Life is Lifey

When I used to ask my mum how work had gone, she used to say that it was alright, but it was a bit ‘worky.’ It has become a bit of a catchphrase in our house, because it sums it up perfectly.  At the moment I feel like life is just a bit ‘lifey’, if I’m honest. There is just so bloody much of it.

I know, more than anyone else that I need to relax, but honestly, it’s an uphill struggle most days.

Take Friday for example. I had a trip to the dental hygienist in the morning, but managed to combine it with lunch with my mum, which was rather nice. Errands in the afternoon were followed by an appointment with a lady wizard of my acquaintance who rewired some of my wonky energy and sent me home to sleep, because I would be tired.  I couldn’t stop yawning in the car (I am very obedient, particularly to do with being tired). I was looking forward to kicking my shoes off and taking it easy.

I got home to find that Jason, brim full of energy, had emptied out a small room we have, which is the equivalent to most people’s cupboard under the stairs.  He had also pulled the fridge freezer out from the units to put in a new water filter, and for reasons that were largely unclear, decided to empty half the shed into the garden. I honestly thought he was either leaving home or we had been burgled when I walked in the door. At this point he also realised he had other things to do, and hadn’t eaten, and would we help him sort everything out so that everything else could slot into place.  By the time I’d done that and cooked and eaten dinner it was about nine o’clock and I was so far past being pleasantly tired I was glassy eyed and unable to switch off.

Every day is like this at the moment. Every, bloody, day.  The kittens keep stealing Derek’s food and getting the shits.  I seem to spend half my life hiding Derek’s food, and the rest, looking for it.  In between that I have to explain to kittens why they can’t just shit wherever they feel like it and then roll in it. Then there’s carpet cleaning, and floor scrubbing, and washing clothes/soft furnishings etc. One of the kittens over indulged so much he ended up getting blood in his pooh, and this necessitated a trip to the vet, along with his brother, because they needed vaccinations anyway.  I came away £90 poorer with the basic knowledge that Ronnie P is a greedy bastard.

Derek seethes and plots their imminent demise, and was so stressed by them, she pissed up the leg of the large cardboard Tom Baker we have in the study.  Poor Tom. Poor Derek. Poor me.

Derek is on every form of cat tranquilliser known to man.  She is on zylkene cat supplements, Bach flower remedies, homeopathy and Scooby Snacks.  As the kittens are still alive, I feel that it is working, but it is a constant battle and I am forever shutting cats in rooms like some weird challenge on the Crystal Maze.

To further add insult to injury, I was assiduous in making sure the kittens were flead and wormed, but forgot to do Derek and she has brought fleas into the house, which I found today when one casually hopped on my knee.  I went absolutely mental, and have boiled my house in oil, de-flead Derek, who has now run away to London with a hanky on a stick, and laminated us all from top to toe.  My house has never been cleaner, but I am a rag of a human. I managed a quick bath this morning. It was a waste of effort. The house smells clean. I smell like expensive flea treatment and bum. Cat’s bum.

In between all this I have been to see the gynaecologist who did my surgery last year, because the advice I have been getting from the various hospital consults is so confusing it actually melted my head.  I thought it was me, but when I went through it with her, it actually melted her head too, so that was reassuring. We now have a plan. It involves me going in for a procedure, but at least it’s a plan and it makes sense, and I know what I’m doing. I’m still taking the blood pressure meds. I may also add worming tablets to the mix. Everyone’s taking them in this house.

I have cooked about a trillion meals. So many meals on Sunday and Monday that they seemed to morph into one gigantic, relentless meal that nobody really wanted to eat, particularly me.  On Monday I made lunch and dinner straight after breakfast I had so many other things to do, and it was the only way to fit everything in. On Sunday afternoon, when it seemed like lunch had only just finished but dinner must begin, Jason offered to help me.  He was in charge of the chicken, while I prepped potatoes and veg.  All went ok until I took a look at the dinner, which should have been almost ready, to find that the chicken was black on top and pink on the bottom and the potatoes were anaemic.  It turned out that Jason had accidentally put the oven on grill/fan, which I didn’t even know was an option on our oven, and I’ve been cooking with it for the last six years.  Dinner was salvageable, but snacks were required to tide us over. More bloody food prep. And if I’m not cooking it, or preparing it, I’m shopping for it.  I went to the supermarket three times on Sunday.

