February 15th – Triggers

One of the things which sometimes bewilders others about depression is the unwillingness to listen to music; watch sad movies or odd tv shows. I find I avoid fiction or modern non-fiction because any little trigger can be hiding in there, seemingly innocuous, and it can jump out from a chord; a scene or a page and set me back to one of the worst places I’ve visited in my mind. Historical tragedy; massacre; famine and oppression though – no problem.

For example, I can’t listen to Chasing Cars; anything by Stars; Missy Higgins; The Scientist or Linger: I can’t watch Atonement or The Piano (which has an upsetting Stockholm syndrome premise anyway, if I remember correctly), movies I enjoyed enormously at the time, particularly for their scores. I have had a fear of Black Mirror which existed long before  I saw just one episode that the King thought I’d enjoy and seeing as it was his birthday, I watched it. There are so many cultural experiences: music; film; novels; art exhibitions; plays; poetry that isn’t comic which terrify me because of the immediate sense of panic and uncomfortable heat stirred up to boiling by them. But even moreso, the residual simmering of doom; the sense of otherness and displacement brought on by a sad song; a tragic movie; a serious novel; a heartbroken poem; a shocking piece of art – like a nightmare; I can’t shake it, often for days.

I immerse myself in documentaries; historical biographies and the novels of Harry Potter are my recurrent refuge when I need to escape, and they’re not exactly all cheer and human goodness.

So am I just avoiding life? Or am I protecting myself? Am I living in a bubble of my own making or have I simply got to know my triggers well enough to intuitively cut them out?

Yet, I read the news. The recent case against two Ulster rugby players has been a huge source of anxiety for me and I fell into the trap of getting involved in online comments section on rugby forums – I was called an idiot twice in twelve hours for suggesting that most cases of rape are not false accusations. I think this has had much to do with my recent slip into a minor blue funk. I want to know what is happening in this world of tragedy and moreover, I wish I could do something tangible to help victims of rape; women and girls who are oppressed and undervalued and those for whom a different sort of education could prove the difference between a life loved and a life existed.

So, the question is: how do you avoid your triggers but still do something about them?

Answers on a postcard please…

Dot 🐄

 

February 11th – Thank Yoga

I recall an ex of mine telling me that when I was good, there was nobody like me. I was the best person to be around and I attracted people to me. The downside of that was that when I was down, I was impossible: he had to get away from me. While I understood, and empathised with him being in love with a girl who was lovable only thirty percent of the time; I also resented that he could walk away – I couldn’t. I was stuck inside my head one hundred per cent of the time with no escape. Even when I sleep, like last night, I am at risk of being more drained because of the nightmares than when I went to bed. Cold sweats and dark images; terror and paralysis, like bloody Macbeth.

I can totally understand why people with mental health issues turn to hardcore pharmaceuticals and often spiral into a demise of illegal street drugs. I’ve been taking Venlafaxine for three and a half years and it works in that I’m still alive; functioning and my fiancé and daughter can probably live with me for more than thirty percent of the time now. I can live in my own head for seventy percent of the time now so there exists some sort of numerical parallel. However, as my life has progressed towards what qualifies as my most successful years in terms of relationships; career and sociability since I was sixteen, the strain on my emotions becomes increasingly tense and I’m reminded that I have a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder and PTSD – I forget that which makes sense because one of the features is being way too hard on yourself. I never think I have enough done in a day: my endless quest for productivity leads to almost complete burnout and then I end up sick, either physically with a cough I cannot shake off or a mental weariness so profound that I don’t have the will to get up to pee. No wonder my pelvic floor feels eighty years old. In short, I’m not sure the Venlafaxine is cutting it anymore. But at least, the migraines have subsided with the Sibellium .

One of the things that I am most looking forward to is the ground drying out in Spring and getting out to the garden to bring my plants back to life. The ground, like my mind, is sodden and heavy. It’s strange when you get to the age when gardening is a thing for you. I used to love baking but now the kitchen usually needs to be cleaned up before anyone can use it and I just don’t have the mental energy to do that, or the time, it seems. I do of course have the time, I could make the time, but it’s another of those things that just gets shunted to the side in the blur that is trying to get through the day and get everything done. Like reading. If I try to sit down to read, I fall asleep after five minutes, my eyes are so gritty from a day of keeping on top of everything. I am always tired, but tired in a way that my nerves are on edge and liable to fray at any moment. That’s why audiobooks are my saviour. I can keep moving while I listen and therefore not risk falling asleep for two hours and therefore, miss out on two hours of getting stuff done.

