Episode 140 – Backlight

Really, I should be getting up in an hour or so to take part in Pieta’s Darkness Into Light,seeing as I fequently credit them with saving me from myself and my own darkness. But, instead, I am only now (2am) getting to bed and with my recent pattern of long sleeping hours; excruciatingly realistic nightmares that steal plotlines from Tom Cruise and Liam Neeson movies and sweatsoaking  through my sheets, there’s no point in pretending I’d get up and do it.

I donate a small amount to the DRCC every month but I really need to add Pieta back into my contributions. Somebody remond me to do that.

I feel guilty that I’m not doing the walk. Are there any other clinically depressed people who can’t get up at that hour of the morning to do it?

I am right at the beginning of my period. If you don’t like reading about women’s periods then X out right now. And also, loosen up.

I’ve been pre-menstrual all week and I swear my PMS symptoms are getting worse with this copper IUD inserted or else because I’m getting older. Am I perimenopausal or something? The Boyfriend (I still can’t settle on a pseudonym for him) made a comment about my PMS and period cramps the other day and I gave him a slating because he should know more about women’s bodies, being A. a health professional and B. a well-educated modern man. Truth be told, I had to Google some of what was in the discussion. Turns out I don’t know as much about women’s menstraul lives as I like to think. What I do know is that, I have been a super swing of emotion this week. And very, very tired.

Last Friday was a bad day.

Saturday was ok.

Sunday was good.

Sunday night I drank too much red wine.

NOTE TO SELF: YOU CANNOT HANDLE YOUR DRINK. YOU WILL GET A MIGRAINE.

Monday: Migraine

Tuesday: Bad day + Migraine.

Wednesday: Aftermath of a migraine + good day.

Thursday: Good day

Friday: Very bad day until 4pm. Epic fits of sneezing/start of a headcold. Becoming more productive as the day progressed and my actual period starts.

So, when the bleeding finally began, my mood started to improve. Anyone else find their mental being breathing a sigh of hormonal relief when the build up to the Period is at an end and the blood finally starts to flow?

After 10 months of owning a MacBook, I have figured out what F5 and F6 do – I can now type in the dark .

Whether or not I have been hormonally sensitised to just about everything that could possibly piss me off/make me cry this week or if this is another prolonged dip into psychological instabilty, I’m not sure. I suspect that I am in a lull and particularly susceptible to been thrown off course. I feel I need to “reset” every few days to try to get myself back on track. There have definitely been more bad days recently than there had been in a while. It’s exhausting.

What’s more exhausting is being a self-absorbed whingebag.

The last week has brought many reminders of how lucky I actually am and therefore how unbelievably horrific a person I must be to keep going on about HOW I FEEL. A series of incidents have kicked certain things back into focus:

I thought a friend’s daughter had cancer; turns out it’s the friend’s mother who is sick.

I was annoyed that I was stuck in traffic and late to teach then I realised that a woman in her 80s had been struck by a car and killed.

The young uncle of one of Scandi’s friends died after a long illness.

The current Humans of New York series reminded me how utterly precious it is to have a healthy child.

I put my foot in my gargantuan sized mouth, when feeling particularly socially awakward and self-pitying, with a newly made friend and I feel like a total tit for not thinking before I speak and possibly upsetting him.

ASIDE: One of the dogs just farted and I think I might throw up.

I absolutely have to get my shit together. We have 2 weeks left before we go to the States and I have to get myself in check. I want to get control back.

I want to be grateful and helpful and caring and organised and have all my bills paid and be a better mother and a more engaged citizen and less of a social dummy and more productive and actually do something worthwhile.

I AM A BROKEN RECORD.

It’s like I can see what’s on the other side of the glass door: me being the best version of myself, but the glass is reinforced military grade shit and I’m pushing it when it clearly says ‘PULL”.

Also, Donald Trump. I don’t know what to say there.

And our own government of medieval climate change deniers. Is it just me or does the new cabinet look even more male ?

Then, of course, this.

I’m also growing tired of faces and voices we see and hear all the time banging on about mental health and saying the same things repeatedly. The same advice is being troghed out over and over but, as with my own depression/anxiety/selfloathing/BPD/PTSD/not giving a fuck about life/giving too many fucks about life, we seem to be caught in an endless cycle of celebrites opening up about their struggles with depression (don’t get me wrong: of course this is a postive step) but it’s all so vague and generic now that our individual stories are being coerced into this national narrative of “I was sad and lost, I cried a lot and didn’t know what was wrong with me because I had no reason to be depressed but then I got fit and quit drinking and now I’m thin and glamorous and my career is phenomenal and I’m hosting 14 shows on RTÉ and writing columns for 6 national newspapers and I met this amazing man/woman/tree and our kids are so beautiful and my renovated Georgian house is perfect and I eat only kale grown by vegan monks and everything is great”. I am sick of it.

Yes, we are talking about our mental health now. Great. Better that we talk about it than not like we did for decades: everyone going secretly mad; hating each other; drinking themselves into oblivion; killing themselves left, right and centre; festering into a ball of Catholic guilt; suffering with their “nerves” and ending up in a place like this. But we’ve heard the same thing for the last two years. Now everyone is depressed. Or has been. And, in reality, that’s probably true – we’ve all been there, at some point. Depression and “darkness” (there are so many buzzwords) are nearly… cool. It’s on trend, socially speaking. But yet, there isn’t much pushing the boundaries, as we should expect with most trends.

Not that I want to criticise anyone for being honest and admitting that their mental life has not been a tub of their favourite Ben & Jerry’s with all the calories extracted. I’d just love if the media would quit holding up “success” stories for us all to judge ourselves by because this just makes me feel infinitely more of a failure in my ongoing war with my mind.

