Tillsammans

I-Dawg (typing just ‘I’ makes things very confusing so we’ll go with his nickname) has just been round for a brew after work. We had a good chat, even if I bollocked him for messaging his ex and accidentally stirring up rumours. I told him about all the magical changes which I’ve recently experienced. While I’ve been going through my ups and downs, I’ve felt something stirring within me. I feel like I understand the world and myself a bit better than I did a few months ago. I’ve learned some hard lessons:

– Don’t start conversations that you’re not willing to have because the other person as a real, living and separate human being with feelings.

– Patience truly is a virtue. Be patient with the universe, it unfolds at its own pace, and also with yourself. I can be so hard on myself and live life at breakneck speed. It comes down to having confidence that things will happen as they should. Most importantly, if someone wants you then they will come and get you – particularly boys who have to think it was their idea in the first place.

– Don’t assume that everything you hear is true. Question it and look at your source. You think this one would have stuck with me having done a sociology-ish degree but it’s a lesson easily forgotten. By the same token, there are two sides (often more) to a story. You will only ever hear an interpretation from the teller’s perspective and so too will the listener interpret it themselves.

– Empathy is hard but a valuable skill which not enough people dedicate themselves to.

– Nothing is permanent, particularly with regards to your body. I first learned that my body was flexible when I started doing yoga, not because of the positions I got into, but that it could move and change. I don’t always have to be overweight. I can be strong and healthy. On the flip side, if I get lazy then I don’t look as good but I never probably look as bad as I think. As a fat kid (a lifelong psychological condition exacerbated by rude grandmothers and PE teachers – even if you lose weight you never lose that feeling of wheezing on the sidelines) this can be very hard to learn. I realise now that fit people work hard to be that way, just as I work hard on essays and mathematicians work really hard to solve problems. This shit does not just happen and it all takes skill, dedication and hard work – though, of course, there ain’t half been some lucky bastards.

– In a much greater sense, nothing lasts forever and it can be much easier and more thrilling to live when we recognise the transient nature of everything. You realise then that every experience is a gift and it doesn’t have to last forever. Preservation, if you really want it, takes work.

– Taking care of yourself feels (and tastes) good. It permeates all areas of your life.

– Being alone can be super awesome. It makes you free and you don’t have to wear pants.

– Doing stuff is awesome and makes you more interesting. I always used to be so skeptical of people with hobbies because I always thought they were a replacement for personality. I still am but going and doing stuff, particularly with other people who also enjoy doing that stuff, is fun.

– Others are just as rich and deep as you. Don’t be a snob and take time to get to know people. I realised last night that I’m just like all those other people at life drawing, particularly the boozed up enthusiastic geeks at the end, and loved both them and myself for being vulnerable and daring enough to go out and talk to strangers.

– Be proud of who you are and what you do, though don’t be a jerk obvs. When we’d finished drawing last night, I assumed that we had to display all the pictures we’d done so I spread mine on the floor in a big collage. I looked round and realised that only the bloke next to me had done it, foolishly copying me, while nobody else dared. Everyone kept saying ‘oh it’s terrible, I don’t want you to see it’ and I felt a fanny who’d committed a dreadful faux pas. Then I saw everyone looking at my work, all gathered round, and I felt really good. However, I have never been shy and am quite ready to bear my soul at a moment’s notice. I’ve always been an overachiever with my work on the walls too so I’m quite happy to display myself as I trust that people would never be rude enough to say anything nasty… also I’d had two glasses of wine. If anyone’s horrible about you when you make yourself vulnerable by sharing then it’s definitely their problem, not yours.

I’m hoping that all this stuff is part of me getting closer to that real, undeniable truth of myself. There’s so much more to do and discover, and plenty more stuff to fuck up, but I gotta say: I’ve come a long way, baby.

I had a nice time at work. I really like the service user and I think she likes me. She’s got a wicked sense of humour and spent the entire four hours gently mocking the other staff member without really saying anything out loud. She’s not much older than me and I’m hopeful that we’ll get on well. I have been a bit low today but I worked out after tea and felt a lot better, especially when I watched Lukas Moodysson’s Tillsammans before I-Dawg came round.

 

“Better porridge together than a pork cutlet alone.”

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Life drawing: sexier than a bowl of fruit, cheaper than a lap dance.

