I’ve been meaning to do this for a while. Yes, it exposes my vulnerability. I am merely human. I have bad days and good days. This letter is to the so-called friend I’ve kept as consul for most of my life.
Dear Anorexia and all the other secondary mental illnesses
I always seem to put this post off. I usually come out with all these things I have to say to you at the wrong times. Like when I am having a bath.
Okay, I sought you out. I did.
I begged you to be my friend and you eventually became the only friend I had. I didn’t want to lose everything. So, despite how I felt or how much pain I was in when I hurt myself, I did it. We had a strong bond. Bonds are not easily broken. Not even now, when I don’t want to be friends any more.
I thought you might be a bit more understanding if you understood what you took from me and what I allowed you to take.
You took most of my life experiences and made me put on a pair of your glasses so that I could only see life through your perspective.I didn’t have strong vision to begin with so I accepted your gift and I still wear them every now and then. I don’t know why you want me to hurt myself,
Life: everything I have ever seen and experienced has been through a filter of your making. You have had the final decision before I get to see anything, so I can then process it and carry on.
You encouraged me to self harm in so many other ways Drugs, cutting, taking chances, impulsive behaviour, getting into trouble. I don’t know if friends should really do that but I only had you. What did I know
You are jealous. I became your reflection..
I had no life in me for many years. I was merely a toy- puppet of yours. Attached to strings to dance to your cacophonous melody. Sometimes I still feel you, hear you. Pulling me up. Making me go in a direction I don’t want to go in.
Every interest I had, be it watching a movie or reading or going to a rave and dancing or talking to people to try and make friends- you stole that from me.
I allowed it. I only see now, how awesome I can be without you. Fucking cool bananas.
You told me I was peculiar , not like other people, special, different.
You did a remarkable job of making me think that nobody understood the words, I spoke so I stopped talking. I let your talk for me- everyday, every living moment. Every tick of the clock. Your voice. Sounds so soft to others- barely audible- Invisible. To me it sounds more like a constant shriek in my mind, I feel anything but invisible – I feel I take up too much space.
Figure that one out? I can’t.
I lost my family. People thought I had an ego and thought that I was up my own fucking arse.
I only wanted to like myself.
I just wanted to feel good about myself. I thought you could help. If I was attractive to others people would get me and see all my awesome qualities and my true personality. You couldn’t stop at that.
You needed to coerce me into changing one small thing , then another small thing. You helped chip away everything that made me ME until I was lost and abandoned in the dark.
A vacant spot in a vast pool of darkness.A world of black and white. If people tried to talk to me you turned up the white noise. I sat there motionless.
Every person who spoke to me or who tried to be a friend to me -you would whisper they were lying to us, they don’t like us.
be on your guard.
You taught me that. I was and I am still on guard.
You know what?
Fuck this ..I’m not wallowing in the past.
What I really want you to know is I don’t want you in my life at all.
I was wrong and made a mistake.
I know better now.
I have a choice – it is my choice who will be in my life. Yes, you are powerful enough to try and come between everyone I love. I won’t let you.
You want to be friends with my daughter.
NEVER WILL I ALLOW THAT.
I know your true face. There is nothing behind that mask. I rip it off and before I can see the true you you dissolve right before my eyes. You need me more than I need you,mate.
You still try to convince me that our friendship is a blessing – that you give me strength to live.
I’m pretty convinced if I could find the cord that links me to you, I would be brave enough to cut it and I would finally start breathing properly again. I would learn how to breathe again. I would succeed.
How many times am I going to have to evict you from my mind?
Why don’t you get it?
I’m done with trying to kill myself.
You have taught me one thing – I am not at your mercy to live or die. You don’t get to choose because : I. won’t. let. you.
You crept back into my life last year.
So cunning, so sly……
Look at you smirking -so sure, so smug.
Like a snake, you slithered and curled around my whole body. I remember the familiarity of your touch -cold. Cold means thin. This means I’m winning. Your charm nearly disarmed me again.
In what seemed like mere seconds,your entire body had coiled itself around my neck -suffocating me. I nearly lost my mind for you again. A couple more months and I could have been back in the hospital.
I’m not some new friend of yours that has to be emaciated to believe I have earned your undying friendship. Today, I live in a body and a mind I have created.
To try and cast you out. Of course you weren’t going anywhere. How naive I still can be after all these years.
Why would you go somewhere else when you have everything you need in me.
I am healthy.
You tell me I’m fat.
I’m not fat.
I eat and you tell me to pinch my skin, you tell me to loathe it. You yell at me , telling me to grip my bones.
You tell me the bones have been lost in my womanly body.
How dare I grow up?
How dare I start having periods again?
How dare I have a child?
How dare I put her first ?
How dare I empower myself……
Now,you listen to me. You can make me cry- you know you can.
You know that every living moment I know you are with me, in me.
You won’t even let me be touched and loved by my own husband.
I flinch when he touches me because you have convinced me that my body is wrong.
It has taken four years to get to the place where I am with my husband. You don’t want me to enjoy being loved.
You don’t like affection.
Affection means a chance to be loved.
Your kind of love is like boiling water and third degree burns – plastic melting and merging with my skin -never letting go ;forever scarred and deformed.
All this to make sure you have me forever. You feed on my thoughts.
