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.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Penis envy

Everything's an acronym these days; BPD (which can confusingly stand for two different mental illnesses), CBT and DBT (I know the difference but I still don't know the difference), CMHT, EMDR, SLAM... and FYI, it could all be summed up thusly - THERE IS NO ONE THERAPY THAT ALWAYS WORKS. 

Having decided that now I'm in charge of the life of another human being, I probably should heed the little voice in my head that reminds me I'm a product of some unaddressed issues, and therefore I have a responsibility not to let this cycle continue to spiral down through the generations, I'm now spending Thursday mornings in group therapy for the next 15 weeks. 

Of course I'm not allowed to (and never would) discuss any of my fellow group members outside of those walls. But what I will do is talk about how the experience is for me. I shall begin with the building, because as we all know, the bricks and mortar of a therapy centre are pretty much the only things that stay constant about a hospital for mental illness. Upon first arriving at said building, my attention was drawn to a plaque on the wall - 'This building was officially opened by someone you've never heard of in 1990'. Upon entering the reception, it became clear that this unnotable person was obviously so revered that nothing had been changed since that day. For somewhere that costs an arm and a leg to attend, I'd naively expected that it might've had a lick of paint in 20 years and that perhaps the carpet had suffered enough spilled hot beverages for one lifetime and needed putting out of its misery - ooh, if only carpets could talk...

I'd been advised to give myself time after therapy sessions before going home and going straight back to working, but of course I was about as likely to take that advice as I was to take a shortcut through the ominous looking pond with its layer of green sludge I'd walked past on my way there. This advice had also made me imagine that DBT was going to be emotionally draining and altogether hideous. So I was pleasantly surprised when the very first activity was a bit of leisurely origami. This, although not as easy for me as it used to be, was the kind of distraction I love. Considering I'm normally running from meeting to meeting with a phone in one hand and an iPad in the other, I felt rather as if I'd gone on holiday by mistake. And that's when it began - even in a room full of other people with BPD, most of which have the scars to prove it - I'm still the odd one out. The sense of failure the others all admitted to just wasn't there; instead I just felt like I wasn't ill enough to be there. 

Something about the group setting, all of us sitting at flimsy canteen-esque tables and the dynamic of being referred to as a 'patient' brought out the naughty child in me. I couldn't help but chuckle every time I saw a squirrel through the window, and ask awkward pedantic and wholly unnecessary questions to try and catch the therapists out. I normally loathe the term 'service user' or 'client', but now I was suddenly irritated that I was being called neither. 

I knew things were going that way from the very beginning of my first session, when I was handed the instructions for the origami exercise and my first thought was that one of the drawings looked like a penis. Now of course back in the days when Freud wasn't just a man with some slightly unusual ways of distracting attention from his own sexual fantasies, this may have been significant. Now, it just is what it is (which is definitely a penis).        
A fortnight later I began to realise that maybe I'd got these thought processes and behaviours so ingrained that I couldn't even identify them any more. There's a diagram that shows 3 states of mind - emotional mind, which I spent the majority of my teenage years and twenties in, reasonable mind, where I now hang out, and wise mind, which I'm told is the goal. 

As a teenager, I brought drama and chaos to everything I did. So wildy out of proportion were my emotional reactions that my only way of stopping them was to self-harm. That allowed me to externalise those feelings and then 'fix' them by taking care of the wound. That all changed when I lost my mother unexpectedly at university, and so painful were those emotions, I flipped over into reasonable mind and I've been there ever since. In reasonable mind, I no longer feel anything - I've numbed myself and that means I've numbed not only the pain, but also the joy, and the happiness. As clever as that may sound, being numb means missing out on the things that make life worth living.

Theory is one thing, but practising not doing something you're not even conscious you've been doing is another. 

Emotions are like bile - you need to secrete some into your system - but too much or not enough and it starts to become damaging. 

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

It's life, Jim, but not as we know it...