Last night I went to a life drawing class and left behind any semblance of my working class roots. It was when they brought out the prosciutto and brie at the end that I knew that the area I grew up in is no longer a valid shield against my taste in hobbies and cured meats. I had a very nice time drawing an impossibly toned woman (all the while trying to ignore my Peep Show-esque thoughts about not spending too much time drawing her boobs so I didn’t look weird) and met some nice people including a former long- and triple-jumper who’d competed at the European championships (who now trains for the 400m sprint… and works at Holland and Barrett), an art teacher and a chap who’s just started his own clothing company. There was also a nurse who has agreed to be a contact if I want to do a placement on her ward which was really exciting. It was a bit wanky (the music was terrible and I was forced to listen to someone’s plans to cycle from Brittany to Northern Spain… it does sound fun though) but after my two free glasses of wine I had a jolly good time. I definitely need to get married or something eventually though – I don’t end up there post-40, single and on the brink of being a bit too drunk, as was one of the ladies. I got home around midnight, finished Eva Luna and then went to sleep some time after 2am without any trazodone. I’m nearly off it but it was mostly because I got more of it on to the worktop than into my oral syringe so just gave up.

Yesterday I slept well, though I haven’t been getting to sleep until at least 1.30am but usually later, and I spent the day in a tentatively good mood. We were doing all about Johari’s window (a grid showing what we know about ourselves, what others know about us, what others know that we don’t or don’t know about us and what nobody knows about us, including ourselves) and transactional analysis (where we adopt the ego states of the parent, adult or child depending on context and power relationships). It was very interesting and made me feel good to know that others perceive me as intelligent, trustworthy, honest, outspoken and confident as well as knowing that basic facts like I’m bipolar and live alone. The transactional analysis made me reflect on all my past relationships where I’ve probably acted like a parent (nurturing/supportive/controlling/critical) or child (playful/spontaneous/difficult/prone to tantrums) rather than an adult (non-threatening/non-threatened/respectful/logical). We adopt patterns we are comfortable with and behaviour programmed into us – see this video for more info. It’s all useful stuff to bear in mind when acting as a professional and in our personal life, allowing us to communicate effectively with people.

Last night I slept ok but I slept in until 11am and now feel thick-headed and morose. I’m not in a bad mood as such but I feel a bit tragic for no discernible reason. I think the lurid sexuality of my dreams (no doubt triggered by the book and last night’s nakedness) is bubbling away in my belly. I want to feel nails in my skin and breath in my ear but I also want to keep my woolly socks on and cry under my duvet. I have to go to work for a few hours later. Not exactly pleased but hopefully it’ll drag me out of myself a bit. I did a full workout yesterday which left me feeling really good.

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Eva Luna

Had a definite case of the head melters today. Music and conversation has been pretty much intolerable, I feel acutely sensitive to everything and binge ate earlier (pastrami bagel and three Princesa bars – really need to avoid the Polish aisle in Tesco) to try and quell my anxiety. A bit of light exercise helped, though I’m exhausted and didn’t want to push it in case it over stimulated me or made me cry.

Managed to get through it with quiet solitude and books. I’ve finished Anne Frank’s diary and have moved on to Eva Luna, a book I read when I was just about to turn 17. I was on my way to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe. I spent the first night sleeping in a tent in the garden of a nice Christian lady who had opened her home to about 10 of us thespians. I caught a horrendous cold and so was moved to my own private room. It was very small, Just a a top bunk over an old desktop PC, but it had a tremendous vent through which I could observe the kitchen. I took great delight in my little crows nest, a sense of isolation permeated the entire trip due to my lowly status within our so-called theatre company (4 drama wannabes and a piano player), and I very much enjoyed watching the comings and goings over breakfast. We ate Burmese Cheese Rice (a recipe from my mother’s old Austerity Cookbook) at least twice that week and I was introduced to the joys of vodka and apple juice. I can still taste the acrid tang of that cheap Prince’s juice with the added vitamin C. I also invented ‘Russian Gold’, a cocktail consisting of vodka, milk and honey.

I remember having a good time but I also remember the day I was left in the flat on my own. I was still very ill with a cold so while the rest of the gang went flyering for our show, I stayed wrapped up on the sofa. I was also very depressed at the time, though I don’t think I told anyone, and I recall writing something which turned into a morbid spewing of self-hatred and bile – something which used to happen whenever I tried to write in my diary. It was uncontrollable, like an unseen force would take the pen and make me carve my rage into the paper as I sobbed. I still have those diaries at home.

