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Monday, 15 June 2015

There's a fly in my room. It's stupid and won't leave.

Oop. New layout. Fancy.

Ever since I wrote my last post, I’ve wanted to take it down. Edit it, break it apart and put it back together. But I don’t know whether that’s out of embarrassment, a feeling of failure/weakness/being pathetic, or whether it’s because I want order. I desperately want order and perfection and sense and logic and stability. I’m obsessed with it. I want meaning. If not for others, for myself. But I’m at the point now where I’m realising sometimes that’s not possible. I’m not okay with it, but I know life doesn’t work like that.

I’m struggling. Admitting it, right now. S t r u g g l i n g. I moved back home two weeks ago after three years at university and I am like a deer in headlights. And sure, I’m no different from any other graduand (that’s a real life word describing someone who has finished their degree but is yet to graduate, apparently ¯\_()_/¯). Unless you are sound in yourself, your career path, your surroundings, your opportunities (delete as applicable, just one would do), of course you’d be a deer in headlights. Hell, even if you ARE sound in yourself, your career path, etc, you can feel like a deer in headlights.  Life is fucking tough. This world is scary and mostly awful (if you need any pessimism, I have a lot to share around), and you can feel like and be the most independent little shit and still feel terrified about your future lying on just your shoulders now. No more fall back of education (if you’re not carrying on – and if you are, why, are you okay?) and knowing what’s coming next. I HAVE LITERALLY NO IDEA WHAT’S COMING NEXT, and no that doesn’t excite me, it terrifies me and has had me crying most days since I came home.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not just being dramatic about leaving the security and consistency of education. Well, I am. But I spent a lot of my last two years at my university’s medical centre or the hospital trying to work out some serious shit. It never got worked out. I won’t talk about it, I’m not ready to, and there’s a fucking lot to sift through. So I’m going to categorise it all. Do what I do best and lay it all out in sections. Then write about it. Maybe. If not for others, for myself. Yeah, I do want to help others who may have been through similar. I’d bloody love that, because I wish I had something like this to read when I didn’t have a fucking clue what was going on with me. But I’m tired of relying on others. I want to help myself. So I’m going to write it all here. Maybe when I’m smack bang in the middle of a ‘freak-out’, as I’ve labelled it to people, or maybe when I’m feeling alright and just want to get it out and write it down. I might even create a different page on here specifically for mental health. Because it’s important. It needs its own page, its own pedestal to shout from.

So I won’t delete last week’s post, and I won’t delete anything else. I know that I need to re-register with the doctor here at home and start again. That’s important. And I also know that maybe I should shut up about all this and not publicise it. Airing dirty laundry, or whatever they say.  But this is important and I care about my own health than others’ embarrassment, judgement and agendas. And if I'm honest, I just really want some support.

Anyway, I’m going to write about food next so you can all shut up and eat up.

Monday, 8 June 2015

White toast smothered in butter, please.

It’s 10:04 on Monday 8th June 2015 and I’ve just come round from 

come through the other side of

beaten

recovered from

about managed to stop shitting, being numb, my chest from feeling like an overweight, pregnant, giant elephant has set up camp on it, any adrenaline that’s actually left in my body from speeding around and punching parts of my body like an angry small child in the playground, and my mind and body from being in the most intense stand-off with each other since….well…since the last time I had a panic attack.

I don’t get them often. Anxiety attacks are my forté, my jam, my homeboy. They’re different. I know my anxiety attacks. I don’t know my panic attacks. They’re like the family members you see once a year, if that, who say, “Look at you! I haven’t seen you since you were THIS small!”, which is funny because panic attacks make you feel like the most small, fragile, muted, snotty little shit who just wants to cling on to your mum’s leg and run away from those family members who insist on invading your personal space and getting to know everything about you.

Is that a good metaphor? 

I’ve just finished an English degree, I should know. I should be good at them. I should just be good, I have a degree. That makes you good, doesn’t it? Isn't that how it works?

I had so many writing plans for when I moved out of Bournemouth and back home. I was going to dig out this blog, dust it down, give it a shake to wake it up, give it a makeover, and write so many brilliant posts. The big comeback! Jazz hands, my name in lights. I was going to plan them all, have some themes, a posting timetable, some main focuses, a logic to it all. I was going to feel wonderful again. Confident, and believe in myself. Determined. Okay. Just okay, really.

But panic attacks, and anxiety attacks, and any form of your mental health slipping off track, don’t abide by logic, or reason, or planning. Nor does this post. I’m tired of waiting to feel good, optimistic, calm, organised before I start writing again. It’s not going to happen. This will not go away. So here I am, sitting in bed and breathing normally, 352…353 words down.

I don’t know if it feels good or not.

I never liked planning anyway. 

I probably sound pretentious. I’ve already backspaced enough to make the arrow fade on the backspace key, because all I’m thinking is, “Sound like a twat”, “No one cares”, “Why are you bothering to blog, they’ll laugh at you”, “God you’re boring, change the tune”, “You’re no good at this anymore”.

Just realised I wrote that in the second person. I was going to change it, but no. Because that IS what it’s like. It’s not me thinking and saying those things, it’s something else. And that something else doesn’t exist. 

IT’S SO HARD TO WRITE ABOUT YOUR OWN ANXIETY.

AM I MAKING ANY SENSE?

Maybe I should have planned it.

I’ve written it now, so. Whatever. I did it, guys. I wrote something. I’m doing that thing again. Hooray.

This is how I’m feeling now, and that’s all that matters. Some truth. Something real. 