Why won’t you let me watch a fucking movie with my partner without making me aware of my body?
You are sick. Contagious. A reoccurring infection.
I don’t want to be sick. I know I can’t just get rid of you. For a time I was able to shut you out and started living.
Oh, what a jealous friend you have been. You plotted and planned – ready for your comeback .
Always had to be the one who has to take the lead part.
You can’t have the lead part in my life any more. My life is my stage. I am a producer,editor, stagehand, actor, writer, graphics producer , costume designer, light technician . Your dear friend has been made redundant.
See ,The terms and conditions of our contract?
See this lighter in my hand? Flame jumps from container to paper – it can’t lick up the paper quick enough.
I’m the one who says what goes in the script and what doesn’t
No, I know you don’t like this. You are laughing in my face. What was that?
I have no confidence,
I’m needy, lazy, a failure.
You are right,I’m not fucking perfect. How many times have I nearly died doing your bidding?
I want to be happy.
No, not your idea of happiness.
I want to forget about being aware of how you want me to feel about my body. I want to enjoy each moment away from the knowledge that my body is just there.
Today, I respect my body. You don’t need a mask to cover up the fact you have no idea what that word means.
I had so many things I had in my head …. to say to you…
I feel you still don’t get it.
I know I eat.
I have to eat . Don’t put the guilt trip on me if I feel hungry.
Yes,I do. I love food. There are so many more types of food I want to try and I am still afraid to try . I am learning though.
Every book or film or conversation I have ever had was drowned out by your voice or because I couldn’t stand to hear your voice again , I drugged myself, tried to take my life
– oh so many times.
Yet, I still stand..
You won’t go because you love a challenge. you enjoy the struggle.
How boring would it be for me to just give up.
Oh don’t get me wrong, love.
I have nearly died for you and you happily appeared to allow it. We both know you became my friend because you knew I would fight you.
Still now, twenty odd years later I fight you.
No – you can’t have increasingly lower digits. I have set the bar for what weight I can live with. I’m not going to stop eating if I go over that weight threshold. – I will cope. I will get back to my safe weight.
You hate the fact I exercise to keep fit and on track-to focus -to keep me rational – I have found out the secret you have hidden from me for so long.
I’m not going to binge or take laxatives again. It fucking hurts. 100 laxatives a day for how many years. I’m not buying into that abuse any longer.
You are having so much fun with me at this moment. Forever toying…..
The scales have gone up. I should know I’ve only been there with you over 50 fucking times today on that scale. Willing that 1.5 kilo of weight to go down.
I am not having fun.
I am a woman not a child. My spirit is not a newborn. You can’t corrupt it like you did all those years ago.
I get periods. There is a lot of ‘I don’t want’ that comes with the power to create life.
Fluid retention is one of them. You want me to think that these laws of a woman’s body don’t apply to me. Your arrogance never fails to catch me off guard.
You want me to think I have lost control…….
I see all this and I hate you with every thought, every emotion, everything.
Yet, you still won’ t go away
You may be having fun but I’m not having fun and I don’t want to play.
You have brought many foes to my door- snuck them in. Bipolar ,a so-called personality disorder, the list goes on and on. All free loaders.
Remember when I was at the height of my career? You wouldn’t let me become more successful. It wasn’t your definition of success so you took it from me.
Remember when I tried to better myself and go to college?
You fucked with my head then too.
Yes, I got my degree, eventually. I nearly died getting it.
I nearly died getting my daughter back too.
You like the fighters. The ones that put up a struggle. The more I struggled the more obstacles you put in my way- one of your finest tricks was the abusive relationship act.
I finally see you are indeed a one trick pony.
Well done, a round of applause.
You are not the master of my mind any more.
You are a bully- deranged.
YOU CAN’T HAVE ME!
I’m getting married and you can’t stop that. Yes, I know I’m vulnerable because I need to fit into my wedding dress.
I am going to have another child and I won’t let you stop me. I am going to nourish life, nurture it like I should have done the first time.
I will be free of the medication I take to stop you from having the upper hand all the time . I don’t think you have realised,
the fight you have with me, does not just end with me alone any more. You continue to take me on -you are now taking me and my family on.
You are a threat to my life- no not a pathetic one,but one full of joy and love and respect. You hate it. I don’t know why you won’t allow me to love.
Where did you come from ? and what made you so malicious?
I can’t be your therapist and provider.
Yes, we are back to fighting again;
I don’t need tarot cards to know the ending to this.
Yes, I am.
You are strong, I will give you that but I have had four years of some kind of freedom from you –
You ,dear friend, let your guard down .
Thank you, because you gave me another reason to live and want to be alive. The devil I know or the glimpses of joy I have found in living ?
I will continue to rise as the queen of my mind and your whole kingdom built on flimsy lies is going to come toppling down.
If you are going to throw a punch – don’t let your guard down.
Practice what you preach.
As part of my mission to promote mental wellbeing and creative self-expression,Duncan Foster, who is a producer and musician of the Affinity Triangle & novelist based in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire wrote this enlightening, charming & candid portrait of his childhood, & how being able to express himself in negative and in more positive creative ways helped him. I want to thank, Dunc for making my job as an interviewer far too easy.
