Who is this lady? She is elderly, yes. A grandma,a mother a sister, an aunt, a great grandmother. I don’t know. I have forgotten. Hang on a minute… Aaah yes there was this one time that I was sat in her house -plush, ‘propre’ , stylish and I couldn’t sleep. I kept on getting up to go to the cupboard on the far right of la cuisine that housed all the gigantic Cadbury’s chocolate. I ate and I ate and I ate some more. I always seemed to be able to eat more.
I didn’t it like it when she bought the dark kind. So bitter. So classy, so not me.
But back to la cuisine. Footsteps pander lightly behind me. I turn and look around and I look into the eyes of a lady with pure class-sans maquillage. This seems to counter my non- class evolved youthfulness. The lady asks me a question ‘Ca Va?
I’m expected to answer with the same ‘ca va.’ but it is something like 3 am in the morning. Obviously ‘ca va’ is not appropriate for this setting.
I don’t know why I can’t sleep, I confess. I’ve shoved a load of pills down my throat in an effort to be like the one whom I shall refer to as the Manic depressive. The lady sits me down and makes me a Sleepytime tisane – . Good herbal shit. We sit at the kitchen table with our ‘Sleepytime’ tea, I can’t remember what we talked about.
I have a habit of forgetting things, you see. It is so frustrating. I go back to bed feeling cared about. Why didn’t I feel grateful then?
No regrets. Have no regrets. Okay. I try not too. I wish I had paid more attention, then maybe I wouldn’t forget so much.
I can hear her laughter in that loud roomy part of my brain, it’s threatened me it will become a real auditory sound that knocks me sideways with fright turning me into a paranoid wreck.
I have to remember that laugh. She used to laugh at my jokes. She loved me. She told me she loved me all the time.
She also loved another – another woman-my mom. Angelic looking, graceful, naive and I don’t know – wonderful? This lady helped me out with the angelic-looking lady. Yes, I remember, one poignant night, the angelic-looking manic depressive and I had a vicious fight. I took a braai fork to her neck. I was fucking going out to drink and get strung out on drugs and Miss Manic Depressive could mope in her stupid illness and fuck right off.
Well, she took that big FU literally. We had this stock of prescription pills that could take our local pharmacy out of business – bad joke- that’s why I rely on comedians for such amusements (Omid Djalili and Gabriel Iglesias being two of my favourites ). Nothing like a next-day hangover and a shrill ringing phone to make me grab a handful of downers. I’m not ready for the sunshine just yet- maybe not ever. The lady on the other end of the phone wants to know if the manic depressive is okay. Of course, she is ok……
I turn over
…but she isn’t. She is one tunnel turn away from death. I need some Rohypnol and valium and I need that lady on the end of the phone.
She says she is going to get the next one hour flight from JHB airport to Durban and I need to get the manic depressive to a hospital. I don’t have health insurance. I’m 15 years old.
A cocky shit who obviously knows it all but nevertheless in my narked upstate I somehow manage to get the angelic Manic Depressive a space in a run-down public hospital in Africa – in a- I kid you not – broom closet. Sick people were lying on the floors, covered in congealed blood, in the corridors of this hospital. So I count my blessings that we had some type of room and a bed.
The lady meets me at the hospital. It’s touch and go. We are rooting for survival on this one. Black tar leaks down out through a tube from some part of the manic depressive’s body.
She is okay- stable.
She is in a coma.
The Lady transfers her to a more upmarket private hospital. She has the master card. We spend the night next few days at the Oyster Box hotel – in a chalet. She takes on me and my two cats. Lilac and Mocha- and we all sleep in the same bed united by our love for the angelic manic depressive one.
We don’t know if she is ever going to walk again. I mean it was an overdose with powerful intent. No, pithy cry for help as some believes a suicide attempt is. The angelic manic depressive has a new name angelic, rapid cycler Bipolar.lady in The other lady is my grandma- as you probably have figured out. We go and see her every week. She broke her hip back in Feb 2015 and can’t walk anymore.
Okay… so that happens with a lot of old people. Yeah, but this lady, my grandma has been stripped of her dignity, identity, memories, and she can’t remember she can’t walk. She is stuck on a loop – every few moments she tries to get up and screams in frustration when she can’t. This lady sitting in the middle is my relationship with someone I love who has Dementia and Alzheimer’s.
I know I’m not writing something fucking profound but she means something to me and her family. She is living a world with no faces, no colour and the world speaks another language to her. How is she meant to interpret all this shit?! People talking. Loudly?
Other elderly people not moving- crying, shouting, fondling themselves to remember that they too can feel. My Chronic Anorexia 10 stone self could envy my grandma’s current weight. 5 stone if that. She forgets how to eat. Imagine that?
What type of existence is this?
This is where I get political. Let people die with dignity.
