Tuesday, 17 December 2013

2013 - The Year of the Loser

So, it’s very nearly Christmas.  Here I am almost at the end of 2013 and I managed to survive.  Melodramatic, you might say, but well I suppose I’m nothing without my over the top melodramas.

We tend to enter a new year without really much idea of what’s ahead…unless you’re pregnant or getting married or something (but even then, unexpected things can happen in those most certain of events).  Last New Years Eve whilst dressed as a murderous cowboy at Tom and Fran’s house, little did I realise quite how bad a year 2013 was going to be for me.  The previous couple of months hadn’t been particularly great with the ongoing situation at work (being frozen out, talked about, moving offices, my maturity, work capabilities and professionalism being called into question by my peers) so I thought that 2013 had to be better than that.  Boy, was I wrong.

2013 saw my worst bout of depression, saw me actively contemplating suicide because I thought that the world would be a better place without me, that everyone would be better off without having to cope with this needy fat failure, this waste of space that I’d become. 

I sought help for my depression and thankfully (with a massive help of antidepressants and therapy) my head seems to be in a better place.  But those things alone didn’t just help, the support of my wonderful family, my brilliant husband David who has seen me at both my worst and my best (I’m sure better is to come too), my mam and dad who have helped me through with sheer unadulterated love (and some pretty off colour jokes about suicide from my da), my brothers and my incredibly intelligent and always hilarious niece who I love as though she were my own daughter; the sort of kid who sent me a text the other day telling me how much she loves me because she’d been reading this blog and had got upset that I’ve been so down.  She’s off to uni next year to study psychology – she could do a fascinating case study on the inner workings of her mental aunt.

I have such wonderful people surrounding me, fantastic friends who are always there for me, any time of the day or night – they’re the people who make me what I am; they’re who I aspire to be…and I really couldn’t have got through without everyone’s support: I’ve been overwhelmed with kind words from people I’ve known forever to people I barely know because we share the bond of depression.  I couldn’t have come so far without them.  I’m well aware this is becoming like an Oscar speech so I’m going to finish in a minute but before I do, I just want to say a couple more things:

My demons are not all gone.  They still exist, kind of like in a ghost trap from Ghostbusters.  I need to try and get them to the containment unit before they consume me so badly again (think Damian Karras at the end of The Exorcist – I don’t want that to happen to ME).  As The Smiths once sang, These Things Take Time and so I am still working hard on getting my head straight.

Because I’ve been busy concentrating on getting my head straight, I’ve let my body become ravaged (and ravished) by cakes and pies and Guinness and loads of other junk food.  I couldn’t do getting my mind and body right at the same time, so I shall be trying to get back into a shape that isn’t quite so round in the New Year.

And finally, just because, if at any point over the Christmas period you are feeling horrible and low and you can’t talk to anyone about it, please remember The Samaritans are there, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  They’re an amazing organisation and can really help in times of crisis. 

Thank you all so much for reading my blog posts.  I know they’ve mostly been depressing but sadly that’s been most of my year.  I will work on 2014 being the International Year of Tara Court, and if it isn’t, then it’ll all be okay as long as I continue to get better.

Merry Christmas to you all. 

Much love,

Tara x 

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Wheeeeeeeeeeee..........CRASH (exploding bomb sound effect)

Edit:  This has now been resolved.  My psychologist has sorted this out for me.  I still stand by writing this post, I was NOT being over dramatic - a form of treatment that has been helping me cope was threatened with being taken away.  In these times where mental health issues are more accepted into society, funding and services for mental health patients are being slashed.  It's disgraceful.

To Whom It May Concern:

Following a particularly difficult and emotional psychology session today, you felt the need to drop a bomb on me.  I shouldn’t be having psychology sessions any more, I should have been thrown out to my GP surgery (who really only deal with IAPTS and we all know how helpful THEY are).  You told me that I was only supposed to have been supported by you for six sessions… Many apologies for my being more nuts than I first thought.  Six sessions had only just started to establish a relationship between myself and my psychologist… each of my sessions delves deep into the part of me that hates me, the part that undermines me, the part that gives me suicidal ideas – the part of me that gave me suicidal ideas at the start of this month.  I’ve been dealing with her for about 30 or so years so six hour and a half sessions didn’t even TOUCH that…

So I sat there today, as you told me, advising me you understand what I’m going through because you’ve been through it before – bullshit.  You have been through your experience, and I am going through mine.  I sat and tried to not cry, and succeeded until I left you, then sloped off to the toilets and let it out.