The Affinity triangle is working on multiple projects in the next upcoming week. I’ll feature them on my website.
In Dunc’s own words ” I write & produce all the music for The Affinity Triangle, sometimes featuring instrumentalists such as Liz Dever on the Violin. Although the latest release from The Affinity Triangle is a Dub Remix of the preceding release, An Saoghal Stuthach (the material world). The song has been remixed by Dark Optics a World/Dub/Triphop producer & an old schoolmate of Dunc’s. Dark Optics is also releasingmusic featuring The Affinity Triangle, the words of Dunc Foster on a track called Pilgrimage. The two hope to collaborate more in the future
His music is described as folk-pop, pop, melodic dub ( with other mixes).
Before going into this I just wanna say that I’ve had lots of fun in my life & found enjoyment in my experiences & in the people I have connected with, my family & friends who I love. Talking about issues which have a negative effect on mental health is gonna draw me to talk about my own little struggles on the path to my current situation. Everyone has different levels of privileges & disadvantages. I’m not comparing my personal experiences to anyone else’s.
Daisy: Duncan doesn’t dwell on the past. It does give me a bit of context. I am conscious that reliving these emotions can bring you down. I think it important to know /identify what you see as negative to your mental health can work in your favour because you know what triggers you and you can start to formulate an action plan to protect your privacy & to assert your boundaries.
I was a free & creatively expressive child. I grew up in a small house with a big garden in Handsworth, Darnall, East Sheffield with my Mum & Dad, an older brother & a younger sister.
We used to draw & craft & make plays & games in the garden. My parents got me & my brother nylon string guitars when I was about 5 & we made our first band, no chords…
We moved to Matlock in Derbyshire when I was about 10 years old & for me it seemed to go downhill from there for a long time… I was a sensitive being & still am, likemost people I assume, until we develop ways of dealing with ourselves & the world around us for better or worse, either accepting & developing or numbing & repressing. I used to write stories & songs & create worlds & games throughout my childhood & teens, back then it was a way of escaping but also I was exploring my experience through creativity.
My brother got a 4-track digital recorder when I was about 12 or 13 & I started using it. We had a bedroom band with a couple of mates but never played outside of it, I recorded my first album ‘Prosaic Mess’ on my own & didn’t show many people, too anxious about their reactions & it made me feel so vulnerable.It was a screechy 13 or 14 year olds voice trying to sound gruff like Kurt Cobain with drum loops from the 4-track & Grungy guitar riffs & bass lines. I was now hooked on creating tapes & album song lists, working out artwork & filling books with scribbly pictures & obscure lyrics expressing my teenage angst & confusion.
My Parents were struggling with work, marriage, drinking & their drawn out break up affected all of us.
The house we’d moved into in Matlock was bigger than the house in Sheffield but it was never decorated, I used to slide down the rolled up carpet down the stairs for the whole 9 tears we lived there. I lived in the attic room where I painted on the crumbling plaster walls & punched holes in them through to the eaves.
This became my sanctuary where I experimented with my identity, my self-expression, my creativity & my exploration of intoxicating substances.
My mates would all gather there along with my little sis’ & sometimes my big bro.
I had severe acne throughout my teens & grew my hair to cover it, I pierced my own ears, I drew spirals & flowers on my t-shirts & all over my stuff, shredded my jeans & sewed all sorts of stuff to them.
There was nothing to help explain the pain & frustration I felt at this age, I believe we pick it up from all around us with our sensitive beings & we carry it with us from trauma, whether ancestral trauma,
family trauma or mations on my dad’s computer. I never really thought about what I was doing it for at the time, I just had to do it, I had so much energy & emotional fuzz inside me & questions & sensations & reflections of the world around me & the things I heard about, that it all had to go somewhere & I dread to think what I would’ve done if I didn’t have my creative nature which my parents encouraged & I thank them for that.
If I wasn’t creating stuff I was out on the streets on my skateboard using my body.
Like a lot of youths with unstable homes I didn’t now how to manage my drug habits & keeping up with my parents drinking was enough to set me off on a self-destructive path, I don’t blame them for that as they were facing the same oppression & the beginning of the same social pressures that my generation is facing now along with all other types of problems that we face in the world on a daily basis.
Everyone has different opportunities in this world & I’m more privileged than a lot of them so I’m not complaining but just because the opportunities are potentially there it doesn’t mean we’re taught or we know how to make the most of them or even realise they are opportunities or privileges, especially when mental health isn’t talked about or dealt with.
So mapping out our experiences & the different energies at play which have an effect on our hearts & minds can really help us to realise why we struggle & what can be positive or negative in our lives & the most progressive ways to deal with it all.
I carried on making music & album artwork year after year, just for myself, it gave me s
couple of days later I got it checked out & the twig had pierced my eardrum & dislocated all the tiny delicate bones which vibrate & send the messages to my brain for hearing. I was finding it impossible to socialize or concentrate on anything, the tinnitus was so intense & my hearing was half missing.
I couldn’t sleep because of the sound & the feeling of dread & every time I started to drop off, screaming dark spirits engulfed the left side of my head & I woke trembling in fear & confusion. I couldn’t enjoy anything for a long time & nobody really understood, I couldn’t communicate my pain & experience & there was nothing for outsiders to see except me twitching out & looking depressed.
