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Can I have a do-over?

Or at least that’s what I text my friend the other day.

These last….six months have been relentless. I haven’t been able to catch my breath from one moment to the next. And that has been exhausting.

For someone who requires stability and routine in order to function from one day to the next….the last few months have left me spinning. My very own waltzers have been increasing in momentum….my homing beacon isn’t only just switched off…it’s in a different universe from what I can tell…my swans wings have been flapping almost as hard as my feet have been paddling and still…..the war of attrition has sucked me back in.

I’ve changed jobs, to one that whilst…requires less hours…it requires much more head space and much more mask wearing. I’m on my own for great swathes of the day. That’s a long time to be with my own thoughts.

My very own Everest has beaten me for now. I could see the summit…and then I slipped back too far to reach it this year.

Childcare has been a nightmare, I get that having kids and going to work was my choice. And I did it for all the right reasons. But its a minefield. And mines are detonating everywhere I turn.

There’s been a bereavement…which I found out about…by accident it would appear. Actually there is no appear about it. That’s exactly how I found out.

I’ve had to meet loads of new people. In fact its a prerequisite of my job – forming relationships. The irony of someone like me having to form and build relationships for a job. That’s hilarious.

And perhaps most concerning….I’ve come off my antidepressant.

Not my anti psychotic. We increased the dose of that and removed the antidepressant. At first it was accidentally. In the maelstrom of changing jobs and all the drama that ensued with the big green kitchen company….I forgot to take it. My sleep didn’t change, I woke up in a good mood….so I ran with it…..

The first month was amazing. Everything was fantastic. No withdrawal….no sleep issues…I was happier and more content…awesome right?

Then the second month happened…the nightmares came back, the insomnia came back. I was so tired I cried in a car park because someone snapped at me…I felt physically ill with exhaustion. My bones hurt. I was so tired….but I just couldn’t sleep….and when I did sleep….back to the beginning…back to the violence of past relationships, back to seeing my girls die before my eyes….back to waking up screaming and drenched in sweat…there was just no respite.

Then the third month came….the nightmares are less. I still dream. I still have exhausting dreams, but the antipsychs are keeping me….well sane I guess. My sleep pattern is some bizarre version of fucked up. I’ll sleep for 10 hours one night and not at all two nights later. I’m assuming it’s just my body trying to work out its own thing….I’ll ride it out. I don’t want to go back on the anti depressants.

Not because I have anything against them….but because…the benefits of not being on them are now outweighing the benefits of taking them. And thats part of taking control of my own health….learning when I need the boost and when I can manage on my own….

But in saying this….it’s not been all bad.

It’s kept me on my voyage of learning who I am.

I swapped jobs to another role within an international company…and I love it. It pushes me, it engages me…this could be a career. So I’m passionate about it….the big green company job is another post entirely. And one I will be writing, and one I will tag them in. Because that was a soulless,destroying company and hell will rain down on the heads of the management before I’m through with them…..

I’ve maintained some good relationships with people I thought I’d lose over the natural course of time. But now it’s like, because we don’t have work binding us together…we have to make the effort….and that’s nice. It’s reinforcing the lack of scarlet in me at the moment.

The bereavement…I genuinely…I don’t care. And thats not my BPD. It sounds horrible, but the woman who died….she hadn’t engaged with me for years prior to that, and her son – my father, well he was no better. So finding out by accident was a bit cruel, but hey….so what?

 

So overall, no I don’t want a do over. I’ve learnt lots about myself in the last 6 months. I’ve learnt how resillient I am. How strong I am. How I can adapt as needed.

I’ve learnt that actually, I really am in control of my BPD. And that, that’s amazing. Thats real progress. I really love some aspects of my mental health illness… I still love the empathy I have because of it. I really love how it means I can help people. I love the way I see sounds and taste words. I’m fascinated by the way my mind works.

 

I hate the way I don’t have that much control over my emotions. So I’ve taught myself to control how I react to my emotions. Thats a life skill, even neurotypical people struggle with.

 

So fuck it, overall…I’m still winning this battle. Or at least…I’m keeping from being overthrown. And for now. That’ll do.

BPD and me…my new realisations.

I appear to be writing more frequently about my BPD at the minute. I’m not having a relapse, but I am acutely aware of it at the moment.

I’m tentatively telling people about it again. Mainly because I’ve been seeing flashes of the scarlet me coming through. But also, because every so often I gain a new level of insight. It’s like all the time my subconscious is working on it, trying to unravel the thread and help me. Help me to know just exactly what is going on inside my head.

Recently I became aware of how even missing a single dose of quetiapine will spark my absurd behaviours and brain whimsy.