I signed up for the campaign years ago. Who is this lady? She is so much more than she looks. She has had a life people probably can’t even dream up and a life where people would also be horrified how she survived such heartache, ( love is the answer here, folks) but for today we can’t go back into the past too much without forgetting. I don’t want to forget, not today. Those two memories I can hang and frame in the gallery of my mind. They are mine. No one can take them away from me but Alzheimer’s can. Dementia too. You know what really makes me sick about all this? When a person with these illnesses die, Alzheimer’s and Dementia don’t take the credit. The diagnosis of death is usually a secondary symptom. How twisted and messed up is that?
Does she remember her husband? Where does she go?
I should have been a Neuroscientist or something. I want to know what is going on in her head and fix it. All clichés but they are my clichés for today. Can you believe people are being diagnosed with these maladies at as young as 25 years of age?
I would rather choose to die than have everything taken from me. Would my Grandma say the same? I wish I had asked her.
Me: ‘So Gran, let’s talk about something so morbid as to how you would like to die.. ‘
I’m putting it out there. Me? I don’t want to suffer and I don’t want to feel pain and I don’t want to not be understood. That is not living that is stuck between two perverse worlds. I want my family to pay the ferryman and for him to take the money and take me along the river Styx to Elysium and let me die with dignity.
Information on the dying dignity campaign http://www.dignityindying.org.uk
Okay, so if you have been creating your WRAP from week one. YAY! what a journey it has been, hasn’t it? And for those who haven’t you can always CLICK ON THIS LINK and see how you too can start your very own Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP).
Here is a clip describing a bit of week 10 When things are breaking down
Week 10 -down. WOW! two weeks and my three-month’ gift’ is coming to an end. I will save my personal thoughts and other group members thoughts on WRAP in week 12. I just want to point out that I did not think I would get much out of this but I can promise you I have learned so much about myself, how I tick, what helps me, what doesn’t help me and loads of empowering self-help techniques. WRAP is free. It was given to me as a ‘gift’ and I give it to you as a ‘gift’. No extras. No-fuss!
This weeks session focused on when you have ignored or not seen the trigger or Early warning signs and you can feel yourself slipping into meltdown, the plan to get that job is not going as it should, there have been delays in moving to where you are moving too. Your relationship is at breaking point, you can find no relief for your chronic pain if you have MS or Cancer even, but there is still a chance that you can pull yourself back and re-own your yourself.
Here is my breakdown list of signs and symptoms I feel when I start to feel like everything has turned to jelly. The stability is just that little bit further out of reach. My list is very focused on Eating disorders because this is where my mind is at but I am fighting to regain my control. It is my responsibility to stay well. I can do this with WRAP.
WHEN THINGS ARE BREAKING DOWN
- weigh myself obsessively
- take more photographs of myself to compare them to what I think I see in the mirror
- My perception of my body is split and fractured. I am unable to focus on my body as a whole entity
- Panic attacks
- Don’t want to or I am feel unable to communicate
- Seriously thinking or actively starting to cut down on fluids and food intake
- I refuse to try on clothes that I didn’t wear when I was at a body weight I deemed acceptable
- I will push myself to go 24 hours 7 until I collapse
- I don’t want to g out
- I want to or stop taking my medication to get my Bipolar highs
- withhold love and affection -I don’t feel worthy of the two.
- Lose my sense of humour
- all seems doom and gloom
- feel that everyone hates me or has a problem with me
- Using degrading language on myself eg. I’m fat, I’m stupid. -all un helpful thoughts and mantras
- I feel I am an empty vessel -no personality a loss of identity
- I’m selfish and refuse or can’t look at the world around me and what is happening outside of my illness
- I think about escaping- or over dosing on my prescription medication or act on it
- Short tempered
- Angry at myself
- It becomes harder to look after myself. It becomes harder to look after my daughter
- Sleep for days at a time or not sleep for days at a time
- buy exercise energy enhanced pills on line
- over exercise for over three hours with no breaks
- Indecisive- small choices are hard to make
- feel disconnected to reality. I can reinforce this buy not wearing my glasses or contact lenses.
- Spend less time with my daughter. I don’t want her to pick up on my emotions and for her to see me in a ‘weak’ role
That is my list. It is a tough list to do but if you are thorough and honest with yourself then we can take all these symptoms and experiences and start an Action Plan. All is not lost but it feels pretty close to lost.
You need to start brainstorming what you can or will try to do to get you back on an even keel.
Create an Action plan
call my C.P.N. or my psychiatrist
Speak to someone I can trust- use my circle of protection. I have a select group of people I have entrusted into my personal space to help me when I I feel like things are breaking down
I can look at my maintenance tools from week two and three and try see if I can reign things in a bit
look at the different uniqueness I have learned eg. the art of moment therapy, mindfulness, take my thoughts to caught, wise mind
( you can always add more to your list as and when something you think will help you stay away from completely breaking down.
