I want to get off my face. With what? Alcohol? Drugs? I don’t care! Although I think drugs would win as I’m really after being calm, sleepy, dopey and peaceful.

I can say I don’t do drugs with a snooty air of superiority but that’d be misleading. I don’t do illegal drugs. Mine come from the pharmacy, which is fine when they’re being used correctly. Actually I do take my prescription meds as I’m told as I know that if I dick about with them then it’ll make getting prescriptions harder in the future, especially with one significant overdose in the bag already.

Instead I play about with OTC stuff: promethazine and cocodamol. Occasionally I chuck in a lorazepam but that’s prescription and if I use it too much it’ll get taken away. One of the reasons for starting quetiapine was to stop this polypharmacy meddling I indulge in.

Thing is I’m tired. Tired of being ‘on’. The static in my head makes me grumpy and short with the people I love. My self-hatred means that their touch is like being prodded with a red hot poker. They shouldn’t be touching me – I am rotten. I swallow down my discomfort and add it to the already seething volcano. I hate myself further for being like this. F-u-u-u-u-u-u-ck! Listening to the children requires the kind of concentration that I imagine a code breaker has to employ. I listen-take in the info-stifle my reaction-process the info-decide on an appropriate response-give said appropriate response. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. All the stifling and pushing emotion down makes the poison inside bubble more furiously and panic begins. A quiet panic that no one sees. I need to escape. I can’t. This is where DBT skills are pretty lacking to be honest. The urge is to be dead. A completely nonsensical reaction but there it is. Can’t be dead. Can’t escape. Can’t get drunk. Can’t go out (it’s dark, I’d be scared and my husband would stress). So here I am: DRUGS. 

I have all manner of distraction techniques but I’m past that point. This happens all the time. Why can’t they help me with this because I don’t know what to do?! 

The overdose urge is strong but I can’t. It caused such a breakdown in trust in my marriage last time that I just feel trapped. Like I want to scream help me help me help me but I can’t because all of the ways I scream help me are destructive and just asking in a normal person manner doesn’t yield results either.

And then…is it passing? Am I settling? Even if I am the enormity of recovery feels too much, impossible. I can’t. I’ll go to sleep, have nightmares like I do every fucking night, and then I’ll wake up and wait to see what-the-hell mood I’m in when I wake up. Then I’ll begin planning how to manage that emotion, to get through the day, to function, to be as good a mother as I can be. Enormous.

Shhhhhh the static. Quiet the volcano. Sedate the monster.

End 

I know that everything I say here will stupid, it will be illness, but I’ve got to say it all and I’m not going to try to make sense.

I cried a bit in DBT group today. Not properly, just that choked up, can’t talk or I’ll sob kind of way. I feel like crying now but I can’t because my son is here. He was sent home from school sick. In fact I had to leave group to collect him which makes perfect sense because in group I was saying/choking about the fact I can’t stop self harming because I’m scared something awful will happen, particularly to my children.I told them all in group that I would chip away at this belief so it is fucking obvious that my boy then got sick. The message is there. It’s so clear. In group I gave the example that I had written details of my last self-harm and send it to Monica because we never get through a chain analysis because I can never remember what happened. Anyway, my appointment with Monica was cancelled this week. She was ill. Nothing suspect there except I know. Of course it was cancelled! Each time I try and push back against ‘this’ it rebounds back at me, knocking me down. I cried that I could have told them that my appointment would be cancelled: I do something ‘positive’the universe pushes back. It’s like chess. 

I had been crying quite a lot this morning so had hoped i wouldn’t cry in group. I was crying this morning because I feel like the end is coming. As I up my efforts to ‘get better’ my opponent ups their efforts too. Then comes the strange contradiction: the suicidal who is scared to die. I just don’t want to leave the kids, i really don’t. I just want them to be safe and ok. 

