Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Reader Request - Dealing With The Festive Season

With Christmas right around the corner, a reader has requested this blog.

No matter who you are or what you circumstance may be it can be very difficult to deal with the festive season. Ensuring you've bought sufficient gifts for those you care about (or don't as the case may be!). Deciding where you will spend Christmas; will it be with your parent(s)? Your partner? Their parent(s)? Do you host your own festivities? If you host your own, do you have enough plates? Chairs? Food? Do you buy all attendees a gift or is your gift hosting?! How do you ask for the gift you want without sounding like a brat? What if someone buys you a gift you already have? What if it's truly disgusting? What if the food is disgusting...? The stresses of Christmas are seemingly endless. Why not just throw a mental health in there too? Just for shits and giggles?! Of course, I jest. People often have a very strange outlook on mental illness. What do you do when your mum pipes up at the Christmas table with "Did you hear about uncle Keith's breakdown? Poor aunt Sally having to put up with him all these years...!" Oftentimes, people don't know how to respond to a mental health diagnosis. 

The best approach I find is to just be honest. Let people know how you're feeling if you're particularly down. Sometimes though, that doesn't work either! Everyone who knows me knows I'm not the most festive person. Some even call me a Grinch. I'm fine with that. Even though the Grinch eventually loves Christmas! I often get the same comments and questions: "oh you're so miserable" "how can you hate Christmas?" "You work with kids, you must love Christmas" blah blah blah! Why does it matter to you that I don't like Christmas? Does it stop, you from enjoying the festivities? Of course not! I don't like Marmite either but no one makes a big deal of that! I've written a few blogs including Christmas and I'm always honest about it. 

Let me tell you about a Christmas of mine. Please beware that it may be triggering; it was Christmas 2009. I was spending my Christmas Day with my boyfriend at the time and his family. This was the second year I'd spent Christmas with them. It was no secret that they didn't like me much. I never really feel much like celebrating at Christmas. This Christmas though I was especially depressed. Two months earlier my mum had been sent to prison for non payment of Council Tax. The family was torn apart. My mum loved Christmas. I remember how she used to make a big deal of it. She would tell us to stay in bed until at least 8am but she would be waking us up at the crack of dawn! My family wanted me to be at home with them for this difficult time. There were many reasons for me to turn this idea down. First of all, what could I possibly do? Whether I was at home or in London, nothing would change. Second, why would I want to be with everyone else in a collective depression? They say that misery seeks company but I'm not sure the company it seeks is miserable company. Finally, the family were postponing Chriatmas anyway!

I decided to go with my slightly better judgement and spend Christmas with the Mr as planned. I thought it would be nice to be away and thus distracted. The Mr had told his family that I wasn't feeling particularly festive this year owing to the circumstances and asked them to not make too big a fuss of me.  Unfortunately, being the type of people they are, they went all out. I got a designer purse and bag, various expensive toiletries and a few other gifts. I was, of course, grateful for their generosity but I just didn't feel like being around them. After present opening, I went upstairs to have a bit of quiet time. Every 5 minutes or so, someone came to check if I was ok or if I needed anything. Again, I was grateful for their concern but I just wanted to be left alone. Yes, to wallow in my misery as is my right. The rest of the day pretty much passed in a blur. I'd spoken to my mum and she sounded destroyed by the situation. She wanted to be at home with her children and grandchildren as anyone would at this time of year. Speaking to her made me feel much worse about things. I tried to avoid being around the Mr's family as much as possible. Unfortunately for me, this irked his younger sister somewhat. She definitely never liked me. I think perhaps she thought I simply wasn't good enough for her brother. The evening of Christmas Day we were playing "family" games together and every time I gave an answer the sister would sigh loudly or roll her eyes! I told the Mr about this in privacy and he said I was just "reading too much into things". Fair enough, I knew I wasn't but I didn't want to create an issue so I left it. 

The following day, the Mr had a house party. I really didn't feel like partying so most of he evening I sat outside by myself looking at the stars. One of his friends came out to see if I was ok. Pretty much the only person in his life who treated me with any amount of respect and human decency. I told him I just needed to be alone with my thoughts and he brought me out a cushion and a jacket to make me more comfortable. 

My mum was released on 29th December. I decided to take a trip up home to see her and have a "celebratory" meal with the family. I didn't feel much like celebrating but I figured I had to make an effort. In honesty, I felt pretty numb about the whole thing. I guess I ought to have been happy or relieved that my mum was out but I wasn't. I just felt completely empty. I became concerned as it seemed to be the start of a period of flat affect. I don't like this feeling as it leads to pretty destructive behaviour in an attempt to feel something. I didn't stay with the family long. Just one day and then I headed back to the Mr to celebrate the new year. 

When I was on the coach back the Mr was texting me. I guess he was trying to show that he cared when he came out with "you know what, you haven't given me a blow job in ages!"... I didn't know how to react to this. Ordinarily I may have laughed at him but given the situation I found it incredibly insensitive. He wasn't kidding either. When I got back that evening we went to the local pub. He told me we were meeting his old school friend as he hadn't seen her in about 5 years. I wasn't bothered about him wanting to meet her. In fact, at the time, I couldn't have been less interested if I tried. When we got to the pub we ordered a drink and waited for her. Within 5 minutes of her arrival she was flirting outrageously. Ordinarily this wouldn't bother me but they had a history. A very complex history. I could feel myself becoming more and more irritated and uncomfortable with the situation. When she went to the bathroom I told the Mr how I felt and he told me I was "just being silly". I decided to deal with it the only way I could. I got very drunk!

I wanted to talk to the Mr about how I was feeling (or not feeling as the case was) but he was dismissive. When we got back to his I pretty much passed out drunk. The next morning we slept in given we were both hung over. By the time we actually got up and dressed it was time to leave for a New Years house party. All the while, I could feel things festering away. Bubbling under the surface. I just did what I normally do, I put a smile on and got on with it!

The house party wasn't too bad. There were enough people around that at least one of them would be willing to speak with me. The Mr simply left me to my own devices whilst he went outside to get stoned! Just how I like it, alone in a room full of people I don't know! (sarcasm!) I was drinking and dancing and just chatting to anyone who would give me five minutes. I have this incessant need to talk and it annoys people. I'm aware of how irritating I can be but if I stop talking for too long a period it's when the voices start. The only other thing that stops them is listening to ridiculously loud music on my headphones. That may well explain my hearing issues! 

We rang in the new year, from what I remember, with laughter, cheers and all round hugs and kisses. By this point I must have drank more than half a bottle of Bacardi. I'd now stopped adding the mixer and was just drinking it straight! The Mr had come back at the countdown to midnight and was now mingling with others inside. I was dancing. Suddenly he came over to me and whispered rather threateningly that I ought to behave myself as I was causing him embarrassment! Right there was the straw that broke the camel's back! I launched into a tirade of verbal abuse. Telling him and everyone else who could hear that he was a "selfish boyfriend who only cared about getting his dick sucked even though his girlfriend is in complete turmoil [sic]". Now that I'd started I couldn't stop! It all came tumbling out like verbal diarrhoea.  I was screaming at him and lashing out. Rather than stick around and talk to me, he simply walked outside and continued to smoke weed!  One of his friends was ushering me into the bathroom. To calm me down. I was screaming, yelling, crying. The floodgates had opened and I'd lost control. 

