Saturday, 17 November 2012

I'm out of the Twitter closet!

Morning campers, how’s it going?

Today is a big day in the on-going trials and tribulations of me and Twitter.  I’ve come out.  My real name and my Twitter name are in the same place for the first time ever.   Given the problems I've had in the past and particularly given how I was feeling when I wrote my last post you might think this is a move of the utmost foolishness on my part.  Maybe it is. 

I’ve started blogging for the Tottenham Journal under my real name and my first piece includes a link to my Twitter account.  It seemed like a bit of a faff to have to start explaining why I couldn't actually give out my Twitter name in the same space as my real name and to be honest, the more I thought about it, the more I realised that I shouldn't have to.  I am not ashamed of anything I put on Twitter and whilst this move may mean I need to be a little more circumspect in what I write on there, that’s not necessarily a bad thing – there may be a few less ‘cunts’ but the internet is littered with swearing bears (just look at who I follow on Twitter) and I doubt my lack of contribution to that arena is going to break anyone’s heart. 

There is also the fact that the more open I am the less opportunity there is for nasty mean-spirited people like The Person to try and get one over on me.   I’d like to think they’re over all that now, but I’d never be so foolish as to not give it due consideration.

I am a very open person and hiding out of fear doesn't sit naturally with me. So I’ve decided I'm not going to do that any more.

My name is Tara and I am Bear Faced Lady. 

Friday, 2 November 2012

I can’t let go

I am angry.  I am angry and I can’t get past it. I am angry and it is not doing me any good. I am writing this in the hope that it will be cathartic and I’ll stop having nightmares about the place I used to work at, that I’ll stop being terrified of not being believed, that I’ll stop thinking about it all the bloody time.

If you’ve read this blog before, you’ll know something of what I’m going on about and might not want to read anything else about it, so here’s a Get out of Jail Free card; collect £200 and pass Go without reading any further.  I wouldn’t blame you; I’m sick to the stomach of the whole thing. If you haven’t read it before, here is a brief synopsis: I had depression and was signed off work. A nasty, grubby individual wrote to my employer saying I was faking it and using my tweets as ‘evidence’.  My employer investigated me, found me guilty of misconduct on the basis of my tweets and precious little else and began disciplinary action. I was suicidal.  I resigned.

I’ve tried so hard to get past it.  I cleared my desk on 10th January this year.  Time has gone on and yet I can’t stop thinking about it.  It affects everything I do.  I am so fucking angry.

They knew I was on a waiting list for therapy.  They had medical certificates from my GP stating I had depression.  They had letters from my GP confirming the severity of my illness.  They had reports from their own Occupational Health doctors who having met and examined me on at least three occasions agreed with my GP’s diagnosis. And yet, on the basis of what I put on Twitter and a telephone conversation with a different doctor from Occupational Health who I hadn’t even met, they told me I was a liar.  They told me my behaviour was not consistent with that of someone with depression.  

This, from a manager who, by her own admission, had no experience or understanding of depressive illness.  This from a manager, who, when I said I felt uncomfortable talking openly to her about my symptoms told me “Stephen Fry talks about his depression…” This, from a manager who whilst carrying out the investigation into the veracity of my mental illness, was also appointed as my line manager, responsible for over-seeing the phased return to work recommended by the organisation’s Occupational Health doctors.  Conflict of interest, much?

Of course, everyone asks why I didn’t take this to an employment tribunal.  I thought about it, I really did.  I sought advice.  In the end, I was still too ill.  Even though I was told that legally, I had a strong case.  The prospect, however remote, of being found guilty a second time of something I hadn’t done was just too terrifying.  I’d pulled myself back from the brink once; I knew I couldn’t do it again.  It’s too late now, you only get so long to lodge a complaint with an employment tribunal, and honestly despite being more mentally healthy now than I have been in a long while, I don’t think I’d ever be strong enough to fight that battle again, even if it were an option.

I’m starting a new job soon. I am terrified of it all happening again.  I’ll never be able to say where I work, or have any public facing role in the new organisation, for fear of the grubby individual who began all this, sending their nasty poison pen letters to my new employer as well. I’m not angry with the grubby individual anymore; they are not worth the effort.  They are nothing. I am angry with my old employer.  They knew me. They knew my past history of depression.  They knew I was good at my job. They knew me. And they called me a liar. And I can’t forgive them.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Being my friend

So I’m guessing y’all know by now that I suffer from time to time from a big ol’ dollop of that there depression? (I don’t know why the mid-Western twang, I’ll stop it – it’s a little unbecoming one feels).  Anyhoo, I’ve been giving some thought to how that impacts upon you – I know, how unselfish am I?

