Thursday, 25 August 2016

The best years.

"Enjoy your childhood years- they're the best years of your life!"

When I was younger, it always depressed the hell out of me to be told that those years would be the best of my life. Granted, I didn't have the greatest childhood, but I think that even if I'd had the most idyllic start, I would still have cringed at the constant reminder from everyone that it was only downhill from there. It's just an odd thing to tell kids, it really is. And it's something that is said a lot. I think it's also an odd way of getting kids used to the idea of their own mortality- there's an end to your life coming up, and it's going to be grim.

Aside from the weirdness of saying it, it's also not necessarily true. Being a kid might be wonderful. You might be lost in your dreams and never have to fall back to earth. Being a teenager might be the best fun. You might go to the best parties and never get hangovers. All through your younger years, you might have the most supportive family and the most positive friends. You might achieve. You might be truly happy.

But you might not.

All in all, there's a lot that can go wrong in a person's childhood. You might lose someone important to you, you might get seriously or chronically ill, you might be bullied, you might be abused, you might live in poverty. 

And there's not a lot a child can do about their circumstances. As adults, we like to think that we can change or control a lot of our lives, and whether that's true or not, a child isn't in the same position. When I was younger, there was a jolt of fear that went through me when I was told that those years would be the best, because I felt like I was failing. Like I was meant to be having this really great childhood and I couldn't even manage that. I couldn't change most of what was negatively affecting me.

Don't get me wrong, I know that my experiences weren't the same as most other people. But that's what makes it all the more odd for adults to universally say to kids. You have no idea what's really going on for a kid. Or what might be going on for them in the future.

I also get that a lot of adults have rose-coloured, backwards glancing glasses on, when they talk about their childhoods. I mean, hell, some adults may have had the childhoods that they remember as being so perfect. But that's not universal. Don't make assumptions and don't project them onto the children around you. Childhood was stressful enough 20 years ago and I bet it's only got worse.

I doubt very much that most adults really think about what they're saying when they tell kids that they ought to appreciate how those years are the best of their lives. To be fair, I doubt many kids really think about it, either. I think it's probably more of something that sticks in your mind if you're told it at a time when things aren't going too well for you. And it's really bloody hard, then, to hear.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Sacre bleu!

This last week has been intense. Good-intense, but busy-intense. I got a telling off from my optician because I don't clean my contact lenses (kids: look after your eyes, apparently they're important) and accidentally said 'sacre bleu' during a reading I did at my cousin's wedding. I got horrendously drunk, let my youngest cousins plan my future wedding (we're having cottage pie for the meal, even though I'm veggie and Penny doesn't like it) and somehow cut all my feet to the point that I can't get shoes on. So yes, it's been busy.

But forget all of that, because I come bearing good news... beepity beep, I have a full time job! I know this is exciting and significant fullstop, but it's especially great because I haven't had a full time job since I was 18. I'll be 26 next week, and I haven't been well enough to get clearance to work full time in all those years. 

I'm pretty excited (less excited about how early I'll have to be on a train to get to work, like. I think I'm on a 6am train there and I won't be home until 10pm. On the plus, because the shifts are epicly long, I'll only be working 3 days a week, so I can't complain too much!). I'm doing support work with people with diagnoses of learning disabilities and mental health conditions, so I'm expecting it to be really bloody hard. But I can do it, and I can do it well. Might have to develop a work wardrobe though, because even though there isn't a uniform, I don't think tutus are that appropriate. Gutted.

I don't have a start date yet, but they said it'll be a week or two. Hopefully more like two, because I have this niggling worry that I'll be starting on my birthday otherwise. And I'd rather kip in on my birthday, won't lie. ANYWAY, I don't have a great deal more to say (I have these mental lists of future blog topics, but I wanted to give a little life update before I say my next lil piece). The end.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Toxic people.

When I was at school, I had a pretty big friendship group. In my teens, in standard teenage girl fashion, my best friend pretty much depended on what my hormones were doing, but in my last few years especially, I had a big pool to choose from.

Things weren't rosy though, but at that point, I was very good at compartmentalising. I could be sprawled out on the field at school during dinnertime, dancing to Queen- my friends and I all had majorly different music taste, but we could all agree on what a tune Don't Stop Me Now is- and laughing until my sides hurt. But then I could go home and be cutting those same sides to ribbons and feeling nothing. I could be skiving school to go shopping, or I could be nipping out of class to claw my insides out of my throat.