What happened next is pieced together by other individuals. I have very little recollection myself. I went downstairs to find him and to talk. Everyone was staring at me, whispering behind their hands with looks of horror and distaste on their faces. I found him, of course sat outside smoking as if nothing had happened. He was laughing and joking with his friends. This made me even more angry. He saw me approaching and stood up. His friends seemingly scarpered no doubt hoping to avoid this banshee going wild again! I grabbed the joint from him and took a long drag (bearing in mind by this point I'd never smoked cannabis). As I exhaled I said to him "Is this what you want is it? A girlfriend who smokes so much weed she doesn't care about anything?" As he started to reply I walked off. 

I had no idea where I was or where I was going but I needed to get away. The Mr followed me. He was yelling at me. Chastising me for embarrassing him in front of his friends. It was so cold. I was in a dress with no coat or shoes and there was snow on the ground. The Mr kept asking me where I was going and I just yelled at him "I want to go home". At some point during he row he over took me and continued to yell at me. Neither of us can be certain what happened but based on the pain on the back of my head the following day, I slipped and knocked myself unconscious. It took the Mr a bit of time to notice I was no longer yelling back and when he turned round he saw me lying on the floor. You'd expect at this point he'd pick me up and carry me back to the house. Instead he unceremoniously dragged me back then dumped me on the kitchen floor. According to some, my breathing was shallow and ragged. According to others I was choking on my tongue. Whatever the case may be, an ambulance was called and I was taken to hospital. 

I remember waking up in a blindingly white space. I could hear various beeps around me and I felt as though I'd been hit by a truck! I had a drip in one arm and I was attached to a heart monitor. As I sat up, I saw the Mr sat at the bottom of the bed in a chair. His head in his hands.  When he looked at me I felt the most intense anger and hatred I have ever experienced. I wanted to tear him apart with my bare hands. I removed the heart monitor and the drip and told him I wanted to go home. A nurse came and told me I couldn't be discharged as I was "suicidal". I told her if she didn't let me go I'd kill her as well. 

That, my friends, was the worst Christmas/New Year combo I have ever experienced! I often think that if I had just been able to speak with the Mr about my feelings and if he'd just listened to me, the whole sorry affair could have been avoided. My sage advice to those struggling at this time is to talk about it. Talk to someone you know will listen. Be as open and honest as you can be. Don't bottle everything up because when the time comes, the explosion with be catastrophic! Needless to say, my relationship didn't survive this nuclear meltdown. We separated and then got back together but things were never the same. 

If you feel you have no one to talk to, there's always The Samaritans. Also, Sane have a text care facility that really helps. If all else fails, feel free to message me. I can't promise I will be there immediately but my emails do come through to my phone and I will check them periodically over the next week or so. I won't have the answers for you but I will listen and advise as best as I can.  If you need to take some time out for yourself, please do it but I implore you not to spend Christmas alone. This year is my first Christmas in London despite living here almost 10 years and with the year I've had I wanted to spend it by myself. Fortunately, I have a wonderful friend who has informed me that I am to spend the holiday with her and her partner for which I am truly grateful. I may have wanted to be alone but no doubt if I was, I wouldn't be blogging next year. 

Please, take good care of yourself this holiday season. Be kind to yourself. Don't feel that you have to join in all the festivities. Remember, you're only human. 

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Lets all just take a moment

I have three or four blogs that I'd like to get out before Christmas but this one has taken precedence so please bear with me.

Yesterday I saw a story about one Lynn Cassidy, you may have seen the story. You may have scoffed at the story. I admit, upon reading the headline "Mum becomes suicidal before Christmas every year because she can't accept Santa isn't real" my first thought was "say what?" Then I read the story. Of course, this story was reported in The Mirror. I find The Mirror and other tabloid newspapers are terrible sources of news. Their manner of reporting news stories is quite irresponsible, especially in relation to mental health. Granted, there are worse news outlets, The Sun for instance or The Daily Mail.  I tend to avoid newspapers altogether. I do have The Metro on my iPad to while away my commute to work but more often than not I will read a book. (Most recently, I read Andy Behrman's Electroboy).

Today I saw the story floating around again on my Facebook news feed and I - stupidly - decided to read some of the comments. I'd heard that 2014 has been the year of the beginning of the end of mental health stigma and I found myself wondering if this is truly the case.

From personal experience, I have found that stigmatisation is still as rife as ever but now it's being deemed inappropriate to make remarks about "crazy nutters". Much like the condemning of black people becoming "not ok" and more recently homosexuals. Of couse, I'm using broad strokes here and I'm aware there is more to it but that would take up too much of your time dear reader and with Christmas around the corner there's precious little of that!

As I often do, I digress! What troubled me the most about this story was not the suffering experienced by Ms Cassidy, although I do feel some sort of kinship with her, it was the responses of other individuals who clearly have no idea what it's like to suffer the turmoil of mental distress. One such individual commented "I say let her kill herself". I wish I was kidding... Said individual then went on to state "I feel for the person who has to counsel her... This is exactly what is wrong with the west... This lady got paid for her story. I bet she uses this as an excuse for benefits and sympathy."  Now, nowhere in the article does it state that Lynn does, in fact, claim benefits for her issues.  This is classic "tarring with the same brush" mentality.

The same article in the Express elicited comments such as "Have no time for nuts like her." and "arent there places called asylums that this lady could be housed in?" and even "how totally and utterly pathetic this dumb woman is,how on earth does the idiot cope with real life,i dispear [sic]  at humanity." This last comment is one of the reasons I myself despair of humanity. An individual's poor grasp of the English language and the fact that they have attempted to rationalise this woman's behaviour by calling her "utterly pathetic" is the reason I decided to write this blog. 

Yes, I decided to read the article and then the comments so the onus for my current feelings is entirely on me. I have become enraged by the response to Lynn's very obviously troubled mind, again, I accept responsibility entirely for my feelings as no one forced me to read the article. My point here is simply this;  had Lynn come forward and mentioned her distress at Christmas for a different reason, would people react the same? If she was troubled by cancer in her finger, would you lambast her for her woes because it's not, say, pancreatic cancer? No you wouldn't. Cancer is cancer no matter how big or small and mental distress is no different in this respect. You don't have to have suffered some great tragic event in your life to experience mental distress. The tiniest thing can trigger an already fragile mind. My reckoning is that Lynn Cassidy has other issues that she is either unaware of that contribute to her feeling of depression at this difficult time of year or that The Mirror edited her interview to cause a stir. I don't know. I'd love the opportunity to discuss this matter with Lynn herself and take down her exact story but I fear such a thing might not be possible. (Lynn, if you do happen to read my piece, please do contact me directly). 

