self-sufficient, despite the perhaps precarious position in which I find myself. It may not happen any time soon, but I want to, when possible, try.

I’m pragmatic enough to realise that my illness can’t be cured, merely managed, and as such although in an ideal world I’d go back to a more traditional job, I realise that it may (and only ‘may’) not be possible (or at least sustainable).

So, for now at least, I write. I consider myself a writer now, regardless of whether others think the title narcissistic or grandiose. This is partly why I don’t have as much time as I once did for Confessions; it’s sad, but it’s real. As my best mate Dan (himself a full-time staff journalist) discussed the other day, I’ve made genuine in-roads into turning what was once a vague fairytale idea into a reality. I’m talking to Editors, engaging with the low-paying but still useful services of guru.com and eLance, getting my (real) name out there…and I’ve applied for a voluntary job which will involve, if I get it, writing for the local rags about mental illness. Most of my writing to date has been in relatively specialist publications and websites, so writing for the papers – a more mainstream pursuit, with wider readerships – would be a welcome challenge, and indeed a useful addition to my portfolio.

Oh, and The Book? It’s back on ūüôā I’m also half-minded to try and novelise this blog at some point, but that would be an immense piece of work – even harder than a random piece of fiction, because it would require endless re-working of Confessions, rather than putting a bunch of ideas down on paper and formulating them into prose. If The Book ultimately has any success, I may be buoyed to work on such a monolithic task, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

My writing ‘career’ may fail…but, again, I’m trying to make something of my life. It’s very difficult right now, what with not being fully well, and there are days when it’s impossible to face. There are days when anything is impossible to face. But I’m starting, and that’s got to count for something. If it goes tits up – yes, that’ll be disappointing. That much goes without saying. But I’d rather have that potential outcome than that in which I didn’t give it a damn good go.

And I feel a little better each day. A bit less depressed, a bit less despairing, a bit more positive, a bit more hopeful. My current medication cocktail, combined with an ever-excellent psychotherapist, has brought me closer to wellness than I’ve been in a very long time, despite the truly abysmal year this has been, circumstantially, so far. As I said way up above, I no longer see myself entirely through the lens of a mentally ill kaleidoscope.

In the years since my most recent breakdown, I’ve often cursed my psychic misfortune (aside from the fact that no, I still probably wouldn’t flick the sanity switch were I offered the option). Further, I’ve cursed this blog (sometimes for valid reasons, sometimes just in rage-fuelled piques). And yet…look what both my madness and my blogging have brought me.

  • A half-credible chance to use my afflictions to facilitate a respectable career, whilst simultaneously advocating for others in the same shitty boat.
  • Most importantly, I have met some of the most wonderful people in the entire known universe – people who (God/Buddha/Allah/Flying Spaghetti Monster/Richard Dawkins willing) will be lifelong friends.

Throw in the gratifying fact that I’m in a long-term – and, more crucially, happy – relationship with a loving, accepting partner. Multiply that by the other genuinely meaningful and life-changing friendships I have managed to forge throughout my life – Dan, Brian, Aaron, lots of people that are not close friends but that are certainly more than acquaintances. Minus the disastrously dysfunctional family, but add to the list a loving mother – something that not everyone is fortunate enough to have.

When I think about things thus, when I examine my life as though it were the Bayeux Tapestry, looking at the ‘bigger picture’ (I hate that fucking term) – well, I feel privileged.

And at the risk of repeating myself, in these circumstances, I find myself sometimes thinking, “do you know what, Pan? You ultimately did well, girl. You did well.”

And, for now at least, that’s enough.

Is this completely ‘goodbye’? Not necessarily. A number of you already follow another blog I write, and I will consider requests for the URL from others (email me as per the details at the start of the post, though please do not be offended if I don’t respond with the address; I don’t write exclusively about mentalness there, and don’t want it to become what this blog has). Furthermore, I may add the odd update here once in a very occasional while. And let’s not forget that when Maisie died, despite my pre-existing intention to wind down Confessions, I immediately gravitated here and ended up writing quite a lot; as it had been so many times before, the blog was my haven and lustration. Right at the top of this entry, I used the words ‘not dead, just sleeping’. So, when things inevitably go downhill again, or when some other life event once again sends me down the figurative shitter, this place could be resurrected. So do keep me on your RSS Readers and social media profiles just in case ūüôā I’m not offering any guarantees, and I’m certainly not saying it’s even likely. It would be folly to rule anything in, or rule anything out, though, so there you have it.

Whatever happens, thank you for sharing this madness with me. Your support, tolerance, friendship, and even love has made my life better – and literally saved me on occasion. I’m pretty convinced I’d either be dead or much more seriously ill than I presently am had it not been for the amazing people I’ve met through writing here.

In the parting words of the Ninth Doctor: you were fantastic – absolutely fantastic. And do you know what? So was I!

Farewell, my loves. Cue trite, manufactured, but tackily appropriate song from (who else but?! ;)) Lunatica.

Perspectives from the Mentalist's Best Friend

Good afternoon, loveliest readers. Following the success of A’s series of guest posts for Confessions on daily life with a mental, my best friend Daniel asked if he could add some thoughts of his own. Clearly I jumped at the chance to have these insights, so I fired him off a couple of questions, which, along with his answers, now follow. Enjoy ūüôā ~ Pan

What was it like growing up with a mental friend? Did you know how mental she was? Did you ‘get’ some of her weird behaviour? What, if anything, did you feel you could do about it?

An interesting question, because as a teenager, rather than consider my friend to be mental, I considered her to be interesting; as such, I chose to emulate her behaviour.

I remember running up and down streets carrying a curtain pole. I recall parading around people’s living rooms with a cushion on my head, making stupid noises. I was there when we walked home, unable to afford our bus fares [Pan – having spent our money on alcopops, if I recall], from the near-ish-but-far-to-walk-from large town (approximately eight miles, if my memory serves me correctly) – all the while pretending to be German, talking to every person we met in broken English. They were helpful in offering us directions and admitted that they had forgiven us for “the war” when we insisted on apologising for it (and yes, I’m still laughing about it now, perhaps 15 years later). [Almost literally pissing myself at that one. Ah, memories…].

Oh, almost forgot: we phoned teachers in the middle of the night pretending to aroused horses, cats and vampire bats. Good times.

This seemed to me to be completely normal, acceptable behaviour – and if I am brutally honest, it still does [agreed]. This is how we chose to spend our time and was what made us laugh as children. Of course, society may judge young people behaving like this as being weird, unbalanced and perhaps even dangerous – but this is certainly not how it seemed to be at the time.

But, in saying all that…I was also there the night Pan took her first overdose (I think we were 16). I recall watching her take the pills and I helped her mum force her to spit them out. I was still there that night in the hospital, when Pan informed the staff that if she were allowed to go home, she would kill herself. A sanctimonious A&E doctor curtly replied, “no, you won’t. Manics don’t want to kill themselves”, to which Pan calmly (bearing in mind she’d been hysterical only moments before) explained, “oh that’s interesting, because I do”. [I don’t remember this bit; I hadn’t realised I’d talked back to the supercilious bitch. Good.]

And in a moment of what should have been horror for any young person, that wry smile – infectious when around Pan – spread across my lips; here we had this suicidal teenager who, despite her suffering, still had the audacity and quick-thinking to look a doctor in the eye and calmly tell her that she didn’t understand a word of what she was talking about (though Pan’s mum was naturally mortified).

Who doesn’t love a bit of black humour?

But in all seriousness. I just went with it. When Pan got out of the hospital, we did talk through the issue that had upset her. But we never psychoanalysed her decision to overdose (on ibuprofen? [yes. That makes me cringe now.]). It wasn’t the sort of friendship we had then – again, because it was just normal for me.

If you knew me, you’d know I judge everybody. I can’t help it. It’s a cold part of an unashamedly bitchy streak of mine. I judge people on their clothes, their hair, their reading habits, what music they like, their accents, and the things they say.

With that in mind, the following may be surprising. I think Pandora’s the only person in the world other than my partner that I love unconditionally. As such, she’s one of the few who’s been immune to this cult of judgement – back in school, throughout university, and still today. For her part, she has never formed an judgemental opinion of me, despite supporting/counselling my countless foolish decisions. Perhaps these acts have been made because of some undiagnosed mentally interesting characteristic in my head, I don’t know; as such, either way, I have never formed any judgement on the way she thinks and what she does. Ever. And I never will. I can’t understand the exact thoughts in her head – and again, I probably never will – but I ‘get’ why she has them.

So – growing up with a mental friend? Every day was an adventure. Most days were fabulous. On a daily basis, Pandora painted my dull life with beautiful colours. No one has ever made me laugh as much as her. She knows me inside out – in ways that, almost terrifyingly, I do not know her [you do, my dear. Believe me, you do].

Did I know how mental she was? Yes. Definitely yes.

What could I do about it? Not a lot. But I hope I was one of the things in her life that at least didn’t exacerbate the problem. Although thinking about it…curtain pole/teacher stalking/rollerblading late at night/”Shinobi”-wise – I totally did, didn’t I? [Indubitably. But in the most hilarious and uplifting way possible ūüôā]

To what extent has a physical separation impacted upon your friendship with the mental, if at all?

