So far I have had two front pages. One with a shared by-line whilst working for the Manchester Evening News and one whilst working at the Mail. My first front page at the Mail was a bit of a dud as I didn’t feel as though I deserved the by-line. Though I had done the research, got the quotes and done the running around, when it came to writing the story I stalled. I had no confidence and felt as though I had forgotten every lesson my tutor ever taught us, all in all I bottled it.
For this reason, when the bosses decided the splash for the week was going to be the piece I was working on I wondered immediately whether I would be able to hide under the desk without either of them noticing me. Unfortunately today’s dress has minimal scope for manoeuvrability so instead I had to settle for going to get a glass of water.
I am trying to adjust my behaviour to stop myself from self destructing every time I am presented with a challenge so I took the sensible option and discussed the best way to write the story with my seasoned colleague. What was really amazing was that in the end, other than the original urge to hide I did not freak out any further. I wrote the story, submitted it and actually felt fairly pleased with what I had written.
Tomorrow morning when I walk into work there will be shops selling our paper which will have my name and my story on the front. I remember watching an episode of The Wire when a reporter got up before sunrise and drove down to the printing press to see her first ever front page. Whatever hours you have to do, or how tense things get on deadline day it all becomes worth it when you pick up the paper on Thursday morning and see your work published for all to see; so long as they live within the Harborough district. Doing what you love is an absolute privilege and even if it does make me want to hide under a desk from time to time i wouldn’t do anything else.
- Today’s dress is on loan from my Fairy God Mother. Along with my mystery donor she is perhaps the woman who has contributed the most to the continuation of the blog. As well as loaning me some incredible dresses from when she was a girl she has bought me dresses from charity shops and even lent me jackets to make my racier outfits better suited for work. As well as this she has encouraged friends and family to read the blog and whenever possible comment and rate each post. This dress was one she wore to a wedding. It is from Minuet which is stocked by Debenhams and House of Fraser.
When I was studying to be a journalist two of the women I was most impressed with were Rebekah Wade and Anna Wintour. I read bits about Rebekah in Piers Morgan’s autobiography and I was impressed with how fearless and ferocious she was. There was one incident described by Morgan when she hides out in the boys toilet with a hat covering her auburn curls just so she can snatch the paper from the printing room for.
What attracted me about these women was there ability to survive in what is so often a male dominated industry and not just survive but excel. Today, faced with a flurry of stories I succumbed to tears in the girls bathroom and thinking of these two women I felt ashamed. I want to be ferocious, cut throat and ambitious but sometimes I find myself filled with self doubt. Taking on a new job will always be daunting and I am assured by many that tears in the toilets is an occupational hazard of any job but still I wish I could be a bit stronger.
I hope that this is all a part of a learning curb which will soon become a little more level, but whatever might occur I must still my moans. I am living the dream and must lap up all that lady luck has granted upon me. Whilst talking to the boy tonight he said something which made me cry even more than I have already done today. ”You might wish it was all over, but what if this is all we’ve got?” Sometimes it is these kind of stark statements which bring you back if only just to realise how much there is to lose by giving it all up.
This is the job and this is the dream and I guess I just have to dry the tears, hide the fears and fight through it wondering all the while what Rebekah would have done on the same day.
- Today’s dress is Marks & Spencer, the jumper is Prada-mark and the belt is Topshop. I felt a little stocky in it but I was cold and didn’t ant to freeze and after all the colourful choices of the past few days the chance to just be in black was too good to miss. Big thanks to my secret donor who I believe sent this in a shoe box of love.
Everyone keeps telling me that in time it will get easier to juggle the job, the boy and the blog, but it has been six weeks and I am still struggling. Last weekend, finding myself behind with my posts because of a busy week at work I tried to catch up. The boy was down for the weekend and my writing dug in to our time together. Though he said at the time that he did not mind, my mother later admitted that she had seen him mock tossing my little laptop from the door. Either he does not like my laptop or he is jealous of all the time we have been spending together.
To try to make him happy and to prevent the blog from coming between us I left log ins to a minimum and only wrote when he was elsewhere. Though this did mean we got a lot more time together, by the time it came to me heading home I was stressed and tearful. I had done no washing, writing or ironing and in spite of my best efforts to catch up on sleep I was still feeling tired.
