Monday, 29 December 2014

Customer services - music - business

"Please state your current location?" "I'm standing on the edge". "Sorry - did you say 'Orpington?"

The only 'soul' I have is just psychology at it's most mysterious. This is not my belief, I just know it's the truth. The truth is difficult most of the time, and insurmountable the rest of the time. We all know it deep down, below the layers of derma, subcutaneous tissue, fat, muscle, or whatever 'deep' means. We all know we're ultimately alone. 

Music makes me melancholy. It can be simultaneously my saviour, and my assassin. It leads me into the woods and leaves me alone in the dark with only the wind in the leaves for company. When I'm flashing back to what happened, and when I'm lying awake, staring into the darkness, I hear it mocking me. It persuades me I have power over the emotions of others whilst having no power over my own; that things I write could make others feel as lost as I do. I get caught up in the story that isn't; it isn't, and it never was. 

This wasn't how I imagined my life to be when I was a child - I thought I was destined for something great - something that mattered. I was dragged away on residential courses for 'able' children, studying rocks in quarries and reaching new heights of disengagement in knowing I'd pay for my ability upon my return to school, where the 'normal' kids would be busy not being in quarries. I remember being summoned to the headmaster's office to explain why my report on sandstone didn't live up to expectations. I was always at a loss as to what those expectations were, which as it turns out, was a running theme in my life. Maybe everyone feels special - I read somewhere it was a phenomenon of children brought up in the 80s, but I think perhaps it's just in us. Some of us get to live it out, most don't. Many live it out vicariously through their own children. I had already begun to retreat inside my mind for comfort, foolishly assuming this would one day give me super powers.

I discovered music very early on. Both of my parents dabbled, and my mum gave piano and guitar lessons whilst I was still in utero. It's odd how people sing songs to children as if they were vital to normal development - if you don't have a song for everything from nappy changing to cleaning the sick off the wall, you're not nurturing their psyches, yet if you announce to your careers advisor (aka the ex-military history teacher with the metal plates on the bottoms of his shoes that puts the fear of god into all children just by approaching the classroom) that you want to be a musician, you're informed that music isn't a proper job, so you should do maths instead. In all fairness, it's not really a proper job - at least not like most other jobs. Being a fuck-up is expected in music, rather than tolerated. A certain story in the Daily Mail was based around my fucked-up-ness purely because that's the only version they'd accept. 

Half my school peers busied themselves identifying new ways to reduce me to tears (although I never once cried), whilst the other half was lauding my performances as leader of the orchestra, jazz singer in the spotlight, soloist in the school play, processional leader in the cathedral carol concert. I imagine now that experience would be similar to 'Glee' (the TV show about teens trying to form their own identities as members of a club specialising in overly camp singing performances, hated by everyone else at the school, and used as a target, even by the principal). 

Even now I'm not exactly textbook chart fodder - I sing like an 8 year old boy and look like Kate Bush on a bad day. 'We don't know where you fit you in the market. What's the concept?'. Well, there isn't a concept - I'm a person, who writes songs and sings them, y'know, like err Charlotte Church? Oh no, sorry, she sings other people's songs doesn't she - ok, like Elton John? Hmm, he wears glasses though... gosh, maybe I do need a concept. How's this - I'm a classical crossover artist who DOES write their own music - all of it, every single tiny part. No? So many people in the creative world have mental health problems; being expected to live up to a superficial ideal in order to succeed is not conducive to good mental health. 

People don't actually mean it when they say it's ok to talk. "It's ok to talk" (but only if I'm not the one listening). "It's ok to talk" (but only if what you say doesn't make me uncomfortable). "Talk to me", (but only if you get these tasks done at the same time). What are the words I need to use to make you hear me when I'm saying "I'm not ok! I'm not ok and I'm falling - I'm falling - and I want to fall - out of the race, out of sight and out of my mind - I have nothing left to give." People need a stiff drink before they can listen to that. How do you deal with someone who goes from ambitious and driven, to wounded and burnt, in the space of 5 minutes?

It's ok to talk when you're well, when you can offer up amusing anecdotes, messages about strength and resilience, heroic stories and the promise of a light at the end of the tunnel. But what if this journey doesn't have a light? Nobody wants to go with me down that particular tunnel. I don't blame them - as soon I start to really talk, people back away. 