Perhaps It's time I elaborated on some of Lucy's strengths, rather than banging on about how effing annoying she is to live with, because believe it or not, she can actually be quite spectacularly brilliant - in a sort of puppy-dog-eyes-draw-you-in-and-then-steal-your-lunch kind of a way.

If this is the first blog post of mine you've read, then I shall precede the aforementioned elaboration by elaborating on who the heck 'Lucy' is; She's the 'other' me. The one that isn't 'Me', me. The 'me' who engages in all the self-harming behaviours I've so far covered in previous posts, plus many more I've not yet got around to. In fact, you know what? Just go and read it - that would be my advice.

You know that one person you see at parties - the metaphorical life and soul - they seem to know everyone (including people not even in attendance that night), they're the centre of the room and the first and last one dancing, although they never ever buy their own drink. Then, at a crucial turning point - who knows how it happens - the balance tips and they are suddenly the drunken arse with a face covered in lipstick and mascara, who's had their bag stolen and can't even stand up long enough to hail a taxi. You know the ones, right? Bingo.

Lucy does on or off, hot or cold, up or down, and just about any other opposite pairing you can think of. So what, I hear you cry (or perhaps whimper...), are the ups? Let's begin with that 'life and soul' thing. When she arrives, she genuinely does know everyone. She even has her own seat in an East London bar. She's the one you ask if you want to go out the back and snort drugs in the kitchen, except people know she'll do all the drugs herself, given half a chance. She's pretty good to talk to, and she loves talking. If you make her laugh, she'll probably go home with you if you're so inclined, and you'd be hard pressed to find a man or woman in East London on a weekend who isn't, frankly. Saying that, she doesn't just give it away to any old Tom, or Harry (and that middle one, who seems a bit too obvious for this sentence). Even when sh*tfaced, she doesn't sleep with complete strangers, ever. It's probably a little confusing to classify that as a benefit, but perhaps it is. 

Now I did say 'benefits', and so far I don't think I've really sold it. So far we know she's a bit of a loose cannon and she probably associates sex with being valued - not one to take home to meet the parents, obviously. But here's the thing - her combination of a lack of emotional intelligence, coupled with a relatively high IQ, means she not only has great ideas, but she's also brave enough to make them reality - even if only by accident. She never thinks about the consequences of her actions, ever, so it just wouldn't occur to her that someone on the bottom rung of a very long ladder shouldn't bowl up to a director and tell them in no uncertain terms what she thinks they should do. Imagine if the whole corporate world worked like that? Forget the office politics, the pecking order - scrap the unspoken hierarchy and unwritten rules of who's who and all that nonsense - she'll pipe up at any available opportunity and tell even the most senior bods how to do it better. She'll spill her guts to anyone who'll listen (or pretend to). She has no concept of these arbitrary corporate grades, and she knows that nothing can happen in a boardroom to rival the challenge of surviving in her own mind. As grandiose and deluded as that sounds, it's the truth. We're all susceptible to mental illness, and Lucy IS mental illness. "You're an MD then are you? Pfft - ok, here's what I want you to do...".

And for some reason, it works. That level of laissez-faire methodology coupled with a lot of the sorts of brainwaves (I'll fill you in later) that make a conducive environment in which to have ideas is often a recipe for success for Lucy. People like her. Maybe they feel sorry for her, or maybe they recognise the darker sides of themselves in her; either way, she has friends she's known for over 30 years. Unadulterated honesty is attractive in an age where we've all become liars - you always know where you stand with her. She has a tendency to trust without testing; to give away parts of herself that should be reserved for others. Only very recently I realised that she'd innocently made loans of various parts of her soul to completely unsuitable guardians. 

Luckily, although Lucy is a part of me, that part is less than half now and I've worked really hard to win back my controlling share. I'm not entirely sure what to do with it, but it's progress. Internal dialogue is one thing, Lucy is another. I simultaneously love her and hate her - you see how she makes everything into an extreme? I miss the excitement. But I need a life without her now.