As such, and in the interests of continuing ease of friendship, here are some things you should know and hopefully some things you can do to help me when the going gets tough. (Yes ok, do your best Billy Ocean impression now…that’s right, let it out…)

I need a plan.  Not a life plan (although, yes possibly one of those too).  What I mean is, I’m not good with tentative.  If we arrange to possibly meet up, I need to know if it’s on or not and the where’s and when’s pretty much from the get go.  If I don’t know,   I get very stressed and can’t settle to anything else until I do.  If for whatever reason I don’t hear from you (and that can happen for a number of reasons, rational-me does get that!) I become horribly paranoid and worried.  To the point that I think you’ve a) met with a terrible fate and are dead in a ditch or b) decided I’m a god-awful person you can’t bear to spend time with.   So please, wherever possible, furnish me with a plan!

I may not always answer my phone.  There are times when basic conversation, or even texting, is just too hard.  It really is a case of “it’s not you, it’s me” so don’t think I’m deliberately ignoring you.  Well I am, but not because I can’t be bothered with you, it’s because I can’t think of anything to say or because what I could say is too painful to begin to know how to express.

I may cancel our plans.  Most of the time this will be for an actual reason like I forgot, I double-booked, something urgent came up – you know, the kind of reasons the rest of you give for cancelling plans.  Occasionally it may be because I’ve hit a wall of depression and can’t move from my bed let alone leave the house,  that being the case I’ll probably say I’m not feeling well – which is, funnily enough, the truth!  It’s just that for me, not feeling well doesn’t mean a headache or a cold, it means I’m depressed.  The thing I'd ask you to do here is just give me time, I'll come back when I can.

One thing I won’t do is lie to you.  I may not want to burden you with the full truth of how I am feeling but I won’t lie.  I was accused recently by a friend of 18 years of continually lying and making excuses to get out of seeing her.  One of my ‘lies’ was something along the lines of “I had a bit of a breakdown this week and ended up having to go to a mental hospital so I’m not going to be able to meet up on Friday.”   I don’t know what hurt and angered me more, the fact that she was so unfeeling about what had happened to me, or the fact that she thought I would make up such a monstrous untruth!  Needless to say, that friendship is well and truly over.  

I am blessed by having many good friends.  And sometimes this blessing is a curse.  I want to be there for you, to help you through your bad times, I pride myself on being there for those I love.  But the depressed me has a tendency to think that I won’t be of any value to you if I can’t be the strong one, the advice-giver, the cheerer-upper, that I’m not really worthy of your friendship so I hide away from you until I feel able to be the friend you might need.  I know it’s awful, that there’s a part of me that apparently thinks you are that shallow that you’d only see our friendship on the basis of what you can get out of it; I’m working on it.  When I’m well I do know that it’s really not like that, it’s just that sometimes, and it’s certainly been the case over the past year or two,  I’m not that well at all. 

Thursday, 2 August 2012

The Dark Arts

"The problems of the UK benefits system* are many, varied, ever-changing and eternal. Fighting them is like fighting a many-headed monster, which, each time a neck is severed, sprouts a head even fiercer and cleverer than before. You are fighting that which is unfixed, mutating, indestructible." 

Severus Snape in Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Price. *Dark Arts

Thursday, 26 July 2012

If you’re on benefits, don’t get a job.

I cannot believe I am actually saying that but I am tired.  I am tired of having to negotiate my way through the mire that is our benefits system whilst trying to get a little bit of paid work whilst applying relentlessly for a full time job.

I’ve had my Housing Benefit reduced from £180 to £55 a fortnight because apparently they’ve overpaid me and they’re reclaiming it back from my current and future payments.    This is because I did 5 days work in April and May netting me £621 after deductions and because of this they have calculated I have been overpaid in every payment from April to June.   So that’s 12 weeks of overpayment because of 5 days work. 