The show itself was quite good, if bizarre. It was about a vicar whose mother wanted him to marry an appropriate, cake obsessed C of E spinster (me) when really he was in love with a working class (I.E. The actress put on a Scouse accent) pregnant girl. This dilemma was resolved only with the help of the idiot who lived in his bathtub and transported him to an Alice in Wonderland style alternative reality where we were two rabbits and he was the Mad Hatter. In the end the pregnant girl died giving birth and we adopted the baby (obviously), the whole thing supposedly representing the role of the church in modern Britain but really being about the tawdry and repressed sexual desires of Christian drama geeks. The next year we did a show about a man who couldn’t pass through to the afterlife (‘drink his milk and go to sleep’) without help from two balaclava’d entities in pyjamas, one of which would torture him (me) and the other one who tried to persuade/seduce him (P, who was very camp indeed but married the idiot in the bathtub), the grand twist being that he was a milkman who I think fathered an illegitimate child. We got decent audiences for both (the latter we performed in a real theatre and at our schools/colleges, including the scene where I wore nothing but my underwear and a balaclava) and I think we had a good time, though I always got the sense I wasn’t supposed to say anything because I was the ‘chavvy’ one. Posh kids are fucking weird though.

I celebrated my 17th birthday there, they took me for a meal which I was still too depressed and gauche to accept graciously and without tears. I lost my wallet at a fairly decent production ofFaustus and everyone subbed me, so much so that I got horrendously drunk in a hotel bar and sobbed that I could only ever attract ugly men. This was after I had taken up with one of the (significantly older) semi-chaperones of the grown up theatre company who had endorsed us and took us up for the ride, of course. He gave me a copy of Sophie’s World which I found interminably pretentious but we did enjoy a nice afternoon kissing in the park, despite his wankiness and blonde ponytail.

The day of my birthday itself we were on our way back home. We stopped at Lindesfarne in Northumbria on the way and went to see Holy Island. It was cold, it being the end of August in Britain, but we all went in the sea to paddle. Of course someone started singing a hymn but I remember it all being very beautiful. We all got silly and far too wet but it was good, clean fun. As we got within about 30 minutes of home, the bus (an old postal van which was shakily approaching death’s door) gave out and we had to get picked up by various grown ups. I think I lent someone Eva Luna and then went home, satisfied but deflated in post-show malaise, to open my birthday presents.

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Balloon

Definite mood swing. Slept badly again last night, feel tired but wired. Pressured speech and trembling. Had to run away to library at lunch because I couldn’t bear conversation. Everything’s a bit loud and I keep wringing at my clothes. I just want to bury myself into the warm hug of my shirt. Embarrassing memories tickle my brain stem. I’m aware I look rubbish and I think I’ve got a worried/horrified/tense expression. It’s like there’s a balloon made of acid in my chest.

Fantastic movement around my dissertation and lots of great feedback already. My tutor says how well I write and how interesting and current my work is. She’s told me to hang fire on my autism project, maybe save it for my dissertation in third year, but that it sounds very interesting. She seems impressed with my ambition and quality which makes me feel good. I was offended when my pdoc said I was being grandiose about my intelligence – I genuinely am shit hot.

Don’t want to go back to class but don’t want to go back to the flat tonight. Want to go to life drawing tomorrow, hope I can manage it.

It’s just a feeling – keep breathing!

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I’ve been happy but out of sorts today. Creeping anxiety is heating the base of my neck. I did some exercise and are a healthy meal, was very happy to be back in the classroom, had some good news about publishing my dissertation (a less busy tutor has agreed to take it on and is very positive) and have been asked to speak publicly at an event next week.

There’s a worm of tension somewhere under my skin. I couldn’t face the pub after Uni. I’m waiting to hear back from a boy which always makes my guts pulsate. I feel a heat radiate from my bones. I feel ok though I think. I went to bed too late but then kept waking up and slept pretty badly, though I don’t feel bad for it. A slow ascent? I’ve dyed my roots which is generally a good time stamp for each hypomanic phase. I didn’t think all my hair had fallen out this time and fall to bits in a panic which is nice.

It’s just a feeling. My insight into life, the universe and everything seems tinged with a little more fear than yesterday and sitting still at Uni was tricky.

Might’ve cracked the skin routine at least.