I don’t like it very much. But I know “the mental”, as she so eloquently puts it, very well in different ways. Her blog outlines in detail what she is up to, so on a very cosmetic level I know how she’s getting on [or did, until I took an unannounced hiatus. Explanations and more for that next week]. And I understand a lot better now what she’s thinking. So that’s nice.

Fundamentally Pandora has always behaved exactly the same with me, so when I see her, we click back in. Since I have been away she has developed her relationship with A, who is now also a good friend, so it’s been great to get to know them as a couple and have – to an extent – a more traditionally ‘civilised’ friendship.

Mental wise? Her condition certainly seems to be to be more complicated now – but then, I read about it on a screen. If she were to talk to me about it face to face – and we have done so, on some issues – it is/would be no different to how she communicated things to me when we were children/teenagers. Still, this blog certainly allows us to have a ‘conversation’ (about mental health) that is often made more difficult in person. But I imagine that’s because of the context, therapy, drugs, triggers etc etc – inevitably, analysis of such difficult issues is more easily tackled in the written word, no matter how close the relationship.

How do you reconcile the teenager you knew with the depths of the person you now do?

Right – I have touched on this a little bit. But she’s very, very similar. Pan has always been deep, though perhaps she is much more considered now in how she speaks. I don’t witness her highs or lows, since I see her maybe only three times a year, usually in a public setting – so she comes across to me as the same girl. And often we will reminisce, so we talk a lot about us as children.

But now, what’s interesting to me is how rather than reacting angrily to her mental health difficulties in the way she might have perhaps done as a teenager – she actually uses them for something constructive. It’s quite inspiring actually.

Perhaps some of the people who read this blog have a certain schadenfreude about the terrifying thoughts that go through Pan’s head and how she reacts to them…But she’s really not a dramatic person. She’s calm, caring, thoughtful, considerate and although she does like the occasional bit of recognition for a job well done, this blog doesn’t exist to win awards or amass some sort of international recognition, or whatever. Rather, it’s to help three groups of people.

  1. Pan – to keep a diary of her progression and an archive of how she is feeling after certain therapy session and/or drug cocktails
  2. To help people like me who are ignorant about mental ill health understand that sufferers are ordinary people leading extraordinary lives
  3. To provide information and a forum for people who are suffering – so they know they are not alone.

She wouldn’t have had the balls to do this as a teenager – no one I knew would have, and most wouldn’t now. To take something like mental illness – something that can be so powerful and destructive – and harness it into something that has been described by influential types in the mental health sector as “beautiful” is, in my mind, the mark of an exceptionally gifted woman.

This side to her, although I knew it was there in ways…well. I don’t think I could have ever imagined from knowing her as a teenager that she had all the facets and experiences that led to the persona we all now know as Pan…Does that make sense? [very much so. I didn’t know this…entity, I suppose, of Pandora existed until relatively recently either]. The Ang Sang Su Chi/Eva Peron/Catherine the Great of the Madosphere? We’ll see [don’t be so melodramatic!!!].

The mental is, of course, mental. As a writing professional yourself – knowing that the mental narcissictally proclaims herself a writer – do you that think she has any realistic occupational prospects in this arena (be honest)?

Ok – she has won more awards than most well-known or full-time writers, and turns in copy that is tidier and requring less editing that the majority of journalists I work with.

But writing is a big job description.

The issue here is in confidence. I can only speak for myself in my own job. I have to attend networking events in rooms with dozens of suits I don’t know, attend dinners and sit at tables with people I’ve never met – and talk to them. I have to interview executives in their offices, over the phone, speak to PRs and have hideous corporate lunches – daily.

Pan would hate all of this shit. [I would…most assuredly, I would].

I had to write a 3,000 word feature once on bio-degradable microwavable packing (I can send you it to read if you want [I cracked up at this. Please send it. It sounds incredible!]) as a freelance piece when I was looking for a job – and I can’t imagine her ever doing this.

But, and I really don’t want to sound patronising here, she has a hell of a lot of raw talent and will dedicate herself to something – but only if she’s passionate about it.

I would LOVE to see her have a regular column in a paper or magazine, edit a serious mental health journal, or – dare I say it – write a book.

This is probably where the future lies – but I know she’s already talking to editors, making strides and breaking into the wider arena. I think there is a lot to be hopeful about. It’s just about planning a strategy and working to it, and I’m learning that Pan doesn’t necessarily tend to let things she’s terrified of stop her from doing what she wants, if she really wants something (although she doubted herself…MIND awards anyone? She was petrified of attending the ceremony, yet she threw caution to the wind and just went). [Very true – I was genuinely terrified of attending the event (fucking anxiety), but knew it would be a travesty, both personally and professionally, not to. I’m so glad now that i forced myself to go, of course – but I managed to get through my agitation and enjoy the night, in part, with Daniel’s help ūüôā].

And that, boys and girls, is a rap.

Can I just add here that I am touched and flattered and have a warm fuzzy feeling inside after reading all that Dan has written here. I know he loves me, but it’s always nice to be reminded of it. I love him too ūüôā With a friend like Dan, and a partner like A (whom, obviously, I also love very much), I really have much to be thankful for. You two rock. ~ Pan

The Good, the Bad and the Facades – 2011 in Review Plus Other Garbage

I am not OK. I’m not. Well I suppose I’m not going to run out and top myself or something, but things aren’t exactly sweetness and sodding light (as if they ever are). There are reasons; it’s not just that some mentalist episode has jumped up on me and started to suffocate me (although I may be taking on more stress than a normal thanks to all that’s ongoing), but on the other hand, in part at least, it’s not just ‘normal’ life either. I really don’t want to get into the ins-and-outs of some of the issues, because some of them could have the potential to intrude on the privacy of a friend, and I am most indubitably not willing to do that. All I am willing to say is that what’s happened, by any measurable standard, it is horrible. Really, truly, in-fucking-utterably horrible.

It’s perverse though; the issue to which I’m referring doesn’t impact upon me directly; only via my friend. I actually feel guilty for giving so much of a shit, because it feels like I have no right to intrude upon my friend’s suffering. How dare I let it upset me so much, when it is not me that has to stare the horror of the situation right in its ghastly, twisted face? I’m a bystander to this, and whilst obviously it is natural to wish to support your friends in their hardest times, it also feels crude to feel so gutted for my own reasons.

Some of you will know what I’m talking about, but unless you are the specific friend to whom I’m referring above, please don’t give away any details if you wish to comment. I’m sure you can understand the privacy issues potentially involved, which has become especially important in light of the frankly appalling intrusion of some unscrupulous individuals who have already been harassing my friend.

There have been other issues surrounding the above that could seem trivial in isolation, but which have had the cumulative effect of helping to screw my mind to a 90¬į angle. It isn’t a secret that one of these stressors has been the recent disarray on This Week in Mentalists, but it’s not confined to that. For example, this blog was hacked! Cheeky fuckers! A pox on you you, you lifeless cunts. Shove your discounted Viagra up your (probably flaccid) urethral tubes and eat it out the other side!

But yeah, there’s been more even than that to Piss Pan Off, but it’s late; I’m tired and fed up, and if it’s worth writing about at all, it can wait until another day.

In any case, I don’t think I’ve by any means recovered from the slump I took earlier in December. Lamotrogine has made no fucking difference to my mood, though to be fair I’m still titrating up to a therapeutic dose, and NewVCB has advised that she doesn’t expect it to turn my life around even when that has been achieved.

So. I’m not OK. I saw Christine today, and got a laugh when she described me as “very stable at the moment”. She’s probably reading this (she knows about the Mind Award, so it wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to realise the New Media winner was me) – if so, hello! I’m not having a go at her, but at myself.

It’s this fucking facade that many of us who experiencing mental health issues will be familiar with. You can, perhaps, say that x happened or that your mood is fucked or that you’re being persecuted by something or other, but two things always occur, do they not: one is that, whilst you do not lie, you find adequate language to enable you to play down the potential seriousness of your situation. Secondly, unless you’re in the very worst depression or the most obvious psychosis – in which case, you’re highly unlikely to have bothered going to see your mental health workers anyway – you manage, whether consciously or otherwise, to simply seem less fucked up than you actually are.

Oh well. On another note, Daniel was home over Shitmas. We went out one evening with Mum and A, and, to Dan’s particular delight, had a lovely Indian (Dan’s partner Craig apparently refuses to eat most ethnic foods because their propensity to use certain spices and suchlike scares him. Get your finger out, man!). The next time we met, the two of us had the opportunity to spend some time alone, a circumstance which had not been realised for over a year beforehand. This might seem odd, but this was the first time he and I had conversed directly about the dark revelations contained within this bloggocks about Paedo.

We recalled that I did tell him some things when we were a teenager, but that the full story did not in any significant form emerge. Part of that was due to my dissociation surrounding much of it; part of it was just something I found inevitably difficult to spit out in any detail.