Which brings me to yoga. I didn’t get up till 2:45pm today. I went to bed at 11:15pm. I tried to get up around 11am but I could barely move. I could barely talk to anyone in the house. The burning paralysis was back. Then, I remembered my cousin sending me a link for a yoga teacher on YouTube and looked her up. I did the morning yoga routine (even though it was by now 3.30pm). It wasn’t easy and trying to follow the screen while manoeuvering into sun salutations was frustrating. Added to that the grotesque state of my almost size 14 body bubbling over at me in the mirror. My muscles and bones creaked and my fat got in the way but I did it and guess what, I felt better. I don’t; feel amazing now: I am sneezing and I could still go back to bed but I am washed and dressed in clean, comfy clothes and I’m going to watch the rugby on record.

I pity my fiance and my daughter, even the dogs, having to live in the same house as me on days like this. But they’re still here so maybe the good days are very good days,  and my ex was right about one thing.

Dot 🐄

 

 

 

 

 

Miasma of Gloom

I’ve been sick today with a cough and general miasma of gloom in my bones and my soul.

Despite being self-employed, I stayed in bed and slept for the majority of the day but when not asleep, berated myself for being lazy and in bed which hasn’t led to much of a rest day.

I can feel things slipping away from me: bills; housework; parenting; wife-ing; work; fitness… and I have to get back on top of it all or I will drown in a lake of mundanity.

The King (I have no idea what nickname to call the husband-to-be in this blog anymore as no pseudonym seems to do his handsomeness; wit; generosity or patience justice so, he’s the King for now) and I had a blissfully secluded few days away in Ashley Park House this past weekend so I should be refreshed and grateful but instead I am wallowing in a fog of my brain’s own making.

Tomorrow, I will be better. Tomorrow, I will face the day despite my coughing in its face and I will begin to rise to the top of that pile of daily life shite. And if I don’t, I will breathe and remember to ask for help: I will sit; I will drink tea and count my blessings, of which there are many.

Anyone else need a kick up the arse?

 

 

Witching Hour

I had a stressful day yesterday. Not stressful in any way serious or important: just everyday life, a hundred things to do and not enough time or mental energy to do it all stressful.

I could go through all the things that happened to make my day stressful but as previously mentioned, they’re not important.

What is important is that I’m now lying here, unable to sleep, convincing myself that I’m an alcoholic with a propensity to selfish overreaction and an attention deficit disorder.

Ah, insomnia.

Life, and all that jazz, again…

It’s been a year and half since my last post and I’ve just realised that that sounds a lot like the prologue into the enforced ritual of the Catholic confession.

Unlike confession however, I’m drinking red wine, although maybe that’s how the priest got through the interminable flow of teenage girls coming from the neighbouring convent school to “confess’ their sins of not going to bed when they were told; giving back cheek to their mothers; using bad language and not saying their nightly prayers on Tuesday  – those priests surely knew confession was a ‘get out of class’ ticket for us and that we would never tell them (old men who we barely recognised, let alone trusted!) what we had actually been up to? Confessional nostalgia aside, however, it’s weird and terrifying to be writing again because, these days I’m back in my home town and I have a career which makes me somewhat visible and the people who know that I’m the real Dotty Rocker, well, I’ll probably meet them in Tesco. Then again, I remind myself, confessing our weaknesses in private darkness didn’t really get us anywhere Catholic Ireland, now did it? So, in the interest of open and honest mental health debate, here I am, listening to the soundtrack from The Crown (it’s great for running); sitting in the reading nook that I hardly ever use because I’m “too busy”; ready to self-evaluate.