But if you do it through music, it becomes 'tortured genius'; the 'voice of a generation', and other such sickeningly plastic sentiments. Right place, right time - right? Or maybe it's time to grow the fuck up and start giving people music they'll like for music's sake. Christ, even I struggle to imagine a world where that could happen.

The most painful part is the imagining. Imagining what I could've been. Who I could've been. And what makes someone a 'who' anyway? When people reinforce the idea that you're in some way gifted, failure to live up those expectations is (soul) destroying. Many of my friends have achieved massive notoriety in music; they've toured the world, headlined festivals and lived the life I worked my arse off for, for almost twenty years, before I finally gave in to plan B and forged some semblance of a career in a world where I'm a metaphorical square peg. If I could fully give myself over to plan B, I probably could succeed, but there'll always be that nagging feeling I'm missing something. 

Someone at work recently told me that once you get above a certain corporate grade, the pay off is that the things that were the reason you're doing it all start to suffer. You might be choosing between buying a yacht and a canal boat, but you've got nobody left to enjoy it with. So how do you choose? You can plod through life with a settled family life, but with a lot of 'what if's, or you can live the dream and die alone. 

We love playing games. But some of us just don't want to play.


Sunday, 14 December 2014

Merry 'Stigmas'

Today dear readers, let me lead you gently but firmly back to our old familiar favourite, stigma. Let's explore the phenomenon of stigma disguised as acceptance. A particularly slippery fish, this one. Alright, alright yes - it's Christmas. Not exactly a time to be ruminating on our various daily bugbears, right? Categorically and emphatically, NO. I laugh in the face of Chris and his mate T'mas. Coming round here every year, bringing Pound Shop glitter trodden into the carpet and Iceland 'canapes'. I'm sneering as I write this obviously. I'll tell you more about my issues with this particular festival another time, as I imagine if you're actually reading this on Christmas eve you probably feel similarly. NOw back to the point (I'm sure there was one somewhere).

Picture, if you will, a feature in a mostly decent and for the most part objective newspaper. Inset, is a photograph of a middle-aged woman gazing knowingly half into the lens of the camera, against a backdrop of art and bookshelves stuffed full of respectable looking texts. She appears aloof, and slightly troubled. The headline reads: 

"Academic, historian and feminist. She is also a former psychiatric patient."

She's obviously very well educated, intelligent and well-respected, but - ooh... hmm - bit of a 'blip' in the past should we say?

Another newspaper, this time one with a little less in the way of, shall we say, 'factual analysis' for the discerning reader. A picture of a leather-faced sexagenarian smiling wryly from a comfortable armchair, surrounded by expensive looking nik naks; his wife tenderly cradling his hand as she attempts to force her surgically paralysed lips into a smile. Another headline:

"Successful property magnate, politician and father. He is also a former convict." 

Well this guy's certainly successful considering he had a bad start - look how well he's done for himself after being in prison! Impressive. Just goes to show how people come good in the end. 

Now you may point out, perfectly understandably, that there's a certain gender dynamic at work here. Men are often lauded for succeeding despite wrongdoings, but women are charity cases. Women can't succeed alone. Deeper still into our social psyche - and we find that in contrast to someone with a criminal past, a person with a stint in a mental hospital under their belt comes off worst. The messages are subtle - subliminal even. Pick a card, any card... as long as it's not the one with a woman with any sort of mental illness.

Now imagine that mental illness was thought of in the same way as physical illness. If that were true, this headline could have ended with: "She also once saw her GP about a wart on her toe". Ridiculous, quite obviously. Lately we've heard disability and mental health mentioned more than usual by the powers that be; more beds, parity, targets, blaaaah blaaaah. But the reality is that the government are just ticking off the list - they do it because it makes them look good, and it saves money. I hope most of you will know this anyway, but these are of course the wrong reasons.

I have a cardiac arrhythmia for which I see a consultant every 6 months. It's a benign condition that causes very little discomfort day to day. In stark contrast, I only see a doctor for my mental health when I beg, and by begging I actually mean daily calls to either my GP or my private medical insurers and a bloody-mindedness that leaves me utterly exhausted. I have a 20+ year history of mental illness, but I've only managed to see 3 psychiatrists in that time and I only got the correct diagnosis this year. 

