oh, how we laughed

I was early for my appointment on Thursday, a combination of determination to tell J how I felt and the usual being over prepared for something. As I sat in the waiting room I looked at the posters on the wall. Among the usual posters for the domestic violence group and the fibromyalgia group were a series of new posters proclaiming “there’s no healthwithout mental health – how’s yours?” (just peachy, which is why I’m in the psychology department…) I love these ‘stating the obvious’ type of poster. One said, “there are many things you can do to improve your mental health, try: meeting new people.” Other suggestions were “relaxing and making time for yourself” and “developing new hobbies and interests”. While I appreciate why they make these things and put them up, I can’t help thinking that they’re just making blanket and rather vague statements suggesting things that the patient is probably *way* beyond.
J is a very approachable guy, which is why I have been so torn about this. I get the feeling that we are on the same wavelength, and that I can talk to him and be honest and open. That, as any therapist will tell you, is incredibly important. I talked to him about how I felt, even that I’d had difficulty writing down all the anxious stuff – and he sat and listened, then said that it was all understandable and made sense (thank god he doesn’t think I’m a flake) and that I could “see how it goes” before deciding. It wouldn’t be failure, it would be being honest with myself.
We also talked about the tape – which was sitting on the table mocking me. As soon as I saw it, I’d said something like “oh shitting buggery” before advising J that I was liable to swear a lot. J told me that I was in control, that I could withdraw my consent at any time, or he would stop the tape whenever I asked him. At this stage, I was more worried about how I would feel if I didn’t give it a go than anything else, so I consented and he pressed the button.
We talked about stuff, about my panic and how I react to stressful situations. As usual, there’s a lot that I promptly forgot once I’d left the room. Towards the end of my appointment, when J had switched the tape off and we were talking about me coming back again he said something like “…and there’ll be no more of that”.
“No more of what?” I asked, puzzled. “The tape” J said. “You’ve got the hard part over with.”
Somehow, in the midst of my anxiety last time, I’d decided that he would be taping more than one meeting. He only needed to do one…

Ridiculous Thoughts?

Yesterday, I started writing a post about how J, my new counsellor, had asked me to write down all the negative shit that goes through my head when I’m anxious. I thought I’d blog it because it gives another little insight into how my head works right now. As I wrote, I started feeling incredibly crappy, which isn’t surprising when things like “I’m useless” “I’m stupid” “why can’t I manage this shit?” “I’m going to die” come out.
I have a funny feeling that J is going to go through each one and counter it with logic. The thing is, I do this all the time already. “I’m not stupid, I just have depression and things seem more difficult right now. Give yourself a break, already”. “I’m not useless, I do all kinds of things that I take for granted, I should give myself a bit more credit”. See? How easy is that? It doesn’t help, though. The useless and stupid thoughts are ingrained, I’ve always had poor self confidence. How can I erase thirty odd years of that?
As I sat there thinking, I wondered whether this is really the right time to be doing this. How can I concentrate on what is probably going to be a difficult road to recovery when I have this benefits thing looming over me? Despite everyone’s assurances that I have a damned good case, I still have that nagging doubt that I’ll fail the appeal, and the consequences of that are just too hard to even think about. If I continue with my counselling and I fail, it’ll be harder to do it next time around. I can’t help thinking it would be better to say, “put me back on the waiting list, I’m not ready for this”. There’s another reason for my negativity and doubt. J is a psychology student. Although he’s a fully qualified counsellor, he’s seeing clients as a psych student, therefore needs clinical supervision. This means that he has to tape some of our meetings.
I’m not sure how I feel about this. At the time, I said that although I didn’t like the idea, I understood that it was necessary for him as part of his ‘training’. The only people who will hear my witterings on tape will be him and his supervisor, but when I feel so ridiculously self conscious anyway the thought of being taped makes me want to puke. Unfortunately, if I’m not comfortable with it and can’t deal with it, I go back on the waiting list to see someone else. I was ‘pulled out’ of the waiting list to see J, because it was felt that I was an ideal candidate for him (fools). I guess I need to know that I’d go back to where I was on the list, and not right back at the end.
For this whole therapy thing to succeed, I need to feel comfortable, and I’m not. I hate this – it feels like I’m making excuses, and given that I’ve gone on and on all this time about how I want to get better, I also feel like a bit of a fraud. I see J again tomorrow morning, and shall talk to him about it.