This conversation took place in a rather busy coffee shop, and we therefore spoke in euphemism and metaphor and other devices of linguistic avoidance. That isn’t a bad thing necessarily; it makes it easier for me to talk about it, to have the truth finally ‘out there’ with Dan. This is one of my ever-defining contradictory positions: I don’t believe in the power of language, only the power of linguistic intention. Yet despite this, using the terms “rape” or “sexual abuse” or whatever are nigh on impossible to verbally enunciate; I found that even when I was talking directly about this whole fetid little saga to Paul, my erstwhile therapist, as regular readers may recall.

Whatever the case, as observed, it was good to have the conversation and get it “out there”, face-to-face, between us. I know Dan doesn’t think this, nor do any of the real life personnel that read this vomit-on-a-screen (or even my online friends, for that matter!), but the cloak of the internet could mean that a lot of what I write about here could be tempted to only exist here. Being able to talk about it in person, then, however difficult it can be, has a sliver of catharsis to it.

Anyhow, Dan’s simple but enduring quote that day was, “I hope he [Paedo] dies.” This is a view often posited by A, yet I remain strangely ambivalent about the man’s future. He’s nothing to me.

Next…

Review!

I suppose I should do a review of the year. I usually do, after all. Find the links yourselves via the archives thing on the right if you care; if you have any sense, you don’t, but whatever floats your boat ūüėČ

The Good

  • The therapy with Paul in the first half of the year.
  • The referral to, and the emergence of, Christine (pity I was trying to off myself with helium at the time, but shit happens).
  • An ever improving relationship with my psychiatrist.
  • Venlafaxine at 300mg and the period in the middle of the year, in the wake of that prescription, where I actually felt vaguely like a normal member of the human race.
  • Meeting bourach and Carrie for the first time.
  • Nice shiny award, which I still don’t believe I deserved.
  • The incredible generosity I was afforded at both my birthday and Christmas (yes, even Shitmas!).
  • Professional writing contracts.
  • Editing TWIM (though the glossy shine has been sadly anti-polished off that by some of the decisions that have had to be made recently, and the inevitable upset that has caused).
  • The lovely trips on which A and I went together – Fuerteventura, the cottage, a couple of local-ish hotels.
  • The amazing people that continue to support and care about me via this blog and the related Twitter account.
  • A, my Mum and my wonderful friends – all of those friends, but especially Daniel.

The Bad

  • The unspecifics of everything else.

Meh

The thing is, there have been some genuinely wonderful things that have happened to me in 2011, and in terms of my mental health, I even had a(n all too) brief taste of that elusive, nebulous thing we call recovery. But sitting here, right now – and granted, I am not in a good headspace this evening, which probably makes this an inappropriate time to write, but I don’t really care – I can’t remember the year overall as a good one. Well, OK – I probably don’t know the meaning of the term “good year” anyway, but you know what I mean; everything’s relative.

If the truth be told, I don’t remember an awful lot of the past 12 months; most of it has passed in that dichotomous haze in which time moves simultaneously quickly, in retrospect, and slowly, in the moment. What I will say is that I am grateful for the good, and I’m grateful for the people. The rest of it I’ll be glad to see the bloody back of.

I hope you all had as wonderful a Christmas/Hanukkah/Pagan festival/general time to sit around and eat and drink/whatever as possible, and I wish each and every one of you a peaceful, happy and prosperous 2012. I know that’s an optimistic wish, but the sentiment at least is sincere.

Anyway, I have an article to edit the living fuck out of and I’m fucking wrecked, so I apologise for not proof-reading this and for the likely myriad of punctuation, grammar and other errors. The minimisation of these is not helped by the keyboard on which I am typing, given that my laptop decided to die a week ago ūüė¶ So sorry. Anyway, take care and, again, all the best for the new year.

Love to all. x

EDIT: I almost forgot! I had an article in One in Four‘s winter edition, rounding up my favourite blogs. An addendum to the piece states that the links will be available on the magazine’s site; I can’t see it yet, but you might want to check this page at some point in the future if you’re interested. Or, you know, show your support for the publication and just buy the thing. Either way, if I regularly read your blog, you’re probably featured ūüôā x

The Darker Side of Speaking Up

AWARDHAIR!!!1!!!!11!!!eleven!!!six!My hair has arrived for the awards ceremony. Do you like it?

Initially, I was unsure as to whether I could even go¬†to the ceremony. After all, I would probably be the only person there that writes under a¬†pseudonym, since most of the nominees are from the world of the more traditional media – papers, telly, radio and suchlike. Even amongst the ‘New Media’ short-listees (if that’s a word), as far as I know I’m the only person responsible for a nomination that’s anonymous.

However, I had a quick word on Twitter with some of the lovely folks at Mind – and they, in conjunction with their PR people, are coming up with an anonymity masterplan! I can’t say how delighted this made me, and how very kind of them to¬†accommodate¬†such a bizarre request! So Cinderella will go to the ball after all ūüôā I don’t expect to win anything, don’t get me wrong, but to be short-listed for such a¬†prestigious¬†award is such a big deal to me that simply being there will be amazing. A is coming with me, as is my best friend Daniel and, all being well, a fellow mental health blogger. If there’s enough room, I can even bring two more people ūüôā

So, mentalists of the UK. If you’re kicking about in the general area of the Home Counties in late November and fancy a pale ale or three with a sad blatherer with a Pot Noodle fetish, feel free to give me a shout. We’ll be in Laaaaaahhhhaaaandaaaaaahhhhnnnnn from Saturday 26th to Wednesday 30th November. Monday night is out, as it’s the awards ceremony, and on at least one of the other days I’ll be meeting a friend, but there’s flexibility in the latter if anyone is amenable to a Mini Mad-Up.

Anyway, speaking of Mind, I have a guest post over on their blog today entitled Speaking Out is the Only Way to End Stigma¬†(see here). Although the title mirrors what I talked about in my last post, I’ve actually looked at the issue of stigma from the other side of the coin than that which I previously discussed here. I thought I’d quote it here too, for your dubious delectation:

I consider myself a fortunate person, in that there are a wonderful ‚Äď and rather diverse ‚Äď range of people that I have the privilege of calling my friends. Generally, I’ve been very open with them and my relatives alike about my mental health difficulties ‚Äď but there’s one group with whom, until recently, I tended to keep my mouth shut.

My partner is partially sighted, and as such his primary education was delivered in a school specialising in teaching children with visual (VI) and auditory impairments. After being reunited with a number of his schoolmates in his adulthood, I was pleased to also make their acquaintance, and am glad to report that I now consider them my friends too.

One thing that repeatedly surprised me about these otherwise lovely people, though, was their attitudes to my mental illness. They are open about their disabilities around the dinner table and, more formally, they vocally demand reasonable adjustments at work, raise money for related charities, and have been known to campaign politically on VI related issues such as traffic calming and electronic accessibility. I think it’s brilliant.

You can tell there’s a ‘but’ coming, can’t you? Here it is. In my view, if you are pro-disability rights ‚Äď as every right-thinking person should be ‚Äď then you should be inclusive about the meaning of the term ‘disability’. Unfortunately, mental health problems can represent potentially very severe disabilities, just as physical ones can.

This is something my friends didn’t seem to realise. I remember one night, over dinner, after they had been talking about VI issues, I shifted the subject subtlety with the intention of talking about the barriers I, also, had faced in terms of my disability. The specifics are lost to the passing of time, but I think I was alluding to the HR problems I’d faced during a depression-fuelled absence from work.

My commentary, delivered in my usual matter-of-fact tone, was met with a stony, almost horrified silence. People started staring at their food or fiddling with their wedding rings. An approaching waiter reversed back into the kitchen, having felt the tension emanating from our group. And all the while I sat there, genuinely mystified, thinking, ‚Äúwhat did I say?!‚ÄĚ Lest I ruin the rest of the evening, though, I decided to keep schtum thereafter, and eventually someone (quite deliberately) changed the subject, and things moved on.

That was several years ago, but if I’m brutally honest, the episode still cuts me to the core when I let myself think about it. Why is someone else’s disability considered more socially ‚Äúacceptable‚ÄĚ than mine? Why do mental health conditions still exist only in the realm of whispered taboo and under-the-carpet brushing?

This was only my second proper encounter with the stigma that continues to permeate discussions pertaining to mental health (or lack thereof). I don’t blame my friends personally: they are a product of a society and culture that remains scared of and ill-informed about psychiatric disorders, and they’re far from alone.

My first significantly prejudicial experience was in my most recent job (mentioned above), in which I had initially gone off sick with ‚Äúdepression‚ÄĚ. This was deemed a common and ordinary complaint by my employers, but when my condition failed to improve and I was eventually diagnosed with, initially, borderline personality disorder and bipolar type II (now changed to complex PTSD and either bipolar I or schizoaffective disorder ‚Äď go me!), their attitudes mysteriously changed. Oh, we really were in mental territory there, weren’t we? They couldn’t have that, now could they?

(I’m being slightly unfair here, as when I was eventually dismissed, I had been absent over a year ‚Äď my leaving the organisation was therefore both legal and fair. However, the paradigm shift between their tolerance before and after my diagnoses was very evident).

