Don’t let the dust cling

The day I went for my job interview I felt sooooooo peaceful. I was nervous but I had this song on over and over and I went in smiling and I came out smiling and I went home smiling and I sat in the garden that evening smiling. I knew that what I was doing was right. That if I got the job it was right and if I didn’t get the job that was right too.

I walk this path you lead
You keep moving me on
I know you’re with me
Lord, in Zion.

To him who sits on the throne
To him who reigns forever
To him who sits on the throne
To him who reigns on high

Be blessing and honour and glory and power
Be blessing and honour and glory and power

That’s what I listened to and what I felt and knew to be true.

Then I went back to work and had a horrible summer, filled with stress and unhappiness and fright.

During the month I took off work I tried to brush that old job off me. It wasn’t easy. What I did right at the end of the job caused more stress, mixed with pride, and I came to some painful realisations about the two years I spent there. I was a mess by the time I left. I struggled to be around people, to cope with noise and movement. I tried to let it go but every time I’d stop thinking about it for a few hours, I’d get a text or an email. Something silly like being asked where a key was. And it was all back. I got an email from HR and felt flustered. I got an email from a colleague and I felt angry.

There’s a bit in the Bible where Jesus told his disciples that if they went to a town to preach and the people rejected them they were to leave and brush the dust off their feet. I can’t be arsed to go into that passage and that’s not what this blog is about anyway, but I that’s what I was trying to do during the month off. Brush the dust off. When my mum asked me if I was looking forward to the new job and I sort of hesitated she said, don’t let the dust cling to your feet.

I hadn’t thought about it like that before. During the summer, when I had to do a thing, I thought a student would be really angry with me for doing it. It took me an hour and a half to pluck up the courage to do this small thing. An hour after doing it the student thanked me. I dissolved into tears when he left my office because I realised that two years in that job had left me metaphorically walking around with my arms in front of my face in case someone hit me. Only six months ago I thought I wasn’t capable of doing any job, that I would always be inept and unhappy. This last month I had started to become scared that I wouldn’t be capable of doing this new job. I was scared that I’d have a bad boss. I was scared I’d have unwelcoming colleagues. I was scared I’d be unhappy.

Don’t let the dust cling to your feet.

This week has been wonderful. Leaving aside what I’m actually doing, the people, wow. The people have welcomed me. They’ve smiled at me and chatted to me and explained things to me and showed things to me and helped me. They welcomed me. It’s not right that I should be so overcome by this but I am because that didn’t happen in my last job. My boss there welcomed me, kind of, but days went by without any other colleagues talking to me in my first week. I was left to sit at my desk and read papers. That was my induction.

It’s silly but when I first walked into this new job I was nervous because the loo is outside the office and I thought, oh no, people will know when I go to the loo. Because in my last job I hated anyone seeing me go in or out of the loo. I hated anyone seeing me make a cup of coffee. I hated anyone seeing me eat. That’s how uncomfortable I was there for two and a bit years. It’s not like that in this new job. After a couple of hours I didn’t mind going to the loo. I didn’t mind nipping out to make a cup of coffee. I didn’t mind walking into the office. In my last job I had to brace myself before going into the main office. People tended not to look up or acknowledge me when I said hi. I didn’t know if I was supposed to say hi or walk in silently. I ended up like I was at school – when I first went to sixth form college the other students said I was the ghost. I’d learned how to walk without drawing attention to myself and two years in that job turned me back into the ghost. I smiled to myself on the bus home from work one day this week when I realised that I’m already fine with walking into the office and saying hi. I couldn’t say goodbye in the last place. I sloped off without anyone noticing, because when I had said goodbye to people, they’d acted like I wasn’t there. Now I can even leave and say something banal like, right, I’m off, with a smile and not afraid that I’ll be ignored.

My new boss is so friendly! And competent. She can teach. She can teach and smile at the same time. She asked about me, how I’d ended up in this job. And you know what? I just told her. I told her about some of my experiences with mental illness and how that has increased my compassion so that now I just want to help somehow and not do a boring admin job that doesn’t mean anything. That wasn’t disclosure. That wasn’t me gently walking some ignorant twat through the process of disclosure and managing his fears about having a mentally ill person contaminating his office. That was just me talking about myself. Her face didn’t cloud over. She didn’t stamp MENTAL to my forehead. For the first time, being a bit mental is working in my favour. I know some stuff that they don’t and people listen to me. They value my observations. Each time something like that happens I have to squish back tears. Tears of relief and happiness.

