Yet Another Holiday

Candles spell out the traditional English birt...

Candles spell out the traditional English birthday greeting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I seem to be making a habit of travelling lately! Tomorrow (well, technically today) I am off to London until Thursday. It is my birthday on Friday, so when I was moping around a bit, missing my friends, mum kindly said she would pay for me to go and stay in a hotel as a birthday present. I’m excited to be seeing everyone again and apparently my friend Peter remembered that it is my birthday, and he and my other great friend from there are going out with me to the West End and we’re gonna party!

I’m actually quite pleased to be staying in a hotel rather than at my friends’ flat. I don’t actually like staying with other people, mostly because I have to be very cautious about behaving right (not that I am normally a rampaging loon, although I was rather rude last time and I am still embarrassed about it) I also tend to feel like a burden, like they feel they must entertain me, when mostly I just want to bum around. I prefer being on my own in a hotel, I can, for instance, go and have a nap if I feel like it, leave all my stuff strewn across the floor, whatever. I’ve never really been a stayer-over at people’s houses! That isn’t a reflection on my friends, who are lovely, its just a personal preference.

I’ve been having a slightly…odd time with my moods. I was quite down a few days ago and then, with mum buying me a holiday that switched into a slightly high mood. It seems to have settled though, so I am not too worried at this stage.

One of the downsides to the slightly high is that that, combined with copious amounts of alcohol, led me to tell someone at the pub that I have bipolar disorder. Now I’m hoping he doesn’t spread that around and that others didn’t hear me, because I have experienced discrimination in the past and I am not sure they will understand. They might, and it has been bothering me that this big part of my life is hidden – and so is my blogging. It actually came out when he asked what I blog about.

More than anything I would like my church family to know (and I have only just started thinking of them as my family). The local baptists do, as I see them quite frequently, but my own church do not. Part of that is because I need to tell the vicar before others, as I don’t want him to find out second-hand, and it is important that he hears in the right way because I am currently questioning whether I have a vocation to the priesthood and he knows about that. I don’t want to play into any prejudices he might have and I don’t know him very well. But I hate keeping secrets, particularly something that is as important to my life, and I feel like I’m being deceptive, somehow. It is a difficulty.

In other news I am to be given the church website to look after and I have a meeting the week after next between me and the vicar, and also the person who has charge of the website right now. I’m planning to make it a WordPress based website rather than what it is now, where you need Dreamweaver to edit it. I need to do some listy things and figure out ideas, mostly because the man who currently has the website is a dear, but tends to ramble and wander off mentally. He needs a secretary to organise him really! I went to his house to offer my services web-wise and was there for three hours and felt like I dragged out of him a small piece of work! I shall have to try to gently steer the conversation. Hopefully the vicar (who was an accountant and therefore super-organised) will do that too.

So, I’m off to London, and I am very much looking forward to that!

Advertisements

bit of a block

Been a while since I posted here. A few things have been a bit “off” lately. Firstly, I’ve been spending a lot more time in the pub, I think mostly because I am feeling the lack of company. I haven’t really made good friends yet, although there are people who I drink with, and the only time I see people is in the pub. That said, I shouldn’t go so often because I know the blog is suffering, and I don’t want to be known as a drunk. Because that is the other problem – when I do go to the pub I tend to drink an awful lot.

The other problem is the blog, really. I was warned this might happen but since I won the award I’ve been finding it harder to write. It is difficult to think of things to write at all and my brain doesn’t seem to be functioning correctly. I find it hard to concentrate on the writing, to think clearly enough to work out what I want to say, and everything I do write comes out feeling half-hearted and wrong. I did do one decent post, something like a stream of consciousness recently, but I cannot rely on that because that is not the normal way I think.

I don’t know whether drinking is hindering me, or whether I just need to try to concentrate more. It is really frustrating, because I had in mind that my next move was to contact some of the Christian magazines and see whether they would run pieces from me, but I feel my writing isn’t good enough to try that at the moment. There are lots of things I could be doing with the writing, if only I didn’t feel intellectually lazy and incompetent.

Oh well. Perhaps it will come back to me. I don’t know if anyone else would understand me but it feels sort of hot and sticky in my head, a confusion of thoughts and an apathy I don’t like. Hopefully that will blow away at some point.

Anyway, enough about me. Just using this blog to vent in really.

Feeling Rather Good

Heart of Midlothian on the Royal Mile in Edinb...

