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!

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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*

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.

Cloudy with a chance of rain

English: Family of Great Crested Grebes. Two a...

English: Family of Great Crested Grebes. Two adults and two chicks sitting on a parents back. Other parent bringing fish. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, some good stuff and some bad stuff. Good stuff being that I am on the shortlist for an award which is pretty cool, that the house is coming together, albeit slowly, and I am about to volunteer at a street pastor-type thingy in my local town. I’m just waiting to be told when I’m working there.

On the down side…had a bit of a row with the parents. I don’t know why, but all this week I have been finding it difficult to wake up, and difficult to get myself out of bed. It isn’t anything physical, but a sort of bone-weariness and confusion that I normally associate with periods of depression. Yet, outside mornings (and frankly, early afternoon too) I am fine, my mind is clear and my mood fairly normal. So I don’t know what is happening. In any case, my parents find it really difficult when I won’t get up in the actual morning. They worry that I am ill, they worry about my missing my medication, and they don’t know whether they should talk to my psychiatrist. Unfortunately that mood in me makes me irritable and stubborn. So, the more they tell me I should get up the more I say I will not, we end up having shouting matches when they say things they don’t mean (which I later use to torture myself when depressed) and I say things I don’t mean either. It is true what they say, I behave childishly – in part because I view them trying to get me up as them treating me as a child. I do tend to think that, at 31, I should be able to decide what time I go to bed and what time I wake up. I find the level of attentiveness of my parents a bit overwhelming at times, although I know it is out of love and I would miss it if it were suddenly withdrawn.

So I argue, and I say horrible things, and they say horrible things and we all have a dreadful time. And it is my fault. Past a certain point I become perverse, and I seek to annoy as much as humanly possible, so that they will get angry and say horrible things and then I can confirm to myself that “they don’t really love me”. (I have written a piece about this very thing on Believer’s Brain) Of course, writing this now, I know perfectly well that my parents love me very much, and I them. I am neither a terrible person who is hated by all, nor are they tyrannical people intent on babying me. But that mood makes me a horrible person, and a bad daughter.

Sounds like I am blaming my behaviour on my moods, and not on myself, but I know it is me and I bear the responsibility for my actions. The fact that I have a mental illness…well you can’t be tempted by something you don’t, however secretly, desire.

I must love my neighbour, and honour my parents, a lot more. What I find hard is that we are so close that we can all push each others’ buttons, and a bad word from them means more to me than from others. I am actually close to them, very close, and dependent on them for my emotional well-being far more than is probably healthy. I am also dependent on them monetarily, and it is because of them that I am able to lead a comfortable life on benefits. I have much to be thankful for. I just need to realise it more, and try to behave to those who I love more like I would behave to a stranger, or even to someone I disliked. I can be polite and fairly friendly to people I don’t like very much – but for some reason I hurt and wound those who I love the most.

I need to get over this. I need to grow up.

Bit of a Fall Down

Wooddut by Hans Brosamer of the Fall of Man fr...

Wooddut by Hans Brosamer of the Fall of Man from the 1550 Wittenberg Bible of Martin Luther (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, I didn’t do too well last night. I had a sudden dip in mood, and couldn’t seem to get out of it. I farted about on the internet, read things, tweeted, but couldn’t shake it. I spent a lot of money on a Bible program, trying to cheer myself up (fortunately I didn’t go too mad, I can afford it and I will love using it). The cheering-up didn’t work. Then, I sat up late letting the software download, at which point mum came in and told me to go to bed. I reacted badly, told her no in a rude way, we had a little argument, she swore at me, she went to bed and I cut myself.

I am really disappointed in myself. It has been ages since I last did it, and here I am writing a series about self injury from a Christian perspective and I go and do it again. Maybe the focus on self harm is why it came to mind – because frankly, I’m not that down. I’m a bit down, but I am aware that I’ve been an awful lot more ill than this.

I think, to be honest, that the reason I’m down is because partly, the job I was doing and which triggered all this off for as-yet unknown reasons, but also the fact that I’m moving house in a few days. I hate change, and change has a tendency to make me ill as it is, but I particularly hate changes to my home life. I know that I’m going to a nice place and all, and I will enjoy having lots of space – it’s just that I find it hard to live somewhere else. I’m also disappointed in myself for failing to keep what was a simple, easy job. Instead I became a bit ill and scarpered before it got any worse.

Oh well. I have to keep telling myself that I am worth it, that I am loved (by friends and family, but also by God) I am doing ok, just a bit of a dip. Today I have been much better, since about midday (and no, I did not get up at midday!) I have been ok. Somehow the stress of moving, now that today we have actually been packing, has gone away. So fingers crossed it will stay that way!