I’ve finally realised just how bad it was in the last job. Nobody should ever have to be that unhappy at work. Nobody should have to hide, to be scared to go to the loo, to say hi in the morning, to walk into a sodding room. Nobody should have to eat their sandwich on the floor of an empty corridor because there’s nowhere else to hide. Nobody should ever, EVER, have to hide anything about their disability because they’re judged for it. Nobody should be surprised when someone is nice to them at work. Nobody should be so crushed that they beam with delight when their tiny observation is greeted with respect because they’re so used to being criticised or just plain old dismissed.

Just as I was leaving the other day, the manager briefly chatted to me. He had such a gentle smile as he quietly reassured me that two very experienced staff members will be with me during my next shift and that I’ll be fine and not to worry about anything. Wow. I beamed at him and beamed all the way home.

Now I get to do something that helps people. I’m crying just from writing this post so I’ll leave that for another time.

I’m so happy. The dust is finally being brushed off. On the way home from work a couple of days ago it was raining on one side of the train and sunny on the other side. I looked out of the window and saw a stunning rainbow and knew that God was saying to me, see? I keep my promises.

I walk this path you lead
You keep moving me on
I know you’re with me
Lord, in Zion.

To him who sits on the throne
To him who reigns forever
To him who sits on the throne
To him who reigns on high

Be blessing and honour and glory and power
Be blessing and honour and glory and power

Not calm. Not collected. But blah-de-blah-blah-blah.


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Things got … new since I last blogged. The summer contained a new type of stress that forced me to deal with things in a new type of way. I’ve wanted to write for a while and now seems like a good time because a chapter of my life has ended and a new one is about to start. The old one is still right in my head, giving me nightmares. But I hope they’ll fade.

I knew that working my notice would heap pressure on but I had hoped that the knowledge that it would be over quickly would propel me through. It didn’t. When I cracked enough to open up to a colleague she asked me that and I felt weak for admitting that I was struggling to cope with such a short time left, but there you are.

This summer has seen me asking for help to an extent that has bewildered me. I knew when I was applying for new work that my notice period would be tricky. The spotlight was on me to do all the things and prove that I’d done them. I do did lots of things in my job but the things I’d been avoiding had to not be avoided anymore. That was always going to be hard. Doing the things I’m afraid of and fighting off the things that made me afraid of them at the same time. You might do it wrong. You might have already done it wrong and it’s too late. You’ll be found out. You’ll be told off. That was the early part of August and the beginning of needing all the help. There were panicked crying attacks on a train, on a station platform, in a coffee shop, hiding in the loo, on the floor of my office, in the shower, on the sofa with a friend. Bottles of wine were downed. Pleas for reassurance were … pleaded.

I felt like I should have been able to handle this on my own, or at least with my trusty friend alcohol, but nope. Knowing that I had to do everything made me clutch at anything that would help me. Even letting some friends see my wussiness in its wheezing, snotty glory. Even begging for benzos. Dropping the jokes and asking for help. A few of you deserve medals for your patience as each little fear got dumped in your laps.

A couple of weeks in things got harder because, trying not to drop anonymity entirely, the notice period was handled badly. I shouldn’t really have expected otherwise. I got so stressed I even broke my ‘don’t ever talk to boss’ rule and asked him for help, which was wasted breath.

I’ve always wanted to be a calm and collected person. I’ve looked up to my step-mum for years. She actually is a calm and collected person. We’re quite similar in a lot of ways at our cores, but I’m neurotic and unstable and sort of flaily. I hate that I got so needy this summer. So completely unable to handle anything myself. Changes came out of nowhere and floored me. I know I’m a panicky person but I’ve been learning to give myself a bit of breathing space and wait for non-panicky feelings and thoughts to provide balance. That adaptability disappeared this summer and each time something new was thrown at me I froze. In a moment of shame I deleted a bunch of my more flappy posts to my friends so some of my neediness has become a bit hazy. Stress does funny things to the memory. Shame tells me that I have really good things happening and I should have been grateful and stronger and not whined so much when other people have worse things to deal with. I’m trying not to let shame gain too much of a foothold because I guess the important thing is that those people I reached out to have been patient and kind and I got the things done. Thank you so much.