Show me the people who are just clinging on, like me, like you.

Show me someone who physically couldn’t get out of the bed to get a glass of water yesterday but who manged to brush their teeth today.

Show me someone who made a neat little cut on their arm last night just to temporarily feel the release of hot blood and stinging pain to distract from the mental burning.

Show me someone who has the end all panned but is holding on for a few more days, “just in case”.

Show me someone who rips clothes out of wardrobes and smashes glasses because it will resemble the mess in their head.

Show me someone who still thinks they’re useless, not someone who discovered how to love themselves by eating quinoa and treating themselves to a facial.

Show me someone who is not getting paid to give a talk about their journey through depression.

Show me someone who thinks that it will never end and nothing will ever be better again.

Show me someone with no idea what the hell is going on.

I’m now going to try to sleep and hopefully not dream about a stampede of rhino wolves threatening a large crowd at an impromtu Newton Faulkner/Hozier gig on the pitch at the school where I used to teach. Or that I shot someone who was going to attack me; forgot I’d killed him; left his body for 2 months and then when I went back to “deal” with his body, accidentally shot someone else.

It’s now 4 am. So I could have just stayed up and gone to Darkness into Light after all. but I’m not one of the “success” stories who can do heroic shit like that. Yet.

Dot 💚

 

 

 

 

Episode 139 – Which one is the Cow?

I am back together with Boyfriend.

Oh my god, I make myself dizzy with the seemingly endless cycle of 360s. Nobody can keep up with me and my life decisions. I can’t keep up with me.

Basically this is how we got back together:

I bought a new sofa and armchair on a whim from a charity shop. It was displayed outside in the sunshine and it looked great. When I asked how much it was, the volunteer told me €80, for both. I couldn’t pass it. It was arranged that it would be delivered the following Monday. That was a Friday. I was walking home from town where I had attended this so maybe I was feeling vulnerable or possibly buoyed by the experience as it was disconcerting and reassuring all at once, or perhaps I was both. Anyway, the sofa was bought and the old one was to be taken away for donation. Oh Jesus, I realised, god only knows what’s under there. Bits of biscuits; an old tv given to me by Berger that no longer works (it’s possible I and my temper may have had something to do with the damage done to it) -boyfriends have a habit of giving me TVs, the current one also gifted me a TV, a very nice one, but that’s not why I got back with him; pieces of rubber balls chewed and licked by the dogs; an old shoe, long abandoned by its pair. I started to stress. I’d do it all on Sunday. The day after was Saturday and I had a thing on – a social do for choir: a walking tour of Handel’s Dublin culminating in singing the Hallelujah chorus in Fishable Street and drinks in a nearby pub. Then of course, it was April 23rd on the Saturday and I was booked for a date with the BBC and the RSC for Shakespeare’s 400th Anniversary tribute. So Sunday was D-Day for the old sofa. Discovery Day – let’s discover what shite is under there.

Sunday arrived. It became clear to me that clearing out under the old sofa was not enough. ALL the furniture would have to be moved around. And not just in the living room. The WHOLE house would have to be upended and reconfigured. Including the corner cupboard with all the pots and pans. Because you know how the tidiness of  your kitchen cupboards affects the delivery of a new piece of furniture in your living room. The cleaning and reorganising spiralled. I found myself getting hot and sweaty (and not in a sexy way): the PricklyBurn was back. The anxiety made me dizzy as I repeated silently that everything had to be done today and I HAD to get it all done, no matter what. Next thing I found myself screaming and crying scalding tears into the wardrobe where we keep our pyjamas and gym gear (again, I felt EVERYWHERE had to be cleaned out).

I guess you’re thinking now that I have digressed from the explanation of how I got back with my boyfriend. Well no, I haven’t. Because at that moment, I realised that I didn’t have to do everything by myself. That it was ok to ask for help, something I am loathe to do. I called him. The call was not out of the blue as we had still been texting a bit, discussing when we would exchange things left in each other’s houses (but he wasn’t getting the TV back) and have a “closure” talk. I was in tears. I didn’t have to say much, he just knew I needed help. He came in that evening and as soon as I saw him, I melted. By that time, I had got my shit together a bit so I wasn’t quite the blubbering mess I’d been on the phone.

“So you got back with him just cos you had a meltdown over moving some furniture?” I asked myself that question too. But no, I got back with him because I fucking love him. Shit. I fucking love him. That scares the crap out of me. He’s spent 4 out of the last 6 nights at my place and I’m ok with it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still freaking out about being in a relationship but perhaps 10% less than I was before we broke up. So another 9 break ups and I should be fine.

I had a bad day yesterday, my day off from teaching. I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t wake up. You know that feeling when you’re desperately trying to open your eyes but the exhaustion just won’t let you? Boyfriend and I stayed up late on Thursday night, I drank wine, he drank wine, I talked. For the first time, I spilled out lots of the shit in my head and I cried. Talking is not good for me. I felt guilty and ashamed the next day about opening up the dark tangles inside me. My sessions at the Rape Crisis Centre take it out of me too. I wasn’t hungover from the wine. I was hungover from the talking.

Today has been better. I got out of bed. Woo hoo. Boyfriend and his Little Boy came to visit. Little Boy is cute. He likes me. I took him to buy a book and he had a nap in my bed. Then we went to Airfield. It was very pleasant. But…

I am a nag. And I’m bossy. And I think I know best for everyone. I hear myself telling Boyfriend that he should go get a haircut; that he needs to check his posture (he’s a physio – he does not need my advice on this) or that the drinks he gives HIS son are full of sugar. It’s HIS son! I hear myself telling myself to shut the fuck up and stop being a naggy cow but I can’t help myself. And this worries me because I don’t like myself when I do this and if I’m trying to change him then what does that say about me?