I was already more of an introvert than extrovert & this caused me to sink deeper behind my own skin.
My brain slowly got used to my damaged ear & hearing & listening slowly became possible. I had 20% hearing in the damaged ear last time I got it checked, & the tinnitus remained, like a constant reminder, billions of tiny angry voices screaming at me from inside my ear, warping & ringing with different frequencies, turning into words sometimes & shouting at me, really freaking me out. Loud noises would make it crunch & squelch & do all sorts of distracting & nasty stuff.
The lymph-vessel behind my bad ear would pulse intensely & swell up giving me headaches & dizziness. I’d constantly be trying to pop my ear & trying to crack it with jaw movements or just giving into its distraction & fading into it staring into nothing. My mates didn’t believe that there was anything wrong with it, I became full of self-doubt & lost a lot of confidence.
I managed to pull myself out of my self-pity enough to get my sen together & went inter-railing round Europe with a couple of mates & my brother which helped give me some vitality back. I took a little nylon string guitar & got properly back into writing songs which I recorded when I got back, on the same 4-track recorder. The music I produced now was more subdued, still with beauty but sorrowful.
All my mates went to University but I couldn’t relate to any of the courses so I became a self-employed dry stone waller in Derbyshire.
I had found academic subjects pretty easy but none of it meant anything to me. I remember saying to one of my mates, “why can’t there be a science of life? I’d study that.”
I loved the work & being outside all the time, writing songs & ideas for films & stories in little books while I worked but had no understanding of running a business or managing money or myself.
Without my creativity to focus my mind I would’ve only have dark & sinister thoughts pounding my head, loneliness can really mess you up & I felt like I was being surrounded by dark spirits & energies. Matlock wasn’t a good place to live for me, you are looked down on for being ‘different’, there aren’t any opportunities or support for creative people.
The only outlet for the art I was producing was local open mic nights which I slowly build up the confidence to perform at & this gave me more of a reason to work on & refine my songs & performing skills which gave me more purpose creatively & really helped to lift my spirits. Throughout my early twenties I spent a lot of time alone, not really connecting to anyone properly except through taking recreational drugs & drinking, I didn’t have a computer or a smart phone so I didn’t have the internet & didn’t get into connecting online until much later. But somewhere down there I started seeking for whatever was missing, through my creativity I felt like I was touching the edges of it, whatever it was that was lacking from my understanding of life.
I found a book in a bookshop while waiting for a bus back from walling near Bakewell, called ‘the human touch’. I was looking for something to start making sense of the creative ideas I was having & feeling but was afraid of religious looking books. I didn’t read much of it but it blew my mind & made me realise that there were other creative people with different ways of perceiving reality & I felt less alone.
One concept from it stuck with me, ‘the great theatre of space & time’, I took this idea & wrote a film idea based on it & songs inspired by it. I had just read Alex Garland’s ‘The Beach’ & was inspired by this to write the story about a traveller who hears rumours of this great theatre of space & time & tracks them to a coffee shop in Amsterdam.
The idea was that the owners had found a formula to the big bang & therefore were able to simulate it, moving backwards or forwards in time through a computer simulation, but by smoking a specially grown weed you could tune into the system & travel between dimensions or multiple universes. It was like a hippy version of Alex Garland’s ‘DEVS’ which came out this year funnily enough.
I feel like this was the beginning of my spiritual seeking & evolution, I only needed a tiny bit of information, a slightly different perspective & it was like the sluice-gates were opened & possibilities came gushing in.
If you have a kind & wild creative heart but suffer from loneliness & depression in a spiritually & creatively stagnant place like Matlock in Derbyshire (or probably most of the country…) then the easiest thing to do is self-destruct. An opportunity came up for me in West Yorkshire where my Da’ had moved to, he’d settled into a new life & after suffering from depression he was going back to teach again for the money, even though it was part of the reason for his depression, the pressures on the curriculum & not being free to teach properly.He’d been working for British Waterways in West Yorkshire & had bought an empty narrowboat after him & my Mum split but couldn’t afford to keep it much longer. So I managed to get a job as the lock-keeper on Tuel Lane Deep Lock in Sowerby Bridge & rented my Da’s empty narrowboat in the Marina at Todmorden, which I made homely with wall-hangings & fairy lights & a blow-up mattress & electric heater.This was an amazing escape from the gloom of my existence in Matlock & even though loneliness & booze were my friends it was a step in the right direction & a sense of adventure & change helped me to keep my creativity flowing & therefore my head from imploding.
I saved up to go to Australia & took my demons with me for a year of adventure with music & meeting people & letting myself go crazy with mind-bending acid trips & creative epiphanies on the other side of the globe, ignorant to the state of the culture in Australia (but recently went back with my head screwed on to see it with open eyes & feel it with an open heart).
I didn’t last long back in Matlock after returning to Britain before the darkness crept in & I got myself into some awful states & situations. So I left back up north to Manchester where I crashed around for three months before finding a shared house, knocking on doors for charity fundraisers ‘Home’, which helped crack me out of my shell. From Manchester to Germany to work at a travelling medieval beer festival, then hitch-hiking North Spain & South France with a good friend. People take the piss out of us ‘hippies’ for ‘finding ourselves’ while travelling around but it is a real experience which helps us to get closer to our truths if we are willing to listen & acknowledge the symbolism of the experiences, & to just find out how we react in different situations (recently I walked with a mate from Matlock to Hebden Bridge wild camping over four days, it was physically & mentally challenging & spiritually empowering & the closest thing to a pilgrimage I’ve done. I recommend this wholeheartedly).