Rather than incite meekness, however, if anything these two incidents encouraged me to speak out more about my mental health troubles, as I wrote about in my World Mental Health Day post¬†here. It started off by writing ‚Äď anonymously ‚Äď on¬†my blog¬†(I still write pseudonymously, incidentally, but that’s because I have no choice but to protect some key personnel discussed therein), but in time I found myself openly discussing mental health in ‘real life’ too. Besides those already discussed, I only remember one particularly negative reaction ‚Äď when explaining to a friend of my boyfriend’s that I was not working due to ‚Äúbeing mental,‚ÄĚ he replied, ‚Äúis that ‘I Can’t Be Bothered With Work-Itis’ then?‚ÄĚ Not a pleasant comment by any means ‚Äď but by and large, people have been accepting, willing to listen and mostly sympathetic. I even revealed the severity of my psychotic and dissociative symptoms to an ignorant and rather set-in-their-old-fashioned-ways aunt and uncle recently; I was quite surprised when they didn’t back away in petrified horror, but instead proffered me their genuine good wishes and a listening ear.

Again, though, there’s a ‘but’. Two, actually. Firstly, it is not easy to be so unabashed about this subject to other people (particularly, I would suggest, acquaintances or strangers ‚Äď you have no clues to enable you to gauge what their reaction might be). As a general rule, I’m remarkably passive in the arena of ‘real life’, but I am both blessed and cursed in having something of a bolshy streak when I feel I’m being treated unfairly, and I think it’s that force that has driven me to speak up. Secondly, even though I have received a number of pretty positive reactions to my disclosures, stigma still exists. There are still those who demonise us as loons or scroungers who should be locked up in an asylum or get back to work, respectively (though, of course, many people with a mental health problem do work). Admitting to mental health issues in such circumstances can seem like a dangerous thing to do.

I think, though, that there is ultimately good news. As many people familiar with Mind will know, the¬†Time to Change¬†campaign has been¬†granted¬†another four years’ worth of funding, which means that the¬†very meaningful¬†in-roads the initiative has already made can be further built upon.

As Time to Change¬†says, we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about mental health. I know it’s easy for me, an anonymous stream of words on a blog post, to say, but I really believe that speaking out is one of the key ways in which we can break down the societal barriers we’re presently forced to face. And although it sounds na√Įvely simplistic, if people refuse to be educated on the subject, if they make active decisions to remain prejudiced and wilfully ignorant, well ‚Äď it really is their problem, and not ours. We deserve respect. We don’t deserve to have to hide behind a wall of silence.

Oh, and my visually impaired friends? One got a job in mental health training, and now often shares my material at work. Another recently ran a fund-raising event for a mental health charity. Most importantly to me personally is that, after a lot of determined ‚ÄúI am going to talk about this,‚ÄĚ they are now willing to openly discuss my difficulties with me.

Proof, to me, that negative attitudes can change.

And, despite it all, I think that’s true. Feel free to share your experiences, either here or (preferably) on the Mind post itself (since it is likely to have a more diverse audience).

I was supposed to have finished writing about my last stint of therapy with Paul by today, but as you can see I’ve failed. Not that that should surprise you; it certainly doesn’t surprise me. I have no excuse really; I’ve been reading a lot, and doing a bit of my own writing, but that’s about it really. I’ll try to do the two outstanding posts this week, but this time I won’t promise.

My Mum has found out about the awards. It was entirely my fault, so I shouldn’t whinge too much about it. She still doesn’t know the specifics involved, though, and I actually came right out to her and told her I didn’t want her reading my writing because “a lot of it is very personal.”

She said, “to your present life – or your earlier one?”

A curious question, I felt. Why would she even consider the latter. given her lay understanding of mental health difficulties?

I said, feigning a typical¬†nonchalance, “oh, you know. Everything.” Then I changed the subject, and that was that. To be on the safe side, though, I’ve blocked her IP address ūüėČ

Not much else to report. Not seeing NewVCB until 9th November, so no new medication(s) as yet. I can’t remember at all the date of my next appointment with Christine, so will have to bloody ring¬†the CMHT for clarification. In non-mental news, I’m off to Newcastle-Upon-Tyne next weekend for a football (watching, that is) weekend with the lads. I can’t afford it, but I’m going anyway. Cross your fingers for the Toon, please!

Anyway, folks, I’ll catch up properly next week. I hope you’re all well.

Love Pan ‚̧ x

Action

I stand outside, chain-smoking, shaking – with fear and trepidation, rather than cold – and pray to a God I don’t believe in for this not to be happening. The wind appropriately spins through the leafy trees, as if giving them ethereal, sinister words, though their content is not understood by my ears.

A shaky voice speaks that, although alien to me, sounds somehow like my own. It quivers through various relevant and, seemingly, irrelevant minutiae to an efficient voice down a telephonic receiver. The efficient voice is punctuated by pauses during which its owner is heard to speedily type notes into a computer network, in preparation – or, at least, I hope in preparation – for action.

The exact nature of that action? Only time will tell, and time has not yet been kind enough to pass. On the other hand, the more time allows itself to pass slowly, painfully, the more I can delude myself that we have time. But I am not, truly, convinced that we do.

Tick tock. Tick tock. That innocent, everyday noise, so subtle in its levels of sound, so often forgotten in the passing of ordinary living, is made deafening, infernal and loathesome.

I wait. I worry. I worry both for the valid reasons I have acted, and also for the massive betrayal I have just enacted in taking that action. What I have done, whilst probably objectively morally right, has involved the conscious and deliberate betrayal of a good and close friend. My conscious and deliberate betrayal of my good and close friend.

Does life matter to me more than friendship? In this case, it does. But the distress that I feel, although selfish, eats at my soul, such as my soul is. At what point does betraying our friends’ trust in us become ethically justified? At what point does my own hypocrisy fail to matter to me? Who can rightfully decide to be the potential arbiter of another’s fate, and why do they presume the right to be so?

It seems cold, calculated even, to write this right here, right now. To a morally sound populace, I should probably be taking more action, even if that action centres around betrayal. But I have tried every avenue possible to address this – or, at least, every avenue of which I am aware. My options seem exhausted. All that can remain is for me to wait. To re-overcome my terror of the phone, and re-contact the efficient voice to see if action has been taken. To see if that action has produced a favourable – or, indeed, otherwise – result.

The action that will probably destroy a friendship, but may save a life.

The action that may not save that life, thus rendering the destruction of that friendship anyway. My supposedly morally necessary betrayal may have been too late.

Either way, I wait. Just wait, typing this pretentious and self-important yet completely earnest and, to me, appropriate bilge, not knowing what else to do with my fingers, my mind, my anything.

Tick tock.

I am not prone to cryptic prose, and I am particularly not prone to writing in the present tense. In fact, it is a linguistic convention that wholly pisses me off. I don’t know what came over me in writing the above and I am glad I waited before I published it.

I’m sure you can gather the basics of the situation I found myself in tonight (yesterday, whatever). A friend expressed possible suicidal intent, although admittedly the content was potentially ambiguous. A mutual friend and I tried to contact this person in innumerate ways – text messages, Facebollocks, Twitter, and even, yes, the bloody phone.

Nothing was forthcoming until, sometime after 11pm, my dear, loving friend sent a message to our mutual friend, which removed all possible ambiguity from the situation. The writing and tone of the message suggested to me – yeah, me, that fucking expert on human fucking psychology – that our friend had perhaps already taken something lethal. At the very least, it seemed that such an eventuality was imminent.

So. I took action. I called the police.

I was on the phone, trembling both out of fear for my friend’s life and, pathetically selfishly, over my overwhelming phone phobia. To my chagrin, I spoke to an officer for nearly 20 minutes. 20 fucking minutes, whilst my friend could be out there, dying, as we spoke.

I remained civil and obedient, however, and dutifully if shakily answered all the questions that the woman on the other end asked of me. Eventually she gave me a reference number, advised that a team had been dispatched to my friend’s house, and said I could call back later to see how things had gone.

Then I waited, listening to that bloody clock and its fucking tick tocking. Who knew that such a benign sound could be transmogrified into something so ugly?

Anyway, in the meantime I rang our mutual friend; let’s call her Jen. Not something, as you know, that I’d normally be inclined to do, but Jen seemed to be the only one that could understand this whole, horrible living nightmare. Our shared terror somehow served to…not comfort me, exactly, but make me feel less alone.

Conversation completed, I returned to my waiting. I didn’t want to call the cops again too soon and them have no news for me, but about an hour after I’d rang off with them the first time, I gave in and dialled their number for the second time. I spoke to a friendly bloke that advised me that my friend had been at home, hadn’t actually tried to commit suicide but had indeed admitted to feeling depressed. My friend – B, let’s say – told them that B’s next-of-kin would be with B all night, and that B would go to B’s GP first thing in the morning.

The cops said that as far as they’re concerned B is safe. I hope and trust that this is correct.

Panic about B’s suicide hopefully over, though, I am now (even more) mulling over the consequences of what I have done. B surely hates me. I would hate me. I betrayed B; B explicitly stated that B didn’t want any search parties, and I just sent the fucking cops round.

Good call, Pan. You fucking bitch.

All I can say, B, if you’re reading this, is that I did it out of love and concern for you. You are not the burden, the mess, that you think you are. You are strong, smart, witty, kind and caring, selfless, achingly good-looking and very, very talented. You have been a wonderful friend to me, and I’m sorry that I have not reciprocated, both tonight and in the past.

