How have I succeeded? Let me count the ways and an afternoon with racist women

I’ve just been patting myself on the back for what I’ve managed to do the past few days. Most of it has been laundry and housework and after a few days of being laid up with a cold-like virus I was, for a change, happy to do it.

One of the things I say a lot when patting myself on the back is the phrase “compared to most people this isn’t a lot” and that’s actually a load of rubbish. It’s how I imagine people to be and how I used to be myself when comparison is unnecessary.

I’ve done a lot of laundry (using a twin tub so bloody hard work), I’ve cleaned my kitchen, cleaned out the rat cage and now I’m excusing myself from cooking food from scratch because I’ve done enough.


I’ve recently become a member of a group on Facebook that “helps” people in the community. It’s a place to find volunteering opportunities (in theory) but I’m increasingly convinced that it’s a place where, if you choose, you can be patronised or even patronise other people.

Yesterday was quite a step forward in confirming that idea for me and now I’m beginning to back away slowly, facing the people with a smile on my face and suppressing an urge to run away as fast as I can.

One of the women in the group asked if I’d like to meet her for a coffee and so I agreed to it because its always good to meet new people and met her in a place round the corner from me. It’s not the kind of place I’d choose to have coffee because it’s a “lounge”. I’ve yet to figure out what a lounge is but I do know that I don’t like them.

Right from the outset I felt as though I was being interviewed about what I could offer this woman to make her more prominent in the neighbourhood. She hasn’t been here long and is still about 15 years short of not being an incomer so anybody that is, or has been somebody, is useful to her.

I don’t like being used as a step ladder – I’ll give anybody a helping hand but I won’t be used as a step ladder.

As we talked her eyes glowed at the list of my community achievements which all rank on the senior management level and she is still on the edges of groups trying to break through. I told her about having bipolar disorder and she grasped hold of that quite tightly and her tone changed to her being able to help me. I don’t want help from her and if I want help then I’ll ask for it from somebody who actually cares about me.

A young muslim woman was supposed to be meeting us and, even though she had voiced a reluctance to meet on licensed premises we were meeting on licensed premises. I felt as though she was being told what to do even if it wasn’t what was best for her and that’s just a form of bullying.

We went to a knitting group at a sheltered housing scheme and she told me at least a dozen times that to work with vulnerable people you needed a DRB check even though I’d told her that I’d had an enhanced check as a police volunteer and they don’t come more rigorous than that. By this time I felt I was becoming a personal project and I refuse to be anybody’s project.

Some of the older women in the knitting group were great. One was sat apart from the others as she needed a table and was crocheting on to a square of knitting. She couldn’t get the corners right and I told her how I used to do it. She noticed that my hands shook and we joked about how inconvenient it could be at times.

The bossy woman in the group (there’s always one) and the woman I’d met for coffee fell for each other heavily. They were both of the same religion, had seen each other at church and there was an air of them being above the rest of the group. Bossy woman raised herself higher by letting everybody know she’d been to boarding school.

It came out in the general chat that it had been hoped that a young muslim woman would be joining the group and a photo was shown of her. There was no need to mention her religion or where she came from and certainly no reason to pass a photo around of her. I was a little bit sick in my mouth as the she was discussed by people who had never met her as lonely, disenfranchised, unskilled and desperate for friends. I spoke loudly about how colour, religion or country of origin was not necessarily a part of being one of the invisible women – ask any woman who has been in an abusive relationship how invisible they felt – but this was taken as a confirmation that their racism and the view that they had of this woman was correct.

I don’t think the two women who were the most patronising were, by any coincidence, practising Catholics (I remember giving money to save black babies from themselves when I was a kid) and I don’t think it endeared them to me when they acknowledged a love of Mother Theresa because their adoration of her somehow, in their eyes, justified racism.

These women consider them the movers and shakers in the neighbourhood and yet they cannot see that they are not. They are far from being so and will never earn the respect that they both yearn for and hope that they already have. I find it very sad.

So today I’m counting my successes both past and present as something to be proud of even if they are wildly different, I’m refusing to be used as a step ladder and I’m backing away from people I see as poisonous as quickly as a I can and without confrontation.