The unlucky few even boosted my confidence enough for me to stand up for myself at work right at the end. I agonised about doing what I did because it felt like it was motivated by revenge. I’d dreamed about making my boss pay for months and now I was finally taking the chance. That’s not very Christian. But what I did will hopefully check him and protect future employees, maybe even the existing ones. And I finally protected myself when I needed to. The satisfied smirk of revenge tells me I should probably remind myself of those fruits of the Spirit nobody really likes to think about when they’ve been hurt. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.

I’ve also had to deal with some consequences. I royally pissed off some colleagues and I got a knife twist in the form of a realisation that not many people I worked with gave much of a damn. And a new set of fears have said hello. I’m feeling sad today so probably shouldn’t be blogging at all. Some people did give a damn and that’s lovely. But I’m bruised and sore. My emotions are squiffy. I get overstimulated and turn into a Catherine wheel really quickly. I’m scared I’ll be rubbish at the new job. I’m so glad I took a month off before starting. Even now, a week and a half after I finished the old job, I can’t find resources inside me to help stabilise myself. I’m using my environment to do that now. We went away somewhere peaceful and pretty for a few days and I think the stillness seeped inside me a bit. When the Catherine wheel slows down a bit I remember I stood up for myself. I’m making a big change that could be, y’know, really great, and I got through a horrible summer not unscathed but with my head held high at the end. I have fledgling feelings of pride. Now I’m home for a few days and doing not much but knitting. I did a little meditation two days ago. I should do more of that. I listened to a sermon last weekend and even took notes. I should look back on them. Maybe even listen to the mp3. But right now I have yarn and it’s very pretty. :)



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What. A. Mindfuck. It’s been two and a half months since I finished therapy and today I had a review appointment with one of the therapists, the bully one, not the gentle one. I used to argue with the bullying one a fair bit but she is incredibly perceptive. Scarily perceptive.

“So, how’s the mindfulness going?”

Oh yeah, that. *Cough* Well, you know, erm, well, I haven’t actually been doing it that much actually.

It’s hard to write about because I’m going so fast. Everything is fast. I am fast. Fast enough that she narrowed her eyes and starting doing risk assessment questions, which I flicked away. I know those questions too well.

I did tell her stuff. I told her about not doing mindfulness and why and how irritating it is because I have to drag my mind back over and over again and that’s tedious and annoying. I told her about what I’m doing with my life now. I told her that I crash and burn sometimes. I told her about the pavement. Her response? “Well, that wasn’t your finest hour.” Hence risk assessment.

She was delighted to hear what I’ve decided to do. She looked bowled over actually. Get in, I shocked the therapist. :D She recovered and asked me what comfortable shoes I’m wearing as I climb the mountain. “You do realise that you’ve just put yourself through massive amounts of stress and borrowed tomorrow’s energy, don’t you?” Ohhhh, the spoon theory. “Did you even think about your blisters?” So I’ve to think about what comfortable shoes I can wear as I climb through the next few months. Because, great as the epic new stuff is, I have a vulnerability. Her word, not mine.

She told me that which she has told me a thousand times before – I’m incredibly self-critical, guilt-driven and the self-compassion element of the therapy is my weakest point.

She said that for a woman who understands language as well as I do, I’m remarkably dense about recognising the shite language I use about and to myself. She said I need to slow down and stop pushing and interrupting long enough to see what I do to myself. She said that if I had slowed down long enough to see what was going on inside my head yesterday, I might not have taken all afternoon and evening to recover from my boss mentioning my sick leave in a hushed voice as if it was something to be ashamed of.

She said I’m a bully. I bully myself. I don’t take the time to assess what I need to do to take care of myself. She asked what I did when I lost the plot last week and when I told her I was sensible and went home she asked why I had gone to work in the first place. Why hadn’t I realised how bad things were? Why do I only ever take action to look after myself when I’m desperate?