I can’t, won’t and don’t blame you for hating me. I’m a hypocrite and a Judas. But your life has so much value, even if you can’t see that right now. So I acted on instinct and decided to take that life into my hands. I’m sorry for being so presumptuous, so self-important, that I felt I had to take your control and agency away from you.

But I hope you can maybe see, later if not now, that I did it out of love for you, and in recognition of your value on this plane. Words, mere words, I know. They don’t make up for betraying the privilege of your trust. The sentiments behind them, however, are sincere.

For now – forever – be safe. xxxx

marketing

Feeling Sorry for One's CPN

This pseudo-recovery thing has its downsides. I miss writing this blog with the frequency that I used to, and yet when I sit down to knock out a few (a few! Me?! As if!) paragraphs, the will to do so seems to vanish. I think it’s not so much that I miss the actual writing, although now that I’m actually doing so I can entertain the notion that there’s an element of that, but more ruefulness about the lack of a finished product – the completed posts and the resulting frame of personal reference, and the comments and the resulting support. Some of you have been lovely enough to state that you miss my former regular writing too. I’m sorry about that; it just feels like there’s very little to say at the minute, other than to harp endlessly on meetings with Paul. Of course, confronting the therapy session reviews that the blog is owed in its own self-styled way – now four in total – means remembering said sessions. And remembering risks feeling. That’s a sort of scary prospect when you’re playing with a fragile sense of sanity.

That said though, I have determined that before the end of this week, I will catch up on at least two of them. So if you don’t see at least ‘Paul – Weeks 19 and 20’ by, say, Sunday evening, please feel free to bollock me senseless.

I saw Christine last week. In many ways it was an inconsequential appointment (not that that’ll stop 4,024,203 words spewing out on the subject), in that very little had changed since my previous encounter with her. I said so, then just looked stupidly at her, trying desperately, and failing miserably, to think of something further to say to her.

In the end, I referred to the suggested writing projects to which she had alluded in the previous meeting. I was very good and contacted quite a few of the mental health charities – Northern Irish, Irish and British. Christine was delighted with this turn of events. I suppressed a smug smile and neglected to inform her that I’d only fired off the emails that morning so as I wouldn’t take a bollocking from her. Granted, she doesn’t seem the type to start bollocking people, but in NHS mental health services, one can never be sure. I’ve learnt that the difficult way.

Incidentally, I’ve had two replies to my emails – one from the Mental Health Foundation, and one from the ever-excellent Rethink. The MHF kindly tweeted about my blog, and Rethink have suggested either writing* blog entries for them, or contributing to their magazine, Your Voice. As a Rethink member, I’ve read said periodical for a few years now, and have often thought of submitting a piece to it – the problem was, and still is, identifying a meaningful topic. I just spout dribble here, for the most part, and that seems kind of inappropriate for such a publication. The idea of blogging for them is really cool, especially as there’s an outside chance of becoming a regular guest writer – the same issue applies, though. I’ll have to consider what I may want to write about carefully.¬†So as yet I’ve not replied to Rethink (if you’re reading this, nice Rethink people, I apologise); I want to formulate some ideas that would be worth their audience’s time. When I have done this, I’ll submit them and cross my fingers.

[* I know I said above that as soon as I sit down to write here, my muse fades (it frankly runs and hides in cavernous holes at times). Why would writing for Rethink be any different? I think that maintaining my own account of things is the most important thing I can do but, at the same time, doing something – writing included – for someone else makes it more…urgent? Of utilitarian value? Full of drive, perhaps? Whatever the case, there is something behind it that, if I can identify the right subject(s), will spur me on. But I won’t neglect my old friend Confessions, I promise. Not any more than I’m presently doing, anyway ūüė¶ Nasty Pan :(]

Anyhow, back to Christine. She was seemingly thrilled that I had “taken the initiative” (an odd expression to behold when it was she, not me, that had suggested the aforementioned course of action) and that it was a “really positive step” symbolising my taking some responsibility in this odd venture towards some sort of mental health. Or some old faff like that (sorry, but I don’t remember sessions with her or NewVCB in the level of detail that I do for therapy, as I never take notes on them in their immediate¬†aftermath). I suppose that I am meant to welcome her enthusiasm, but frankly I don’t. I am terrified that if she and/or NewVCB are under the impression that I’m ‘well’, that they’ll discharge me from Services. I’m well-er (there’s a new word for you) than I was; that much is evident to anyone who’s been in contact with me over the last few months (whether in real life, or here in the e-ther). But I am far from recovered. As NewVCB once put it, I remain a “very disturbed young girl” (given that I’ll be 28 this year, I dispute the use of the word ‘young’ ((and perhaps even the word ‘girl’)), but perhaps that’s not something about which I should complain too much). No, this is a good period – but I don’t know how stable ‘good periods’ are, or are meant to be. I’ve never had one in these kind of circumstances (ie. going through/having been through therapy) before.

Christine claimed that I was looking well. I thanked her for lying, and was rather taken aback when she seemed to be amused by this response. I was wearing a black dress and sandals; for some reason, this was deemed to be significant.

One thing you have probably guessed about me but which I haven’t, to the best of my recollection, stated explicitly before, is that I am about as far from domesticated as my ancestral amoeba were. Probably even more removed from domesticity than that. I occasionally cook (I can rustle up quite a nice, vaguely take-away standard hot curry when I put my mind to it) and throw clothes in the washing machine, but I do absolutely fuck all else about the house (and before someone asks, no: A doesn’t normally do it for me. He does his own stuff and that’s that).¬†This includes giving a flying green shit about my clothes. They’re piled up in a huge box in the kitchen where I throw them to get them out of my way. On this occasion, the black dress was on the top of the pile; it was not chosen as some measure of a welcome of spring or some such other o’er-prosaic wank. ‘Twas a confluence of events assured entirely by the forces of Random Luck.

“Does wearing [the dress] increase your confidence?” Christine asked, grinning from ear to ear like something out of a Lewis Carroll novel.

“No,” I replied, puzzled by the question. “Why would it?”

She made some dull remark about ‘dressing up’ or something. I laughed in her face (sort of, but less cynically than I’ve tended to do with others in the CMHT. After all, she doesn’t know me that well yet) and advised that I could be wearing a bin bag or Kate fucking Middleton’s wedding dress (which, incidentally, was underwhelming, not that I give a toss – you just couldn’t avoid encountering such things with the media in this country being such utter bellends) and I wouldn’t feel any different. It’s not that I think I’m hideously ugly or anything – it’s just that one piece of clothing is much like another to (and on) me.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned that A and I are going on holiday later this month; I imparted this information to Christine, too. The usual pre-holiday question, reasonably enough, ensued; how do I cope with being away, being in a new place, blah blah? I confessed that whilst I am very much looking forward to the trip, I feel a subtle but definite amount of apprehension about going somewhere completely new. Last year, we went back to Turkey as we’d done the year previously, so I bore no such concerns – this year, it’s Fuertaventura, which is an unknown quantity. The reports from friends and from our own investigations are splendid, but I cannot be certain that they are accurate until I have experienced the place myself. As you know, unknowns scare me.

I told her so, and she offered to see me before I went left Norn Iron – which is within a shorter timescale than the gaps my meetings with her have been hitherto – so that was a good thing. Generous and thoughtful of her, I thought. I am to obtain additional Diazepam from the quacks should I need it, she says (not that that’s going to happen, as the chances of me seeing Lovely GP before 21st May is virtually nil. All the patients know that he is good and that the others are cock, so he’s booked up for weeks on end). Take Zopiclone in case my sleep is fucked. The usual really.

I said that one concern is that, whilst the travel insurance company are aware that I’m mental, the actual insurance doesn’t cover psychiatric issues of any description. We could have bought it, but it put the premium up by an absolute fuckload, and whilst it’s a peace of mind issue, on the balance of probability I’m not likely to have an episode that would require acute treatment, so it didn’t seem worthwhile to procure it. Christine, like myself, is of the view that the holiday is more likely to relax me than anything else and that if I’m going to go doolally all over again, then it’s not likely to be then. Well, fingers crossed.

She mentioned that she’d been to Fuertaventura and that it was “lovely”. I asked her what part, but in her reminiscing, she forgot to answer my question properly – not that I minded. She talked of her hotel and how it was a good bit outside a town.

“I like to go to quiet places,” she murmured quietly and reminiscently. “I travel on my own, so I like it to be…well, quiet, you know.”

I nodded expressionlessly, but I suddenly felt overwhelmed by a sense of great sadness. Here is this ordinary but good woman, in my estimation genuinely trying to help people rather than just earn a living, and she seems to be alone in the world. (She could have a husband/wife/partner and travel alone, yes, but is it really likely?). That isn’t fair. I mean, I know life’s not fair, but really. I hate the injustice of that. There are so many epic, epic twats – twats of arrogance, or of bigotry, or of whatever – out there that sport some bint or some dick on their arms and live long, contented, 2.4 nuclear perfected lives together. Then there are lovely, sincere, down-to-Earth people who are kicked in the face with sand by life. Fuck that.

