I am finding things tough at the moment. I am tearful and cry at everything from Come Dine With Me, don’t ask, to One Born Every Minute. I am seeing my CPN tomorrow and in many ways the visit feels long overdue. I do not know why I am feeling so down. Things are good, they really are but here I am sad and blue not really knowing what to do.
A visit to the CPN always helps because I get a chance to offload and work out a plan for how I’m going to deal with life generally. At the moment things are tricky because the boy is not here and my parents are in Ireland so I have far too much time alone with my thoughts.
The one thing that really sticks out is the moment is my lack of a regular photographer. When I did the 365 Dresses project my mum and the boy were regular snappers and it became part of the fun of the blog and made sure that even when I was down I still had to make the effort to smile. The boy is always full of advice about how smiling, even when you don’t feel like it, is great as it releases endorphins.
When he tells me this when all I want to do is run away and cry .I want to yell at him but I’m usually just to low to summon the strength to do so.
Today saw good progress in terms of footwear. Four days in I have mastered the art of these heels and no longer waddle but stride on my way to the office. Although I am getting the hang of the courts I could have hugged the estate agent when he offered me a lift to the second viewing. As soon as I got home I slipped my purple tights into my silky red slip on shoes and heard my toes breathe a sigh of relief.
The photos will be taken tomorrow as I am too low and too tired to put on a show, even in front of a mirror.
Armed with a lot of tears and frustration I had pretty much decided by the time I walked into the psychiatrists office today that I did not want to be on the same tablets any more. As far as I can tell they are not working and as I only see him every six weeks it is hard to tell him this.
One of the most frustrating things about this latest diagnosis is that so far it has been treated only medically, previously I’ve had counselling but what with being out of work for so long I haven’t been able to afford it myself so far and I haven’t got the heart to ask my parents to fork out like they have in the past, it’s not up to them and it wouldn’t be fair. They tell me there is a CPN who will see me to discuss coping techniques but though I have called her and left messages I have never heard back and so I keep getting discharged from the team. One would expect a formal discharge would only happen once the person is better or at least able to cope better than before but you would be wrong. People have said in the past this quick fire discharge helps their figures but maybe its more simple, maybe they just don’t care or simply don’t have the time so let a few slide along the way.
The last time I went in to see The Shrink I felt a little overwhelmed by how quickly it was over and as I am always in a bit of a state when I go there I asked my mother if she could come in to the room with me. It sounds pathetic but sometimes its just good to have someone there on your behalf who can say the words that have been in your head for weeks but just don’t come out when they need to the most. The last time I came here I admitted I was sleepy and tearful a lot of the time and was taken off duloxetine to try something new. Today when my mother admits that I am still half asleep when I leave the house he says he will take me off the tablets he put me on before.
Its all going very fast and I feel as though I have no part in this and I’m crying but I just wish I could take control. Thankfully my mother is a former English teacher and her negotiating skills are such that I sometimes wonder whether she missed out on a calling as a peace keeper. Her voice rings out clear bringing the ball firmly back into our court. If I had been alone in here I would probably have walked out of the room with a different anti depressant another referral to the elusive CPN and a feeling of utter frustration that I failed to fight my corner. It is not The Shrink’s fault but I am a wisp of myself at the moment and one of the things I wanted to get across is how hard I am finding it to connect with people. Unfortunately I am failing to connect with him as I am crying too much and am too busy hunting out tissues to properly convey how dreadful I’ve been feeling. By the time my mother has intervened carefully explaining what I have said there is an agreement that I need something other than just medication and a firm decision to take me off the quetiapine. I am relieved but terrified as this means the start of yet another drug and all I want to do is flush the whole lot down the toilet.
The whole experience is exhausting and when I walk out of there I am so frustrated I can’t stop crying. In spite of the tears I am grateful because if it wasn’t for my mother we would have got nowhere and I feel for those who come here alone.
Though it seemed like a bad thing when I was booked, visits to The Shrink generally involve travelling a good twenty miles in traffic to get to the hospital. It works out in my favour as it gives me an extra thirty minutes to stop the tears and reapply the make up. By the time I get to work I have sectioned off all thoughts of the appointment and if I can just get through the day without crying I can pretend I am just like everyone else.
- The dress is from Boden and is beautiful. My godmother gave it to me and it is so bright and cheerful it helps me in my great pretence. I feel dreadful though and I can’t stand the way I look at the moment, in anything. If I could I’d hide myself in baggy jeans and a jumper and these photos would never see the light of day.