Let's take a little look at this thing in broader terms; Lynn's distress appears to have been triggered by the discovery that Santa is not real. She made this discovery at the tender age of 10 when she received a second hand bicycle. Based on what is written in the article, the biggest fault here is with her parents. Lynn says of her parents response to her discovery; "They didn't even really have to answer, they just looked at me in a way that said it all. From there my world came crashing down." Why had her parents not addressed this issue for her? At 10 years old I imagine it must be incredibly earth shattering to discover that Santa isn't real. I can't say for certain from personal experience as I'm not entirely sure I ever really believed myself. I don't remember. At 10 years of age, we are not equipped with the tools necessary to deal with this type of trauma (because, let's face it, it is a trauma!). As we get older, we learn the tools necessary to deal with traumatic events for the most part. This is not canon of course. Sometimes we experience things that we simply cannot deal with and we cease to function at a "normal" rate.  The thing that I'm finding equally, if not more troubling is the typical scathing remarks of her being a benefits claimant. Nowhere in this article does it state Lynn claims benefits. In fact, not in any of the reports covered by various media outlets has Lynn been revealed to claim benefits. And what if she does, indeed, claim benefits? Why does that factor into her troubles? Do all those who suffer mental distress claim benefits? Are all benefits claimants "thieving, low life layabouts?" NO! No they are not. I had a period this year of unemployment and reluctantly claimed benefits in order that I could feed myself! I was actively seeking work. I was interviewing twice a week for the most part. I just fell on difficult times. I also have mental health issues. Does that make me "one of them"?

Lynn has a legitimate diagnosis which proves that she isn't faking it and if she really was "in it for the money" don't you think she would have opted for a story with better "believability"?
Everyone's suffering is relative. When I say "I'm starving" I don't mean I'm third world country, child with a distended stomach starving. No, what I mean is "I have experienced a full stomach, my stomach is no longer full, it troubles me and I have a great need for food". I suffer. I suffer a lot with my own mental distresses. I find a lot of my distresses more troubling owing to my knowledge of psychological development and the awareness that my thinking is flawed yet I'm incapable of changing it. That almost distresses me as much as the distresses themselves!  

In order to really combat stigma, we need to look to ourselves. Ask ourselves WHY we react in the way we do. We need to educate these people who believe that Lynn deserves her suffering and ought to be locked away or should kill herself. Just because you don't understand someone else's suffering doesn't give you the right to condemn them. 

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Let's talk about...

I have been meaning to start this piece for a while but it has been difficult to know where to start. This is one of those blogs that I fully expect to receive some level of negative response and I am ok with that. I am also working on a blog about the different types of sexuality as well as the difference between gender and sex and the genders that exist beyond male and female.

The issue I'm talking about is sexuality. The links between sexuality and mental health issues are numerous. Not to mention the fact that up until the mid 20th century, any sexual preference other than male:female was actually considered a psychological issue.  In some countries, homosexuality is still illegal.

It's bizarre really as before the High Middle Ages, no one really cared! Or if they did, they didn't make a fuss about it. From the tail end of the 12th century, attitudes towards homosexuality became hostile. It was branded as "unnatural". Studies have shown that all sexuality is embedded in our genes, it's not a choice, yet people still seem to condemn those who engage in such relations. 

When people ask me about my sexuality, I clam up. Almost as much as when people say "...so what kind of music are you into?".  There is no simple answer to either question. 

As far as sexuality and/or sexual preference, I don't define myself as having a "preference". I like people. Human beings. 

To me, it does not matter if you are male, female, transgender (either way), intersex, none binary, gay, straight, bisexual, pansexual... The labels are endless. I don't feel that I subscribe to any. I find intelligence sexy. I guess if you want to define me in this respect, I'm a sapiosexual.  If you can make me laugh, that's sexy. I also find confidence very sexy. Don't confuse this with arrogance. There is nothing that turns me off more than arrogance.  If you have blue eyes, you're in with a better chance than your brown/green eyed counterparts... But that's about it for me. I don't care how you identify yourself. 

I'm also not strictly monogamous. There is always a collective gasp whenever I reveal this. As if polygamy makes me some sort of monster. It doesn't. Monogamy is not natural to humans. Contest this all you will but it's a fact. People may choose monogamy but it doesn't come naturally. Monogamy, like many other things, is a very new social construct. I would argue it's down to the church but that's another subject for a different time!  Is there a label for this? I don't know, probably. It's just not important to me at all to define it. 

When I speak to people about sexuality, I often pose the question "how do you know if you're straight if you've never tried anything else?" The response I usually get is "I just know". I don't believe this for one second. You can't "just know". If you gave that as an answer for anything g else you'd be an idiot. Imagine if in a maths test where it states "show your workings" you wrote "I just know"... Such an answer wouldn't suffice. I'm not saying everyone should try it but you can't "just know". You can believe but that isn't the same. The world isn't black and white. We're not in Kansas darlings, it's technicolor and we're all in Oz! People "just knew" the earth was flat until Christopher Columbus went and ruined that! 

The life that I live brings me into contact with a wide array if people. I'm incredibly lucky to have some seriously open minded friends, it's a quality I value above most others.  That's not always the case though. I do know some people that are so narrow minded, so singular that it hurts. If they identify with the sex they were assigned at birth and are attracted to someone of the opposite sex, that's fine. What I dislike is the way they respond to those who don't fit with their idea of "normal". 

Normal is one of those terms that I dislike. I often put the term in inverted comas as that's where I believe it belongs in the context I use it. However, normal does exist. For me, it is only within the confines of science. Like it or not, everything fits on a bell curve. This bell curve has ranges either side. If you are "normal" you are in the middle of the normal range. The 95% if you will. You can deviate either side of "normal" as long as you don't go too far. That will put you into the "abnormal" section outside of the bell curve. As I say, in science, this is ok. I still don't like the term but it has it's uses. In psychology the's days the terms used are "typical" and "atypical". These terms are not desirable either but I guess somewhat more preferable. 

Even with science in mind, normal varies. In one community, it may be deemed normal to have six wives, that's not accepted in the society I grew up in. This is known as "cultural norms

I have long since given up on trying to define and/or defend my sexuality. I have no issue with people not liking my choices. They're mine to make and I would never force my choices onto anyone else and it's their choice to disagree, just because they disagree though does not make them right. It's one of the things I will never understand about human beings. Why do you even care?! Is it really affecting you if John and Jane Doe down the street were actually born Jane and John? If it does affect you then I am afraid to break this to you but you are the one with the problem. I have encountered a lot of negativity surrounding my sexuality. As a teen, I was verbally bullied for being a "dyke" "rug muncher" "lesbo"... You name it, I've probably been called it. In my younger years this bothered me. I'm sure it also contributed to my mental health issues. However, it's now something I choose simply to not deal with. If I'm asked directly about my sexuality, I will try to be as honest as I can but I often find myself talking to a blank face! 

I had an issue with "coming out" a few years back. I use inverted commas here as I didn't actually consider that coming out. I figured everyone knew I had sexual interests in men as well as women (I didn't even dare to venture further than this...! I have also been in a polygamous relationship which I didn't exactly keep secret but I wasn't shouting it from the rooftops!) I remember so distinctly the look on an individual's face when I victoriously announced to a friend that I'd snogged a girl at my birthday. She asked and I told. The individual in question didn't seem to grasp what I was talking about. She asked if I meant a girl. I explained, of course that's what I meant. She paled. This "revelation" clearly unnerved her. When she asked why I would do that, I responded simply "because I like women (duh!). Said individual didn't speak to me for quite some time after that! 

