We Can Do Hard Things

Unedited and a rant ahead.

If you haven’t already, please head on over to Glennon Doyle’s podcast, We Can Do Hard Things. Glennon talks mostly with her sister Amanda. They call each other ‘Sister’ which took a while to get into; but when Abby Wambach (Glennon’s wife) pops up and also calls Amanda ‘Sister’ it makes my heart swell. Find all the details here: http://wecandohardthingspodcast.com/

I’ve been listening to them a lot just lately. Not least because the world is on fire and like many I feel useless, I can do the next right thing, but honestly, I’m spent and am concenmatrating on keeping my head above water.

I know I post inane drivel on the Facebook and Instagram, but if I find something that makes me laugh, I send it round. I know I over share, I know I do a lot of things that probably make people think, ‘WTF’ – but one thing I know for sure (queue your inner Oprah), when I share my mental health woes, it makes people realise they are not alone.

I’ve just found myself playing Spider Solitaire online, white wine in hand (so yes the not-drinking thing is going REALLY well), when ‘What Would Erika Do’ popped into my head.

I’ve shared what I wrote for her funeral/memorial service before; but basically she’d tell me to get up, show up and keep on moving.

I miss my friend. Her unwavering support to so many people. I do try to support others, there’s one friend in particular who’s heart is utterly broken, [you know who you are, you beautiful carbon-biped you], but I’ve found by inane babbling to them, I am also helping myself, making a friendship stronger in the interim.

My love language is connection (if that is one of them?). I like being in and around people, laughing, joking. I can be anxious in big groups, so too many people may freak me out to the point of shutting down and smiling like an idiot until I get outta there. This is so much worse since the pandemic, we had a wonderful family get-together for our oldest niece (another of my favourite cabon-bipeds) when she hit 18. Hubs, Peanut and I had been really looking forward to it, but when we were in the room with everyone, there was maybe 15-20 people, all three of us freaked out. We were just out of practice with hanging out with people.

I know we will get better at this, I know we will remember what to do, but seriously – brain, calm TF down.

The world has gone to hell in a handbasket. The only thing I can do is write, so you know what. You may have to put up with me more often, as I try to navigate and makes sense of it all. The world will be fine, (the dinosaurs went phut, but the world carried on). We may well be in the last season of the Human Race, but Gaia, she’ll carry on.

I sit here with my cat in between my arms, rubbing her face and whiskers all over my face. I know that my life is small, my life has got smaller over the past couple of years as the world has made it so.

But like Erika’s life, I mean something to other people.

So do you.

When you’re struggling, if you’re struggling, please reach out, please ask for help. Don’t let your brain force you to believe that you’re not worth it.

We can do hard things. Tomorrow that may mean getting out of bed and just cleaning your teeth. It may mean knuckle-clenching to get through the next hot mess of a minute.

Keep going. Keep breathing. Do the next hard thing. We can’t control everything that is happening, but we can control us. If we all check in on one person today; if we all put a pad of sanitary products into Share the Dignity collection points this month; if we all remember that we are part of the human family – we will get through this.

It is so hard. When you lose friends because they think the shut down is a conspiracy, or that vaccinations are going to give us 5G (honesty, the reception here is so sh!tty, I’d welcome it), or that wearing a mask is a restriction on their liberty.

My hope is science and legislation. We need to lean on people that have spent their lives living scenarios through graphs and scaling up. We need to lean on people who know more than us, a YouTuber or Anti-Vaxxer has not spent years of their life sorting, sourcing and researching data and if you think that you have, you can sugar off now – and I will block and report your profile every which way I can. Vindictive? Maybe, but when you spread lies and misinformation, you stop me from seeing my family and my friends. My anxiety can cope with being out in public, but it cannot cope with the fact that people I love IRL are hurting and would greatly appreciate me being with them to help them through the shizzle.

When you spread lies and misinformation so people don’t get vaccinated, it prolongs the pandemic – you’re not making ‘an informed choice’, you’re drinking the Kool-Aid.

It means families can’t get to people who need them. It means hospitals are struggling with the volume of COVID patients; so those who could have had surgery for cancer, heart issues or need an ICU bed for whatever reasons do not get medical support. Because health services are bed-blocked with people who are too scared by your BS to get the accurate medical information that could have saved them, their family or their neighbour.

We are in this together. We can do hard things. But we need to listen to the experts, not the people wanting click-bait, not the people with an alternate agenda, not the people that seek to profit off the back of those in minimal wage jobs so they can play astronaut.

I know this is ironic, but please get your head out your phone. Please stop numbing your feelings scrolling to get a dopamine hit. Reach out, check-in, extend an olive branch.

The world needs you as you are, messy, mascara under your eyes, wrinkled and tired.

With many thanks to my gorgeous friend Trish for the cartoon from Liz Climo.

Work in progress

Sooooo, I learned that I do not honour or am proud of being sober yesterday. We had our Book Club break-up at a wonderful private house in Camberwell. We mooched around the garden, took masses of photos and were offered lemonade, fizz and Pimms. I asked for lemonade.