Mental illness can’t be cured instantly.  It’s a constant work in progress – at the start of the six sessions, I thought I’d be fixed – how wrong I was.  I’m more damaged than I first thought, and now to think I might not be able to work with my therapist again seems unbearable at this moment in time.  I don’t value myself, although I am learning to thanks to him…if his help is withdrawn, I could deteriorate – I have issues with feelings of rejection, I know it won’t be his fault but I will feel rejected if our sessions stop right now. 

It seems that someone, somewhere should’ve informed me that it was only six sessions and then adios whether you’re fixed or not, but they did not.  And now the time and the cost of my mental health is being called into question.  I can’t help being damaged, but I know someone who can help me get fixed.

Yours hopelessly,

Mini T

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Hooray for SCIENCE!

Yesterday I suspended the experiment that I had unwittingly begun the previous week…I remembered to take my antidepressants.

I had genuinely forgotten to take them when I had gone to Amsterdam (as there had only been two left in the box and I hadn’t taken those with me, I’d also forgotten to get my repeat prescription before I went away).  I’ll be FINE, I thought…how wrong I was.

Turns out, I do actually still really quite need my antidepressants.  I found this out yesterday whilst queuing in Boots at Central Six, in tears because a woman in the queue behind me had a child and I do not.  I also found it out whilst on a huge self hatred trip whilst David was clothes shopping.  But mostly I discovered that I still need my antidepressants when lying in the bath on my front, staring at my wrists for about twenty or so minutes, the thoughts going around my head to the tune of ‘well, if you cut, let yourself bleed out into the bath, then you’ll fall unconscious and then drown’. 

After such a fantastic week or so including:
* Going to Amsterdam with Terry and James
* David and my wedding anniversary
* Hallowe’en (best of ALL the days) where we went to watch Nosferatu on the big screen with live creepy organ music accompaniment
* A visit from our friends Liam and Vicky for the weekend which included drinking and rocking out in full Hallowe’en fancy dress.

I was terrified that I could slump down quite so far, so badly or so quickly.  And I didn’t know why I was thinking this, could’ve been post Fab Times™ slump, a combination of tiredness and lack of antidepressants or what… I really don’t know.  But I was so scared I could think those thoughts again.  I suppose it’s a step down from actually holding a knife to my wrist like I did that first day, but the fact I analysed it for about twenty or so minutes is worrying too.

Had a session with my psychologist today and explained it all to him.  He came back with ‘So why didn’t you do it, then?’  A fair question to which I thought long and hard about the answer before admitting that I know David, my family and friends would miss me.  But even admitting that seems egotistical to me.

The results of my unintentional experiment are thus:  I’m still having major problems and need the medication still - who knows how long for, but for now they're as vital to my well being as tea, hugs, cats and love.

PS.  I’m well aware that my blog posts are not cheery reading and for that I apologise, but writing really helps me out.

PPS:  Will try to blog something cheerier soon.  Promise.  Thank you all so much for reading.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Another big ole post about depression.

Seems that all this blog is good for is me discussing my depression.  I’m sorry chaps, here’s another blog post on the very same thing.  I promise to try to blog happier stuff in the future but after yesterday’s psychology session, I had to write something.