Heart of Midlothian on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. Shows the mosaic and one of the brass markers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, I went up to Edinburgh for the conference. I wrote about it here: mental health + faith conference. I had a good time. Went up on the Friday, stayed at the Travelodge on Rose Street (nice and central, but somewhat noisy. Not too bad though. Could have done without the couple having noisy sex!) That first day I had a wander, went to the B. McCall Barbour bookshop (link takes you to a page on their history, they are not online). I love that shop, even though I vehemently disagree with many of their books. I first wandered in when I was a divinity student in Edinburgh and I was told of this fundamentalist bookshop. And they really are fundamentalist – they believe that any other Bible than the King James Version is wrong, and of Satan! They sell a range of books from highly conservative authors on the inerrancy of the Bible, the dangers of the occult, Islam, gay people and women in leadership. So, you see, not quite my style.

You may wonder why I go? The answer is simple: the brother and sister who run the shop are absolutely lovely. Really sweet elderly people who are genuinely interested in the people who come to their shop, always pleasant, never ever preaching to me even though it must be obvious given the trousers and piercings that I am not wholly in agreement with them. They always ask what I’m up to and we talk about God – because despite our differences we are all Christians, and they do love the Lord. I once got what I consider to be my greatest compliment from the lady in the shop, when she said she thought I would make a good minister (I think she thought I was a candidate for Church of Scotland ordination). Coming from someone who thinks that having a female minister is the road to hell, this was quite a compliment! I always try to visit them when I go up there, and I do actually like some of the books they sell. I buy the extreme stuff (and the Jack Chick things) for amusement, but many of their books are fine – highly orthodox and usually written for a popular audience. I may not agree on the hot button issues but they have some excellent books on grace, on faith, on the Bible, and I have just bought a book on Christian counselling from them which I think might be interesting.

Anyway, after going there I went back to the  hotel, put my stuff away (I also bought a rather fetching tartan bag) and set off for a wander. After a detour to Pizza Hut (very friendly staff) I went up to the Royal Mile again for a drink. I went to the Scotsman’s Lounge, a place for which I had a strange obsession when I was a student, but it was very busy and there was no where to sit. I tend to get paranoid that I will fall over if I am standing with a drink and there is nowhere to put the drink down, I don’t know why, so I just had the one and moved on.

I went to the Jolly Judge, up near the top of the Mile, which was a delight. That was my local pub when I was a student as New College (the divinity school) is just beyond it. It had changed a bit but still recognisable so I had a few in there. I didn’t talk to anyone, they probably thought I was peculiar because I sat with a smile on my face remembering the fun times I had in there. I played a pub quiz, we were called Stackroom 2 (because that room looked like you could get murdered in there) and once my friend Drew came and unfortunately had brought his work with him. He was a taxidermist so him bringing out a dead bird was a bit odd. I also remembered the time that Simon, a ministerial student, was writing his first sermon in the pub and got us to help him!

Then I went to a slightly dodgy pub next door to the hotel. It wasn’t that bad, just a bit of a sports bar so I wouldn’t normally have gone in. Had the slightly amusing experience of sitting there and having a girl come up and say “Are you gay?” which I thought was a bit rude…it turned out she was actually saying “are you OK?”

Then to bed, and up early the next morning. As I said, I wrote about the conference itself on the other blog. After the conference I got the bus back to Princes’ Street, dumped my stuff (had a little rest in the hotel) and went to meet my friend Shirley and her mother. Because I had a little sleep I didn’t meet them for dinner (I went to McDonalds, which wasn’t very nice) but found a nice pub. Well, it was lovely, we sat and chatted, and I had a great time. I was a bit concerned to find that Shirley is under the weather physically, and also depressed. Her mother said that that night was the first time that she had admitted having it, so I tried to persuade her to go to the doctor, but she hates doctors so I don’t know whether she’ll go. Hopefully.

After they left (both a bit knackered and haven’t been 100% recently) I went back to the slightly dodgy bar and stayed there, chatting randomly to people for the rest of the night. Then sleep, and back off to where I live in the morning.

So I have a bag full of interesting literature (there was some at the conference) and no money, for I have spent all my benefits money in a few days. Which is a bit unfortunate, but there you go.

Let Sleeping Cats Lie

Drawn by early 20th-century commercial cat ill...

Drawn by early 20th-century commercial cat illustrator Louis Wain near the beginning of his mental illness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, I went along to my course with the Baptists last Thursday…there were only three of us there! I think the others had forgotten to say they couldn’t come. Anyway, it was good – a Jeff Lucas course, which I enjoyed. I really appreciate having serious conversations with people in real life about faith, and it isn’t something I get all that often. Not that the people I see at church don’t talk about God – its just that I don’t generally see them except on Sundays.