As I got more ill, maybe when I was about 16, my friendships began to fall apart. There were a lot of reasons for this. I couldn't function in ordinary settings, or in ordinary ways. I wasn't fun. I was needy and selfish. I left school at that age and went off to college, where the 150 people in my school year became, I don't know, about ten times that. But other groups of friends lasted. But a lot of my friendship group did last. Just without me.

I had started to become toxic.

I made new friends at college, but they were mostly temporary. There's only really one of my friends from college who has always been there for me. That sounds a bit bitter, but I don't mean it to be. I honestly just was that toxic.

A similar sort of thing happened when I went to uni. I started out with a big group of friends and now, I'd say I have a couple of genuine friends from that point, a few acquaintances whose tweets I'll like, and probably a whole lot of people who realised I was toxic and couldn't handle it.

Which is ok. It's more than ok. A key component of self care is letting go of that which weighs you down, and toxic people will definitely do that to you. We will drain you, we will exasperate you, we will expect a lot of you. And you don't have to take it. Maybe you shouldn't take it. But you remember that that toxic person is still a person. Don't be cruel.

Recently, it seems like 'personality disordered' has become a handy synonym for 'toxicity'. There's more stigma around personality disorders than there is over any other mental illness. The 'crazy' women in films are always borderline (let's not forget the character in Ugly Betty who tried to kill Betty because she thought Betty was into her boyfriend... all because she had BPD and that's what BPD women do), 'crazy' men are always sociopaths. Even in mental health communities, service users who are seen as difficult are almost always diagnosed with personality disorders. When people talk about toxic people, they often describe people exhibiting PD traits. They diagnose them as narcissists or as histrionic, without the knowledge necessary of PDs or the person they're talking about. And that needs to stop.

If you need to walk away, walk away. But be compassionate. Remember that oftentimes toxic people have developed that way for a reason. Remember that when you write someone off as having a personality disorder- be that borderline, narcissism, sociopathy etc- you are adding to a catalogue of reasons that went into their personality. Remember that walking away might be necessary, but that you need to do it fairly and openly. Remember that it's fine not to like the way a person behaves, but that people are more than their darkest days.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

A job hunt and a trip.

I'm in Belgium right now, which is pretty bloody cool, so in a break from the usual mental health stuff (which will return when I'm home!) I thought I'd do a bit of a general catch up.

A lot of wonderful people have been wonderfully supportive since I was told I wouldn't be allowed to start uni. I'm not quite ready to laugh about it, but I am the only person I know who has been chucked out of two unis for mental health reasons (or any reason, actually), so thats cool. Sucks more this time because when I was thrown out of Essex, even though that was two thirds of the way into my degree, at least I was actually ill, as opposed to now. I'm killing it, dontcha know? But I'll be fine, I always am.

So I'm on a mad job hunt. Mad in a hectic rather than mental health way, that is. I've applied for one role in a hospital that would be a bugger to get to, so I'm more than cool if they don't fancy offering me the job. Then two roles that I have interviews for in a few weeks (side note: already panicking over wardrobe choices. Big boobs and awful dress sense is a killer combo. I always look more... booby than professional). Then two jobs that I want so badly but that I'm not sure my CV supports. Being signed off since I was 18 has a left a gap bigger than my chest on my CV. But both of those jobs would be amazing. To be fair, at this point any would be excellent.

But anyway, Belgium. My girlfriend Penny and I hopped on the Eurostar this morning and I was disappointed to discover that even though it's a train under the sea between England and France, you're actually just in a tunnel for 20 mins and you don't see any fish. Belgium seems cool though, it's drizzling in Brussels, so it's a lot like home so far. Except there were a shit tonne of army lads in the train station with giant guns. I was pointing and Penny kept muttering at me to act naturally. Sure we didn't look sus at all.

Tomorrow we're going to check out the European Parliament and go on a beer tour, then Thursday we're getting on the train to Bruges for a couple of nights. All very exciting. So exciting that Penny is fast asleep next to me because we were out of the house by 6 this morning. I'm running on sugar and political excitement. Fully expecting to be mardy as fuck tomorrow morning, mind (soz, Penny), but it's all good. I've also been using this as an opportunity to practise my French. Je voudrais les petits pois, s'il vous plait.

But I want beer now, so it's fiiiiiiiiine to wake the lady, I reckon.

Bonsoir! Bonne chance! Je t'aime! Et cetera!