That’s it for this week.
Be kind to yourself .Give yourself an affirmation to say for the week, do something for you.
How can we help you? You are loved.
I’m going to the source of my labelled diagnoses to find a way to answer this question.
Not to look for a reason to blame why I am like I am, but so I can ask the right questions to help myself get better.
How can we help you?
Okay. The brain goes dead. How I help myself?
Set small goals for the bigger goals I want to achieve?
What do I want to achieve?
A new carpet.
I want to clean the blinds,
I want to go through my drawers and Bee’s drawers to organise ourspace better.
We need a new cupboard.
I want to get in the festive spirit.
Bring the big T.V. downstairs.
I’m worried about Tatiana’s ( my cat’s) cough. I don’t want to be a FUCK UP!
- I need to connect more with my mom and family.
All achievable unless its a “bad” day.
Write a list to Santa? ( my inner Santa)
Being self-destructive is tough (sarcasm & truth).
Not as tough as being an 8-year-old child who doesn’t understand why her mother pushes her away. She is also scared to make her cry or hurt my feelings.
Not as tough as having an endoscopy and no sedation. Having people talk about going for a pint after work while they look at your bowel.
Not as tough as being alone, having a panic attack & waking up in a hospital alone at 87.
I’m so quick to forget about the mermaids tail & a dog that can do anything ticking off Santa’s Christmas list.
I’m so quick to dismiss time.
Or is that just me looking up my own anus again?
Fluent in assholism
How can I save my relationships before its too late?
Am I going through the motions as my husband asked?
A firm NO takes up all the room in my cognitive region.
Before I answer I think again about if I’m just going through the motions…
Today I am going to look up the definition of ‘going through the motions
Well, of course, I am going through the motions. That is part of the problem.
Get up, eat, clean, sleep, fill my day.
It’s not because I don’t care. I don’t think about the consequences or I forget the pain associated with the consequences. Or I think about how to get away from feeling a failure in the now.
Note to self: Don’t do things that will make you feel shit about yourself
It’s not that hard to do, Is it?
Maybe I hesitated before answering my husband because I asked myself if the way I am and response makes me a narcissist.
Well, of course, I am. I have spent many years trying to look good, be the thinnest, the most pretty the cleverest etc…
I know I am not & will never be all the above-mentioned thoughts.
What did that mean for me as an adult with Chronic Anorexia?
I don’t take millions of pictures of myself and think I’m better than other people. When I have judged others I try to look at the shitty things I have done or said in my life to humble myself… I am demanding. I can be selfish. I don’t think I am the best. I want to be the best I can be.
Do I live in a fantasy world?
I have done. I do live in a world where I am the object of desire/ importance to get away from who I see in the mirror, who I feel I have become measured by what I have achieved psychically/emotionally/materially. I use sleep as a defence mechanism to not have to deal with the person I am today. My perception of me.
I know what is real and isn’t unless my thoughts about weight and shame invade my inner world.
I have to wake up from my slumber eventually. Then I convince myself that the only thing that will make me good & empowered is by proving to people I have the money to buy shit that isn’t worth it.
I put a value on what I pay for & how I want it to be packaged.
I don’t feel I need constant praise from others to keep my ego in check. I do feel I need to give myself praise and try & love myself so that I can come across as a person with feelings, warmth & love.
I do struggle to show my emotions. Perhaps its the way my face moves, or because I don’t lie about how I feel or because I’m shit at pretending to be over the moon about something when I am feeling anything but amazing.
When I’m in a toxic phase I guess I do feel that the world should stop for me. It’s unrealistic to think that the world does. I have to check myself. I need to live more outside of my head than in it.
I don’t try to exploit people maliciously for my own gain without feeling shame nor the ability to empathise. I know how manipulative I can be & I have to check myself a lot to try & not be too manipulative. I do sometimes forget how it must feel like to another person to be taken advantage of.
I don’t think I am a person who enjoys belittling others to prop up my own ego. I hate gossip, I can use patronising language & behaviour if I feel threatened. I don’t enjoy making others feel less than I feel.
I want people to be happy & I want people to know that I can be a source of happiness too.
Maybe I am going through the motions but we all do!
If I said: yes, I’m going through the motions
then that would mean that I am a narcissist!
And according to Google: Narcissists can’t love their own children!
I already feel I lack traits that a normal mother gives her child.
Or because of my eating disorder, I have traits of a “vulnerable” narcissist.
If I look indifferent I am also afraid of being abandoned so I try to prepare myself for that moment.
Most of my relationships are unstable -with my mom. daughter partners etc… I can go from having a high opinion of myself to having zero worth in myself in a matter of hours.
I do need to work on my self-image & habits to self-harm.
I have many diagnoses -I need to use what I know about myself to make a positive change.
I want my daughter to love me in 20 years time.
I’m not a child any longer. I want to be better than I am now.