After I gave birth I had very severe post-natal depression, only I didn't tell anyone because I was afraid my child would be taken from me. You only need to have been in the UK five minutes to have seen the horrific story of a mother with schizophrenia who took drastic action in fear that her newborn would be taken from her; tragically they both lost their lives. I felt so deeply sad that this had happened when I know she could've lived with the right treatment at the right time. Mental illness kills, and contrary to popular belief, it kills in exactly the same way as cancer does. Suicide is not a choice. It's an outcome - an outcome resulting from a terminal illness. Sometimes the treatment is too late, sometimes it doesn't work, there is NO DIFFERENCE between this, and a physical illness.

I find it particularly surprising that this disparity exists, given the cost of untreated mental illness. A government, a society and a system that so vehemently pursues capital should be falling over themselves to avoid footing the bill for the sort of complex treatment required when Jonny Commoner's been left to his own devices for too long.

Around 2% of the population have my diagnosis - borderline personality disorder - and 10% of these people complete suicide. That's a scary statistic. I'm one of the lucky ones, so far. As such, I try to recognise the things about me that I wouldn't have if it wasn't for my illness. I have no idea how I ended up where I am, with a job I love, a new family and the wherewithal to understand myself and recognise that things are going wrong in time to avoid disaster. I tick every box of the DSMV, which gives a combination of 256 presentations (read the last linked article from my Facebook page at Anger is the only thing I know I'm feeling when it happens. It happened just today - some cretinous twat upon rounding a corner at the same time as a postman was coming round said corner from the opposite direction gave the poor guy a mouthful of abuse. My body was telling me to say something, punch him in the face, bring justice to an unfair situation. I don't know why I didn't do anything, but it was exactly the sort of situation that in the past would've got me into danger.

Stigma has become so ingrained in us that it can sneak in unnoticed. I do it myself - I use the word 'mental' interchangeably with 'crazy' and both to mean something is not right, annoying, unstable. I, like most others, give myself the excuse of being able to reference a label because I'm affected by it. 

There's talk of changing the name of BPD to 'complex trauma', or 'emotional regulation disorder'. I prefer the former. When a psychiatrist tells you you're hitting the top end of the severity chart, it becomes even more baffling to think that one might have so much insight, yet still be unable to overcome the dialectical tension. That I'm so willing to talk honestly about my faulty mind bears testament to my level of understanding (oh, and my narcissism of course). People don't trust the label, and neither do I.

"Can you imagine if mental health was still a taboo?! I mean... just... wow."

"Hmmm? Oh, like back in 2014 when people still thought the mind was simultaneously the most beautiful, important thing, and yet still something not worth bothering to look after?"

"Yeah. Yep. That was mental."


Monday, 8 December 2014

The Good Fight

"Don't be afraid
What your mind conceives
You should make a stand
Stand up for what you believe
And tonight
We can truly say
Together we're invincible"

Yes, they are Muse lyrics. Muse lyrics I just happened to hear immediately after being given what felt to me, in my currently precarious mental state, like an utterly decimating piece of news. I listened. I wondered why the fuck I couldn't just be like everyone else, and go along with a comfortable salary and not a lot of responsibility - A.K.A. the easy life. But I knew that nothing but the outcome I'd pinned all of my hopes on and worked my arse off for, would do. It wouldn't matter that I know I'm damned lucky to have a job I enjoy, working with people who are real friends as well as colleagues. I'd missed out on a key role whilst on maternity leave, and now, here I am, ten years behind my peers, with what I perceive as capability befitting of someone much more important and experience proving I've got guts many can only wish for, and yet I'm working to the detriment of my family and my mental health to wallow at the bottom. I'm a bottom feeder. I feel untrusted, unrecognised, underrated, underachieving; WOUNDED. AND COMPLETELY UNREPENTENT. Hell, I would've stood up to the CEO without fear to fight my corner at that moment.

I, like all humans with thoughts, feelings, desires and dreams, have off days. I'll make no bones about it, they suck. What I also have, which does seem to distinguish me somewhat from the rest of society, is some sort of weird gluttony for punishment. Where others would become jaded, accept that doing the right thing doesn't win you any popularity until the point when people realise you were right all along and expect you to deliver them a magic solution, I continue on my one woman mission to change the world, no matter how many times people prove they don't get it. If there's no meaning in what I'm doing, there's no point. I make meaning in the meaningless. I have to.