But here’s the mindfuck. She also said I’m a very powerful woman.

Uh, what?

She said I’m driven, ambitious, intelligent, headstrong, passionate, persuasive, forceful and very powerful.

The woman who last week was rocking and crying on a pavement? And a few weeks before that was rocking and crying on the floor of a toilet cubicle while her friends had fun outside? I mean, when my sick leave was brought up yesterday I instantly started worrying about being weak. I’ve never thought of myself as powerful before. She certainly succeeded in shutting me up. I came out stunned and I have no idea how to process what she said.

She said I have to learn how to use and control my own power because I’m so powerful that I could do amazing things and I could also really hurt myself.


Dropping the pretence

So I got a new job. It’s all very cool and very exciting. I’m incredibly happy and a big grin spreads over my face whenever I remember. I’ll be providing practical support for people who have a mental illness and who also live in supported accommodation. I’m taking a hefty pay cut and will be working shifts over 24 hours. Our lives are going to change! Bring. It. On.

This post isn’t about that so much because I have another post planned. Sort of. In the way that I plan anything, which I don’t really. This is just a splurge post because argh and weirdness.

My mental health went tits up around three months ago and I didn’t tell my boss regardless of who advised me to, not husband, not mentor, not therapists. I can’t trust him. Thing is, the cognitive effects of mental ill health have a delayed effect and they are slamming in now. They were ramping up in the few weeks before I went on holiday but I trudged on and tried to fight them. I got back from holiday to a couple of pissed off bosses because I had forgotten to do one thing I had said I would do, and was late with another. So poor academic boss had to do some work for a couple of days and wasn’t best pleased about it. Professorial whinging aside, fair enough. Once the stomach lurching and uncomfortable meeting with the other boss, the main boss, was over, I sent the required grovelling apology. I am gooooooooooood at apologising. In fact, I have been trying to stop, my therapists were trying to help me to stop. Now, as I am faced with an increasing list of things I have forgotten to do in recent weeks, and the consequences of being too scared or depressed to do a list of other things, the only thing left to do is apologise.

Such an emotional meltdown this week. A day and a half on sick leave – with the work related box ticked. Last week, in the uncomfortable meeting, after being told I need to communicate better, after nodding and smiling and knowing I won’t, I was told to provide drafts of things for things that have an actual September deadline. Right, OK. So I didn’t for a couple of days because I knew they wouldn’t be good enough and I’d be criticised. My first meltdown happened on Friday. Finally on Monday, when I became more scared of being told off for not doing them than I was of being told I’d done them badly, and after I had already stumbled upon something else I’d forgotten to do, I sent them to my boss. Naturally, they weren’t good enough and I received a terse email in reply. “I am surprised this is so sparse.” I don’t remember much of the rest but I know it contained a list of all the things wrong with it and expectations for improvement, which is a bit odd because why should it be good enough? It’s not due until September. I dissolved in my office, shut the door, hid in the blind spot and proceeded to break down in style. After a while I knew I needed to get out before I was spotted so I slapped more makeup on to hide the swollen eyes and dashed round the corner, found a seemingly quiet spot of pavement, sat down on the fucking floor in the middle of London and sobbed out my fears and failures and can’t-cope-ness in a ridiculously high-pitched and too-fast voice to the friend I know who understands me the most. On a pavement. With people walking past. Staring. That’s a low point right there.

Of course, it didn’t help that I was waiting to find out if I’d got this awesome job and had convinced myself I hadn’t got it and would be stuck in this nightmare job for the rest of my life. I did the most sensible thing I could have done. I went home. Later that day I was offered the job. God only knows what the woman thought of me, she had to repeat it three times before I understood what she was saying.

