Blood on Satan’s Claw or An Episode of Anxiety

Originally written 26th October 2016:

Every month I go to a film club in the East End of London. It’s theme is ‘Folk Horror’. So far all the films I’ve watched have been classics I’ve not seen. I was introduced to it via my boss at Oxfam. I really enjoy films – moving images of all kinds- but music videos and films have been a Big Thing in my life. Hammer Horror movies were a stable of my childhood. I suffered from terrible anxiety when I was a child. I could not sleep. I’d be either scared of not sleeping and being late for school or just plain scared*. So I used to come down stairs about 12am to see my Mum in the kitchen. She’d find an old movie on ITV or Channel 4 and make me a fry up,  she’d do her ironing and then we’d go to bed. My Mum had no problem with me seeing such films because she believed, rightly, that I’d see they were not real. The only films I could not watch were Mummy movies because I was terrified of Egyptian Mummies (more of this in another post). She’d not let me watch anything like the Ridley Scott ‘Alien’ films, or the 1980’s ‘Fly’, but old films were ok.

I’ve always suffered from terrible Social Anxiety. Social Anxiety in my case is a cycle, I’d be anxious, get up courage to be social, and then get shot down or have a horrible experience, which would add to the anxiety. But I got to an OK plateau and was fine for about 6 years. Then in 2012** I began to get anxious occasionally, and then constantly. I’d go and do things, but only with strangers- so I’d go to classes, or volunteer- there would be social interaction, but if someone went ‘wrong’, I could walk away. The people I served in the shop were a 5 minute interaction, my College classmates were all older people, who were just kind and ‘grown up’. Last year – my Mum’s sickness and my reaction to it, and the loss of my ESA*** – knocked me back even further. I stopped communicating with friends, stayed in and started having terrible episodes of anxiety  randomly. I’ve not been to Birthday or other parties, even for or with people I care a great deal about. In place of this, in a desperate need to be sociable – to talk to people – I began to attend film and performance nights where everyone was a stranger. However, this has now become a problem. The performance nights (comedy, music etc.) ended, so now it’s just a monthly film night. I promoted the night to keep it going – telling friends via social media. I didn’t want the numbers to drop and the event to end (a very common thing in London). However, this has caused me a massive dose of anxiety. I don’t know who will be there, and if I will know anyone. I prefer to know nobody, than to have social surprises sprung on me.

Added 2018:

*I think it was constant terror of my Mum dying. She had cancer first in 1987 when I was 6-7 the year after my Gran died of the same thing.

** I had Pancreatitis 4 times and nearly died. I think this had something to do with it – the pain was crippling and happened suddenly, including on the Underground where I ended up laid out on a Tube platform. Once the pain passed that day, I carried on to meet my partner, but he called to cancel. I went to Liberty to look at pretty things instead.

***A most terrifying thing. Imagine having your legs chopped off in front of you – it felt like the movies portray that. I still live in terror of the day I have to go through the ESA thing again.

I stopped going to this event.  I have even stopped going to my local film night. My anxiety levels are currently too high to be around people I know. I’ve started talking randomly to strangers – I know that anxiety is how these behaviours begin. I’ll soon be the person on the bus who talks to you when you don’t want them to.