I got this.

Then my glass was empty, it got refilled with fizz and I didn’t say anything.

Then I asked for a glass of Pimms, because I’d already blown the week out the window.

Sigh.

I don’t got this. Today I looked up AA meetings. I need help as this is bigger than I can handle. :/

—o0o—

In other news, a friend at aforementioned party, took a photo of me that I posted on Instagram and Facebook with the following caption:

Those of you who know me, know I struggle with what I look like. It’s rare for me to have a candid picture taken of me that I like. But I love this one!
#bodydysmorphia #mentalhealth

I’ve had some messages come through about what Body Dysmorphia means, so I’m going to try to explain it; as best I can. I was in Wiltshire when I was diagnosed, so about 2001? I have hid the diagnosis, because like many mental health issues, I was ashamed of it. Only a few close friends, and I mean close, know how much I struggle with what I look like. Some days, it’s so bad, I can only do my make-up looking in a compact mirror, because then I don’t see all my face at one time.

I’m getting ready to go to work, or on a night out and I look at me in a mirror; I take care over my appearance and think, “that ain’t bad”. Then I take a selfie, because I don’t think I look too bad, and WTF is in the camera? Or someone else will take a photo and WTF is in the camera. Some photos of me will never be on my timeline, because WTF is in the camera. So far, so normal, right?

I have also been the height I am since I was 12 years old, I towered over people at school. On my first day at high school, I was told off for not telling someone the way to a classroom, because I didn’t know it. The teacher thought I was being difficult? a bully? obnoxious? who the hell knows.

I would sit down next to girls my age and feel huge next to them. I was taller than them; sitting down on anything, my thighs were bigger; my hands were bigger, I bit my nails through nerves. I took up so much space compared to everyone else. I’m lanky, gangly, walk into things all the time, stooping to try and hide it; so now at 43, my shoulders hurt.

My feet are bigger than my husband’s. I remember so clearly at junior school, one of my favourite teachers trying to address the problem of people picking on me by standing me next to the smallest girl in the class (hello Sophie if you’re out there). Talk about exacerbating the problem. It took a full meltdown for him to understand the impact of him slipping my shoes on to take the rubbish out before he understood how fragile my f*cking feet make me feel. Feet! I am so proud of them because they’ve taken me round endless KMs of running in the past few years. I’d no sooner got rid of one duff nail when Archie trod on two more and I’m waiting for them to grow out, so I’m still trying to hide my feet.

What with being mistaken for a boy for most of my childhood and teens, the feet, the entirely too big, too tall, not girly enough, short hair because it was easier while I was in a swimming pool all the time; who I am, what I look like, got warped along the way. What I look like does not match expectations and people have told me so, all my life. It’s gotten to be so normal for me, even if in reality most people don’t care, but that’s the thing with BDD, depression or anxiety, what you tell your brain make no difference, one iota.

Because the voice in your head is so loud, it deafens out everything else.

I completed a Mental Health First Aid course today, (I am aware of the irony). But you see, I’m perfectly placed to do this, because I know people. I pick up signs when you’re not 100%, I ask questions, peer intently at them, check in on you, because when you’re hiding in plain sight – I see you. Coz, I know all the secrets about appearing normal; functioning when you can barely function or hold it together.

The alcohol thing? Self-medication, because if I’m buzzing, I ain’t feeling the weight of perception on my shoulders. Perception to be all things to all people. Perception that I’m not enough. That I’m less than. That my make-up isn’t on point, as I’ve not contoured correctly, (really? ffs). That some days I can barely move from my bed because my soul hurts. That some days only the thought of Archie means I hold it together, because I don’t want him to be the child that grows up without a parent. That I am sick of people talking over me when I’m trying to say something.

BDD goes hand in hand with everything else I’ve got. But like everything else I’ve got, it doesn’t define me. It makes me, me.

A slow awakening

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have seen me hop back into the @8WeeksToWow program at the beginning of this week. Walking into work on Monday morning, I said out loud, startling someone walking in with me ‘I’m done.’

  • I’m done with the self-sabotage of falling off the wagon.
  • I’m done with not being able to drink in moderation.
  • I’m done with not loving myself enough to say ‘No thank you.’
  • I’m done with thinking I’m not worthy enough of treating my body with respect and care and punishing my ‘soul-sack’ through alcohol and food.
  • I’m done with worry about what other people think of me if I don’t drink.

I understand now that I need to own this. That despite people offering me, or being surprised when I turn it down, or giving me the Spanish Inquisition as to why – I cannot drink any more.

I’m done.

It is my business; I do not need to justify this decision to you. I do not need to explain this decision to you. Neither do you need to ask me why, nor when I tell you it’s “None of your business” or to “Eff-off”, depending on how you asked me, do I need to justify my words either.

Fizzy water for the win.

Now I’ve come to this decision, and the reasons behind it, I now am ready to finish working through Russell Brand’s The Program as the first step is admitting: I am a bit f*cked.

Step one. Day three.