We have also had CAMHS appointments, school appointments and house buying tasks to slot into all of this, along with the regular, day to day stuff. In between this, I am trying to fit in some relaxing. Last night I went to bed at 8.00 p.m. I was so tired.  I woke myself up at 9.30 with a nightmare.  Then Oscar came in for a chat because he’d heard me being awake. He left, and then Tallulah arrived for a chat.  By the time we had put the world to rights, it was 11.00 p.m. She went to bed because she was very sleepy.  I was wide awake and didn’t get back to sleep until about half past one.

I sometimes wonder if this is a plan by the universe to prepare me for something in my future that I need training for.  I’m not sure what it would be, unless I’m in line to start a cat circus, with a small psychiatry booth as a bolt on.  Some days its only the curiosity that keeps me going.

It’s not all doom, only some of it

I realise that I am making it sound like life is full of woe and all waily, waily, ever since I took up the keyboard again. It really isn’t.  It’s a bit of a bastard, that’s for sure, but there are good things in amongst the mad and the bad things. I thought I’d write about some of them for a change.

I’m still not reading a lot, but I am reading a bit here and there, when my tired brain allows.  I’m very late to the party, but I have been reading my way through J. K. Rowling’s (Robert Galbraith) Cormoran Strike books, and loving them.  How To Be Famous by Caitlin Moran is currently my favourite read of the year, and I got to see her talking about it to Jess Philips way back at the beginning of the summer and got a hug from her, which was most excellent.  I also loved Lissa Evan’s Old Baggage. There are a million books I want to read, most of which are teetering in piles around the study and by the side of my bed. I will get round to them eventually. Just owning them is a comfort.

Tallulah and I have been watching quite a bit of telly.  She introduced me to the very silly, Friday Night Dinner which we binge watched, and which made us laugh immoderately.  We are now watching The Good Place, which I am finding reasonably diverting. I have been to the cinema over the holidays. I thoroughly enjoyed the new Incredibles film. I was less enthusiastic about Ant Man and the Wasp. I loved Mamma Mia II. Don’t @ me as they say on Twitter.

In between buying stock which I can’t get up on EBay fast enough, and which is currently sitting in mountains in my front room waiting to be loved and listed, I have been indulging myself, sartorially.  I figured it was either that or take crack. You don’t get such a come down from clothes, so fashion it was.

I bought my wedding outfit from Vivienne Westwood. I haven’t worn it yet. I’m not sure when I will, but you’ll hear about it when I do. It is possibly the best thing I have ever bought in my life. I bought a pair of rose gold, sparkly, Minna Parikka, rabbit trainers. These were also for my wedding. I have been wearing these, and I have to say that they make me happy every time they are on my feet, so as far as I am concerned, it was money well spent.  Jason bought me a fabulous map dress from Child of the Jago for our anniversary.  This has already been on several outings.  My latest purchase is a pair of high waisted, black culottes from Somerset by Alice Temperley at John Lewis.  Jason says I look like a ninja.  I’m down with that. I also wangled myself a Bella Freud jumper on Depop for £50 this summer, which is going to see a lot of wear in the coming months, and was an absolute bargain.

The kids and I went to London for a few days in the holidays. We stayed in a very nice house in Kilburn and managed to pack in a lot of walking, a lot of eating and a lot of shopping. Tilly was working and couldn’t come. It was the first year we’ve done it without her, and it was a bit strange, but we are getting used to doing things without her now that she is a fully fledged grown up. We did spend a lot of time talking about how much she would have enjoyed the things we did. Maybe one day she’ll be able to sneak away and do them with us again.  We tried not to let her absence cramp our style too much. Highlights included a trip to Viktor Wynd’s Cabinet of Curiosities, a guided tour of the Masonic Temple at the back of Covent Garden, afternoon tea at the Covent Garden Hotel, a trip to see Wicked and the delights of a vintage fair at Kings’ Cross, to name but a few.

There are lots of things on the horizon to look forward to as well. This weekend Jason and I are going to sneak off to stay in a converted grain silo near Hay on Wye.  I am already looking forward to adding to my monstrous to be read pile, eating lots of food and wearing pyjamas gratuitously in the day time.

In a few weeks we are going to Cyprus. I worked out that it is the first time we will have been abroad since Oscar was three. He will be twelve while we are away. We are going for two weeks, and blow the expense. We feel we’ve earned it. Jason has rented a villa in the hills with a pool, and I plan to lounge around like a lizard, swim, not like a lizard and eat extraordinary amounts of halloumi and feta cheese. Also not like a lizard.