Doing what you believe in doesn't win you many fans. Or at least not fans who have the power to reward you for stupidly risking everything that is stable in your life. I'm not even sure I know what the reward means any more. 

It can be hard to separate the BPD from the responses that normal, rational people have under the same circumstances, granted, but it becomes bitterly obvious once it starts kicking off that it makes me into a bull in a china shop. I frequently find myself a passive bystander whilst the wrong words are rolling off my tongue, doing irreperable damage to otherwise good relationships. As I float off to watch the scene unfold from the outside, in a somewhat similar fashion to how I imagine a near death experience to be - only without the awesome tunnel bit - the other me lays waste to my hard work and makes me appear to be what others have described as 'a loose cannon'. In combination with my inability to be disheartened for more than 24 hours at a time, I imagine this presents a strange image to the outside world. Despite my ardent atheism, I somehow believe that doing the right thing should result in the right things happening. I do things that make a difference to people, because I can't do anything else.

Now of course I hate the term 'unstable' and I see that and 'loose cannon' as interchangeable terms. Both apply as little to one's mental state as 'GSoH' does on a dating website. We're all capable of thinking randomly at any given time, and therefore a stable mental state is a misnomer. This is my opinion of course and yours may be different. Therein lies the beauty of the breadth of experience all humans have during their lives, no matter who they are. Our ability to constantly change our thoughts and feel such a range of emotions is what makes us human in the first place (that or taxes). Suffice it to say that this pair along with my good friend 'impulsive' are as yet the only terms I've found that are appropriate. It seems odd, but I know quite a few people with a lot less impulse control than I have and whaddaya know? They're also my superiors.

I find it almost impossible to explain myself to those who are on the receiving end of this, and I'm painfully aware of my inability to give any adequate reason for the huge importance I place on things that seem absurd to everyone else. Why is it important to me to get a label that means nothing to anyone outside of this little bubble? I wish I knew. The best I can do is this: a higher ranking label lends weight to what I say. It gives me the air of someone with a clue. My creative vision suddenly becomes something that others have to go along with. Something they automatically trust in. 

I can assure you that although thus far, this post has painted a picture of someone with an ego the size of a planet, I am not (consciously) self-important. In fact I'm more the reverse. And no, none of this makes sense - welcome to the dark side. When things are weird, they're really very weird. You'll have to excuse me. I'm having a rather difficult time at the moment. BPD is a strange beast. This was probably a rant. I do apologise. Please join me again when I manage to regain some sense of sense. 

Thursday, 4 December 2014

For the mothers lost

It wasn't enough to ask me how I felt, and just accept the answer. You could've looked into my eyes and seen the fear if you really wanted to. I just wanted you to go away. You did.

It doesn't happen over time, but any time. Especially times when the balance of chemicals in your body has suddenly capsized you into the sea, when the eyes of your world are looking to you to be, to feel, to know, to love. But you can't be, you can't feel, you don't know, you're not love. You're not a who or a where; only a why. An unanswered question somewhere amongst the pages.

Every minute is longer than the last. Nobody comes when you call; you can't hear your own voice out loud. You look for familiarity in blank walls and find sharp edges and painful silence instead. A piece of your heart is hanging from your body but you can't open your eyes to find it. You hear someone reading the words of a book you once wrote, in a language you've never heard; you don't understand why. You are not how you were. Clouds of smoke. There is nothing beyond this pinpoint of black in your eye. 

Thoughts you never expected, spirals of sickness that left unchecked can suck you down and hold you under until you know that it will stop once you allow the water to fill your lungs - you're finally warm and as you drown you look up to see their faces rippled by the surface of the water, and hear their voices grow far away. 

You were just there with them, holding him, holding her, and now you're standing on a platform with the wind burning your eyes and words falling off your lips and it's so hard but so easy to slip away because this is a dream. A bad dream.

This is how it feels. This is how it's possible to go from birth to death with nothing in between. And this is why it isn't enough to ask how she feels and just accept the answer. 

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Trolls, language and a new rendition of Cats

I'm often told that language isn't important. Mostly by trolls on Twitter, who seem to have overlooked the fact that threats of physical harm come with a pricetag to the tune of a very real prison sentence or a hefty fine, rendering one devoid of money to purchase the latest KKK pointy hat or hire Katy Hopkins as a children's party entertainer. Sticks and stones can indeed break my bones, but wearing a plaster cast for a few weeks is absolutely nothing when compared to a lifetime trying to navigate through a world of emotions one has no map for - I'll take the sticks, thanks. Unfortunately for the trolls, they seem to have been born without any sort of map, emotional or otherwise. I feel bad for them (I don't - not one bit).