And I feel totally alone. The universe is organising things so I become more isolated…pushing me further. So my care coordinator Nora left. Then Monica cancelled my appointment. Now I’ve had to leave DBT today. My new care coordinator keeps fucking up appointments so I haven’t even met her….obviously. She rang the other day to reschedule and didn’t bother asking how I was, or asking how the quetiapine is going or you know basically anything. I’m so confused. I don’t know how the quetiapine is going and I don’t have anyone to talk to about it. I  just don’t know anything.

Last nights dreams upset me so much. I dreamt my mum loved me. I dreamt that when I was a baby she had done so much for me, made huge efforts out of love – like flying to London to buy a special baby sling that you couldn’t get where we lived (and it being 1980!) and she did that because she wanted to be close to me. I felt such a fool in the dream. Yes, she had done all these terrible things to me but, actually, she had loved me, she had tried. Then I woke up and remembered that she hadn’t. I cried a lot then. 

I also dreamt of the rape. I kept trying to see his face. I wanted to stare him in the face. I wanted to know his face so I could recognise it if I ever saw it again but he was the shadow man again. This afternoon as I sat on the sofa I saw him out of the corner of my eye, stood in the kitchen door. Gone in a flash. Thankfully I didn’t startle because my son was there. The whole thing just makes me so so sad. Why is he back? I don’t understand. I tried to deal with it before, I told and nobody cared so what is the point?

I just don’t know what to do so I keep trying to do the things that are supposed to be good, to be the right things for recovery but the more I do the worse things happen. I’ve thought a running away this afternoon at least then maybe everyone would be ok.

I’ve got to go. The cat is being a twat and I now have to pick up my daughter. Somehow I need to rein all of this in and be the mum they deserve. Fuck. I can do it for a few hours and then, when they’re in bed, I can break.

It’s Time to Talk, Seriously.

On February the 2nd it is Time to Talk day 2017. I think this is a great initiative. I know it’s been running for a few years now and I really hope that each year more and more people speak up about their mental health because we all have mental health. Just like our physical health, our mental health can be good, or not so good and it will vary. Just like our physical health, we might suddenly find ourselves in a situation with our mental health that was previously unthinkable. Very suddenly everything can change but the world still turns, the people around you still go on, and you can be left wondering.. how could this have happened to me? I’m not like that… Just like with our physical health there are risk factors in mental health – you probably know that being overweight increases your risk of diabetes, but, have any of us really stopped to consider just how that person with mental illness arrived there? I wonder what they were struggling with for the illness to begin. I suppose it’s easier for us to think of those suffering from mental illness as weak, sensitive flowers because it means that we can reassure ourselves that it will never be us. Until it is. And then…what?

Over the last few years I’ve noticed more people speaking openly about depression and anxiety and it’s brilliant. Even men, a group that speaking about their mental health is almost forbidden (sensitive flowers right?). This is awesome…but… (I’m sorry there’s a but) I want us to talk more. I want us to start being able to share some of of the more (perceived) frightening aspects of mental illness. I think they’re frightening because they are so mysterious, shrouded in hearsay, misinformation and sensationalism. Let’s name some of these bogeymen: suicide; self-harm; hallucinations; hearing voices; psychosis; dissociation; flashbacks; delusions.

I don’t work anymore. That came as a huge surprise to me. I never imagined that would be me. I used to be a research scientist for a major pharmaceutical company – intercontinental conference calling, symposiums, shares and benefits. Then I retrained as a science teacher and I was successfully climbing the career ladder with the aim of being a head of chemistry and a lead teacher. See? Normal. Doing life and doing pretty well at it but the risk factors were there. Without realising what I was doing I actually fought mental illness all my life and then, and I don’t know how it happened really, everything changed. I tried to kill myself. Now I’m at home I get to catch up on a lot of TV (no, not lucky me). There’s a lot of crime stuff on during the day. Know who the baddies are? Yeah, they usually have mental illness and are suffering with the bogeymen. But, you see, this is my point – I’ve experienced a few of those bogeymen symptoms and I’m as dangerous as a wet tea bag (i.e. not very). People would know that if I could talk to them about it.