Everywhere I went I took an acoustic guitar, I’m self-taught so I learn through my own song-writing & exploration of patterns & ideas so people are always either disappointed that I can’t give them an oasis fix or blown away by my originality. Playing the guitar with no constraints is such a therapeutic practice & one which I will always value, the process of writing a song is always insightful & rewarding, flushing out trapped emotions & finding a wholeness where everything can flow satisfyingly.
Having this community of creatives was so good for me. It allowed me to have a real purpose to my art & an audience who actually cared & wanted more.
I still had lots of mental health issues, still suffering from my damaged ear & problems with drugs & alcohol & went through a big wave of deep paranoia through this time. I think it was all a bit overwhelming, I didn’t feel up to date because I’d been alone for all those years, I thought I was being left out of the bigger picture & everyone was in on something behind my back, smartphone technology freaked me out.
It all sent me off the wall. I pick up on so many little nuances, expressions & body language & symbols in every day experiences & during this paranoia I was hyper-aware & didn’t know what to do with it. The writing was the only way of dealing with it, it was like I was writing my way inside, in through my mind & communicating with my subconscious, searching for my soul which I hoped would have some answers ( definitely more questions & deeper understanding).
I was struggling with my damaged ear while playing loud music too, it took me a while to discover earplugs & by then I’d done a bit more damage than I needed. But either way, rehearsing & playing gigs & getting feedback for my creativity was keeping me going but still, we had no mentors & had no idea how to manage this band or ourselves.
Through my upward struggle with mental health, it was like I delved into the core of my creative self & found a way to bring all my creative ideas together & out to the surface. I called it The Affinity Triangle & developed this concept & my ideas over the years as a solo project. It was a big overwhelming project which I kept trying to simplify into something tangible, something I could work with & interact with & use to connect to other people.
I kept it on the back burner while dealing with the band & everything else going on in my life.
The Tiny Minds finally got our album mixed to a listenable standard after 3 years of having it recorded, struggling with money & organisation. We got some attention from a small label in Leeds, Dance to The Radio, who put one of our tracks on a vinyl compilation & got us 3 support slots with the pigeon detectives, the best gig was at The Leadmill, Sheffield to around 900 people which is still one of my favourite half hours of this life of mine, the crowd loved us & playing songs I wrote to a willing audience dressed up with my hand-painted peach guitar will always stick with me.
The band split up due to fall-outs & creative differences & not having a manager not long after. Since then I have been developing The Affinity Triangle, as much as it is possible to work on my creativity while still being a slave to the system, squeezing it in the gaps of free time. Being an artist who doesn’t come from money in this society is extremely difficult. It’s a full-time job on top of the job you work to survive in the system.
The role of an artist in society is totally undervalued, we are used & abused, art is a huge part of everyone’s human experience, it is our connection with spirit & soul & the invisible things. It teaches us valuable lessons & takes us on journeys to discover parts of ourselves we would otherwise neglect, it reflects our times & shows us visions of the future or ideas from the past. Our perceptions of art are personal, it can reflect our inner worlds so we can better understand ourselves & what we need, to enable us to spiritually evolve & become better people.
In a small thriving community like a tribe, the role of the artists is respected & honoured & they are encouraged & supported in exploring their art as deeply as possible for the good of all the people, as it is naturally known that art is an essential part of the community & vital to the spiritual & mental health of its people.
I feel a big responsibility to never give in to the pressures of this soul-sucking society, I will be an artist for the rest of my life & develop & explore my art as deeply as I can take it, for Peace, Love & Truth.
I am developing an interactive storytelling game, I have finished writing my first book which is a fable inspired story & the first part in a trilogy for people of 12 years & over, the songs I am writing, recording & releasing now are inspired by the concepts & characters in the story & reflect its environment. The process of developing & creating all these ideas which are all intertwined is my spiritual exploration & evolution. I didn’t know about spirituality of any kind until the last eight or nine years when I began to seek it out.
It is always going to be a personal journey but through creativity & development, we can share & inspire other people to find their own way. It is not an easy thing to have feelings & experiences & conversations about something which is taboo in our culture, & often we can feel like outsiders, especially when the majority is sucked in to the religion of ‘modern science’ & technological progression & dogmatic atheism, or the major religions such as Christianity which are just an older means of controlling the masses, but there are people & communities & events which support us on our spiritual explorations.
There is also so much fake spiritual stuff out there too & so much extreme religious dogma that people can be easily put off & mistake creative spirituality for dogmatic religion.
My creative journey & development leads me to research all sorts of beliefs & possibilities & helps me to develop my own ideas about existence. The more I develop it & understand myself & my place & purpose in the world the better condition my mental health becomes, creativity can be a process of nurturing & through it we can learn the values of love & respect & empathy & the symbiotic nature of life, I become more positive the more I explore, my fascination & wonder only grow & I want to find the best way of sharing this experience with other people.