I’ve already written about how these 5 days of paid work affected my Job Seeker’s Allowance so I can only conclude that I shouldn’t have bothered working, trying to pay my way, trying to get back into work because the benefits system makes it impossibly complicated and financially penalises you for the effort.  I can understand entirely how you can end up as a long term unemployed statistic and find yourself subject to all the vitriol that label engenders – the system is gamed against you getting any kind of work that doesn’t enable you to kiss goodbye to being a benefit claimant entirely.  They cut your benefits if you work part time or occasionally whilst trying to get that elusive full time job and anyway your Job Seeker’s Allowance is taxed as income and included by the Housing Benefit bods as earnings, so it is included in their calculations of any overpayments. 

The game is rigged and the house always wins. 

Friday, 22 June 2012

I spy...a Friday night in.

Once upon a time Friday nights were the highlight of the week.  A time to play, a time to laugh, a time to flirt, a time to get off one’s nut on drink, drugs  or just the heady mix of youth and expendable income.

Ah me, would that such days did last.  They don’t.  Which is I why I find myself sat in bed, a bowl of Bombay mix by my side, bugger all on the tellybox, with a bunch of equally lost souls cool people on Twitter for company at 8.30 this evening.  University Challenge isn’t even on to break up the monotony.  Sad times, my friends, sad times.

But wait!  I have a marvellous idea.  I can harness all of this middle aged, middle-England, middle to low income ennui, by the simple expedient of the classic children’s game I Spy!  But with a twist…wait for it…you’ll never guess (you might)…it will be called Fri Spy and it will be played on Twitter.

The rules of Fri Spy are simple.
  1. The game will take place on Friday evenings. (Don’t pretend you won’t be in.  You will.  Or even if you’re not, you know your night will be punctuated by slightly paranoid checking of Twitter to see if you have any mentions.  Don’t deny it, it is a truth)
  2. The Fri-Master (me) will tweet “Fri spy with my little eye something beginning with <insert appropriate letter>” and you have to guess whatever it is I am spying with my little eye.
  3. I will give you clues (up to a maximum of three) throughout your frenetic guessing and if no one gets it right I WIN.  AND GET TO PLAY AGAIN.
  4. If someone guesses correctly it will be their turn to be The Fri-Master.
  5. We start again.
  6. &c
  7. &c
  8. &c
  9. As per long car journeys, Fri Spy will end when we get bored, start kicking the back of the seat in front and gurning at other passengers,
  10. The evening flies by in a rush of guessing and punning and double entendres so much so that we laugh, I say LAUGH, at those silly sausages going out boozing and drugging and good timing.  The fools. 

We Friday-Night-Staying-Inners are many; indeed one could even say legion. 

We are Fri-Spyers.

Let the games commence!

(On Friday 29th June.  I’m going to bed in a minute).

Monday, 21 May 2012

To my mum

My mum died five years ago today.  I've written her this letter. 

So much has happened since you crept gracefully out of life.   I know you’ll be ecstatic that I finally mustered up the courage to walk away from that relationship that was so damaging to me, that you knew has become a mirror image of your marriage.  After you died I tried many things to fix it but in the end I knew that to stay with him would be like a betrayal of you.  So I left and it was the best decision of my life.  You’ll be proud of me, I think, for doing the thing you were never quite able to do.

I’ve started singing.  I know!  I wish you’d lived long enough, and been well enough, to come and see my choir.  It’s been a lifeline for me and I now understand how singing was such an emotional outlet for you, a release of all the feelings you took care to hide from everyone.  When illness took away your singing voice I saw how painful it was for you; now I understand something of how soul-destroying that must have been.   I would love, so much, to be able to sing with you.   Oh, that we could have the chance to do it. 

I cook like you.  Throw it all in, one pot dinners.  My spaghetti bolognese and moussaka taste like yours but I’ve never managed to match your roast potatoes – although let’s be honest, no one could ever match your roast potatoes.   I can never eat cheese on toast (with seasoning salt, of course) without thinking about you, with a smile.  The same goes for chicken noodle soup, our comfort illness food.

I’ve had a horrible year, mum.  I’ve wanted more than anything to curl up on your lap at your end of the sofa and have you make it all better; there were times when I thought about coming to find you in the sweet hereafter or wherever you may be.   I know you’ll understand that, I think you felt that way more often than you ever said. You knew there was a dark shade to me and without you to talk to about it I’ve felt lost.  I’m coming through the other side of it now. Being a strong woman is as much my strength and yet my weakness as it was for you and I’m learning when to ask for help, and accept it.  I’ve learnt so much from what you did and couldn’t do. 