Let me begin by reassuring you that despite appearances to the contrary this dress is not a shirt. Though I chose it thinking it would work quite well for a night on the town as well as a day dozing in the garden it turned out to be rather unsuitable for both.
I decided to take today off so I could squeeze in some extra time in Manchester and finally get the chance to catch up with my friend who has been on a show stopping musical theatre tour all over the UK. After having a lovely lie in I sat outside in the garden to have my coffee and it was so nice that I didn’t really move much during the rest of the day. My friend came to join me outside and I got so lost in catching up that I foolishly forgot about the wonder that is sun cream. By the time the boy had returned I was a ridiculous shade of pink which did not at all suit today’s dress and is extremely painful.
As we are going out to a gig tonight I tried to calm it down and undo the damage by applying layers of after-sun. After the tenth layer I started to wonder why it was having no cooling affect in spite of the cucumber coloured bottle. At this point I had a look at the label and realised that what I had in-fact been applying was body glitter which had no healing affects but did make me look like an orange disco ball.
There was no time to take it off so I slipped on some other sparkly stuff in the hope of creating an overall impression of a woman hell bent on matching every accessory, arm make up included. The gig was set to take place at a mansion in South Manchester so I treated my feet to fancy shoes and wincing from the pain of my arms clambered in the taxi with the rest of the band.
I must admit that when I hear the word mansion my first thought is Mr Darcy’s estate at Pemberley. For this reason when we arrived at a rather beautiful but derelict mansion which had soil where I was hoping for grounds I was a little disappointed. It was still however a location for a gig and once I got over the soil which was staining the bottoms of my feet it actually turned out to be okay. There were bands playing sets in their pyjamas, toddlers singing magic penny to a hundred people and if one dared to explore the mansion there was an artists rabbit run inside. There were books on every subject you would ever want to study from the 60s and beyond, a grand piano, an artists easel and rooms where musicians could record, for free.
- The dress is originally from H&M, the belt from Topshop, the shoes from Kurt Geiger and the jewellery from Pilgrim. This was one of those dresses donated by the lovely Lara. Though it made for difficult descents from the taxi it is a cute little number and on someone shorter may be rather less revealing.
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.
Getting behind with blogs always bums me out. I do like to make sure I am up to date but there are times like today when I have so many to catch up on that the task just seems too much. After many attempts to bash out a birthday blog, a tribute to the red dress and even a recollection of the night of my birthday celebrations I had to give up because I just couldn’t get them right and because in the case of the celebration blog my memory has been compromised by too many cocktails. Who knew something so delicious could be so lethal, darn you Oat Hill and your sorcerer ways.
There are times the blogs just fire from my fingers and in a matter of minutes a medley of words will shoot up on the screen. Today though no matter how hard I try I can’t finish even one, or even start it for that matter. My mind is all over the place and I’ve been on a downward slide ever since I woke up on Sunday morning. They say that alcohol is a depressant and the state I was in at the end of the day would seem to support that fact.
I do try to cheer myself up, I really do. I abandon Yoga for a three episode Glee marathon in the hope that the cheesy tunes would prove to be more spiritually cleansing than another session of singing oms. Unfortunately I fear I may have made the wrong choice and find myself wishing I had given the hippy healing another go. Glee is great but if I am honest its a little like Harry Potter, you always find yourself wishing it was real and knowing that there isn’t really a magical world or a place where spontaneous song is totally acceptable makes me a little sad.
In the end I decide to abandon my attempts to become a professional singer and opt for an early night. When I enter my room I am instantly cheered. The boy stayed over last night and I confessed to him that I was fed up of getting behind with blogs and having a room that was constantly in a state due to having a hundred dresses with no real place to put them. He has tidied up the room, put up my birthday cards, hoovered the floor and I even detect a hint of polish in the air. As well as this he has found the picture of liownn and I and mounted it on the wall opposite my bed so that the first thing I see when I wake up is the colourful drawing. Admittedly the dresses are still in a pile at the end of the bed but they are in a neat pile. This makes all the difference. Though things are tough with us living apart he still seems able to find ways to make my week easier even when he isn’t here. Now if only I could remember how to write.
- Today’s dress is from Florence and Fred sent from my mystery dress donor. Unfortunately I still know no more about the identity of this person and feel as though I am getting nowhere after ruling out my only suspect. Though I had thought the Polish Princess was the sender, the boy’s mother was away in Spain when this package arrived and unless she has gained an accomplice I think I must look elsewhere to find the culprit.