It gives me purpose & a reason to stay healthy & in tune with nature & the universe. I live creatively in every way I can & I’m always learning. I forage for food & plants to make tea from in order to balance the bacteria in my gut & maintain a strong immune system, amongst all the other many health benefits which nature & plants have to offer.
I eat a vegan diet & love cooking, which I have always loved but nowadays I make food-based more on how it makes me feel rather than just the taste.
I practice yoga & breathing & meditation & mantra & speak to my ancestors, all of which helps me to deal with my tinnitus & social anxiety. I approach life with compassion & wonder & a feeling that everything is possible, I believe in everything, existence is multidimensional & it’s all happening at the same time, from billions of different perspectives, which are all a part of the whole as we, ‘existence’, explores itself.
Life is amazing & it can be a struggle sometimes but if we let our hearts be free then we can find positive connections & create better realities. I have faith in the infinite possibilities of the great mystery. All this means that my problems are no longer real problems, there’s always a solution & I live in the moment & deal with them.
I can clearly see now that it was spirituality which was missing from life as a youngster. Education meant nothing to me because there was nothing holding it all together & giving it purpose. The subjects were segregated & meaningless, everything was just about being a part of the system & getting a career to work for it & make money for it. Life is about finding truth wherever we can uncover it & spiritual creativity is my way of doing this.
Duncan Foster has published his debut novel.
I’ve always been skeptical about accessing services such as Samaratins however since I’ve been actively trying to help myself become mentally well again, I reached out via email to find uot more about Samaratins.org and what services they can offer me – I thought I had to be suicidal to get in touch with them.
I’m currently building up a post crisis plan and contingency plan with the Mental health team – my psychiatrist, my Psychiatrist community nurse and support worker and other services in my community to get back on track. I thought I would share my experience on my website blog. This is how it went.
I emailed Jo ( all volunteers are trained and called Jo) to ask for further information. Jo got back to me to ask me for a bit more background and gave me a link to the samaratins.org website.This is what I had to say.
It sounds like you and your CPN are doing great work together.
Samaritans is a 24/7 listening service. We are currently available on the phone, email and by letter. Can I suggest for a more detailed definition of our service you visit our website www.samaritans.org.
Is there anything you would like to talk about tonight, is there anything worrying you or is there something you would like to share with us about how you are feeling?
Erm… well, I have been a long time service user with lengthy inpatient and outpatient stays in the hospital for bipolar, EUPD and chronic anorexia.
I tend to go in a cycle with how I escape from my thoughts and emotions instead of regulating them.
I’m in that place where I’m highly
Motivated to get to the place I was in from 2013- 2017
I achieved more in those few years than in my entire lifetime,
Apart from my career in travel.
I have a lot I want to do with my life and pass on what I’ve found out to help others.
I’ve volunteered my heart out up until 2016 because I was studying my BA at the time. I fought social services, my family and my 9-year-old daughter’s paternal father in court for 16 months. On the 05 may 2015 I addressed the judge myself and she was and is discharged into my care with full parental responsibility & she is a phenomenal child. I can’t believe she is my child.
I was never going to get married nor have children until I hit my 30′ s. Both just seemed ” to happen”. Many traumas and bad relationships, abortion and boom! By the age of 36 married and one 6-year-old.
My eating disorder has always been a big problem for me.. I’ve been starving myself or self-medicating for most of my life.
In 2017 my body nor my mind could take on everything I set out to do. I was volunteering 5 days a week 9- 5 pm. I was asked to do my WRAP co-facilitator course to do workshops; I had completed the first year of my MA 60 credits and a post-graduate in the humanities with high merit. I had been married for a year. My gran died a horrible, drawn-out death over 3 days in March 2017. I had to decide to take my aunt off life support because my Mom didn’t know what to do. My aunt died in our arms( at hospital snowed under morphine a few months later). I had to support my mom who is ill at times and be “there” for her.
My weight was getting low and it gave me a huge buzz. It’s the best high ever. No drug compares in my opinion to feel my bones protrude or the scales getting lower or that power I feel.
Unfortunately, I started self-medicating with illicit substances and I ended up doing one of my worst suicide attempts in March 2018. I insisted on carrying on with the final year of my MA. I had split up with my husband ( we are back together), My daughter was more or less living at my mom’s place more than she was in her own home. Most of the time I didn’t want her to see me out of my head, or out of control.
I was a single mom & My mom reported me to social services in 2018 within two weeks and then went to Miami for 5 weeks for a break! I received my lowest mark to date and I decided to end it. My mom had a hunch because that night I didn’t want my daughter at home with me.
Anyway, 9 hours in ICU and my Mom ( who was once part of my daughter’s care support package that I discovered and used as to persuade the judge I could look after my daughter with the help I had my daughter to look after and I carried on self-medicating and I had to go through a core assessment with a social worker’s (alone this time and I reached out my child’s school for support stop my child from being thrown into a highly flawed social care system. Twice in that year. Mom rang them again when my daughter was at her home.
