Happy Birthday Tilly

Dear Tilly

Today you are twenty.

At this point, twenty years ago, we were still waiting for you to arrive. It was the third day of a labour that had gone wrong at pretty much every stage. My birth plan was about as useful as me having printed the lyrics to Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep onto a sheet of paper, set fire to it and handing the charred remains to the midwife. Nevertheless we persevered and day three was notable for a) the triumphant arrival of the epidural and b) your triumphant arrival around eleven o’clock at night.

I’d go through it all again and more to have the honour of calling you my daughter.

I have absolutely no words of wisdomosity to share with you. You live in your own house, that you bought yourself. Your fiscal responsibility is clearly a genetic throwback and I worship at the feet of your ability to organise your finances. One day I hope you will teach me everything you know. You live with your lovely boy, who adores you and are surrounded by friends who are exactly the right sort of friends because they love you entirely for yourself. You have a steady job with access to free running books, which if you have to have a steady job at all is a pretty good one to have. You are still an artist to the core and I look forward to watching you take the world by storm one day. You seem to be living your best life, and I trust that if it doesn’t feel like your best life you will have the courage to change it, because you are brave and clever.

Thank you for choosing me to be your mum. You have taught me far more about being a good human being than you will ever know. Life would have been duller and meaner in every way without you in it. Today I am feeling very privileged, not only because it’s your birthday but because you’re spending it with me. Thank you.

Happy birthday heart of my heart. I love you.




June hoves into view

How did it get to be June already?

The last few weeks have passed in something of a blur. Tallulah is in the thick of exams, we have had guests for two weeks and this week has been half term. I feel like I’ve barely drawn breath.

As ever, it’s been a bit of a mixed bag here at Boo Towers. My mental health continues unpredictable, rather like the weather. I seem to gain ground, then something happens and I’m back down in the mire again. Sleep is a big factor. It’s still quite elusive, and I tend to have two states, dull fog of the mind or spin cycle of the mind, neither of which is ideal. Nevertheless, I still do have the mind, which I suppose is better than rocking purgatorially in the twilight.

My eye is better, which is very cheering as I haven’t had time to knit myself an eye patch.  Oscar has been referred for surgery for his ingrowing toenail. We wait for the letter much like Patience on a monument, if Patience wore sliders and ate a lot of pizza.

I am still plugging away at the gym. I only go once a week for an hour, but I go, which is very unlike me. Sadly I do not enjoy it any more than I did, but I am noticing that my joints are less unhappy with me, so there is that. Part of me wants to say it’s rubbish so I can bin it off and go back to a the sloth life, but I keep hitting that part of me with sticks until it shuts up.

I have also taken to walking a lot recently due to the fact that the kids installed Pokemon Go on my phone two weeks ago, and I have become completely addicted to it. I literally ‘Gotta Catch ‘Em All.’ This is as much a surprise to me as it is to everyone else. I am not a gamer, never have been. I have one game on my phone which I regularly de-install. I don’t even play Candy Crush. It turns out though, that when small, turtle style creatures pop out of hedges, I can’t help myself. I am walking about forty kilometres a week now, and I am already on level 22 of the game.

In some ways it’s really good for me. I am moving a considerable amount, which is helping my creaky old bones. It’s also free.  In other ways it is feeding my addictive personality in a rather concerning way. I am monitoring it, in case I have to ask Jason to smash my phone with a hammer for my own good.

Work is not something I’ve had a massive amount of time for in the last few weeks. Home life and shoring up my precarious mental health has taken precedent. I’ve stopped stressing so much about it, which is good. Things are selling at a fairly steady rate, which helps.

My art class finished this week. There isn’t another one until November, so I shall try to make time to do some at home in the meantime. Painting mediocre water colours continues to delight me in a way I could never have predicted. Much like Pokemon Go.