Spiffy Links

If I may guide you to the right hand column of my blog, you will see two new links.
Firstly, I’ve added a link to Blogging Against Disablism Day, which takes place on May 1st. Make a note in your diaries and check out some of the excellent blogs linked there.
Second, I’ve linked to another anxiety blog by Affers. Good luck to him with that, I hope he finds blogging as helpful as I have.
Finally, I’ve uploaded another post that I found which was written during the Great Webhost Change of 2006, to do with my IB appeal. Well, at least I’m warning you what it’s about!
(oh, and I intend to work on my stupid templates soon so that the formatting looks right…)

Old Friend

There you are! Where the hell have you been? God, I’ve missed you so much.
You’re later than usual, and the last few months have been so dark and cold without you. Every day I yearned for your return, and the freshness and brightness that you always bring. When you came, you brought me flowers – daffodils and crocuses and I love them so much for bringing new colour into my life. And did I ever tell you how good you smell? When you’re around, I want to breathe so deeply, to capture you in my lungs until they burst.
Yesterday, outside in the garden, I felt your warmth caress me – everything just seemed happier with you around. I feel renewed – but that’s you – you have the power to make things fresh again, to make them new.
Thank you, Spring.


or, “this sort of thing never happens to me”
On Saturday mornings I like to make my pilgrimage to the local charity shops. Despite being on a tight budget I still have an insatiable thirst for reading, and charity shops feed me whilst pandering to my thriftiness. Plus, I love looking at the bric-a-brac, seeing what sorts of things other people throw out. I love being able to say with a sharp intake of breath “Grandma used to have one of those!”
There’s also a long running joke between Mr D and I. For a long time, I have lusted after a Lomo LC-A camera. I’ve seen what can be done with them, but the price of them has meant that the thought of owning one goes on the high shelf in my mind of “things I really really want, but am probably unlikely to get”. Looking around, it seems that people like me who don’t want to spend a lot of money on a Lomo, usually end up getting an Olympus XA. Although the two cameras are fairly different, they can produce similar results. So, it made sense that the XA went on the shelf in my mind marked “attainable, but there’s usually other things to spend the money on”
So, every time I wander into a charity shop, I pipe up with “let’s go in here, you never know, they might have an Olympus XA for a quid…” Mr D laughs in a way that says, “yeah, right” but I still look on the shelves in the vain hope that someone has donated a knackered looking camera to charity without realising what it is.
One of my favourite charity shops locally is Barnardo’s. The small shop is about eighty percent books and some bric-a-brac, mostly teapots and vases. I love it because they have the sense to display their books not only alphabetically, but by genre too, so you don’t have to wade through hundreds of Catherine Cookson books to get to HG Wells. Last week, they were giving away toy flamingos with every purchase, apparently they were donated by a company, and when Barnardo’s realised they couldn’t sell them, gave them away with every purchase as an incentive to buy something. I bought two books, and got two free flamingos.
This morning, we went in and I noticed there were still pink flamingos lined like Tiller girls along the tops of the shelves. I went straight to the fiction section, letter A, because I’m looking for a book by Jake Arnott. That particular section is near the till, and I caught a snippet of a conversation between the shopkeeper and an old gentleman. He’d said the word ‘camera’. I glanced around, and noticed a shelf behind the counter with about ten different cameras on it. Ranging from Kodak brownies of varying ages to cheap nameless plastic tat, and somewhere in between. Then, just as I was wondering whether to get one of the Brownies, I noticed four letters in white – lomo. My first thought was nah, someone’s written that on, but as I continued to look, I realised that what I was looking at was a genuine Lomo. The old man was still contemplating his choice of camera, and was blocking most of the small counter area. I willed him to make his mind up, so I could get to my prize. An eternity later, he sighed and said “I think I’ll leave it…”
I beamed at the shopkeeper and said, “can I look at the cameras?”
(IB claim note – “client has no problems communicating with others as long as there’s a Lomo involved”)
Without hesitation, I reached for the Lomo. It was heavy for a small camera, and was indeed the coveted LC-A model. My fingers ran over the painted metal body and I felt a paper sticker – the price. I nervously turned it over, my heart in my mouth – wondering what on earth they would put as a price. Yesterday, on ebay, a Lomo LC-A sold for £84.
Prices of cameras in charity shops vary massively. Usually, they’re just the cheap plastic 35mm cameras that only cost £5 new – and they sell for pennies. Sometimes, however, the shop thinks it has something of value, and ups the price. Box Brownies, for instance, or anything with a recongisable name. I’ve never seen a Lomo LC-A in a charity shop – it just doesn’t happen. People are cottoning on to the idea that this is a fairly valuable camera, so if they don’t want it any more, they put it on ebay. I guess it’s very much like antiques. Programmes like the Anitques Roadshow and Flog It et al, teach people that things could be more valuable than they think. Troika pottery is a prime example – it’s relatively ugly to a lot of people, yet prices in the last few years have rocketed. Same with Clarice Cliff ten years ago. Everyone wants to find the “oh, I got it at a car boot sale for 10p” item that’s now worth hundreds. But I digress.
I turned the camera round to see the price. There must be some mistake, I think. Maybe it’s not the LC-A I want, but some other model. The ticket says “£2”. I resist the urge to scream out loud. “Ooh,” I say “I think I’ll have this one” and have a quick look at a Brownie so I don’t look over keen. I hand over my money, and leave the shop – the proud owner of a Lomo LC-A found for two pounds. It was a surreal experience, and it was absolutely magic.


