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samedi 26 avril 2014

AtoZ Challenge: Z... (unsurprisingly) for Zorro.

This little black ball of fur came into our lives 6 or 7 weeks ago, just after Tom died. His presence was meant to help me get over the loss of the best cat in the world.

He's an adorable little (not so little, actually) kitten, with a very cute (but persistent) miaow, and a lot of playfulness, as you would expect.

What he is not, is sociable. He's scared of everyone and everything, won't let anyone near him, certainly won't let anyone touch him, let alone stroke him. He remains, despite our encouragements, our patience, our trustworthiness (we've never done him harm of any kind), a wild cat.

His latest obsession is going out on to the balcony, jumping down into the courtyard and disappearing for a few hours. Given that he's totally black, he's pretty hard to find (especially at night, obviously). But, so far, he's always come back when he's hungry (which is often, it must be said).

I love the little black cat, I really do, but it's just that he's not Tom. I don't - can't - love him as much as I love(d) Tom, simply because he remains a disappointment to me; I long to take him on my knees and stroke him, cuddle him, and I've only managed to touch the tip of his tail once, as he disappeared behind the dishwasher.

I love him, but he's not Tom and apparently never will be. The hole in my life remains gaping. And worst of all, I never even got to say goodbye to Tom. I just hope and pray that he knew how very, very much he was loved, right up to the end.

Of course, there is also another Zorro in my life - the "real" one so to speak...!

vendredi 25 avril 2014

AtoZ Challenge: Y... for Yearning.


That yearning feeling is one that is corresponds to an intense longing for something. It can be so strong that it hurts, physically hurts.

I seem to have spent large swathes of my life yearning for things, often in vain. And the pain of yearning is nothing in comparison to the pain of trying to accept that what you yearned for just isn't going to happen.

Right now, I yearn (as I said a few days ago) for normality, a reality that resembles that of other people, a reality that provides me with structure and satisfaction, a reality that gives me love and affection.

Dr H says that he finds me less depressed than before, which is good, but not ready to face up to the obstacles in my life, which is not so good. He does seem to be suggesting that I'll soon be out of here, which is good, but the fear that I feel at the thought of being home all the time, of having to deal with cooking and cleaning and the girls and laundry and my work, all by myself (I know Y is there, and he does a lot, but I'm still going to have to do a lot of stuff by myself), paralyses me.

The yearning I feel for this probably unattainable normal life is causing me pain, and I know I'm going to have to go through the pain of failure once again - because, let's face it, my life is one long list of failures isn't it?

Except for this AtoZ Challenge, which I'm on the brink of succeeding - just one day to go!

jeudi 24 avril 2014

AtoZ Challenge: X... for Xenophobia.

So. According to that great source of reliable information, Wikipedia, xenophobia is described as follows:

Xenophobia comes from the Greek words ξένος (xenos), meaning "strange," "foreigner," and φόβος (phobos), meaning "fear."[1]
Xenophobia can manifest itself in many ways involving the relations and perceptions of an ingroup towards an outgroup, including a fear of losing identity, suspicion of its activities, aggression, and desire to eliminate its presence to secure a presumed purity.[2] Xenophobia can also be exhibited in the form of an "uncritical exaltation of another culture" in which a culture is ascribed "an unreal, stereotyped and exotic quality".[3]Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action urges all governments to take immediate measures and to develop strong policies to prevent and combat all forms and manifestations of racism, xenophobia or related intolerance, where necessary by enactment of appropriate legislation including penal measure.[4]


Dictionary definitions of xenophobia include: deep-rooted, irrational hatred towards foreigners (Oxford English Dictionary; OED), unreasonable fear or hatred of the unfamiliar (Webster's).[5]

Two forms[edit]

The first is a population group present within a society that is not considered part of that society.[citation needed] Often they are recent immigrants, but xenophobia may be directed against a group which has been present for centuries, or became part of this society through conquest and territorial expansion. This form of xenophobia can elicit or facilitate hostile and violent reactions, such as mass expulsion of immigrants,pogroms or in other cases, genocide.[citation needed]
The second form of xenophobia is primarily cultural, and the objects of the phobia are cultural elements which are considered alien. All cultures are subject to external influences, but cultural xenophobia is often narrowly directed, for instance, at foreign loan words in a national language. It rarely leads to aggression against individual persons, but can result in political campaigns for cultural or linguistic purification. In addition, entirely xenophobic societies tend not to be open to interactions from anything "outside" themselves, resulting in isolationism that can further increase xenophobia.[citation needed]