I went to Kew Gardens for the day with my friend Matt to see the Dale Chihuly exhibition. It was glorious. The sun shone, we had a magnificent picnic and the exhibits were beautiful.  We enjoyed ourselves so much we extended the trip, walking some of the Thames path and going for dinner before heading back. I highly recommend a visit. Unlike lots of places, you simply pay the regular entry fee for Kew and you can see all the Chihuly pieces without having to cough up extra. I appreciate that in these straitened times.

Book wise, I finished reading The Overstory by Richard Powers. It’s an incredible book, complex, long, absorbing. One of those big American novels that I tend to avoid, yet this one was brilliant. Rather upsetting in places but one of those books that stays with you and changes the way you look at the world after you’ve read it.

Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton was another utterly absorbing read. Based on Dalton’s own life this is a coming of age tale set against enormous deprivation, abuse and poverty. It sounds terrible but it really isn’t. It’s weirdly magical and I have never read anything quite like it.

Virginia Nicholson’s How Was It For You? Was a look at the Sixties through the eyes of women who had lived through it. She takes the big themes of the day and interviews women from all walks of life and geographical locations about how things like the coming of the pill really changed their lives, if it indeed did. It was fascinating. Really well written.

Tan France’s autobiography ‘Naturally Tan’, was a relatively entertaining bit of fluff, which was clearly written at some speed to cash in on the Queer Eye phenomenon. Tan, it appears, is quite a private person in real life, which makes it rather hard to write an autobiography with any depth at all, which is a shame, because he has, from the glimpses he gives you, had quite the life.

All the above were from Netgalley.

Fleishman Is In Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner was from Amazon Vine. I chose it because lots of people were recommending it on social media. For the first third of the book I totally got what everyone was raving about. I really enjoyed it. Then it lost its way in the second third, and I found myself putting it down a lot and getting really bored with the characters. It picked up in the last third, and there were some really clever ideas in the book, but in the end I didn’t love it.

I also got given a glorious picture book about The Origin of the Species by Sabina Radeva. It’s fabulous. The illustrations are beautiful and the author makes a really good fist of taking something incredibly complex and making it interesting and comprehensible for children.

Finally, I regressed back into my childhood bookcase and read The Parent Trap by Erich Kastner and Carbonel by Barbara Sleigh, because it turns out I hadn’t actually read either of them. Loved them.

I’m watching Good Omens, which is as splendid as I had hoped and keeps making me squeep with delight for so many reasons.

That’s about it, really. I’m gearing up for another busy week. Tilly is twenty on Thursday which is quite the thing to wrestle with. We are going to London for the day to see the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and eat lots of snacks. It will be nice.

Jason and I head off for a restorative weekend in our grain silo at Hay on Friday. It feels like I haven’t been for about five years, despite it only having been a couple of months since we were last there. I am very much looking forward to it. I think everyone should be allocated weekends in grain silos from time to time, on the NHS.


Head emptying

It’s been a while.

The dilemmas of blogging through a period of interesting mental health are that when things are going well I want and need to get out and about and do real life and there is not much time to write. When things are not going well, the temptation is to fill the blog with words of sadness, despite the fact that life is not all sadness, but writing the better bits is too hard. Hence the radio silence.

Today is ok. I have, on the minus side, cleaned up lots of cat sick and my plans for the day have been rather de-railed by circumstance. On the plus side I have drunk my coffee in a tiny window of sunshine, sitting outside on the deck and got to read two chapters of my book before everyone else got up.

Edited highlights of the last few weeks include

Getting used to Martin Launderette, my new car. He is still a bit of a bum licker and his parking sensors drive me mental. As we say in our house, ‘Martin! Martin! He’s got lots of banter.’ This is not necessarily a good thing. On the other hand, since I got a stone chip in the windscreen and the across the cup-de-sac neighbour backed into my passenger door because she was too busy looking at a cat, he is much less intimidating and more like my actual car. Also I can get Radio Six, which pleases me greatly.

My sore eye returned spectacularly and rather ruined the weekend before last. It did, at one, inconvenient point, actually explode and I had to have antibiotics the size of actual canoes for a week to clear it all up.  I was rather fed up during this period. I couldn’t see very well, my eye hurt like a bastard, the pills were making my stomach hurt and all in all I found the whole experience challenging at every level.