BelieversBrain came up in conversation, as I mentioned I was up for an award (‘cos, you know, I’m quite excited!) so I gave them the web address if they want to come and read.

I’m in a difficult situation regarding the blog, really. On the one hand, I think that I could at least try to get Christian publications whether online or offline to publish some of my writing, which I would absolutely love! On the other hand that would almost certainly mean revealing my full identity. My surname is unusual – there are three or four people in the world with the same name as me. Plus the UK Christian world is rather small. So if I start using my real name, for instance in a piece of writing or if I win this award and Premier use my name, everyone is going to know. Which leaves me with a dilemma.

On the one hand – I am not ashamed of being bipolar, I am not ashamed that I struggle with self injury. I am proud of my work on BelieversBrain, and feel I have something to offer, re the whole being a mental Christian thing. I would dearly love to just embrace it and try to do some sort of activist work to reduce stigma against mentally ill people in churches. My circle of close friends are well aware of my difficulties, and have seen me ill many times.

On the other – the people at church (& the vicar) don’t know. My family, bar my parents, don’t know. Once I have told people I can never put that genie back in the bottle. The two people I’m closest to in church are charismatics, and I have no idea how extreme they may be. (I am wary of charismatics, due to the victim-blaming some indulge in, particularly with those suffering from mental illness). They may reject me, or judge me. So might the rest of the congregation. I might discover people have a whole load of negative stereotypes about people with mental health problems, ranging from the “you just need to pull yourself together” to “you are being punished for being extra-sinful”. They could also treat me like a china doll, assuming I must be protected from anything that might make me depressed. There is an outside chance that they might think I must be violent, aggressive or dangerous.

Really I just want to be treated like a normal person, as I am now. Yet if I am ill I might behave in ways that need understanding, so perhaps I am wanting special treatment after all.

The other concern I have is that I am trying to explore with my vicar a possible vocation to the priesthood. I say trying, because I have not spoken to him (aside from saying hi at church) for some months. I am concerned that if he finds out about the bipolar now (as opposed to me telling him when I know him a little better) that he may simply say that I am unsuited, and that is my future up the creek.

I think was troubles me the most is that I can never take it back , once it is told. And yet I say to myself that I shouldn’t be treating my mental illness with such shame, that it is nothing to be ashamed of. And how can I advocate acceptance by Christians of Christians with mental health problems if I am not open and honest about my own problems outside the confines of the net? But I stand to lose a lot…

I really am troubled about this, and have little time to decide (the decision about the awards is coming soon). I have been praying, but cannot discern a clear answer. It seems like it is just up to me, and I’m scared…

Well, I’m sure I will think of something. Sorry to get serious, but this is something preying on my mind at the moment. I always have the option of using a pen-name for my writing, which I may well do. It just feels like not being honest.

In other news, my cat has spent the entire day asleep on my bed, and she’ll surely grow roots into the duvet soon!

Woman-flu

Downtown Edinburgh

Downtown Edinburgh (Photo credit: Extra Medium)

Well, I had a nice trip up to Edinburgh, spent several nights chewing the fat with my old university friend. Talked about everything under the sun and drank enormous quantities of lager. Quite impressed I managed a conversation at all, really!

However I am back in the North East and have come down with a cold. Now I remember, Shirley was getting over a chest infection when I saw her! So now I am grumping round the house complaining bitterly about feeling ill.

I am a wimp when it comes to (physical) illness. If I strain a muscle there is much groaning, when I have a cold I sit around looking sorry for myself. Right now I am feeling ok though – I followed my mum’s advice (mums are useful) and had a bath, which seems to have temporarily resolved the achy muscles, and the rest is lemsip!

As for what I’m doing now…I didn’t make it to church on Sunday, because I felt absolutely shattered after getting back from Edinburgh on Saturday. I did think I might go to Evensong, but the only time I’ve been to that I felt completely bewildered throughout and had no idea what I was supposed to be doing/saying/singing at any given time!

I’m doing a course on Thursday evening with the local Baptists – my church doesn’t do that kind of thing, unfortunately, but the Baptists do (and their courses are full of young men!) Apparently it is a Jeff Lucas one – so was the last one and I enjoyed that so it should be good.

I am still prevaricating about going to London for the award ceremony – I would like to go, but lack the funds. I could use my savings or my credit card, but I think the parents would be less than pleased about that! I might ask mum if she could sub me some money. The trouble is that it is £119 for the train ticket, then about that again for every night in a hotel. I would like to go for 2 or 3 nights, so it will be expensive! I have friends in London but it seems the height of rudeness to ring up and say “I’ve been invited to an award ceremony, for something you are not interested in and only one of you could come along anyway, can I come and stay with you?” My friends are not a hotel! (Also, it would be really cool to just walk into the old pub and surprise everyone!)

