some things last a long time

I want an outdoor shower. Driving back from a long, lazy day at the beach, hang the wet towels and the bathing suit on the washing line, jump under the cool stream of clean water, rinse off the sand, the dust, the salt from your skin. The warm wind and a clean, white cotton towel will dry the little drops of water, your hair won’t even have time to drip down the back of your neck, your feet stuck in a pair of old leather sandals. Scorched earth. Early evening burning sun. The suggestion of a breeze. Glass of white wine. A thin, loose dress. And the smell of lavender. And rosemary.

I have another writing gig in two weeks time. And I’m working hard, both inside and out, to get ready to take the big plunge of jumping from the cliff, out, out, down and into the unknown. Ride the wave of passion and adventure. Leave behind the uncomfortable comfort zone. And I have no regrets. Not about the yesterdays, not about tomorrow that I am slowly heading towards. It would make me so insanely happy if I could spend my life typing stories and interviews and portraits and whatever words I’m required to write. I have an idea for a Guardian article but I need to wait until next year to pitch it. I’m going to write it anyway, someone else can buy it if they don’t want it. I have some goals. They are humble, all things considering. They’re also private. But they’re there.

Today, I attended a proper yoga class, the Friday class I used to love so much, for the first time in 1 1/2 years. I feel restored. And fucking sore. And I’m cooking. And cleaning. And compartmentalising. And sleeping. And it’s such a fragile eco system, it does not take much to make my heart beat like a demented drum but if I can just… just keep it all afloat; dodge the worst of the stress – people, situations, whatever – embrace the ease with which it is possibl to live your life, then I WILL learn to live with it. I’m already living with it. I live. I am alive. I’m halfway up the mountain, I’ve reached a plateau but I’m only stopping to reapply my lipstick and spray on some more perfume. A shower, a shit and a shave, as Tyres from Spaced would say. And tomorrow we’re off again. I’m reclaiming my body, yoga put me back in touch, and I promise myself I will not let that feeling go again. I’m reclaiming my energy, spending it on actions that make my life easier, better, more fun, more connected. I’m reclaiming my mind. The beast is lying dormant, I’m learning to step away from bad character traits – in others, in me – and embrace the strange. Turn and face the strange, ch-ch-changes. When your protective layer is stripped away and even the gentle flap of a butterfly wing causes you intense, corrosive pain, acid on your flesh, thunder in your cerebral cortex, then you suddenly see people for what they truly are. You cannot see or feel yourself but as you regain that ability, you also regain the ability to see those around you. And it is so sad to see that so many grown men and women are angry. And that their anger turns them into bullies. I can’t hug them all. But I can dodge and twist and turn and slither and avoid, avoid, avoid. Because I cannot absorb their anger. I cannot take the brunt of their pain. I used to think that I was supposed to but I’m not, that’s wrong. Because I have never had the guts to let anybody truly absorb mine. Which I guess is one of the reasons why what happened did happen. But I guess also one of the reasons I must, for the life of me, and until my death, never, ever do that to myself again.

Tomorrow I’m back in the saddle and up the mountain again we go. I can feel a tattoo manifesting itself at the end of the tunnel. When I reach the top of the hill. I’m not religious but I believe in the symbols, the marks in time, the notches in your timeline that you create yourself. I remember every time I did something symbolic. Right now, I remember the time at the airport where I ripped up the set list from one of the many gigs my then boyfriend has worked at after he cheated on me. That was the beginning of the end of a doomed relation that took so long to finish, to strangle, to kill. There are more but I can’t revisit, not tonight. But tattoos are a good, physical way of turning a corner, making a mark on yourself -this mattered, this should be a mark in time that should not be forgotten. You cannot censor the past and I wish to celebrate them. I keep the important tattoos hidden; the pretty ones on display.

I have no illusions. The beast was a beautiful cub for so long but now it is a full grown animal and it will never die. As long as it’s asleep, we can be friends. The tranquilliser darts took a while to kick in but there’s only a low grow now, an ever-so-often yelping roar, and once he is completely asleep – comatose, if I am lucky – I’ll climb the dusty stairs to my once so beautifully decorated room. Quietly push the heavy wooden door open and pray the hinges do not squeak. I will inspect him, as best I can, as much as I can without waking him. Pushing at his paw, the pads, the claws; checking his ear for infection. Maybe he likes a tummy rub, even if he might dream it’s something else. I imagine Coming To Terms will be snuggling up next to him, my head under his big, sleeping head, his furry front leg as a blanket. I’m not quite there yet. Fuck, I’m not even sure he isn’t still keeping one eye open.

We’ll get there, beast, I promise. And once we do, I’ll give you a name.

