The title was Elizabeth I’s personal motto – ‘Always The Same’. Elizabeth was a great Latinist and general scholar. Always has been a hero of mine, and not just because she was a female monarch. However, this doesn’t really connect to my subject. Semper Eadem does – because at the moment things seem to be ‘always the same’.
At the moment, the ‘same’ is stress. I’m going to tell you something I’m worried about mentioning. I’m worried because I don’t want people to get ‘the wrong idea’ about me. I am scared of people thinking I’m a liar. That I’m not ill, that I’m shamming my inability to work. I’m going on holiday abroad for the first time since 2009. It happens that this was arranged and ended up happening at the same time as my WCA was booked. I thought it was ‘fate’, the universe telling me I was a giant fucking liar. I’ve always thought of the ‘universe’ (or God) as making such things happen. Brought up a Catholic, but with an unconventional idea of my relationship to the deity (usually you need intermediaries, but my Mum was unknowingly more Lutheran in her ideas – we humans have a ‘direct line’ to our God/Father) I was encouraged to believe that everything that happened to us was for a reason and was from God. So getting a letter stating I was meant to have a WCA on the day I was also meant to fly away felt calamitous.
‘Fuck, I’m so fucking tired’: Posthumous Elizabeth I with Death, Time etc.
I got stressed. I’ve had migraines, seizures, no poo, sudden poo, no appetite. Pain in my head that I’ve tried to whack out. Neck pain, arse pain. You name it. And the suicidal thoughts! All the old friends. Semper Eadem. But then I began to have random moments of clarity. In my belief system, Mum used to say that you must remember that the Devil also works. These acts may not just be God. So if I see my appointment date as bad, it may be Bad – capital B. It may be a negative thing trying to be negative – something else to derail me. Another Thing. Like the DWP constantly sending me letters asking for evidence (letters that even my Dad considers ‘threatening’). Now, I don’t want you to think I see Angels and Devils all over the shop. I don’t. All I see is that things happen to me, and that I must attract them – the bad things. I’m an Anxious Depressive – it’s a common thing for us to blame ourselves for the random bad things that happen. We are not Virtuous enough (in the old skool sense) to be happy. Many mainstream publications and personalities (*cough* Daily Mail *cough*) support and promote this view of the disabled and the disadvantaged. God and the Devil are my lexicon. But the ideas are usual. So, I decided to view my situation a different way. My appointment time was just shit happening (and if shit isn’t happening, you’re dead). Deal with the shit. Flush the fucker. So I did: I finally got calm enough to call the number and change the appointment. Then I chased up another worrying thing: my missing Fit Note. I sent it on August 1st and I’ve had no response from the DWP about if they got it. Phoned: 35 repeats of Vivaldi later, they had got it, but they had the wrong phone number for me, so they sent a confirmation text to the wrong person. So it was just a Gremlin, a tiny Devil in the DWP system after all. It wasn’t me being bad or worse than others, it was someone employed, being paid at the DWP who could not type and didn’t double-check their data imput.
So I’m calmer. I still have the ESA50 waiting like a Goblin upstairs. But I’m actually looking forward to my week away. Which I wasn’t. I was scared. I wasn’t just scared because of DWP things. I was scared because I’m 35 and I’ve never been anywhere without my Mum or Dad. I was scared because I get sick quickly and sometimes quite severely. In 2012 I had to cancel plans to travel to Japan with my same Very Good Friend because I got Pancreatitis and nearly died. I was scared because my Very Good Friend hasn’t spent more than an evening with me and I’m a big lumpy mess that bits fall off. Hell, she’s not even seen me without make up, and my Acne is bad at the moment (thank you stress). I’m still kinda scared, but I have a few days to Chill the Fuck Out. Last night I made myself sit in a newly furnished room in the house, on a new sofa, and watch a film I’d not seen on a new TV. That relaxed me so well. I must remember I can feel normal.
A print version of Henry Fuseli’s ‘The Nightmare’ – originally a painting of 1784. The painting is muddy so I chose a print to show you – I always think of my Goblins as being like the fellow lying on the lady’s chest – heavy and breath constricting. I wish I could bend like her. The late 1700’s and early 1800’s were full of ‘Gothick’ pictures like this, but Fuseli’s image is one of the more famous and mass reproduced. Goya did another good one.
A note on the image of Elizabeth I: c.1610, oil on board, Corsham Court, Wiltshire. I love how she’s got her hand under her wig – she’s not even bothering to pretend that’s her own hair anymore. There’s a fuckton of symbolism here: Old Father Time on the left has broken his glass – showing that the Queen’s life is over (she died in 1603). He’s gone asleep with his scythe as he’s not watching her life anymore. The skeleton on the right has his own timer, and it shows her sands have emptied – he’s coming to take her, but also to remind us that we all die, even the great people. Elizabeth is showing her ‘greatness’ again by not fighting death. She is relaxed and ready, but also (head on hand, eyes looking away from viewer into distance) contemplative. The cherubs over her head hold her signs of Royalty (Crown, Sceptre) and also fame (Laurel Wreath). It’s a cool image of her. One of my favourites.