See how grown up I can be? That’s real success!!

Today is gratitude day…

Yesterday was the final day of three days of mania. It was extreme irritability day (I was very annoyed with myself even) and it was breaking point day. If I were ever to commit suicide – and I sincerely hope that I never will – it would be on the final day of a manic episode. I want to tape my mouth up, rip my brain and self harm big time.

I contained myself as much as I could and I blogged about it. I think it’s important to  share the manic experience because so few people experience it for themselves but I also think that if I put the experience down on “paper” then I am, in a way, freeing myself from it. I truly believe that staying silent enslaves me.

Most people were wonderful. My family and friends were there with kind words and unspoken support and I felt protected by them. Other people weren’t so nice and one in particular wrote off my feelings of frustration at somebody refusing help and rebutting my offer of help at me being mentally ill. This, at its best, is discrimination but when it comes from someone who claims to have personal experience of mental illness it is damaging and disgustingly spiteful.


Today was different – the quick chat in the pet shop, bumping into a neighbour in the street and laughing together, the packet of Revels that was cheaper than I thought, the easy talking with the checkout operator as I packed my shopping and the longer talk with another neighbour out in the churchyard that serves as a park which is right on my doorstep.

He and his wife have a rescue dog who is the sweetest if oddest looking dog I’ve seen. He recognises me and runs towards me with that smile that dogs have and today I got the supreme compliment from him – helicopter tail! Dogs don’t do helicopter tail unless they love you immensely.

As I talked to his owner I was really counting my blessings out loud and inside I was tearful as I did it. Counting your blessings in your head doesn’t work unless you say them out loud to somebody else or write them down and it’s always good to remind myself of my privileged life.

  • I have the time and space to be ill – sounds bizarre but I can take time to manage bipolar disorder even if I can’t cope with it;
  • I have lots of animals and there is always at least one that’s awake and ready to be cuddled;
  • I live on my own so if I can’t face the washing up or doing the laundry then I don’t have to;
  • I can nap in the afternoon in a haze of Valium if I need to;
  • I can catch up on television programmes or watch a movie without consulting anybody else;
  • I can eat when I want and what I want (and  yes those are cornettos you can see in my freezer);
  • I can live the life I need to live and not the one that other people think I should.

Tomorrow will be the day I feel as though I’ve lost people and that I’m emotionally detached from them but I’m expecting that and I know it will pass. I may chatter a lot on social media or I may sit quietly at home and read but I will do what is best for me and that’s good enough.

Comparisons, absurdity and irrationality

I frequently tell people that they shouldn’t compare themselves to others. I tell them that it’s irrational because skills and talents aren’t about how well you do compared to others it’s about how they make you feel.

I love taking photos and I’m nearly always pleased with the results so I’m happy with what I do. I look at the photos of other people and admire them but there’s always a niggle in the back of my mind that they’re better than me because they’ve done courses and/or understand the technical stuff. A lot of them know how to use Photoshop and it just confuses me so I use simple editing tools.

I beat myself up for not being able to take decent photos of landscapes but I’m very good at portraits and get under the skin of the people I take photos of and those shots always have the wow! factor. So why do I make meaningless comparisons especially when I’ve actually sold some of my photos to be used in books?

There is a tendency for me to tell people what I’ve done with my day and then qualify the statement by telling them for a lot of people what I’ve achieved is nothing but for me it’s an achievement. I think I do this because I feel a big need to explain invisible illness but I also need to tell myself I’m doing okay when I’m convinced that I’m not.

I’m going through a period of chronic poor mental health and it’s quite extreme in the impact it’s having on my life. One of the bigger effects is that it makes me feel as though I’ve lost everybody that I love. It’s irrational and not something I’ve ever admitted to in public. It’s irrational and absurd and I can’t stop it from happening.

When I find myself comparing myself I’m going to tell myself that it’s good to look at other people’s talents and admire them but it doesn’t make me a lesser anything because I have other talents. If I saw somebody with a shopping basket full of expensive goodies I wouldn’t necessarily compare them enviously with my modestly priced shopping if I enjoyed what I had in my basket would I?

