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.

Monday was a good day

Tuesday, was Australia Day, I had an RDO cancelled over the Christmas break so I asked if I could have this Monday off instead. Granted, said BossMan. One glorious long weekend of four whole days out the office. This turned into four and a half, as I left not long after lunchtime on Friday with a stonking headache, but not sure spending the afternoon in bed sleeping counts?

Anyhoo, Saturday we all piled down to Queenscliff to go fishing, the boys were going on Friday, but the weather was awful with a massive front moving across Victoria with thunderstorms and rain (probably the cause of the headache). I suggested to Hubs he looked at the radar before they left, I think he was glad he did, and quickly changed plans. Peanut was upset, he’d been looking forward to fishing with his Dadda, but when we showed him the radar images he understood. He was also pleased that I could come with them on the trip the following day.

We packed up a picnic and left early, driving down I had a hankering for a hash brown. We pulled into the next fast food café that sold them, which was in the same town our landlord lives in. I texted him to say hi and he and his dad whizzed over to have an impromptu coffee with us, which was an unexpected and lovely bonus to the day. We carried on driving, parked up and unpacked the car with kit, rods, bait etc. we walked out to the pier and set up. I say ‘we’, I like fishing, but I don’t do anything with hooks, putting bait on, taking fish off, nothing. Bleurgh. Also Hubs had set up Peanut’s rod with the reel on the wrong side for me, I reel in with my left hand. It meant I couldn’t cast for toffee too, I was getting the line in a tangle, but never to mind. Looking over our shoulders the rain was rapidly approaching. The man beside us caught a ray of some description, he also showed Peanut the salmon he’d caught earlier in the day too. As Peanut was getting fidgety I asked if he wanted a walk, he said yes and skipped along the pier. We’d got about half way back to shore when the rain started, so we turned around and high-tailed it back to shelter on the pier.

Hubs stayed out manfully for about three more minutes, then we admitted defeat, the rain was heavy, there was no breaks on the horizon we could see, we walked back to the car. A handy shelter meant we could change Peanut into dry clothes, we then drove off to go to a museum, it was closed. We decided to have lunch, parking on the main street, Hubs hunter-gathered fish and chips, Peanut and I went to buy drinks. We met back at the car and drove to watch the ships on the bay, eating chips and chatting. As we were finishing, the sun broke through, the temperature shot up and an enormous container ship was edged out the heads by a Pilot boat.

We headed to the memorial chair for Hubs’ Mum, Nanna Helen. Her ashes were sprinkled from the pier we’d been fishing from, but this is where the family come to remember her. Every time we come down, we take a picture of the children on the bench. We had a champagne reception there before we got married too, with all our family and friends who’d come to the wedding. We walked down to the beach, made sandcastles, flew a kite, collected seaweed, paddled and squiged our toes into the sand. When Peanut was soaked through, after nearly an hour we stripped him off, and walked back to the car. I snapped this quickly with my phone:

Sunday we had his swimming lesson, then headed to the zoo. We’ve made a decision to not take Hubs there again, unless it is firmly in school time on a random day, he just doesn’t cope with the crowds. When we left he said he’d nearly had a panic attack, so Peanut and I will just go on our own now, I then don’t have to worry about the two of them and chivvying Peanut along because Hubs is getting twitchy.

Monday, blissful Monday. I had breakfast with Peanut, dropped him off at nursery, then went for a run. My legs were sore, so I walked more than I wanted to, but I still did nearly 5km. That evening I played with my foam roller. I have such a love/hate relationship with that blasted thing. I love it, but have to use it when Peanut is asleep or out the house, the language I use is involuntary and very blue. My bad.

Anyhoo, I got back from my run and dyed my hair. I had a list as long as my arm of jobs to do, but I was in the shower I thought, “Stuff it” – technical term. I looked up cinema times, I wanted to see Room, but it’s not out here yet, so thought about going to see either Star Wars again or The Revenant. But after I’d wandered around and finished my chores at the plaza I borrowed Into The Woods on DVD instead. I quite enjoyed it, although unusually for a musical, I didn’t end up singing any of the songs afterwards for days, although I do want the witches blue dress now. Not like Sweeny Todd ‘Ave a bit of priest!’ Or Phantom, Me and My Girl, Joseph, Spamalot or Rocky Horror, (amongst others, I’ve linked to film versions where I can, rather than theatre versions) where I know all the words. We had a family dinner, I made macaroni cheese, throwing the sauce together in the thermomix while the pasta boiled, it was one of those that you do quickly but taste ‘mazin. I finished off George’s Marvellous Medicine with Peanut. Hubs went to see Star Wars again, I sat up in bed and read Oliver Sacks with repeated cups of tea then sacked out.

Monday was great, because I gave myself permission to stop and just ‘be’ for a while. I need to do more of that.