A few years ago I went to World Pride in London. Boy George happened to be performing - he's a guilty pleasure of mine - and I called this person to let her know (given that she was a fan). She asked me where he was at and I told her Pride. She asked what that was. I said " you know, gay pride...?" Her response was "eugh, gays!" I had no response for this! This particular individual is very close to be but I realised there was no point in saying anything back. She has also chastised me on many occasions for saying out loud how attractive I find a woman. Sometimes, I will say stuff just for the reaction because it amuses me no end! No matter how many times I do it, the response is always the same. 

It is human nature to fear the unknown. It is a survival instinct that has evolved with us to help us learn to run from something with sharp teeth and powerful jaws. We would do well to maintain this instinct as we don't want people climbing into lion enclosures at the local zoo in order to pet the big friendly kitties. What we can stand to change is our response to the unknown. Again, it is innate to fear the unknown but these days, with the "information superhighway" at our fingertips we can find out pretty much anything about anything!  The fight or flight response developed way back when is no longer necessarily the best response method and if you need to know about something, just ask!

To that end, I am going to start a small series of blogs in relation to sexuality and mental health. If you have a story you would like to share, come on over to my Facebook page or drop me an email and we can knock something together.  

Until Next time, 

Keep Smiling :): 

On a sidenote...

Before I post my next blog, I would like to invite any London readers to Cabaret Roulette's next event on 19 January. This day will be known as Blue Monday and is said to be the most depressing day of the year. Therefore, we are holding this event to raise money for Mind.  Owing to the tragic closure of our beloved Madame Jojo's, the show will be held at Bethnal Green Working Men's Club Tickets are pay what you can.

Please give me a shout if you're interested in coming and showing your support!!

Kids say the funniest things!

I love working with children. Their thirst for knowledge knows no bounds. They question everything. Why is the sky blue? Where does the water from the tub go? What are clouds made of? I always endeavour to answer questions a honestly as possible. A few weeks ago I was asked "What happens when you die?" These sorts of questions I will defer to the parents as my ideas on such matters may differ from theirs and I wouldn't want to step on any toes.

Recently whilst working I dropped a mug of tea. My trousers got wet so whilst the children were playing I took them off and hung them on the radiator to dry. I was wearing boxer shorts so I figured if the children saw me it wouldn't be as much of an issue as they looked just like shorts. The older child came into the kitchen. She looked at me for a moment considering what I was wearing. She didn't ask me why I wasn't wearing my trousers like I imagined she might. Instead she asked "Why are you wearing pants like daddy's, are you a boy?" I was somewhat amused by her question and endeavoured to give her an honest answer. Given that she is three years old, this question is a genuine curiosity as oppose to being a hate filled accusation that one might expect. 

For as long as I can remember I have been more comfortable in jeans. I have never been a girly girl. Dresses make me feel incredibly awkward for the most part. Most of the jeans I own are, in fact, men's jeans. I also have more men's t shirts than women's and I own an array of men's underwear. 

I told my charge that sometimes I felt more comfortable in "daddy pants" but I am, indeed, a girl. She didn't question me any further however her line of enquiry lead me to my own thinking about my dress sense. 

I have always been more comfortable in men's clothing. I don't really "do" sexy well and women's clothes often cling in all the wrong places for my liking. As a female, I have a very ample chest. There is no disguising that fact. Sometimes I will wear a low cut top to show off some cleavage. Other times, tops that I buy simply don't keep my cleavage in check! As far as my personality is concerned, I'm definitely "one of the lads". I like beer, football, cars, ogling hot women... (Not that this is all men think about mind you!). I've never been one for wearing makeup. I didn't like barbie dolls as a youngster and I would have sooner sit and read Goosebumps than some girly magazine. I guess it's rather safe to say I consider myself to be more masculine than feminine. 

I started thinking more and more about this and it raised an interesting question; am I a cross dresser?  Having since conducted a little research, I have come to the conclusion that yes, I may well actually be a cross dresser or even, if you will, a transvestite. Cross dressing is defined thusly;

To dress in clothing that is usually worn by the opposite sex.

A transvestite is defined as such;

A person, especially a male, who assumes the dress and manner usually associated with the opposite sex.

This bothers me somewhat. I am uncertain as to why this dictionary definition singles out males.

For all intents and purposes, these definitions make me a "cross dresser". I was unfazed by this discovery. As I have previously written, I don't define my sexuality in any sort of "conventional" manner. I am attracted to people, plain and simple. When it comes to clothing, I wear what I feel comfortable in. This attitude has caused me no end of problems growing up. I was more than happy wearing second hand clothing or "unbranded" clothing and often wore my brother's cast offs. It has never mattered to me what the label says on my clothing. When I wear something I ask myself "Do I like it? Do I feel comfortable? Do I look good?" If I answer yes to those three questions then I'm happy. Unfortunately for me, children can be incredibly cruel! However, this part of my life is being reserved for another blog. 

Cross dressing has been around since time immemorial. In Greek and Norse mythology there are examples of cross dressing. Historical figures have been known to cross dress to some extent for various reasons. Cross dressing can be found throughout the history of folklore, literature, theatre and music. This list is by no means exhaustive.

Women would pose as men in order to undertake a male oriented job. Joan of Arc wore male clothing. Some say this formed part of the reason she was burned at the stake. Others cite that she wore men's clothes in order to protect herself from the sexual advances of guards.  Bonnie Prince Charlie dressed as a maid servant to escape the Battle of Culloden.  William Shakespeare was very well known for using cross dressing for female characters who would wear men's clothing to carry out actions difficult for women. Twelfth Night features a lot of cross dressing. The main female protagonist disguises herself as a man and thus becomes embroiled in a love triangle. There are many movies that look at cross dressing including those featuring Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel.   

The term transvestism was coined back in the 1910s. The etymology of the word is from Latin trans-, "across, over" and vestitus, "dressed".  When German sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld originally coined the term, he used it to describe a person who habitually and voluntarily wore clothes of the opposite sex. These people included both males and females with heterosexual, homosexual bisexual and asexual orientations. To "transvest" means to wear clothing of the opposite gender. (There will shortly be a blog dissecting the differences between sex and gender). 

It is important to note that transvestism must not be confused with transgender or transsexual which defines an individual who lives as the gender opposite to the one they were born as. It should also not be confused with the term drag queen/king which refers to an individual who dresses as the opposite sex for performance purposes.

Whilst conducting my research, I came across an interesting piece about the history of transgenderism in the US.

Unfortunately, through the bastardisation of language, the term "transvestite" has since become a derogatory term and some would argue it is outdated despite it's literal translation. 

Despite the wealth of information available on the subject of cross dressing, most of what I have found refers to men dressing as women. Some of the articles I have read over refer to sexual gratification gleaned from cross dressing but this is not finite. Personally, I don't get any specific sexual gratification from wearing men's clothing. Mostly it's down to comfort. However, sometimes it might feel a little "naughty" if I'm wearing a guy's underwear. Especially if he's wearing mine too.

