Hello all, sorry I’ve been so shit at updating this blog, but a lot has gone on so I will update you all on what’s been going on. Last time we spoke, I was boldly coming off my olanzapine prescription in search of an almost drug-free existence. I was full of bright ideas about it, thinking that I would get so much done, weight would just fall off me and I’d be relieved of the brain fog I’d found myself trapped in. I was wrong. What happened was the return of my panic attacks and crippling agoraphobia, and whilst I am now back on the olanzapine, the anxiety related issues have not gone. I was a bit silly there, wasn’t I? Me and my boyfriend also broke up a few months ago, and I think that could be a contributing factor; not so much him being absent from my life, but having to move from the place I had settled in and settle somewhere else. I’m still not settled. I’m living in my hometown, back with my Mum having just escaped a truly terrible houseshare with a woman who blamed me when her animals regularly trashed my room and defecated in there (leaving me to clean it up) despite the fact I didn’t even have a door that closed, let alone locked. Not a safe or reliable place to live for anyone, especially those with mental health problems.
That’s another thing that’s changed too, I used to believe I was bipolar but a psychiatrist told me about 8 months ago that I am in fact living with a condition called schizoaffective disorder, which has symptoms of both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (I know, lucky me, right?) so I really can’t afford to start coming off my meds without asking anyone and thinking everything will be fine. I’m back in the mental health system now and am having regular appointments with various people, and I am on the waiting list for CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) but I’m told it could take up to 12 weeks before I’m seen. I’m seeing a GP tomorrow to talk about my anxiety to see if there’s anything that can be done about it. I’ve tried most anti-anxiety meds and they just don’t work, but I’m going to ask to be put back on Prozac because that did help a little. Just enough to take the edge off and make it manageable. Anxiety is like physical pain, I find. They can’t take it away completely but they can help to make it manageable, and that’s the best I can hope for right now. Another appointment I have is this coming Friday, at a drugs and alcohol clinic in a neighbouring town. It’s taken me a long time to come to terms with the fact I have a drinking problem, but I know I do. A few times I’ve admitted it but refused to do anything about it, resigning myself to being an old lush for life. I use alcohol to cope with various things, but these things have gone unaddressed for years. I’m not looking to practise total abstinence but I need to learn how to moderate and control my drinking. How to have a night out without having to buy a bottle of wine on the way home. How to nip out for a couple of pints with friends and leave it at just a couple of pints. How to enjoy a glass of wine on a Saturday and not have to top that drinking up with more alcohol, until I’m totally wasted and incoherent and incapable of doing anything. Alcohol has made my life so much more difficult than it needed to be, I’ve had relationships break down because of my alcohol use, I’ve been in relationships with people who I’ve dragged down with me, I ruined my chances with the love of my life by constantly drinking when all he was trying to do was help me. So I’m sorting this out, getting it fixed.
Onto other things… my book Wild Heather is coming out with Civil Coping Mechanisms in 2017, I’m just so excited but also impatient that I have to wait a whole year to hold it in my hands. But I’m glad I finished writing it, and I’m looking forward to having it in my life. Me and my friend Pixie (or as she is more widely known, Lucy A. Evans) have written a chapbook together called Quid Pro Quo which is forthcoming with Saucepot Publishing, and we are in the process of writing a second called Mirror Man, which centres around two men we knew in our lives who we tragically lost to suicide. Some of the proceeds will go to a mental health charity, perhaps CALM, who are raising awareness of the problem of male suicide and helping to prevent it and make it more understood. Here is a sneak preview of the book, a poem of mine called Confession (so called because in it, is buried a confession, but you may not be able to pick up on it without context. This is why I love poetry. You can pretty much say exactly what you want, reveal your deepest secrets, and later claim poetic license). I hope you enjoy it.
When I die I will leave a whole body imprint
in the mud by the river where you once fished me out.
A shadow in the clay, plump and still, a co-dependent
outline. You didn’t want me to drown, so you
dragged me out of the water, tugging hard as I flailed
then stiffened against the bank, laughing.
We sat together in the rain, soaking wet, uneasy.
That night I loved you in the rushes of a marshland
a damp, dank place where we slithered together;
unseen hands, clammy skin, bold in our secrecy.
In previous lives, you loved me fleetingly in the city
bumping into me in the vodka bar, drinking gin on
the night bus, holding hands when crossing the road.
Sometimes I would still find moss and twigs in my
knotted, curly hair, so I’d call you and tell you so. “Hey.”
I’d say. “I need you.” and you’d rush over to preen
and prune me, because nobody else would. Every bit
of bracken that clung to every strand you carefully
extracted, without making it hurt.
Sometimes it’s safer to watch someone drown
and do nothing. Stand on the bank as they fight
against the water, just in case you too slip in the mud
and find yourself drowning too. But where would
that leave you? What would you busy yourself with,
just standing there, idle? So maybe sometimes, you
take me walking at night, and sometimes you chase
a thunderstorm with me, and sometimes you not
only pray for me to fall into the river again,
sometimes you want us to leap in together.