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sinking

Anxiety is such a cocksucker. Waves of it today. So I stuck two fingers up at adulthood and played video games for 7 hours. There’s something so deliciously naughty about being a 31 year old woman deliberately ignoring that pile of laundry that should have been done whilst shooting the face off various bad guys and creatures. But god damn, it makes you feel empty, too. I mean yeah, I consider myself a damn good virtual sniper but do I have any clean underwear? Do I fuck.

Sigh.

I’ve been thinking of The Cure today. Sinking, to be specific. For the unenlightened:

I just woke up with it playing in my head. Yes, it is an exceptionally depressing song. I can’t remember if I ever wrote this down, I probably did, but there was a point, I think last year, where I would wake up with a random new song in my head every day. For no apparent reason. It was strange. Not unpleasant. Just made me wonder what was going on up there in the old brain department.

Some oddities: I get strangely manic and scared. Then I swallow so pills and it seems to calm it down. Not a bad system but the realisation is strange. Before I just felt horrible until it went away. Yay drugs, sure, but is this my life? For now, forever? Also, I still think I’m seeing things. Not big tangible things, I don’t have a shed in the garden where I pin newspapers cuttings to the walls and draw red pieces of strings in between nonsense in search for meaning because Paul Bettany is telling me there is one, this isn’t A Beautiful Mind, there’s nothing particularly beautiful about any of this. It’s just, like… something appears in the corner of my eye and I’m momentarily shook by it. I look, nothing’s there, I move on. I’m not scared, I’m not disturbed, I’m just curious as to what the fuck is there, if anything, and if nothing is indeed there, why the fuck my brain thinks there is. I don’t hear voices. But I do see things. I know nothing’s there. Unless it gets drastically worse, I guess I’m going to just accept it as a Thing in My Life Post Crash.

I can’t explain to people how I feel, now. There’s nothing to see and nothing to feel in my presence. It’s like it’s Over. I’m medicated, I’m back at work, I’m seeing friends again, I’m doing fairly normal stuff including cooking and being lazy about the housework and shit. But I went into town yesterday and felt incredibly, horribly overwhelmed and alone. Deep breaths, needed to get a few simple things, kept getting sucked into shops that were way too big only to realise that I had no business being there. It was deeply unpleasant.

And here it is. I don’t want to live this life. I don’t want to live in this world, in this society, with these people. I’m looking for people who are honest and good and true to themselves and to me. I don’t want an easy life because there is no such thing. All there is is LIFE and it is what it is what it is. I don’t want THIS one. And when I say this, I don’t mean the one I can change, the one I can’t. The government. The feeling of horror and injustice. The cruelty and pointless violence and hatred. I want love. Peaceful existence. Which might not exist. And THAT makes me more scared than anything else on earth.

I’m rambling, I’m mumbling, I’m not tired, I’m just fucking lost. I can’t tell if I’m getting worse. This scares me, too.

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love

A friend sent me this song today. Fuck, man. Listening to this feels like cutting your chest open and rubbing your bleeding, blood pumping, raw heart against unpolished wood.

 

I think maybe it’s despair that I’m feeling. I’ve been trying to pinpoint it. Despair and loneliness, but the latter isn’t exactly new. And the walls close in and it’s hot and humid in my tiny flat, ‘she’s so fine, she’s in my mind’ and I’m just. So. Bored.

I’m bored and scared. It’s a god damn terrible combination of feelings.

What are we supposed to do? All of us running around with bleeding hearts and lonely souls and this primal urge to confess your sins to a partner, an ally, a familiar. Where do we go? How do we find each other? And why are there so FUCKING many of us? We reach out for a piece of warm skin in the dark but there’s only the cold walls of our bedrooms and the sweaty sheets of our beds. We try to hold our own hands but it feels so empty to pretend, it’s not even worth pretending. The world is big and wild and dangerous and the more scared we get, the more we look out for ourselves and the less we see each other, the less we feel each other. I don’t know what I’m asking for. Something real, maybe. Sex is a wonderful shield but when that’s been drugged out of you, all you have left is loneliness. And love. Love to give, to pass on, to throw at someone else. And you throw and throw and throw and it just slides down the front of their shirts, they do nothing to catch it. At least give it back, you know, you didn’t have to let it fall to the floor. ‘Needing other people is not a weakness’. Such utter bullshit. Of course it is. Needing love is humanity’s biggest weakness. If we didn’t need that, we’d all be free. Hopes fulfilled, dreams accomplished, problems solved, freedom achieved. Sex a game. Sex is easy. And it’s easy to get right. Love is difficult. Love I never got right. Friendly love is wonderful. Romantic love is terrible. Love love fucking love, shove it up your arse.

