5 Minutes of Fame…

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There are 2 parts to my professional life, my day job and my night job.  Up until recently, only my daytime colleagues knew about my condition – it is an aspect of my life that I have never felt the need to conceal, despite numerous rejections and significant stigma that I have faced over the years.

My evening job is my business, it is so far removed from my day job that people are often surprised by the duality of the ways I make my income.  In the evening I am a fitness instructor for a very well known fitness brand, however, I kept my illness and diagnosis completely separate from my participants for a long time.  I think the reason being that I was so reliant upon them to accept me, in order to make my living, the thought of being rejected by them would have a significant impact on my income.  It was a risk I couldn’t afford to take.

I knew that this fitness regime was part of the reason that I was more stable than I had been in years and decided that it was finally time for me to come clean. However, ‘coming out’ to your entire clientele was not something that I was sure how to approach and wasn’t sure when was the right time.  In the late summer the fitness company that I represent ran an online article about my condition and how I used fitness to manage many of my symptoms.  The article received thousands of likes via Facebook and the fitness company’s social networking page – I received messages of support from all over the world.

And so I came clean on my business Facebook page.  I posted the link and told my participants to read the article in order to learn the truth about their instructor.  I received mostly overwhelming support.  However, certain participants contacted me asking me to remove them from the class register as they would not be attending again.  What did I expect? There’s still significant stigma surrounding mental illness, particularly bipolar disorder when you think of all the bad attention it gets in the media.

As a result of the article, I was also asked to become a media volunteer for a British organisation that is aimed at changing attitudes and stigma regarding mental illness.  The idea being that the organisers have a file about me stating that I am a 30-something woman who suffers from bipolar disorder.  As a media volunteer, my role is to advise people on the reality of what my experiences are like of living with this condition.  It may be for the purpose of articles, script writers, television interviews, whatever is needed.  Obviously wanting to do all that I could, I accepted.

This all occurred in August.  There were a few crazy weeks where I was inundated with a buzz of support and then inevitably the excitement died down and life returned to normal.

Until Thursday evening…

I noticed I had a missed call from a number that was not a contact registered in my phone.  Being absolutely terrified of having actual phone conversations, I took the wimp’s way out and sent them a text message telling them that I was sorry that I had missed their call.

I did not expect the response I got.

“Hey ******** is ***** ********** from ***** fitness Home Office.  I would really like to speak to you please.  When is good to talk?”

I glanced at the clock and replied that I would be able to talk at 5pm and gave him my home number, still not quite believing that anyone would ever actually call me.

Being the paranoid cynic that I am, I automatically assumed that it was a hoax and that someone was fucking with me.  So what did I do?  I took to Google obviously.  The name and location checked out.  I still didn’t believe it.  I did the next best thing to Google.  I messaged my buddy who is significantly higher up the ***** fitness hierarchy and asked if he was aware of this person.  Again, everything checked out.

At 5pm precisely my phone rang and I was greeted with a warm American accent.  He got straight to the point.  The company are doing a huge  marketing campaign over the holidays to promote the latest ***** fitness DVD release that is being made in conjunction with Universal.  ‘Hot American’ informed me that angle the marketing campaign were taking was how this fitness brand had changed people’s lives.

Enter me.

Apparently, they were so touched by my story that they had published that they wanted my permission to use my story and get involved with the marketing campaign.

Say whaaaaaaat?!?!?!?!

When I managed to pick my jaw up from the floor, I quickly agreed and was promptly told that my number would be passed on to the person from the marketing company that would be handling the promotional campaign.

Again, Say whaaaaaaat?!?!?!

I am simultaneously about to spontaneously combust with excitement whilst also being all-out terrified.  The thought of my face and my story being well and truly out-there is somewhat overwhelming.  The article that was written was niche in the fact that you could find it on the company’s Facebook page and website but otherwise you could quite easily have no idea of its’ existence.

I’ve been told this will be a significant campaign between now and the New Year.

Fuck.

 

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What lies beneath…

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I gingerly take another step forward casting a wistful glance over my shoulder.  In the far-flung distance I see vivid hues of my former life vibrant against the setting sun.

I turn my head and sigh, my breath fogging in front of me and hanging densely in the frigid air.  With reluctance I take another step, lightly placing my feet with care and trepidation.

A deafening crack fills the crevice of my mind, as I plunge into the icy blackness below.  I gasp for breath and kick, kick with my legs but they are heavy and uncoordinated.  Again I am dragged below the surface, the blinding light of my former life rushes away from me in a rapid backwards motion.

My point of entry is gone.  I am overcome with panic as terror claws at my throat, crushing my chest and enveloping my senses. As I flail helplessly, my leaden limbs propel me to an icy ceiling.  This crystal partition, so beautiful upon first sight, prevents my escape.