Oscar’s ingrowing toenail also exploded in the same week, and again, because the laws of medicine dictate that anything awful that happens to you happens outside of normal working hours, we ended up in children’s A&E for four hours on a Wednesday evening. He has been referred to the podiatrist and will eventually become the Pobble who has no toes. I am ok with this. I shall hire him out at children’s birthday parties and passing circuses.

Oscar, in between having his foot exploding and annoying his French teacher (interesting report card), has joined an acting troupe (I love the word troupe, very monkey like) and spends several hours every Saturday in a church hall thesping about. He loves it. Since Tallulah gave up on her dreams of Hollywood stardom and Tilly moved out to be a starving artist/bookseller, it rests on him to revive the family’s flagging fortunes. Obviously this will only work if his toes don’t explode and he becomes a circus freak instead.

Work is dismal. Absolutely dismal. I am resigned to having to weave a bedouin tent out of my stock and live like a nomad, scavenging the highways and byways of Britain. This will be good practice for when our politicians finally drag us irrevocably into the abyss. I will rename myself as The Urban Bear Grylls and make my fortune that way.

Jason went off for ten days to Las Vegas to play golf and poker and bask in the sunshine. This, of course, meant that the weather here became sub optimal as soon as his plane took off, and then we all exploded.

Tallulah starts GCSE’s on Monday. This has been as good for her mental health as you would expect given the intense nonsense and pressure schools place on results for something that only helps you get into sixth form and nobody gives a rat’s ass about ever again. I fume. We endure.

I have been visited by my wonderful friend Claire, and we ate curry and gossiped and laughed a lot. I visited my new friend, Fern and despite Bolsover (half way between our houses) promising much and delivering little, it was really lovely to meet her in actual, real life. I have been on a day out with Jenn, where we ate magnificent Thai food and shopped. I have been on a day out with my mum and sister in law where we fondled lots of fabric and ate magnificent Vietnamese food.

Tilly has been to visit several times. We laugh, we talk about books a lot, we eat food a lot. It’s good. We have just booked tickets to see Ben Aaranovitch talk about his new book The October Man, in a few weeks. Also in a few weeks, Tilly is twenty. I can’t even begin to tell you how much this fries my brain. I shall just park that thought there and prod it again later.

Book wise, I finished The Theoretical Foot, which was good but not gripping. The Overstory was exceptional but very upsetting. I read Jeanette Winterson’s Frankisstein: A Love Story, which is clever and funny and brilliant. I read The Case of Miss Elliott, the Tea Room Detective by Baroness Orczy, which was merely ok. I read Happy Fat by Sofie Hagen which is absolutely brilliant and I think everyone should read. From that and recommendations by Tilly and Alex I have also started to listen to The Guilty Feminist Podcast, which is superb. Oh, and I’m listening to a musician called Aldous Harding, who I really rate.



Some of the Books of My Life

Right then. Let’s have a whistle stop tour of some of the things I’ve been reading in the last few weeks:

It’s always nice when you think you’re up to date to find books in a series you’ve missed. I read two by Stuart MacBride from the Logan McRae series, The Blood Road and Now We Are Dead. Gritty, Scottish noir with a darkly humorous slant. I love them. There’s a new one out in May.

I had more of a crime fix with The Return of Mr Campion by Margery Allingham, a book of short stories which I was sent by NetGalley. Old fashioned and rather charming. I liked them very much, particularly the stories in which Campion didn’t feature, which was a surprise.

I also read Red Mist by Patricia Cornwell, which Oscar bought me for my birthday. Don’t tell Oscar but I hated it. I’ve only ever read one other Kay Scarpetta book and hated that too. I had rather hoped that this would be better. It wasn’t. You know it isn’t for you when you really hope that the horrible sociopath will bump Scarpetta off in chapter four, only to be cruelly disappointed when it doesn’t happen.