The last time I wrote I was seeing someone and I thought it would probably last a while, now, we’re engaged; the wedding is booked; we moved house twice in eight months; left our beloved Dublin: adopted two new dogs (we now have 4 dogs and very few unchewed shoes); had a few blazingly serious arguments; wondered why we’re so often too tired for sex and rediscovered how good the sex is when we finally have the energy; pulled one kid out of school because she was basically too far beyond mainstream education and we’re hippies at heart; put on a collective 5 stone and started running/pilates/gym again to try shift it; taught the other kid how to swim; have nice manners and understand the depth of our love for him; opened/relaunched and expanded two businesses; wondered most months how we’ll pay the bills and then marvelled at how they always get paid in the end; buried a darling family friend; tried for a baby for 14 months and have just now discovered that I’m not ovulating properly (if at all – I have to have more tests); had an early miscarriage; drank approximately 500 bottles of wine and 20 bottles of gin; I convinced myself that I was an alcoholic and then realised that actually, I’m not, thanks to the reassurance of My Girl and Future Hoosband; had a wonderful week in Paris; fallen out with my dad a couple of times; fallen out BIG TIME with My Girl’s dad (as has she); joyfully reconnected with My Girl’s dad’s dad and her aunts and uncles (which is glorious); started coaching little people rugby with My Girl; haven’t seen even nearly enough of my sort of ex-step daughter; joined two choirs; had to give up one due to work commitments; learned more Christmas carols in record time than I can care to count; I’ve been through 5 different migraine meds and have finally found one that has enabled me to be migraine free for 6 weeks; moved to just around the corner from my main mama, my Nana (who turned 96 and still likes to have her hair done fortnightly and make risqué jokes over her tea); had the best night of my life with my sistafromanothermista at Coldplay in Croke Park; watched Wonder Woman and fell in love with the mind of Patti Jenkins; stayed up all night and watched in horror as Donald J. Trump was elected President of a country that I used to love, respect and consider my second home and walked into a house party, delightfully unaware that the man who raped me when I was 16 was obnoxious and drunk in the living room. That’s quite the list, but I think the thing to remember is that when I saw him, being generally an embarrassment and a dick to his wife – I  kept it together; friendly; chatty; enthusiastic – supported by Hoosband TO BE and My Girl, he was the one who left the room: he vanished and nobody asked his whereabouts. I came home and fell apart; Hoosband and My Girl stripped me and showered me and showed me the greatest display of love and safety… and I won. He left the room, and he lost that battle.

And I intend to win the war.

I decided to write today because I had a bad day. The bad days usually just come now when I’m premenstrual and boy, am I a raging hormonal mess today. I could not get my energy levels up or my temper down this morning but with encouragement, I made it to the beach with Hoosband; My Girl and the 4 doggos and despite early stress induced screams and rants, calmed the fuck down and actually enjoyed it. Then a bath: a lie down; an all encompassing, ‘make everything better snuggle’ in the huge strong arms of Hoosband (think Rollo from Vikings but with a sexy Essex accent) , we took my darlin Nana for a drive around town to her old familiar stomping grounds and new developments that she remember only as fields. I am really trying to be a good granddaughter to repay some of what she has done for me, but again, I was “too busy” there for a while – trust me, you’re never to busy for life and love.

I guess I’ve realised today that depression never really goes away. Hormones; life; dips in serotonin – anything can trigger the demon again. At one point on the beach today, I thought, I can’t do another day; things will never change in my head and my head is a prison but here I am:writing and feeling the thrill of writing –  alive and calm and wondering when my sautéed potatoes and bacon will be ready.

And how are you? I’d love to know how some of my regular readers are doing.

 

th-2

Episode 2.1 – Let’s Start Over

It’s been a while. A long while. Everything is different yet some things, the shitty things, linger on.

Very recently, I attended a social event. I don’t attend many. We’ve moved house. Actually, we’ve moved county: from the bright lights and extortionate rents of a tiny South Dublin flat to a sprawling, converted cottage surrounded by fields. Whereas before, we woke up to horn beeping taxis and drunk revellers singing out of tune at three in the morning, now we hear only the howls of the hunt hounds in the distance and the odd cow mooing her displeasure when our newest puppy escapes into her pasture to roll around in cow shite. This is the kind of house that’s hard to leave. Every nook and cranny holds a new treasure; a new spot of soothing sunlight or a snippet of history carved into the walls. So, venturing out to a social event is a rare occurrence.

