Every Day Distractions

This is something I wrote at university and it was inspired by Geraldine Kim’s “Povel”. The concept is that the writing combines poetry in the form of a novel whilst using total inspiration from ones stream of consciousness.  Povel is, in the author’s own words: “a successful merging between confessional verse poetry and the novel”.

Allen Ginsberg wrote the incredible “Howl” thinking nobody would ever read it but that’s what made it so beautiful; it was from the heart. This was probably one of the most honest and raw pieces of writing I have ever done. Just be warned that this isn’t for the faint-hearted.

I hope you like it.

 

Every Day Distractions

Keep a journal for a week. I’m so angry all of the time. Sweaty fat men on trains fuck off. See ex boyfriend. I shake and cry. I’m so tired of waiting. He seems so happy it makes me angry. Three vodka and lemonades later… he still looks happy. I hate him. I hate her. I hate myself. I eat homemade curry. I drive to Leighton Buzzard and get fucked up on rum, whisky, beer, ketamine and MDMA. I have an out of body experience in a dark nightclub. Flashing lights may cause epilepsy. Strange man with dreads takes photo. Flashing lights may cause epilepsy. I come out of my hole. Hard-tek, techno and bass. I don’t want to leave. I sniff some more and float in space. I stole my mums credit card and took more money out. “One cheeseburger, two double cheeseburgers, Mexican chicken meal with a diet coke, a medium normal coke and a garlic and herb chicken wrap.” We laugh at the fat spotty boy behind the window. I’m too wired to sleep and she won’t stop snoring. I lay awake and think of him.

I drive her to work in the pissing rain. I have my iPod and my jacket back, I still can’t sleep. I go to see another boy. He makes me tea and cuddles me in bed. We have a debate about Banksy. We watch Freaky Friday. I hope I don’t end up like Lindsay Lohan. I wouldn’t mind being famous. I still haven’t slept. I sniff more white powder. We kiss. I drink coffee and chat about shit for over an hour. I haven’t eaten. I drive home and he talks dirty to me. I kiss my Nan on the cheek. I own up to the stolen credit card. I go to work. We eat Chinese takeaway. I drink two glasses of red wine. I sniff some more. We watch crap Saturday night TV. Fuck celebrities. Fuck the jungle. Fuck everything. I lay in bed and we talk again. “I love your nipples; I want to be inside of you.” I love him. I hate him. I want to fuck him. I sleep into oblivion.

I am confused. I eat a bagel. I wash my hair. I am human again. I watch One Tree Hill to avoid doing work. I go to Tesco Express. “Mate, do you have any sliced ham? You know, like for sandwiches?” I hate ironing. I love my mum. My mum wants to get high. We eat roast lamb like a normal functioning family. I am fat. I stare at my phone. It gets dark by four o’clock. I regret the decisions I have made. Why can’t I be happy-go-lucky? “Bye. Love you. Take care. See you soon.” Me and my mum fight over clothes. I get high. I touch myself and think of him. He makes me sad and I feel let down. My heart aches as I fall asleep.

I wish I were rich. We shop at Primark. I buy leather hot pants in order to seduce him. “Have a nice day.” I eat the free food samples at Costco. I moan in the car to my mum. I bite my cheek and taste blood. My body aches.”Thinking of you”. “You too.” Fucking cunt. I’m not sure if I believe in true love anymore. I wish I could write. It won’t stop raining. Life after death. I get excited when I order new books from Amazon. My mum makes the best spag bol. The red wine goes straight to my head. The consequences of garlic bread “The morning after”. I consider drowning myself in the bath. The brandy burns my nose. I want to set myself on fire. I cry myself to sleep.

Creaky bedroom door wakes me, startled. “Time to wake up.” I hate Tuesdays. People on the Met Line reading “Broadshits and Tablies”. The lecturer is late. That red haired bitch needs to pipe down. We take a walk with the planes and talk about our feelings. I am lost in his touch, his scent , his kiss. Bang the mash, bangers and mash. Money can buy you happiness. The dinner table is always the centre of bad jokes. The distant crackling of fireworks still fills the November sky. “What’s more important? Who we become or how we become it?” I wait in vain.

Tea is the juice of Jesus. I feel like slamming my head repeatedly into my laptop. I can’t write any fucking more. I want a bucket of coffee. I find a red thread in my scrambled eggs at lunch; a red thread symbolises soul mates. I wonder if I am my own soul mate. All work and no play, makes me a very dull girl. All work and no play, makes me a very dull girl. All work and no play, makes me a very dull girl. I’m gagging for it. How many chances do we get before fucking it up is no longer an option? Being a woman is a good excuse to binge on chocolate. Cafe de Flore. I fall asleep with a smile on my face.