My BPD causes me to suffer with dissociation. This means that I have a constant “out of body” experience on my life. Like I’m looking down on whats going on, but I’m not really there. The quetiapine and mirtazpine mean that for the last 18 months that hasn’t happened. Well. Not as bad as it was. See, I have great swathes of my life that I don’t really remember. The mundane things, the day trips to castles, the grocery shopping, passing my driving test….these things happened through a curtain. I could see, smell and taste. But I couldn’t engage properly. It means my recollection of these things is hazy. It’s why I’m in the habit of documenting life through photographs.

My grasp on what I actually look like hasn’t improved. I’m still surprised when I look in the mirror. I still see my self as that ugly sewer rat. I’m sure other people do too. I know, logically, that I’m perfectly average looking. But I can’t believe that. So I cover up the insecurity and low self esteem with makeup and bravado. It’s a tool in my armoury that gets me through.

My paranoia is at an all time low. Unless I miss a dose of the Quetiapine. Luckily, I have a close friend I can rely on to give it to me straight. She soon tells me if my reaction to a situation is within normal parameters or not.

My control over my emotions…well. I’m there. I’ve grasped it sort of. I know how to present a neutral face. I’m still the swan paddling furiously, serene to everyone but hectic underneath, and I still don’t have a homing beacon. But I’ve learnt to put a facade on. “If it’s not okay, it’s not the end”. I get described as “cold”. Which I’m fine with. I’m not. I’m about the most loving, spirited person I know. I’m legitimately batshit mental, I laugh so hard I cry, I get so angry I can’t see, I love so hard my heart hurts. But each, and every single time. “Are you ok” or variations there of, always, without fail get answered with “yeah I’m good thanks”. Because, not only do people not want the legitimate answer, but I don’t know how to give it. How do you respond to “are you ok” with “I’m seeing and tasting words, my thoughts are too loud and I’m over stimulated” which is what my “Im good thanks” translates to. You can’t. You can’t give people that answer.

Which brings me nicely to … yes, I still see words. I still taste them. I see sounds…not in the cool way with colours, but in shapes and patterns. Remember old alacetel phones? The ring tones on them were little red cuboids with rounded corners. Thursday still tastes of bacon.

My self esteem is largely the same. I still use bluff and bluster to get me through most situations. I have a telephone voice I use with nearly everyone. I still ignore most phonecalls. And most social situations. Unless it’s a random spur of the thing. I just can’t handle it.

So have I really come that far in two years? If I still avoid situations? If I still wake up screaming in the night? If I still feel like I’m on the waltzers and want to get off? If I still question everything…why did they say that, why did they look at me like that, are they laughing at me, what do they want from me? I still lie in bed and feel like the words in my thoughts are too loud  and too bright…like I’m hurtling head first into the back of a truck.

I have. I’ve come a long way. I’ve had a job for the last 18months, I’ve maintained a couple of friendships, I’ve helped people. I’ve been good and kind, just because I can. Not because I know it’s the normal thing to do. I’ve stopped getting stuck in the memories that I wish I could rip out of my mind and pour bleach onto.

But I’ve also become quite numb. Things that should devastate me…well I can switch off to them. That’s brilliant. I don’t obsess over the negative now. I’ve learnt that my emotions are fleeting. And something that hurts in that second, well, in the next second I’ll probably have moved on from it. Because thats what I do. Ultimately, afterall, BPD is defined by being unable to regulate emotions. Now I’ve learnt thats why I can’t…I’ve stopped hating myself for it. And instead I’ve educated myself on suitable responses to normal , everyday situations.

Have I forgiven the people that have contributed to making me this way? No. I never will. Have I forgotten them? No. Does it consume me still? No.

 

And thats that. That’s why whilst it doesn’t seem like I’ve come far…I have. I’ve come miles. I’m still on a journey with no destination….but now the journey isn’t horrible

 

 

Life doesn’t stop because you have children.

What’s it really like to do it all?

It’s hard work. It’s guilt inducing. It’s never sleeping properly unmedicated because your brain can’t shut off from everything you’ve forgotten to do. It’s an open door to negativity. It’s leaving an open goal for judgement. It’s failing at everything at some point. It’s a slog. A long, hard, tedious, never ending slog.

But? It’s also the best of all words. Whilst being the best of none.

Going back to work as a mother of two young children was a daunting task. What at times seemed insurmountable. Getting a job after 6 years of being out of work, with only 3 years valid experience before that break. Working out how childcare was going to happen. What would happen if one of the children was ill. How I’d find the time to fit in everything. How the home was going to run smoothly. How would I cope with leaving the children. How would they cope with suddenly not having me there all the time. How would it still be possible to maintain a happy relationship with us both working full time. How to afford to work and pay for childcare.