The following are ways one would develop a general and more often a specific type of Xenophobia:[original research?]
  • A physically or economicly negative experience with a particular group which is then over-generalized to all members of that group.
  • An emotional experience with other groups or specific alien populist group.
  • Rational or analytical reasons for the revulsion.
  • Classical conditioning, that is when someone is conditioned to having a fear or repulse from aliens generally, or, from specific group. Ways to instill it would be Dehumanization, mostly by propaganda, for example: a video containing group members shown distorted, erroneous, and in proportional phases of horror sounding.
  • Imitating others, mainly these that are close to the individual, or, in many cases, societal norms of a nation

The difference with racism (and this is me, now, not Wikipedia) is that whilst xenophobia implies a fear of others (those perceived as foreign in some way), racism implies a feeling of superiority of one's own race over others.

France is a country that has recently elected members of the extreme far right party, the Front National (FN), to local office in twelve (essentially small) towns, and has supported the election of a couple of others, including the election of the new mayor of Béziers, a town very near to Montpellier.

Many accuse the FN of racism. That may be true in certain cases - Marine Le Pen, seems to honestly believe that the "native" French people are superior to anyone of any kind of foreign origin, particularly those with a different skin colour. But I think there's a lot of xenophobia around too.

People are wary of other races-peoples-cultures because they are afraid of them, feel threatened by them, and this is particularly true of people who are muslim - the French feel very threatened by the muslim faith, they must believe their catholicism is at risk or something...

Y has taught me a great deal about what Arab means (and, more specifically, doesn't mean - it only applies to people from the Arabian peninsular, such as Saudis for example. Iranians, Lebanese, Turks, Algerians, Egyptians, Moroccans, etc. are probably muslim, but are most definitely not Arabs), what the governments of these countries are trying to do, about the muslim faith, etc.

There is no need for fear. These are mostly normal people, going about their normal lives, just like you and I. The few who are terrorists are a minority, and this type of minority is found in all races, peoples and cultures.

We must fight xenophobia just as we must fight racism.

Peoples, races, cultures other than our own enrich us, teach us new things, bring new things into our lives. We should rejoice in the opportunity they give us.

mercredi 23 avril 2014

AtoZ Challenge: W... for Wish.

Wishes and wishing are bound up in folklore and fairy tales, with wishes often key parts of the story's plot (as in Aladdin, for example).

There are also many possibly pagan traditions associated with wishing - making a wish when you throw a coin in a fountain, making a wish as you throw salt over your left shoulder (an act that knocks off any evil spirits that may be sitting there), making a wish if you see a shooting star, making a wish when you blow out the candles on a cake, and probably many more.

Expressions abound, too: make a wish, make a wish come true, be careful what you wish for...

It's hard to know what I would really wish for if a genie in a lamp were to grant me three wishes. I'd have to think so very carefully... "be careful what you wish for" and all that jazz.

I think, though, that I'd wish for the girls to have happy, healthy lives, I'd wish for a happy, healthy life for myself and I'd wish for Tom to be brought back to life.

I'm hoping the first wish will kind of happen of its own accord (though given Carla's surliness and Lydie's syllogomania things don't seem to be off to a great start). I'm not hopeful about the second, because as I said, I remain a glass-half-empty kind of person by nature. And, without the genie in the lamp, I know the third is currently impossible.

But a girl can wish, right?

mardi 22 avril 2014

AtoZ Challenge: V... for Velvet.

Velvet is soft and smooth, it exudes luxury and comfort, it is the cloth of kings. I have a purple velvet jacket which I love and wear often, no matter how old-fashioned it might be. It is a fabric I associate with Oscar Wilde, with artists in general, I feel good when I touch it, I love to hold it against me.

Its translation also gives you my favourite word in Spanish - terciopelo - which literally means "third skin", a remarkably accurate description in my opinion.

I always imagine the night sky as being velvety, with the stars as diamonds sparkling against its lushness.

And then, of course, there's the Velvet Underground, featuring the late, great Lou Reed:

This is a group that produced two of my favourite songs - Pale blue eyes and Perfect day which, if you don't know them, you should go listen to at once.

Velvet has a lot going for it...

AtoZ Challenge: U... for Union.

The Act of Union in 1603 was a parliamentary act that joined the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland under a single monarch, James I (who had previously been James VI in Scotland and was the son of Mary, Queen of Scots and Lord Darnley). The two countries nevertheless remained separate sovereign states, with their own parliaments and laws.