Do I worry too much?

I haven’t been at the gym in a week because my back was acting up. It felt like it was about to snap. Then I moved furniture. Yep, I always know best for everyone else but I do stupid shit myself. It’s sore again yesterday and today, not in a nerve/muscular way but in a crampy way. Probably all that self-righteous baggage I’m carrying around.

Tonight, Boyfriend, Scandi and I are going to see Marvel’s Civil War so it’s a nice balance that Boyfriend and I took his kid to a farm and we’re taking my kid to a movie. Little Boy is gone back to his mam, and there’s a whole other bucket of worry. I know what it’s like to be a step mother and I know what it’s like for my kid’s dad to have a new missus. Oh my god, Modern fucking Family has nothing on us.

Anyway, there’s a quick update. I wanted to get this written before Scandi arrives home from shopping in town and Boyfriend comes back from dropping off Little Boy.

Happy Bank Holiday weekend to those in Ireland. I hate Bank Holidays.

Dotty 💚

Episode 138 – Old Notes

There are multiple reasons why I keep my nails short – I have two dogs; I do most of the housework; I take notions and start painting and moving furniture at regular intervals; I like not having to type words 15 times on my phone before giving up on autocorrect’s understanding of clickety clackety tips. I took a notion the other night that I’d like long elegant nails like the Marchioness, so I grabbed a pack of fake nails and while I feel ultra glamorous, they are the most impractical things to stick on your hands apart from mittens which are only user friendly if you are under 6 months old and do not yet know that your hands are attached to your body.

Six hours later…

I had a feeling a particularly bad night was due as my sleeping has been all over the place the last few nights and the SaltScrub night sweats have been exacerbated by nightmares in which I’m abandoned by a boyfriend during some sort of war/flood crisis. 

Because I’m a girl, please save me.

I need to reset. I seem to need to reset every few days. Jesus, I’m tired of resetting. I’m tired of heaving myself back on track. 

Now I’m lying here fretting about everything from my weight to trying to save money while paying all the bills to trying to convince myself that I’m not damaged goods to panicking (again) at the realisation that I’ve screwed up my entire existence. 
I fucking hate living in my shameful excuse for a brain. 

How can I be so self-pitying when I’m here in my cosy bed; healthy child; food in the fridge; electricity; clean water and the bills almost paid for the month? 

God, self-pity is disgusting. Almost as disgusting as my red gritty eyes and the layer of fat I haul around. 

I’ve tried doing sums on my phone’s calculator; I’ve tried making mental lists; I’ve tried breathing and remembering how lucky I am and what I have to be grateful for. 

One of the dogs just fell off the bed. I shouldn’t laugh. 

I was helping Scandi with a History assignment earlier on the 1916 Rising. Of course, she chose to write about one of the women involved – Margaret Skinnider. I dug out my shoeboxes of record card notes and references from my ill-fated PhD. A year’s work come to nothing: two dusty shoe boxes on the top shelf of a wardrobe. Such symbolism. 

Tonight, in the dark, I am nothing but a wasted shell chewed and spat back by the self-loathing sea but tomorrow, the tide will wash in bringing another wave of hours, resetting the sand slate to the next chance. 

In the meantime, I’ll lie here ad continue my duel with the dark amid snoring dogs and time ticking alarm clock. 

Dotty 💚 

Episode 137 – The Poet of the Family

It’s now 2.30am and I’m about to drink the smoothie in the photo in an attempt to offset any biological repercussions that may arise in the morning from the 1/3 bottle of red wine that I drank. And because I’ll use any excuse to blast my NutriBullet.

I am not a drinker.

Earlier…

I’m having a glass of wine: a small glass of red. I bought a bottle earlier in Tesco while picking up the coconut milk and masala paste that Lidl never seem to stock. It was on sale – the wine, not the paste: €9. I used to dislike red wine intensely, I drank only white or the lethal liquid of bubbles they call Prosecco or Cava. Champagne was reserved strictly for special occasions, such as my wedding during which I started nine different bottles of the stuff, left each half drunk on a different guests’ table as I circulated in my white silk gúna after the meal and then shook my empty glass at my new husband as a signal to swiftly supply me with another £50 bottle of fizz. It really is no wonder I was the most drunk person at my own wedding. Well, me and my maid of honour – Posh, my evergreen bestie – who both undressed me that night in a drunken sobbing mess and shared my hangover the next day.

I do not drink champagne anymore.

How did I even get on to that? Oh yes, I have a glass of red wine before me, which is unlike me but then there has, recently, evolved a collection of actions and thoughts most unlike my own version of myself.

I had a meeting with the HR department of my work today – remember I’m a teacher? Although you’d be forgiven for forgetting that I have an actual profession given that I haven’t worked formally in a year and a half.

This meeting was really the culmination of an odd week that began with a positive visit to the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre. I actually made it to the RCC on time, for once, having run there, and I was mentally ready to be open and honest. This was the first time I really felt progress. Maybe because I’d dumped my boyfriend 3 days before (yes, I am that cold and callous), I was riding the crest of an empowerment wave and I felt that, yes, I did deserve my place on their therapy books and yes, I do have the voice to vocalise my trauma, my fears and my hopes.

Tuesday brought my Psychiatric appointment which, again, I ran to. I like running to my mental patient appointments, it makes me feel slightly less mental while simultaneously making me look truly barking mad: wind blown red curls; a sweaty, pink, freckly face; gross sweat salty running gear and a compulsion towards the water machine while avoiding the waiting room – they think it’s cos I’m odd, really it’s just cos I stink.