I wish you could have known B.  You’d like him ever such a lot.  He’s even got me interested in gardening, so maybe I have got your green fingers after all.  He makes up silly songs and I can just picture the two of you together in your garden, pottering about among the hardy perennials swapping ever-more ludicrous rhymes!  Yesterday he said “even if you don’t believe in god, you can still believe in magic.”  I think you’d love that as much as I do. 

When you died I was terrified I’d never be able to remember you as you were before illness, but I do, and I feel happy at these memories more than I feel sad.  I have this picture up in my bedroom, you and your funny, shy little shadow.  We had such good times you and I. 

Friday, 4 May 2012

Debt is depressing.

Being poor sucks. Really sucks.  And I don’t mean poor as in you can’t afford to go out as often as you’d like, you’re not having a holiday this year, you’re not earning enough to justify a haircut.  I mean poor as in you’re getting red letters from all your creditors, you weigh up every bus fare against buying bread and milk, you really don’t know how you’re going to pay your household bill this month, next month, every month. And knowing that part of the reason you’re so poor is because you have an illness that takes away your ability to manage any kind of personal care or circumstances really sticks the knife in.

Like work and depression, alcohol and depression, relationships and depression, finance and depression can feel like a chicken and egg never-ending circle.  Did I get in debt because I am depressed or is my depression causing me to get further into debt as I don’t have the emotional strength to get a handle on it?

I’ve never been that good with money (Savings? Huh?)  but I’ve always managed to keep on top of any debt I had until now.   I’m unemployed after being forced in December to resign from my job due to an investigation into claims I was faking depression. It’s a long, sorry tale which I’ve blogged about before so I won’t go into the detail here. Suffices to say, I’m out of work and no one seems in any way keen to interview me.

I’ve just had my Job Seekers Allowance cut because I missed an appointment.  I missed an appointment because I got four days’ work for which I will get paid about £600 at some point in the future. I did try and inform the Jobcentre by email of the circumstances (I couldn’t phone as it was a Bank Holiday weekend and I was working 15 hour days) but nevertheless my allowance has been taken away.  This means that my monthly income is £320 Housing Benefit which is for my rent (it obviously doesn’t cover it) and £8.71 per week Council Tax Benefit.  I’m not going to disclose how much I owe to the red letter senders – frankly it’s none of your business! – But clearly, they ain’t getting paid any time soon.

Because I’ve been so ill with depression, my natural tendency to keep a grip - albeit a tenuous one - on my finances has gone to pot.  It’s not been so much burying my head in the sand as being so out of focus with things that they have just not even registered. My memory is terribly affected by depression. I just don’t remember to do stuff.   And now I’m surrounded by letters and getting the dreaded 0845 phone calls and I don’t quite know where to start.  Having my JSA cut has knocked me right back; I’ll be honest, I could have sorted it out a couple of weeks ago but I was already slipping, I’m having more and more frequent depressive symptoms.  I am terrified of going back to where I was at the end of last year but the curse of depression is that I just don’t feel able to do anything about it. And so we’re back to the chicken and egg.

I can imagine that to some people this just reads like a list of excuses for being crap with money; it’s really not. Depression plays Russian roulette with your mind. It takes a wrecking ball to your sense of priority and gives your memory a right old kicking.  When leaving your room to go to the toilet is Mount Everest, than having to interact with people you feel over-burdened with guilt about owing money to becomes an impossible mountain to scale.

This morning I have been looking on the website and I think it might just be the thing that will help me get a handle on things, so that is a step in the right direction.  I am going to look into getting an advocate to help me contact the companies I owe money to.  I can’t do this alone. And for once I am going to ask for help, which as any depressive knows, is often the hardest thing of all. 

Monday, 16 April 2012

My friend

My friend is moving to Australia.  You know Australia?  On the other side of the world?  

My friend gets me.  We’ve known each other less than a year and yet I feel like we get each other on an emotional level; we click.  I can tell her things I’d hesitate to tell other people, even friends of much longer standing because I know she won’t judge. 