I made an appointment with the doctor and I walked to the surgery. My mom was complaining about taxi fare etc.. I was hyper however the doctor ” made” my mom ring social services again. Back to 2018
My psychiatrist said I was in psychosis and I think the only reason he didn’t section me is that… I don’t know. He has known me for 15 years! I had my child to look after… I’m still not sure why he didn’t section. I think my then C.P.N. stuck up for me and I was put onto fortnightly injections to show compliance. The side effects were terrible. My mom took me to the hospital to take another medication to counteract the side effects before leaving to go abroad.
It was a rough couple of years from March up until 2019.
I was self-medicating daily I’ve (never been on heroin, or crack or ketamine.
I was in toxic relationships.
I didn’t care about my weight then. My nose was falling apart and I was losing my daughter to my mom at a fast rate.
I still wasn’t dead!
I took a really big overdose in Feb 2020. My former care co-coordinator didn’t think my cries for help were serious. My friend kept me awake on the phone. He wanted to call the ambulance. I begged him not to because of my daughter.
I got back with my husband in early 2019.
We had to get an injunction on a guy I allowed into my life. We weren’t good for one another. I seem to attract men who need me for finances or something…
I need them to be assholes to me to make sure that I can never trust my husband. The one man who has never disrespected me in 9 years and I’ve done a lot of shitty things to him
In May 2020 I had had enough.
I had been studying suicide manuals I found on the internet and decided to follow the overdose step by step guide. I ended up in a coma for 5 days and wired to tubes for a further 5 days in ICU.
For 2 months I was on a high. I was self-medicating on my Eating Disorder again. My mom and I have always clashed I was living with her trying to get away from a home with bad energy.
It didn’t work out with my mom and my daughter and my cat and my husband living at our current home. She threw me out in front of my daughter and as an excuse, I don’t know
I became stuck in my old habits. It was that or my eating disorder. My choice. My mom threatened to take me to court over my daughter numerous times for my drug use. I lost a lot of time with her my daughter.
I lost confidence in my mom Abilities again.
I was spending crazy amounts and stopped caring again. I have reached out to every service in my area and say I’m too complicated. My issues are too ” complex”.
I asked for a new care coordinator ( June 2020) and she saw me in crisis mode for 2 months. In Sept 2020
I put on 1 kilo ( in my head or physically. I was self-medicating so I had stopped bothering about scales.
That day I did something I haven’t done since I wad 17 years old.
I’m 39 in November. I stabbed my right-hand breast repeatedly and my inner thighs. Then bought 2 scales.
I then tried to jump off a well-known bridge for suicide attempts the same night.
My psychiatrist sent two psychiatrists to assess me to under the mental health act section 2 1981. .I think.
Earlier that day,
I walked out of his office screaming at my psychiatrist to discharge me from the enhanced team for people with severe Mental health input.
What was the point in taking prescribed tablets alone when I have been knocking on every door for DBT and therapy?
I spoke frankly with the assessment team and I wasn’t detained
I had a massive blow out 6weeks ago..
My mom had taken my girl away 1 day after we had discussed a plan and strategy and the boundaries and goalposts were moved according to my mom’s mood and demands. I decided f *** it. I was in a bad way and then I fought my mom for my daughter. I got her CPN involved, school. I told her secrets to my family. I betrayed her because I wanted my baby girl back.
She’s been home with me for just over 2 weeks &our bond is good. She is back into a good routine. I’m loving our bond, her age, her interests and her love.
I’ve thrown me into various therapy apps to get better, recovery apps, happy apps, registered to do volunteering again. I’m writing on my website again.
I’ve added a music blog to my website -it focuses on music artists I find and interview them on their career, creativity and thoughts on Mental health and their own experiences. My next feature is ready to publish by early Nov.
I’ve signed up to do loads of volunteering skill courses – peers mentoring etc…
I’m redoing my WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan
Learning DBT on my own.
. I haven’t used illicit substances for 8 weeks and I am higher than I have ever felt.
I’m starving myself again. I don’t like it, hunger, the dedication it takes. I do like the highs and my BMI is down to 17.1. I was living at a 19 – 20 BMI from 2018 until now…
. I’m happy because I’m investing my time in my family and buying us things. It feels good.
I’m mindful of how much I drink because of calories and I can’t drink like I did when I was using. I become ill. I have a protein shake usually 2times a day.
. A few microwaved mushrooms, cucumber( not microwaved) and microwaved onions. And celery and herbal tea to snack on.
I’m very active. I love to keep busy.
Mentally and psychically.
That’s a bit about me.
I don’t know what else to say.
I’ve managed to find a charity who let me have 10 zoom conference counselling sessions for survivors of rape, trauma and sexual abuse. My last session ends next Tues I have rescheduled 3 times!
I don’t feel suicidal and haven’t in 3 weeks.
I don’t have time to ruminate or think about self-medicating in an illegal way. People don’t leave me alone for too long and at this point, I don’t feel suicidal. I feel insanely high on my Eating disorder I’m on a high because I am making positive changes & I have had to cut out my family to be the mother that she deserves and I deserve to be.
I received a lengthy reply with positive feedback back at 3 a.m. this morning. It was an email that served as a soundboard to affirm what has happened and what I am doing with my life. I found it a positive experience I would urge people to use this service even if they don’t feel suicidal .
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.
Class is an illusion or an in trusion
Don’t mix your dish clothes with your serviettes
Ever heard of that one?