Take this recent quote from, of all people, a GP specialising in mental health:

"I know a guy with schizophrenia, he's a really nice chap though!". 

What this actually means is that you think he doesn't seem that mental. He's probably never made you feel your life is in danger, or bitten off any bats' heads when you've invited him round for an evening of fine wines and a delicious supper. There aren't any canvasses covered in blood and shit on the walls in his house, or dead birds in pickle jars in the spare room. Yep, he's actually a decent mad guy. Christ, what an accolade eh! Who'da thunk it? Someone with a mental illness who actually seems 'normal'... you may suspect he's got a cupboard full of plump-lipped blow up dolls wearing makeup, wigs and second hand Primark lingerie somewhere, but somehow he manages to hold a conversation with the other grown ups without shouting "badger!" and diving under the table, knocking plates of roast beef and a gravy boat into the laps of your highbrow guests whilst the ladies faint and the gentleman take out their smelling salts.  Gosh, that's terribly generous of you to host someone with a mental illness, considering how they normally behave -  but then I knew you were a good person after you told me you definitely weren't homophobic because you had gay friends...

A subtle change in language can herald a change in culture. It's not about dictionary definitions; it's all in the nuance of tone, context, metaphor, identity, history and an old favourite - reading between the lines. Of course I'm not in any way saying that anyone who doesn't access or use language this way is missing out - to them, intention is right there on the surface with no digging necessary. Without meaning to 'other' anyone, I wish there were more of those people, because then perhaps the ones who're all talk and no trousers (yes, that is a thing) wouldn't be so bloody and undeservedly successful. One of the hardest moments of my career to date was the realisation that someone with the power to affect real change for thousands of people is actually a sort of facade of a person, or in other words, a complete cretin. Someone who talks a good talk, but may as well be going home and rolling in money every night, whilst laughing about all the stupid people back in the office who might actually buy into it. Someone with no idea what that change could actually do for real people. Yes, I know I was a fool to think that someone might actually do it for the right reasons, but I reserve the right to always give people the benefit of the doubt until just before they sign on the dotted line to confirm they're actually a c***. I may be often self-critical, but I know (and I think those that know me in person know) that I would risk my career to be honest in a debate with someone like that. I hate game playing. If it comes out of your mouth and you're not drunk, you'd better mean every word or I will call you out on it. I've had face time with MPs, royals, CEOs and policy makers, and the same applies to all of them. If there's some magic condition that kicks in at a certain amount of money and power that really does enable one to be without conscience, then sure, get a diagnosis and come back to me, but don't dick around talking like a big shot if you're not going to mean it. 

A day's worth of drugs, and the reason I'm occasionally a bit too fearless for my own good.

Most of us seem unaware of how our language can shape us. Notice which way around that is. The more you reiterate something to yourself, the more it will become what you think as well as what you say. Unless you're an actor of course, although arguably it could apply even more then, which might be why many actors seem to so very publicly struggle with life. I can definitely see the attraction in playing anyone but myself most of the time. 

I remember during my second stint of college (A level college) a lecturer told me I'd never get a job if I refused to change my appearance in order to fit in. You may not be that surprised to learn that I was indignant that I would never change myself for the sake of someone else's inability to look past the superficial to identify my talents - I truly believed that appearance shouldn't matter, and I still live by that sentiment now. By virtue of us being human, of course we come with some preset modes, and one of those is the irritatingly named 'first impression'. I say bullshit to that. If you think you can tell everything you need to know from meeting someone once, without seeing how they work, knowing what they believe or getting to know them in any way, you're not only misguided, but you're missing out. Much as I hate her to occupy one, let alone two paragraphs of my blog, Katie Hopkins is your spokeperson. And we all know what that means...

I've been judged on all of the above, even aside from my mental health. By medical professionals, colleagues, bosses, family, friends, strangers in the street. But there were others, who simply judged me by my work, my abilities, my ambition and my work ethic. Those are the people I keep in mind when I feel I'm banging head against a wall. They've got the right idea. In my own, midly neurotic way, I've managed to dramatise this into a sort of theatrical number (perhaps one akin to Nicole Scherzinger in Cats) so it's now my life's work to prove everyone else wrong, about everything, all the time. Who knows how that'll pan out eh?