Very few people in my life know that I tried to kill myself. Even fewer know about the self-harm. My husband and I haven’t even spoken about it. I keep meaning to. He must see the cuts but then I hide them so well I wonder if he does know. How do I tell someone who loves me that  I deliberately take a knife to myself? I don’t know but it’s definitely time to talk, seriously, because self-harm is a very real and troubling part of my mental illness. This leads me to another massive misconception about mental illness – that it is attention seeking. Are you kidding me?! Attention seeking?! Ha! Right. No, that’s the kind of attention I can do without ta. People being afraid of me, thinking I’m crazy (which I am but it’s ok)?! No, no,no! Attention seeking. Wow. I’m not saying people don’t ever look for some sort of concern or help and that can be in really messed up ways but that’s mental illness for you – it can make rational thought kind of difficult sometimes!

My diagnoses are borderline personality disorder (BPD) and complex post traumatic stress disorder (cPTSD). I’d never even heard of BPD so I googled it. It’s a heartbreaking and damning read: attention seeking, manipulative, liars. Difficult to love? Aggressive or violent? Hand on heart I will tell you that those particular traits do not apply to me (well, maybe I’m hard to love I dunno) but imagine what people will think of me when I tell them that I have BPD (that they’ve probably never heard of) and if they go so far as to google it? Yeah. So it’d be really great to be able to talk about it, to let them know the truth; what I struggle with and how I manage it and why I’m still me. Then there’s the cPTSD bit. This tells people that I have something awful in my past. They don’t want to ask for fear of upsetting me and I don’t tell them because I know it will upset them (been there, done that, sat through the awkwardness).

No one knows what to say but, you know what, that’s OK. This stuff is complicated. It’d be a lot easier if we could talk about it so that’s what I’m saying: it’s time to talk about the scary (not really!) stuff too. Oh, and I want to make clear that I am absolutely not minimising depression and anxiety. I find the depression the worst part of my illness. It’s brutal and can be life-threatening, as anxiety can be too. These conditions have a continuum and if your depression/anxiety is classed as mild then it is still an illness and you have every right to receive the correct treatment. You deserve empathy and understanding. So, no matter how your mental health is faring currently do make time to talk. Please.

From a  crazy, wet teabag x

BPD & cPTSD: a Monster and a Ghost part 2

The Ghost

The BPD monster peeped out for DBT therapist, Monica, in my last appointment (that’s Part 1). Later in the same appointment the PTSD ghost wanted acknowledgement too.
I don’t know how we got on to the subject but I think it came from me expressing my frustration at not being able to enjoy my life. I have a fantastic life. I couldn’t ask for more and yet there I was, in therapy. The only thing between me and enjoying my life is me. It’s bloody maddening but then the more I beat myself up the worse I make it. From there, I think, M got me to describe the person I am now. I used words like adventurous, that I saw a world full of potential. Monica was surprised. So I explained that I am haunted, continually pulled back to 20+ years ago and that stops me being the person I think that I am. Naturally she asked me to describe that person. Well…scared, invisible, wants to die but can’t because she has to take care of her brothers, powerless, has no voice, doesn’t trust because people say they will help and they never do. This is the person that Monica knows now. It’s not me. It was me; once upon a time. She wonders how the younger me became the adult me given they are so vastly different. I explained as best I could about going to university, meeting new people, going wild, achievements and finally a name change. 

Gradually that younger version of me was eradicated. To the point that she was barely a memory. She was gone but, unfortunately, not laid to rest. I am haunted by the ghost of myself.