After saying goodbye I managed to drive till I was just around the corner before having to pull in for a cry. Though I managed to pull it together enough to engage my natural sense of direction after the sat nav ran flat by the time I got home I was a wreck. I do not know why I cannot cope, it seems ridiculous really. I am a grown woman who should be quite capable of living if not acting independently and yet being away from my boyfriend for five nights a week leaves me in a mess. Though I want to stay up to get caught up on the blogs I have left behind over the weekend, tomorrow is deadline day and if I fail to get enough sleep now I’ll be all over the place in the morning. I do hope the girls are right and that sometime soon I will get better at juggling and be able to handle everything more easily with a lot less stress. Spending Sunday evening and Monday morning in tears is never a good start to the week and I am afraid that if this carries on any longer I will have no choice but to drop one of the three. What on earth is wrong with me?
- Today’s dress is on loan from Sinead Kenny. It is originally from Miss Posh. As we are getting a bit bored with the same old background and props we decide to take the pictures outside using a dandelion. It is a nice idea but my heart isn’t really in it as all I can think of during the whole shoot is my car parked behind us which I will soon have to drive away in. The dress is meant to be worn sleeveless but I do not have enough up top to make it stay there by itself so I pull on a Marks & Spencer long sleeved top and use a bobby pin to keep it in place.
After spending a weekend on what may well have been a mini high I have now entered free fall. Last night the boy and I had a horrible fight over the “future”. Admittedly I was probably being a little irrational. I wanted him to show me in some way that this is going to work; that we will be able to get through the next 18 months without falling to pieces and that this will all have been worth it in the end. It just feels strange a month ago we were considering the possibility of moving in together and playing house and now I am looking in the local paper for flats to move into by myself.
Though I am quite excited about the prospect of living alone for the last time I am sad to see our little dream end before it had really started. I know we can make this work but when I’m feeling low and pessimistic its hard to persuade myself of the positives. I do feel for him, I know it can not be easy going out with a girl whose head is so often in the clouds; the dark and the thundery as well as the light and the fluffy. He has always been the realistic one of the two of us. Though I might run away in my mind with schemes and plans about trips away to Cuba and a home in the Lakes where he can teach and I can write, he will be there holding my hand, ready to pull me back down to earth when the schemes become too wild.
Yesterday we argued because he is frustrated at how little I have been looking after myself. He hates to see me go into decline and understandably gets angry when he thinks it might be because I have been staying up too late, forgetting to take my tablets or just taking on too much. Although he has upset me this weekend by choosing to spend the Easter holiday at home rather than coming down to be with me, considering how much of a mess I was last weekend I can hardly blame him.
So often with mental illness it becomes all about the person who is sick. It is we who are given the tablets, the counselling and the coping strategies, all to often it is our partners, family and friends who fall by the way with little advice or explanation on how they should cope with the giant grey elephant in the corner who can not seem to stop crying their eyes out or talking at a hundred miles a minute. There are groups and websites which can help friends and partners but it is hard to know where to turn. There was one stage when I was living in Manchester when the boy was having to spend so much of his time making sure I was okay. I wasn’t seeing a Doctor, I was no longer on any anti-depressants and I had started having panic attacks. When I am a wreck it is all to easy for me to forget how much he has done and continues to do for me. I never want him to be my carer but there has been times when I know I couldn’t have coped without him. We work the best when we are both happy and I hate it on days like today when I sink so low that I refuse to believe anything he says. I tell him he should not be with me, that he should find a normal girl who is not so high maintenance but because he is sweet he tells me I am not and that he would not have me any other way even if I was.
I do love him dearly but I am so afraid of what the next eighteen months will bring. I am terrified that one day I will shoot us in the foot by saying something I do not mean and he will walk away for good and find himself a girl with fewer issues. One day he tells me he will write a blog which he hopes will help the partners of other people with problems, but at the minute I think he might be a bit too mad to write.
- Today’s dress comes from Lara. It is beautiful and I put it on because I knew the boy liked it when he first saw it in the bag of donated dresses. I wanted him to get on the train with a happier memory of me than the tired, tearful, weary eyed woman he went to bed with last night.
Today has been a sad day for footwear. Back when I was a a 23-year-old with the world at my feet and a job as an events manager which paid a tidy little sum my main outgoing other than restaurant bills and bar tabs was shoes, I was obsessed with them. For the first time in my life since I was 18 I was totally debt free. Out of my monthly salary after all bills were paid I still had an indecent amount left over to spend on myself. Though I smoked and had a fondness for Marks & Spencer sushi and sausage and onion cobs every Friday when I was too hangover to use the phone, I had no children, no mortgage and no monthly car insurance or pension payments. I was young, free, practically single and absolutely loving the independence of it all.