 My friend is hilarious.  She has a properly infectious giggle and just a glance will set me off.  She is as inappropriate and bawdy as I am which I admit is probably quite annoying for other people (especially in the midst of a choir rehearsal when we’re stifling our cackles).

My friend is very loyal.  She is the sort of person other people open up to and she takes on the burden of being secret keeper. 

My friend has great kids.  I’ve never enjoyed the company of children more, they truly are a credit to her and I am going to miss them more than I can say.

My friend has been more of a support to me over the last eight months than she knows.  When we met I was approaching my lowest ebb, she helped to pick me up. 

I set up Skype last night so I can (time difference allowing) talk to her often and we have Twitter as well.  I am going to miss the real her though.  I am going to miss my friend. 

Monday, 26 March 2012

Being Happy

Today is a good day.  I’ve had a fair number of good days recently, but this morning I woke up knowing that I am getting better. I’ve been scared of getting better in case I relapse into another severe depression, one that I don’t know I’ll have the strength to recover from.  I am still a bit scared about this, but I am pretty certain that the three months of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), the right medication, and some truly positive influences in my life have given me the tools to manage any relapses.

Depression is a part of me, it’s not ever going to not be there so I am learning to embrace it, and see that it can be channelled positively.  If I wasn’t depressed, I’d never have started this blog - imagine how much the poorer your lives would be without it, eh?! I think depression makes me funny. I can take the mickey and get away with it because I’m a depressive.  It gives me an edge.  Depression can give you insights into your own self, not always accurate and quite often self-loathing, but when you can step away from it a bit, you do learn a lot about how and why you think the way you do – after all, all those hours spent away with the fairies inside your own head have to be good for something, right?

I’ve started noticing beauty again.  A hydrangea in bloom, my boyfriend’s sleeping face, a giggling child, the smell of oranges.  It’s like the world is in technicolour; sights, sounds and smells are in focus.  And get this, I don’t hate myself. I think I’m alright, really. It’s been so long since I’ve thought that, and I feel giddy.

I was so proud of myself, walking home from my penultimate therapy session this afternoon.  I could have skipped but that would look somewhat out of place on Tottenham High Road, so I contented myself with smiling; beaming actually.

Being happy is hard work sometimes, but it’s worth the effort. Although, what the hell I'm going to blog about now, I have no bloody idea. 

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

An open letter to The Person


How are you? 

Congratulations. You told me once that if I ever betrayed you, you would destroy me.  To be honest, I thought it was one of your many bombastic, melodramatic statements that could be taken with a healthy pinch of salt. Turns out I was wrong, you actually meant it. Of course, we differ quite substantially on what constitutes ‘betrayal’;  for me, I followed my principles and along with others took a course of action that was right, necessary and long overdue, for you I failed to be the lapdog you had assumed I’d be.

No doubt you wholeheartedly believe that attempting to ruin my health and career was entirely justified and needless to say I completely disagree. Your actions over the past year made me severely depressed and suicidal and forced me to leave a job I’d been successful at for nearly a decade, so well done, you almost did succeed in destroying me.   I say almost because I am still here, a bit battered and bruised – I am happy to admit you have done a spectacularly good job of trying to ruin me – but here nonetheless. 

I’d like to thank you actually. Without the events of the last year, I would probably never have sought the psychological help I have needed for many years (I’m not particularly grateful for the suicidal thoughts but hey, you have to take the rough with the smooth), I wouldn’t have discovered that I have talents and passions I can build a career from and I definitely wouldn’t have made so many friends, willing to fight my corner.

I’d like to think, for both our sakes, that your - can I call it an obsession? Yes why not – obsession will have abated by now. But just in case you’re still monitoring my online output, I’m letting you know  I’ve unlocked my Twitter account, so please feel free to peruse to your heart’s content. 



Friday, 10 February 2012


I like cooking.  I like the creativity of it, the sense of achievement, the feeling of producing something bigger and better than the sum of its parts.  I’ve found that one of the main symptoms of my depression is not being able to eat much at all and six months ago, cooking  meant boiling the kettle for instant noodles or trudging to the shop in my pyjamas for a bag of salted popcorn, that is to say, not cooking at all.  I slept rather than eat properly; my stomach felt hungry but my head couldn’t get itself into gear enough to make the connection between that and getting out of bed and going to the kitchen.   It’s a vicious circle, too little food means not enough energy, not enough energy means too much sleep, too much sleep means enhanced feelings of wasting your life, being worthless.  Eating just felt…effortful.  