My lovely friend Nicki has got tickets for us to see Sue Perkins when I get back, so I’m not too depressed at being not in Cyprus eating cheese.  Jason has got us tickets to see The Prodigy at the beginning of November, and my friend Claire has got us tickets to see The Levellers at the end of November, so there is a lot to be well for.

 

 

 

Falling Down

I keeled over on Wednesday.

Spending an entire summer dealing with what I have dealt with, will do that to a person.

It’s easy to say to people who are managing things like that, to take it easy.  It is not always that simple to do it, even when you know they’re right, and you totally should. I am the first person to tell someone that you cannot give what you do not have yourself, and that you need to take care of yourself.

As we all know, it is easier said than done.

One of the problems is how you prioritise. I will liken this summer to dealing with a forest fire. You focus on the most important bit, the bit that might burn your house down, but if you don’t pay attention to the little fires springing up around you, you might find, when you’ve successfully put the big one out, that the others are now raging, and you’re just facing a different fire that will still do the same kind of damage somewhere else.

You might suggest that you get other fire fighters in to help you. That can work to an extent. It does, however, depend on how competent those fire fighters are, whether those fire fighters have the necessary skills to actually help you, or whether they’re going to need training. If they need training and you have to train them on the job, and keep pointing out where more little fires have sprung up, sometimes that help can be the thing that inadvertently pushes you over the edge.

And there’s the explaining.  How do you explain everything? Sometimes you don’t want to have to explain why you need this and not that, or why it isn’t just simple to do X instead of Y. How do you constantly find the words? I find this particularly difficult with mental illness.  How do you explain something to someone that they can’t see or imagine? Most people, it has to be said, have been brilliant, but there’s always the odd one. The ‘why can’t you just pull yourself together?’ people. The ‘can’t you just force feed them?’ people. The people that make you despair, when you’re already in a dark place.

And how do you manage all the words that need to be said? There are the blunt words that have to be said even though you know they’re going to hurt. There are the diplomatic words that make life manageable. There are the words you want to say but have to swallow because if you do say them, they will smash all the fragile things you have built to the ground. There are the words you have to discard because they are not useful.  There are the words that other people say which might cause inadvertent damage and you know you will have to find other words to patch up those holes with. There are the desperate, sad, 3.00 a.m. words that spill out when you’re so tired you no longer have the strength to hold them back.

And you might find all the right places to say all these words and all the right people to say them to so that you can stop carrying them round inside you like a heavy stone that threatens to squash the breath out of your chest, but even that will be exhausting.

Then there’s the silence. Not necessarily your own silence. In my case almost certainly not. It’s the silence of the things that other people tell you, show you, entrust you with, and that you help them hold for a while, or take off of them, and you can’t do anything with because they aren’t yours. Holding on when someone you love can’t. Keeping calm when someone you love can’t. Thinking of a future when someone you love can’t. Keeping going when someone you love can’t. Building a story out of hope and trying to run it out to a happy place in spite of the story of despair that has already built a three lane motorway right through your house and life.

And if you bring someone else into that world to help, you have to find ways to preserve dignity and privacy and space for the person who is suffering most when they need it, and sometimes that’s just not compatible with having other people around.  Sometimes it is, but that usually involves some kind of negotiation process, and maybe, when everything else is going on, that is something you can’t handle right now either.

Sometimes you don’t want to have to be nice about something, or find ways to ask people to do something or not do something. Sometimes you just don’t have the energy to have another person’s energy around because your space is already full of other people’s energy and there is less and less room for your own.

And even with the people that can help you, you might have to fit that into a day that is already stuffed with things you have to do.  Sometimes you might have to get dressed, or drive twenty miles, or pay for that help, and it will help you, and it will be exactly what you need, but it comes at a cost that you don’t really have the energy to pay for, so you find you’re running on empty, gathering up the scraps, making do, until there isn’t anything left to run on at all.

And even the most helpful, lovely, competent people can’t always help you.  They can’t make it easy to sleep through the night. They can’t make you stop waking up screaming. They can’t make it so that you don’t constantly fill your head with thoughts and feelings that make every day exhausting before you’ve even begun it.