The boy was living a hand to mouth existence as he was still studying for his music degree but I was free to fund our outings and as one of the girlfriend of Manchester’s hardest working band I got to play the part nearly every weekend; we would all hangout backstage drinking down the riders, dragging on rolled up cigarettes and generally just hanging out feeling ever so slightly like the cool kids.
At the time I guess I knew the life we were living would not last forever. I was having a hell of a good time but work was taking its toll on my health and I’d dropped down to my smallest size since I’d had a minor eating disorder back when I was 18. I remember looking at my bank statement and feeling sad at how little I had to show for all the brilliant nights out and evenings just spent drinking red wine round a rickety table listening to music and playing cards in between musing upon our dreams for the future.
Other than Sylvanian Families I had never really felt the desire to collect anything. My sisters had their key-rings, their badges and even at one stage their dice and my brother had the monopoly on every phase and craze out there including Thomas The Tank Engines, Thunderbirds, Power Rangers and even at one stage care bears which was extraordinarily cute. It was when I realised I was spending much of my money on momentary pleasure products that I decided to start a collection and as I had no particular interest at the time in tea cups I decided I would collect shoes. As my regular readers know I am a slave to Kurt Geiger. The shoes they make are so well balanced you can stamp around in a pair of stilettos for sixteen hours straight without feeling an ache. They are creative, original and considering how well they last lusciously priced.
This then brings us to today’s dilemma. There is a man in Market Harborough, his name is Andy but I have always known him as the saviour of shoes. Many times I have brought him a forlorn pair at the end of their life and he has carefully restored them to beauty. One time he managed to restore my red or dead spike heeled stiletto ankle boots to spanking brand new in spite of me having ground the five inch heel to a mere three inches after a weekend in Liverpool visiting a friend where we danced till we dropped to sleep in his dorm just before dawn. Today Andy very kindly explained to me there was sadly nothing he could do for two of my favourite pairs.
One of them was the first pair of pricey shoes I had ever purchased. Brought in my lunch break from Berties at Kendall they were soft white leather with five inch thick wooden heels. Generally I believe white shoes should be saved till ones wedding day and even then they should be hidden and if possible cream but these were divine. Unfortunately as I tend to run in heels as well as walk whilst racing to get the bus back to see the boy after an after work drink my heel snapped on Deansgate. It was humiliating and I actually sat down and cried. I hadn’t even had any hooch but I was just so sad for my poor innocent shoe. Andy said it could be saved in an expensive operation but the job would have to be sourced out and the operators may well break the wood in the process.
The other pair are of the Kurt Geiger variety. I bought them foolishly after getting made redundant from Webb PR a month before Christmas. I was a little heart broken about losing the job and in a fine example of someone who had temporarily given leave to their senses and indeed their financial situation I sneaked away on a Christmas shopping trip with the boy, and bought three pairs of shoes in the sale. Admittedly they should have cost £400 and came to just £120 but still I had just been made redundant and with no job on the horizon it was a foolish mistake. I guess I have never regretted it because today, 15 months after the fact, I still have the shoes and they are still stunning. Unfortunately one of them, a pair of mustard yellow t-bar three inch heels was mortally injured back in May. I was chasing a story at the time and as I tore down the road the pin snapped and I had to traipse around on tippy toes the rest of the day. Andy says there is no hope for them and though I know I should consign them to the bin they are just too lovely, perhaps at some time in the future there will be better technology for such injured shoes? I live in hope.
- Today’s dress is from the wonderful Rebecca Allison. She sent this in a lovely package from the states and as well as a pair of earrings there was a beautifully written letter. I realise the dress comes up a little short on me but I hope you will not take too much of a hump at me modifying it for the workplace by pairing it with the skin tight Lycra number from Zara sent by the lovely Clara, believe me it is to protect your eyes from a legging lovely sight. Again if you do get the chance take a little look at her website. It is a fabulous way to start ones day and has given me goosebumps in the past with the sheer poetry of her posts. http://solsticetosolsticetosolstice.tumblr.com/
Che ricordarsi del tempo felice
There is no greater sorrow than to recall a time of happiness in misery.