I need some fucking inspiration. I stereotype myself so I feel like I belong. T.F.I.F. Deadlines should be called Deadlives because that’s what we’ll be before the new year. Black Books and Quality Street distract me from my writer’s block. I can’t stop eating out of boredom. I am restless, I need a rest. I get high and listen to Fat Freddy’s Drop and High Contrast. A diet of carbohydrates and red wine is all the vitamins you need. My new books from Amazon arrive seven o’clock at night. Late night thrills on a Thursday. The weekend starts now. “Did you just spark up?” It all started with a Big Bang. We always pretend to know more than we actually do. Thanks to Facebook I catch up with old friends from ten years ago. Oh to be twelve again. The devil makes work for idle hands…

 

 

 

I don’t like the drugs but the drugs like me…

…as Marilyn Manson once said.

I have always had this love/hate relationship with drugs and with myself. Ever since I could remember, I always wanted to escape reality. When I was younger, I buried my head in endless books to escape, finding sanctuary within the pages. Then as I got older I unfortunately discovered a more destructive way of escaping; drugs. And I couldn’t get enough of them.

I started drinking when I was about fourteen years old. I can remember the first time I got seriously drunk and feeling so utterly free with my new found confidence. Then I started smoking weed at sixteen, which turned into something more serious by seventeen, when I had my first run in with the police for drink driving. It was then I tried cocaine for the first time. By eighteen I had a bit of a problem with it as I started dating my dealer and he was the first boy to break my heart. It was long after I was diagnosed with depression as well. I do wonder sometimes if it was the drugs that triggered it all off or the heartbreak. Or maybe it was a bit of both? Who knows. One thing I do know for sure is that this was just the beginning of my chaotic and destructive life.

After being diagnosed with depression, the doctors tried to put me on anti-depressants but I refused to take them. I saw this as almost giving into depression and thought it was a sign of weakness to take them. Instead, I had some private Cognitive Behavioural Therapy whilst I was attending Milton Keynes College and things started to get a little better for me. I was lucky enough to get my Diploma in Media Production and start moving forward with my life. Sort of.

I ended up taking a year out before starting university and my main focus was on having fun and getting totally wasted and just enjoying being young. My step sister and I moved out when we were about seventeen or eighteen and we held the best house parties. One house party we had in a house share with her boyfriend at the time and my gay best friend. We had speakers stacked up to the ceiling and a massive nos canister in our living room. I stupidly posted the party on Facebook and about three hundred people showed up. The police ended up raiding it with riot vans.

But it was at this party I tried Ketamine for the first time and I fell head over heels in love with it. I remember walking down the stairs into the front room and I kept saying over and over “I’m walking on marshmallows.” For me that was one of the best experiences I had ever had, as I was able to totally let go of all inhibitions. I felt invincible and I genuinely had not a single fucking care in the world. It helped me forget all the shit that had ever happened to me and just made everything seem so much better. It was a beautiful and dangerous love affair and I started doing it nearly every day.

A year or so later I somehow managed to get into my first choice university, which was The University of East London. I remember pulling up to the entrance and saying “I don’t belong here, turn around, I don’t belong here,” yet ironically it was the only place I ever felt truly myself. It was one of the most terrifying and most amazing things I have ever done and I will never know or understand how I ever did it- my love for drugs didn’t stop, if anything it got worse. I sound like such a fucking cliche but it literally fuelled most of my creativity. And I was happy.

I graduated University and shocked everyone including myself. My mum admitted to me that she didn’t think I would make it through the first year and to be totally honest with you I don’t blame her for thinking that- I changed emotions and directions as quickly as the wind changed the sea. I was a little unstable at the best of times. But the most satisfying part of it all? I was basically on drugs the whole time I was there, yet I managed to graduate with a high 2:1. I once even gave a presentation to four of my tutors on NO sleep, still half cut on pills, mkat and half a bottle of wine. And I got a first. So yeah, you could say my graduation was an accomplishment.

