Baby Steps

January 27, 2012

I’ve started to take baby steps towards turning my life around, it’s a very slow process but I think I’m getting somewhere. I had a meeting with the Princes Trust last Friday and they are happy to put me on their Enterprise Scheme which is the best result possible. I’m going on a three day business skills course in the middle of Feb to teach me about tax and business plans and the like. Then I get some one on one support to get me up and running and finally a mentor to support and encourage me for the first couple of years. I couldn’t be more excited! If I can turn what I love into a proper profitable business, it would be wonderful. I am struggling with some guilt over it. I have a degree, I should have a respectable high-flying office job, earning thousands. I need to come to terms with crafting being a valid job and that I’m not worth any less for doing it. I think the business training will help me to view it as a proper opportunity, not just a hobby where I occasionally sell stuff.

I’ve also started therapy with someone I feel I have a good rapport with. He specialises in Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy, which as far as I can tell is like CBT only decent. Thankfully I’m not being limited to the standard NHS six session cure all, which is a good job as we’ve had five sessions already and haven’t got much further than discussing what problems I want help with. It’s hard work but fascinating from a purely scientific viewpoint. As for whether it will help, I think it’s too early to say but he tells me it will and that gives me some faith. This week I told him of the problem of which I do not talk, the event which turned me from a somewhat quirky individual into a deeply damaged one. One day I will find the strength to blog about it, I feel it gives a lot of insight into where my problems started and why they’ve developed as they have. He was the first professional who I feel has taken it seriously and not belittled it or told me it was irrelevant. I’m working one on one with him for an hour a week, he’s technically retired but does one day a week because he enjoys it so much. From next week, he wants me to also join the group he runs in the afternoon. This is a frankly terrifying prospect but he feels it will help me to talk to people who’ve had similar experiences and can relate. Thankfully at the moment there are only two other people in the group so I’m hoping it won’t be too overwhelming and the extra support would be nice.

I’ve even started going to the gym. I was shocked to discover I need to lose a third of my bodyweight to get back to the weight at which I was happy with my figure and healthy. It’s a daunting prospect so I’m trying not to focus on it too much and instead aiming for small improvements in fitness. I’m trying not to blame myself too much for the weight gain, a lot of it is from antipsychotics and not having the motivation to move from the sofa. At the moment I’m doing EA sports on my Wii four times and going to the gym at least twice each week. I’ve also cut down to eating my dinner off a side plate just to get things started. The hardest thing is beating my tendency to  reward exercise with chocolate which is somewhat counter productive. I certainly don’t look any slimmer yet but I am sleeping slightly less and feeling more energised.

Finally, I have forced myself back into my tip of an office. It had got to the stage where I was avoiding it as I couldn’t face the mess. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been slowly tidying and finally you can see most the surfaces and the majority of the floor. I’m just waiting for some more storage to be delivered so I can finish off. Hopefully I will then be inspired back to crafting which would be kind of useful seen as I want to make a business out of it!

For once it seems things may finally be going my way. I’m treading cautiously though, I know I have a habit of pushing too far too fast and driving myself back into the ground. I also feel more than a little bit guilty, why am I doing so well when so many in the Madosphere are struggling so much. It isn’t fair. I almost didn’t publish this because I don’t want to be seen as looking down on people from my feeling OK position. I’ve been avoiding twitter a bit for similar reasons, I don’t want to shove my new found optimism down peoples throats. I wish I could share this feeling with all of you, maybe we could each have a few hours a day? I think I’m scared, I’ve made being mental so much of my identity that with less of it, I don’t really know who I am. I’m terrified of being cast out from the bit of the internet where I’ve carved myself a comfy niche, not mental enough to be a mental any more. Sorry, I seem to have turned a positive post into a negative which isn’t what I wanted.

Basically, things are slowly changing for the better. I’m not sure where this will lead to but for the first time in years, I’m almost looking forward to finding out.


