a professional hermit rambles

Author: Cecilia Weightman

Cheers me dears…

I have a memory of being 23 and standing outside of a pub in Middlesbrough talking to a family friend. As we talked a mutual acquaintance who was once a talented and much praised footballer staggered out of the door. He flung his arms round us, kissed our cheeks and staggered off down the road. As he walked we talked of the tragedy that a man with so much talent could become that way. In my head I was telling myself that I would stop drinking before I got that bad. I didn’t realise until I was much older that thinking like that was acknowledging that my drinking was as bad as his.

By the time I was 26 I couldn’t stop. I’d get so drunk I’d hit my head on the stone window sill beside my front door as I was letting myself in. I’ve staggered in front of traffic, woken up in a pool of my own vomit and the mattress on my bed had more piss stains than it had clean patches.

When I was 32 the alcoholic I was married to was admitted taken hospital to die as a result of his drinking. My GP rang me to ask me to go and see him as he wanted to see how I was coping. I swilled down half a shandy to cover the smell of the whisky I’d drank that morning and, at about 11.15 on 23 April 1991, I put the empty glass on the bar and went to see him.

At around 11.30 he sat me down and told me if I didn’t do something to change my lifestyle then in two years I’d be then one in hospital dying. I’d seen my husband deteriorate in the eight years I’d been married to him and I knew he’d been dying all that time; a slow death, a painful death, a death I didn’t want. I’d walked into the surgery a practising alcoholic and came out a recovering alcoholic.

I was managing a pub and that was the day I handed my notice in. I spent my first three weeks of sobriety listening to the spirits behind the bar whispering at me to have just one drink. I’ve never been sure if that was the Delirium Tremens or a false memory but it’s one of things that keeps me moving forward.

The details from the past 28 years don’t matter because what counts is how I was then and how I am now. If I cannot remember the person I was then I can no longer be the person I am today.

The person I was then was nasty. I would stamp on people’s feelings if I wanted to get my own way. Like every alcoholic I’ve ever met I drank to change the way I felt about myself. I was insecure and as I got older then I began to bully the people who reminded me of how I saw myself.

Active alcoholism for me is both self harm and a long slow suicide. Like other alcoholics my drinking cost me more than money. Alcohol doesn’t just remove stains on clothes and carpets it removes family, friends, health and dignity.

Sobriety isn’t easy. There are days that I won’t walk down the booze aisle in Asda even if I want something out of the freezers that face it. It’s difficult at times to deal with feelings but dealing with them is a lot easier than drinking on them. I try every day not to drink again because I can’t guarantee that I’ll be able to stop again. I’m neither willing to waste what is almost half a lifetime of sobriety nor propel myself forward to a premature death just for the sake of a few drinks.

I took my dog for a walk…

…on the way home I  slipped on some cobbles, doglet pulled away, and I hit the road with the side of my face. My knee and shoulder didn’t want to be left out so joined in the smashing party.

Imagine lots of blood, a knee that was in a position it shouldn’t have been and a face that ballooned so much I couldn’t get my smashed glasses on. A quick look in the mirror in A&E showed massive amounts of bruising and explained why I was in pain. I sat in the waiting room and cried.

In the week following I went through various stages of pain and discomfort. The lowest point was not being able to get in or out of bed easily because of intense pain when I moved. 

I begged for help from the NHS and it  came as a delivery of codeine which I would have pounced on had I been more mobile. 

My immune system crashed leaving me with the worst cold I’ve ever had and I developed an allergy to dogs. My dog is now living with a friend for an indefinite period of time. I see him regularly but I can’t walk him. I do get to cuddle up to him though and he gets to give me a rash.

I never thought that I’d have to consider myself physically disabled yet I am now dis-abled. I will have a more mobile patella than previously and my shoulder may always have limited range of movement and strength.

I’m regaining confidence while I’m out walking but the thought of falling again has turned into a fear.

I have limitations physically so there’ll be no climbing walls to get to places I shouldn’t when I want that photo. There’ll be no more lying down on my belly and inching towards cormorants as they spread their wings on the pontoon in the dock so I can get closer to take photos of their beautiful plumage. There’ll be no more running for buses but who wants to run for buses?

I’ve learned how to rest and have been surprised at how productive rest can be. Pottering around home gets chores done, it produces art work and there’s more time for reading.

Limitations or not, I live.

Here I go again…

The weirdsid website evolved from a blog that I started about the same time that I began using social media.

The original site was mental health heavy and as I learned to live with severe mental illness the posts reminded me of how my life was changing. I live with a mental illness, I manage it reasonably well but I don’t cope with the effects it has and each time I looked at the old website I was reminded of that.

This is a new beginning. I will mostly ramble about my life and if there is a mental health element to my posts then it will be a part and not the whole.

My life is me and I’m sure you won’t be enthralled by it but I’m hoping it will help me become a better writer. I’m pretty sure that I’m not going to inflict my fiction upon you. No-one deserves that.

Soho Square

I’ve been writing a diary which has been good for me but there’s something satisfying about writing about how you feel, holding your breath until you’re blue in the face and then pressing the publish button.

I rarely edited my mental health posts because I wanted to show the raw emotions that come with mental illness but this is different so I’ll attempt to edit what I write now.

Finally, this website will feature photos (at least one on every post) because photography is a huge part of my life and without it I think I’d stop in my tracks.

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