I went back to work yesterday and quit my job. Whoop! Boss was visibly relieved. He’ll be as glad to get rid of me as I am to get rid of him. The pretence can be dropped. This is the wrong job for me and I’m messing it up. I won’t have to work my full notice period (three months, FFS) and I have to come up with a list of tasks, do what I can, hand over the rest and leave. Excellent. I still have to get through what notice period is left though. More fucked up things have come to light today and although my boss is being quite nice, quite jovial in a condescending way, with his acknowledgement that I’m in the wrong job, that makes it quite easy for him to place responsibility for fuck ups firmly on me. He ain’t gonna get away with that. My mentor is continuing with her advice – keep him at arm’s length. Good and necessary advice for this job. But she has now expressed such happiness for me that I am not entering a third year of intolerable pressure from a boss who remains wilfully ignorant of what it means to line manage somebody with a severe and enduring mental illness. He will know on Monday that I have been ill for some time and hiding it from him because our working relationship has been so fraught since I got ill last year that I don’t feel comfortable telling him anything. He will know that I am not forgetting everything simply because I’m bad at this job, I am forgetting everything because that’s what happens when I get ill. The cognitive problems that accompany and follow episodes of mental illness last. They never really go away. Each time I seem to lose a few more brain cells and I’ve now reached the limit of how much I can function in this job. There are just too many things to juggle. And I have no support.

Our disability advisor at work died last month and I have missed her so much this last week or so. I am so sad that I can’t tell her what I’m going on to do. She would have been so chuffed for me. And when I broke down on Friday and Monday I had nobody to call. She would have known exactly how to help me. She was my only support in this job. I see my mentor once a week and she is a lifeline, but on a day to day basis there’s nothing and no one. He will know what he has done. It will be brief on Monday because all I really want him to know is that I have been ill and I will continue to struggle keep up with what I need to do until I leave and I have deliberately kept this from him because he is untrustworthy. The full exit review will happen when I leave. That will be delicious.

Mental illness doesn’t go away just because things are good. Mental illness goes on holiday with you. It goes to the pub with you. And it follows you to work and fucks you over even when you’re so happy you could burst. But I am so happy I could burst. :)

Catherine wheel


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*Breaks radio silence*

*Sits with fingers poised on keyboard*

*Gets some Doritos*

*Eats some Doritos*

*Looks at knickers online*

*Sits with fingers poised on keyboard*

Man, hard to write when you’ve not done it for a while, innit?

*Daydreams for ten minutes*

Life is stressful and shit and exciting. I haven’t written here because I didn’t know how to, with two things I didn’t think I could write about. 1) Falling out with a friend. 2) Deciding to change career direction in quite a dramatic fashion. These two things happened just a few days after finishing therapy and it’s all been a bit overwhelming really.

Let’s start with the career thing. Thanks to the efforts of a couple of friends one early Sunday morning at the seaside, I decided in the space of an hour that I want to become a social worker. Thanks to the therapy I’ve had, I realised that I am not afraid of doing something like this anymore. Cool, huh? For the last couple of years I’ve been all about the sensible. Well, fak dat shit. I want to do something meaningful. I want to help people and do something that matters. I know, I know, the last time I wrote about job stuff here I was all, not everything has to be about helping people, guilt doesn’t have to rule my life, I could just do a job doing things I quite like and that’s OK.

And that’s still all true. I needed to stop looking through a fog of guilt and fear. But when I started to strip away the layers of guilt and fear, I realised that I still want to do the helping people thing. And when I thought about the things I’d been planning to do, like project management and web stuff and shit like that, I suddenly felt soooooooooooooo relieved that I don’t have to do that. I was so desperate to get out of my job that I was scrabbling around trying to find something that might be maybe at least 30% enjoyable.

Fukkit, I want to be a social worker. So I’m going to go back to uni and do another masters [yes, I know, I'm addicted, stop rolling your eyes like that]. But first I need some experience so I’m applying for ALL the jobs. Man, there are loads of really cool jobs out there. It’s exhausting and exciting.

That other thing. Yeah, the falling out with a friend thing. I really thought I couldn’t mention that here, because we have sooooo many mutual friends and it’s not right and not fair. And I’m not going to write about what happened or her or owt like that. I am just wanting to write about what the fuck has happened to my brain since then. I didn’t want to write about that either because I wondered if writing about it here is actually very attention seeking and woe is me and that would be horrible. But, again, fukkit. It’s my blog, I can do what I like. And after I saw a few friends yesterday, who saw all the stuff I didn’t want to talk about because I didn’t want anyone to be in the middle or uncomfortable and I felt I was responsible for making everybody be fine in every way… well, since that failed and y’all saw it anyway I might as well get it off my chest.