Yeah, I wouldn’t date my depressed ass either.

 

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The Côtes du Rhône is room temperature, the cigarettes have never tasted better, or worse. The honey dew melon is so aromatic, it’s almost too velvety and overpowering. Two steps to too ripe but still…sweet.

Confidence is a fickle friend. One moment, you are sauntering down the street, arm in arm, the sun on your face, the wind in your loose garments, moving your hair across your face. You look at people passing you and you see them. And they see you. And it’s beautiful.

The next moment, you’re walking alone. And instead of seeing people, you just observe them, without being able to understand them at all.

Yes. I am definitely softer. It’s nice to not be so rough and tough and covered in metal plates. But it’s difficult, too. Because ultimately, I consider my emotions my greatest weakness.

I’m rewatching American Horror Story – Hotel. I very much disliked it the first time around but I’m changing my mind.

I loved the character of Liz Taylor so very much. Denis O Hare is a beautiful actor. He was fantastic in True Blood and in every single episode of AHS but never as much as in Hotel. Oh Liz. I wish you were real so I could get to know you.

It’s been nearly a year since my uncle died. I miss him terrible. His initials adorn my body in the shape of a tattoo close to my heart and sometimes I feel him in it. I miss you, uncle. I never knew and maybe never will never know someone so alike me, someone I understood better. To see him decay in front of my very eyes was both devastating and beautiful. Devastatingly beautiful, maybe. It was life. Life in its purest form. You get sick, your body eats itself from the inside, you die.

Our last conversation I will never forget. I’d flown in last minute for the weekend to stay at his house with my aunt and my mother, his sister. We arrived, we hugged, we ate, we drank, we smoked, we talked, we cried, we laughed, it felt never ending. He was very weak, and frail, but alive. Sunday. I had joked that he’d have to stay alive until the following weekend when my real holiday started. He was reclined on his bed, overlooking the fields, and the sea, and I sat down next to him and said, ‘I just want to say one thing’ and he interrupted me going, ‘I know, I have to stay alive until next weekend’. And I said, ‘No. What I wanted to tell you is that you don’t have to wait for me’. And then I hugged him and kissed him and got up and walked out of the room and out of the house and into the world of the living and I never saw him again because he died that Tuesday morning. My aunt’s sister and her husband visited on the Monday. And then he went to sleep and didn’t wake up. Liver failure. Caused by the cancer that was everywhere. I miss you, uncle. You were a difficult man but I completely understood you. I wish I could see you again. Play records. Drink wine. Smoke cigarettes. Talk about important things. Laugh inappropriately.

I know it was his death that sent me over the edge. I want to cry very badly right now but the tears won’t come, not really. So, I’ll go to bed, instead. Maybe my dreams will help me see him again. You can’t rely on dreams, and they don’t mean anything anyway.

I’m starting to feel a little lost again.

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it’s not your fault – a letter of apology

To all the people waiting for an apology from someone who has or is struggling with anxiety, depression or any other kind of mental health issue:

I am sorry.

I’m sorry you don’t understand what it’s like, and I’m sorry I can’t explain it to you properly. I’m sorry my brain decided to fuck itself and I’m sorry it rendered me useless, to you and to me. I’m sorry I lost the ability to put a sentence together, not in thought, not in words. I’m sorry I lost the ability to care about anything, you and me included. I’m sorry I spent 26 hours awake, running on the fumes of mania because the constant chatter in my head was keeping me awake. I’m sorry I sleep for 16 hours straight only to be awake for 2 and then sleep for another 10. I’m sorry I couldn’t look you, or anybody, in the eye, because I felt that if I did you would be able to see my bleeding soul and I was ashamed. I’m sorry I haven’t showered for a week. I’m sorry I don’t cry dramatically across the bed. I’m sorry I dare to smile when I should be ‘depressed’. I’m sorry you don’t know what that means. I’m sorry.

I’m sorry?

Are you fucking kidding me?

I am NOT sorry. What the FUCK do I have to say sorry for? You think I wished this on myself? You think I did this to annoy you? You think it was a holiday? You think being stripped of the ability to perform basic human tasks is a fucking joke? A laugh? A GAME? You think because you, too, had a rough time once but struggled through, I’m not allowed to crash? You think this is a competition? Your judging eyes and painted-on smile is telling me to EXPLAIN myself, APOLOGISE for being soft and weak, PAY YOU BACK, somehow, with words and deeds and humility. Do you think being betrayed by my own brain was a choice I willingly made? Does the cancer stricken choose the disease themselves? They can’t help it, but… but I can?

You fucking ignorant asshole prick.

It is YOU who should be sorry. It is you who should apologise.