To me, being an apparent cross dresser is a moot point. Am I really a cross dresser? I guess in the very literal sense, yes I am. I predominantly wear and feel more comfortable in men's clothing. Would I call myself a cross dresser or transvestite? No. Not because I feel any shame about the manner in which I dress nor do I feel shame at the possibility of being associated with "those kinds" of people (please note I use that term incredibly facetiously!). I simply wouldn't refer to myself as a cross dresser because it doesn't matter at all to me. I wear what is comfortable to me. I don't have enough fingers to count the number of times I've actually been called a "Tranny". This typically makes me laugh because I know plenty of transvestites, transsexuals and transgendered people and for the most part they are stunningly attractive. 

Sex and sexuality fascinates me. As a youngster, I had very limited information supplied to me about sex. What I knew I learned from school. Everything else I know has come from my own curiosities and self discovery and I think it would be safe to say that in this respect (as well as many others) I am incredibly open minded. This whole subject ties in nicely with my recent interest in mental health and sexuality. I have limited knowledge about transvestism in particular and little to no interest in defining myself as such for the satisfaction of others. If you have anything to add here or a personal experience you would like to share, please do let me know via email or Facebook 

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Mental Health Awareness Week - TRIGGER WARNING


My apologies in advance if my blog today seems a little jumpy! 

I have been in and out of love with blogging for many years. When I am passionate about something, I will go hell for leather to let people know about it. I've blogged about my poetry, my artistic endeavours, my photography and my passion for children to name but a few! However, the one thing that has held my attention in blogging is mental health. 

When I started this blog more than three years ago, it was more of an outlet for me. A sounding board if you will.  I wrote anonymously because I wanted to be an "everyman". I wanted people to be able to identify with me as their wife, their mother, their daughter, their sister, the girl they sat next to on the bus, the girl behind you in the checkout. My recent decision to make my blog more public was a very difficult one. Not many people in my "real life" know the full extent of my mental health issues. There are still a great many things I cannot talk about in my blog as they will send shockwaves through my life and tear it to pieces. Part of me wants to stand up and speak out to help others yet part of me knows that the trouble it may cause in my life just isn't worth it.

My life has never been particularly easy. Growing up as one of five children in a single parent household had it's challenges. For the most part, this taught me to be strong. To fend for myself. To forge my own path through life. 

I started working at the age of 13, I had a paper round. Then when I was a little older I would go with my dad to the restaurant he worked at and help with washing dishes. My first "official" job with a payslip was when I worked at a residential home and earned £2.95 per hour.  I have always loved working. When I left secondary school I went straight to work.  Even when I went to college I worked around it.  My mum had always taught me that if I wanted something I had to work hard to get it. 

At school I worked hard. I was very academic. I wouldn't say I was particularly gifted in any specific area but I did well in all of my classes. At some point when I was at secondary school, I was selected with a few other pupils to attend a maths course at the local university which I was very proud of.

Unfortunately, school became too much for me to cope with. As a youngster, before secondary school, I knew I was different to the other kids but I didn't really care. I loved school and it wasn't about to change. Owing to my love of school, I was a lonely child. Even though I had 4 siblings at home I spent most of my time alone. I didn't mind this. It was how I liked it. When I was alone I could be more creative. I could be myself. Sometimes I would be called a "teacher's pet". To me, that was almost a compliment. I adored my primary school teachers! One particular teacher sticks in my mind to this very day because of his teaching styles. I wanted to be just like him when I grew up! 

When I moved up to secondary school, I became more isolated. There were more kids, it was scarier! I had some friends (some of whom I'm still very close to) but I would still rather sit in the library by myself and read or work. By my teenage years this did nothing for my "street cred". The bullying became more and more physical. This is something I believe to be a huge contributing factor to my current mental status. 

At 13, self harm became a release for me. I had no idea how to deal with my emotions. I would feel all these things but I couldn't process them. I became incredibly angry and aggressive but owing to my inability to process my emotions, I turned these feelings inwards and I would cut. I have a blog relating specifically to my self harm. Here you will find further details in this regard. 

There was a period of time when I stopped cutting owing to an incident with my younger sister. Details of which are written in my self harm blog. Unfortunately, I needed to find another outlet for the things that I felt and so the anger and violence resurfaced. I realised it couldn't go on and returned to self harming. It didn't last long as I couldn't shake off the earlier incident with my sister. It was at this time I discovered tattoos. 

At 19 I decided to join the army. I figured this would help me channel my anger. Unfortunately, my army career was short lived as I developed shin splints. Upon leaving the army I decided to move to London. At the time I had a boyfriend. We lived together. The relationship was incredibly volatile. He was incredibly abusive towards me. I became so isolated that I had no friends and depended entirely upon him. No doubt, that's the way he wanted things. 

After about 18 months I'd reached a point where I could not cope any more. I snapped. I wanted to kill him. All of my rage exploded in his direction. I could quite easily have killed him, I had my hands around his throat, squeezing the life out of him. As quickly as the rage came, it left. Suddenly I realised what I was doing. I let go of his throat and fled the house. I returned to my home town to get away from it all. Whilst there, I binged on drugs and alcohol to blot out the pain. Upon returning to London I found myself living alone for the first time. 

That was when I first fell apart in a major way. I made an attempt on my life at this point. I didn't want to live any more. I swallowed a handful of pain killers and downed some vodka. Fortunately (or unfortunately at the time), once the lethal mix hit my stomach I vomited it straight back up. I felt like such a failure. I couldn't even successfully take my own life. After a period of bleakness I started therapy, the details of which are contained in this blog. I have still more to discuss about my suicidal ideations, however, I'm not presently strong enough emotionally. 

I started self harming yet again around 2010 and have not successfully stopped. Further information in this regard is too difficult for me to describe currently. 

Recently, I started to become more actively involved with mental health charities. I want to be able to contribute, to help make a difference. Back in August, I was involved in an event with the charity Time to Change and yesterday I took part in Walking out of Darkness organised by CLASP Counselling, Life Advice and Suicide Prevention raising money for Rethink Mental Illness. I would certainly like to do more so I've decided to sign up to be an ambassador for CLASP. I also like to think that writing this blog is doing my bit too. 

Walking 10 miles was quite strenuous on account of my hyper mobility syndrome. Totally worth it though. Thank you so much to those who sponsored me and for all of your wonderful words of encouragement. Be sure to check out Rethink Mental Illness to see where your money will be going and also take a look at CLASP Counselling, Life Advice and Suicide Prevention. 

Before the walk began, there were speeches made by individuals involved in the charity. I was moved to tears by everyone's stories and the words of one Johnny Benjamin stuck with me for the whole walk. It was quite overwhelming to see the turnout for the event and to know that each individual was walking for a cause. After the walk, I had a very lengthy discussion with a gent who shared his own story with me. 

Mental health charities are very close to my heart for obvious reasons and especially those that challenge stigma. Living with the stigma of mental health is, in my own experience, much harder than living with a mental health condition. Suicide prevention is also a cause very close to my heart after having once witnessed someone very close to me take an overdose and also after being too close to the edge myself.