Some words used to describe me have stuck because they are my sore spots and I feel so ashamed. Dammit, I’ve just tried writing a paragraph without any detail about what the words are because, again with the putting people in the middle and attention seeking and not writing about a real person, but the paragraph made no sense. The friend said I’m aggressive, and some other things, but aggressive is the word that haunts me the most. So if I begin to act in a way that might be a bit aggressive I freak out and think about what a horrible person I am. And if anyone even hints at aggression or abrasiveness in me, I freak out then too and start to cry but in an attempt not to cry I get cross, and then I am definitely being abrasive so I really am an aggressive cow and everyone must hate me so then I panic and actually cry and rush off to the loo. Therapy was starting to help me to see myself as a whole person, so I can have some abrasive bits but the abrasive bits don’t rub out the kind bits. I’m both. I’m a whole person, with lots of bits. And now I’m back to being stuck with words like aggressive and uncaring and unkind stuck in my head going round and round and round. [Please, please no cries of YOU'RE NOT AGGRESSIVE, YOU'RE LOVELY, alright?]

Along with the exciting thing and the distressing thing is a stressful thing because work is making me miserable. Relations between me and my boss have hit an all time low and I’m really fucking unhappy. I don’t particularly like saying that because it feels kinda melodramatic, but it is true. I am really unhappy. Not depressed, unhappy. Stress levels have gone through the roof and I realised last night that it wouldn’t take too much to push me into being unable to work. Again. I’m desperate to get out of this job but sticking it out so I leave for the right reason, because I’m a stubborn cow, and also, that’s what being an adult is – life sucks and you just have to get on with it.

I wasn’t sure whether to put this in, but I will, because it’s a Big Thing. Someone at work who has supported me for years and is just epic and wonderful and funny and friendly and knowledgeable and caring has died. I’m gutted.

These things all kicked off at exactly the same time and have almost [but not quite] overridden the therapy stuff. I’m completely knackered. I’ve been ill for over a week, I’ve slept soooooooo much the last few days and my eyes still insist on flickering, which is really disconcerting. It’s like I’m half asleep all the time. And I’m finally melting. Thank you so much to those of you who looked after me yesterday – you collectively mopped me up in the loo, hugged me, talked to me, took me for a walk, calmed me when I lost the plot entirely on the way home and talked to me until 3am so I didn’t go to bed upset.

A few years ago, when a lot of us were finally meeting for the first time, I spent time with a friend who was ill. We hugged a lot. When she was feeling better I said she’s a throw when she’s depressed. You know the ones that you flop over a couch? That. She flops. :) Last night she said that when I’m not right in the head I’m a Catherine wheel. I spin round and round and round, bright and fizzing and faster and faster and faster. Not like a firework that goes up, pops, makes pretty colours and then goes away. I get stuck in an endless fizzing loop. I’m now at the point where I think I’m going to spin off and set fire to somebody’s shed so good job there’s only one more week of work before I go on holiday for two weeks, eh?

All the whelm


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HeaddeskI had a horrible feeling that I might cry in therapy yesterday so an hour before I went I did a meditation, similar to the type I described here. I was all, yeah, my thoughts are totes sorted now. Then I went into therapy and cried. #headdesk

We figured out what’s going on in the end. After this:


Everybody looked at me. And then they were really nice! The others understood and said they know me better now because I’ve been really honest (only took me 14 weeks). And the therapists helped me to understand what’s happened. One said this:

So you’ve got the memories of last year and they’re making you feel sad and scared. And you did a really big thing at work, like really big. I can see your inbox in my head and I feel overwhelmed just thinking about it. And you felt horrible doing it because you’ve avoided it for ages. But you did it anyway. And you did another thing and didn’t do the things you would usually do to make yourself feel better and that has made you feel upset and scared and overwhelmed. And you’re giving your all into this therapy. And you’re depressed. And now you’re crying here and being open and vulnerable and that’s scary too. Are you going to give yourself a break? Ever?

Oh. Right. Didn’t think about that.