Now that I can see she kind of gets it the words come spilling out of me. I sometimes see her at nighttime, I know that what happened to her is really sad but she needs to be gone now, I need to make her be gone but I can’t. It’s like she wants me to do something to giver her peace but I don’t know it is. I try and pay attention in dreams and hallucinations: what is it? I know it’s strange to experience ‘her’ as a separate entity but that’s how this thing is playing out. It’s me – I get that. Although if I stop to think about that it’s terrifying so, for now, I’m thinking of her as a ghost that needs to be laid to rest. Trouble is that I don’t know how. Monica said we would continue to explore this next time. 

That night at my Body Balance class (mix of tai chi, yoga and Pilates) when we were doing the meditation bit I had to keep my eyes open. Whenever I tried to close them my eyelids fluttered and in my minds eye I saw her. I imagined holding her hand and reassuring her – it’ll be ok, we’ll sort this. I’ve got to admit though I don’t know if that’s a good thing or further descending into madness! 

Maybe the monster and the ghost are the same thing? I don’t know but I do feel relieved that my therapist now seems to have a better grasp of what’s going on with me. Do you know what? I’ll happily leave it to her to figure it out. I’m exhausted enough just managing the two of them. 

Well, that’s why they call it complex PTSD! They got that right! 

Really very mentally ill

I’m just awake after another bad night. Dreams of everyone hating me, people leaving me, bombs and bullets, cold, isolation, loneliness and hopelessness. Now I’m awake I feel ill. Really very mentally ill. 

I don’t want to be awake. I don’t want to get up. I feel I shouldn’t as I shouldn’t be part of this world. Acceptance? It is what it is. Maybe this is what I have to accept. Andy has brought me tea. I cried my heart to him. I told him I’m sorry and that I want so much better for him and the children but I’ll keep fighting. He told me he knew today would be like this because I had pushed myself yesterday (going out to a panto – big family outing). I was pleasantly taken aback by his insight. “You’re getting wise to this mental health stuff” I said. “There are patterns” he gently replied. 

My eyes burn from crying. I am exhausted. I feel physically sick. Last night I was planning when (not if) to overdose. I’m going to fight that absolutely 100%. Which means building a bed fort, drinking my tea and waiting for this all to pass.

Dissociation 

Ah dissociation! If you have a mental illness then I dare say you’re familiar with dissociation. If not then you will have dissociated because everyone does it…a bit. I have a mental illness, or two, or who knows how many – doesn’t matter – and I’m used to dissociation. I find it can be pretty helpful to function in that kind of autopilot whilst my mind goes and hides deep inside me somewhere. In saying that the dissociation I’ve experienced in the last couple of days has been, frankly, frightening. That’s not good.

Yesterday it was like being unreal. I’d look at my hands, specifically my scars, and wonder – who did that? It couldn’t have been me (it was). I’d look at the scars and try and connect with the me that did that but, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t. I wondered if this spaced-out-me was actually the real me because spaced-out-me couldn’t understand self-harming and that’s got to be good, right? But it wasn’t and I don’t know why. All day I constantly questioned what I had done: did I really do that? Am I awake or dreaming right now? My hands tingled. It was frightening because each moment felt sort of new and unexpected, like I had just arrived in it without knowing how. I went to bed, took some promethazine and fell asleep listening to plinky plonk music (you know the type).

According to my Fitbit my sleep was the usual night long restlessness. No change there. I’m lucky that I do actually sleep but said sleep is not restorative. I suppose it’s a bit like being sucked into a strange video game; my nights are filled with demon fighting activity. As morning came around I was stuck in a dream. I’d wake up but get sucked back into the dream. This happened countless times, at least 10 I’d guess. I didn’t know what was real: the dream or the awake. I couldn’t tell the difference. The dream was distressing but it sort of made sense. My dreamself was seeing, hearing and experiencing things that were not real (in the dream) so it was almost like 3 layers of consciousness (Inception anyone?!). In the dream I would take people to show them something but the thing wouldn’t exist, everything was in my head. At one point I fought a monster. It was small and I used such force on it that I pushed my thumbs into it and made it bleed. I had killed the monster but just for good measure I threw it over a balcony. In the dream people started shouting and I realised it hadn’t been a monster. I immediately feared that it had been a baby. I slowly peered over the balcony expecting to see a horror but it wasn’t a baby that I had harmed – it was a rag doll. In the dream I was relieved but heeded the message: I was a danger. I could lose touch with reality to such an extent I was dangerous. Another thing that stuck out to me was that in the dream I tried taking selfies on my phone. This was to help me gauge reality. However each selfie of me showed me as black (I’m white). My features were totally different. To be fair the black-selfie-me was much prettier, more girly, but it wasn’t the face I expected. I was so confused.