Frustrations

January 17, 2012

One of my main aims for this year is to attempt to make something of my craft business. The craft fairs I did in the run up to Christmas gave me more confidence in the things I make and persuaded me to give it a go. It is likely I will never be able to hold down a full time job (look at what attempting university did to me) but neither do I want to do nothing. Crafting means I can work from home and do hours to suit my mood and mental state. It would be wonderful if I could take it far enough to not be benefit dependent any more especially as the way the Government is going, I’ll probably lose them anyway.

The trouble is that while I can create at will, the practicalities of business escape me. I have no concept of tax and how it applies to me. I don’t have a business plan, I wouldn’t know where to begin. I need to get a website up and running but again the complexity eludes me. At the moment I buy things when I want them from my personal bank account and then sell at what I think makes me a reasonable profit. However, I have no spreadsheets to back this up and no way of analysing if it’s really working. Like so much of life, I float on a plane above practical. As has often been said, I’m very bright but have no common sense whatsoever. If it wasn’t for my boyfriend, bills would never get paid and there probably wouldn’t be any real food in the house. If I can’t even manage the basics, how on earth am I supposed to run a business?

The other day, I ended up on the Princes Trust website. I can’t remember how or why I got there and I suppose it’s not really important but I found this. Basically it’s a scheme to help young unemployed people with the practicalities of business. They can provide skills training and ongoing support as well as access to free or discounted accounting software and other things. It read like it could almost have been made for me!  Forcing myself to overcome the doubting voice telling me that there was no point as I’d only fail and be laughed at , I filled in the enquiry form. In it I explained that I had severe mental health problems and had been on disability benefit for several years. I roughly outlined my ideas and my desire to make something of myself. Crucially, I also stated that I have a phobia of phones and would very much appreciate if initial conversations could be carried out by email.

My fear of phones is deep set and somewhat ironic for someone who spent a couple of months working in a call centre in the dim and distant past. Ask me to communicate in writing and I will be vaguely eloquent and present myself with control. Even face to face conversations I will give a good go although eye contact somehow eludes me. Put me on the phone however and I either become incredibly angry or a gibbering idiot. Either way, I use any excuse to terminate the call as soon as is possible.

Yesterday, I was excited to see an email in my inbox responding to my Princes Trust enquiry. It consisted of two sentences.

Thank you for your enquiry to The Prince’s Trust.

Please could you call me on Wednesday to discuss your idea and possibly arrange a meeting.

Fabulous. It made no reference to any of the things I had said in my message and explicitly ignored my desire to email details or at the very least, to meet face to face.

Now I’m a bit stuck. If I could receive business support, opportunities could really start to open up for me and I would love for that to happen. However, the thought of phoning someone I’ve never met, especially regarding something so important makes me feel physically sick. It seems that every time I attempt to move forward, new immovable barriers are put in my path. For a charity that is supposed to support young people with difficulties, I would really have hoped for some understanding. I will probably make the call, albeit at the last possible moment but the odds of it being productive and producing the result I so need are very low. I just wish that for once something could go my way.


I have a thingy

January 13, 2012

Innuendo aside, I was shocked and delighted the other week to jointly be awarded the TWIM award for Best Personality Disorder blog.

To say I was shocked was an understatement, I don’t think I’ve won anything since the Year 7 award for best performance in science. Thank you to everyone who voted for me and more generally to everyone who takes the time to read and comment on my little piece of the internet. I am in awe that people find what I have to say interesting or even occasionally insightful. I still get a real buzz when I open my email and see a new comment and I don’t think that will ever fade.

Next month I’ll have been blogging here for five years. Admittedly I haven’t been terribly prolific for a lot of that period but the fact I’ve kept coming back shows a commitment and dedication which is sadly lacking in other areas of my life. This was never meant to be a blog about mental illness, in fact I only really wanted a blog because my then boyfriend had one and I thought it was cool. I didn’t have much to say but I’d kept journals irregularly in the past and I quite liked the thought of continuing that in some way. At that point, I’d never even heard of Borderline Personality Disorder and wouldn’t have identified myself as mentally ill.

Over the last five years, I’ve shared a lot of my descent into madness here. I’m not currently brave enough to read my archives, it would be too upsetting. The memories of what I have been through in that time are enough to sometimes physically paralyse me with pain without the addition of more in depth details. I hope that one day I will be able to look back and if not exactly laugh, then be proud of how far I have come.