It was not until 1706 that a treaty was signed, advocating parliamentary union and brought into reality by the Union with Scotland act, passed by the English parliament in 1706 and the Union with England act, passed by the Scottish parliament a year later.

Since 1707, England, Wales and Scotland have thus been bound by law and named the Kingdom of Great Britain.

That union, now over 300 years old, is set to be put to the test on 18 September this year when the Scots will vote for or against independence in a national referendum. It should be noted, however, that when the Scots talk about independence, it's a very dependent sort of independence; assuming those for independence win (and right now, it's a real possibility), they hope to retain the monarch as their head of state, retain the pound sterling as their currency, become members of the EU (which is contradictory with the pound sterling thing because all new members of the EU are supposed to adopt the euro) and NATO, have a representative in the Bank of England and have England (and Wales, I guess) help them out of any financial difficulties they might incur.

I'm half Scottish (through my late mother) and half English (through my father), though I have never felt any particular ties to Scotland, quite the opposite actually.

I think the quest for independence is misguided and foolish. I think the referendum is a travesty - ALL of the UK should be able to vote on a matter that affects the whole country (the UK, I mean), but the Scottish Prime Minister doesn't really want independence (because he knows it would be a disaster for Scotland; he could never keep all the wild promises he's been making to this electorate) so he refuses to let the rest of the UK vote - if England could vote, the Scots would have their independence by about 90%!

As it stands, and given my feelings with regard to the place, I sincerely hope they do get their independence, if only to teach them a lesson. I would then hope that the EU would force them to join the euro (or not join the EU, one or the other) and that the Bank of England would stand its ground and refuse any Scottish representation (surely a concept as absurd as an Italian demanding to be allowed on the board of the Bank of France...).

The various Acts of Union were good things, positive things. James I was a good and popular king, ruling wisely over all his kingdoms. It seems a shame - the word isn't strong enough - to destroy all that now...

AtoZ Challenge: T... for Tom.

Tom may have some failings (though I can't think of any right now), but to me, he was the perfect cat.

When the vet announced over the phone, just after one of my electroshock sessions, that he had died whilst under observation at her surgery, I felt as though my heart had been ripped out and torn to shreds in front of me. I cried copiously, and am still prone to tears even now, despite the fact that he died on 3 March, which is over 7 weeks ago now.

Whilst tidying up at home, Y has come across numerous packets of photos of Tom, ranging from recent shots to pictures of him as the cutest kitten in the world, with his big, green eyes and rabbit-y ears. They break my heart because I still miss him soooo much.

We now have Zorro in our lives, but, cute as he is (and he is a very cute cat), he's no Tom. He won't come near us, so there's no stroking, no cuddling, no contact whatsoever. He's scared of everything, runs and hides behind the dishwasher at the slightest movement or noise and often doesn't reappear for hours.

Tom was a sociable, affectionate, sensitive and loving cat. I loved him possibly more than is reasonable for just a cat (how I hate that expression, he was way more than just a cat), but I can't help it. No other cat will ever mean as much to me as Tom does.

I will miss him forever.

This is one of the very last photos ever taken of him. He's at the vet's, and it's Saturday 1 March. He died 2 days later.

AtoZ Challenge: S... for Shock.

I still find it hard to believe that not only does electroshock therapy still exist, but that in addition, I've had it. For me, it's something intrinsically linked to One flew over the cuckoo's nest (both the book and the film) and A clockwork orange (which I haven't read, only seen and which doesn't actually have electroshocks in it, just something kind of similar). It's not something that happens to people like me (whatever that means).

But it has. Happened, I mean, to someone like me, someone who is, in fact, me.

I've been told that it's made me "better" (again, whatever that means) but seriously, I feel no different, apart from the fact that my memory is shot to hell.

I used to have a good, if not excellent, memory. Now, I've forgotten the names of people I once knew well, I've forgotten events (for example, Y showed me photos of a trip we made down to Carnon back in the winter sometime, and I have no recollection of the trip at all), I've forgotten situations, facts, figures, all kinds of things. Dr H told me this memory would come back, but it's been a month since the last treatment and it hasn't come back so far.

I find the concept of zapping a person's brain with a jolt of electricity shocking, in every sense of the word. I don't think it's something that should be done to people, and I certainly won't be recommending it to anyone if they ask my opinion.

Shock is an excellent word; it's what I got (12 times) and it's what I am in.

If someone offers you the chance of having electroshocks as a way to "cure" your depression, or ease the symptoms of your bipolar disorder, DON'T DO IT!

lundi 21 avril 2014

AtoZ Challenge: R... for Reality.