Back at the start of therapy we talked about acceptance of the shit in our heads. The shit in my head is like a load of really loud bullies. And I decided, reluctantly, to accept that those bullies are probably going to stick around so I’m going to do the therapy and ACCEPT that the bullies will come with me. They’ll make a lot of noise but they’ll come with me and I will try to stop doing the things I usually do to make them go away because that doesn’t work. I’ll do these other things instead, the things our therapists are teaching us about. And now I’ve done some of those things and actually, I hadn’t really thought about the fact that the bullies will get really fucking loud when I do that. So I panicked.

All the thoughts. All the memories. All the feelings. All the fucking time. And trying really fucking hard to just live with them. And feeling so depressed I’m frightened it’s going to swallow me. Holy. Fucking. Shit.

Apparently this is normal and I’m doing really well and I should be a bit nicer to myself and maybe even recruit other people to be extra nice to me. And the others are cheering me on and I’m cheering them on and that’s lovely.

One of my favourite bands, Rend Collective, has a new album out and I’ve been listening to it the last couple of days. I think it’s their best album yet. It feels packed full of emotion. One song is particularly outstanding. Here it is. It’s inspired by another favourite song of mine. I’ll type the words out below because they’re amazing and so beautiful and and so perfect for me. Balm for my sad and scared spirit.

By grace alone somehow I stand
Where even angels fear to tread
Invited by redeeming love
Before the throne of God above
He pulls me close with nail-scarred hands
Into His everlasting arms

When condemnation grips my heart
And Satan tempts me to despair
I hear the voice that scatters fear
The Great I Am, the Lord is here
Oh praise the One who fights for me
And shields my soul eternally

Boldly I approach Your throne
Blameless now I’m running home
By Your blood I come
Welcomed as Your own
Into the arms of majesty

Behold the bright and risen Son
More beauty than this world has known
I’m face to face with Love Himself
His perfect spotless righteousness
A thousand years, a thousand tongues
Are not enough to sing His praise

Boldly I approach Your throne
Blameless now I’m running home
By Your blood I come
Welcomed as Your own
Into the arms of majesty

This is the art of celebration
Knowing we’re free from condemnation
Oh praise the One, praise the One
Who made an end to all my sin

Boldly I approach Your throne
Blameless now I’m running home
By Your blood I come
Welcomed as Your own
Into the arms of majesty

Kindly violent. Violently kind.


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ACK! I’ve been trying to write this for DAYS! Alright, two days, but it still counts because it’s plural. Technically three, ackshewally, because the first attempt was scrawled on the back of a knitting pattern in a campervan. But it comes out shit every time, maybe because I try to explain things too much and I haven’t had enough sleep for that. So here’s the less articulate version.

We’re doing values in therapy, right. Mmmhmm, fine, what the fuck is that? It’s the things I really care about, the things I want to define my life, to define who I am. I could go on about how hard this bit of the therapy is and how much I’m not enjoying it but I’ll pick on one bit of it instead of brain farting all over the keyboard for days.

Kindness is one of my values. I want kindness to be stamped on me so it’s the first thing anyone sees. I want to be kind. I want the people I love to be treated kindly. I get very angry when I see unkindness and I want to undo it. If I had to overhear someone describe me (which I hope I never do because eurgh) I’d want them to say I’m kind.

But I am violent.

This is like a horrible tear inside me. I want to be one thing but I am another. And as I thought that I remembered a verse from the Bible, something Paul says about himself: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15)

Nailed it.

Violent might not be a word people would use to describe me because it’s not like I go about talking about the thoughts and images in my head, although I have a bit and some of you know. A psychiatrist once described my thoughts as obsessive and violent (in a graphic imagery sense, not an axe-wielding murderer sense). I’m not turning this post into a confession, it’s not about that. It’s about the one thing and the other thing and how can both be true? Every time I have a horrible thought I get distressed and think, how can I be kind when I just thought that? I’d better scrub kindness off the values list. When a counter kind thought appears, even if it’s a thought that makes me feel intensely sad, I am relieved.

I do all sorts of things to not be a horrible person. I ‘fess up, I apologise, I check things and ask things and other things but essentially, it’s one thing or the other, it can’t be both. I’m either kind or violent, can’t be both.