I just can’t be arsed with Twitter anymore

I’m turning my Twitter into a largely silent account. I’m going to tweet photos from my Flickr account because it improves the view rate and I’m going to continue to auto tweet my blog and Instagram photos but that’s it.

I’m not going to use the account actively. There will be no more interaction with people I follow or who follow me, no more wittering on about my day. Twitter is taking up time that I need in order to get well and, to be brutally honest, some people are pissing me off big time.

I’m really quite ill at the moment and I’ve activated my LPA for the first time in a long time. I’m no longer making the decisions that have to be made about my finances or health alone. I’m waiting for an appointment with a psychiatrist because my medication is no longer working efficiently and I just cannot cope with life.

There are some people on my social network who purport to be friends and yet do not behave as friends do. The problem with social networks is that it magnifies the shortcomings in relationships of any kind. The people who are lukewarm as friends whilst saying that you’re important to them are barely tolerable when it comes to social media.

I have to divorce myself from those people and the other emotional leeches and trolls that creep around the internet looking for virtual blood to suck.

This sounds angry but I’m just weary of it all. I know that if people read this then there will be a degree of “she doesn’t mean it, she’s ill” thinking going on. No. I feel like this and being ill means that Twitter has to go because I need the time to recover and be myself again.

As I’ve said, photos and blog posts will appear on my timeline but there’ll be no interaction with people anymore. I’m going to be selfish about this because sometimes being selfish is the way forward.

There are a people I will miss of course. There’s a certain shoe loving, goat keeping Doctor Who fan who I adore but she’ll understand if she reads this. I’ll miss a particular person with a mental health problem who has been fighting against a health trust and who I admire a great deal but these two people don’t make up for all the negativity and lack of empathy that runs through my timeline.

I’ve never fitted into society very well and I don’t with Twitter. It’s become more and more a place where cliques form and they only just tolerate people who are on their fringes. There was a time when people would ramble on and it was quite charming but rambling isn’t good enough anymore.

As I type it’s been about 48 hours since I tweeted a stand alone tweet. I’ve tweeted some photos and responded to one person who I know in real life and yet nobody has asked if I’m ok. Speaks volumes.

Stop the world, I want to get off

I’m waiting to see a psychiatrist again. My GP requested a referral and we’re both hoping I’ll get to see my last consultant mainly because he’s amazing at his job but also because I saw him for about 10 years and we developed a mutual language so it would be easy to talk to him. I can go in and tell him I feel well fucked up and he’ll know what I mean. Priceless.

I’m ultradian cycling (though at this point it’s only one change every 12 hours or so) and this started on Thursday. It was odds on it was going to start – EU Referendum, opportunity to write about it for a website and staying up all night to listen to the results – it was never going to end well. Politics leave a lot of people cold but I love it. I’m not eloquent about the subject but I know what I believe in and that passion, like all the others that inflame me, burn me out with mania and turn me into ashes with depression.

I’m fed up with the in-house mud slinging of those within the Labour Party re Jeremy Corbyn. He was voted leader by people who know that, despite the leadership and Tory Lites of recent years, the Party was born in red brick houses and not red brick universities. If he is deposed then the Labour Party membership will drop overnight.

I’m not at all surprised at the antics of the Conservative Party (has anybody found George Osbourne in their shed yet?) and the desperate please of the Liberal Democrats is rather sad but have any of the shit stirrers thought about what this is doing to me and all the other vulnerable people who have elected them, voted in the referendum and left feeling scared at the uncertain future that has been created?

I’m in that tiny section of people who are considered so ill I was put in the support section of ESA for life (without a face to face assessment) because the risk of me committing suicide if I was forced back to work is too high for them to take the chance. This means that my income is guaranteed but I am not invulnerable to rising prices, higher utility bills and I cannot tell myself to worry about life in the UK because it is something to worry about.

Anyway I’ve been so manic that I can’t get the words in my sentences in the right order and today I’ve dipped into depression and couldn’t care less if my words are in the right order or not. I’ve decided to focus instead on a day out in London I’m having on Thursday and if I burn out then so be it.

Meanwhile the country is being fucked roughly by the people we have trusted it to. Bastards.