You can imagine then my, disgruntlement (aside: recurring linguistic discussion topic in our house: can one be “gruntled’?) when I arrived at said social event to find none of other than The Guy Who Did The Thing When I was 16 sitting there, having the bants.

That was a couple of weeks ago. And I’m still not right.

I haven’t quite had a total meltdown…yet. I’ve been close to walking away: walking out of the house with a Beyoncé like flip of the wrist, declaring “I’m done’. I haven’t. I’m here in the kitchen writing this which is something, even if I started it six days ago and couldn’t pluck the words out of my scalded pre-frontal cortex.

I think I spotted him as soon as I walked in. “Spotted” seems the wrong word as it suggests a quick movement; a glance. This didn’t feel quick. It felt like a slow, sticky mist descending upon me and glueing my jaw shut. I don’t know what I talked about. I knew there were faces in front of me expectant of words: not just words, but fully formed sentences to emerge, glistening with charm and wit, to come from my mouth. I managed to spill out something barely comprehensible to my lovely, strong, kind, nerdy, handsome fiancé: I can’t do this. He’s here, the guy. Here. He didn’t blink. He was calm.  He held my hand as I talked. He was steady. I was manic; liquid; ethereal. He says I did well. He says I didn’t embarrass myself. He says The Guy Who Did The Thing is a dick: drunk; loud; obnoxious; horrible to his significant other and generally dismissed by polite company.

The Ben and Jerry’s is out.

I held it together. He left. There was an unrelated situation that needed to be dealt with and I happened to be in a position to help deal with it. I coped. I even helped someone else. Then I came home and cried in the kitchen. I needed him cleaned off me. Scrubbed. He was all over me. Tentacles sucking normality out of my pores but yet, and this weirdly hurts the most, not looking at me; not acknowledging me; not seeing me.

The Ben and Jerry’s is gone.

That was several weeks ago and I’m still withdrawn; snappy; knotted in stress; unable to sleep at night yet lethargic and uninterested during the day. Teaching is my only solace and even during that, it  is difficult to maintain focus. I’m trying to be sociable and not let him win – after all, I won that night when he had to leave early – but I desperately want to be alone; silent; available for self care (whatever the fuck that is); to win for myself.

 

My eyes are closing. I have more to say; to write. I just don’t have the words yet.

Maybe I won’t leave it another year till I write again.

Dot 💚

 

 

 

 

Episode 142 – Why does this feel so personal?

Thoughts and Feelings on the 2016 US Election Results from Two Irish Women- The Day After Trump Won

Dotty,35

I don’t know where to start other than I feel sick and that’s not because of the two glasses of red wine I’ve had at this unusually early hour for me. I, my daughter and many of the women I now are physically traumatised. It sounds ridiculous. I feel like I’m some sort of sensationalist wannabe by even admitting to my distress and grief, but the feeling is there and I can’t ignore it. Like the mourners who keened for Princess Diana in 1997, the mourners I scorned for their outpouring of what I assumed to be fake, attention seeking  emotion, I know get how something so public can feel so personal .

Why does it feel so bad? Why does it feel like we’ve been humiliated; rejected and punched in the stomach? It wasn’t me who lost an election, I haven’t been rejected by the American electoral system, twice. I don’t even know the woman who was. I’m not even American. I’m Irish and we’ve already had two women Presidents despite our abysmal record on women’s rights.

I have so many questions and very few answers, I guess everyone is in the same boat. I’ve just been  added to a WhatsApp “support” group for women (and men) who are finding themselves in a sort of existential limbo today. I have countless articles open and ready to read in an effort to substantiate my own visceral reactions through the cold, hards words of others. My own words, I’m aware, are rambling and raw.

