Life Sweet Life

I wake this morning to the sound of my iPhone.  The alarm is going off, as it does every weekday at 7am.  I press snooze, my head hits the pillow and I get another nine minutes of lovely sleep, before it goes off again, and I tap my phone to silence it.  After the fourth time of snoozing, I decide it’s time to open my eyes properly and attempt to prepare myself for the task of getting up.

As I reach to unplug my phone, flat on the sheet beside my pillow, Bish stirs next to me, and I stroke his head gently.  Morning B, I say, as I hold my thumb on my phone’s thumbprint identification system, and it unlocks without me having to enter any security password.  I check my emails first, scrolling through the fifteen or so that have arrived since I closed my eyes to sleep.  I read only the four job emails, of which there is nothing of interest, and I delete them straight away.  I close down my emails and go straight to the next app of my morning routine, Facebook.  As I look at my news feed, Facebook informs me that I have MEMORIES TO LOOK BACK ON TODAY, and the first memory I see is from 14 June 2014.  It contains a photo of actress Sarah Connelly in the film, Labyrinth, and was a Facebook post in which I shared what turned out to be one of my most popular blog posts: Homeless Sweet Homeless.

I click on the link and read the post nostalgically and with pride, as I do when I read any of my blog posts.  I am reminded that this post was written two years ago, when I had moved out of a flat in Ealing, but hadn’t yet found a suitable place for me and Bish to move to.  I am reminded that during this time I had stayed with friends and in a B&B.  I am reminded that Bish at the time was in a cattery in Edgeware, and my stuff was in storage in Hangar Lane.  I am reminded that I had dejunked 12 bin bags full of crap to the charity shops, and sold almost all of my furniture to people via Gumtree.  I am reminded of the difficulty I was having in finding something within budget and pet-allowing.  I am reminded that I was encouraged, but resisted, to re-home Bish.  I am reminded that I was able to write a blog that included one of my favourite childhood films.  I am reminded that I have not written a blog in many many months.

I have thought about it, occasionally.  There is certainly a lot to update you on.  But the self-doubt part of me has heard my blog voice in my head, and cringed, and any thoughts I have had of writing it again have dissipated.

Having thought about it all day, I just re-read all my blog posts from 2016, and I am surprised to find there are actually five published this year.  It is so long since I blogged that I have forgotten that I published any at all since the new year started.  I am pleased to see that one of the five is a short story, a piece of fiction I wrote on my commute one day.  This reminds me that I am capable of writing fiction, not just blog posts, and that on rare occasions I have even managed to put it out there for people to read, not just to resign it to a notepad or in the notes pages of my phone.  I am encouraged by what I have read, and it sparks something in me, in my desire to write, to put words on paper, even a virtual page.  Two years after a blog about being homeless, and I am determined to make today the day I start blogging again.

So here it is, a post, as yet, untitled.  So what have I been doing when I’ve been not writing?  Well a lot has changed.  Back in September 2015, I made the decision to move back up north.  You’ll know if you have read previous posts that it was something that had been suggested to me by a friend during my time in London, but for reasons that seem beyond me now, I could not face.  I had clung onto the idea that my future was in London for a long time, but I had to face up to the reality that I was treading water in an expensive, lonely city, and not progressing in any way, shape or form.  I spent five months applying for jobs in the north, but not even being shortlisted for anything dampened my spirits.  I had given myself six months to find something and set myself a deadline of the end of March to leave.  As the middle of February approached and I was faced with two lengthy trips back home at the end of February and the middle of March for family birthdays, and two sets of travel and cattery costs, and I decided enough was enough, and after a few day’s thought, handed my resignation in at work and gave notice on my flat.  My dad had kindly offered me my old room back, and it meant that Bish and I could move back to Lincoln while I saved enough money to move onto Sheffield.

After saying goodbye to the few good friends I had made in London, on 13th March, Bish and I moved back to my childhood home in Lincoln.  The relief of being away from the capital was increased at the sight of fields from my bedroom window, and while I knew Lincoln was only a temporary residence, I knew the move back north was the right thing for me and Bish.

After leaving my job in London, I had intended to find temp work here, but because I was only planning on being here 1-3 months before moving on again, I was told there was very little in the way of short-term temporary work.  However, the agency offered me the opportunity to go back to my old department in the NHS, at a much lower rate of pay.  Reluctantly, in order to save money to move, I took the job.  While I was gutted at having to take a drop in pay yet again, the work was easy, and more importantly, I was surrounded by friends, people I had known and worked with for many years.  I relished my new commute, one that took 25-30 minutes door to door, half of which I was able to walk or ride a bus alongside beautiful fields, instead of my former 60-90 minute London commute where I’d be in busy train carriages or running across the footbridge at Britain’s busiest train station, Clapham Junction.