Sunday, 23 November 2014

The H-bomb

I imagine by now, I'm probably what's known as an 'oversharer'. And just as that, and the word 'burglarized' are wholly unnecessary, so the word 'ruination' is appropriate (even though in my opinion, a simple 'ruin' is enough).

Maybe it's just the amitriptyline, but lately I've dreamt incessantly of those from the past - my past, to be exact. Those with whom I have unfinished business. The ones who are the least likely to be reading this, as I mentioned a post or two ago. There's a small part of me that wishes they would bloody read this, so at least we could have it out, once and for all. There's nothing I hate more than leaving something incomplete; having no right to reply. 

I'm not unaware of the chaos that followed me around for almost 20 years. My 'emotional mind' (or Lucy, as she's otherwise known) had a tendency to unashamedly stomp on young maleable hearts in what would've appeared to anyone not forced to live inside her to be a callous and generally shitty way. If you've loved her, you sure as hell know about it. I know it sounds like an elaborate excuse, but for every single iota of ventricle stabbing they felt, I was being waterboarded and then hung up by my toenails whilst flames licked at my eyeballs. Nobody got off without at least second degree burns.

Some of these ex-loves and ex-friends still refuse to acknowledge me over a decade later; and not through a lack of trying on my part. The idea that there are people who refuse to even be in the same room as me really hurts. I remain convinced that those who've decided to erase Lucy from their lives completely have not only thrown out the baby with the bathwater, but they've probably been dealing with some pretty messed up shit themselves. Drugs were always a running theme in these relationships and some of them were fuelled entirely by intoxication of one form or another. 

Lucy was like a giant magnet, attracting mess like flies to shit. I'm sure those who inadvertently got involved with her at the sharp end thought she did it on purpose, but that really couldn't be further from the truth. I don't feel I need to convince anyone that I'm not capable of malice - I know in my heart that I never went out to hurt anyone, as does everyone who knows me (the de-lucified version). I also understand that my actions almost certainly didn't reflect my intent. All those addages about 'actions speak louder than words' are written to reflect the neurotypical person, the person who is able to reason things out rather than always being subjected to the whims of the alter ego occupying their body. At her behest I behaved like there were no consequences - and of course, the consequence of that was a trail of the dead and dying. That's the stuff that band names and song titles are made of.

Another popular addage is that 'opposites attract'. Hmm. Well, let me blow that one out of the water as well. These people were all just like her. They had painful pasts they couldn't face. They needed to have power over someone more vulnerable, just to prove they weren't vulnerable. When she wouldn't comply, they had to face their own faults and guess what? They didn't like it. Most of them still don't like it.

Am I a little bit bitter? Hell yes. And why shouldn't I be? Nobody has the right to deal with their demons by controlling somebody else. Lucy may be many things, but she never punched holes in anything, or anyone, but herself. The problem with bottled up anger is that when finally released, it tends to unleash a side of someone nobody's ever seen before. Less Sodastream, more hydrogen bomb - complete with fiery burning ribbons falling from the sky on to an unsuspecting world below. Even when it wasn't physical, some of the emotional abuse cut deeper than anything else. 

I have a habit of intellectualising everything in order to reduce it all to facts and make it make sense, even when it doesn't, and sometimes I strike chords that are a little too 'on the nose'. It's amazing how people react when you've found a chink in their armour. The desire to appear strong is in all of us; maybe it's an evolutionary defence mechanism; actually it definitely is. One of the most stupid ones in my opinion, which belongs consigned to the past just as 'big girls don't cry'.

Right now it's virtually impossible to imagine how I'll be able to find any peace from these perpetual nightmares, or picture any resolution to those relationships. It's funny how after all these years, I'm still the one reliving it all every night. I have a feeling that perhaps they do too - but of course they'd never, ever admit it.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

The great unravelling

I feel no shame in admitting that I find motherhood extremely difficult mentally. All of the coping mechanisms I've developed over the last 25 years are now next to useless, because I've effectively become two people. My BPD didn't conveniently ebb away in the haze of the newborn weeks, but rather it decided to accompany me like some sort of bad smell. Being unable to deal with the moment without some sort of intellectual stimuli is not a quality that fits well with being a parent.