Eventually I managed to pull myself into reality and properly wake up. It took monumental effort. Tonight my husband described me as talking to myself and not making sense this morning (this was when I was flitting in and out of the dream). He left for work when I was still in bed. When I finally wandered dazed downstairs it looked as if he had slept on the sofa. My first thought had been – oh no, what did I do?! I was scared, scared that I had done something bad. Fortunately I had not but this is my fear: what if I do something awful in this dissociated state? 

I feel a sense of foreboding – like something bad is going to happen. I have spoken to Nora and she reassured me. She said it was highly unlikely that I would do something harmful and that this is all perfectly…normal…in complex PTSD. She told me that the presentation of my condition was changing and, again, that was normal. 

I’m much better now. I couldn’t have written this in that state I was in. My desire to understand has me trying to decode the messages from my subconscious and I have some bits and pieces that I can stick together. My sodding amygdala. 

A Losing Battle

I went to yoga this morning. What I wanted to do was slash my belly but yoga it was. It was hard work. I thought it’d be chilled but no. Intense. Anyway signed up to go back next week.

Then I went to see my GP. Poor guy was running an hour and a half late. He always does to be fair so I came prepared with activities. Didn’t matter though. I couldn’t take being in the waiting room with all those people, knowing that I am a waste of the doctors time. I went back in, waited some more and sketched a picture of my daughter.

Looks creepy but it isn’t finished!


This was a better idea than giving in to the urge I had to rip the fire extinguisher off the wall and spray CO2 everywhere.

By the time I went in I was jittering, gabbling, edgy. I was embarrassed at the same time as I could see how off my behaviour was but couldn’t stop. He did the required pre-quetiapine health checks. He said the cut on my wrist looked sore. I said it was fine. He asked if I’d done that because of being distressed so I said yes. Inside I was ashamed at what a pathetic cut it is. I should have done more. I want to do more. Anyway there isn’t anything else he can do for me. I’ll try not to think about that.

I went to see my neighbour when I got home so I couldn’t hurt myself badly. 

Then Nora rang me because I’d left a message for her. She was supportive and said I may be experiencing something called extinction. Basically as a new positive behaviour is implemented the old negative behaviour kicks up a fuss and refuses to die. 

Die.

This voice inside of me keeps shouting all these awful things for me to do: to cut myself, to overdose, to go to the train tracks, to make a noose. I’m so stuck. I’m fighting with myself. I hate it. I can’t win if I’m fighting myself. It’s impossible.

I can’t even explain it. Nora said that could be because my distress goes all the way back to being so little I was pre-verbal. I just want to pull my hair out and scream in pain. 

Husband will be home soon. Then the in laws. Everyone expects me to be better because I was doing so much better but now?

I’m done. I just need my brain to rationalise the next step and then I can take it and end this nightmare.

Here’s what I wrote in the waiting room if you’re interested. No, no one is.


White Flag

I want to give in. I surrender. Dear mental illness/disorder/flaw or whatever the fuck you are, I submit. Well, I want to but I’m so goddamn stubborn that I just can’t.