Wearing a red dress, perhaps because of all of the popular culture references which stand alongside it can be a bit like playing a part in your own private theatre. There are few things in this world which lend femininity more readily than a red dress. The little black dress the six inch high stiletto and the black pencil lined silk stockings are a short cut to traditional sex appeal but the red dress is more about the way it makes the wearer feel.
Wearing it today I feel stronger than I have been in some time and throughout the day I can not help but be pleased as punch with my reflection which betrays someone who is smiling, actually smiling! The colour is so bright and vivid that whenever I walk the light catches the red in the windows and just for a moment I get a glimpse of the person I become when I wear red. Though I have been at war with my body for months I finally feel happy with what the dress is draping.
At one stage a pigeon swoops over my head whilst I’m passing by Sainsburys and though the wretched things usually scare me stiff my body just folds forward away from the tips of its wings and standing as it soars up and on above me I smile at the strangeness of it all. I do not respond so well to compliments these days but in this dress I accept them with grace. A man in the market tells me I am a sight for his sore eyes and rather than frown, looking away and having a sulk I turn and thank him.
When I woke up this morning I did not feel confident. I fell flat when I caught sight of my now 26-year-old reflection. My footballers wife blow-dry had fallen flat and one too many glasses of wine saw circles round my eyes more fitting for a panda. Yet once I put on this dress I felt strong, feminine and elated. This will be one of the dresses that I wish I could keep if only for the way it made me feel.
- My good friend Monica Kenny picked me this particular red dress up from one of the charity shops in Kettering. It is originally from Next and the material is wonderfully heavy so it clings kindly. I don’t usually push this as I do not know when the dresses will go up for sale but whoever gets this one will be a lucky lady.
Considering that up until yesterday I was still behaving like a slightly deranged toddler by insisting to anyone that might listen that I did not want to have a bloody birthday this year, today actually went rather well. Though I have been a little low of late I have always been happiest in the spotlight and having a day which is all about me is actually quite fun.
When we were kids birthday cards and presents were presented once one was settled in pride of place in the middle of my parents king size bed. All of the siblings would squeeze together under the covers whilst the giant went downstairs to make our mother a cup of tea and collect the cards from the door and the presents from the only drawer we were yet to search. There is one photo of the six of us crammed together whilst Catherine my sister opened up her toy truck. It is my parents favourite photo as it shows that once upon a time there was harmony in our home.
These days birthdays are rather different. Though this is the first one I have spent at home in a while rather than bouncing out of bed I tell my brother who comes in at seven to deliver my present to be quiet for the love of God. In my sleepy state I have forgotten what day it is and it is not until he hands me two Glee CDs before he heads out the door that I am visited by my inner birthday diva.
Some time ago a friend of mine dedicated his entire birthday to listening to every Queen album. I decided that to make my birthday perfect I would ensure I listened to as many Glee songs as I could, singing along wherever possible. The giant enquired what the awful noise was coming from the kitchen, but I decided that he was just jealous of my ability to hit the high notes without wavering. Either that or my damaged ear drums are causing delusion. Either way its my birthday so I continue to crow as I open my cards at the breakfast table much to the delight of the dog whose hearing is equally impaired.
My wonderful God mother has given me enough money for my birthday to get my hair chopped so I leave work at 11 to return my prodigal mane to the best hairdresser in Harborough. She gives me a footballers wife blow-dry which makes me giggle as though I am now 26 my humour is just as childish as ever. The last time I got my hair blow dried I rang up browns in Harborough and requested an appointment at their blow-job bar. It was a Freudian slip why mother to call and book it on my behalf.
I spend the rest of the day swooshing my hair back and forth and pretending I am in my own private L’oreal commercial. Though I have already taken one lunch break my boss surprises me when he suggests we all go for a birthday beer. I have a small glass of wine as I have become a terrible light weight of late but even still I leave the bar and head for the public meeting feeling ever so slightly squiggly.
Up for discussion by the board is a hospital for the town which is long overdue. When I was a child I joined my mother on a march to protest against the closure of the maternity ward and with this in mind I consider taking to the stand to share this story when I remember that though I am a little bit pissed I am a professional and professionals do not make public outbursts even on their birthday.