Ib. v. 121 Dante Alighieri 1265 – 1321
Today has been a bad day, the worst I’ve had for several months in fact. The misery has consumed me, totally and completely. I feel gripped by sadness. The boy tries to pull me out of it; he suggests an outing to the park or a drink at our local but I am unmoving in my melancholy. I submerge myself in sadness, powerless to halt the tide of tears streaming river like from my deadened eyes.
Years ago during an episode of depression which had lasted for weeks, my father sat beside me on the bed where I was curled up like a child sobbing and stroking my tear sodden hair, he did his best to comfort me in the only way he knew how. ”You have to fight it darling, you can’t let it get the better of you because every day you lose to it is another day of your life.” Depression is like cancer; it creeps up on us when we least expect it. It strikes without warning, crawling quietly in to your mind to poison each and every thought. It feeds off your bodies resources and before you know it, it matters not that you are top of your class, dating the hottest guy in halls or doing your dream job all you can feel is sadness.
As I am reluctant to depress you all too much with more musings on misery and also in a desperate attempt to remind myself that I have been happy over the course of the last ten years, I decided to take a look through previous diaries and letters of the past for inspiration. I was rather pleased then to come across this surprisingly succinct passage. I actually remembered the feeling of that moment all those years ago and it gave me a little lift, just enough to lull me to sleep while the boy held me tight, soothing me to sleep by stroking my tear sodden hair.
19.1.2000 – 5.00 – Today I have felt truly happy; no false smiles that shelter uncried tears. Just me happy and laughing. Natural and unconscious. No simply going out of my way to impress and make things happen or going out of my way to frown at people and criticise. Note from Editor – this is obviously not something I would usually do, ha hem.
I looked out the window and the sky had turned the most perfect colour a gorgeous reddy, pink and the town had seemed to merge into a beach scene and a presence sort of passed over me and then I felt that everything was perfect.
Elinor O’Neill, 15-years-old
- Today’s dress is another from Hannah Cantrell. I feel bad that I have failed to give it the airing it deserved but the boy was very entertained by it – lots of legs plus magic mushrooms make boy happy.
Today was a pretty dreadful day. It has been months since I have felt this low and although I managed to get dressed in the end the project came close to coming under a new name; 364 dresses and the boy’s best t-shirt. Part of the reason for the low was loneliness; the boy was at work today which left me alone with my thoughts which are particularly unpleasant at the moment. It has now been months since I finished my course and longer still since I have been in the work place and I am starting to feel frustrated at the sheer amount of rejection and red-tape involved in the job market at this timde. I do not think I am a particularly unemployable person; in spite of my head troubles whenever I am in the work place I am generally in good health, am hard-working and committed and throw myself into every task and have been told I am great fun to have around the office as I get on well with most people, even tolerating questionable clothing choices for the sake of harmony in the office. My illness has never effected me in the work place as far as I am aware other than perhaps taking things to heart more than most.
When I woke up this morning and found myself drifting into melancholy I tried my best to regroup and remind myself of all the wonderful plans I had made for the day. The night before I had made a lovely list of things I wanted to do today; I am a freak about to do lists and can think of few things more pleasurable in life than ticking off an entire to do list in one day. Upon my list there was a couple of CD reviews I wanted to get finished before the weekend as well as a note about a trip out to see John Ryland’s library on Deansgate; it has been restored for some time now and I am desperate to explore the literary treasures within and see the splendour of a building filled to the brim with beautiful wonderful life affirming books. I had also planned to spend the day hunting out a new purse, finding some thermals for skiing in Chamonix and tracking down some reasonably priced vintage tea sets for an event I’m planning.
I like to think that had the boy been about I would have tried harder to prise myself from my mood. As it was however he was not and seeing as there was nobody about to make me feel embarrassed for mooching around like an angst ridden teenager I put my plans to the back of my mind, pulled the quilt up to my chin and queued up an indecent number of episodes of Glee to keep me calm.
I am not usually a big fan of television. There are few things I find worthy of dedicating my time to on the schedule other than the football. I did become hooked on Celebrity Big Brother at the start of the year but generally I find trash TV rather disturbing as the producers of reality TV seem genuinely hell-bent on going out of their way to find the most mentally disturbed people in the country and placing them all in a confined space. If they are not unbalanced when they enter the house they are certainly lacking in reality when they leave and most develop delusions of grandeur which are really rather worrying.