What makes everything so overwhelming is that it is constant, this thing that we’ve been living with.  Worse for the person experiencing it, of course, but what it does to them, it does to everyone else that lives with it too, to a lesser extent.  Accommodating it, fighting it, negotiating with it becomes the fabric of every day.  There is no break from it and it is in everything. There are so many rules and rituals, so many things that are forbidden or dangerous. It is like picking your way through the fire swamp, and we haven’t even got to the rodents of unusual size yet.

Then there is the constant erosion that this disease brings with it.  The more it takes away, the larger it becomes, until it is everywhere.  And the person at the centre of it is the least able to fight, at least at the beginning, because they have already been utterly diminished by it, so you have to do it. You have to try and create normality, and light and space where abnormality and darkness and shrinkage has happened, and everything that was normal is now under the spotlight and has to be reconfigured to make room so that it flourishes despite all this lack.

And as I write this I am thinking, will she be cross with me? Thinking, will all the people that have helped me, think I am ungrateful and rude? Should I dare, should I use these words this way?

So let me be clear. I have been surrounded by help and love and friendship and fellowship. Indeed, I could not have come this far without it, and you. I have been blessed with a child who is brave and resourceful and works hard to get well. This is no criticism of any of you.  It’s just how I feel, in my head, for myself, some of the time.

And I should write this. I should, because they are my words, and they are the start of me re-filling the pot of me that is so empty that I ended up in hospital with a suspected heart attack on Wednesday, because everything I am has been being hollowed out, and I have let it happen, because I was scared of the biggest lack of all.

I have been so scared to take it easy in case one of those times I could have been relaxing was one of the times she slipped away and didn’t come back. Now that she is healthier and I am too tired to hold it all in any more, I can write it, even if I can’t entirely say it.

And I know that with this type of illness it is not up to me whether she goes or stays. That’s always been in her gift, not mine. One of the most difficult things to accept about this illness is that she has the power to choose how this plays out.  All I could do, can do, is hope, and sometimes that can be really exhausting.

p.s. I am aware that this is more garbled than usual. I am just emptying my head.

Telling a story

I have approximately twenty minutes before I have to fly out the door, and I am still in my pyjamas. Now is the time I thought, to write another blog post.

I wanted to write about something I have been turning over in my brain over the last weeks. It’s jumbled up in my head with dental appointments and homework and what we will have for dinner, so it’s not entirely clear, and I thought writing about it might help.

What it is, is, this.  It’s about stories.  The stories we tell ourselves about who we are, and how we live and what we can and can’t do.

You know, those of you who have known me for a long time, that stories are important to me, that I pin a lot on narrative as a vehicle for imparting wisdom, that I believe that fundamentally we are story telling creatures and always have been.

Here’s something I’ve been mulling over in the long, long hours sitting with and talking to someone struggling with a disorder that is as much about the mind as the body.

One of the ways we render ourselves powerless is that we tell ourselves the end of the story of us before the end of the story has actually happened.

And then, because we ‘know’ what the ending is, everything in us strives to get to that point, because the story becomes real, and finishing it becomes necessary to us, because we are creatures of habit and pattern and we like certainty because it is safer than uncertainty.

And if that story is one which doesn’t have a happy ending, that can be a very bad thing indeed.

We don’t necessarily do it consciously. In fact, I’m fairly certain that it is almost entirely unconscious, that finishing the story before we’ve lived it, is something we do as easily and effortlessly as breathing, only breathing is good for us, and sometimes, trying to finish the story isn’t.

Here’s a story.  ‘I have an eating disorder. People with eating disorders do X and Y on the way to Z. If I want to be really good at having an eating disorder and feel safe and in control, I must get to Z, because that’s the end of the story and I can do X and Y to get there, because that’s the way, and it’s safe and certain.’

There are other stories, of course. Major stories like that one. Minor stories like, ‘I can’t stand up for myself because the end of that story is that people will think I am a harridan and on the way to that, they will shout at me.’ There are millions and millions of stories we tell ourselves every day.

They happen as soon as we think about something we might do. We run the scenario in our heads, and instead of realising that it’s one of many stories, and there are many outcomes, we pick one.  Sometimes we pick shiny endings and achieve amazing things. Sometimes we pick dark, sad endings and end up making ourselves deeply unhappy.  We feel, because in our head, that the story has already happened and we are just following behind, that the ending is real, and we must be true to it.