I want breakfast.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Sexual assault and me. And so many others.

I'd just turned 17 when I had my first. It was my first day of work experience in London and I'd spent an age deciding on an outfit. The heavily fallen snow the night before didn't help. I was made to wear gloves, hat, and scarf by my parents so obviously they now had to match the rest of the outfit. And boots. I had to wear my boots. But that meant I couldn't wear my jeans because they went all crinkly at the bottom when I tucked them in. I went for shorts and tights in the end. AND TIGHTS. I WORE TIGHTS WITH THE SHORTS, STOP SHOUTING AT ME. 

"No, I'm not cold." I mumbled as mum dropped me at the station, my knees shaking so fast they went blurry. I'd be on a train soon anyway, then speed-walking to Shaftesbury Avenue to make sure I wasn't late. The trains were cancelled or delayed because of the snow and rammed. Rush hour on a Monday morning together with cancelled trains meant some serious invasion of personal space on the 8:21am to Liverpool Street, but with my earphones in and an effort to not make eye contact with the lady shouting down her phone centimetres in front of me, I was alone on that train. I was fine.

My first time started about ten minutes into the journey. I didn't even realise at first, I thought I was just standing funny. So I moved and it still felt weird, so I moved my bag thinking it was that. But it wasn't either of those things. And that's when I realised I was having my first time. Someone was touching me up behind me. 

He was rubbing my thigh. He started circling and moved his hand up my shorts. I didn't do anything. I turned my music up and let my first time just...happen. I mean it was bound to happen at some point, right? Why not now? Might as well leave him to it. It's obviously because I'm wearing shorts. Best not to cause a fuss on this packed train full of probably nice adults who might have told him to fuck off if I shouted out. No. Best not.

I was late to work that day.

It was a long break before my second time. November 2012, actually. Not long ago. I was on a train back to uni, to Bournemouth, and the train had emptied after a few stops. There was just me and a man left who slowly moved to the seat opposite. Then he had a wank in front of me. So, again, I turned up my music and stared at my reflection in the window. Best not cause a fuss. It was late, I'd be in bed soon.

I didn't sleep that night.

Not long until my third time though! Yay. In December I was on a packed train home from Cardiff and a man had his hand firmly grabbing my arse all the way back. I was going to say something this time and tap the shoulder of the lady in front. But she was in a suit and looked so tired, tutting at the group of drunk lads in front of her. Plus it was late again. Ah well, it's happened twice before, I'm used to it now. I'll be alright. 

I felt lower than low, actually. 

But wait for it...it happened again the DAY AFTER! Cor, twice in 24 hours. Aren't I the lucky one? Aren't I lucky to be chosen for a stranger's pleasure? I mean I clearly look hot if this is happening to me. I clearly look like I'd be totally okay with that. This time I was on a tube and a guy was actually trying to finger me from behind. I didn't turn up my music this time. I moved forward. But he moved with me and pushed his fingers in further. The tube pulled into the next station and the doors opened. I stared outside, at that gap a few metres away, and screamed at myself inside to move. So I did, I ran out. And I ran down the other end of the tube and jumped back on, grabbing the centre pole as the doors closed again. Then I turned up my music. Then I stared at one spot until I reached my station.

I was sick a few hours later.

I like to think I'm quite a confident and feisty person. I roll my eyes a lot and I'm very good at being sarcastic. I'll fight against most things my family say and I'll stand up for what I believe in. But I was, what, touched up? Just touched up? Molested? Sexually assaulted? What do you call it? A crime? 

Yes, yes you do call it a crime.

What did I do? Nothing. I froze. I let it happen and I didn't want to make a fuss. But what if it'd been worse? What if one of those men then followed me off the train that night and raped me? What if I was approached walking home one night and was still too scared stiff to stop it happening? 

I didn't deserve any of that. It wasn't how I was dressed and it wasn't how I was standing. Those men treated me as a faceless object of their satisfaction. Ironic, isn't it, when I never saw three of their faces. But it happened FOUR times to me. Three of those times were within weeks of each other. SURELY I must have been doing something wrong? There's not just one man, there are a lot of them. So it must be just me. I haven't heard stories of this happening to anyone else.

The thing is, it happens a lot. Every day, in fact. I ended up speaking to a group of ladies about what happened to me and it had happened to all of them, too. But I didn't know about this. I was never warned about this (I shouldn't HAVE to be, ffs) so I didn't know how to react. Neither did these ladies. Of course, the argument is that MEN should be taught not to touch women up. Not to rape, not to take advantage, and to just respect women. Women shouldn't be taught how to stop it happening to them. But in turn, women aren't taught how to react if it DOES happen to them. I didn't know to shout out, to build up my confidence, to face these men, to know that those on the train WILL support me, to talk to people afterwards, to know that I am worth so much more than these dirty men who think they can get away with this shit. Because they CAN'T. My god, they can't. They NEED to be shamed, and they NEED to be caught out. Otherwise they'll do it again, and again. And women's, mostly young women's, self-esteem will plummet and they'll bury what happened and it'll drive them crazy. And women are amazing. And as long this keeps happening, feminism will exist. 

I won't let it happen again. I'm speaking out now and I'll speak out for all the women who have and will endure this. People need to know that this happens a lot and it NEEDS to be talked about. Stories need to be shared and those men need to be shamed and caught. Shout out and grab his arm and demand respect and attention. Support a woman if she does shout out. Look out for it happening to those who are frozen. Look out for me. Make him cry and call the police. Make the biggest fuss you possibly can. 

Then turn up your music.
 
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