Bish has settled into life in the north although it hasn’t been easy for him.  Not long after we moved, he spent a day sleeping under the conifers in my dad’s garden, and a few days later, I returned from a weekend away to find him covered in ticks.  While dad and I removed the ones we could see over the next few days, it soon became clear that it would take a specialist.  We took him to a local vets and it turned out he was riddled with them.  After undergoing a multiple trips to the vets, with two lots of sedation and a hell of a lot of tricky tick removal, he is now clear of the little bastards, but it was a very stressful few weeks for all of us.

I’ve been in Lincoln for just over three months now, and in less than three weeks Bish and I will be moving on again.  In order to tell you about our next move, I need to tell you about the biggest change in my life, which happened at the beginning of this year.  Yes, after all those years of searching, I finally met a kind, caring, supportive and absolutely wonderful man who fills my heart with joy.  Online dating finally paid off, and it was worth putting my hand in my pocket, as I met my guy on e-Harmony.  After endless messages, it soon became clear that we were very well matched, and our mutual love of charity shops, board games, books and 80s films, created a foundation for our two creative souls to build a relationship.  Six months later and I am happier than I have ever been, and I know that he was worth waiting for.  So, mine and Bish’s next move is to Derby, where my boyfriend lives, and I can’t wait.  It’s been great staying with my dad, but I’m looking forward to having my independence back, to live with my boyfriend, in a decent size house, not a room, a place where Bish can enjoy the run of, and where he has his own cat flap, out into the garden where he can relax on a summer’s day (and not a conifer in sight!).

Finding love hasn’t made all my problems go away, but having someone by my side who understands depression, and is supportive and there for me at the times when I do fall apart, has made the transitional period so much easier.

So in just over two weeks I’ll make another move, to another new place in which for me to re-invent myself.  I think back to two years ago, when I had no fixed abode, and no idea what the future held.  I still don’t know what the future holds, but I know it contains a loving relationship with someone who thinks the world of me and Bish, and for whom the feeling is mutual (from me and my cat).  And if being homeless taught me nothing else, it showed me that I can cope with what life throws at me, and I can live to tell the tale.

I think it’s true to say you don’t know what is round the corner, and you never know when your life will change.  Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse, but always for a reason.  And even the bad things can give you inspiration, when you look back upon them and can say: I survived that.

 

Delayed…Due to a Delay

Do you ever feel delayed in life? Like you’re not really going anywhere but you’re not really sure why? 

This morning, on Clapham Junction’s 6th Platform, I arrived to find the train delayed on the departure board.  Shortly after, a posh lady came on the tanoy, to tell me that, “The 9:08 Southwest Trains service to Windsor and Eton Riverside is being delayed, due to a delay”. Er, no shit Sherlock! 

There was no broken down train, no signalling problem, no passenger taken ill at <enter station here>.  To make things worse, not only was the train delayed, it was cancelled altogether.  

When you suffer with depression, life can be very much like that.  Outside influences can have a big effect on a depressive’s mood, but so can no reason whatsoever.  Sometimes, life is the outside influence, and there’s really nothing you can do to stop life.  Well, there is, but I wouldn’t recommend it.  

Sometimes you just have to wait out the delay, the cancellation, and take the next service.  It might take you longer to get to your destination, and you will probably end up being late, but always better late than not at all. 

People without depression will never understand why sometimes you can’t put your finger on why you feel mad, sad, bad and very occasionally glad.  But if they ask you can always give them the old train excuse: you were delayed, due to a delay. 

Dazed, Fazed, Hazed

So yesterday was apparently the Most Depressing Day of the Year (yay! They finally named a day after me!).  That day that is far enough into January for Christmas to be forgotten about; but not far enough into the new year for summer holidays to be a reality. Nobody has any money and payday is still the best part of two weeks away (if you’re like me).  

Anyway, I’m not joking when I say they named a day after me.  Sometimes I really do feel like the Most Depressed Person in the World. 

But not yesterday.   Yesterday I felt…good.  I felt positive.  I wasn’t fazed by the whole “Most Depressing Day of the Year” thing.  In fact, it was more like the most depressing day of the year.  I knew it was there, but it wasn’t screaming at me the way it is usually would have done.  And I wasn’t indulging in it the way I would normally have taken great delight to.

But that feeling did not last.  It got me through to about 5pm, which was a most valiant effort on my insides to keep this horror at bay.  But then the MDDY penetrated my armour, and I started to feel its attack.

One of my bosses called me out on something I may or may not have done wrong at work.  Despite investigations, I haven’t found out whether it’s my fault or not yet, but it’s looking likely. So I took the blame.  That made me feel pants, and those old feelings of how shit I am at my job reared their ugly heads.