Here’s what I am learning.  It is important to ask other people, and ourselves, what story we are telling ourselves.  When I say, ‘I can’t do that’. When I say ‘I must do that.’  What I must try and remember to say to myself next is, ‘What story did I just tell myself? What was the ending of that story?’  Then I can ask myself if I like that ending.  What if I don’t? Well, then I can go back, and rewrite the ending, because it’s just a story.  I can ask myself how I want things to end, and then, instead of sleep walking down a self destructive path, thinking I am powerless, I can own my power and my story, and make choices that are better for me.

If I can’t think of an ending I want, that’s ok.  I can think about it in chapters. I can break it down so that I ask myself what I want now, and now, and now, because every story has cross roads, decision points, places where we get to change the path we chose.  We can even get half way down a path that looks good, start smelling the sulphurous bog ahead, turn round, and go back to where we started, if we want to.

Does that make any sense at all?

 

I really atent dead

Hello everyone.

I’ve had a couple of messages from people asking me if I’ve given up blogging.  The simple answer to that is, no, I haven’t.  I have stepped back over the summer however. Life has been particularly stressful and overwhelming and not everything that I have had to deal with has been mine to blog about.  I really dislike it when people announce they are leaving a social media platform and then come back, so I didn’t announce anything. Some days I would have given my eye teeth to blog.  Some days I meant to, but it was really difficult to find the words.

Life is still stressful, but I have managed to carve a little more ‘me’ space out of the days and now seems like a good time to use some of it to say hello.

In a nutshell, Tallulah was diagnosed with an eating disorder a few days before I posted my last post.  We have been very, very lucky in that we got a quick referral to our CAMHS service, who have been brilliant, and we were able to get help from a whole raft of incredibly supportive and kind people, professionals, family and friends, which has made things so much better than they could have been. Tallulah herself has been amazing, responsive, resilient and incredibly brave in the way she has faced her demons. We still have a way to go, and she isn’t back at school full time yet, but we are getting there.

Having said all that, it has been, at times, horrendous for everyone and I have every admiration and sympathy for people living with this brutal disease and everyone trying to help them, because it is miserable.

I have promised that I will not lay her life bare all over social media. What I share with you will be my own experiences from now on, and if I duck out for a while, which will almost certainly happen, then that will almost certainly be why.

In other news, Tilly graduated with a distinction from her art foundation year. She’s now working at Waterstones and in the process of buying her first house, which is causing its own stresses, because house buying, right? FUCK IT IN THE EYE.

Oscar started high school a week and a half ago.  He was almost excluded for having blue hair on day one.  We dyed it, because even though I am firmly of the opinion that Einstein would still have been a genius even with blue hair, it seemed mean to have that happen to him in his first week. On his second day he lost his school tie, after me giving the whole, if you lose an item of the heinously expensive uniform, you buy a replacement, lecture. He found one in the lost property box after a week, which has saved him some dollar and me a nervous breakdown. He is not keen on high school. Apparently, people are too tall. Having said that, I would like to point out that over the summer his shoe size went from 5 to 7, he has a deep booming voice, looms over me, and has an incipient moustache and he isn’t even 12 yet.

What else can I tell you? I am hanging on to my business by the boot straps. Erratic is the mode, but I am impressed it is still functioning at all under the circumstances. Thank you to everyone who has bought a crumpled garment off me in the last weeks. Ironing, which was never my strong suit, has totally gone by the wayside.

We are no longer getting re-married in a few weeks. It was just too hard, and too sad, and so not the right time.  Instead, my lovely mum and dad are coming to take care of everyone else for the weekend, while Jason and I run away to Wales and take care of each other for a few days.

I had a botched hysteroscopy and a failed smear test at UHL in Leicester and put in a formal complaint after they decided I needed further investigation but discharged me anyway.  The repercussions of that still rumble on.  I discharged myself from endocrinology after a particularly hideous day when I had to have a 24 hour BP monitor and a lot of meetings with CAMHS and the machine broke the capillaries in my upper arm.   After going to the optometrist last week, who diagnosed high blood pressure just looking at the backs of my eyes, I am taking medication again, reluctantly.  I do not want my eyeballs to explode. It would be the final insult. I am still talking about vaginas in the media, and got back to doing patient panel work in the last week. It is a nice change to help other people. So many people have helped me, it seems only fair.