My Gran drummed that into all of us as much as she could.
She was born with money but lived the life of Cinderella because she was pretty and Grand Mamam remarried and acquired two not so pretty daughters.
She fell pregnant at 16 and was made homeless and went to work as a femme de menage and then trained to be a beautician.
She fell in love again and had my Aunt. Her Love left her like a stolen kiss and she then had two children to look after.
She had to put my aunt and uncle in a children’s home so she could work and survive and send money to them.
It’s not a train smash.
Ever heard of that one before?
My grandpa drummed that into all of us as much as he could.
His parents left Russia in 1918, took on a Polish sounding name and ended up leaving a good life for the slums of Paris.
Grandpa was born in the slums of Paris.
Grandpa took to cruising Paris with the other street kids, always hungry on the lookout for food.
One day Grandpa got a chance to change everything. He got a contract with L’oreal to bring the brand and introduce it to the dark continent that is Africa.
Always an opportunist he took the contract, found my Gran along the way, got married to her (much to the disapproval of my Grans family) and left for Madagascar, then Zimbabwe and finally South Africa.
My Gran couldn’t leave her children. She had to tell grandpa that she couldn’t leave France. He asked why and she only managed to tell him about her daughter – my aunt.
My grandpa took my aunt out of the children’s home and gave her his name that very day. My gran couldn’t bring herself to tell Grandpa about her other son. He would remain a secret until he wrote a salacious book about our family many years later.
Grandpa would have taken on my estranged uncle too if he had known.
They went on to have four more children.
Grandpa made a lot of money and finally got live the life of O Riley in South Africa.
The fridge was never empty again.
I got to live a pretty good life too.
Did having money and class make me a better person?
It got me into a lot of trouble.
I had far too much money from my Dad and my Mom’s side of the family.
I got into plenty of trouble.
I ended up living in squats and places of poverty. I was always more accepted there for wanting to get high than with other wealthy friends.
The reason: I didn’t hide who I was.
I don’t regret becoming a drug addict.
It taught me that just because I was white and privileged that didn’t mean I was exempt from getting hooked on the same drugs that only the poor and coloured ( is a race in South Africa and not a slur), Indian and black community did.
Class doesn’t buy you happiness.
Drug dealers hated me.
They didn’t get why a white girl with seemingly everything would be wanted to live a ghetto life – have black boyfriends and live in squalor.
One thing having class did help me with is get me out of a lot of trouble
Before you say money doesn’t buy class.
I already agree it doesn’t.
But have you ever noticed that some people carry themselves a certain way and others have an inbred look?
This is subjective and
Don’t tell me you haven’t ever had that thought!
That person looks like …. (insert your thoughts here)
What I love about the Word Press community is I don’t have a clue who has money and who doesn’t unless of course, a person tells me.
It still doesn’t make a difference. All Good Writing is classy in my book.
What irritates me is even though I am living on the poverty line not because of choice but because of choices I have made – people who don’t know my financial situation assume that the reason I got my daughter back and managed to manage my mental health issues is because of how I present myself and because I look like I have money.
I communicate well.
Being privileged does not make me make better choices.
It doesn’t make me better in any way.
There are many people who live in poverty who just like me want to learn. crave to learn.
I truly believe ‘knowledge is power’.
I communicate well because I have educated myself.
Everyone should have this chance
I’m in debt because I wanted to study in higher education. I am willing to get into more debt to get my Masters.
The problem with the class is the privileged have a better chance at learning to communicate and getting their point across in a “rational” manner from an early age.
We are all born with emotions. It is as natural as breathing
For many reasons when we display our emotions in society, we are seen as bad and showing ourselves and our family and friends up.
People with mental health issues -Rich or Poor get outcast as soon as they start leading their life in emotion without knowing the rules of how to be “civilised” to try to get what you want.
I didn’t get lucky because of my background.
I got clever and I studied and I learnt. I watched people and how they interact. I went on self-discovery courses to find out what my priorities and beliefs and values were and what makes me tick.
I have had at least one chance to marry for money. A pity the person was double my age, got a great pension and couldn’t communicate unless in anger or affection and drunk.
I have never had a rich boyfriend.
I think the closest I had to a boyfriend with “Money” was a brief love affair with someone in the army who had so many issues that he accused me of only wanting him for his money.
Funny story. I actually crushed on him because he had travelled like me. He had opinions and ideas. He was creative and he made me feel special.
I am married for love.
My mom is not rich any more but she has a lot of class and really great taste in fashion.
She has been my wedding planner and if our day looks privileged: it is because she got clever
We got clever. We got our priorities right.
I am rich in love.
My husband to be was born in a place where everyone who hears the name thinks ghetto, drugs, inbred families and rough around the edges.
Granted Gaz looks like he may smoke a bit of the green stuff.
He has never smoked or taken drugs.
He doesn’t drink. Hasn’t done for nearly 5 years.
He does know how to communicate and get his point across better than a lot of the Rich people I have had the opportunity of conversing with.
His mind is open. He is not ignorant. I love him for that.
We get on so well because we try to put the world to rights, we are inquisitive, always ready to learn and find out about our world and even beyond it.
We laugh. A huge turn on.
Make me laugh or buy me diamonds?
Oooh, what will I go for?