My friend decided yesterday that as I was incapable of making a decision about what I wanted to do she would take the reigns. She books us a table for dinner and sorts out cakes, balloons and flowers. My sister and God mother make it to the meal and the whole day just turns out to be quite lovely. I get a bit tearful whilst looking through my messages because I miss everyone so much and wish they were here in Harborough. It seems a cruel trick of the world that everyone has to keep moving on and if I could have just one wish I would ask that they all had to stay put in one place for one day. I miss my friends.
- Today’s dress is from Florence and Fred. I did think it would look rather rubbish on as the material is quite thin but it fits better than I’d hoped. Admittedly I look a little dressy for the office but I needed something which would carry through to the evening and even a birthday diva like me didn’t dare to wear a plunge neck. This is one of the dresses that came in the first box from my secret donor. The shoes are from Dune but I bought them about a year ago from ebay for £5. My hair is by Lotty of Moko in Market Harborough.
After yesterday’s mini breakdown I went to bed wondering whether I’d ever be able to get up again. When I woke up this morning therefore with no need for an alarm and feeling fairly fine I was a little surprised but pleasantly so. Today you see is my Grandmother’s birthday and though crying on one’s own birthday is fairly acceptable I would be a bit of a spoilsport if I was to cry on hers.
Had I been in more of a rush, her and I would have been born on the same day, I was delivered at 1am on May 13. There are rumours my father passed my mother a message from my grandma, at home looking after my two sisters, to try to hurry up but they are unconfirmed as yet.
One of my earliest memories of my grandma is baking cakes with her in the kitchen. She won prizes for her baking when she was a member of the Women’s Institute and still today she makes wonderful cakes and puddings much to the sweet toothed giants delight. I had always been allowed to lick the spoon but on this particular day there had been a health warning issued about the dangers of salmonella and my grandma was not taking any risks. She put the spoon on the side ready to be washed but as she turned around to put the cakes in the oven I reached up and snatching the spoon from the side ran upstairs to hide behind the wardrobe where I triumphantly licked off the remains of the mixture.
During the war my grandma lived in Coventry where she worked in a factory. She had three children, Margaret, Gilbert and Ian. When my father met my mother he told her his name was Paul. He was rumbled however when my mother rang his house to speak with him and was told by my grandma that there was a Gil but no Paul living there.
Until a few years ago she was still driving and did not only cut her own lawn but her neighbours lawn too. Though she struggles with arthritis she continues to knit blankets for anyone we know who is expecting a baby and crochets the sweetest little mats and crosses which are perfect for bookmarks even though she tells my mum they are to be distributed at her funeral.
We have taken her away to ski in the past and though she was not on the slopes she feels the cold as badly as me and bought herself an all in one red ski suit which clashed brilliantly with her white hair and meant we could always see her from the top of the lift. She is as big a cheat when it comes to board games as I am and while playing Scrabble on the skiing holiday she attempted to cheat a number of times including one occasion when she insisted gitesex was a word. She had put down git herself which had left us all in hysterics.
On her 80 birthday we brought her to The Grand in Brighton and though my parents had been planning to take her away for her 90 in the end she preferred to go out for lunch with us all. We took her out to The Three Swans in Harborough today and she wore a beautiful blue pussy bow blouse. As well as following the football I can still speak politics with her and she is great company. The other day I had to turn down a 90-year-old man who wanted me to do a write up about his wife’s birthday. I felt dreadful because we do not cover 90 birthdays any more. I think my grandma would enjoy seeing her name in print so the next time I see her I am going to give her a mini interview so I can tell her story through her own eyes rather than mine.
I know her as my grandma. As the woman who rocked me back and forth in a washing basket, who made us all jumpers with our initials on and who would bake us jam tarts and a chocolate coated cake with buttons. I know her as the woman who once chased off some bullies on bikes who were being mean to me and the one who basted butter on my forehead when I bumped it whilst running around with my sisters. She would give us toffees and cakes while my parents were looking the other way and still repairs cardigans and sows on buttons for all of us. I do not want her story to be of only these things, I also want to know her and write her as a worker, a mother and a woman.
- Today’s dress is from the mysterious dress donor, they arrived last week with a new cryptic message included addressed to an even stranger name. The donor asked whether I would mind putting on a bit more weight as it is difficult to find dresses in my size. This one is originally from Next and feels lovely. I felt it was dressy enough for The Three Swans but was annoyed because my epilator is yet to arrive still and so I had to wear horrid tights.
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.