And all that without taking into account completing a degree that I desperately want. And my well documented mental health problems.

At times it felt like it just wouldn’t be worth it. And when I have to leave my daughter when she’s vomiting into the toilet, it still seems like that. Handing the reigns to my husband, who is a wonderful father and contributes fully to the running of the home… but knowing that it wouldn’t be quite my way….it’s hard stepping back from that.

But I did it. Because the positives are always higher. More money coming in was actually the least important part of going to work. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face. There is more to being a woman than being a mother. And more to being a mother than wiping noses and holding hands. The top three reasons to return to work? Me. Me and again Me.

Selfish? Yes. Essential? Definitely.

I want my daughters to grow up knowing that in this life you work for what you want. A car? Work for it. A good job? Work for it. A nice home? Work for it. Nice clothes? Work for it. Weekends away? Work for it. Latest technology? Work for it. See a theme here? Everything worth having is worth working for. And it’s not about working hard, it’s about working smart.

I want to know that when my girls leave home, that that isn’t it for me. That’s not my whole lifes work gone and left. I don’t want to be 50 and suddenly starting my life. I want to be 50 and handing my girls the money for the air fare for a trip around the world. Money they’ve already gone and earnt, but now they can do it in style. I want to be able to have a discussion with them about interesting places we’ve visited, and know I’ve given them that thirst for life which so many seem to lack. I want to be able to smile at my husband and say “see you later, I’m off to Tuscany with the girls” (okay so probably not Tuscany, I plan on growing old disgracefully.) I want to be able to come in from a day at work and say to my husband “wow, today was so interesting.”  Not. “How was your day dear? I’ve sat and stared at four walls all day.”

I want to contribute to the world. And not just financially. For me, doing my degree and working in the area I do means that I can go onto get my Masters, and my Doctorate. It means that one day I’ll be contributing to the endless research into mental health. I’ll be helping people who, like I have, have needed meds and therapy. I want to give back what I’ve taken out.

So those nights when I come in from work, and smile tiredly at my long-suffering husband, and go upstairs and kiss the sleeping heads of my children who I’ve not seen since the day before, and I take my shoes off and take a long awaited decent cup-of-tea and just want to sleep and wonder why I bother. I think of all the things I’ve said and remember why I do it.

Why I work full time, complete a degree and raise two beautiful, intelligent, well mannered girls.  Why I accept the mumblings from so called friends about how I’m an awful person for leaving my children. Why I have working mother induced guilt, which can bring me to my knees. Oh god that guilt is a hard one.

Because for all my well thought out reasons and beliefs I genuinely hold. Leaving my girls tears my heart out. Every single time. Because of course I want to be the one wiping their noses and holding their hands. Of course I miss them. Of course I want to be cuddling them and reading with them. Of course I want to be a full time mummy. But unfortunately, time doesn’t stop running whilst they grow. In fact it goes quicker. Which is why it’s vital, for me to be a well rounded and happy adult, I have to work. And I have to complete my degree.

Because in 11 years, when my degree is complete, and my masters and doctorate are mine….suddenly I’ll have all this free time. I’ll have a good job. Which means in 20 years, when its my daughters turns to be facing this same juggling act I can be there to support them, and I can tell them it’ll be okay, and it means the time you spend with the loved ones in your life is cherished. Every second. That it means that okay, it’s hard now, but it will get easier. That the guilt will end, that you’ll see your children thrive with the independence.

Because when my girls are older, they’ll look back on their childhoods and go “okay, so mum wasn’t there 100% of the time, but when she was we had fun. We went out and did things. We saw the world. We visited our aunt on the other side of the world. We did stupid things like have paint fights, and upside down picnics. She wasn’t there in person all the time, but when she wasn’t, she was out grafting to make the world a better place for us and for our children.”

So when you take into account all the negatives to working, getting your qualifications and having a family, and their are a veritable legion of negatives. The positives and the reasons for working are much much more.

So to all the people that slag me, and any other working mother off, what ever. When your children have grown up and left home. What are you going to have for you? Because that’s the thing, we are a sum of all our parts. And to me, having children is just one of the facets of my life.

I work. I study. I parent. I wife (what’s the verb for wife?). And I don’t get it right all of the time. Probably not most of the time. But my reasons are good. My hearts in the right place. And I try to get the balance right.

So to any mother out there, who can identify with anything I’ve said. Just remind yourself, you’re doing well. You’re doing a good thing. And ignore all the negativity other people throw your way.