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Mistress Quickly

I don’t know where the title’s from, but I think she’s a character in a Shakespeare play.  Two things my Brother’s and Sisters. Two things. I started a new medication – Pregablin. Only 100mg a day in two 50mg doses. The first day it made me sleep – boy did I sleep. After a full 100mg dose I was out for a solid no-pee-breaks-or-liquids 24 hours. This is the med I’ve been putting off using because I needed my life in some kinda balance. But I did it, and it worked great, until life decided to throw me a curve ball. Contemplating writing it makes me angry. Childish burning tears angry. My Dad is going out with someone. A Biddy from Marks and Spencer’s coffee shop. And I’m angry. I’m angry for 4 reasons. Let’s be blunt, I’m angry that he’s going out with someone after my Mum, when I am still in such deep mourning for her I can’t imagine ever being happy again (bereavement counselling is not really working). I’m angry because he said he knew she liked him, he saw it coming and that he was not going to do anything- he wasn’t interested- (I’m made even more livid with the fact he shared this with me – discussed it with me, and then went back on it). I’m angry because he has been helping this lady a lot lately (this I don’t mind) but when I’ve needed help, I’ve never had it. Not in the same way. He’s helping her get a new flat etc. – when I’ve needed such help in the past, he is not understanding – the b*stard wouldn’t even help me get through my degree (but he helped my brother… still does though he earns a quarter of a million pounds a year). Part of his reasoning for helping the lady is that she is ‘silly’ and ‘has nothing’ and ‘can’t help herself’. Ok. I see that, but again, when I’ve asked for help – I’m told to do it myself, or I’m told off… you see where I’m going*. And I’m angry because I’ve spent the last years trying to sort the house out, doing everything I can that he asks. I’ve been ill a great deal (I currently have a chest infection, and I can’t walk properly – waiting to see a physio), and I’ve totally lost contact with the outside world. I have no friends left in my city – they’ve all left. I’ve put all of my energy into what he wants and keeping myself sane, and I’ve lost my life. Yet he carries on, and finds a new one. At this moment, all I can see is his selfishness. The light was shone on it the other day when I spent an evening washing bed linen and clothes to be sorted and thrown out. I cleared so much stuff from one of our ever filled rooms, and then he nagged me about something I’d not done while sitting in a chair eating something. Yeah, you sit there. You sit there and magically expect everything to happen around you. You moan at me for everything, while you throw your newspapers on the floor and your coat on the couch. I can hardly bend to wipe myself on the toilet and I’m not yet 40, you’re 74 and can spring out of bed at 8am. I feel I’ve been so stupid trying to get on with him and do everything to keep him happy since Mum died, when it means nothing. I’ve given up lots of things in my life and he just keeps going in his bubble. But, I’m still dependent on him. If he got mad at me, my life would be horrible in every way. And if I get angry at him, he has much to throw back in my face. He can be vile and he knows exactly how to wound.

So the Pregablin is working. I can’t imagine how anxious I would be without it. Yes, my hair is falling out more. Yes, I still can’t poo. My eyes are dry and the skin under my armpits and down to my elbows is burning (what is that, allergic reaction?) while I have a red rash all over my neck. I found out I don’t have Bowel Cancer (whoopee!). I keep eating only crap now, mainly chocolate – I’ve not had a vegetable for a week. I don’t really know what is going on with my life. I have Calligraphy classes, counselling and volunteering. That’s it. It sounds like a lot but it adds up to 7.5 hrs a week with people who aren’t my Dad. And I don’t talk during 2.5 of those.

This moan has been brought to you by Depression, Anxiety, Anger and the letter RRRRrrrrrrrr.

*Mum always said Dad wanted me to be the type of girl who batted her eyelashes to get what she wanted – helpless little thing. Which I was not. This lady doesn’t do that, but she does the 60+ equivalent of it.

Bone Jumble Tomb

Written on October 22 2016:

Ouuh! Boof! What a time we’ve been having here in Bowermanland. What. A. Time. We’ve got a lot going on, or have had. But first, the Bone Jumble Tomb of the title, or at least a detail of an early 17th century tomb in Holy Trinity Church, Guildford. This is not even the main bit of the tomb, just a bit of the base: gskulls

Still got some polychrome on it and everything.

I include the picture because it’s pertinent. Next week will be 1 year since the death of my Mother. I took this photo in March or April last year, in Guildford. My Aunt, my Mum’s sister had just died – it was before her funeral, or just after. Mum, Dad and I were in Guildford with my Brother and his family, when my Dad’s extended family turned up. It was a totally unique day. I showed Mum the old Alms houses, and the churches – my things. She was puffing and tired and I knew there was something wrong other than her mourning her sister. We all knew. So this image was taken after her Sister’s death and before her own death sentence was known. I’m still interested in such sculpture, my interest in death has never changed. I have been since I was very small and most of my family started dying. I saw my first dead body age 5 or 6. My Granny. Our tradition is to view the body before the funeral. So I kissed the corpse in it’s box. I’d seen her hooked up to chemo, lose her hair, wear a wig, wear a little turban, grow her hair back (completely different than before – grew back curly) and then see her no more. Next was my Aunt. It went on like this for a few years. Then years of calm.