At the end of November I decided to do an online food shop so at least if I did feel like eating, I wouldn’t have to leave the house to get supplies.  I bought, on a whim, a big bag of potatoes.  It stayed a big bag of potatoes for some time.  A big bag of green-tinged, pock-marked potatoes by the time January rolled around. My appetite had been improving but I wasn’t enjoying the cooking or the eating; it felt like a necessary evil to be honest.   My flatmate said something about making a load of chips just to get rid of the gnarly taters but I felt bad, they’d been sat there for nearly two months and I thought they deserved a better fate than boring old chips. Yes, I felt guilty for the potatoes, what of it?  Also, I still wasn’t up to much on the eating front and that’s when it hit me.  I could make soup.  Leek and potato soup.  All by my own self.  I’d never made a soup before and I found I was feeling quite excited at the prospect.  Could it be I was regaining my joy for food?  I pushed that thought to the ‘perhaps I might get better’ box in my head, I didn’t want to hold on to it too hard in case I didn’t make the soup, in case I just left the potatoes to rot whilst I rotted away in bed, hungry. The idea of getting better is frightening. Like a siren, calling you to a land of pleasure; what happens if you get dashed upon the rocks?

I made the soup.  I found the actual process to be soothing.  There was a logic and routine to it, things which had been largely missing from my life for so long but also it was creative, taking these knobbly old tatties and tuning them into a warming, comforting, not too much effort to eat food blanket.  I felt ridiculously proud of myself.

I started to tentatively re-engage with food. The next week I made stilton and broccoli soup.  A couple of weeks later, smoked bacon and lentil (this one was not such a success, too greasy) and then yesterday I made a Thai-style prawn and noodle soup.  In between soups I’ve cooked a roast dinner, a stew, a couple of pasta dishes more complicated than just opening a jar of pesto.  And I’m starting to not only enjoy the process of cooking food again, but the eating of it too. I have started to see the point of it again.  Thanks to soup.

Monday, 30 January 2012

‘Cos I’m guilty, guilty as a girl can be.

So sang Bananarama in their 1987 hit Love in the First Degree.  Do you know it only got to number 3 in the charts; it was beaten to number 1 by Pump Up the Volume.  A classic no doubt, but my pocket money went on the ‘Rama. How can you not love the ‘Rama?  Anyways, I digress.  I was 10 in 1987, my clothes came from Tammy Girl and C&A, I fervently believed my toys came alive when I left the room and I had an almighty crush on Phillip Schofield who had broken my heart by leaving the Broom Cupboard.   I was also well on the way to developing the guilt complex I carry around with me every day. Poor 10 year old Bearface.

I feel guilty about everything.  Really, everything. I feel guilty about the books on my shelf that are shoved to the back, never seeing the light of day because I have to double them up because I have more books than shelf space, I feel guilty about the sweet cat that’s taken to frequenting my balcony in the mornings, even though she is clearly well fed and looked after, I feel guilty about the old people who now have to walk a bit further down the road to the temporary bus stop that’s outside my house.  I recognise these are ridiculous things to feel guilty about, and yet feel guilty I do.

Never mind how I feel about the people I know and the things I do, or don’t do.  This is where my guilt complex really takes over.  I feel terrible that I have let down a number of friends whilst I’ve been in my depressive slump.  Not that anyone has said “You’ve let me down, Bearface” – well one has but that’s a whole other story – but I feel like I have.  I feel like I’ve been a bad friend, selfish and self-obsessed.  I have a huge amount of guilt about my mum, that I didn’t do enough to support her through the last months and weeks of her life, that I didn’t love her enough to put her first.  I feel guilty that I don’t do enough to help my siblings cope with our rather difficult father.   For fuck’s sake I feel guilty when I see people arguing in the street and don’t intervene, when clearly it’s got bugger all to do with me! See?  Guilty about everything.

Now it hasn’t escaped my notice that in a certain light this could be viewed as entirely narcissistic – it’s all about me. But guess what? Yes!  I feel guilty about that too.  My therapist and I are going to be exploring all this guilt, where it comes from and how I can stop it from controlling my thoughts and behaviour.  It’s pretty easy for me to trace where it comes from but it’s a vicious circle which I need to break free of.