And then along comes therapy and blows my mind. And now I’m in a battle of wills. It’s like when you first get glasses and all of a sudden you can see stuff a bit better and it makes you wince a bit because it’s too sharp and clear. Therapy makes me see stuff and it gives me alternatives so every time I have a thought I have to choose. It’s not just the thoughts of today’s post either, it’s all of them, FFS. This shit is the opposite of everything ever.

To change tack a bit, there’s a meditation I tried out a few days ago. I was sitting in a camping chair with trees all around me and I thought I’d give it a go, even though it’s different from what I’ve been doing so far. It’s about loving kindness and it turns out it’s a Buddhist thing, so I went slowly so I could assess it as I went along. It’s the first time anything religious has entered my mindfulness practice.

Anyway, get back to the point, Narky, FFS. I chose the loving kindness one because I was thinking about this kindness-violence thing. I didn’t actually finish the whole thing because it started to rain and then I went inside and banged my head on the ceiling and then I banged my knee on the table and knocked the table off its slot on the wall and then I couldn’t get it back on the wall and then I swore a lot and then I wasn’t in the mood to be loving or kind so I watched Come Dine With Me and swore at the people on that.

I managed about 25 minutes of the mediation. And I really liked it. I adapted it as I went along. First the man said to imagine someone who loves me unconditionally and at first I thought of Mr Narky but then I thought of Jesus and I stayed with him instead. It was Easter and last Easter was so monumentally awful and it was playing on my mind and I felt down and wondered if Easter would ever be free of that again so I hoped that maybe this might help me to bring Jesus back into Easter for me, see if he could replace my own suicide.

So I imagined Jesus loving me unconditionally and I imagined what that felt like, to be loved. I imagined lots of things. And I felt that I was allowed to imagine these things because therapy has given me permission for kindness to be directed towards myself as well as towards others. I can at least practise when I’m sitting on a camping chair surrounded by trees, at Easter.

The man in my mp3 player then told me to imagine that I was giving this unconditional love to people, as well as receiving it. And I thought of loving Jesus and I remembered that Jesus said that the most important commandments are to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love my neighbour as myself. So I imagined what it might be like to love him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. And then I brought to mind some of the people I love and I imagined directing my love at them. And then I imagined some of the people who have hurt me and I directed a teeny bit of love at them, or rather, I imagined an expanding circle of love coming from Jesus and me sitting next to each other, and gradually encompassing more people in it.

And then I thought, but that loving my neighbour thing, it has that bit at the end, about loving them as myself. Love and kindness, love and kindness, love and kindness. If I love other people as I love myself, I can’t be doing a very good job of loving them. So although I didn’t practise loving myself, because I don’t know what that looks like, I did practise kindness towards myself. Not in a wanky self-care way. But in a way that fits with the person I want to be. I want to be kind. So I kindly allowed myself to imagine Jesus giving me a cuddle. I kindly allowed myself to imagine Jesus smiling at me. I kindly allowed myself to imagine Jesus whispering ssshhhhhh to me.

There were some words to repeat:

May I be safe and protected and free from inner and outer harm.
May I be happy and contented.
May I be healthy and whole to whatever degree possible.
May I experience ease of wellbeing.

I knew I didn’t feel comfortable with these words, because they are like wishes and I don’t believe wishes mean anything. So I decided, as I was imagining Jesus, to turn them into prayers. I prayed:

May I be rooted and established in love.
May I know how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ for me.
May I know that the God who called me is faithful and he will do it.

These are Biblical verses from Ephesians and 1 Thessalonians. After praying these words for myself, I prayed them for other people as I imagined the circle of love expanding outwards from me and Jesus.

Then I went inside out of the rain and did all the banging and swearing.

I wrote about that meditation in this post because it’s one way of addressing my inability to live with both the kindness and the violence inside me. It’s one way. It’s really, really hard, I can’t describe how hard. To try to move away from the I AM KIND or I AM VIOLENT mindset, the mindset that makes me fight to not be violent. I’m going to try it again because it was also one way of being able to learn how to pray and that was very satisfying because I’m not very good at praying. Maybe because it’s a very kind thing to do.


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