Meat Market by Juno Dawson was a proof from NetGalley. I very much enjoyed it. It’s a YA novel about the fashion industry and exploitation of young girls. It’s well written and I think it’s an important book for its target market. It’s out at the end of May.

Natboff by Andy Stanton was a good, solid offering from the creator of Mr. Gum, who I love with all my heart. Even my new car is named after a character in one of his books. Natboff doesn’t live up to quite the deluded genius of Mr. Gum but it has its moments. If you have kids who like very silly books, you should get it for them.

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata was an odd one. I really enjoy Japanese literature. I’m not sure whether it’s the authors I’m choosing to read or the translations, but they all tend to have this quite surreal quality to them. This is no exception, and I loved this right up until the end, which I thought let it down somewhat by not being weird enough.

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks was another odd one. Hanks (of film star fame) collects old typewriters in real life. He also writes stories on the type writers. Each story in the collection is written on a different antique typewriter from his collection and makes reference to said typewriter in the story. It’s novel, I’ll give it that. Some of the stories are good, some less so. I got my copy in the Kindle sale a while back. I’d have been annoyed to pay full price.

Three books about fashion were all great. Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life by Justine Picardie, Alexander McQueen: Blood Beneath the Skin by Andrew Wilson and The Button Box: The Story of Women in the Twentieth Century Through The Clothes They Wore by Lynn Knight, were all fascinating. The Lynn Knight was my favourite. I love a wander through social history with an interesting focus and this provided all of the above. The McQueen was next. It’s made me want to watch the film again. The Picardie book was a bit staid, but got more interesting as it went on.

Paul O’Grady Still Standing: The Savage Years, Rosie: Scenes from a Vanished Life by Rose Tremain and Then It Fell Apart by Moby were all decent autobiographies. Rosie was particularly fascinating because Tremain is such a vivid writer and her incredibly privileged childhood at the end of the Forties is so well drawn. I also really enjoyed the Moby book because it was pretty salacious and full of gossip. He’s had a surprisingly louche life for a vegan. Both these were advance copies from NetGalley. The Paul O’Grady was because I still love Lily Savage. I saw her once on stage. She reminded me rather of my gran.

I also read A World Gone Mad: The Wartime Diaries of Astrid Lindgren. It was interesting, but I realise I know very little about Lindgren, and because the book is predominantly diary extracts I found myself frustrated because I wanted to know more about all the people she talks about.

Brilliant, Brilliant, Brilliant by Joel Golby was sort of autobiographical, along with journalism. A real mixed bag, but yes, brilliant.

The Haunting of Henry Twist by Rebecca F John was a bit of a punt, and not an entirely successful one. It started off as one thing, which I was really into, and then about a third of the way through, decided to branch off in about twenty different directions, none of which really resolved at the end in any way I found satisfactory.

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney was excellent and as enjoyable for me as her book, Normal People. She writes with this sort of superb ordinariness that I find hugely appealing despite the fact that lots of people seem to hate her. I think she’s exceptional.

Currently I have several books on the go:

I am reading an extraordinarily boring book about the Tudors which I have been reading on and off for two years now and which is a very effective insomnia cure. It was free on Kindle and it’s really, really terrible. Imagine the worst text book you ever read and then add levels of hitherto unknown boredom. I can’t even be bothered to tell you who it’s by, that’s how bored I am of it.

I am reading The Death of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware, which is another book Oscar got me for my birthday and which actually seems pretty good so far.

I am reading The Theoretical Foot by M F K Fisher which is strange and excellent

and finally I am reading The Overstory by Richard Powers which I got sent by NetGalley and which is superb.



Slightly less gloom

I am still here. Still quite mad, but hanging on in there. I’ve had more sleep in the last few days, so that’s good. Things are always more manageable when you’re not exhausted. I’m still knackered, but I’m not swivel eyed anymore. Top marks for me.