Right this second I am feeling guilty about the face that in the opening paragraph of this post I expressed a preference for Love in the First Degree over Pump Up the Volume.  Yeah, this really has to stop!

Thursday, 5 January 2012

I guess I’m not in Singledom anymore.

I have a boyfriend. 

This is weird. Good weird, but weird nonetheless.

I haven’t had a boyfriend for three years; I liked being single and being in control of my own destiny, with only myself to please, and it was definitely by choice. Oh, alright, and also partly because my man radar was way off kilter and anyone I’ve got involved with has turned out to be highly unsuitable for one reason or another (or, just not that into me. We’ll ignore that).

Anyway, Mr Bearface as he is now known – I am nothing if not original – has odd interests. Odd to me as they are entirely outside my experience, that is. He does skateboarding and snowboarding and is as passionate about them as I am about singing and cheese, which is to say, very.   Given my complete lack of co-ordination and ingrained fear of anything approaching extreme sports it is unlikely I will ever be tempted to join him in either of these things.  I love that he has passions in life and feels like he’s come home when he does them, however, I must confess that on going to a skate park with him recently I did feel rather like his mum. Do I clap? Do I kiss it better if he grazes his knee? Do I sew up the patches in the jeans he only bought recently (fancy skating in them, young Bearface Esq) that have ripped from doing some kind of ‘move’?  I am really interested in the world surrounding his interests and the philosophies that accompany it, but I do feel slightly at a loss as I can’t contribute. I remember a girl I knew getting hold of a book like Rugby for Dummies or something and genning up on the rules, manoeuvres and positions of the game – it served her well, she made it with most of the rugby team as I recall. I, however, can’t quite bring myself to ferret out a similar book because I’d sound like a prick, suddenly spouting stuff about how to ‘ollie’ (I’m cringing right now)  so it’s a good thing I like listening to Mr Bearface enthusing; perhaps I’ll pick stuff up along the way.  It’ll be RAD.

Another weird thing is he’s a vegetarian.  And eats fake meat.  I’ll say it again. FAKE MEAT. I’ll be honest, I don’t see the point. Some of it does actually taste alright but I reckon that even as a carnivorous meat hound, I eat more vegetables than he does. I like meat.  I love meat. MEAT. That is all.

So from meat to flesh. Say hello to personal hygiene and grooming, everyone. Given that in the last year my ability to shower on a daily basis has been severely compromised by that fucker called Depression – seriously, getting out of bed to go to the toilet can be a seven hour process sometimes never mind actually washing – it is nothing less than extraordinary to find myself showering AND moisturising every single day. No one likes a smelly bear, after all.  Also (men, look away now lest you have all your illusions shattered) remembering to pluck those random granny hairs from your chin so that he doesn’t get stubble rash from kissing you; that’s a right old pain and yet I do it because I want to look good for him and for me and it’s been a while since I wanted to look good for anyone, least of all myself.

And oh how we laugh!  At nothing.  At each other. Laughing without even having to explain what I’m laughing at because he just knows.  I haven’t done this much laughing in such a long time and whilst I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s the best medicine (I am all about the SSRI’s and therapy) it is certainly making my smile, a lot, which after the bastard that was 2011 is no mean feat.   Anyone who says when they see me in my shitty old-man style striped and faded pyjamas “I don’t know if they have a brand* but if they did it would be ‘Convalescence’…” is getting the funnies right in my book.

Probably the weirdest thing about it all is the fact that I’m used to being the strong one in a relationship. The one who picks up the pieces, gives the advice and encouragement, grits teeth when said advice is duly ignored.  I do the looking after and admitting I might need some looking after in return is difficult and frankly, makes me nervous.  I wasn’t sure I’d manage being the one who needed propping up but do you know what, I sort of don’t mind and I know I need it.  I like not having to be the only one navigating the good ship ’Us’ through the tumultuous waters of life; I like knowing that there’s another hand on the tiller, helping to guide us to calmer shores. 

2012 is going to be a difficult year for me, lots of challenges with health, work and finances are threatening to send me toppling over the edge, but knowing that I’ve started the year laughing so much with someone who isn’t freaked out by my mentalism and situation is definitely a properly good beginning.  Weird, but good.

*Primark, seeing as you asked.