After I graduated, I fell into a low paid but steady job working 9-5 doing office admin. At weekends carried on taking drugs and partying – it was the only thing I knew how, the thing I could do best. I managed to get a pay rise, then a promotion and another pay rise. I was doing pretty well; I was happy, I had friends and a good job, my own place. I was attempting life as an adult and I was winning for the most part. Until I met “Him”.*

After he came and tore my world apart, the really bad drug habit turned into one hell of an addiction. I was easily sniffing six grams of Ketamine a day, along with GHB and cocaine and anything else I could find to numb the immense pain I was in. I was something I never thought I would be. I never admitted to having a “problem”. I was a full blown addict. I then started drinking loads again. Things got better then they got even worse. I started smoking crack everyday and on the occasion heroin, something I am so ashamed to admit, it makes me feel sick. I wasn’t this person, surely? I hated myself so much, I honestly didn’t care who I was anymore. I just wanted it all to end. I wanted to die.

But I didn’t die. I have no idea how, but I managed to fight my demons and my addictions. I wish I knew how I did it so I could give you some advice, but I honestly don’t. The only thing I know is that I just somehow managed to keep on fighting and keep on living, even when life was no longer worth living and I was not a person worth living for. It took a lot of strength to do that, but if I can do it, so can you. Don’t give up.

If you or anyone you know suffers with addiction, the Narcotics Anonomous UK helpline is 0300 999 1212.

*See blog “10 Things I Hate About You”.

 

10 Things I Hate About You…

I was just 24 years old when I thought I had it all figured out. I had a good steady job, new and exciting yet serious relationship with a boy. (I say boy because he doesn’t deserve to be called a man.) I had friends, a social life… I was having fun! Everything suddenly fell into place and I could see the start of a faint sketch of what my life could look like. A decent blueprint. Or at least I thought.

It started with him telling me my friends weren’t “good for me” and that I shouldn’t spend so much time with them. He was very convincing. Slowly but surely, one by one, my friends stopped calling or texting to the point I stopped going out or doing anything but stay at home with him. Before I knew it, I didn’t really have any friends to turn to when me and my ex had a fight and I had no one to talk to.

Then somewhere along the line, whilst I was building him up, helping him do better in work and getting a new job (higher paid than mine, I might add) he started making small digs at me and my life. He kept calling me crazy when we had arguments, he sat and looked at me in disgust when he was supposed to love me. He told me over and over that my “skirt was too short” or that my “tits are on show” when they clearly weren’t and although none of it was true, he was making me feel self conscious and exposed and unworthy.

Then, when I managed to bag myself a job in the same office, doing what he was doing (the job I encouraged him to get) he clearly just couldn’t handle that and used it as another platform to abuse me from. He would walk past my desk making snide remarks about the way I looked, or the way I was dressed. Nothing so obvious that I could pick him up on it without causing an unwanted argument, but he slowly but surely chipped away at my confidence and self esteem.

I hate to say it but I was blind. Unfortunately, it didn’t stop there.

We moved into a new flat together, a flat which was miles and miles away from any of my family (who had been totally immunised with his narcissistic charm) or my friends (what was left of them). Granted, we had a bit of a drug problem together (something he also liked to blame entirely on me) so we did argue a lot and things got quite bad. I was starting to get depressed and anxious and started doubting myself so much I was basically an empty shell. A shadow of my former self. But we still spoke of a future together; we talked about marriage and having children together. There was still hope.

Then, like a punch to the face, he turned around to me one day and said “I’m not doing this anymore” and left. Just like that. He packed up his things, barely shed a tear and walked out on me and the life I thought we had been building together. Just. Like. That. We had only been in the flat a month or so, which my mum had bought as an investment for her property business. I had also just got a brand new car on finance which was in my name as the main owner. He was a coward.

And the worst thing? I STILL had to work with him.

Less than a week later after he had broken up with me, I went into work feeling like I had just been to my own funeral. I sat down at my desk, nothing was in focus. I felt weak. Suddenly I couldn’t breathe, my whole body was shaking. This is it I thought, I’m dying. I’m having a heart attack. And that my friends, is the first time I experienced a panic attack. It was brutal. This was the beginning of a dark and lonely journey into the discovery of who I was.

But in hindsight? I had a lucky escape. I could have had it worse. His behaviour shows common traits of a physical abuser too. I’m not saying his words didn’t physically hurt me, because they did. But I came out of it alive. I am now healthy, happy, and drug free.

In the end, I have to say I learnt a valuable lesson, in love and in life. And in a weird and slightly bitter way, I have him to thank for it all. Who knows he might be reading this now, relishing at the fact I’ve sat here and written about him, his narcissistic ego getting a fucking hard on. If he is then all I have to say is: “You didn’t break me, in the end you saved me.” I was given a new lease of life, a blank canvas in which I painted whatever the hell I wanted. And my life is beautiful.