I squint and in the distance through the ice I can see the life that I once knew.  My loved ones wave in recognition as they glance me in their periphary – their distance prevents them from seeing the panic and terror within my eyes.  “Just relax!” I tell myself, “this isn’t real.” Those I love carry on with the lives in blissful ignorance.  I watch in silence with resignation, as my limbs cease their fight with the current that is persistent with my inevitable descent.

Do they even know that I have slipped away?

Momentary Lapse of Reason…

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I have to ask myself this… When the fuck did I lose all respect for myself and more importantly, what the hell was I thinking?!?

It’s funny how at certain times in life, you allow things to happen that you would never normally tolerate.  Why?  This is a question I have been contemplating lately.  How is it that the phrase, “Treat ’em mean, keep ’em keen” actually has substance?  Instead of realising how self-obsessed and egocentric a person’s actions are, I instead managed to make myself part of the problem – that I wasn’t good enough for them.  That my existence was an inconvenience to them.  Say what?!?

Thankfully, I now see the light and I realise just how dumb I was to tolerate the behaviour of certain others – not only to tolerate their behaviour but to accept blame, that their poor treatment of me was somehow my fault!  Seriously, what the fuck?  This is not me.  I don’t allow people to treat me like this but for some reason, 2015 has been a year when I lost my way, I forgot who I was and I forgot my worth.

However, there is no point dwelling on our mistakes.  We must merely learn from them and move forwards with our head held high and without a backwards glance…

But this wouldn’t go amiss…

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Hello (part II)

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I am struggling to say what I wanted to say, so I will try again.  Yes I was feeling what I wrote in my previous post, ‘Hello’ but it goes deeper than that.

I am an all-or-nothing kinda person. I’ve tried to be middle of the road but it doesn’t work for me; it’s just who I am.  Perhaps I appear intense, perhaps I appear aloof.  Maybe that’s because I am.  Either you’re important in my life, or you’re not.  I can’t be doing with fucking about and lukewarm relationships and interactions.  Either experience them to their full, or move on.

Take for example the couple sat in the booth next to me (yeah, I’m back at ‘My Blogspot’ praise the lord!).  They are young, attractive, unmarried and childless, judging by the lack of offspring and wedding bands.  They have been sat in booth next to me for approximately 10 minutes.  They have said exactly nothing to each other.  Nothing!  The only words uttered have been to the waiter who has taken their order (to share)  Seriously, what the fuck is the point?  What a waste of life just tick-tocking away as we grow another minute, hour, year, decade older.

Life is so precious and we start out so vibrant that it devastates me to see how so many lose their shine as life, year by year, dulls the perfect portrait of who they once were.

This is why the song, ‘Hello’ by Adele devastates me so much. I miss the intimacy that I shared with so many people as my life shaped who I now am.  I miss them.  I miss them so much that it literally hurts.  But here’s the thing, they don’t exist any more.  I would love to be able to call them up at any time and talk like we used to talk.  To turn up on their doorstep just because I was passing and sit down to drink coffee and shoot the breeze.  However, these people who I loved so much just don’t exist anymore.  I could still express these spontaneous desires to connect but they could not.  Life has changed them.  Many have forgotten who they truly are.  That doesn’t mean that responsibilities have to be shirked.  Being who you truly are does not have to be sacrificed for the sake of responsibilities.

One of my closest friends who I spent the majority of a decade with, is now a virtual stranger to me.  We go through the motions of being ‘close friends’ but it’s bullshit.  I have no idea of who she even is any more.  She has no children and a job that has no responsibilities outside of her 40-hour working week.  She has no hobbies that I know of and a very limited social circle.  Her life now revolves around her husband.  Meeting with her requires approximately 6 weeks warning and even then she generally cancels our plans last-minute.  This is someone who I knew everything about.  I knew her hopes for the future, her dreams, her fears and what made her tick.  These days she is ‘Colin’s wife’.  What the fuck?

This is not a one-off.  So many of the people who I adore have let their ‘adult’ life consume their essence.  Maybe that’s ‘normal’ but I’m not normal. I’m not buying it.  I can’t be doing with the bullshit small talk that occurs once or twice a year when you meet to ‘catch up’ and talk about your partner, work, holiday plans that will draw you further into debt, blah blah blah.  Erase those bullshit sorts of things and you’re left with the kinds of conversations that really shape who we are.

It’s been 40 minutes and the couple next to me are still not conversing – they’re not amidst an argument either, I can tell by his body language.  He’s looked at his phone a few times though.  What happened to there not being enough hours in the day to fit in everything you want to say?  Not wanting to sleep because every hour asleep is an hour not spent feeling the most alive you’ve ever felt.  That is when you know you belong.  That is when you know you’ve arrived.

If you haven’t arrived and you can’t see the destination in your sight, maybe you’ve taken the wrong route…