The past 6 months for me has been such a huge struggle. Being unemployed was excruciating for me. I am a worker bee. I don't know anything else other than working and my mental health took a huge battering. Thankfully, I have some of the most wonderful friends a person could ask for who kept me away from the edge and helped me keep my demons in check and kept me going enough to secure an incredible job that I deserve (self congratulation is not my strong point!)

My most heartfelt thanks go out specifically to one individual who did so much for me these past 6 months. He has been a most upstanding gentleman and a life saver. J, from the bottom of my heart I thank you for being such an incredible friend. For keeping me going, for being my voice of reason and for literally saving my life. I love you and appreciate you more than words could possibly express. Also, V, your never ending words of support and encouragement. You are a most beautiful individual inside and out and I cherish you so dearly. KM, you stepped up to the plate when I was at a very low ebb when I was at home. You picked me up, dusted me off and set me back on track. Over the years I have known you, you have been a constant for me. You have been right there by my side, despite us living miles apart. Aunty J, your continued support has kept me afloat. You have shown unending patience that I'm pretty sure I tried and tested to the limit but you stayed put and never let me down a single time! K, I wouldn't even know where to begin lady. Not just over the last 6 months but the last few years. You have picked me up, you have made me laugh so hard I cried, you have taken away my darkness and helped me fight off my demons. My cousin, thank you for just being you! For taking no nonsense and for being a true friend who tells me what I need to hear not what I want to hear.

I could keep going but I'm actually in tears as I write this. I would love to give each and every one of you a special shout out for the things you have done for me but I think my heart would explode. Just know that you have all literally saved my life. Creating and maintaining relationships is one of the hardest things for me to do and so to have you guys there for me no matter what, I just cannot translate it into words how it makes me feel. 

Those of you reading my blog and giving me feedback, you too are wonderful. You keep me going by simply being. My blog has reached heights I could never have envisioned and for that I am eternally grateful. 

You can still donate to Rethink via my Just Giving page if you wish. 

Writing this blog has been hugely emotionally difficult for me so I will end it here with the words of CLASP Charity; You are not alone. 

Keep smiling :(:

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

My Week From Hell!


What a week I had last week!! 

Where to start? Let's start on a positive note. The terrible week that I have had will make for a good blog.  If that's not bright side thinking I don't know what is! 

Sunday (last) wasn't a terrible day. Usual Sunday activities included staying in my pjs all day and doing not very much of anything I did manage to get my Time to Change blog finished though! 

I was watching a movie from my childhood when I noticed the time, it was past midnight. I wasn't surprised by this. It's a rare event that I'm asleep before midnight anyway. 

I continued to watch films and by 4am I was starting to feel irritable I was tired but not the type of tired that leads to sleep. 

My thoughts had started to turn dark which meant any possibility of sleep had long since vanished!  I tried my usual things; lying in the room with the lights off, playing soft music, having some camomile and lavender tea, reading... Nothing was working. I don't like to take any variety of medication, much less anything that may induce a sleep-like state (because, let's face it, no one REALLY gets a good nights sleep after taking a pill...) so herbal remedies are welcomed with open arms. 

When I first purchased the lavender and camomile tea, I did so for 2 reasons. Firstly, the box was purple! I know, who does that?! Secondly, in wonderfully decadent quilled paper writing, the box proclaimed "SLEEP". 

I'm a rather big fan of tea. Most varieties. My cupboard is hugely stocked with tea of many varieties. I have simple chamomile tea which is rumoured to encourage calmness and help enable sleep but my insomnia just laughs in the face of the delicious chamomile flower! 

Lavender is not only a wonderful colour but also a glorious scent. I figured if it looked good and smelled good, surely it would taste good too? It did!  

For the first few nights I would have a nice steaming cup of this herbal blend, lie back and hope. Seemingly, it worked. I was overjoyed! For almost a week I slept soundly! Now, being of a scientific mind, I couldn't help but wonder; did the tea actually work or was it because I believed it worked? 

Psychology has a lot to answer for when it comes to this sort of thing. I didn't spend too long thinking about the reasons behind my sleep, I just wanted to enjoy it. However, it was not meant to be! That night, per my new found routine, I switched off my computer, made myself a nice hot mug of tea, laid back in my bed and closed my eyes. Any minute sleep would come and snatch me away... Any minute... It wasn't to be! 

Had I cursed myself?  Had I activated some subconscious part of my brain that knew the tea was a ploy? Suddenly I found myself thinking about the placebo effect. I started to recall all the types of medicine that had little to no effect on me. Then I started to consider my newly diagnosed hyper mobility syndrome and my apparent immunity to anaesthesia. Then I noticed my back hurt and I cursed my HMS! Before I knew it, it was 4am and I was still wide awake! Anyway, I digress! 

It was coming up to 4am and I decided to finish my ALS Ice Bucket Challenge blog. Whilst writing, I could hear strange noises outside. I got up to take a look what was going on and there was a small group of individuals seemingly singing/chanting... AT 4AM! 

I figured it wasn't worth doing/saying anything to them as I didn't know if they were dangerous! You can never be too safe right?! Instead I went online to find out if there was anyone I could report them to. I found a number, called them and yep, you guessed it, they couldn't do anything! Typical! 

Instead I continued with my blog which I finished at 6:45am, that felt good. The sleepiness had all but vanished now and I decided I ought to be productive. I plugged my blog and got a lot of positive feedback which is always good! 

By 7:45 I'd given up on the idea of sleep and decided to get some stuff done. I was happy a package arrived in the afternoon which is part of my nieces' and nephews' Christmas presents (Yes I'm ashamed at buying Christmas things so early!!). 

I continued to do some admin and run errands as well as adding a new page to my blog. I also had to accompany my cousin to the vet and then we went for a quick beer down at the local before heading back home. By the evening I was feeling suitably sleepy. I finished the last of my admin work and settled down to watch some TV. It was 8:30pm. I knew it was too early to go to sleep as I would just wake up monstrously early the following day. I tried to keep an eye on the time though as I had to go to do some course thing on the Tuesday at 10am! The clock rolled round to 1:30am and I decided to turn off the show I was watching and settle off to sleep. I'd had some of my tea so I was feeling hopeful. Before I realised, it was 4am and I could hear the familiar sounds of people "praising Jesus". I felt angry. Beyond angry, I was practically incandescent with rage!  I looked out of the window and there were around 10/15 of them. All stood in a circle, singing and chanting.

After another sleepless night, I decided there was no way I could attend the course I was supposed to do. I then contacted the local council noise complaint department. They told me  that as it was not within a dwelling, it was a police matter and I was to simply dial 999. Can you imagine that?! I call 999 and just say "Help, there's a bunch of people on the corner of my street singing..." That's a sure fire way to get a one way ticket to the loony bin! 

I was about to call the "less urgent" 101 number when my mobile rang. It was the lady I'd just spoken to at the Council. She asked if I'd read the Croydon Advertiser. I make it a habit not to do so. However, she told me I ought to take a look as there was a report of a group of people performing exorcisms... ON CHILDREN! I shit you not! Take a look at the article! You can't make that shit up!! This actually jolted a memory from earlier in the week when I'd noticed an advert outside a shop mentioning Croydon Exorcists and children that piqued my interest then I immediately forgot about!