Is it weird to run to these appointments? Or a good coping mechanism?

Who thinks I should have another half glass of wine? Me too. Good call reader, great minds…

On Monday night, I had the pleasure of being invited to a super trendy underground poetry/spoken word event at Outhouse which was very cool, and completely intimidating. The talent on display, both in terms of writing and performing, was young and wise; witty, and poignant; raw and polished. I came away feeling both inspired, even compelled, to write and also to throw everything I’d ever written in the bin.

Following some family research last week with my darling cousin, the Marchioness, guided expertly and remotely from the UK by her husband – we shall call him Her Majesty’s Sleuth – there is a story that needs to be told. It seems assumed with in the family that I should be the one to write it. My own level of confidence in my ability to do so manages to at once automatically discount any other family member from being able to do it just as I would like it done while screaming internally, ‘Jesus, don’t leave it to me to do! It’ll be a disaster and it might never get finished! Get the Marchioness to do it! She does everything perfectly!” (She does, seriously).

Tuesday brought an Adult Public Speaking class – is it odd that I have had such issues around confidence, finding my voice and generally being around people yet I can coach Public Speaking? I am a one woman walking cabaret of contradictions.

On Wednesday, I was teaching French and Speech and Drama classes down at home as usual. It’s a long day and I LOVE it. It flies by. And on Thursday, I had one single class down there and then choir back in Dublin. I love choir. It’s like being part of a team without having to do the sports bit. I like doing sporty stuff on my own. I don’t want to have to communicate with my team mates. The great thing about being in a choir is that you’re part of a team but you don’t have to talk to the other members because you’re too busy singing.

And then today, I had to meet my HR manager. I didn’t dread it or feel sick or flake out on it as I have done in anticipation of previous meetings with her but I was late and my lateness is never out of rudeness – it’s panic and avoidance. But it was an odd meeting all the same, and I’m left with big questions and monumental decisions to make. Basically, I need to figure out if I’m going back to my permanent, pensionable job to be a sensible fully functioning citizen; working mother and all round feminist badass OR am I going to steam ahead with all these pipe dreams about my own Speech and Drama school; writing; not being tied down; rejecting conformity; freelance teaching; creating my own curriculum and using the methodologies that suit me and my students best; travelling – basically living in my own little bubble of idealism. Of course, idealism doesn’t pay the bills. And is it ever really possible to do what you want to do and get paid for it unless you’re either incredibly smart, privileged or self-assured? And what kind of mother resigns from a permanent, pensionable job (ugh, that phrase) just as her daughter is reaching the most critical and expensive era of her education? Not to mention the dowry I’ll have to get together to find her husband – don’t want her thinking she is going to have to put any of that schooling to practical use.

I’ve run out of chocolate – this does not bode well.

It would appear there is a tremendous amount of soul and logic searching to be done over the next few days – I meet with the HR manager again next week. When I have not got 1/3 of a bottle of Casillero del Diablo inside me I’ll go into more detail about the job situation.

Mental health in employment and prolonged absence from work due to non-physical diseases; disorders and syndromes seem to me to be an area in urgent need of comprehensive policy and legislation overhaul because, really, my organisation, as much as the HR manager has been sweet, doesn’t really know what to do with me. And when people charged with managing me say “But you look fine”, it usually means they don’t grasp that just because I can drive to a meeting at head office; that I can teach one day a week on my own terms and that I’m not slicing my thighs in secret anymore, doesn’t necessarily mean that I could handle a full week in a hectic; high pressured; emotionally charged; underfunded school administered by a state board completely out of touch with the reality of the mental health crisis in Ireland exacerbated by a (currently non-) government in pompous denial. It can’t be all or nothing with reintegrating an employee back into the workplace after a psychiatric or psychological crisis, just as surely it is not after a prolonged physical illness.

Whether or not the attitude today was one of impatience or scepticism with my case, I’m not sure. I need to work out if there was a “You look fine, you sound fine” implication today or if my paranoia and guilt about not being able to work like EVERY other normal person raised my defences; leaving me feeling accused; culpable; lazy and ashamed of my mental fragility.

I wish I was like the masses who walk; drive; cycle and bus past my tiny rented flat every day on their way to work. I wish I could be safe and content in a regular job; in a regular house with a regular husband. I would love to live a ‘regular’ life: content and untroubled by anything out of the ordinary. Or does any of that even fucking exist? Really, we must all be as desperate and rudderless as each other.

Anyway, I know that, before I had the wine, there was a point to all this and some sort of narrative structure. Hemingway advised to write drunk and edit sober – I have both written and edited (well, proofed) while tipsy and sleepy (I have ZERO tolerance for alcohol) so I have probably written a dose of absolute shite with some sort of theme buried under all the typos.

I will correct it tomorrow and for now, at 2.53am, I shall bid you good night.

The spinach – avocado – mango – banana – Greek yoghurt – honey – oats – almond and coconut milk Nutrismoothie was very good. Do vitamins cancel out red wine?

Dotty 💚

 

Episode 136 – Now I’m the Berger

I broke up with my boyfriend last night, over the phone… which was pretty shitty of me. But the necessity of doing it just sort of fell out of me and it had to be done then and there. He is great: he’s handsome; he’s very sweet and patient; clever and a good dad to his son. He worked hard to do a second degree while in full time employment. I felt a wave of positive and lovely things when we were together but something, and I’m not totally sure what, just didn’t sit right with me.