Is it just because she’s a woman that it feels so crap? Is it because it’s the same woman, uniquely and unequivocally qualified to be the Commander-in-Chief that we are so despondent? What more can a woman do in order to avoid being ousted by a silver spooned, bullying, misogynistic 80s leftover for a job she has basically trained for her whole life? Must we be perfect to the point of complete absence of sin or human error and full to the angelic crown of purity like the Virgin Mary in order to finally split the glass ceiling? Maybe that’s what a halo is for, as it certainly doesn’t seem like a stiletto, let alone a low heeled tan court shoe, will impact on the barrier between woman and greatness.  Is it because our hopes were high and we were persuaded into blind faith by polls and the left leaning media that it’s the shock factor that we’re dealing with right now? Or was she the wrong woman for the job? Did we need someone more exciting for Americans to throw their enthusiasm behind? Was she just too tainted by her husband’s escapades; her founding role in a new potential political dynasty or by her past failures and mistakes? If she had been anybody else’s wife would this have happened? Then again would she even have got this far if not for the exposure that marrying William Jefferson Blythe Clinton would bring her. Did she need him to make it even this far? Hillary Rodham won the popular vote so I know that she wasn’t as hated by Americans as many liked to claim she was. What exactly was the problem? Why couldn’t she bring those last few states home?

I still don’t know why I feel so shit about all this exactly but I’m guessing it has something to do our family and friends in America; being a woman who has experienced assault and harassment; being a liberal; being a mother to a 16 year old girl; being a feminist; being a human who tries not to be a massive boil on the arse of humanity. I’m guessing all sorts of people from all demographic backgrounds are feeling dismayed, discouraged and distressed (basically, you’re feeling all the disses) and for now, that’s all I can clearly, and not very at that, get out in words rather than angry screams or exhausted sighs.

Scandi, 16

Dear America,
Congratulations, you’ve done it. You have elected Donald Trump for your President. (To all Clinton supporters, thank you very much for trying to oppose him). You’ll be happy now that you have this man who ‘understands America’. This ‘outsider’ has become an insider, this ‘truth speaker’. You must be delighted he ‘Trumped that Bitch’ as your delightful shirts say. I honestly hope you’re happy.
On your happy day I would like to ask you some questions, don’t worry, you don’t need to reply. Just think on it.
Hillary Clinton has run for president twice, why do you think that she has never succeeded? First in the race for the democratic nomination in 2008, then in 2016, against your main man Donald J. Trump. Now, don’t use her emails as an excuse, they didn’t even exist in 2008. Is is because to you, a woman should never have that much power? Is it because, a woman as president is a ludicrous thought? If your answer is yes to either of these questions, please try to think of your reasoning.
Do you agree that all Mexican people are rapists? Did you know that 57% of rapists are white? Would you want Donald Trump around your daughter, around your sister, around you? Do you think it’s ok to ‘grab a woman by the pussy’? Do you think that a rich, famous man can do anything he wants just because he is famous? Would you ‘grab a woman by the pussy’? If you are going to say that this is locker room talk, then what fucking locker rooms do you go to? A prison locker room for rapists?
Do you disagree that women who were raped, or victims of incest, should be denied abortions? Do you think it’s ok to gun down or bomb a Planned Parenthood centre because ‘They are murdering babies’. Did you know that 33% of women who have been raped contemplate suicide, and 13% follow through. Did you know the number of children conceived from rape ranges from 7,750—12,500 in the US every year?
You say Clinton should be in prison for sending her emails on a private server, for rumours of embezzlement in the Clinton foundation. Do you not think that a man, who said that he can just kiss a woman because he’s famous, that he ‘moved on’ a married woman ‘like a bitch’ and that he just grabs women ‘by the pussy’ is completely innocent, is a great man against Mexican rapists. Did you know that Trump has court cases pending against him for fraud? Did you know he had a rape case against him of a 13 year old girl? That just disappeared? Do you know that 11 women have accused him of sexual assault? Please tell me, how you think this is ok?
On the topic of ‘those darned immigrants’, tell me, you constantly say that latino immigrant are ‘taking your jobs’ but would you do they jobs that they are willing to do so they can send money home to their families? Would you build Taco Bells, would you collect garbage? Would you risk your life to cross a border to a country you thought would hold a better future for you and your family, to escape the crime, the danger, the poverty? They come to a country to escape and they are escaping into a country that holds them as criminals, wasters, not worthy. Tell me, where did this picture you have painted of immigrants from Central America come from, is it the simple fact that their skin is darker than yours?
Do you think it’s ok for police to shot a young black man, because he looked suspicious? Do you think that black communities should be monitored and patrolled by police just because the population is black? I’m sorry, I forgot it’s 1952. Do you not think that Black Lives Matter? You’re going to say all lives matter, yes, they do. But that’s not the point, black people are still persecuted in America purely for the colour of their skin. Do you realise how ridiculous that is? Have you heard the story of Robert Davis from New Orleans who was arrested and brutally beaten on suspicion of public intoxication? Would that have happened to a white man, or would he just have been told to go home and get a cup of coffee? What about Amadou Diallo, the Guinea immigrant who was shot and killed by police in New York as they “Thought he had a gun, looked suspicious, and may have been assisting in a crime.” The officers shot 41 times into his Bronx apartment. When he came out they shot him as he put his hand in his pocket and they thought he had a gun. It was his wallet. Did you know those officers were acquitted of second degree murder and other charges a year later?
Were you aware that Vice President Mike Pence still believes in conversion therapy?
Are you aware of the effect this will have on the LGBTQ+ community? What is wrong with not being straight? It’s against the bible? Did you know the bible is also against mixed fabrics and kid gloves? Check the label on your shirt if I were you, I can almost guarantee you’re sinning. As President Bartlett said in the West Wing, they bible also says it’s ok to sell your daughter, tell me, how much would I be worth?