So of course, now I was absolutely going to contact the police as not only was this unacceptable, it was a bit scary! 

Admittedly when I first called, I was rather angry. It wasn't the operator I was angry at but she didn't help matters by asking "well, why haven't you called us before?". Who would think that such a thing was a police matter? I'd have said council for sure! 

Anyway, the operator took my details and later that day an officer called me to take further information. I tried as calmly as possible to explain how my psychological issues have been exacerbated by 2 days of no sleep and I didn't know what I might do if they were there again. I was worried for my own safety and the safety of the individuals in question. I was very shaky and as well as not sleeping I'd not really eaten much. The officer who called me actually seemed to care. He asked me if I'd been to the doctors and if I needed any further assistance. I explained to him how difficult it was to actually get an appointment at my GP and assured him that if things got worse for me I would seek assistance.

Later that afternoon two police officers came round to my house to speak with me. They informed me that it was noting to be alarmed about. Alarmed? Who said I was alarmed. As I said to the officer, I couldn't care what they were doing, they can be performing ritualistic sacrifices for all I care, I just don't want it happening outside my house at 4am! The officers informed me that they would be sending someone out between 4 and 5am to move them on if they were there again. They then informed me that this had been going on all around the borough and the group said they would be done in a month. A MONTH! Once again, they told me it was nothing to be alarmed about and with that they left. I can tell you now, I've never had a decent dealing with the law. I've never personally been in trouble with the law however when I've required assistance I've found them to be utterly useless. Not just in London.

From what I understand, these individuals were NOT breaking the law! I find that difficult to believe. I'm pretty certain it's a breach of the peace! Had there been teenagers on the corner of my street at the same hour, you can be assured that they would have been immediately arrested and slapped with an ASBO. I imagine because these individuals were of a religious persuasion, the police decided to do nothing as they didn't want to cause an issue. I'm just guessing here of course. Who knows what logic was applied! 

I have no issue with people practising their religious beliefs. If that makes them happy, that's wonderful. What I do have an issue with is the effect that this has on my sleep! Being an insomniac, I get around 4/5 hours of sleep a night. This is not good quality sleep but it is sleep all the same. 4 hours is the ABSOLUTE minimum I can cope with so you can imagine how I was feeling after 48 hours on 4 hours sleep!

Tuesday night I must have just passed out from sheer exhaustion. I don't remember consciously going to sleep.

On Wednesday, I had a friend coming round in the morning then I was going out to meet another friend in the afternoon. It was nice to be able to be social for a change. I thought I was starting to get cabin fever! 

The morning visit went rather well aside from being greeted by an obnoxious looking For Sale sign outside my house which really annoyed me! It was time to head into London to meet my friend, D at St Pancras station. I was so happy to be seeing her. We don't see each other much. When I found her, we headed straight over to the pub for a drink and a catch up. It was so nice! She then asked if I would come to Gatwick Airport with her as she was meeting someone there and she was nervous, both about travelling across London and about seeing someone she hadn't seen in a long time. 

Ordinarily, there is a direct train from St Pancras to Gatwick Airport. However, owing to "overhanging cables" we were unable to go very far. The train was delayed initially coming into St Pancras but there was a very amusing station announcer called James who made everyone laugh with his comments about wishing he could help us all get home sooner and how terrible he felt that we were all being delayed. We had to try and find another route to Gatwick and someone told us we could go via London Bridge. We tried to go that way but were thwarted once again by delays and cancellations! 

"Welcome to London" I told D! I decided we'd be best off going to Victoria and getting a direct train from there. Seems I was wrong! The Gatwick Express was running just fine but all the other Gatwick trains were delayed for upwards of an hour! It had already taken us over two hours. I spoke to the station staff and they told me I could take the Express train. However, the Gatwick Express staff had other ideas! They were refusing to allow us to board. We weren't the only people irritated by this. Had we been going to catch a flight, we would have missed it! (Although I think I'd have more sense than to use public transport to travel to the airport unless I gave myself an extra two hours on top of the extra time required to check in! I'd also probably check in online!) 

After much to-ing and fro-ing I'd had enough, if someone wasn't going to let me through the gate I would simply take matters into my own hands! One of the staff members had informed me the supervisor had been contacted and was on his way. After another 30 minutes of waiting I asked him if he could contact the supervisor again. He responded in a very rude tone that he was "on his way so just wait"! That was it, I wasn't going to stand around and be spoken to like a piece of shit! 

I simply walked around to the wide gates. If someone was going to stop me, they'd have had a hard job. D was hot on my heels and from what I could tell, so were the other 10 or so annoyed passengers who were also fed up of being treated like second class citizens! I showed my ticket to the gent at the barrier and gave him my best "Don't even DARE try and fucking stop me" stare. It worked! We boarded the Gatwick Express and were on our way! 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of these self-important arseholes who feels she is deserving of things but after being delayed for over 3 hours in total and shoved from pillar to post whilst the Express train was leaving with more than enough space for excess passengers, I felt I was well within my rights! 

D and I arrived at the airport and checked into the hotel that she would be staying in that night. It was "trendy" I guess, if you like that sort of thing.  Once she'd readied herself, we headed off to Crawley where we were to meet her friend. (This was annoying as we could quite easily have got a train closer rather than spending an extra £17 in a taxi but he was rather sketchy with the details and I don't know the area so well!)

We arrived at the pub and football was playing. I am a Liverpool fan, I have been ever since I can remember. However, I hadn't watched a game in such a long time as it was something I used to do with my ex. However, having the Liverpool game in the background was preferable to having West Ham, or whatever the other team was, in the background. The area we originally sat in was occupied by some gents who were heavily engrossed in the West Ham V Whoever game. They struck up conversation with us but I didn't feel like talking to them. Especially since they were being rather aggressive when I mentioned I was a Liverpool supporter! I asked D if we could move to the other side where the Liverpool game was being shown and she obliged. The move was met with jeers and taunts from the other guys but I just ignored them. I was still tired and very cranky from 3 days of little to no sleep! 

Besides, when we relocated, I found some plug sockets to charge my phone! We had a drink and waited for D's friend to arrive. She spent quite some time telling me how much of a nice guy he was. I took her at her word. 

What follows is a super condensed version of events!! 

When he arrived, he seemed polite and well dressed. He introduced himself and conversations began. I tried to blend into a corner for a bit to allow D and him to catch up. Before I even realised what was happening, I was being drawn into a conversation about race and racism. "We're all born to be racists..." he informed me. I was absolutely aghast! I was certain he was joking so I replied with "Oh you're not one of these UKIP or Britain First supporters are you?" I was expecting him to laugh and say "Of course not, I'm pulling your leg!" However he replied with "Well, yes, since I can no longer support the BNP I support UKIP." He was very matter of fact about this. 

I figured it would be ok, I could just make a few neutral comments and not get drawn into anything. If there are three things I don't like to discuss (especially with complete strangers) it's football, religion and politics. These three topics ALWAYS descend into arguments. 

He was making sweeping generalisations that sounded like they were read from the now defunct News of the World. Ridiculous statements with no backup whatsoever. I said in the politest way "We've reached an impasse now, let's leave it at that." To which he retorted "Yeah you know I'm fuckin' right that's why you won't say anything." 