I mean, maybe she’s gratefully alone; it happens, after all. But her body language, her lack of eye contact, the wistful way in which she spoke – I’m not so sure. And what can I say to her? How can I admit to this sense of profound sadness, regret and even on-her-behalf longing? She’s my CPN, not the other way around! So I cowardly lowered my head, and waited for the subject to move forward.

What has gotten into me? This whole craic of pity doesn’t sit well with my ‘Hard Bitch’ attitude (an attitude which, I was told today by Paul, I have never had. Paul met me when I was 26. I met me when I was 0, which strikes me as being a considerable head-start on what he has. So why does he profess, apparently in earnest, to think contrary to my own assessment?!). It must be a whole pre-30, slightly-more-than-third-life crisis thing. Or maybe I’m still just completely batshit mad, and managing to do a good job of disguising it, even to myself.

Anyway, for some reason we ended up having a discussion regarding Zopiclone. I admitted to her that I receive repeat prescriptions of it, but (perhaps not entirely surprisingly) I¬†omitted¬†the detail that this was simply down to an administrative error. This led Christine to believe that it was a doctor-sanctioned thing. Which, when you think about it, it is – technically. I mean, someone has to sign the monthly scripts, right? And anyway, I didn’t lie to her. And lies of omission don’t count. Because I said so, in case you’re wondering why.

The long and the short of the conversation was that I have an absolute shitload of Zopiclone lying about the place. As I told her, this is because one of these days the GPs’ practice will realise I’ve been receiving a repeat prescription of the stuff since the dawn of time (or at least since NewVCB prescribed it on a one-basis last year, anyway) and desist my allowance of it forthwith. She frowned slightly and, a trepidatious concern lacing her words, said, “you’re not planning to take an overdose with them, are you?”

I wanted to laugh at the suggestion, but I managed to control myself and instead shot her a wry smile.

“Most certainly not,” I assured her.

She raised her right eyebrow questioningly.

“I suppose I could OD if I wanted to self-harm, but it’s not at all my MO,” I told her, probably a little too matter-of-factly. “If I want to do myself in, however, believe me – there are more efficient, more reliably lethal, more peaceful methods than a few too many Zopiclone.

“But,” I added, realising I was making myself sound like I was her intellectual, psychiatrically-aware superior, “I’m sure you know that anyway.”

She ignored my secondary dictum and asked, “are you still having suicidal thoughts?”.

“Of course,” I replied, incredulous at the idea that I might not be thus afflicted. “How could I not be?”

She asked me about the severity and nature of them, I answered her honestly, blah de blah. “Basically it’s just everyday fantasy,” I concluded.

“‘Everyday fantasy’,” she repeated. “I know we had this conversation before, but it seems worth exploring again – you do know that suicidal ‘fantasy’ [the word was spoken with heavy…I don’t know. Irony?] is not…it’s not…normal for most people?”

She was right; we have had this discussion before. But I just can’t believe it. How can anyone not at least have some daily suicidal thinking, even if it doesn’t translate into exact, in-depth plans? How is that even remotely possible? It just does not compute on any level in my mind.

Christine, however, assured me that it is indeed the case. “Most” people, apparently, do not live with daily (or even less frequent) suicidal ideation to any extent.

In return, I assured her that I had no active plans to catch the bus, and that is indeed a truthful account of circumstances as they stand. But I don’t think I will ever not have at least peripheral suicidality permeating my mind. I truly don’t know anything different, and – AGAIN – I don’t believe in cures for mentalness. As long as such ideation is mere fantasy, though, I presume that I should interpret it as a mental health win.

A few further questions ensued, mainly about getting out of the house. I try to avoid it, meh. But you do do it? If I really have to, yes. Do you see friends much? No. Why? One lives in London, one works two jobs, something always happens to prevent my meeting a third (the ‘somethings’ have become increasingly ridiculous over time. It’s now a bit of a running joke between us). But! Hark. I am meeting said third friend (Aaron, if you care) on Monday after therapy. That’s great! Is it? Yes. But it’s…well, it’s ordinary. People meet their mates all the time. It can be ordinary, but when you’ve been as isolated as you have, it’s actually a really good step forward. Um…OK.

I did meet Aaron today and it went well, as it always does when we manage to circumnavigate fate and actually get to fucking see each other. There is little to report here, though, because as I said – meeting a friend is¬†ordinary. Normals do this all the time. I rarely do. I like Christine, but I’d rather she’d just have call a spade a spade. Fuck the terms ‘isolation’ and suchlike – just say that it’s not ordinary for a mental, but that it is for normals. That’s what she meant, after all. I know that I’m not a normal, and I don’t mind that. It’s OK.

A final matter that was addressed was, unsurprisingly, Paul. I reiterated to her that despite the views of “some” (namely her and NewVCB, but I couldn’t bring myself to be so direct; it would have felt accusatory), the impending end of my Nexus therapy was not about feeling “abandoned” or some old wank like that.

Instead:

“There has been a lot of productive work done with him. I therefore know that the therapy works. However, there’s an awful lot still to do. By Paul’s [and, indeed, the general literature’s]¬†own admission, this kind of trauma therapy should be conducted over two or three years. To use his terms, my…issues…were severe, systematic and long-term. That can’t be adequately dealt with in 26 weeks. So I’m¬†regretful¬†of the fact that things are drawing to a close, because I know it helps, and I know that it could continue to help.”

I went on to tell her that Paul had suggested that once week 26 has been and gone that I wait a few months, then simply go back to Nexus. “Which is good,” I conceded, “but I’ve convinced myself that despite Paul’s best intentions, it won’t happen and I’ll be therapeutically fucked. Again.” (Actually, I’m sure I didn’t use the word ‘fuck’ in the meeting; I’ve yet to make my assessment on how acceptable such parlance is to her. But you know what I mean).

“I’m sure he wouldn’t say that if he didn’t honestly feel that it was going to happen,” she offered.

“I know, I know, but…bah, I just can’t convince myself of it.”

She nodded sympathetically. “Have you any plans for those months in between the two stints?”

“Well…I was hoping to ask you about this, actually,” I began. For some reason, it felt like I was asking her to sacrifice her (possible) children to Satan, and I started stammering and bumbling like the idiot that I am.

“I…well, I…er…I kind of wondered…um…yes, wondered…well, if maybe…perhaps it would be p-p-possible, just maybe and if not it’s fiiiiine [hideously over-emphasised, thus proving that it is/was not ‘fiiiiine’]…if maybe, y’know…you could…well…see me, meet me…[massive clearance of throat]…I was wondering if I could maybe see you more often during that period than I currently do.”

After all my moronic mumbling, she didn’t take a second to even consider the request. Instead, she¬†immediately¬†nodded – and nodded emphatically. “Of course,” she said. “That would be absolutely no problem at all.” She smiled reassuringly.

Thank God!

And (finally) that was really that. One further thing she did do was try to¬†negotiate an appointment with NewVCB before our holiday – I’ve been asked to attend during the holiday, which is obviously impossible if one is 3,000 miles south of the proposed meeting place. Unfortunately, though, the next appointment isn’t until 8th June – but that’s only a week after we return, so it could’ve been worse. Hopefully NewVCB will have the results of my recent ECG, enabling us to discuss whether or not I should brace myself for a daily hit of 375mg of Venlafaxine.

3,000 odd words to say something really rather simple. Christine is a likeable and gentle person, and despite it being fairly early on in our alliance, I already believe that she wants – and will seek to get, insofar as she can – the best for me. I left her office feeling reassured and pretty positive about my current care team. I hope I’ve judged the current situation well – I’ve been known to fuck things like this up in the past. But I think she is a good thing. I’m pretty confident about it, actually.

And I still feel sorry for her. Which is wrong on so many levels – it shouldn’t be like me, and moreover it isn’t my place to take pity on the woman. She is, after all, her own person with her own agency. But I can’t shake off this sense that she maybe doesn’t have the lot in life that she actually deserves, and that continues to sadden me greatly.

I’m seeing her again on 19th May.

marketing

Obligatory 2010 in Review Post

So, I come to the end¬†of another year as a mental health blogger – and, judging by the¬†fact that I have not given up on the whole endeavour, as I expected¬†I would, I must be doing something that is not¬†quite as shit as the stuff that clings¬†to the pipes leaving the toilet that deals with the majority of my¬†IBS-ridden concerns. At least, I hope that is what it means; I still don’t think much of what I do here,¬†and don’t really understand the moderate success this¬†site.

Anyhow, there is almost fuck all other than this blog to show for another year of respiration, though I have a suspicion that my customary verbosity will disguise that fact admirably in the forthcoming prose. This time last year I wrote a review of the seven months I had then been blogging, and find myself amused that a period of nearly twice the length in question Рie. the 12 months of this year Рis full of much less material of any meaningful worth. I may be able to count this blog as one thing that has been worthwhile in 2010 (and I do), but to be honest, there is almost damn all else.

I mean, 2009 was shit Рbut at least some stuff actually happened.  For instance, I lost my job in a mental health charity for being a mental health charity case. I received my first proper diagnoses, catapulting me to the ranks of a proper mental. I developed psychosis and watched myself sink into a spiral of dissociated mess. I was ordered to murder my baby cousin on Christmas Day. Fun? No.  Not at all. But at least it was vaguely interesting: shit actually took place.  This year, analysing it retrospectively, has been mind-numbingly, uneventfully, unwaveringly dull.