I no longer get to say "I need time out to write/compose/think" (delete as appropriate), because a child relies on me to engage with him every minute of every day we are alone together. That's my job - and it's a really bloody satisfying one at that. BUT, it's something that brings with it a multitude of new reasons to fight my own mind on a daily basis. This unique relationship - the only one of its kind I'll ever have - is the only reason I'm going back to therapy. Google 'parents with borderline personality disorder' and you'll see why.

Let's skip back to a couple of weeks ago, and my first group session of DBT. I was told it would cover mindfulness, a way of being wholly in the moment, but in a non-judgemental way. So in a nutshell, it's something that goes against the very core of being human. We like to judge, we love to worry about the past, the future and everything else inbetween. Due to some 'fuck ups' (their words) by the therapists, we only did 30 minutes of mindfulness, and the rest of the 2 hours was spent on 'emotional regulation' (Actually, I'm not sure if it wasn't 'recognition' or another word I can't remember). You may recall the penis drawing I mentioned in my last post. That was me attempting to use humour to squash emotions of course. They have a money box which we all have to add money to every time we say anything judgemental - "It's not fair"; "I couldn't"; "I should" are all included in the naughty list. My first thought was 'I'm not giving any more money away - this is costing £60K as it is!'. Yes, but it's going to a charity you terrible cunt.

Before the first day, I'd spent a considerable amount of time pondering over who the other group members might be, and whether they'd fit my expectations. I was the only new person; I'd been let into the room early and was sitting alone drinking from my plastic cup of tea when some people I'd seen earlier smoking at the end of the driveway showed up. I saw myself at various stages of my life in every single one of them. I decided immediately that this was going to be hard work, and exactly the kind of hard work I generally don't want to do. 

Having set myself up to fail from the very beginning, it came as a huge surprise when during my one to one session yesterday, I experienced what I think should probably be known as 'a fucking awful realisation'. Every single time I've seen her, my therapist has described me to a tee. Just from watching how I am in the group. I couldn't have done it better myself - and guess what? It really annoyed me. No longer was I this elusive, aloof character with a multitude of secrets and an affect that can change with the wind; rather I've become a textbook case with the same emotions and salty tears as everyone else. 

A very long time ago, after a lot of very painful things had happened in quick succession, I'd unconsciously made the decision to suppress my emotions (again, as mentioned in my last post). But it also became clear that at regular intervals, when traumatic things have happened in my life, I've flipped back over into 'emotional mind' and then swung between the two in a way about as seamless as a pair of Spanx. One comment; one bad word; one misguided perception is all it takes for me to flip. At this last appointment, I could literally feel my therapist chipping away at my sea wall - the one I use to keep those tidal waves of emotion from turning me into a sandy beach. I have to be tough; I have to appear in control at all times, but give me a drink (or ten), or better still try and stop me having a drink, and I'll melt down like a toddler. We were talking about a smell. A SMELL. And I could feel the tears coming.

So now it's like the bile (again, read my last post) is just millimetres away from the surface, and I feel like a sort of semi-dormant volcano, smoking away whilst an unsuspecting village goes about their daily business not realising they're about to be petrified forever by molten lava for the humans of the future to marvel at in an immersive tourist attraction. Sounds a bit grandiose I know, but that's about the magnitude of the fear for me at this point and I feel very foolish admitting it. 

God only knows how they teach therapists to pick up on the most miniscule of clues and then map out your entire psyche as if it were as simple as the tube map. I definitely don't remember the 2 psychology degrees I sat through covering a module in mind reading. I guess that's what the money they obviously haven't spent on the decor goes towards - the best damn therapists around (and a mysterious massage/torture chair I've glimpsed through a door). The amount she's unpicked in me in such a short time is nothing short of genius, but so far it's only added problems, not taken them away. I went in with BPD, and now I have a healthy dose of PTSD on top.

Maybe I'll tell her next week that I find it triggering every time I see the women from the EDU (eating disorders unit) wandering around with bags of liquid food strapped around their waists and tubes taped into their noses; thinning straw-like hair and layers and layers of clothes. As my body gets smaller, so do my eyes it seems. Of all my self-harm mechanisms, that has to be my favourite friend and they make me feel I'm not doing it properly somehow. 

The more I give away, the 'better' I'll be. But that in itself is pretty terrifying.