I don't exactly have nightmares, but I do have extremely disturbing dreams, nearly always involving considerable swathes of reality, to the extent that I often don't know what has really happened and what was just in my dream.

This makes for a sometimes rather surreal reality.

At other times, my reality is crushingly real and there's no doubt that I'm not in any way dreaming. Sometimes, my reality sucks so much I yearn for an alternative universe where this life is nothing but a bad memory.

In reality, I don't really know what reality is. Or, at least, I don't know any more. I see old, old photos of me and friends from St Andrews, from Salamanca, and they don't seem real at all. Did that time really happen? Yes, it did; you might even add, yes it did, unfortunately, because it didn't end well (does anything in my life ever end well I wonder?).

Téléréalité is precisely that (I hope) - a reality that exists only on the TV. The "Marseillais in Rio" are so brainless, shameless, aggressive, vulgar, overwhelmed with self-importance and ignorant that I cannot believe such people exist elsewhere but on the TV. They're unreal, totally unreal.

Sometimes I wish my reality were different. That I didn't have to take drugs, that I didn't have to live in a mental hospital, that my girls spent at least half their time with me and were nice to Y, that my relationship with Y were more solid, that I weren't so old compared to him...

But reality is what it is. Unfortunately.

AtoZ Challenge: Q... for Queen.

I may be British, but I'm not a royalist by any means. I don't especially want the royal family abolished (though I'm pretty sure I wouldn't miss them), but I would like the (British in particular) press to stop banging on about them quite so much.

But that said, today is the Queen's 88th birthday, so I've decided to dedicate this post to her, sending her my warmest birthday wishes.

Plus there's the fact that I couldn't think of another word beginning with Q to use today...

AtoZ Challenge: P... for Papaoutai.

I shouldn't think there's a single person in the French-speaking world (and even some non-French speaking countries, like Germany) that hasn't heard this song at least once.

It's by the Belgian-Rwandan singer, Stromae (which is maestro in French slang) and is a song about fatherhood and growing up without a father (the title is a phonetic representation of "Papa, où t'es ?", which means "Daddy, where are you?").

It's been a huge success, the video (which is excellent, I must say) has been seen more than 140 million times (yes, you read that right, 140 million!) and it's one of those songs that you hear and then have going round your head for days.

Go on, listen to it!

AtoZ Challenge: O... for Orange.

Orange is one of my favourite colours, one of my favourite fruits and a pretty town in southern France, not far from Avignon (,_Vaucluse).

Orange is a happy colour, which might make it a surprising choice of favourite colour for someone as glass-half-empty as I am (it isn't actually my favourite colour, that's yellow, which is even happier), but I have loved bright, vibrant, happy colours ever since I was a child - a child dressed by her mother in the drabbest of dark greens, dark blues, dark browns because redheads can't wear bright colours. This is something I absolutely do not agree with, but my mother was adamant and I believed her, moving only into purple and turquoise as a teenager. It wasn't till my days as a student that I broke free of the dark colours and moved into brightness...

The fruit is everything I like in a fruit - sweet yet slightly acid, full of juice, easy to peel. When I was younger, with friends I used to inject oranges with vodka, put them in the fridge for a few hours and then go and enjoy them down at the beach - heavenly!

The town isn't somewhere I've actually visited, but I've seen pictures of it and the Roman amphitheatre is pretty damn impressive, I must say. It's near Avignon (which I have visited, and very much enjoyed), so the surrounding countryside must be lovely. And it's in the south, so it must have a decent climate. There was a time - back in 1995 - when the Front National, France's extreme right-wing party, ran the town, and even now, the mayor comes from an extreme right party (just not the same one), so that kind of puts me off it a little, but I can't deny it it's prettiness.

Sorry for this disjointed post, I'm really tired tonight...

AtoZ Challenge: N... for Normal.

Whatever that is.

In any case, it's what I long to be, even if I don't really know what it is, what it means.

Maybe it's a case of wanting something solely because you can't have it, maybe I'd hate being normal (assuming anyone's normal, assuming people who are normal realise that's what they are), maybe such a thing simply doesn't exist.

Whatever. It's still something I aspire to, yearn for, dream about.

And for Lori in Ohio, I want to thank you for your kind and wonderful words the other day, they mean more to me than you can imagine.

AtoZ Challenge: M... for Merde.