As I headed home, I started looking for jobs, not feeling inspired by anything I saw, and in the back of my mind all I could hear was you haven’t been shortlisted for anything in three months, so what’s the point.  There was no question mark, it was a statement of fact, like that current ad on the tube which should really have a question mark at the end, but they obviously feel so confident in themselves they don’t need question marks.  If only I was like that.

So then I got home, saw I only had 23p of electricity on the meter, and nipped to the Co-op, or the Co-oper-ative as my beloved Nana used to call it. But as I stood in the queue with a marked-down Piri-Piri pizza, I realised I had left my purse at home.  Uuuugggggghhhhhh.  

So back home, grabbed my purse and back to the Co-op.  On the plus side I did get a “fresh” chicken roast – two chicken fillets, cocktail sausages, some stuffing and gravy – for 99p.

So home I went, putting the chicken meal in the freezer and the pizza in the fridge for the following night, when I will get home late from book club. 

I cooked spaghetti bolognese, making the sauce from scratch out of my Usborne First Cookbook, the one I’ve had since I was little.  The one with illustrations of little people showing you how to make the recipe (which never has more than about four ingredients), just in case you’re too little to read the instructions.  

The spag bol was a success in my opinion, though that may have been more to do with the Malbec I added, not as per Usborne, but as per the Beeb website that I’d checked while in Sainsbury’s buying my ingredients. The Zinfandel I was drinking might have helped too. 

By the time I’d cooked, eaten and washed up, it was gone half nine and the last thing I wanted to do was apply for jobs I didn’t have a hope in hell getting.  So I read for a while, in a bid to get my mind to stop whirring, and cease the downward spiral I felt myself on.  

Then I read about the passing of one of my favourite musicians, Glenn Frey, one of the founding members of the Eagles.  And the tears came.  

I did not cry for Rickman – I was too busy laughing at all the wonderful one-liners he gave us in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (“I’ll cut your heart out with a spoon, Locksley!” being my personal favourite). Nor did I cry for Bowie, and all I can hear him say is “Well, laugh” before he continues laughing along with the goblins.  But for Glenn, a man I had seen perform three times with the Eagles, I cried. And could not stop. 

At almost 1am, I went to sleep, waking this morning, still feeling unsettled.  It is no longer the Most Depressing Day of the Year, but I still feel the after-effects.  Maybe I am just particularly hormone right now. If so, that will pass.  As all things come to pass.

RIP Glenn Frey (1948-2016)

Tequila Sunrise – The Eagles (1973)

Get Back On It

Monday morning.  The least fun of them all (if you don’t count Tuesdays).  I made the early bus today, unable to continue with my new year’s resolution of doing the twelve-minute fast walk to the train station, the one I used to do until I favoured the bus in the later months of last year.  No I couldn’t face the walk today, and you know why?  I have a bad back.  

Did you hear me? I HAVE A BAD BACK!!! SYMPATHY PLEASE!!!

Since I was a child, I have been a bit of a hypochondriac.  And it is easier to get sympathy for physical ailments than it is for hidden diseases such as depression.  Even a papercut will draw more sympathy than being perceived as a miserable bitch. 

But mental illness effects you in a way most physical ailments do not.  Today I walked along platform 6 at Clapham Junction and I’m sure everyone thought I had either shat myself or was the great-great granddaughter of the hunchback of Notre Dame.  Thank God I wasn’t wearing my beret today.  If I am feeling particularly depressed, they will think how miserable she looks, or poor cow, her mascara is running and it’s not even 9am yet.  But not only that, I  will think what a miserable cow I am, how worthless I am, how I can’t even carry my coffee without spelling it.  What a stupid bitch. 

There is much more acceptance of depression nowadays, thanks to people speaking out.  Not just celebrities but ordinary people who suffer.  While I don’t know if there will ever be a cure for depression, at least I don’t live in a world where it must be kept hidden at all costs. 

This blog is dedicated to David Bowie, who sadly died earlier today after a secret 18-month battle with cancer.  David suffered with anxiety and depression, and proved it is possible to fight back in a truly spectacular way.  RIP David (1947 – 2016)

Heroes – David Bowie (1977)

Rain, Train, Pain

Oh my days.  I haven’t seen rain like this for a while or had to walk in it for a long time.  The kind where an umbrella makes little difference, and you’re too busy looking at the girl coming towards you in white plimsolls wading through a large puddle that you don’t realise said puddle is actually a lake and before you know it you’re ankle-deep in water.  Thank God I bought those boots. 

I guess this means that summer is almost over.  I say almost, because I still have hope, and I haven’t had that feeling yet, the one I get twice a year; once during winter when you know that summer is on the way, and once in summer when you realise the cold weather signals the onslaught of winter.

I realise that I didn’t account for spring or autumn (fall for you Americans reading).  To me they are like the place-holders for the other two seasons.  They are like boot camp for the following season, preparing you for the cold without really letting you feel it.  Priming you for the sunshine without really letting you feel its warmth.  