I am trying a slightly new approach to things. I am attempting to do everything at the pace I can manage, rather than the pace the world dictates. This is helping a lot. Some days I get a lot of things done. Other days not so many. That’s ok. People are being very patient with me. This is probably due to the fact that all the asylums are now luxury flats and nobody wants to have to sit with me while I do basket weaving.

As well as getting more sleep, I am eating more things than toast. This is an improvement. Not that there is anything wrong with toast. It is one of the foods of the gods, along with mashed potato, but a girl can have too much toast. I was that girl. Toast is a treat, not a lifestyle. At least that’s what I tell myself.

Luckily for my newly restored vigour in terms of cooking, Amazon Vine sent me Sabrina Ghayour’s latest book Bazaar to review and I have been testing things from it. As with all her books, it is excellent. The recipes are simple, easy to follow and tasty.  It has meant that I have been eating proper meals again. To sum it up, all the recipes are vegetarian, but even my meat loving husband is actively enjoying the food. Nuff said.

I am still very, very sad about many things and prone to bursting into tears at random times. I think I am also quite furious about some things, but am far too tired to do anything about them. This is probably a good thing. I am definitely still on the morbid end of the thought spectrum, but am less terrified by everything. Slightly.

I know I am less terrified, because I am actively making plans to do things instead of putting them off, even the nice things. My diary is beginning to look more jovial. Whether I do these things remains to be seen, but choosing to do them is a step in the right direction, rather than forcing myself, or simply pretending that nothing is happening.

I spent several days last week with a painfully blocked tear duct (probably overworked) and a headache which turned into a spectacular migraine by Thursday afternoon. I have spent the majority of the Easter weekend recovering. This has mostly entailed sitting in the sun, reading my book, eating big, fat olives stuffed with garlic. Today I didn’t even bother to get out of my pyjamas. Well, except to have a bath, where I wallowed for a good hour, also reading my book.

To a large extent, books are saving my life at the moment. They give me peace I don’t get elsewhere, and fill my head with words that are not mine, and worlds that are not mine and this is good.

It’s been a long time since I posted book recommendations. The next post will be for the bibliophiles and then it will be back to the usual plangent moaning and the odd post about the cats.



I have had a small hiatus from blogging while I went slightly mad. I am now, slowly, coming out the other side of it. I am still mad, but I am getting some help, so that makes it less lonely and frightening, which is nice.

I have been functional mad, which in some ways is good, because it means I can still get up, get dressed, work, eat etc. In other ways it is not so good, because it is hard to explain to people quite how mad you are on the inside, when the outside seems to be ticking along very nicely thank you.

Quite often with mental health, the insides of a person and the outsides of a person do not match. For me, showing you what the inside of my head looks like is difficult. It’s difficult because I don’t want pity and I don’t want to be a freak show for other people’s amusement. It’s also difficult because I spend a lot of time wrestling with shame that I cannot do what other people seem to do so effortlessly. For me, regular life is often excruciatingly hard, sometimes impossible. I do not see a way for myself to fit in. A lot of the time this doesn’t bother me. I’ve spent a lifetime not fitting in. When I am very mad in the head, it bothers me a lot.

It is also difficult because this madness seems so large, and while I don’t talk about it or acknowledge it, I can (usually) contain it within myself. If I talk about it, I am often afraid that it will spill out of me, rather like a huge oil slick and then I won’t be able to stop it, and it will basically drown me until all that’s left is mad. So you can see why it would be difficult.

It’s so difficult that I didn’t even talk to my family about it until last week. I don’t want to be a burden, you see, and sometimes when the mad is screamingly bad, I become a burden, and it’s not as if they haven’t got enough going on. We are a family over blessed with burden at times.

Anyway, despite all this, I did talk to them, because even I could see that I was headed for a place that was no good at all, and my containment, don’t talk about it, pretend everything is fine schtick was not really cutting it any more, due to me becoming increasingly erratic.