I went along to my appointment wondering what I could talk about because I was feeling relatively good, my office nemesis has begun actually acknowledging my existence and has begun talking to me again (I’ve not forgotten what happened though and I keep myself closely guarded now, not just from her but all my work colleagues), nothing massively terrible had befallen me since our last appointment. 
RAAAAARGH!  Write something cheerier next time!!
So, over the course of an hour and a half, I felt such pain and despair, a gnawing blackness of hopelessness.  I sobbed, I bawled…I thought that dark place inside me was shrinking but in these sessions it seems to gape, dragging my good feelings and emotions deep inside.  We discussed my poor body image and low self opinion (Henry Rollins was not mentioned once), and ultimately what it boiled down to was I am fat so I am a failure which ultimately led to no-one would miss me if I wasn’t here.  I haven’t felt such raw and powerful emotion since I was first diagnosed back in February.  It ached deep down to vocalise my thoughts…and the thing is, if I wasn’t fat, I could find a million and one other things to blame my failings on.  It’s just fat comes to mind because society and the media dictate that to be fat is offensive and hideous. 

We are conditioned to believe that if you are fat, you cannot be beautiful, you are looked down on, you are worthless (the horror film The ABCs of Death shows this in the segment X is for XXL – it’s maybe a little extreme).  People judge you if you are fat, it could be glandular, it could be cakes and pies and Guinness, it could also be that you are concentrating so hard on trying to get your head back in the right place that actually you haven’t been watching what you eat, and let’s not forget that some antidepressants can make you a big ole tubster.

I was in pain yesterday, horrific terrible inner pain.  A pain not felt for months…the session preyed on my mind for the rest of the day and evening.  It left me feeling out of sorts; David had to constantly ask me if I was okay.  It was just such a powerful thing to experience and to think that I had been feeling that virtually every single day, well even before I was diagnosed and signed off work, it truly is amazing that I didn’t kill myself.  No one should ever have to feel like that, go through the pain and anguish that your mind can cruelly put you through.

I am hoping that this is a turning point for me.  I wish to not go back there ever again.  It’s painful and it’s raw and it took me aback yesterday that I could still feel that.  I thought I was getting better…seems it’s a long road. 
I know there's hope at the end of here...

Friday, 23 August 2013

Just quickly

Sorry that I’ve been a bit quiet of late.  My brain seems to be functioning in a more ‘normal’ (whatever that means) way.  Gone are the flash thoughts of suicide and self harm, still get the occasional down days and I’m still having psychological input but all in all, I’m returning to my old self.  And thank fuck for that.  I was getting pissed off with me, so Christ only knows how David and my family and friends were feeling.

I’m back doing the charity based things I love to do, the things that I actively enjoy and the things that I believe define me. 

Started back at Coventry Hospital Radio three weeks ago, and despite there being a balls up on the computer when I was playing Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe (I don’t care WHAT you think, I like it), it went okay.  I soon found myself being able to open my mouth and words falling out in shambling sentences.  Hooray!  Soon, I’ll be back shambling at full pelt.

Anyway, that’s enough of me – just a short and sweet update of how my brain is.  Still a bit wrong, but trying to function better.

And as a lovely aside here, the beautiful Fran and the fabulous Tom are getting hitched on Sunday 25 August.  I’m so pleased for the two of them, and would like to wish them all the love and luck in the world.  And thank you so much for leaving me in charge of the music.  I’m sure that if any hospital radio listeners are reading this, they’ll be praying for you.

To Fran and Tom, worra lully cupil. 

Sunday, 14 July 2013


A few curious things happened last week, and dear reader, I wish to share them with you.

Over the weekend, three complete strangers told me that they loved me…apropos of nothing…

On Tuesday at work, two consultants at work both remarked on my appearance (one male, one female – both incredibly positive comments).

On Thursday on a jaunt to Sainsburys, a lad of about 17 tried to flirt with me…that was seriously weird.

And Friday morning, a wonderful friend of mine told me how wonderful I looked.  Yeah, he could just be paying me lip service, but I know him too well and if I looked terrible, he’d sugar coat it a little, but still tell me.

Now, these incidents are complete coincidence and, I’ll admit it, they made me smile and feel okay.

On the other side of this, my arch nemesis declared to my colleagues (not to me, she’s ignoring me still despite everything that’s happened) that her daughter is being bullied at school and how horrible it is.  Cue the colleagues (some of whom stood by and did nothing as I was victimised and bullied) voiced their opinions on the subject:

“Oh it must be really stressful for her”, “I bet she doesn’t want to go to school” and my favourite “this really needs to be sorted out, and hopefully the head will sit them both down to do this”….