I want to give in and accept the things I believe:

  • I am a flaw in the Universe. As long as I am alive the balance in the world will tip towards bad.
  • To keep my children and family safe I must harm myself to redress the balance.
  • All good things I experience must be punished.
  • At my core an evil side of personality exists. I can only kill this evil by killing myself. The evil is destroying me from the inside.
  • Whenever I think something good then something bad will happen to make sure I stay in my place. I must not get ideas above my station.
  • Everyone leaves. This is because being away from me is the right thing. When people get close things happen to remove those people from my life. Fortunately they are usually good things for the person (they get rewarded for leaving me) but I get so scared that the Universe will take them in a bad way and it is so much safer for people to stay away. It’s my fate and I accept that. I do not blame them.

That’s better. Let it all out. The things I believe that govern my life. My secrets. The beliefs that aren’t delusions because I know they aren’t true except I’m not so sure they aren’t true but I know that saying they are untrue is the correct. It feels glorious to be able to verbalise these feelings. Marvellous. 

And if I really let go I could harm myself with no care for the consequences. How amazing! I could cut, burn, and sand my skin. I could ingest alcohol and pills. On a lesser scale I could just tuck myself up in bed and fluctuate between crying, tearing at my skin and being comatose. Sigh. A girl can dream. I can’t do that though because of ‘The Contradction’.

The Contradiction is that I need to be harmed to keep the kids safe but the behaviour in the paragraph above would actually cause harm to my children so I find myself stuck in this very narrow gap: needing to harm myself in a very contained way. It is exhausting.

So I would dearly love to submit; to wave the white flag; I give up. Let’s just do this illness thing. BUT I am stubborn. Or oppositional. Or wilful. Oppositional and wilful are the preferred terms by the therapists but it all boils down to one thing: Dear illness, I will fight you. 

It’s Back

She’s back. The bad. I’m going to fight her. I wish someone from the outside could jump into my head and help me fight her.

I’m seeing Monica today. She’ll tell me not to fight the bad. Just acknowledge it, to find a…synthesis (her favourite word. I hate it used in this context. As an organic chemist synthesis means something different to me). I may ask to sit on the floor. I dislike chairs. I have always preferred the floor. I forget this is strange and have certainly caused a few double takes over the years as colleagues would discover me happily working away on the floor. 

I’m not making any effort though. I shall throw on clothes and there will be no shower. I hate how she leads me up the stairs. When I arrive at the personality disorder clinic I’ll say hello to the receptionist, she knows us all. Then I’ll sit in the teeny waiting area reading the same posters about being trans or having my say on mental health or taking part in a smoking cessation study. Monica will come through the locked door and I’ll jump up with a bright smile and a hello. I hate that I do this as I am fully aware that in about 5 mins this woman will basically rip my emotional insides out. Still, social formalities must be observed…or…?

Then she leads me to the stairs. I always pause momentarily at the bottom. It’s so fleeting I doubt she notices as she leads me up them. I told her once that the stairs reminded me of something but I couldn’t think what. Then the next week I told her I thought the stairs reminded me of a school that I used to work in. Now that some more memories have come back I know that it is not the school that I remember. It is the rape. These stairs…there’s something about them that is just like those stairs. Anyway it always goes this way: Monica reaches the top and she will wait and then turn. My steps will have slowed, I’ll be dragging my feet and have reached about 3/4 of the way. My palms will be sweaty and my heart will be fluttering. This is where I fell on the rape stairs and he stopped at the top, just as she does, as he turned back and looked at me, just as she does. Every time I wonder what she would do if I lay down on the stairs there. Bizarrely I sometimes wish I was crazy enough to try it and find out. I’m not though. I’ll force my feet forward and wonder which therapy room we’ll go into today. I always like to nosey into the therapists offices as we pass. It’s a good dialectic. Their offices are normal working spaces filled with drawings from their kids, the usual personal desk clutter and normal work chatter. Compare that to where I’m at as I stand there. It’s like two different worlds but in the same place. Is that a synthesis? I don’t know. It’s a good dialectic though.