America, Irish people have loved you for a long time. We held you in great esteem, we helped to build your country. Did you know that the architect who designed Donald Trumps future residence, The White House, was Irish. Did you know that your country used to have signs in windows of businesses saying “No Blacks or Irish need apply?”. We were not worthy of your time. Now, you’re suddenly all related to Paddy O Donnell from Tipperary? America, we think you’ve gotten a bit too big for your boots. If Paddy O’ Donnell saw how you were acting, he wouldn’t be proud.
You may think I have no right to an opinion of your country, but think of me as a concerned sister. I have spend most summers of my life in your country and God, did I love it. But the older I get, the more cracks I see in your facade, the facade of the American dream.

Think on it,
Sincerely,
A 16 year old, white, straight, Irish girl.

 

Interlude – Do you know how big a deal this is?

It’s Election Day 2016 in the United States of America and I’m sitting in a stuffy room in the Republic of Ireland. It might be worth remembering at this point that Ireland is a Republic in large part to the financial support of a prosperous Irish-American community who, after fleeing starvation; deprivation and stifling religious and social constraints, became the American Dream (albeit faced with the anti-Catholic – and anti-anything-but-WASP – prejudice which still pervades the great American experiment today). We have followed in the rebellious footsteps of the American Revolution against the Empire, as well as in Netflix and chill binges, but I sure as hell hope we don’t follow them in Trump’s “movement”.

I’m listening to a guy deliver a training programme on how to start your own business. There are six of us today – attendance fluctuates each week. There are fifteen of us on the list. One guy makes silicone models of vehicles to be played with in conjunction with a post-apocalyptic table top game for which he also sells his game plans; stack cards and creates some sort of online platform. It all sounds impressively millennial to my borderline Gen X gaming experience of which the sum total is Pacman on my uncle’s boxy old wooden TV in the 80s and a couple of rounds of Sonic the Hedgehog which I quickly abandoned for The Cranberries and a book of poetry. A fellow educator in her 40s  just asked GameBoy if the post-apocalyptic vehicular gaming experience is a new trend or a gaming breakthrough that will continue to grow in popularity.

“It will if Hillary Clinton gets elected…”, chimed in an unnervingly cerebral, quietly argumentative man.

I didn’t look up but my eyes did close slowly and somewhat dramatically as a small sigh betrayed my desire to punch him in his bespectacled face.

This is the second time in three weeks, in this very room, that we’ve had an anti-Clinton comment. During a workshop on taxation in late October, the US Election, inevitably, came up. (I wonder does America realise that we are all watching? and I mean ALL as in every other nation on the planet just can’t get our collective global head around the fact that you, the nation that gave us Jed Bartlet, Matt Santos and Leslie Knope could possibly consider Donald Jackass (that’s what the J is for, right?) Trump for its highest office.) A woman taking part mentioned Trump’s taxes, another woman said she hoped Clinton would win.

TaxMan: “She”s a witch! She belongs in jail. I can’t stand her. She’s evil.”

Oh, I didn’t realise I’d been transported back to Salem in 1692.

