Fuck all and Eggs Benedict

I was asked what I planned on doing this weekend.  My response?  “Fuck all… with a side of eggs benedict.”  Eggs Benedict can make almost anything better.  Almost.  When served with the most vile cup of coffee known to existence, not so much.

photo 1
World’s worst cup of coffee? Erm, Yes!

This week has sucked like a $5 hooker.  I chose to swim; you may remember?  Well, I sank.  And just as I rose to the surface, returning from the blue corner bouncing with the zest of ‘time out’ and a damn good pep talk, the boss came back swinging in the form of an email re-capping all of my failures, none of the concerns I had raised and asks me to sign here, here and here. Exsqueeze me? Baking powder!

Now I can tolerate a lot of things, but injustice? Hell no.  I’ll be the first to admit when I make a mistake, jeez I’ve had enough practise!  But signing a document admitting to stuff that’s not true? Fuck. That.  Somehow I fear that my reluctance to back down on this one, may lead to a re-match.

And so I sat in my local dinner with a cup of coffee so strong that my spoon virtually stood up, on the brink of an all-encompassing panic attack.  My heart beating double time, the invisible hands clawing at my throat with that tell-tale crimson heat burning my face.  How is it that I can feel so ashamed of myself?  I feel like an open book with all of my secrets and humiliations written across my face for all to see.  But no, in reality that lies merely upon this page…

Tomorrow morning will come, I’ll pretend that I’m strong, that I don’t feel that sting of rejection that follows me wherever I go, paint on my smile and face another day. Fuck, I’m exhausted.

photo 2
Move over Venlafaxine…

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You’re faking a smile with a coffee to go…

I’ve been feeling it for a few days now.  That malevolent creep of anxiety.  It sneaks up whenever I let my mind wander.  That poker-hot flash of irrational panic.  That irrepressible fear that something awful is going to happen.  “What’s the hell’s going on?” I ask myself.  I normally cruise through Autumn ranging somewhere between stable and hypo-manic – Past experience suggests I should have at least 2 months before the blackness descends…

I reasoned with myself that I could keep it at bay.  It’s merely a blip I keep telling myself.  Until today that is.  In layman’s terms (and to quote singer/actor Justin Timberlake)  today well and truly “sucked a bag of dick.”  And as I left work today 12 hours after arriving, what should come on my piece of shit vintage car radio but this…

No shit Sherlock.  I won’t go into huge detail but in a nutshell picture this; imagine working your ass off 12 hours a day, (being the first to arrive, the last to leave, the one who doesn’t take a lunch break) and then being called into the Boss’ office for a bollocking ‘chat.’  Yeah, we all know what that means.  So I hold it together and nod understandingly and contribute with well-meaning, well-placed “of course”s and “I completely see your point” as I’m told that I’m not good enough.  The crimson heat radiating from my face sure enough gives away my complete devastation and humiliation.

I’m a good person, I really am.  There’s not much I am confident of but that I know. Yet somehow, I am that person that is perpetually misunderstood.  Like the comedy farce where an unsuspecting ‘Good Guy’ character has someone walk in on them at precisely the wrong moment resulting in complete misunderstanding and misrepresentation.  That.  That right there is the story of my life.

And so I have a large helping of “inadequate” to layer upon my newly established anxiety.  The question is, will I sink or will I swim?

That awkward moment…

As a 30-something bipolar chick in this day and age, it may come as no surprise to you that I have debts. Quite a lot of them (I won’t bore you with the accumulations of these debts as a result of employment discrimination after having ‘The Kid’) but let’s just say, I have a lot of bills dropping on my mat each month.

As a result, I have 3 jobs.  Last night relates to job # 3, which is, in fact, my favourite of all.  Let’s just say that 5 times a week, I stand in front of a room of people, wearing black and neon sportswear that may, or may not be embellished with Z’s, whooping like a hyena encouraging the masses.

Last night was Autumn social night.  It’s always fun to socialise with people in a context so completely removed from the usual interaction.  Seeing your back-row diva who loves to rock her black leg warmers, in a classy dress with her hair beautifully styled is always refreshing,  It allows you to see the students who you see on weekly basis, but don’t really know in a neutral environment.  On the flip side, they get to see the woman they pay their hard-earned money to, spruced up and not nearly as loud and confident as she appears when she’s up on stage shaking her ample booty and “ooooo-uh, ooooo-uh’ing to the crowd.  And with that comes *gasp* real conversation.

Some of my students have known me for some time and have attended various events I’ve hosted.  As a result, I have fallen into ‘F.F.T’ (Facebook Friend Territory) with several of these lovely students.  Therefore, I know that they have already profile stalked learned the truth about their ‘Instructor’ in their own environment where they’ve had time to process and reflect and fucking hell, even return to class the following week!

So picture our seating arrangement.  Seated at the end of the table, to my right sits ‘leg warmer’ chick, opposite sits super-hard-core 3-times-a-week attendee and diagonally opposite to the right, my ‘veteran’ who’s been attending since Day 1.  It is inevitable that throughout the course of the evening, there will be numerous opportunities to reveal or desperately guard, my dirty little secret my condition.

As is so often the case, alcohol is the catalyst for my revelation.  Now, I would like it noted that I am in no way, shape or form ashamed of my disorder.  I am very much out and proud.  However, I am also not fucking stupid.  The 20-something naive little me would matter-of-factly drop it into conversations in the early days of knowing people, with the attitude, ‘Why should a diagnosis change people’s opinion of me?’ Ha. Ha. Ha. What a fool.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I still agree with my ‘Pollyanna Philosophy’.  It shouldn’t. But the fact of the matter is, it does.  I learned the hard way.  As the people I’d happily met with for coffee and taken our fresh little bundle of joys for walks in their prams (strollers), suddenly and without reason, disappeared.  ‘Normies’ think that doesn’t really happen.  Oh, it does.

