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.
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.
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.
One symptom of depression which is as constant as the turn of the tides is an inability to effectively function in social situations. Though it is not always obvious when someone is struggling there are signs which will help you recognise when a friend or loved one is falling apart in front of your face: Do they spend a lot of time looking down at the menu or up at the ceiling expressing a sudden interest in the architecture of the building? Do they appear to be glued to their phone, the paper or examining the contents of their wallet? Do they struggle to meet your eye? Are they sitting in front of you with tears streaming down their face asking you why God why they can’t cope? All of these are pretty sure signs that the person you care for is slipping into an atypical social sign of depression. Saying that though the phone thing might just be rudeness or the seemingly unstoppable side effect of having a smart phone.
On Saturday night, whilst nursing a glass of criminally expensive wine I suddenly became acutely aware of my every act. I was sat with three girls, two of whom I have known for well over over a decade and yet I felt totally alone. They were chatting away about ordinary things but no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t pick up the conversation and whenever I joined in whatever I said seemed to jar.
It’s not a nice thing to know you are behaving like a dullard and in the end I had to leave early because I was afraid of boring everyone or bringing them down. Before I got ill I was the kind of girl who could happily sit at a table of ten people knowing none and within a short time have introduced myself to everyone and hijacked the position of head of the table and commander of the conversation. Apart from when I have had a few too many foreign fruit beers I do not do this any more and I wonder whether it is a good thing or not.
- I believe today’s dress is a donation from my Fairy God Mother’s son’s girlfriend. It is silk and a bit worn but the print is still as clear as a waterfall. I am really attached to it but I wore it to the Oat Hill where everyone is a bit trendy and worry that I looked a little bit frigid. I bumped into my good politician friend from election night, one who thought I was a student. I think it may be his aim in life to insult me. Trying to be a nice person I said hello to him when I saw him at the bar. His reply: “Ah I hadn’t recognised you out of context looking feminine.” Though he denied that this comment suggests I spent election night looking like a man I was not at all pleased and refused his offer of a cocktail to make amends. there is only so many times one can be insulted by the same person in a week.
- My dress has already been criticised today by the head of Harborough police. I saw him on the streets and he said he was not overly keen on my combination of colours; the pink tights I believe were a little too garish for him. I was a little offended and thought about suggesting he focus his attentions on arresting the legging lovelies flashing their front rumps nearby but I was running a little late for work and had to go on my merry way. The dress got me into a rather uncomfortable situation later on the same day when the Liberal Democrat councillors came to call. As a sleep deprived reporter I had not even considered the political connotations of my choice and had to come clean and admit the dress was down to an overall shortage of office wear rather than an attempt to fly the colours of any clan. Today’s dress is a present from my Godmother who bought it from a shop in Harborough called Labels for Less. As I said I was a little but sleep deprived and in a rush to get ready I paired it with Kurt Geiger wedges and police officer displeasing pink tights.
This is the longest time I have worn a dress this year whilst still staying conscious. It is 6am and I have just got back from covering the count of the county. It is strange to think that this time last year I was doing my best to stay awake during public affairs lectures and now I am doing my best to stay awake during public affairs in practice. I am rather worried about all of the ways I could mess this up; telling the candidates what I really think about their policies; letting slip who I voted for at the polls or accidentally tweeting out the wrong winner.
After watching the alternative election night for a couple of hours I make my dress more conservative by removing my pink belt and bright pink shoes and powdering up my nose. I deliberately chose this dress after carefully checking that none of the parties in the area have chosen pink, grey, black and white as their official colours. It is a good job as when we get there I give a mini interview to each of the three candidates which we upload to our site as soon as possible.
I know it sounds silly but after the third interview I am beginning to feel like quite the little journalist and I reward myself with the worst cup of coffee in the world. It is however two in the morning and the lady served it with a smile so I resist the urge to gag and swallow down the sweet caffeine goodness hoping it will keep me going for at least another hour. I slip into the bar to take a look at the swing and am met with the ends of an argument between a Tory and a Labour supporter. As I silently watch the swing I find myself hoping the spat will get going again as I am starting to drift off and can think of nothing better to get me going than a fight between the left and the right. I am just about to send a tweet to my followers asking them who they think would win in a fight between the reds and the blues when the coffee kicks in and I remember that this is the kind of tweet which could get one in trouble. Hurrah I think, I am a sensible journalist with good coffee powered instincts.
We are sharing our media table with the Leicester Mercury, BBC radio Leicester and Harborough FM. Though we are all technically competitors there is a great little buzz in our corner and we all speculate over who will be the next leader. Harborough FM in particular are a great crowd. They are funny, happy to share their electrics and when the BBC lady breaks her microphone their engineer kindly steps in to sort her out.
It is gone half four before the rumours start to fly about who has taken the seat and it all becomes very exciting. We have councillors and politicians flock round the table to give us their take on who is going to win and I even try to do my own little assessment by sneaking round the voting tables trying to take a count. Mathematics has unfortunately never been my strong point and trying to look subtle whilst keeping count is a bit of a nightmare and in the end I skulk back to the table to have a biscuit and look at the results which are now coming in quick from other counts across the country. I have a biscuit, which was given to us by one of the Liberal Democrats wondering but not really caring whether chocolate constitutes a bribe.
One of the candidates comes over to our table at one point and asks me when I will be submitting my work. I give him a bit of a death stare and asked him what exactly he was implying. ”For the university, you are a student aren’t you?” Perhaps in usual circumstances I may have been flattered by his mistake, but it is 4am in the morning and I am not at all amused. Fixing him with a look of finely veiled fury, I ask him whether he perhaps is referring to my paper? He is a little embarrassed and mutters something about all young girls looking the same. I force myself to breath, I am a professional after all and filing the comment in my things not to forget file I smile sweetly and excusing myself head to the ladies room where I line my eyes and try to adapt a more hardly look. Where are those bloody wrinkles when one needs them?
At half five the candidates are called forwards to the stage and the winner is announced. There is a flurry of activity; cameras flash, phones ring and the BBC lady takes to the microphone during the Labour candidates speech near drowning the poor lad out. I lurch forward to grab a word with each of the candidates about how they feel while my colleague finishes filing the story. It is all very exciting and when I speak to the candidates who have lost there is a little bit of me that wants to give them a consoling cuddle, but I fear this would be slightly beyond the boundaries of my role and may lead to me being black listed from future elections or jobs generally.
As we step out into the parking lot all but three of the cars have gone and though I am so close to tears from tiredness I feel really rather proud to have been a part of this night. I had wondered whether it was a good idea for me to go earlier on in the day but if I hadn’t I get the feeling that I would have regretted it for the rest of my life. No matter what anyone says about our political system, we have a vote and a choice and a quarter of a century ago for many men and women in the land, this wasn’t the case. Being a part of a night like this, being able to report on it live back to anyone who may still be awake and watching feels a little bit magical but that might well be the coffee and the sleep deprivation talking.
- The dress I am wearing today was another donation from the mystery lady, or maybe the mystery man? It is originally from Select and luckily before I left for the count I noticed my cleavage was just a little too much on display. I covered it up and tried to make it prim and proper with a pair of sensible green courts and a vest to keep everything under wraps.