Tallulah got two kittens just over a week ago. They are delightful. They are called Ronnie P and Anorak Wheatley. Derek hates them and spends most of her days stressed out of her mind (much like me) and the rest of the time planning to kill them.  We are doing what we can to calm her down, otherwise we will be looking for some lovely people to take the kittens, and possibly Tallulah, who processes about everywhere with them clamped to her chest.

We have had trying times, here at Boo Towers.

Having said all that, and without wanting to sound in the least bit saccharine and do gooding, because I am neither, and the words ‘fuck my actual life in the actual ear’ have been uttered far more than is seemly for a woman of my age in recent weeks, it is not all terrible. Every day, even the bleakest (and there have been some), there has been something to laugh about, something to remind me that it’s worth picking myself up and getting on with things and not running away to the circus.

Here’s what I learned, and am still learning.  You can’t stop stupendously shitty things happening, but you can choose how you deal with them. You cannot always deal with things on your own, but if you’ve picked the right friends and family, you won’t have to, and you will do so much better together than you could have on your own. You cannot save people you love from pain, but you can walk with them through it, and comfort them, and keep reminding them that you love them, and you like them, and you are glad they are here, right now, with you, and you’d like them to stick around a bit longer. There is always something to laugh about, always, even if it is only the poster in the CAMHS waiting room that says, ‘please don’t eat the jigsaw pieces.’

 

 

Tallulah is Fifteen

Dearest girl,

you are fifteen today. For once in my life, I don’t have the words to begin to tell you what you mean to me and how much I love you.

You are one of the three greatest achievements of my life, and every day I am grateful that you are in it.

You are always good enough. You are always better than you think. You are always perfect to me.

I can’t do justice to what I want to say, but know that I would rip the still beating heart out of my chest if it would save you a single moment’s unnecessary pain. I wish you the realisation that everything you want is possible and everything you dream is attainable and still everything you are is just enough, right now.

I love you, best beloved, and I wish you happy on your birthday.

Love, mum.

A Week of Stuff

I had a slight panic last week regarding how many things I had to do in a week. Then I realised I had accidentally stuck three weeks together in one, which made things slightly less horrendous. I’ve often managed to confuse days before. I frequently have two Thursdays, or think I’m several days ahead or behind myself, but this is the first time I’ve glommed three weeks together.  I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re prone to anxiety attacks to be honest, although the relief after realising my mistake was rather splendid.

It was still a busy week, despite itself, and I find myself at ten to ten on a Sunday night already feeling a bit hamster wheelish, and like I’ve forgotten how to stop.

I’ve packed in a lot in the last seven days. On top of things like taking teenagers to the orthodontist, hosting wasp killers (who came to get rid of an interesting wasp nest near our back door) and boys to trampoline parties I’ve been picking up the threads of work again after a few weeks of wobbling around being poorly.  I’ve listed what is technically termed, a ‘shit ton’ of things on my EBay account this week in the hope that someone might decide I have the very thing they need. I’ve had one to ones with people from my networking group, and have been doing some work with private clients. I can’t say I’ve been businesswoman of the year, but I’m turning up and smiling in tights, and that’s what counts.

In more exciting news, I went to see a wonderful lady called Giulia Mio who is a hat maker.  She’s going to make me a splendid hat for my equally splendid wedding. I went to visit her in her studio and spent the most glorious hour amongst great pots of feathers and sequins. I got to try on hats, and basically did not want to leave, ever. She was lovely and I cannot wait to see what she comes up with.

I was also a bit of a social butterfly this week. I went to see the poet Benjamin Zephaniah do a performance at the Curve theatre on Tuesday night. Tilly was there, selling books in her role as professional Waterstones book seller person, so I had to buy a book to support her. On Wednesday my husband took me out on a hot date. We went to see Oceans Eight and then ate delicious steak.  On Thursday I scooted off to Birmingham to hang out with my friend Alex for the day. In the evening we went to see Caitlin Moran talk about her new book to Jess Philips. It was great fun. We all got a signed book and I got a hug from Caitlin who was not put off by the fact that I was a hot, sweaty, menopausal mess. She called me a ‘Fellow vagina warrior,’ and frankly it was one of the best things anyone has ever called me. I may get a t-shirt printed.

I also managed to fit in tea and biscuits with my splendid friend Kim, and got to hang out with my mum and dad a few times. I spent a lovely afternoon with my friend Carol, and altogether, it was jolly nice.