No-one could seem to see that this is EXACTLY what happened (and, to some extent is still happening) to me.  I’m being ignored on purpose by this woman, over something that wasn’t my fault.  I admit, now that I’m feeling a little better mentally, I’m finding it really quite comical – what a difference some medication and therapy can do, huh?  Whenever the two of us are in the office together and someone else comes in, she makes a beeline to talk to them, regardless of who they are or whether she likes them or not.  It’s pathetic but laughing at how ridiculous the situation is is helping.  WHY could I not have done this all those months back?

So, what I gleaned from this is they perceive that bullying of a child is WORSE than bullying of an adult.  I’d argue that bullying of any human being is pretty shit, in all fairness, but there we are.  As for me and her sitting down and sorting it out, in the early stages of my spell off work, (signed off on the Wednesday, called to a meeting ON SITE the following Wednesday – I was terrified and burst into tears on the bus because I didn’t havethe correct change) mediation was offered to me.  I accepted, not because I wanted to, but I wanted to show willing.  It seems to have been forgotten about now, and if I’m honest, I’m relieved.  I am feeling stronger, yes, but I don’t think I’m strong enough to sit in a room with someone who treated me so appallingly, who had (and continues to have) some sort of power hold over me and my emotions.  So, for the time being, I think I’ll just stick to sitting here, listening to my iPod, joining in the occasional conversation when its general nonsense chit chat, playing a version of myself that is Work Tara Mk2. 

Work Tara Mk1 had a major malfunction back in February, but it’d been on the fritz for about six months previous.  

The replacement model seems a little happier, a little quieter and less sensitive to office atmospheres.  It seems to be doing well, although I’m sure there’s room for improvement…

With thanks to David for the robot pictures.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

There Can Be Only One

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?  Maybe your nose is too big, or your ears stick out.  Maybe those love handles aren’t going anywhere, despite all the time you put in at the gym.

For me, there’s a hell of a lot of stuff I would change, but there’s one thing that I absolutely HAVE to change because if I don’t, it could be my undoing.  As previously documented here and in my guest posts on www.foldsfive.co.uk I’ve been having a little bit of a to do with depression.  More than a ‘handbags at dawn kind of affair.  Even more than a ‘southern gentleman type affair complete with glove slapping and a duel’, I’d say it’s more a Highlander type battle raging inside me – THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE.
I could well have him in a fight

For all I make light of my situation (a coping mechanism), it’s almost all but destroyed me.  On the face of it, I seem like I’m coping and getting on well, but you don’t see me laying in bed at night, knot in my stomach, you didn’t see me on the edge of the hill in Skye when I considered hoying myself off, you haven’t seen me sobbing for hours over something seemingly trivial, that I have done incorrectly and (rightly, to my mind) berated myself for being such a fucking failure.  So, for the past few months, I’ve been seeing a psychologist.  It was arranged through work (initial appointment with occupational health in February, appointment in May – I could’ve been dead by then).  He advised me that although he was worked for my employer, everything we discussed was confidential, no reports would be going back to HR about the mad fat ginger chick in on the 5th floor.  I was assured. 

Every single session I’ve had so far (four) has been incredibly emotional, not least the last one earlier this week.  Raking up difficult things from my history, (bullying, sexual abuse etc) has been so hard to do, to link my feelings of failure as a human being to such things that happened a very long time ago.  I touched on this briefly in my last blog post here, if someone calls me hurtful and abusive names, I believe them because that’s how I perceive myself.  It’s a coping strategy I developed from learning that if you try to argue back or fight back, the abuse just gets worse, so I don’t bother.  Sure, I am fiery and angry and argumentative when it comes to injustices for others or political issues, but it’s rare that I truly fight for myself.  I don’t think I’m worth it.  I also don’t think I’m a particularly bad person, I’d do anything for my family and friends: I’d die for them.  This, according to the Doc, is part of my problem.  I could be manipulated, walked all over.  I’m a soft touch and I know it.