So I talked about it with my husband and a couple of my trusted friends and they are helping me, and I am letting them, and that is hard in itself, because rather like my stubborn daughter, I like to do it by my ‘rown’ as she used to say. But sometimes, when your head is a hostile environment, you are not the best person to judge, or to help yourself and admitting that, and letting people help you, is a good thing.

And interestingly, all the people that I talked to said roughly the same thing to me, independently of each other, which makes me think that they’re probably onto something.  They said, and I paraphrase:

‘Why are you worried about being ordinary? We can help you with ordinary. That’s the easy bit. Why don’t you just accept that you are extra-ordinary, and go off and do those extra-ordinary things that only you can do?’

And I say that to you, if that’s the kind of thing that’s happening in your head right now. Let other people help you with the things you can’t do. Just focus on being your extra-ordinary self. x


The Martin Chronicles – aka I am fucked up

I don’t know if you ever have that thing where you think that you are over a traumatic event and then you find out, usually in reasonably trying circumstances when you could well have done without it, that you aren’t?

It me.

I am, of course, talking about my feelings about my new car. Martin Launderette. For he is indeed a he, and he is absolutely a Martin. Right now he is a Martin Launderette. Maybe later he will morph into a more kindly Martin. I don’t know. I just know that I didn’t really want to call him that, but that is his name, and you cannot argue with destiny on these points.

My beloved car is still on the drive. She has until April 2nd, when the MOT certificate runs out before I have to legally give her up. I have been trying not to drive too far in her in the last week. She really doesn’t like long runs. Short domestic journeys are all that’s in her now, and zipping from home to the post office or the Tesco Extra have meant that I was able to kid myself that the moment of parting was far, far away and probably a figment of my over active imagination.  That some amazing and miraculous event would happen to mean that I wouldn’t have to give her up after all.

Sadly, going the whole twelve miles to Loughborough to pick up Martin Launderette put paid to that little fantasy entirely. I chugged home on Friday afternoon, listening to the rattle of the failing suspension, feeling her sluggishness on hills and how hard she was trying to please me, despite being utterly exhausted, and I knew that it really was the end.

On Saturday morning I cleared out all the detritus that has accrued over the years. There’s the horde of tiny, spiral shells from that excellent holiday we had in Wales two years ago, the sand coating them now dry and dusty, sifted to the bottom. I kept them in the side pocket of the passenger door, so that when I was being driven about I could push my fingers down into the space and feel the holiday, still travelling with me. There’s the damaged piston from where I broke down on the ring road and thought I was going to a) die and b) miss taking the kids to the theatre and it turned out that I didn’t die and it was a simple fix and the AA man gave me the piston for good luck. There’s the torrents of cheap and terrible CDs that the kids and I would buy from Saino’s and crank up to eleven and drive all over the country singing to.

Jason had gone out to play golf, but I knew he would want me to drive Martin when he got back, and when he breezed in and picked up the keys and said: ‘Are you ready then?’ I couldn’t put it off any longer. I did spend an inordinate amount of time putting my shoes on, in the dark, in my office, with tears rolling down my face, because it turns out that the phobia of driving that I spent all those years conquering? It wasn’t conquered at all. It was just dormant, because I beat it into submission and threw a great lid on it and it turned out that losing my beloved car took the lid clean off and let it all come bubbling to the surface.

I blew my nose, wiped my panda eyes and went out and drove the car. I drove it perfectly competently and without any drama. I say without any drama. I mean any drama on the outside. Inside there was a whole fuck tonne of drama and I found a metaphorical lid from somewhere, and every time a drama tentacle threatened to snake out of my mouth or my eyes, I slammed the lid down hard and carried on.

We drove the grand total of fourteen miles and parked up in the middle of nowhere because by that point I was exhausted and stressed beyond stressed and needed to stop before I turned around to come home.

And I felt like an absolute fucking idiot. A total waste of space. I know that there is nothing to be afraid of. I know I can drive. I know that I can drive safely. I know that I can drive cars that are not my beloved car. I know all of those things and I have proved them to myself time and time again, and yet this absolute surge of panic and fear will not leave me alone at the moment.