I have a feeling some of my family and friends will think I’ve deliberately sabotaged this relationship because, well, that’s what I do. Wreck it myself before it all goes tits up. Get the pain out of the way sooner rather than later. They’ll think I’m crazy to let such a good man go. And maybe I am. But for the first time, in a long time, I feel I’ve done what’s right for me, at this point in my life.

The crux of the matter is that, in my current state of piecing myself and my life back together, I need to be on my own. I’m just not ready. I always thought that was such absolute bullshit when guys (let’s face it, it’s usually men who pull out the “I’m just not ready for commitment” card) and I feel massively sorry that I failed at this relationship that had the potential to be so secure. But no matter how I try to rationalise it, my insides  contract at the thought of being accountable to someone else; of someone else depending on me; of domesticity; of sharing duties and emotions; worrying about someone else’s kid; hoping not to piss off someone else’s ex. In the words of Sex and the City’s Berger : I can’t do this, I’m sorry – don’t hate me.

How ironic that my best friend christened my ex with the derogatory nickname of Berger and now, I’m the dick.

I don’t know why I am this way, or do I? Of course I do. I’m 35 and I have a child who is 16 years old and I’m nearly done with the intense parenting phase. We are best buddies and we have a tonne of adventures we’d both like to embark upon, both together and separately. I’ve had some shitty relationships in the past. I’m just getting on top of a BPD diagnosis and dealing with the Rape Crisis Centre for a long ago event(s) that fucked me up beyond reason. I’m doing ok, I’m doing more than ok. I’m fit and healthy. I sleep most nights now. I don’t need to nap for 2 hours every day. I don’t starve myself because I’m so disgusted by my body and I don’t have any urge to cut it or kill it. I’m working hard on building my little educational empire and, any day now, I’ll start writing the great idea for my book. I might even enter a poetry competition if I can find the iron nerve. I’ll be in the States for 5 weeks and then tour guiding my American family around our little green island for 3 weeks. My darling big sister (she’s LITERALLY my cousin, but that doesn’t describe our “special bond”) and her daughter have just visited and we’ll be going over to them in London in late summer. I’m in a choir and I’m meeting up with a drama group this week to see about joining up. My life is jam packed and it feels good. Apart from everything else, I’m not sure I have time for relationship. But more so, I don’t want to have to compromise on anything that I want. I’ve always compromised. I’ve always put the guy first and been quick not to make plans or to cancel my plans to suit the boyfriend/husband of the hour. I resent having to do that, not that this boyfriend wanted me to but the very nature of a relationship is that you share – I don’t want to share right now.

Selfish? Hell yeah. But even though I feel guilty and bitchy and cruel, and even though my feelings for him were genuine and I wish I could have made it work, I know that I’ve put myself first. And I’m proud of me for that.

Don’t hate me,

Dotty. 💚

Episode 135 -It’s With O’Leary In The Grave

 

If you are in Ireland and happened to miss Claire Byrne live last night (Monday, March 14th), watch this to be reminded of the awful truth about the mental health services in our great little nation.

As we commemorate the centenary of the Proclamation of our Irish Republic for all Irish men and women (at the time of writing, the language itself was revolutionary in that it actually acknowledged the patriotism, citizenship and rights of women explicitly: something no other – to my knowledge – insurgents’ statement had done), let us pause and reflect on this modern Ireland.

As we watch our caretaker Taoiseach, our seasoned politicians and newly elected representatives take to the skies and land in greener fields to feast among the diaspora and big time world leaders; marketing our 26 counties to foreign investors and tourists, let’s just take a minute to remember that this is not the Ireland of the songs and stories, of the poems or legends.

This is a country where young people are dying because their country offers them no reason to stay alive and no means of finding the strength to escape it. This is a country where our most broken are literally being sent away from hospitals to die.

This is a country where charities like Pieta House are left by our government to deal with the depression, self harm and suicide crisis slicing its way across the island.

This is a country where children are sleeping in cars and on streets because their parents have nowhere else to take them: their homes sucked away in the aftermath of a government/banker orgy.

This is a country where rapists are given suspended sentences and funding for the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre has been cut so that it is forced to present victims with guideline fee requests of up to €70 per session. (They never force this point, although it’s humiliating enough to be faced with it when you are at your most vulnerable.)

This is a country where the victims of the barbarous symphysiotomy practice are literally being shredded from history.

This is a country where parents are still obliged to have their children baptised in order to get them into a good school (or the only school near them), often under the management of a religious order chaired  Board representing a church which shirked its redress obligations under the RIRB.

This is a country where the last vestige of the church and State’s collusion in the gross misogynistic inhumanity committed against young mothers, Donnybrook laundry, is for sale and hoping to attract a plush development to the wealthiest constituency in the Republic. We glorify the sacrifice made in 1916: these women and their children, often sold to wealthy Americans, were denied any such glory and the last memory of their suffering is now to be glazed and balconied over.

This is a country where, on average, 10 women each day have no choice but to travel to England to access a service that has still not been legislated for despite abortion being technically legal if the woman’s life is at risk. If you have been raped, or if your child has no chance of survival outside the womb, you’re little more than vessel for another life or impending death: your own life is irrelevant.

This is a country where same sex couples can legally be married but homophobic attacks are still commonplace.

This is a country where our sick and old are left with no dignity in agony and despair, often dying,  in chaotic hospital corridors.

This is a country where nurses, teachers and Gardaí: those on the frontline of the social consequences of failed leadership, cannot put food on the table.

This is a country where more air time has been devoted to endless bickering over Irish Water than to all of the real, life threatening issues above put together.

Isn’t it ironic that Hibernia, traditionally Britannia’s younger; helpless; vulnerable sister is the centremost statue on the GPO, the site of the first public reading of our fateful Proclamation? Still Hibernia’s daughters are forced across the sea to seek assistance in a country once our oppressor. Now the source of our oppression lives among us.