There are however a few series which I am happy to dedicate hours of my life to at a time. These are, in no particular order The Wire; The West Wing; Dexter; Glee and Scrubs. Scrubs, West Wing and The Wire hold a special place in my heart because when I was suffering from severe episodes of depression they kept me company and eventually aided me to abandon my bed in the hope of brighter days which laid up ahead.
When I was at University in my second year I was hit by a virus which knocked me for six right in the middle of a string of deadlines. I was ill for about three weeks in total and although the virus was severe I probably would have got better sooner had I not allowed myself to sink into sadness. My boyfriend at the time was not the most understanding of fellows and it was easier to tell him I was sick than psychologically flawed and in this way I was able to keep the truth of my crazy from him for a little longer. In fairness to him whilst he thought I was sick and not sad he did try to help me out, he downloaded me three seasons of scrubs to keep me company whilst he went to lectures and even cooked for me on a fair few occasions. Although Scrubs is terribly twee I found myself comforted by its softly softly delivery of lessons on morality and motivational speeches from the infamous Doctor Cox and in the end I forced myself to get showered and dressed all at the same time and dragged myself out of bed. I managed to keep my poorly at bay for a while longer but less than two months after my Scrubathon I fell into a much deeper depression. The same Scrub sourcing sweetheart had become bored of my blues and without too much trouble had found himself a distraction. He dumped me the day after I stumbled upon a conversation he’d had with a friend via MSN about a stunning girl who was apparently model hot. He had pulled her in front of his friends whilst I had been back home with my family and had apparently been speaking with her every other day since. Unfortunately when he left me I couldn’t even find solace in Scrubs as it had become too closely linked too him so instead I turned to the bitter sweetness of 80p Apple Sours from the hall bar along with any other alcohol available to numb the pain. I did try yoga for a while and even went to the doctor in search of a magic pill but oblivion was a much more attractive albeit destructive way to heal my wounds.
The West Wing helped me out in much the same way as Scrubs did. After struggling for months to find work after graduating I sort of gave up and started sleeping more than was strictly healthy. Admittedly it didn’t help that I had given up my medication upon some manic hippy notion that love could cure-all but depression did indeed beckon it’s familiar claw and without the help of medicines I gave up the fight to it all too easily. As I sleepily struggled to force myself from the safety and comfort of the quilt I found myself happily distracted by the popular sharp tongued protagonists. Escapism enveloped me as I became entirely focused on deciphering the endless dialogue spoken at a speed which even I struggled to keep up with. It took me twenty-four episodes but in the end I got myself back to reality and even managed to make tough choices to move home and take a job at my father’s company as a purchase ledger clerk. It wasn’t my dream career but at least it gave me a routine and a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
Finally the other series which has been a band aid in disguise over the years is The Wire. Unlike the other programmes I have mentioned, this was a series which was watched from a decidedly upright position. Knowing as I did that exercise is one of the best ways to combat a low mood I decided to combine my usual remedy of box-set with bench work. Every morning before I got a shower, I would watch an episode of The Wire whilst working out with weights on the stepper. In this way, with a lot of help from family, friends and pharmaceutical companies I finally managed to get my mojo back and even got a fairly flat tummy for my troubles.
This morning when I chose to watch Glee rather than get out of bed I was annoyed at myself because I knew it was a bad decision. I knew that if I could just drag myself from under the covers and into the shower I could still stand a chance of going for a walk, getting out the house and maybe letting the sunshine and the sound of others getting on with their lives do the rest. Unfortunately it wasn’t until gone four in the afternoon that I managed to get myself in the shower and dressed and by the time the boy came home he was too tired to do anything other than drift off to sleep on my lap. I moaned like a child about wanting him to fix me and make me feel better but in my heart I know that when I am in a mood like this there is little he or Glee can do to make things better. All I can ever hope for when I am struck down by a low like this is that come the next morning the clouds will have cleared enough to tempt me into taking the tiny steps needed to bring me out of doors to see the daylight. Only tomorrow will tell.
- Today’s dress was donated by Sinead Kenny, sister of Monica who loaned yesterday’s gorgeous grey dress. This maxi dress is a size 14 but is one of those wonderful one size fits all dresses which is elasticated round the waist and bust. With pink Marks and Spencer tights and extremely high heels I avoid the fatal mistake of letting it trail on the pavement and prevent it being soiled with Manchester muck – leaves and rain mashed together to create a grey and brown paste. It was totally freezing today and though I did spend the majority of the day hiding out indoors I did make it out in time for the last of the light even if I did jump straight back in to bed afterwards.