The ultimate French swear word. It translates as "Shit", but doesn't seem as vulgar or socially unacceptable. It can also be used simply for emphasis, in a fairly untranslatable manner, for example:

"Bien sûr que j'ai fait ma déclaration d'impôts, merde !" - "Of course I've done my tax returns, merde!". Obviously, you could use "fucking well" here, with the same function ("Of course I've fucking well done my tax forms!"), but it's not the same and is definitely a lot more vulgar.

Merde is a much softer swear word, and I love it!

samedi 19 avril 2014

AtoZ Challenge: L... for L, my sweet little angel.

Oh, she's a character, my little L. Not so little, either, because she's going to be 10 a week tomorrow. She's tall, she's skinny, she's full of energy.

She fights endlessly with her quieter, more studious elder sister.

She finds school mainly quite boring (though she gets good enough grades, without much effort, so I suspect there's untapped intelligence in there), but loves sport (how, but how, can she be my daughter?! I hated sport as a child and have diligently refused to do any since the day I left high school and it no longer became obligatory).

She has, however, shown an interest in the mythology they're studying at the moment, and she had to do a presentation on the profession of one of her parents (meaning she had to choose mine, because D doesn't have one) and she got an A, which would have been an A+ if she'd spoken a little slower...

She's funny, she's a clown, she shows her emotions in a way that I can only admire. She asks to come and see me (which C never does any more), she holds my hand when we're out together, she hugs me, she kisses me.

She's my little L and I love her more than words can say.

AtoZ Challenge: K... for Kitten.

After my beloved Tom died, the decision was made to adopt another cat as quickly as possible. Within just a few days, an adorable black kitten, aged around 6 months at the time, came into our lives and stole our hearts.

But Zorro (for that's his name) is a totally different cat to Tom. Not just in colour, but in character and behaviour. For one thing, he's scared of absolutely everything and everyone, meaning that in 6 weeks with us, I have succeeded in (very, very briefly) touching his tail just once. There is no stroking, no affection, no communication apart from the plaintive "feed me!" miaows.

And now, I fear the worst. Last night he went out on to the balcony and, despite this great fear of everything, jumped down into the courtyard behind the flat. At first, he was under the neighbour's car, but the promise of croquettes wouldn't bring him out and Y couldn't get him into the box he'd prepared.

As night fell, Zorro became invisible and Y had to give up for the night, though he had Zorro-flavoured nightmares all night and even I, who rarely remembers dreams, dreamed of Zorro and felt uneasy when I woke up.

Y left the balcony door open, left food out, made a kind of footbridge (pawbridge?) from the courtyard to the balcony (we're on the ground floor, but a 6-steps-up kind of ground floor, making the courtyard quite a way down for a small cat). A neighbour's menace of a cat came in, of course, and ate everything, but of Zorro there has been no sign. I feel sick to the stomach, terrified that we've already lost him.

I'm heading off home for the long weekend and pray that we'll find him and be able to bring him home safely.

AtoZ Challenge: J... for Justice.

I know it's not healthy to allow myself to be consumed by a feeling of injustice, but I can't help it. I was wronged by D, profoundly wronged, and yet it is I that has paid the biggest price. Justice has not been done and the thought of obtaining justice is one of the (many) things that haunt me.

I don't know what kind of justice I expect - that D accept and admit that he did me wrong would be good, but I may be crazy but I'm not delusional, I know that is never going to happen. So what kind of justice can I possibly be hoping for?

I really don't know, but I dream of an abstract form of justice, and when I wake and come back to my often rather sordid reality, I realise once again that justice has not been done.

Maybe I'm waiting for the world at large to tell me they understand what I've been through, that they sympathise or even empathise with me, that it really all has been terribly unfair. But that's unrealistic because the wronging took place 4 years ago now, and everyone but me has moved on.

But that doesn't stop me yearning for justice all the same.

AtoZ Challenge: I... for Impossible.

There's a saying in French that just cracks me up - "Impossible n'est pas français", which translates as "Impossible isn't French". The blatant falsity of this expression, the arrogance underlying it, make me laugh.

The other day, there was a short philosophy programme on Arte, and the theme was "Possible". The philosopher said that "What is possible is what is not" and that got me thinking (the aim of the programme, I guess, though I didn't watch till the end - there's only so much televised philosophy a girl can take). If all that is not is possible, then nothing is really IMpossible. There may be some things that are more likely than others, but nothing is actually impossible...

It makes you think, doesn't it? I mean, the French saying is still (in my opinion) a statement of pure Gallic arrogance (something that's never in short supply, it must be said), but maybe it could be adapted, maybe it should just be "Impossible n'existe pas".