Romantic Ireland’s Dead And Gone.

Episode 134 – Rapunzel?

It has been an age.

True to form, I have become afraid of writing lest the words pierce my bubble. It is lovely in my bubble.

I’ve been so normal over the last while: my School of Speech and Drama is getting of the ground and while I love teaching – especially teaching my own curriculum – it’s also very nice to have enough money for bills and groceries and not have to go begging to the family. Saving for a trip to the States for my annual mental respite is another story but I’m focussing on the positives. I am determined to save our fares. And there are plenty of good things going on. (Positives? Where is our Dotty and what have you done with her?)

Scandi and I were both sick with some sort of weird ass tummy bug/fever/headache thing a few weeks back and that was crappy. I had an IUD implanted which was like a very painful and bloody period but seeing as it’s a copper coil, there shouldn’t be any implications with my migraine prone brain as it’s hormone free. Also, I won’t get knocked up. Thank fuck.

As I write at my bedroom desk, I can hear the dogs in the living room and I have a sneaking suspicion that they are destroying something and creating a huge mess: do I go and check or let them finish chewing whatever it is they have plundered?

Yep, crumbs everywhere. Goodbye nice wholemeal seed bread. Hello dog diarrhoea in a few hours.

The Boyfriend is still on the scene. It has been reconfirmed for me that I am not good at being a girlfriend. I am so used to doing things my own way and never being accountable to anyone that I’m having a tough time adjusting. I don’t like talking about how I feel so I’m sure I seem like a cold hearted bitch most of the time. I knew that even through my relationship with Berger (Quarter Pounder), I was fine dealing with stuff on my own – as in parenting; home making and general life admin – even if I was completely dependent on him psychologically for both pain and affection in equal measures but now I realise that, as a result of all of my disastrous relationships, I have effectively ensconced my emotional self in a very high, very solid round tower and I don’t know how, or even if I want to let down my metaphorical defences. Why would I? I am safe here in my self sufficient armoury.

The fucking dogs are now eating their way through another room.

An almost empty tub of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food mauled on Scandi’s bed. Lovely.

I skipped my Rape Crisis Centre session on Monday as I just couldn’t face it. I know, I know. But I just couldn’t, which sounds ridiculous when typed or said aloud but I just couldn’t reveal myself; expose myself; sit there and be judged. Or at least that’s what I think my counsellor is doing as I lay bare my shame and regret and doubts and secrets. I want to ask for a new therapist but I don’t want to offend the one I have: she’s perfectly nice (apart from the time she was was snotty with me over my first missed session and ensuing confusion. In fairness, I think she was just tired and when I started crying apologies at her I think she felt bad) but the truth is I don’t trust her. I don’t feel like I can tell her the worst of what I’ve done; what’s been done to me or what goes on in my fucked up cavernous skull.  I was too tired on Monday and I didn’t want to talk to her. Now, I feel guilty because the RCC is an invaluable resource and it’s a charity and I’m lucky I got in there at all when their funding is so critically low but the counsellor I have, while she’s probably great for others, isn’t for me.

I have to go get ready now as I have a full day of teaching ahead. Thank you dear blog for welcoming me back to your empty pages after so long. I feel I have a lot to tell you after this initial scary re-entry post into the subconscious layers of my mind.

I do hope my readers are well. Feel free to share your mental escapades with me so that I don’t feel like a loony loner.

Dot 💚

Episode 133 -Smug Yoga Mom

So, I have found myself with a boyfriend. Even though I didn’t want one, here I am, with one. I put up a decent mental fight not to let him become my you-know-what but it just sort of evolved over the last few months into a lovely, easy thing. I’ve done well not to have an absolute shitstorm of a freak attack about this all week, since I finally admitted to myself, and confirmed with him, that we are, in fact, in a relat… Nope, I won’t be changing my Facebook status just yet, if ever.

On the topic of internet pain-in-the-assery…Tonight on Dotty’s Facebook page there’s been discussion on the smug fetishisation of motherhood on the internet, prompted by today’s Guardian article by Flic Everett, which seems to have struck a chord with many of my like minded feminist friends and most of the publications I follow online. I urge you to read the article: all of you, mothers or not, but especially if you’ve come across the whole “Nominate a Great Mother”/#motherhoodchallenge trend on your social media and it’s left you feeling sad or inadequate. (Nobody nominated me, by the way…)

Anyway, this latest trend in virtual smugness (a trait the Irish are not usually known for, by the way), coupled with my own new “status” as a girlfriend (I feel like a douche even writing that), has got me thinking.

What, pray tell, Dotty Rocker, have you been pondering now? Well, I’ve been thinking about how we all seem to be in constant need of validation; of defining our status and trying to project an image of what we think society expects us to be. I try to avoid Instagrammers who endlessly post selfies of themselves looking fabulous in beautiful homes with cute kids and non-pooping dogs; beauty bloggers who are so well groomed and toned that I feel like Hagrid compared to them. I try to avoid vegans and marathon runners (yes, I was once one of those annoying people who had her Map My Run linked to her Facebook. God, was I actually that smug? Ugh, sorry). The ones who only post pictures of themselves enjoying kale while running up a mountain, smiling. I prefer the ones who are truthful about craving a chicken burger from Trade Winds (if you’re not from my home town you don’t know what Trade Winds is, and you haven’t lived) after they’ve finished a serving of quinoa. If your hair isn’t plastered to your head in a mess of scummy workout sweat after a run or gym class, you haven’t done it right. If you’re wearing a full face of make up to the gym, I will judge you. I will unfollow you. Yes, I hear Liam Neeson’s voice as I type these words. I will also hit the “unfollow” button on people who post photos of the flowers their “hubby” has sent them ‘for no reason!” or the cup of tea their boyfriend has made them: “I’m such a lucky girl!”. Oh, what’s changed since you were giving out yards about him to me last week when he didn’t answer your texts when he was on a night out/ didn’t spend enough on your engagement ring/ didn’t shower for three days in a row?