But, re-engaging my narcisssism gear, let me attempt to dissect something of it, in a fashion similar to that employed this time last year.

TEH BAD!!!1!!!!eleven!!!!11!!!!

In 2010, I hated, became frustrated with/annoyed by, and send poxes in the general direction of:

  • my abject¬†failure to kill¬†myself (pathetically, at that) at the¬†start of the year. It wasn’t my finest moment, but it’s a sign of¬†how desperate I was…well, obviously it was a sign of how desperate I was – people don’t¬†tend to attempt suicide because they’re bored or think it will be¬†funny or something. Anyhow, it was not so much the really woefully¬†awful suicide attempt that was such a ‘bad’ thing; it was the¬†infernal, hateful, despicable A&E extravaganza that became the¬†attempt’s incidental and dubious side order. I don’t even think the¬†relevant post captures the overwhelming feeling of one’s brain¬†decaying before one’s very eyes (not literally, obviously. I mean,¬†obviously! But it certainly felt that way on a¬†metaphorical level). Certainly not one of my more enjoyable¬†all-nighters.
  • the cessation of therapy¬†with C. I can’t provide you with a link¬†to a specific post (this takes you to a¬†list of posts about him) because, despite the fact that I was¬†booted out of his care in August, I have still been unable to bring¬†myself to review the final sessions on this blog – or, even, in my¬†own mind. I (audibly) recorded the final (I think) five meetings; my¬†rationale for doing so was that I knew there would be material¬†discussed therein that concerned my lengthy anti-discharge¬†complaint (see below) – stuff that the Trust might well be inclined¬†to deny. Evidence, in other words. It wouldn’t be the first time¬†they’ve tried to lie to me. ¬†Anyway, a by-product of such aural¬†subterfuge was that I had all the material to capably write-up the¬†final sessions – but the thing is, I can’t bring myself to listen¬†to any of it. I accidentally clicked on one file in iTunes the¬†other week, and upon hearing C’s soft voice, to find how much I¬†still reacted. It was a bizarre, indescribable combination of¬†regret, disgust (at him and his employers), longing, bitterness,¬†sadness, hypervigilance and bewilderment. And thus it all remains¬†unwritten – for those of you that seem to derive some sort of¬†vicarious enjoyment from my therapy session reviews, I apologise. ¬†But hopefully the stuff with Paul (see below) suffices?
  • the endlessly circular and frustrating palaver with the¬†Trust¬†complaint and¬†Mr¬†Director-Person. Seriously, what utter,¬†utter cunts. Every time I got a letter from the putridly elf-like¬†Mr D-P I felt violent, primal urges which had hitherto been alien¬†to me. What an unspeakable wanker. Seriously, what a twat! A fucker¬†of the highest order. Bellended fucking cockhead. Bastarding,¬†twatting…Sorry. I could rant all day. Moving on (…), the more¬†he became a jargon-obsessed, targets-driven fuckstain of absolutely¬†evil fuckery of cuntitude, the more tenacious and pissed off¬†I became, to the¬†point where they actually had to take him specifically out of the¬†picture and instead involve Mr Chief Executive. I’m currently¬†waiting on my medical notes detailing my entire psychiatric history¬†and a meeting with an advocate (see below); thereafter, I am taking¬†up an offer from Mr C E to meet the Head of Psychology and the¬†Assistant Director of Mental Health to “discuss the way forward”. I¬†fully intend to win this fight.
  • dealing with¬†the realisations – or, more accurately, dealing with¬†admitting the realisations – of my¬†childhood abuse in¬†therapy. See here,¬†for example. However, I class confessing to C about the sheer¬†extent of things as a positive development, so in that sense see¬†below. The hallucinatory fallout from the admission wasn’t exactly¬†a barrel of¬†laughs, however.
  • the worry¬†that my family had found this blog (which suddenly exploded all¬†over again yesterday). That would have been a disaster of the like I have never¬†experienced…but, through all the clouds of the associated drama,¬†I saw one slither of silver shining through: I will not be silenced¬†because of those arseholes. I’ve banned suspicious IPs from reading¬†and will continue to do so as necessary. If the family¬†are reading, if they don’t like what I¬†write here…well. If they don’t like it then they can go to¬†hell.
  • the fucking DLA changes and the comprehensive¬†spending review. Nearly as effective a manual for suicide¬†as that penned by Geo Stone in 2001.
  • the¬†recollection of the gang¬†rape. It’s always been something on the¬†fringes of my awareness, and I suppose I was compartmentalising –¬†something at which I am highly skilled – and hiding it away. In a¬†sense it’s a good thing that I admitted it to myself (to¬†Paul – see below for more on him), but although I know¬†that intellectually, it was still very, very hard to ruminate¬†on.
  • planning, and un-planning, to¬†kill¬†myself (again) at the start of October. ¬†This is bad from all angles: if you are a¬†nice anti-mentalist who for whatever fucked up reason thinks I am¬†remotely less than shite, then you might be sorry that I so deeply¬†planned this, and that I know exactly how to do it should the¬†compulsion consume me once more. If you’re me then you see it as a¬†bad thing too – I still can’t even end¬†my life successfully. ¬†Another moronic failure of a¬†not-necessarily-difficult task. How much longer will this silly¬†little dance continue?!
  • feeling the effects of¬†the intensity of my new¬†therapy with Paul was difficult. In the¬†long-run, such intense work is a good thing, I’m certain – but in¬†the short-term, it frankly fucking sucks.
  • going mental in¬†Newcastle. ¬†Actually, I look back on this with a certain¬†amount of humour – I mean, an (admittedly, in the grand scheme of¬†things, low level) experience similar to Cotard’s¬†Delusion is quite amusing – but it was¬†horrible at the time. I wrote that post whilst bizarrely feeling¬†quite hypomanic, but shortly afterwards I was lying in a toilet¬†somewhere retching and shaking like the local crack addict going¬†cold turkey. ¬†Not. Nice. At. All.
  • the usual¬†perennial¬†misery of Seasonal Affective¬†Disorder, plus general late-year malaise and more side-effects of¬†therapy.
  • meeting (and having A meet)¬†my¬†alter, a child that I’ve taken to calling¬†Aurora. I hate her. I don’t know what else to say; her¬†manifestation was – and is – an enormous development, but beyond expressing my abhorrence of¬†her, I don’t know what I should discuss on the matter. She sucks. ¬†The end.

TEH GOOD!!!1!!!!eleven!!!!11!!!!

But in 2010, I derived joy, pleasure, satisfaction or hope from:

  • changing¬†my name via deed poll at the start of 2010 – in order that I may be dissociated from V,¬†the human male responsible for a spermatozoa implanting itself into¬†an ovum produced by my mother, and his kin, Georgie and Merv – and¬†am still confident that my decision to do so was the correct one. ¬†My mother hasn’t entirely come to terms with it, and perhaps she¬†never will, but that’s her issue. It is amusing to watch the rest¬†of the family try and almost perpetually fail to remember it. I¬†find myself wondering if they would be so forgetful if I had¬†changed my name through marriage. I¬†suspect that the outdated cunts would not be thus¬†disabled.
  • meeting¬†NewVCB, my new¬†consultant psychiatrist, in¬†January of this year. That first meeting was perhaps¬†slightly dubious, but in fairness it was just after I slit my¬†wrists (see above), so it wasn’t the best time for the encounter to¬†take place. In general, the relationship is a fairly good one, and¬†I do think she wants the best for me.
  • Seroquel, as prescribed¬†by the aforementioned NewVCB in the aforementioned first¬†appointment. Life-saver. Stick your anti-psychiatry wank up your arse; this drug has not only saved me from probable¬†section and possibly a descent into completely florid psychosis, it¬†has also saved my very life. I don’t give a fuck if you think I¬†should be “mindfully breathing” and not accepting “overly¬†pathological” “labels” (a term I loathe with a passion) and the¬†“Big Pharma conspiratorial pushing” of these “mind controlling”¬†drugs. I really could not give less of a fuck. Seroquel has made my¬†life less shit. (Oooh, wah wah, it’s a placebo man, don’t¬†you get it, haven’t you examined the real evidence [yes, that utterly non-biased body of ‘work’ –¬†why, actually,¬†yes – I have!],¬†wah wah wah, gaaaah, mmmmmooooaaaaannnnnn – look: do¬†fuck off, people. The record is stuck and it’s getting fucking¬†boring now. Cheers).
  • another diagnosis: this¬†time of complex¬†post-traumatic stress disorder. I get the impression that¬†NewVCB isn’t entirely keen on the application of what she terms¬†“emotionally unstable personality disorder” (I much prefer the¬†DSM’s ‘borderline’ myself, as in reference to my specific case at¬†least I find it a more accurate description of the condition – not¬†true of all those thus diagnosed, I know). It is, after all, the¬†most stigmatised diagnosis in psychiatric history, for reasons that¬†I still don’t entirely understand. Anyway, being diagnosed as¬†having C-PTSD was a positive thing in the sense that I could¬†perhaps start accepting that maybe the fault, if there indeed¬†is any apportion-able blame, for my¬†turning out as the unemployed and unemployable tosspot that I am¬†lies elsewhere, and is not as internal as I often attempt to¬†portray. (Hmm. That’s easy to say…).
  • lovely¬†blog¬†awards of joy. I don’t write this¬†journal for such recognition, but it’s certainly an honour to have¬†some sort of impact on others’ lives. Firstly I received a¬†runner-up’s prize from Mental¬†Nurse, later a ‘Top 25 PTSD’ Award from Medical Assistant¬†Schools, then in early December a ‘Top Ten Health Blog‘ award from¬†Blogger’s Choice Awards and finally, completing the circle, more¬†from Mental¬†Nurse in the form of first place for both the¬†“Personality Disorders” and “Psychotherapy” categories (there were¬†a few others along the¬†way, too). I can’t work out what I’ve done to deserve¬†these, but I’m delighted and humbled nevertheless. In all sincerity¬†– thank you.
  • admitting¬†to C just how chronic and systematic my¬†experiences of child sex abuse at the hands of my uncle had been. I¬†mean, putting it into actual, verbal¬†words. I had been completely incapable of saying what needed to be¬†said for weeks (arguably months, arguably even years), and finally¬†doing so felt like an achievement for some reason. It’s just a¬†shame that when I was finally able to let him peel back all those¬†nefarious layers that he kicked me out of therapy. Cheers,¬†NHS!
  • this blog¬†celebrating its¬†first birthday in May. Yay! I’m still so glad started to write it.
  • a holiday! Yay yay ūüėÄ
  • the¬†Mad Up – a carnival wherein¬†a range of UK mental health bloggers descended upon a London park¬†and, later, a London pub, to meet the faces behind the writings. It¬†was truly a privilege to meet such an amazingly courageous and¬†charismatic group of people, and I enjoyed their company immensely.
  • PAUL!!!!! A similar yet¬†somehow distinctly different type of therapist to C, Paul is¬†very, very definitely A Good Thing. I knew that as soon as I first¬†met him, and the consensus from my A, my friends and¬†those of you that comment here seems to be universally in his¬†favour. I consider myself very fortunate to have met him,¬†especially when I had been so (unfairly) dubious about the Nexus¬†Institute.
  • telling¬†Paul that my abusers psychologically tortured me too. I¬†had told A of this, but I had been¬†drinking on that occasion – discussing it verbally in an entirely¬†sober state was something of an achievement, I felt, even though I¬†can’t quite work out why that is my view.
  • Twitter and the¬†Madosophere, once again. This year I’d¬†particularly like to thank bourach at Conversations With My Head, Phil¬†Groom, the artist formerly known as Lola Snow,¬†Autumn Delusions,¬†Bippidee, Magic¬†Plum, Useless CPN,¬†Maybe Borderline, Seaneen, Karita, Zarathustra of Mental Nurse,¬†Splintered Ones, Sanabitur Anima Mea, and¬†Titflasher. ‚̧ to all of you, andindeed to many more – I’ve felt¬†particularly supported and/or¬†entertained and/or understood by this lot, but it doesn’t mean that¬†others haven’t been brilliant either.
  • My wonderful friends –¬†Daniel, Brian, CVM, Annie, K, and A’s family and friends have all¬†been brilliant this year, as they are every year. For those of you¬†that read this – I think it’s about five of you – thank you¬†from…no, not the bottom of my heart; I don’t want the arteries¬†leaving said organ to squirt blood all over you, after all. Thank¬†you from somewhere much more psychologically meaningful; the part¬†of my brain that controls positive feelings and¬†affection.
  • A and Mum. Mum has her moments in which¬†she frustrates me, but generally our relationship is fairly good at¬†present, and she has been mostly supportive throughout the year. ¬†A, as ever, has managed to not kill me in his own quiet, unassuming¬†way, and I am perennially grateful and touched for his love and¬†support.

Site Info

I moved this blog from its previous home at http://serialinsomniac.wordpress.com to the self-hosted domain with which you are now familiar in January 2010.  I think it was about half-way through the month and at that stage the blog had about 17,000 hits, mainly from referrals from other blogs and sites that quoted or linked to my drivel.

As you¬†can see from the relevant section of the right-sidebar, I now have¬†over 200,000 hits. Some of the volume¬†has been from being listed on blog aggregation sites and whatnot,¬†but most of it now comes from searches. One advantage of¬†self-hosted WordPress blogs is that it’s easy to install plug-ins¬†that make relevant posts easily found by relevant Google¬†searches.

In worldwide terms, 200,000 hits is what some blogs get in 10 minutes Рbut Confessions was never intended nor expected to reach such heady heights, and to that end I am grateful for what is for me a surprisingly high amount of visitation. Moreover, I am grateful to and platonically in love with all the personnel behind the statistics РI am now in the enviable position where I can class several of you as real life friends, and even where that is not the case, I care deeply about all of you that comment, read regularly, and engage via other media such as Twitter and Facebook. Thank you all.

The most frequent referrers to this site are StumbleUpon, Twitter, BlogSurfer, Bippidee and Mental Nurse.

The most read post by a substantial margin is Thoughts¬†on the DLA Changes in the Budget, with over 5,000 unique¬†hits. To my utter astonishment, the words ‘DLA changes’, a term¬†that one would have expected to lead to a governmental outline of¬†the modifications of the benefit, renders this post as the first result in some Google searches.¬†Wow.

Other popular posts are:

The most read static pages are, probably unsurprisingly, About the Autho (2,300 hits) and The Alter Ego (900 hits). All of these figures are rounded up or down to the nearest 50.

The most popular search terms¬†landing here are ‘(confessions of a) serial insomniac (blog)’, ‘dla changes [or many analogous terms]’,¬†‘c-ptsd‘,¬†‘akathasia‘ and, rather amusingly,¬†‘nadine dorries‘.

[EDIT: Over Mental Nurse, I’ve just noted some of my favourite random search terms that seem to have fuck all to do with most of what I write. ¬†I thought I should include them here too. ¬†They are: ‘marsha linehan is a fucking bitch‘ (well said!), ‘mum sex‘ (um…), ‘psychodynamic masterbate [sic]’ (oh yes, give me some Freudian lovin’), ‘already oppressive with his worthless refrains, will perhaps be the ultimate exterminator of our human species‚ÄĒif separate species we be‚ÄĒfor his reserve of unguessed horrors could never be borne by mortal brains if loosed upon the world. if you think that that‚Äôs a frightening thought then consider‘ (OK, not really so random – the quote is on the sidebar. ¬†Still loved that it got here, though) and ‘day of the triffids sexist‘ (yes, gender disenfranchisement was my first concern when giant¬†carnivorous¬†plants decided to take over the world and eat everyone and everything. ¬†Politics is so important at such a time). ¬†If you were one of the above searchers, thank you for entertaining me throughout the year! ūüėÄ

EDIT II: ¬†Just spotted these gems in the stats of recent days: ‘thefundingmentalists‘ (don’t know why but it made me laugh – I’m guessing it has something to do with the spending cuts, and is therefore wonderfully appropriate),’will she fuck someone else bpd‘ (yep, all we can do is whore about; there is literally nothing else in our lives ((*watches this blog vanish forthwith*))), ‘hate it blog‘ (yes, given my general nihilism, I probably hate it too), ‘illusion of child rape small xxxxx‘ (what the fuck?) and possibly the best: ‘how will i say goodbye after suicide?‘ (well, I suspect you’ll have to haunt your loved ones, because I don’t think your vocal chords are going to do it for you).]

People most often leave Confessions to head over to Conversations With My Head, Bippidee, Splintered Ones, Writing Myself Sane and Mentally Interesting (alas, the last two are no longer writing, at least for now. Love and hugs sent across the blogosphere to both Ophelia and Seaneen).

The most popular day to date on this blog was 23 June 2010, when there were 2,586 hits in total.

So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish

No, no, no, fear not: I’m not¬†quitting blogging just yet – I just felt like saying that. I’m just¬†signing off from this post, and anyway, it’s a nice phrase (if a¬†strange one for those not familiar with the reference). In the¬†absence of this quote, the title for this conclusion would have¬†been ‘Meh’ or ‘Blah’ or something, and I thought an Adams allusion,¬†inappropriate or otherwise, would be slightly more¬†interesting.

I’m¬†not enough of an optimist to start wishing everyone who reads this¬†blog a happy new year, as I know mental illness and related¬†maladies don’t necessarily lend themselves well to such hopes. ¬†Furthermore, I know that the new year can be intensely triggering¬†for some people – myself included, though mercifully not quite to¬†the same degree as some (my main trigger of winter is, of course,¬†Christmas).¬†Still, the whole thing reminds one rather acutely of the inherent¬†pointlessness of life and, in my case, the pointlessness of¬†my life.

But, in some nebulous way, there is¬†always the small chink of light somewhere that dictates that maybe,¬†just maybe, the next 12 months will be¬†vaguely less bollocks than the previous 12. So if you’ve had a¬†tolerable 2010, I wish you a tolerable 2011. If you haven’t, I wish¬†you a much better cycle of existence this time round.

Either way, you all have much love, affection and virtual hugs from little old me.

P ‚̧
xxx