Strange Change

I don’t like change. Never have. But sometimes change is thrust upon me. The things I hate to change most are related to my face. I am not pretty or beautiful or usual looking. In addition to this, I have bad skin – pale with lots of scarring and dark marks*, red, brown, purple lumps. When I find a make-up I can get to stay on and cover these things, I cherish it and buy in bulk. Some of the great upsets of my life have been connected with discontinued foundation. At the moment I am struggling with a discontinued lipstick. Not as bad as a foundation, but still unsettling. Why? Well usually I don’t get upset about lipstick or eye shadow. But I am. And I realise why: my Mum.

I am currently scared of changing things from as they were when my Mum was alive. But I’ve changed a lot of stuff, but things to do with my face and hair I can’t change. I have a new coat, and shoes, and bag. New tops. But I can’t change my hair style. I really want to. My head is uncomfortable. I’m too scared to change it. I’m scared bad things will happen. Really bad things. And that’s where the lipstick comes in. I’ve been looking for a colour match for 4 months. Watching my remaining nub of waxy colour diminish. I’ve colour swatched across London. Nothing. But today I had a break through. I was very cold, very tired and a little angry. I went into a shop and tried on a colour I’d not considered at all. It didn’t look terrible. I felt relieved. I felt light and happy. I sprayed myself with a random perfume (I NEVER DO THAT) and headed out into the dark night.

I won’t buy the lipstick, it didn’t do much for me and was very expensive. But at least I know what not to buy. That is a breakthrough: I have a big pile of lipsticks I bought (over years) thinking they’d be ok and didn’t try them because I was scared to – embarrassed in the shop etc. particularly department stores. I may buy the perfume when I qualify for the necessary mortgage.

My Mum was always the one to tell me if I looked ‘okay’ (by my standards, which she understood). She checked the spots I couldn’t see on my right side, or neck, were covered. She brushed the dandruff off my shoulders. When I did things to my hair, she checked the back. She did all the Mum things. I don’t have anyone to do that now, and being half blind and having self-esteem so small you need NASA lenses to help you find it, means I’m nervous leaving the house nearly all the time. I can deal with it, but now and then it falls on me and crushes me. Not having the right lipstick, or having wonky hair, can ruin a day for me, can breed anxiety as powerful as a Pitbull. But today I felt a little glimmer of hope. Hope in a tube I had the balls NOT to buy.

*I am not a Death Eater. For some unknown reason, though I am pale skinned, I have keloid scarring and very dark patches of skin on my face. I scar a dark brown or purple. No one can tell me why. I know Keloid scarring is connected to EDS, but the colouring foxes people. They don’t address it, though I think it should be addressed – not because of vanity – but because of Lupus. Lupus is in my family. Cancer is in my family. You can see what I’m thinking re: dark patches. One day someone may look at them – I am leaving my body to medical science.



I love the taste of new pills in the evening….Bedlam Show.

Last October or September (I’ll have to check the archives) I was prescribed a New Brain Pill to help with anxiety and my self harming. I did not take it. I was still trying to get my ESA and I feared having a muddled or fogged head. Or just going completely batshit crazy and scared, which has happened to me before. Once I got my ESA decision, I put the pills back again because I still needed to be level headed facing Christmas and a few personal problems. But I did decide to take them once the New Year started. Last Friday I had my appointment with my old (and good) Psychiatrist Dr.P. Dr.P is a very glamorous Monica Bellucci style Italian woman. 8 years ago she made me feel bad about myself because of her glamour, but her advice, drugs and strategy were right for me. This time she seemed genuinely concerned for me. A different reaction. She gave me a choice between drugs. But no choice about adding a new pill to my then prescription. I opted for the first she prescribed. I’ll see her in 3 months and in the mean time I’ll be put on a waiting list for Bereavement Counselling. An interesting development.

The new pill is a soporific- it aids sleep*. As regulars to this blog will know, historically I don’t have a problem with sleep, but recently I have developed a problem. I’ve not been getting to sleep until 5 or 6am – regularly. Even when I’ve got something important to get up for the next day. The pill certainly works from that perspective – if it doesn’t get you to sleep, it certainly keeps you there once you nod off. I’ve been hungry for sleep. Even when I’ve had many, many hours of it. Even when I wake with a painfully full bladder or back ache, I’ve been rolling over and sleeping in a new, but familiar, drug way. I have been warned that I will get fat(ter) on the pills – and though my appetite hasn’t changed yet, my taste has. I indulged in cheese, but when I ate it, it tasted wrong. Hmmm.