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Melt

So I went to the pub quiz, my head slightly starting to melt after a weak appetite and random bouts of nerves, to have a decent night in the end. Told C exactly why he has been a nob and how shitty he made me feel to the point where we made proper friends (and I may have stolen a cheeky snog for posterity). We are now mates and it is all ok!

L has fucked off her awful suitor and I’m so relieved, even if it took her being ditched to walk alone in a park to twig what a twat he is. Hopefully that is fully done so we can get past him and his ridiculous wrong side eyebrow piercing which he did when drunk (despite being 34).

Have started re-reading Anne Frank’s diary. I first read it when I was about 13/14. It’s amazing how much but really how little changes in ten years. She has such a beautiful insight.

Worked out today and even my stomach churning bouts of anxiety and tension have been managed. I really really want to stop picking my skin now. If anyone knows an idiot-proof and semi-natural skin routine for slightly oily people then please do chime in.

I am going to be so late for Uni tomorrow.

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Appreciation

Where have I been the past few days? It feels heady but sensible, like a grown up glass of wine with dinner followed by a pint of water and an early night. On Friday I was seduced and domesticated, followed by a reasonable bedtime alone. Yesterday I came home to see my expectant friend and today I went for lunch/milkshake/Antiques Roadshow with T. It has been good, I am trying to take one day at a time and keep up with my exercise.

I feel well, I have managed to stave off the self harm I predicted earlier in the week and have really enjoyed spending some time with my mum. My sleep routine has been a bit disturbed but not as broken as before – I have not awoken in a sweat though I’m sleeping and rising later. I am down to 0.5ml of trazodone.

I hope this is me being me and ok. I’m not being too silly at the moment. I want to roll with it. I want to continue to enjoy these little activities I have found for myself and to make the most of my time at Uni before my next placement in ~7 weeks time.

I was told I was fascinating the other day by someone who tends to mean what they say. I felt really appreciated. That’s something I’d like to remember.

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Slept brilliantly last night. Need to keep exercising. Feel a bit supercharged and manic today but am well, had a good day and have a thoroughly excellent plan for tomorrow (hopefully I won’t be disappointed – got contacted by someone out of nowhere ). Feel insightful and empathic, delivered home truths and got a bit angry but managed to also offer understanding and perspective.

House is tidy.

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Petrol Bomb

Nope, I am super awake. Despite a poor night’s sleep, going to work, exercising hard and being in a car for over three hours I am still very awake. I am treading steadily towards hating myself. I can’t keep all my feelings or thoughts in a straight line for very long. I’m tired of the loop-de-loops, of the black and white back and forth between extremes. Even though I can see what’s happening I still haven’t the foggiest what to do. When my pal dropped me off I wanted to get straight back in the car and carry on going.

It’s exhausting and stupid. I keep thinking about all my exes and can never maintain how I feel for very long. It alternates between effusive adoration and hatred for all of them. I gush, empathise and then feel apathetic. It makes me feel unlovable. It makes me bitter about how W said that I’m worth it after all, like I’ll only be loved out of charity because I’m so unbearable. I know he meant well but it’s not very nice to hear that I’m difficult to love. I do find myself intolerable sometimes. I’m probably easy to love but hard to be with – I should know, I have to be with myself all the time. I just don’t know what to do. I resent having to change to make other people’s lives easier – that’s why I want to be on my own. If I make a change then it’s only for me. If I take medication then it’s because I want to feel better, not so I can behave like a nice girl and make someone else happy. I’d like to be appreciated for all the colour and vibrancy I offer, the destructive tendencies included, because while I’m often completely bananas I’m also quite interesting. Evidently I need to be loved by somebody who’s essentially a bit boring but strong and insightful. It would help if I really fancied them as well. But maybe part of my problem is that I’m not as good looking as I pretend to be. I’ve never had brilliant self-esteem even though I come across as very confident.

I just get so fucking bored of being alive. It’s not enough at the moment. Maybe this is part of my quarter life crisis, as J pointed out. I’m in a time of flux and crisis as I try and figure out what the hell is going on. Then again, crises often bring about revolutions. Certainly feels like there’s a petrol bomb inside my head sometimes.

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Had a really hard work out which made me feel a lot better. Went for a drive with a pal in his new car. Was a bit manic in the car, bit intense and sang a lot. Was super awake. Now tired and less febrile, time for bed.