Firstly, how very fucking professional of you. Secondly, you’re delivering a tax course telling us business start-up hopefuls to pay our taxes while effectively declaring your support for a man who should never ever be considered a business role model, or even an example of, you know, a human. At the time of that particular instance of what I can only assume is ill-informed, deep rooted fuckery, I hadn’t yet mastered the keep-your-head-down trick of saving my energy from being sucked into the guts of misogynists and narrow minded, privileged shite hawks. He mentioned that he protested against water charges. Yes, I made up my mind about him right then. How’s that for prejudice?

We are attempting to stay up tonight to follow the results on CNN while fuelled by hot dogs, mac and cheese and chocolate chip cookies.

I have a million words in my head and my heart about this Election but right now I want to go and watch Hillary Clinton become Madam President Elect with my sixteen year old daughter who might have baked cookies tonight but now she will know that she too can “fulfil her profession” safe in the knowledge that that damn glass ceiling splintered the scalps of misogyny on the night of November 8th 2016.

More to be done? Hell yeah. But this is a really big fucking deal.

Dot 💚

 

Interlude – Update 

Over 5 months since I wrote. I was on a flight to the States. I was headed into a summer of family, friends, sunshine and good food.

Now it’s November in Dublin. 

Everything has changed in those 5 months and 2 weeks. My life is unrecognisable. In a good way I think. 

I’ve started writing again – I’d grown scared of it, again. 

So this is a quick, oh hello there, to reintroduce Dotty, who, despite infinitely more stable circumstances, still exists. Albeit in a much more robust and defiant shell. 

I have a feeling I’ll be writing about the Trump. My thoughts and intellectual energy seem to be spent on the extended SNL skit that is this American Election. Except this isn’t funny… because it’s real. 

Anyway, Dotty returns. 

💚

Episode 141 – Jet Planing

I’m leaving on a jet plane…

I played this song for … this morning before we got up as a tease to remind him that I was headed for Texas for 5 ½ weeks today and he was going to work. The Jewel/Bjork version from Sweet Home Alabama is my favourite – probably very uncoolly, but I loved that movie, possibly the only chick flick I’ve ever actually enjoyed; rewatched; bought on DVD and been able to quote off-by-heart. I like that, in the song, the female voice is singing that she’s the one who messed up; she’s the one who didn’t know if she was ready to settle down; she had to leave and she did not know how long she needed to be away for but she would come back, and when she did, she would be beside him, forever. It’s reassuring to hear a woman’s voice admitting that she needed to do her own thing, that she needs to be in control of her own destination, and her own destiny. I guess breaking up with … was a bit like that for me, I just didn’t know. I needed to be sure and I needed to be on my own for a while to decide. Now I have decided, I’d like not to leave him for so long again. Unless it’s a book tour.

 

As an aside, I’m just finishing up listening to this book on Audible and it has been inspiring: I do not use that word lightly.

 

Also, I am on a plane to Chicago en route to Dallas/Fort Worth to see the family. It seems like only yesterday our darling Amercian Dad booked our flights because it was taking me too long to save up the fare. He and my American Mom are total legends – just read back through my blog posts to get an idea of how awesome they are to Scandi and me. Imagine how it feels to have parents on two continents… #spoiled

 

We’ve just had lunch; Scandi has just finished watching Juno. She cried. She’d never seen it before. I cried the first time I saw it too.

 

Juno is a good name.

 

It’s a funny thing to find your life in a upward spiral when your mental health has been dragging it down for so many years. Suddenly you find yourself onboard an Airbus 330 to the States and you haven’t had a panic attack while going through immigration. Sure, I was stressed last week when I had some students entered in exams for the Speech and Drama I’d been teaching them all year, but I got through it. The knot in my stomach went away and they enjoyed it. I achieved something with those children and I learned a huge amount about to move ahead with my arts project in the future. And I didn’t get a migraine out of it. Or have a meltdown.

 

Which leads me on to the subject of work. I’m still on unpaid sick leave from my permanent job as a secondary school teacher. Did I write about this? Quite possibly. My employer has been a bit shitty of late, in my eyes anyway, and in the opinions of those who love me. I get it – they need clarification but when it comes to mental health and recovery, it’s not quite as simple as “you’re either ready to resume your post on a full time basis or you’re not”. This is not what I had been led to belive in previous meetings but during the second to last meeting with the HR Department, this was pretty much the ultimatum.