I am certainly aware of a new ‘thing’ in my blood – but that might just be this month’s Red Tide. Menses affect me powerfully – more and more as I get older. My current anxiety and constant low level of dramatic fear (you know, when your first answer to everything is ‘kill yourself’) may be due to hormones, or it could be the pills. I have had a low mood for a time. I have felt rung out and also lost. There are lots of reasons for this – I miss my Mum, I’m lonely and my Dad is difficult for me to deal with, but I hope I will feel better soon. Or at least feel pushed enough to become active in making myself feel better: I hope I get angry and determined. I don’t want to feel low. I don’t want my Dad to make me feel low. I want to feel better. I want some control. I hope I can go back to feeling like I have some say in my own life.

Actually, let’s go back. I want to make something clear: I don’t feel so out of control of my life that I feel I can let everything go and take no responsibility. I feel responsible for myself, but I don’t feel I have enough or the right power to do anything about it. I feel at the mercy of the universe, but not weak or vulnerable enough to be an innocent victim. I feel guilty for feeling sad. I feel guilty for the many things in my life that I could have done differently that could have made me happy. Could, could, could. The ache of missed potential – the most painful thing for me. Errrrrarrgh.

Exhibition Time!

Last week I went to the recently closed ‘Bedlam’ exhibition at The Wellcome Trust in London. It was a weak excuse for an exhibition. And I don’t say that just as a person in the Mental Health system. Ostensibly it was a history of the Asylum – the residential Mental Hospital, beginning with the medieval Bethlem Hospital in London (origin of the word Bedlam). But in reality it was a patchy mash up. It did have detailed exhibits about Bedlam, it’s physical history. It did explain the expansion of Asylums during the Victorian period but nothing else was detailed. It mentioned some punishments/ treatments given to residential patients (restraints, chains), it mentioned some alternatives to these treatments – music, hobbies and physical employments (Occupational Therapy) – given to patients. But not enough information was given. It had a small display of ‘Outsider Art’ – the official term given to the works of the untrained and/or mentally ill – and of art representing¬† ‘madness’ in it’s many forms. But much more could have been made of this now popular work. It was not detailed in any way about the life of treatment after the Bedlam – more modern treatments. It had one display about ECT (shock treatment), one about medications… it was all thin on the ground. It gave more space to contemporary works of art about Mental Health than about the history and development of treatment. It was a disappointment and did a great dis-service to it’s (very interesting) subject. Nothing was made of CBT or contemporary Psychiatry. And the exhibition was very badly laid out and confusing. The Wellcome has an amazing collection and great space. I’ve been to some fantastic shows there. But this was not one of them. The history of Bedlam is fascinating, the history of Mental Health-it’s treatment and diagnosis- is fascinating. This could have been so much better.

Artists out of The Mind.

The art of the Mentally Ill – Bedlam Art – Outsider Art – is very popular at the moment. If you are interested, check out the following: Richard Dadd, Louis Wain, Mary Frances Heaton, Vaslav Nijinsky, August Strindberg, Vincent Van Gogh and Yayoi Kusama (who is still alive and lives in an asylum). Nijinsky is better known as an amazing ballet star from the early 1900’s. But when he became mentally ill, he began to make art…

*It’s actually an anti-psychotic – but this was never mentioned. That’s how I like my Psych appointments…





Abstract Expressionism

In a former life I wanted to be an Academic. My ‘field’ was Art History. I didn’t go beyond BA and now I’m too old, deaf, forgetful and scared. However, I still attend lectures and visit museums and exhibitions. I can’t read much because I can’t concentrate and currently, can’t see too well. But this didn’t stop me dragging my butt out to a show! *Jazz Hands*.

I didn’t study anything after 1900 at University (I did a ‘Survey Course’ which lightly covered from Ancient Egypt to the YBAs in Year 1 but I slept through or missed the 1900’s) but since then (15 years) I’ve begun to be interested. This is due to individuals. People I have met have waxed lyrical about art they like and I have looked it up. I owe my friends and acquaintances a great deal in this regard.

Today’s foray was into Abstract Expressionism – at the Royal Academy. I could write a long review. There were lots of things ‘wrong’ with the Exhibition in a physical sense (1 metre cordons round the works which made it impossible to look at the textures in detail, and many of the works rely heavily on their texture to make sense and impact, labels printed too small…) there were lots of things ‘right’ (lighting, mixture of works) but rather than do that, I’ll just share my highlight. I found an artist that floats my boat. The works do not translate well into photos, and we were not allowed to take images so I couldn’t try to capture a hint of why they moved me (colour, texture, techniques, scale) but I’ll share with you anyway. The artist is American Clyfford Still. I’d not heard of him before today. But when I was making notes of the works I liked, I liked his, throughout the show, and then there was a whole room of them which made me so excited I wanted to jump into the works. I went round that room 3 times. 3 times. That’s a week of walking.

Clyfford Still has his own museum:

But it was PH-605 that floated my boat: ph-605

It’s huge and oil on canvas and textured like a sexy bastard.

Ok, that’s enough.