Perhaps because I suffer with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) I don’t really notice these bookend-seasons.  Am I too pre-occupied with my negative thoughts between November and March that I am immune to their beauty?  That is a shame.  

As I think about the oncoming winter, I begin to feel dread. I can barely motivate myself to do anything in the summer when the sun shines.  How am I going to achieve anything in the winter?  I think of all the things I want to change in my life, and that requires so much effort.

I feel a headache coming on, and I feel tired and sleepy all of a sudden. I daren’t close my eyes for fear of falling asleep and waking up in the dead of winter.  Or Hounslow.  I’m not sure which is worse.  

The Write Thing

As I sit on my bed this Tuesday evening, I can only describe the feeling I have right now in one way: contented.  Which seems bizarre to me, and probably to you too if you read my last blog post, I Survived the Weekend…and Lived to Blog About It.  I’ve just re-read every blog I’ve written since I started writing again last month, and I realise how much I’ve missed it.  

The actual act of writing not only makes me feel better, but checking my stats several times a day also makes me happy.  WordPress stats tell me how many people have visited the blog on a daily basis and how many times they have viewed it, which countries visitors are from and the number of views each individual post has received.  While my views are relatively low compared to other blogs, I get such a warm feeling inside to know that people are reading what I’m writing.  And not just reading it, but sharing it via social media to other potential readers.  

After the distress and disappointment of the weekend, I feel calm and…strangely enough, ok.  Work has been without issue so far this week, I am feeling positive because have applied for three jobs, and tonight I went to my book club where we discussed two short stories that I suggested, some 19th century women’s literature that I read at uni and loved.  But most importantly I am blogging again, and people are reading again.  Right now, in this moment, I am content.  

And you know what, I’ve actually had this feeling since Monday morning.  My friend at work read my last blog and asked me if I was ok; she must have been expecting me to burst into tears but I didn’t, and that I put down to having written about it.  I actually felt bad when my boss asked me how my weekend was, and I answered “not great”, because I was feeling ok when I answered her.  But I didn’t feel I could lie to her and tell her I had a good weekend an hour after posting a blog about suicide.  

I’m feeling like I’m waffling now, and I want to post this before I start to regret writing it, and that is totally not what I wanted to happen!   I guess what I’m trying to say, is that I know for sure this blog is the right thing for me to be doing.  And as long as you keep reading, I’ll keep writing.  

I Survived the Weekend…and Lived to Blog About It

Some of you may by now have read last night’s post, Weekend in the Wilderness, and probably thought it to be my most negative so far since I started back at 33andlostinlife in August.  You’re not wrong, because I totally agree with you.  But you know why the negative blogs are so important?  Because they allow me to speak about what I’m going through.  

After such a shitty weekend I feel ready to face the week ahead.  Which is surprising since the last few weeks at work have been some of the most stressful for quite a while.  Today I made it to the train with straight hair and a full face of make-up, bar the lipstick which I’ll add once I finish this blog.  This, while it might not sound like much, is a huge achievement for me, having lately favoured the au naturelle leave-the-house-without-make-up-and-wet-hair-in-order-to-spend-longer-in-bed-look.  I get compliments when I leave my hair as it is (wavy, the result of three perms as a teen) but I feel far from happy with this look and cringe every time I have to look in the mirror.  When my hair is straight and sleek is when I feel comfortable.  With regards to make-up, I always apply it by the time I reach work, although I’m sure this isn’t always appreciated by fellow passengers on the 8:41 to London Victoria.  

So how do I actually feel today?  I’m tired, and didn’t sleep well last night.  The sleep I did get was interrupted by bizarre dreams.  But I feel like I made it.  I survived the weekend and lived to tell the tale.  

As Suicide Prevention Awareness Week draws to a close, I feel this is an important statement to make.  Do not misunderstand me, I had no thoughts at all this weekend of ending my life.  But there have been times in the past when I have thought what is the point of going on.  If this is life then I don’t want to live like this.  There have been times when I could not stand with my toes just over the yellow line here at Platform 6 as I’m doing now, because the idea of throwing myself in front of the next train has been too prominent.  But this is not one of those times.  

I have always had a strength within me, and I know this because if it were not true, I say with certainty that I would not be here now.  But I want to live to see my life happy; to see my passion for writing realised, to have a job I enjoy (if that is not to be a writing job), a home that I love, and a soulmate who will be there in both the good and bad times.  So don’t worry, I plan to be here a while yet.  

My family and friends may find this hard reading and for that I ask your forgiveness.  But the purpose of this blog was always to educate people in what it’s like to live with depression, as well as to provide me with a form of therapy.  Living with depression is not always a happy tale.  But if you don’t like to read about it you are free to leave and I will take no offence.  

Previous Older Entries