It does not care about rationality, or reason. It does not care that I am lucky that I have a husband who bought me a new car and who understands, and who is beyond patient. It doesn’t matter that the fear is illogical. It matters that the fear is there, and even though I very much wish it weren’t, it doesn’t make it go away, and it doesn’t mean that I can ignore it. Because that’s what a phobia is. A phobia is a fear that is way out of proportion to the thing you are afraid of, and way out of a lot of your control.  If it were simply a question of logic, people wouldn’t hide under the bed when there was a thunderstorm, or faint when they see a money spider.

It’s no good wishing I were someone different, because I’m not, and as my mother would say; ‘If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.’ This is who I am, and these are my feelings. I am not terribly accepting of them right now. I ricochet between terror, sadness and absolute fury at myself for not being ‘better’. I also know that that doesn’t help. Beating myself up about that adds another layer of shit to the shit sandwich. Go figure.

These feelings are so often circular and self sabotaging. ‘I want to  do/feel/be that. I cannot do/feel/be that. I have tried my best, but it’s not where I am right now. I feel weak and that really, secretly, deep down I cannot possibly have tried my best, because if I had I would be able to do/feel/be that, because other people do and it looks simple. I know that I shouldn’t compare myself to other people, but I do and I feel bad about that but I cannot stop myself. I hate myself for my first failure, my second failure and every failure thereafter. I know that is unhelpful so I feel bad about that. I know I should love myself and forgive myself and be kind to myself, but I can’t, because I am a failure and I hate myself, and I shouldn’t even be thinking these thoughts.’ etc, and so it goes.

I am also pissed off that I did a load of work on this stuff several years ago, hypnotherapy, regular therapy, desperate prescriptions from the GP, and now here it all is again, like I learned nothing. So that’s a frisson of rage to spike the soup of self loathing. I realise that things have improved by the way. I am much more functional than I was. I am just emptying my head.

And I cannot possibly go out in the world with all this on show. I cannot function like this. So I slap my drag queen make up on. I tousle my too pink hair, and put on my brightest clothes, and I look really calm and collected, and rational (ish). When people ask me about it or I am in a situation where I have to make people aware that I am not quite as sorted as I seem, I joke with them, because how can I squat down and give a great, existential howl of anguish without frightening the living shit out of everyone I come into contact with?

I have learned how to pass as normal, because it’s easier and because I have to in order to life the life I want rather than the life that my fucked up brain would subject me to if I gave it freedom to do what it wants.

But that’s exhausting, because it’s like the me that is tired and ill and permanently fucked up, having to carry the jolly, socially acceptable, highly functional me around all the time. And over the years I have learned to do this, because necessity. Over time, the fucked up me has grown healthier and slightly more integrated with the other me, but there are times where we split apart at the seams and the weight is on me again, and right now is one of those times. Which is why, when I got home yesterday and really needed to work, I spent five hours dozing on the sofa because I was exhausted by myself and not fit to do anything. And why I was up until two this morning because when I woke up I had a head full of poison and a lot of panic to deal with.

And I am kicking out and railing against this like it will change things and I know it won’t.

Well, that’s not strictly true. I know that by pouring my heart into words it means that I am creating space in my brain so that I can get some perspective, and that with perspective and space comes a little more resourcefulness. I know that by being honest with myself it makes it a bit easier to tell myself to shut the fuck up when I start spiralling and I need to get a grip. I know that faking it to make it, as long as I am honest that I am faking it, will become less and less fake as time passes.

What it won’t change, right now, is that sick, tearful overwhelm when I go to start my car.  What it won’t change is that feeling that I am an alien freak in a world of normal when I struggle to do what so many other people never even have to think about.  What it won’t do is make it easier to do what I know I am going to have to do every day until things improve, which is feel all that stuff and go out and live and drive like a normal person until I am so exhausted and it is so automatic, I can shove it to the back of my brain again.

And it will come, because if I did it before, I can do it again, and I will just keep clinging on to that until it does.