So no, in terms of my Z business, no they don’t generally know, because I need their money and I’m no longer naive enough to think that my diagnosis will have absolutely no impact on their opinion of me.   However, I will never deny my illness or create a lie to cover it up.

“So, (insert my name) why is it that you don’t drink?” asks B from halfway down the length of the table.

So here we are.  That moment.  That fork-in-the-road scenario.  I have a wealth of options to choose from. Full out bullshit or a watered down, cowardly version that is tenuously linked, or somewhere in-between.  As always, I have that slow-motion-consider-my-options-moment. Which in reality is a split second to make my choice.  Do you respond with:

a) I’m such a lightweight, alcohol doesn’t agree with me (she must be pregnant)

b) I’m on medication (she must be pregnant)

c) I’m tee-total (she’s a recovering alcoholic)

d) The truth

Fuck it.  “Because I’m bipolar,” as I flash her my brightest smile and return to my dim-sum.  Silence.  Leg-warmer chick shifts awkwardly in her chair, finding something, anything, to do but look at me. Hard-core chick desperately concentrates on the near-impossible task of picking up individual strands of seaweed with her chopsticks and B diverts her attention to another conversation that is occurring at the other end of the table. *Tumbleweeds*

And here it is, that pivotal moment.  With 8 years of ‘confession’ under my belt, I can guarantee that at this point, one of two responses will occur:

# 1. The elephant in the room. Smile politely and pretend, pretend, pretend that you did not just hear that dirty little word.  Ah, the British. The stiff upper lip. Do NOT engage in a conversation containing that sort of content. Just smile brightly and spare the poor woman the shame that she actually just revealed that about herself, poor lamb.  What was she thinking?

# 2. The ‘But you don’t look Bipolar!’ (refer to previous post) In actual fact I’d gladly take ignorance any day over the previous.  The thing is, at least ignorant comments like the one above, proves the willingness to engage in conversation about mental illness.  I actually have grown to love these responses because this is exactly where I get the opportunity to beat the shit out of stereotypes and ignorance.  THIS is where change happens. I sit here feeling quite smug as I think back to the last person who made this comment to me several months ago.  She now laughs in embarrassment at her misconceptions of mental illness.  She was deeply ashamed after we talked it through (in a light-hearted way, I didn’t want the poor girl to feel like total shit!)

I now feel a slight sense of smugness/proud parent syndrome when I see her posting ‘Mental Health Awareness’ articles and the such on Facebook with comments such as, “I’m ashamed to say, I was clueless about this until someone made me aware that they had bipolar…” etc etc.

And so I will tackle stigma and stand up for those who are not yet ready to ‘come out,’ one ignoramus at a time.  For every one you ‘enlighten’, they may tell others.  My God, we’ve got a long way to go but silence and shame is what’s created the situation we find ourselves in during 2014 (don’t even get me started on the ‘psych-unit’ Halloween costumes which made the British news last week *face-palms*

Oh, and I’m totally aware that for every one person that I enlighten, at least 3 will run for the hills.  Am I ok with that? No.  Have I come to accept that this is the reality of being ‘out’ about my mental illness? Yes.  Does that make it ok? Fuck no but Rome wasn’t built in a day.

And the real question, how busy will my classes be next week? 😉

 

The blogger returns…

So here I sit.  A drained cup of tea by my side (yeah, I’m British) as I attempt to navigate my way around ‘his’ MacBook.  I used to blog.  Avidly.  I had followers and everything.  However, over the months the anonymity diluted and before I knew it the realisation, “Holy shit, if anyone connected with my line of works sees this, my career is over!” dawned on me.  So I shut it down and removed all traces of me and my ‘dirty little secret‘ ‘condition’ from the web (well as much as you can in eternal web-dom).

In terms of ‘My dirty little secret’, I speak in jest.  I am NOT ashamed of my ‘illness.’  Not one iota.  I speak of Bipolar Disorder, of course.  You’ve read the title, you’ve figured it out, you freaking genius! 😉

Now don’t get me wrong, I have done a LOT of research and read a lot of books on my condition.  However, this blog is my online journal – sure, if I find some interesting research online, I may share it but my primary concern is to offer insight into what it is like to live with ‘A pinch of bipolar’ (ok, maybe a fistful!).

I have literally lost track of the number of times that people have responded to my matter-of-fact ‘confession’ with “But you don’t LOOK bipolar!” Oh shit, did i forget to turn my neon sign on?  I mean, C’mon people what the hell were you expecting?  Thanks to the negative portrayal of mental illness in the media I’m pretty sure we’re expected to have shaved heads (a’la Britney) and look ready to go on a rampage.  You may think I’m being a little extreme but I recently carried out some work in a premises where there were hundreds of children present.  The organisation had to sign a disclaimer that they had been made aware that I had bipolar disorder.  “Why’s that?” I asked, innocently.  “Oh you know, in case you go on a rampage or anything and kill children, your employer can’t be held responsible.” laughed the admin chick.

Are. You. Fucking. Kidding. Me?

And so it begins.  The reality of living with Mental Illness in 2014.  Oh and I got my next apt with my shrink through for the 22nd December.  Merry Fucking Christmas.

Author’s note – May I just add that it is killing me that I have been unable to figure out how to justify the text! OCD in overdrive *twitches*