Leaving this clinic is thus possible, finding happiness is possible, everything is possible.

As I said, it makes you think.

vendredi 18 avril 2014

AtoZChallenge: H... for Hate.

The time might seem auspicious because, despite my efforts to remain cool with him, I still find D incredibly annoying, incredibly disturbing. I hope and pray he's not doing anything that that will harm my sweet girls. I want them to know they can always come to me, always count on me, even when I'm here.

I hate this situation D has forced us into. I hate that they have had to grow up with so much darkness around them.

Hate is usually counter-productive, I know that, but sometimes you just have to go with it, hope it burns itself out.

Hope springs etermal

AtoZ Challenge: G... for Gravity.

It's a strange word, two different meanings, two different connotations.

The first is the whole Isaac Newton and the apple thing:

But it's a law that leaves me more than a little perplex. If gravity does, indeed, keep us on earth and prevent us from floating up into the sky before crashing and burning against some other planet or star or whatever, then how come I spend so much of my time feeling like I'm floating above my life, looking down on it, watching myself do things?

And then there's the seriousness aspect, someone speaking with gravity in his voice is someone you should probably listen to.

I prefer the first, I like the apple falling story, I like the idea of a force beyond my control keeping me in my place, so to speak.

There have been episodes of gravity in my life (don't worry, I'm not going to go back over all that, it's all in the archives), and most of those episodes are something I would very much like to forget.

I just hope that C, who really is very like me in so many, many ways, isn't an apple that doesn't fall far from the tree because I want her to be happier than I have ever been. I don't want her to make the same mistakes I made, and continue to make.

AtoZ Challenge: F... for France.

I've lived not far from half my life in France, and nearly all my adult life so far. D is now going through one of his paranoid phases, telling me disturbing crap such as, "I need to prepare myself for a move to the UK in case I need to leave France one day and you should do the same as I guess you won't want to be far from the girls..." I have no idea what this means, in concrete terms, but I do know I'm going to fight it, tooth and nail.

I very, very much enjoy taking the girls to England every other year (wish it were more often, but it's so damn expensive), catching up with my very closest friends, J, M and H. The girls love going, there are children to play with, they all get along well, they really have fun. And they speak English (which is more than they ever do with me).

But I have no desire to go and live in the UK. For one thing, where on earth could I afford? Wherever it may be is likely to be a fair distance from J, M and H, so I'd know no one, have a job that brings me into contact with no one and the girls would be launched into English school life, most likely very much against their will.

So no. For me, it's absolutely not on the cards. I don't know what the laws are about this type of problem - separated parents with no official shared custody ruling from a judge, and one of whom wishes to move to some place far away... I guess I should find out, know my rights.

France is home to me, even though I don't feel even remotely French and have no intention of taking French nationality (I do, however, intend to renew Carla's GB passport and get one done for Lydie). Montpellier is a great city - not too big, not too small. And it has palm trees growing all over the place FFS.

F is for France and France is my home. And I think it always will be. For the foreseeable future, anyway. Screw D and his paranoia.

AtoZ Challenge: E... for Exhilarating.

Not, I am sure, a word many people would associate with me - I am not an exhilarating person (is that a "thing", does it even exist? My mind is fuzzy tonight...) and I rarely feel exhilarated.


Today, not one, but TWO men told me I am beautiful and, however fickle it may be, it has left me feeling exhilarated. The first was a fellow inmate, a kindly old man (so, yeah) who saw me as we waited to be let into the dining room for lunch and said that I was "as beautiful as ever". I was flattered, but a little sceptical given that I was wearing black jeans that are too big and a fairly boring purple striped smock type thing. Plus, he's old. But still, the words were nice to hear.

Better still, Y and I were continuing on our tidy-my-flat kick (progress IS being made, it's just that it's kind of hard to tell. Still) and he found an unused notebook with a painting by Alphonse Mucha on the cover. I said I loved the notebook because Mucha is one of my favourite painters and because the picture is beautiful. It's this one:

And he said that the woman looks like me. I replied that I wish it were true because she's beautiful and he responded to that with the exhilarating, "she has red hair like you and you're beautiful too". My heart skipped at least one beat, possibly more. I mean, the resemblance is far from striking (I persist in saying she's more beautiful than I am, not to mention considerably younger), but oh, how nice to hear those words!

Tonight, as I prepare myself psychologically for filling in my year-late tax form, I can't help but feel more than a little exhilarated. Heh. Who knew?