These are the things I learnt from my emotionally abusive & narcissistic ex. Luckily, I got out. If you or someone you know has been or is currently being affected by emotional or physical abuse the hotline for victim support is 0808 168 9111 or go to http://www.victimsupport.org.uk.

  1. I am worthy
  2. I am good enough
  3. I’m not “crazy”
  4. I am independent
  5. I built you up and you tore me down
  6. You will most likely do it again…and again
  7. I am not a victim
  8. I was lucky
  9. It could have been worse
  10. Thank you

 

Medication: the good, the bad and the ugly.

There have always been many taboos surrounding mental health; if you go to therapy that means you’re crazy, or if you self harm you must be dangerous, or if you hear voices, that must mean you’re Norman Bates in the making. But one of the biggest qualms we all seem to have with mental illness is medication. Whether you’re a sufferer or not, medication seems to be the thing that solidifies the fact that you are “sick”. Yet ironically, people still don’t value mental health as a real problem, even when there is medication as a sort of “proof” of the illness being real. Crazy right?

When I was first diagnosed with depression at eighteen I refused to take any medication for it. Luckily at that point in my life Cognitive Behavioural Therapy was enough to help me make it through the really tough time I was having. But as I got older and life inevitably got tougher, I eventually had to succumb to the fact that I needed medication to help “stabilise” my moods and get me on the road to recovery with my BPD. However, it did take me a few tries on different medications to find the best one for me. It was a long and tiresome process over the course of about three years.

I was first put on Sertraline which I found really awful; it gave me terrible acid reflux and I lost a lot of weight due to the pains in my stomach. I also found it made me more jittery which obviously didn’t help with my crippling anxiety. I was also given Diazepam (Valium) and Zopiclone to help me sleep as I was also suffering with severe insomnia. Unfortunately with these medications they can cause addiction so the doctors never gave me too many at one time. They were a “quick fix” and they shouldn’t be used long term. The next antidepressant I tried was Seroxat/Paroxetine, which did an okay job for about a year and a half. Then finally and currently, the doctors put me on Mirtazapine, which is an anti depressant and Quetiapine, which is an anti psychotic. When I first started taking these meds, the side effects I had were drowsiness and just generally feeling “zoned out” like a zombie, but these along with DBT have helped me the most I think.

Another thing I would like to say is that with regards to coming off your medication, you should be really careful and obviously discuss this with your doctor or someone from your local mental health team. There are side effects of coming off medications and sometimes they can be quite severe if you come off them too quickly or go “cold turkey”. People can have whats called “brain zaps” or you could get night sweats. Worst case scenario you could really unstabilise your mood to the point of feeling suicidal. Obviously everyone is different but it’s good to be aware of these things when taking or coming off medication. If you do things properly and take advice from your doctor, side effects should be minimal. I’ve been lucky enough that I haven’t had too much trouble with lowering doses or changing medication, the main thing for me was the change in my mood and night sweats to the point I would have to change pyjamas three times a night.

Just remember everyone has different side effects and different meds work for different people. And yes it is a tiresome and life draining process (sometimes), and you may or may not have to try lots of different medications to find the right one for you, but all I can say is that be patient and don’t give up. The majority of the time medication isn’t there to cure you but rather there to help you “level out” and be able to cope with things a little bit better. You WILL find something that works for you eventually, I promise. I have to also point out therapy is a GOD SEND. If it wasn’t for the six months of intensive Dialectal Behavioural Therapy I’ve just undergone, I am not entirely sure medication would have been enough for me, but combining the two together has quite literally saved my life. Just try to find what works for you and stick to it. It will take some work and commitment but if you want to get better you have to try. I’m not saying it’s gonna be easy, but trust me it will be so fucking worth it.

Follow your dreams

Scared of chasing your dream because of your mental health? Me too.

Ever since I can remember, I have always been in love with words, language and literature. From a young age I would bury my head into a book to escape reality. My reality was my parents having violent arguments, being bullied at school for being tall or having a weird name and just generally being totally misunderstood. I would pick up a book and the words on the page breathed life into me and my unhappy childhood. The stories I read were a place I didn’t have to explain myself or give into fear. They taught me how to dream, to love and to believe.

It was from my younger self that I continuously grew this unconditional love for words and how they made me feel and express myself. When I was in my early teens, I tried to learn guitar so I could write songs to share with the world. Unfortunately I grew bored and frustrated with learning how to play it (I was always a little impatient, even now), but what was left instead of songs was my first selection of poems. I was just 15 years old. 13 years later to this day, I have a bachelors degree in creative writing and I still absolutely love to write, especially poetry.