Am I a begrudger? Am I just dying for you to fall of off the wagon/ have a really shit boyfriend so that I’ll feel better about my failures? Are you really that perfect? Is your fella really not the dickhead you thought he was last week? I’m not sure of the answer, and I really am trying not to be as judgey. Writing this blog and maintaining the Facebook page has taught me a lot. I’m constantly evolving, and as I learn more about the world from the internet, my opinions are changing too. I’m thinking of the time a few months back when I criticised South Dublin mothers and their badly behaved kids at my gym: I’ve since stopped to think that I should be more compassionate. I was being smug then, just because my kid is grown and I had only one to deal with. And maybe I was a bit jealous because they all had Michael Kors handbags and l’Occitane body wash whereas I had a hand-me-down gym bag and bulk buy Sanex.

There is a woman, not directly connected to me, of whom I’ve been judgmental lately and I shouldn’t have been. I’ve thought of her parenting as somehow, beneath my own standards (like I have an actual clue as to what I’m doing). Maybe some people will think that those of us who repost and like today’s Guardian articles are judgemental ourselves. And maybe we are. But what I’m sure of is that only sharing the good stuff, projecting the perfect image of your life; your relationships; parenting; body; make up; hair; home; hobbies; nights outs – whatever, does nobody, least of all you, any good. We’re all in this together so for once, let’s leave off the Mayfair filter and share the stuff we’re scared of too.

Thanks to social media, there has been such a huge leap forward in the last couple of years: we are witnessing and encouraging open admission and discussion about mental health. Our individual and collective struggles are no longer taboo – “it’s ok not to be ok” is our new mantra. I’d hate to see all that undermined by the flip side of the internet, the side on which we have to be perfect and “whole”, and not ourselves.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

PS As you read through the rest of this post, I hope you realised that I did not declare my acquirement of a mango (I’ve decided to retitle the word “boyfriend” as “mango”, which seems much less intimidating and terrifying. I also really like mangoes) as smug. I reckoned that after 4 ish months of seeing this guy, it was about time he had a firmer footing in Dotty’s world.

PPS The cover photo is my supper of smoked salmon, spinach and scrambled eggs which I devoured after an intense Bikram yoga class (it’s far from Bikram yoga I was reared). What I haven’t posted is the tin of muffins I’m making my way through now as I sit in my pyjamas at a cluttered desk in a room that really needs to be dusted and vacuumed. And the only reason I had supper – which sounds very posh – is that I didn’t get my shit together in time to make the Shepherd’s Pie that I had planned to make for dinner.

Dotty 💚

Episode 132 -Get Out Of Bed

So here we are, two weeks into a New Year and I don’t know about you but my resolutions are gone to shit.

I cannot seem to get up early in the morning: either I can’t sleep at night until maybe 4 or 5 am or I fall asleep easily and wake up around 3am and then turn over my endless list of failures in my labyrinthine mind. I’ve also nights where I haven’t slept at all, been a fuzzy, giddy mess for the day and then slept for 15 hours the next night. Then I’ve had the nights where I sleep for 10 hours and it’s still not enough so I succumb to the temptation of napping and waste the afternoon. Until I had my first intense bout of depression 7 years ago, I never realised the impact of sleep, or lack of it, on mental health. If I could just regulate my sleep pattern, I feel I could be a lot more productive and hence, more satisfied with my day, and myself. Insomnia sucks.

So what’s been happening during all the hours I’ve been awake? Well, when I’m not dreaming about giving birth to a weird chameleon index-finger sized baby and having its ears and eyes pierced (yes, it was grotesque) a local jeweller hours after its birth (where the fuck does this horror come from?), I’ve been up, and then very down, up again and then… yeah, you’ve got the idea. In the two weeks since January 1st, I’ve managed to get to just one hot yoga class and two Body Pumps. I’ve been better about eating less crap and planning meals but we haven’t been eating dinner till late and we’ve been eating on the sofa rather than at the table. There are just the two of us, but we’re still a family and I want to get back to sitting down together for dinner at a reasonable time. Scandi has missed some time from school and I feel my parenting is slipping. I’m trying to sort out my overdraft with the bank who haven’t bothered to call me back to confirm if we have a resolution but my Speech and Drama classes are going well and more people are hearing about it and showing an interest. I haven’t got a date to see a neurologist yet but Scandi has been referred to an immunologist for her nut and fruit allergy. Apparently the waiting list to see one of the five immunologists (yes, there are five allergy specialists in the whole of the Republic of Ireland) is approximately 14 months for children. I had another session at the Rape Crisis Centre on Monday and I feel there was some breakthrough with my relationship with my counsellor and also on the topic of the incident itself. I went back to choir tonight (I missed the first week back after the Christmas break as I was having an exceptionally miserable Go Away World day) and it was nice to be back although one of the masses we’re rehearsing (we’re always singing a bloody mass) is modern and well, awful. But I’m told it’s a grower, even if it does sound as if we’re all singing the wrong notes like a chorus of disharmonious drunks.

The most I have managed to write in the infamous journal is what is shown in the cover photo. See all my great plans and big ideas? Oh yes, my brain is a wonderfully productive place. It’s just a pity I can’t get out of  bed do any of it.