I’ve referred to before my dark side; she’s the side that made me want to cut my wrist, or throw myself off a hill.  She’s the one who torments me about my weight, my looks when I try to go clothes shopping or go to the gym.  She’s the one who reinforces that I’m a useless fat failure when I don’t achieve the things I want to.  And she needs to be stopped, or at least muzzled.  The Doc said that when I talk about myself as a fat useless failure, I should imagine myself telling a child that they’re a fat useless failure. “Well, I can’t do that, because I absolutely wouldn’t do that.  Who would?  It’s just cruel”….”So why do you do it to yourself?”  And the answer to that is I just always have.  As I mentioned, it’s a defence mechanism, or a coping skill.  I need to change a 25+ year habit. I’m going to have to try to break it, if I want to feel ‘normal’ (whatever that is).  And I’m scared.  I’m scared of failing (the irony).  But I need to persevere, my defiant, fiery, doesn’t give a fuck side needs to come out more often.  The side that lets me concentrate on ME and how I’M feeling.  The side that puts me first (without sounding like Mother Theresa). I’m not sure I’ve encountered THAT side before).  I need an emotional MOT.  I’m going through the process right now, and it’s painful, INCREDIBLY painful, the emotions run so high in each of those sessions, that after the last one I had such a headache – it was so intense.  BUT the sessions are doing me good.  The next one is supposed to be a review session where I can either adios the Doc or carry on.  He’s already said that we’re not finishing anytime soon.  And I’m okay with that.  I need to learn, and he’s willing to help me.  I wish to be a version of myself less the darkness and suicidal thoughts.

I hope I get to meet that version of her.  I hope I like her.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Tara on: Manning up

It’s the second week of my phased return to work.  Last Mondays ‘having a whole bottle of water poured on me as I got off the bus’ incident is still actually quite raw for me.  Yes, I’m well aware that it could’ve been anyone but feeling so fragile, low and depressed, it just seemed that things like this are destined to happen to me.

Anyway, enough dwelling on that: pull yourself together woman!  Actually, for the first time in my life, after suffering several bouts of depression since my early twenties, during this episode (which has been by far the absolute worst) not one single person has said that to me.  A result?  Well, sort of.  I don’t know if its because society’s attitude to mental health is changing for the better (albeit very very slowly indeed) or possibly that the few folk who had said this to me in the past have since had depressive episodes and have gleaned some empathy for my plight. 

Last week was a challenge for me, mentally and physically.  Having to get up out of bed, knot still in the stomach although not a knot of dread now, more a knot of anxiousness, uncertainty.  Luckily the individual who had caused the atmosphere in work wasn’t in on Monday, so I felt I could breathe.  The clinicians and nurses all seemed genuinely pleased to see me back, asking how I was and if I ever needed to chat yadda yadda.  But, you see, I have this thing inside me that means I can’t really accept compliments…ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you.  I’m more adept at handling insults because being a fat, ginger, glasses wearing, braces wearing, guitar playing, quiet bookish kid garnered me so many insults, many of which have carried through to my adult life – the water incident last week, the way my mind works, even though I was upset by what had happened, I felt that somehow I almost deserved it.  You see, during counselling for another bout of depression, I discovered that I can accept insults and the most vile name calling from people (strangers included) because basically, as I have such low self worth, that’s what I think of myself and so if they call me something horrific, it somehow means I’m right.  Does that even make sense?  And yes, I know how fucked up it sounds.

This is why I am so thankful for the psychological input I’m receiving through work.  I’ve really clicked with him and after two sessions, we’ve worked through quite a bit.  When I’m depressed, the self esteem side or ‘my dark side’ is a lot stronger.  She comes out and sabotages any good feelings that I have.  On a trip to Skye with friends back in April, she appeared to me when we went on a walk along some hills and crags.  She was trying to persuade me to jump…I was almost persuaded… it was horrible.

So, anyway, I’m progressing.  The mixture of psychological input, the right dosage of medication and the support of so many wonderful human beings, family and friends, here, overseas or online is doing me good.  I’ve been so completely overwhelmed by the amount of support I’ve received from people…so many lovely comments and invitations to stay with people, so much support.  All this is very slowly making me think, I can’t be that bad, can I?