“You look great, you seem to me to be doing well”.

Oh, right, thanks. I must be ok if I look good.

“I look fine because I’m desperately trying to keep fit; eat well and sleep in order to keep myself on the straight and narrow. If you’d seen me last Sunday, unable to get out bed; overwhelmed by the faithful old burning paralysis you wouldn’t be saying that.”

“We all have bad days and sick days”, was the response I got.

 

When I arrived for my next scheduled meeting,it hadn’t been written in the diary so there was nobody there to meet with me.

A medical was arranged for me by email with their independent GP practice. It was for 8.30am on the same Monday that I was due to be at the Rape Crisis Centre at 9.30am. The Rape Crisis Centre is a charity, recently the victim of funding cuts and severly limited on time and resources. It’s not an appointment I can change and if I miss it, it’s not good for me. I need to make that appointment every time.

“I can go to the doctor’s appointment till 9 but then I need to leave to be at the RCC by 9.30am. Is that ok?”

“Could you not push the RCC appointment out as this medical is required?”

[In my head] I don’t think you get how important this is to my recovery. Would you ask a cancer patient to move their chemo session out? Please can you go reschedule that hip replacement so that you can make OUR appointment?

 

I was enraged, embarrassed. I dind’t like having to tell a complete stranger that I needed ongoing counselling at the Rape Crisis Centre. Why did I have to explain myself?

 

Reluctantly, and after a few days (I think she works part time and nobody else seems to pick up her emails), I was told to go to an appointment the following morning.

“I need more than 18 hours’ notice”, I told her, “I can’t do tomorrow.”

I provided times that I could, or it would have to wait until I got home from America. I was not dodging the appointment, I have nothing to hide about my state of mind or the fact that there is no way I could be put back into a classroom five days a week at this point and expected not to end up in a psychiatric unit or worse, a morgue. Following this, the HR Manager sent an email “requesting me to rethink my availabilty” as my attendance was compulsory. I was never not going to go, I just need to arrange a time that suited everyone. So, eventually, an appointment was made for this morning at 6.45am. I got up and threw half decent clothes on. The boyfiend dropped me there. I went in and the doctor couldn’t spell my name, or pronounce it. I don’t blame her, nobody can. She looked for me on the system. I wasn’t there. She went off to look again to see if I was in the book for during the week. I wasn’t. I wasn’t in their system at all. No appointment had been made. I emailed work straight away to let them know. The administrator who had asked me to change my RCC apoointment is not in the office until tomorrow: auto reply. The HR manager replied a few hours later. She was sorry and had I confirmed with X the adminstrator? Eh, yes. I had. So now what happens? Do they dismiss me because I can’t attend until the end of June or do I do a conference call? Or do I tell them where to stick their appointment? (Obviously, I won’t, I’m contracted to attend. But I’m not coming home early from America to do so.)

 

There is a lot of he said/she said in the above, which is tedious, but the overall aim in delivering the detail to you is to question if this is commom behaviour or attitude among companies and organistions in the treatment of employees on sick leave, for physical reasons but also, more relevantly to me, for mental illness.

 

Or am I a super sensitive nit picker?

 

A year ago, even 6 months ago, this would all have sent me into a tizzy of hot flashes and cold sweats; enormous guilt and a flood of apologies. But this time, I stood my ground. Even if it was the wrong battle to fight, I’’m glad I said what I felt needed to be pointed out. I want to get back into productive employment: I don’t think anyone could reasonably accuse me of laziness. But I will not be coerced, goaded or bullied back into it at the risk of my mental health. I’ve done that once before, and I ended up right back at square one.

 

I would love to hear your stories of employers and mental health. I’m sure there are horror stories out but I’m hopeful that there are some progressive and compassionate bosses too.

 

We are now three hours into a seven and a half hour flight and I think it’s nap time.

 

Ruth Bader Ginsberg and I bid you a good night (or good day, depending on which time zone you’re reading this from).

Dot 💚

PS The necklace is a present from American mom & dad.