AtoZ Challenge: D... for Depression (duh, no brainer this one)

Its long, bony fingers grab you when you're least expecting it. They hold you tight, won't let go, not for anything. You shake, struggle, try to break free until the strength to do so is gone. And once it's gone, It has won, It has got you and you will be Its for life.

It is dark, a darkness that you never knew existed, a darkness that chills you to the bone.

It is fear, a fear that fills your days and haunts your nights.

It is a new way of life, a life that is beyond your control.

There is no escape, no way out, no hope. You just have to accept It.

My heart and soul belong to It, now and forever, Amen.

AtoZ Challenge : C for CRISIS.

For that is what my life is in, right now and for the last Lord knows how many months.

There are things that have improved (I've not had a drop of Muscat since 2012...), but some things just don't seem to change. I still hoard medication, I still mutilate myself (though, to be fair, I have no recollection of doing it the last time as it was during the electroshock period. But I apparently hacked at my arms, both of them, with a pair of nail scissors - since confiscated of course - leaving the most hideous scars you can imagine, and these scars just won't go away, they remain red and horribly, horribly visible), I still spend way too much time writing soul-searching crap that no one will, or even should, ever read, I still have the fire of hatred for D burning inside me, consuming me, doing me more harm than good... The list goes on.

There is mental crisis, there is personal crisis, there is professional crisis. Crisis, in other words.

I guess I'm dealing with things a little better, I guess I'm less unstable (words carefully chosen: not "more stable", but "less unstable"), I guess I'm not quite at the bottom of the hole any more. But I'm most definitely not OUT of the hole yet.

For one thing, I'm still HERE. I'm allowed out, am being allowed to go home for the whole Easter weekend, and that's good, a positive sign, but Dr H still sees me struggling, the psychologist I saw on Wednesday saw it too, even C's psychologist (whom she refuses to go and see) could see I'm struggling, and I'd never met her before.

For another, there are still so many question marks - will I ever feel capable of giving my daughters a home, will that home ever be presentable, will my relationship with Y continue or (as I very much fear) come to an end once he decides he wants to start a family? Questions, questions, questions.

The world is in crisis - Syria, Ukraine, just about everywhere to be honest - and so am I. It's a good word for today.

jeudi 17 avril 2014

AtoZ Challenge again, trying to catch up

B is for Bedlam.

First up, the origin of the word:

Second up, my version of it:

To be fair, there's not necessarily much that's truly Bedlam-esque, but if you look closely around this locked floor I'm on (which is admittedly less dramatic than the even-more-locked floor above me), you do catch a glimpse of what the real Bedlam may have been like. Most of the personnel are fine, some are truly horrible and utterly ill-suited to a job in a psychiatric hospital. Many of the patients are only mildly disturbed (and disturbing), but a few are completely off their heads, drooling, babbling, moaning, whilst others seem OK but then lose it completely, screaming, shouting, throwing furniture... I stay in my room with my nice, quiet, discreet room-mate and do my best to ignore it all. But it's not easy.

I've now spent 15 of the last 20 months here; it feels like home and that alone is enough to scare me witless. I take (well, mostly I don't actually, but I'm supposed to take) an anti-depressant, a neuroleptic, four anxiolytics and a sleeping pill, I've had electroshocks, I've had my scissors confiscated because of the damage I did to myself with them.

I am psychiatric patient. That is what I am, what I've become, what I will, no doubt, remain, in one way or another.

AtoZ Challenge - the behind schedule version

Went back on Twitter for the first time in months and discovered that April is once again the AtoZ Challenge month. Hmm. I enjoyed doing it last time, and am more than a little peeved to have missed out, so I've decided to do it all the same, just 16 days behind.

So. A.

A is for awkward.

I'm not at ease in company, I'm not at ease on the phone, I'm not at ease on the rare occasions I have to go to L's school to pick her up (all those chic, bourgeoise mothers looking horribly "together", unlike me). I'm what you might call awkward, so it seems an appropriate word to start with.

A is also for April, a difficult month for me in terms of the past - this was the month D hit me for the first time, during our holiday-from-hell in Paris. This was the month that his paranoia went through the roof, precipitating his departure on 1 May 2010. But it's also the month of birthdays - my dad on the 14th, my beloved Tom had his birthday on the 15th, one friend on the 21st, another on the 23rd, my dear friend in South Africa on the 24th and my little hurricane angel L will be 10 on the 27th.