This blog and the people I have had the fortune to meet through it and the associated twitter account are probably one of the strongest reasons I’m still alive today. The discovery of the Madosphere showed me that I was not alone. The wit and honesty of its members have made me laugh when I was crying and have given me strength when I had none.

Five years ago I couldn’t possibly have imagined my life would take the path it has. Even my worst nightmares wouldn’t have come close to how some of it has been.  I am still here though and finally getting some of the support I have been craving for so long. It’s far too early to say whether it will work but there are new doors opening where before there were brick walls. I don’t know if I’ll still be writing here in another five years. At the moment I don’t really believe I will live to be 30, it’s just too far fetched. While I do exist though, I will continue to write and to tweet and I would be honoured and thrilled if you would continue to read.

 


Driving

January 2, 2012

I passed my driving test in the summer of my first year at University, I was 20. I took it at 0830 on a Saturday when there was nobody else on the road, I’m convinced that’s the only reason I passed first time. Most driving test faults are for inconveniencing other drivers, if there aren’t any other drivers, you’re pretty safe. The next summer I borrowed my my dad’s car for six weeks while I was doing some geological mapping in the Lake District with then boyfriend. On the last day I had it, I reversed it into a pillar and smashed one of the back lights. He wasn’t best impressed.

Nevertheless, a few years later when my mum upgraded her car, I inherited the old one. When my mum first bought this car, I’d laughed. It was a bright orange (what the manufacturers optimistically called bronze) P reg Nissan Micra, I wouldn’t have been seen dead in it. However, once it was mine, I quickly grew to love it. It was quirky and full of personality. No power steering, manual windows and a tendency to pull to the right. The radio worked, just, and most importantly it was my very own. I even once got out of a parking ticket because they’d called the car ‘dark’ and I argued there was no way anyone would call my car anything other than orange.

It granted my independence, enabled me to work freelance, granted me space and freedom when my relationship broke down. I adored it. When I started nursing at university, I took it with me. It got me to and from placement and enabled me to help out friends. It led to me learning how to change a tire, at midnight during a party while more than a little bit merry.

Unfortunately, as my health deteriorated, my ability to take responsibility for a car stopped. When it failed it’s MOT, my incredible friends rallied round, phoning garages and gluing the steering wheel in order to get it fixed up. The killer blow came when it came to renewing the insurance. Unfortunately I forgot to send the new insurer proof of no claims as I’d lent it to bastard ex and he hadn’t bothered to return it (git) and ultimately the insurance was canceled. It sat unloved in the car park for several months and when I was forced to move, I came to the difficult decision to sell it. I wasn’t well enough to cope with the responsibility and it was getting to the stage that it cost more to maintain than it was possibly worth.
I miss it. It was my baby and I loved it.

Now I am without a car. Boyfriend has one and put me on the insurance for it but it’s too big and powerful and the visibility is crap so I don’t feel safe to drive it. However, with starting to do craft fairs and starting a course a fair way from home it’s getting to the stage when I could maybe do with my own set of wheels. I don’t know if I can though. All my drugs state on the pharmacy label

May cause drowsiness. If affected don’t drive or operate heavy machinery.

I don’t know if I’m affected or not. My drugs do make me sleepy but I take them in the evening so the worst effects are while I sleep. I would hate to have an accident and find my insurance invalid because I was driving under the influence of crazy pills.

The obvious solution would be to ask my psychiatrist. I’m scared though. I don’t want them to take my license away. Rationally a license is no use if I don’t drive but it’s mine and I don’t see why they should be able to take it away from me. Also I know if it’s taken off me, the odds on me ever getting it back are slim and that makes me incredibly sad.

I’ve also massively lost my driving confidence because I haven’t driven in so long. I could never park, even when I took my test and any slight ability I did have has evaporated with time. I suppose it would be possible to take some reminder lessons but again I’m scared they’ll tell me I’m dangerous and take my license again.

I just don’t know what to do. I want the independence but I don’t want to do wrong.