You are sorry for assuming that I am a fraud on zero grounds.
You are sorry for deciding I am guilty until I prove myself otherwise.
You are sorry for not being able to look at me with anything but disdain.
You are sorry for not having having the guts to just fucking ask me.
You are sorry for not believing my words if you then do.
You are sorry for not understanding because it’s hurting me.
And you are sorry for being bitter waiting for that apology… because you are never, EVER going to get it.

 

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open windows, closed drapes

There is a dead bumblebee on the outside windowsill. Belly up, legs clutching nothing, peaceful look on its face. Yes, the latter may well be an exaggeration. Let’s just say it looks intact. I’ve got wasps living in the wall outside. Wonder if they had anything to do with this. Now I kind of want to write an aviation insect mystery novel. Detective Sting solves yet another crime.

I guess the biggest impact this whole Crash thing has had on my writing is that I am no longer scared of writing my emotions. Of being pretentious and colourful and soft and dreamy. It made me gag before. Not in others, of course, just in myself. You daft twat etc. Now it’s just…the way it is. And I look back on my film reviews on my other blog. And I still think there’s something there, I’m not a self-hating writer exclusively. It’s just so different from this…and I think happiness lies in the space between the two. The fast and the furious. Maybe more the fun and the fantastical. The elaborate and the emotional. And so on.

Soft. I am softer, maybe. Humble, for sure. More…respectful. I try to treat myself in the same way as I treat others. I am new. New in a couple of ways. I’m softer of body, that’s not a maybe. It bothers me and it doesn’t. I touch my softer arms and admire my fuller figure in the window reflection as the train pulls up and I’m fascinated and disgusted all at once. I spent so long shaping it. Toning. Two months and it’s soft and squishy. I’m trying to tell myself I’m cutting myself a break but I fear my gym days are over. I miss yoga. And I do miss running. I miss the rush and kick and push and sweat but I don’t miss the others. The routine. When I grow up and I get my room of my own in my house of colours and lavender, I want there to be space for a yoga mat. A desk for writing. A space for yoga. A view of the gardens. A smell of rosemary and lavender.

I can’t stop writing. It’s like I’ve finally cracked the code, I’ve finally found the source and now I’m tapping into it like never before, shamelessly, greedily, emotionally. It’s… fantastic. I don’t know if I’ve got anything to say but said it must be. And I look around and I don’t give a fuck about any of it except my written observations of whatever I’m focused on. Right now it’s me. Hopefully, soon, it will be other things – films, music. I haven’t lost momentum. I musn’t think that I have. I am just taking the time I need, the time I need to allow myself to take because I really, truly, utterly just want to dive back into everything head first. It would overload me and my head would explode. When my mother tried to express her fear of exactly that, her voice broke and I know it’s that serious. So I stop myself. Pause, at least.

I’m sleeping downstairs at the moment ‘cos it’s too hot on the mezzanine. It reminds me of the time where I would spend so much time on that daybed that I’d get sore muscles. It’s not that long ago. It feels like a lifetime ago. I know I’ve made ‘tremendous progress’, I know that, I’ve experienced it, I’ve seen myself from the outside looking in and now I’m back inside looking out but I remember it very clearly and vividly. It’s not looking at things with new eyes, I don’t understand that. It’s being NEW. Yeah, your eyes are new but so is your way of using those eyes, what you choose to look at, focus on.

Anxiety. Depression. I have to learn to live with them. I am, I think. My eyes are open. As good a start as any.

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today

The scorching heat is burning a hole in the centre of London. All the trendy shorts and white t-shirts, flowery dresses and semi-tanned feet are out, walking the streets, searching for respite in the few and far between shadows of the city. It is 33 degrees, and sometimes I do truly wonder if we are nothing but part of a turtle’s dream in outer space*. It’s all so very surreal. and maybe it makes sense to someone, who knows. Objectivity vs subjectivity is an interesting discussion but not one for tonight.

I’m so hot. And I’ve made a list of things I have to do. Want to do. Need to do, for me. One thing at the time, no stress, no promises. It’s strawberry season. I want to stick my head in the fridge. Better than the oven, right? I can feel the little drops of sweat running down the back of my legs; they tickle my ankles before the fall onto the carpet.

It was fine. It was as expected and feared – familiar. Like falling into a beanbag. A turtle on its back in a beanbag. Mission fucking impossible. I won’t let it become that. I am Tom Cruise. I’m doing the maths now, seriously, I can move a few roads away and half my rent if I’m willing to share a bathroom with some other sad fucks. I love my flat but it can’t hold me back financially if, when, I change jobs and take the big plunge.

It’s actually too hot to write. Imagine that.

*from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – “Charlie Rules the World” episode

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