April is also the cruellest month according to TSE, though the famous April showers have been remarkably absent from the summer-like weather of Montpellier this year...

mercredi 16 avril 2014

Blinking in the sunlight

Wow, it's been so long since I last wrote here...

I ended up having 12 electroshock therapy sessions, and Dr H and Y both seem to think they did me some good, though I just remember it as being a wretched experience I wouldn't wish on anyone. It also seriously, seriously screwed up my memory: I've just read the last few blog posts and I don't recognize any of it, I don't remember writing it, I don't remember the Valium or being in the "open" part before being transferred to the "locked" part. Hell, I didn't even remember that I had a blog until a couple of days ago...

And so much has happened, so much I don't remember.

I'm still in the hospital, still in the locked part. I do get permission to spend the afternoon and early evening at home, allowing me to a) not come back here till about 9 pm and b) conveniently "forget" to take my 6 pm medication (the punch-you-in-the-head ones, Mianserine and the very scary Abilify), meaning I haven't taken it at all in a couple of weeks at least. I suspect this pathetic act of rebellion is going to have the predictable unfortunate consequences, but I truly hate taking medication, so I've decided to just go cold turkey.

Y is still living in my flat, and we are now back to being more than just friends, though unfortunately I have no recollection whatsoever of how that happened. I'm just glad it has. I know, deep down, that this relationship is doomed - he's only 30, he's going to want to start a family and I just don't know if that's something I want to go through again (even assuming that it's still a biological possibility) - but for now, he is the light in my life, he makes me feel special, safe, loved, and boy do I need that...

On 28 February, we decided that Tom's not eating merited a trip to the vet's. She decided she needed to keep an eye on him for a few days. We visited him the next day (Saturday) and he seemed a little subdued, but otherwise OK. On the Monday, as I came back to reality after my latest electroshock session, I got a phone call from the vet to say that Tom, my sweet, beloved Tom, had passed away. Even now, more than 6 weeks later, I still feel the pain. Yesterday would have been his 17th birthday, and I miss him more than any words I write could ever express.

We did get another cat, a 6-month-old black kitten we named Zorro. He's very cute, very, very cute but oh, so scared of everything. I've talked about him to Dr H, who said he can't understand, given how hard I find this thing called living, why on earth I would take on a psychologically damaged cat. To which I could do nothing but say that I obviously didn't know how damaged he was when we took him on...

The world still seems a pretty dark and unwelcoming place - I can feel myself falling apart whenever I'm alone. The eyes on the rooftop outside my bedroom window at home make it difficult for me to sleep there because I can feel them watching me. Y tries to make light of it, tries to convince me that they're not real, but even though I know that, I can't help it, I can feel them, staring, watching.

We've been trying to tidy the flat, with limited success. It makes me feel a certain amount of relief that this tidying process has finally started, and I like seeing the (tiny) bits of progress made. But the enormity of the task still overwhelms me.

That said, most things overwhelm me. I don't know if it's because I haven't been taking my medication, or if it started before that (I think it did, but it's hard to tell, even harder to remember when your memory seems to be made of cream cheese), but the bad thoughts are back, the pill hoarding is back, the erratic sleeping and eating is back. Dr H is talking about increasing my medication (rather a joke, given that I don't take most of it, just 3 anxiolytics I can't avoid and a sleeping pill that doesn't work) because he sees me as fragile. And I feel fragile. The nervous mannerisms are back, I can't stop them, can't prevent them. I cry at the drop of a hat, I'm in pain again, desperate to be let out of here, aware that Dr H says that that's what he's working towards but that he's putting it off again for now because of this damn fragility he detects.

I'm sorry, I know I'm jumping from one subject to another, that this post isn't even "poorly constructed", it's not constructed at all, it's more like a stream of consciousness.

I want to get out of here, I want to be home with Y, I want the girls - and particularly C - to start being nice to him, to accept that for now he's an important part of my life and that he alone makes me feel something approaching happy. I want the medication to just go away (not my hoard, I'm guarding that preciously, just in case), I want Zorro to let me touch him, stroke him, hold him. So many wants.

I will try and write here more often, now that I've remembered I have a blog (of sorts). But 2014 is now 3 and a half months old and there's still no real improvement. The psychologist I also have to see told me today I'm punishing myself, but I don't understand what she means. She did ask me if I'd ever been happy and you know what? I couldn't pinpoint a single part of my life about which I could say, honestly, "oh yeah, I was really happy then". My life continues to be a waste of everyone's time, especially my own. Which is why I don't intend for it to continue much longer.