So the bad in my head? It’s train tracks again. I couldn’t sleep for ages last night as I kept imagining just lying down on the tracks and waiting. This morning it was the first thought. The image evolved. I thought about what I’d wear, how would I make myself comfortable in those final hours? What pills would I take to stop the fear from making me get up? I imagined how my body would be split. I thought about the emergency service personnel who’d have to pick it…me…up. I thought about the fact my coffin would have to be closed and the kids wouldn’t ever get to see me one last time. The sadness. Jesus. I could never do that to them.

So I feel like I’m some sick twisted fuck. How can I have such thoughts? Such fantasies?! It is sick. Then that judgement reinforces the bad. Well, I know I shouldn’t judge the thought, just accept it. It’s hard not to judge the image of my corpse physically destroyed and my children completely shattered. I don’t think I could ever accept that. Surely it’s unacceptable?

Ah but! I still have my little light. It won’t go out. I won’t let it 🌟

Trauma: The Ghost of Christmas Past

Christmas season 2016 is officially open. The nature of the season is nostalgia: the same songs, the same films, the food, the traditions. Comforting to some but disconcerting to those of us who are haunted by the Ghost of Christmas Past.

Every year I make quite an effort with the whole Christmas thing but it’s not just the weather that chills me. I feel a kind of internal cold. Every year I do opposite action – I pretend to LOVE Christmas! Every year it backfires. My shiny facade at complete odds with the vacant emptiness inside me. The emptiness is preferable to the memories though. 

You know the kind. I’d taken my brothers to Midnight Mass. My parents had remained at home fighting. Mum drunk. Standard. We returned to open presents. I remember her sat on the sofa watching. Wearing a filthy pink dressing gown and a goofy drunken smile. It showed her yellow nicotine teeth. The smell of vodka and cigarettes and urine sticking to her, her own personal perfume. Her eyes closing clumsily. Having to pretend to be happy in such a desperately sad situation; finally being able to escape to bed, to be sad where no one could see and dread the next day. She would either be hungover and hostile or drunk. I can’t remember which it was. My gut says drunk.

Or how about when I accompanied a slightly drunk mum to the late shop? I knew she was going to buy more vodka. For some reason I thought maybe if I was there she mightn’t buy it. Or I could just tell dad when I got home and he’d take it off of her. Yeah, that plan backfired. She bought the vodka. She was served by a girl who had gone to my school. She knew who I was and here was my drunk mum buying more vodka. I felt so pitiful. As we walked home in the dark I was scared, what would I do now? I needn’t have worried. She stopped me in the dark street. I remember the cars driving past. And she said to me “If you tell your dad about this then I will ruin Christmas. I will take everyones’ presents, not just yours, and destroy them. And on Christmas Day when there is nothing I will tell them why: because of you. You will ruin Christmas”. I mean I can’t remember the exact words but that was the gist. Then I was torn as we walked home. What if dad asked if she’d bought vodka? What would I do? I worried in silence the whole way home. The only sound was her raspy smokers breath (it was an uphill walk) and the sound of cars driving past on the damp road. I felt so alone. All these people just driving past. I don’t remember what happened when I got home. I expect I went straight to my room and hid. No one would have checked on me and she would have drunk her vodka. As usual.


So yeah, Christmas memories are shit.

This year I’m trying to do things differently, instead of just pretending. Basically I’ll do Christmas my way. Obviously I don’t know what that is so I’m approaching it open minded. So far it’s working. I asked my 3 year old daughter what her Christmas wish was and she told me “marshmallows”. I smiled. It’s perfect. This year on Christmas Eve I hope that we’ll toast marshmallows and drink hot chocolate. Perhaps it’ll become a tradition. The Ghost of Christmas Past will still be around but perhaps the fairylights everywhere, and the warmth of cuddles and toasted marshmallows will  help warm the dark chill that She brings.

Really I just wanted to say that if you’ve had a difficult past and feel very alone then you’re not. Christmas has far more ghosts than Hallowe’en. Lots of us are haunted by them.