We shall see. Need to get a move on though, as if I’m not going I need to tell them sharpish.

In other good news I randomly won a Bible through the Woman Alive facebook book group thingy. I am being lucky at the moment! I like winning things. I am also slightly obsessed by Bibles (I have many many many different types and have a disconcerting habit of feeling and smelling the bindings. I have found that people are embarrassed if you do that in public, for some reason)

My room in my new house is now almost ready, I now have an absolutely massive desk! And a filing cabinet so I have somewhere to put my degree/A-levels and whatnot in.

On the subject of ideas, which I was opining about recently. I have discovered that my fancy new Bible software is so good that I think I could produce at least a few blog posts about more general Christian subjects (i.e. not mental health related). I think I might just do that, I think. Though Believer’s Brain would always be my priority.

Anyway, that’s that. Apart from one thing – why does no one comment on Believer’s Brain? I see in the stats that people are reading, but no one says anything! Or presses the “like” button! Am I writing crap and no one has told me? Am I boring? I need feedback!

*walks away grumbling*

Blog Award

Well, thank you to Nicole from Riding the Wavez for giving me a One Lovely Blog award for Believer’s Brain. I’m posting the thank  you and whatnot over here at Oodly because this is the personal, less serious one sort of thing. So, the rules are:

One Lovely Blog Award

 

Thank the Person who Nominated You: Thank you very much Nicole! Everyone go look at her blog!

List 7 Random Things About yourself: Well,

  1. I have a skeleton in my study, who I think I have mentioned before. He is very nice.
  2. I get strangely excited by new stationery.
  3. I am addicted to women’s magazines (Chat, That’s Life, Take a Break)
  4. I crack my knuckles all the time, I’m afraid. It irritates people.
  5. I can cross only one eye at a time.
  6. I have hairy toes. (Yuck)
  7. My godmother says I have the mark of the devil on me, because I can bend the first joint of two of my fingers. Not sure if that is a good explanation of that…maybe unclear.

Nominate other bloggers:

Well, my favourite people are:

  1. If Narky, Feed Profusely
  2. Chaos and Control
  3. Songs and Sonnets
  4. Giant Fossilized Armadillo

That’s it! They’re all great.

Woo-hoo and hoorays and stuff

English: An IKEA Billy bookshelf, 80x106 cm, f...

English: An IKEA Billy bookshelf, 80×106 cm, finished in birch veneer and with the optional CD rack at the top. A extra shelf is leaning against the right-hand side of the bookshelf. Svenska: IKEAs bokhylla Billy i dimensionen 80×106 cm i björkfanér. Inkluderar CD-insatsen som var tillbehör. Ett extra hyllplan lutar mot hyllans högersida. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m going to Edinburgh! I’m visiting my friend there from tomorrow for a few days. A few days of drunkenness, no doubt!

My friend Shirley has been my friend since university, in fact she is my sole remaining friend from my time there. She was with me when I developed bipolar disorder, when I was suicidal and self harming and taking overdoses, and when I was a bit manic and talking nonsense. And she is still my friend. Even though I piled the crap on her by being so unstable, even though I was undoubtedly a royal pain in the arse who hurt lots of people, she is still my friend. I cannot repay her for the friendship she gave me then – and the fact that we have maintained a friendship since, when I’ve been well as well as ill.

She is my only friend who is a Christian, although becoming less orthodox than I am now. Not that that matters to me! She is my only friend who I can discuss spiritual matters with, and she knows a great deal and holds a lot of wisdom about God. I really like that I can talk about that kind of thing with her, and I don’t need to watch my words in case I offend her, or accidentally speak heresy, because we are comfortable enough with each other to disagree, and still be friends.

I’m excited! It’s been a while since I last saw her. Last time we went to Amsterdam, which was good except that she was quite tired and slept a lot (after some pot-taking) which was not ideal. I think next time we go away we will go to an all-inclusive resort somewhere sunny, and pootle about doing whatever during the day and drinking at night. I think that will suit us both.

In other news I have been building flat-pack furniture with my dad. Sadly I am very bad at this. It is really frustrating because, although I understand how to build the furniture, I simply lack the wrist and finger strength to actually do it in a safe way! Like my mum says, she wouldn’t trust any car that she had changed the tyres on because she is not competent to tighten the nuts up properly.

That’s about it. All excited now, and I’m going to have a lovely time!

See you when I get back.