So for me, my BIG dream is to one day become a well known and successful writer. Well, technically I am a “writer”, but I don’t make a living out of it properly and I’m certainly not well known or famous. Is that really how we measure our success? Not entirely I guess but it would be nice to be somewhat recognised for our “art”. Although I love to write and it is a massive part of who I am, it completely terrifies me that I am just not good enough, nor will I ever be. And this makes my dream feel even more unreachable.

You see, my “illness” is awful and unpredictable in every way possible. I wake up some days totally consumed with depression and suffocated with anxiety. It is crippling. On good days, I can get out of bed and communicate with people. I can even write a blog or two, go to therapy and go to the gym. But this is currently as good as my days get at the moment, and although it still doesn’t feel good enough, it is a massive improvement compared to a year ago, or even six months ago. I still lack motivation even to get up in the morning, even on my better days. I live in fear of not only not living up to my family’s expectations, but the expectations I have of myself. And those are the worst ones. My inner monologue haunts me every waking moment.

But these thoughts and feelings that hang over me like an unwelcome cloud of invalidation and deprecation will not force me to give up on my dream. I will not let it. Although it currently feels unobtainable, I know if I put my mind to it and work hard enough through the tears and anxiety, it will be incredible once I reach my goal. I believe hard work really does pay off, eventually. My experiences in life have taught me some valuable lessons and I will continue to dream, to love, to believe. Because if I don’t try and keep trying, I may never know.

It’s a huge climb to the top, but the view is magnificent.

Love Poem

I wrote this poem for someone a few years back.

Happy Valentines Day!

Athina x

Strings of telephone wires beaded with wild birds

sing in the wind

as I think of you and drive to infinite thoughts

consumed by madness or love or hate or confusion

and brought to the depths of what can only be assumed as utter despair

connected somehow by the way the sun sets and the heat rises

and the waves crashing and colliding as your chest falls

and I breathe you in

savouring the sensation as you flow through my veins

winding like a sidewinder around my heart

pumping the blood ferociously

seeping out of the pores in my translucent skin.

your love is transcendent and I gorge on your scent

to try evade this hunger

and yet you kiss my lips

and my body bursts into flames

it is impossible

irreversible

irrevocable

and irrational to attempt to extinguish.

Vast, empty, and infinite.

Today has been one of those awful days where I just can’t seem to shift my “bad mood”. For some reason I woke up incredibly grumpy and I just don’t know why. This is unfortunately one of the MANY things people with BPD suffer with. So yeah, not knowing why you’re in a bad mood sucks, sure. But the worst part? The worst part is STILL having to EXPLAIN yourself to close family members. They just keep on asking “What’s wrong?” or “Why are you in a bad mood?” or “What’s happened to make you feel like this?” I DON’T FUCKING KNOW, OKAY? If I did I would obviously say something, but I don’t. And it’s not like it’s the first time it’s happened either. IT happens A LOT. And it’s EXHAUSTING.

Imagine having this incredibly overwhelming feeling in your chest, in the pit of your stomach and a lump in your throat. And the continuous inner monologue of ALL of the voices in your head telling you that “you’re not good enough”, “you’re not trying hard enough”, “everyone thinks you’re a failure”, “nobody will ever understand you”, “everyone hates you” “you’re a freak”, “you have so much to do today and you can’t even get out of bed, you’re a mess”. As I write this, I am sobbing at the sheer emotional pain of it all. I am in constant fear and I am forevermore at war with myself. Most of which takes part in my own head because I can’t fathom why I am the way I am, let alone try to explain this to anyone else.

I am suffocating with infinite sadness and yet I am terrified for asking for help because people just don’t understand. All I want is for love, understanding and a bit of compassion, but that seems all too much to ask, even from my own family. I can hear my mum in my head now saying “But I thought you were getting better? I thought you were feeling better?”. Like even my recovery or my therapy STILL IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH. Yes, I was feeling okay, and have been “coping.” But today I am just not doing so well. I have to accept it so why can’t anybody else learn to? Or if not, just leave me be. Leave me alone and I will come to you if I need you.

Basically, It’s hard enough having to deal with yourself as it is, let alone trying to help others “deal” with you. At the end of the day, I am on a journey to making myself better. And I am trying my god damn hardest to do that. And if that’s still not good enough? Well then that’s your problem, not mine.