But, STOP! Quit being so hard on yourself, I know. Tomorrow is another day.

I’ve been posting a lot (too much?) on Dotty’s Facebook  and Dotty’s Twitter – links relevant to mental health, sexual abuse and women’s issues. I’m better at Facebook than Twitter because 140 characters is far too limited for all I have to say.

There’s a man on the scene and it’s very easy and pleasant: he’s been around longer than any guy since Berger/Quarter Pounder/ He Who Shall Not Be Named (if you’re new to this blog – don’t even try to catch up on all the men who’ve fleeted in and out of my life, you have better things to do with your time). But I’m determined to keep him at a safe distance, even if he does bring the good, expensive chocolate biscuits when he calls.

So, overall, what you can extrapolate from this short catch up is that New Year’s resolutions don’t work unless you’re determined and self disciplined and, if you are lucky enough to be those things, then you don’t need NYRs because you’re just fucking perfect and fit and organised and wonderful every day of the year and then slow applause for you.

Oh, and my washing machine gave up on me tonight and I didn’t have a meltdown.

RIP David Bowie and Alan Rickman: Golden Years – Always.

 

Episode 131 – New Year, Same You

It’s the early hours of January 6th 2016, so I haven’t written since last year. It feels like longer.

I have a draft from New Year’s Eve that I didn’t finish. I can’t remember why but then I did drink two bottles of Bombay Sapphire over a week and half at home so it’s hardly surprising that my normally (these days) alcohol-free brain cells can’t hold on to much.

I am relieved that Christmas is over. I have an urge to proclaim a law by which all festive ornamentation should be securely deposited in attics and dusty boxes under beds or on top of wardrobes by December 28th. New Year’s is the last hurrah; the last excuse for a piss up before Dry January kicks in (a modern calendarial phenomenon like Movember) and the biggest disappointment out of the whole 365 days because disappointment is, actually, all around.

I could go into detail about my Christmas and if you’re Irish, that’s what everyone will ask you until the middle of January:

“Did ye have a nice Christmas?”

“Ah, grand, yeah, quiet. And yourself?”

“Lovely thanks, quiet as well. Back to reality now anyway.”

My Christmas was fine. Lovely at times, but too long. I should’ve come back to my own house sooner. In fact, I think I’m getting too old for this crap of “going home for Christmas”. I have my own home and I would dearly love a Christmas in it. I should’ve read more and we should have played more games together. If the weather had been better I would’ve taken the dogs to the beach more but all it did was rain. I got lovely presents including a beautiful glass sculpture of a boat from my godmother which proudly sits on my desk and a free standing mixer from my parents which, while being a useful and longed for addition to my kitchen, also has the bonus of being strangely soothing as its whisk whirrs hypnotically, drowning out the screaming to do list in my head.

And that to do list: how did I ever manage to get anything done while I was working full time/ a single parent? I feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day and I don’t even have to go to work. Although, I wonder am I creating tasks for myself because I’m desperately avoiding being in my own head and endlessly chasing productivity? However, when I was working full time, everything besides my school work went to shit so maybe I just didn’t get anything else done.

Now, I’m getting on top of things: my finances (it’s pretty time consuming telling banks that you have no money to give them); fitness (even if I have to pump myself full of glucosamine); my parenting (so far Scandi remains well fed, watered and talking to me) and of course, my notoriously unmanageable mental health. I ran out of Venlafaxine for two days while I was at home. Whether it was that or cabin fever, the meltdown on Sunday could be heard through the hundred year old concrete walls as I bashed pots and pans around – they refused to fit neatly into the cupboard, damn argumentative cookware -and screamed and cried with utter frustration with myself for not being… like everyone else. Or how everyone else seems to be.

There really is nothing like the ubiquitous GO ON, INDULGE YOURSELF, IT’S CHRISTMAS and then the verbal and visual bombardment of NEW YEAR, NEW YOU (implying that you didn’t deserve to treat yourself at Christmas at all – nothing like a bit of guilt to sell a few low fat yoghurts) to make you feel like you need to change everything about yourself, right now.

I made a sort of list of resolutions, in the notes on my phone. One of them was to buy a nice new journal, which I did. In this journal I planned to write my proper list of resolutions, which I have not yet done. It was not to be a diary for writing my incessant to do lists or appointments with mental health professionals (it’s hard to keep track when you have as many people to moan to as I do), but a journal for ideas and quotes; doodles and interesting thoughts. Problem was I didn’t have an interesting thought for the first week of ownership of said new journal and when I finally worked up the courage to scribble more than my name in it tonight (after a particularly gruelling Hot Yoga class which must have opened more than my hips), all that my pencil scribbled was “my handwriting is weak and ugly and unsteady” and the word LONELINESS in big blocky capitals.

I, like so many others I’m sure, pour so much hope into Christmas to be the magical centrepiece of our year and then, when Christmas just sort of happens and ends, we focus on how this year will be OUR YEAR! We’re going to do x, y and z and be 1, 2 and 3 and it’s going to be as satisfying as a kale and chia smoothie after a 10K run. Goals! Kick this year’s ass! Be the change! Out with the old and in with the new, improved, skinnier, fitter, thriftier, less cynical, earlier rising, clearer skinned, organic, clean eating, friendlier ME! But then, about 3 days in, you realise that you’re still as fucking tired as you were last January and you’re probably not going to write that book/ do a triathlon/ eat only free range meat/ go teach in the developing world for a year/ stop being a miserable bitch anyway and you go ahead and bake two batches of chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel icing and stay up till 2.15 am writing a dismal blog post about New Year’s being a dose of shite.

On that note, happy blah blah 2016.

The picture is the famous journal.

Dotty 💚