I allowed him to hold that opinion. I realised I was backed into a corner and he was a mob with a pitchfork! Instead I decided to go out and call a friend of mine, J, who is my voice of reason and has been for some months. I must have been on the phone to him for a good hour. I was yelling a lot and pacing the car park like a caged animal. Thankfully he calmed me down enough to walk back into the bear pit. Unfortunately, that was not the end of it. D's friend continued to prod at me with his idiotic ideas of "right and wrong" telling me how important racism is blah blah blah... It got to a point where I simply switched off! Then some friends of his came to join us. I thought there was some salvation. How wrong I was! 

I've met a lot of terrible people in my 29 years but I have never met anyone so bigoted or single minded as this guy and his friends. I'd had enough and it seems D sensed this. I told her I was going to head home rather than accompany her and her friend to the hotel. (Who want's to play the third wheel anyway?!) 

We got a cab to the nearest station and the other friend and I went to get our trains but not before D's friend hurled some sort of insult at me, calling me a scrounger or something.

I thought I could hold a conversation with the other friend until the train arrived. Oh how wrong I was! He started telling me all these things that were wrong with me and finished by telling me I was completely psychotic! I was stunned. Too stunned to even say no when he asked if I would wait for him until his train arrived...! 

Once he boarded his train, I went to the other platform to catch my own train. I was trying to analyse the evening. Was I psychotic? Was I completely wrong? Did I think I was better than these people...? I think yes was the answer to the last question but I'd never directly say such a thing. 

Tiredness, emotions and disbelief washed over me in huge thick waves. I boarded my train and when I sat down I started to cry. Not just ordinary crying, huge great body shaking sobs, there may have even been some wails. I think I may have been alone in my carriage but I didn't care! 

I couldn't control myself. I cried all the way to my station and then cried some more on the train home. I must have got home around 1am. Completely emotionally and physically drained. I'd stopped crying by this point. I was simply numb. I messaged my cousin to let him know I'd arrived home and I just slumped to the floor outside my house. I wasn't crying any more. I was just staring. My cousin came out of the house and sat outside with me. 

My cousin is another voice of reason. However, he leans too far in the opposite direction to J. He has a very clean, logical way of dealing with things. He doesn't "do" emotions. I'd reached the edge. I couldn't go on. I talked about giving it all up. Going back home with my tail between my legs. Facing defeat. My cousin told me I was just being silly and that I'd feel better by the morning. He was probably right but it wasn't enough! Then some drunken idiot came and sat with us on the floor.  Ordinarily, I would simply ignore him or walk away but I'd already completely lost my shit. He then touched me. He put his hand on my leg. I yelled at him to get his hand off me and after trying to force a friendship he got up and left. 

After he left, I noticed again the gaudy green For Sale sign outside my house. I felt as though it was taunting me! I walked over to it and kicked it free from the cable ties that were so delicately holding it to the gate post and launched it across the street. That's right, I took my anger out on an inanimate object. Ordinarily I would be punching walls, punching people, smashing things up or cutting myself so I took this as a good sign! (Excuse the pun!)

I got inside and my cousin said he was going to order food. It was at this point I realised I'd eaten absolutely nothing all day! I added my food to the order and went upstairs where I promptly passed out. Whether it was from sheer exhaustion, hunger, alcohol consumption or a combination of all three I can't be sure but I slept reasonably well, given the circumstances at least.

I woke up on Thursday with a pounding headache and the knowledge that I had to attend the job centre at 3pm! This is quite possibly one of my least favourite things to do for reasons I will discuss in another blog very soon. I realised I hadn't actually added any job searches to my Universal Jobmatch profile but I had applied for jobs so I figured I would be fine. 

My advisor was usually quite relaxed and pleasant so I just scribbled down the jobs I'd looked at and the interviews I'd arranged and figured I'd be fine. Unfortunately, the "gods of happiness" still weren't working in my favour. My advisor was off sick and I had been lumbered with someone else. I explained to her how I'd had a week from hell resulting in a near-breakdown and I simply didn't get round to updating the site.  Her response was this; "Do you think it's ok that you haven't bothered to complete one little task? Do you think an employer would care if you hadn't slept much in a week? Would that be a valid excuse to not do your job..." I couldn't believe what I was hearing! Was she really saying this?! Then I heard the words that no unemployed individual wants to hear "... I'm going to have to place a sanction on your benefits...!" This meant no money. I got little enough as it was. I could feel myself getting angry. I held on to my cup of tea quite tightly, feeling the hot liquid scalding my hand as it escaped from the lid. It would be foolish to argue I told myself as she tapped away at the computer. 

Suddenly, she looked a little deflated then she looked straight at me and said "You're lucky your signing day was last week..." LUCKY? Was she fucking kidding right now?! She then nodded that it was ok for me to leave. I got up from my seat and walked out of the Job Centre in some sort of fugue state. I don't actually remember leaving the building but the next thing I realised I was sat on a wall outside angrily smoking and muttering to myself "Fucking lucky? She doesn't know the meaning of the damn fucking word!" 

I don't actually remember the rest of what happened after leaving the job centre. I know I went to a few shops and bought some stuff, I also picked up food for my housemates but beyond that, nothing! 

I do recall sitting on the bus, however, listening to my music as is often the case and Gerry & the Pacemakers - You'll Never Walk Alone came on.  This is one of those songs that I have on my iPhone but I never actually listen to. As a kid, this song used to upset my mum so by default it upsets me too. This time though, I listened to the whole song. Not a single tear escaped. I had a sudden moment of clarity like nothing I've ever experienced.  That song was finally speaking to me. I have some pretty spectacular friends and I have been walking through a storm lately but I've not had to do it alone. 

Interestingly, I am now playing this song and I have the same chills I always get and the tears are free falling! 

I slept seemingly well on Thursday. I don't actually remember if I'm honest! However, I did wake Friday with a spring in my step as I was going to visit some wonderful friends! Also, I'd posted a poem of mine to Tumblr and got more than 150 notes over night. That made me very happy too. 

Friday was a wonderfully busy day, I spent most of it chasing around twin two year olds with lots of giggling and laughing. Friday night was even better! It was the opening night of a friend's new cabaret show. There were lots of people there who I knew and lots of networking for me to do. I also made a new friend!  Unfortunately, I didn't get to sleep until 5 the following morning and had to be up at 8 for an interview but I was happier than a pig in poop.  

The interview went very well. I'm relieved given that I'd reached the point of mania and developed uncontrollable giggles 20 minutes beforehand. After the interview, my weekend was pretty much about kicking back and wiping the dirt from the week prior off myself!

It's funny isn't it that I can write so well about all the bad stuff that happened and I seem to simply gloss over the good things. That's not my intention, it's just I've been at this for hours now and my brain is frazzled plus my hands are killing from so much typing! Also, I have to prepare for round two of this interview! 

It's difficult for me to write about positive things if I'm honest without it coming off as sappy and downright disgusting. One thing I will say though, I have some amazing friends and they will have their own blog shortly! 

The take home message from this blog is that no matter how shitty life may seem, there is always a silver lining if you look hard enough. 

Keep Smiling :):