Firstly, I need to say a massive thank you to Giles, who is what is commonly known as an Utter Treasure for sorting out my archives. In the end, it involved fiddling with the database, which is even more scary than fiddling with a perl script. Big hugs and copious booze for him. *muah!*
The archives are a bit disjointed, because the backup didn’t include anything from this year, so I’m adding those manually as I go. Unfortunately, it means that some comments will be lost, so apologies for that.
names have been changed to protect the guilty
This week, Mr D has been on a CAD course in Telford (the “he’s already a cad” joke has been done, sorry). Apart from writing about how I’m managing for six days on my own and whining about it, I couldn’t think of much to blog about. Mr D and I been talking about how Telford is just a spit away from Bridgnorth, the place where I spent most of my childhood summer holidays. My Grandma’s best friend had an ancient cottage in the middle of a field on the outskirts of town, and most of my summers were spent sitting on a rug in the huge garden listening to the birds sing and reading whatever Famous Five book I had taken, while Grandma and Aunty Pat listened to Radio 4 in the cool of the sitting room. Grandma was a keen seamstress, and would invariably take some half made teddybears or dolls with her, and masked her tight lipped irritation with Aunty Pat, who wanted to help but didn’t always “get it quite right”. I remember Grandma once saying to me “I do wish she’d find her own sewing to do”. It wasn’t that Grandma didn’t appreciate the help, I think she was just such a stickler for getting things done in a particular way.
The last time I went there was about 16 years ago. Mr D and I took Grandma the two hundred miles to see Aunt Pat, and all her friends and relations (think Rabbit in Winnie-the-Pooh). It was a strange and bittersweet holiday. Everyone was getting old, and there was this sense of urgency to see them one last time. It was a bit of a pain, Mr D and I were young, and wanted to run off and do our own thing, but literally every day but one was taken up with visiting people. In hindsight, I’m glad we held our tongues and went along with it, and it’s taken me a long time to realise that. Aunt Pat died a couple of years later, and the cottage passed on to her nephew and his wife. The last we heard, Bill and Penny were living in a caravan in the garden and restoring the cottage, with input from English Heritage.
When Mr D said he might look into Bridgnorth and take some photos of the town, so I could see if it had changed much, the last thing I expected was the phone call I got on Tuesday evening.
“guess where I am”
Yes – he’d found the cottage, and walked down the drive with a view to knocking on the door and saying hello. He’d seen Bill, asked if it was him, then said, “my wife asked me to drop in and say hello”
Bill paused for a moment, and exclaimed, “dominocat!”
Cue goosebumps moment number 1. Mr D had only been to Aunt Pat’s once, and we only stayed a week. Yet Bill knew who he was straight away. Bill and Penny’s hospitality was as warm as always. They caught up on gossip from both sides, including the fact that their younger daughter Anna hand just had a baby – which leads nicely to goosebumps moment number 2.
The last time Grandma visited Bridgnorth when she was still sewing, she left behind some dolls that she’d made. I think the idea was to raffle them in aid of “Save the Children” a charity for which Aunty Pat was a keen fundraiser. Bill said that the last of the dolls was given to Anna for her baby just two weeks ago, prompting them to get all nostalgic and wonder how I was doing.
That, internet, is what’s known as fate.
Bill and Penny have said that we can go and stay. I think we might have to take them up on that…


well that’s something, at least.
Hello again.
In the middle of a benefits brou-haha and a depressive episode, I decided it would be nice to change webhosts. I love how my brain works sometimes. The crux of it is that I have Forgotten Everything about installing movable type, and my new hosts have the cgi-bin in a different place and often I couldn’t be bothered
I saved a backup of my site, but apparently it’s how you save it that’s the kicker. And to top it off, the only way now that I can get all my old entries back so strangers can see who the hell they’re listening to, is to fiddle with some perl script, which my brain has looked at and automatically shut off, like a defiant kid saying “CAN’T”
oh, and I haven’t uploaded all the scripts yet, so commenting is off.