Sunday, 16 September 2018

Musings

September 16, 2018. In my last update I was staggered to find that August had arrived and we're now officially in mid-September. Wha' happened? [This is a reference to a splendid film called A Mighty Wind, just FYI. Bit of an obscure one, I'll admit.]

Long, long ago (okay, it was January) I wrote a post called 'Honesty is the Best Policy' in which I pondered the most socially acceptable way to answer the question "How are you?" or the more casual version "You alright?". Ever the over thinker, I picked it the idea like a crusty scab, worrying if my approach of actually telling the truth was right or not! Of course, back in January only a month on from my December meltdown, my answer to that question was NOT a positive one. In short, I was in a bad way and I told people so when they enquired deciding, as the title of the post suggested, that it was best to be honest.

So how am I now? I was asked this question just last week by my mate, Jacqui, who I haven't seen in yonks but I'll get to that in a moment.

A deeply organised friend from uni has recently invited me to his 40th birthday party in... wait for it... January. Now this may seem ludicrous but parents of small humans like myself will appreciate the need to have as much notice as possible for social gatherings. It's even more important when you are separated from your children's father as you have to choose exactly the right moment to spring "Btw, I'm going away for the weekend! Thanks, bu-bye!" on your ex.

Upon receipt of said invitation (he posted it and everything, #oldschool) I immediately contacted my mate who I knew would definitely also be invited and as a mother of a nearly two year old would most definitely be up for a shindig. She asked how I am - her message read, and I quote "Geordie Kati, how the fookin eck are you??" reminding me instantly of how much I bloody love her and reinforcing the idea that she is 100% the right wingwoman for this event. My response was "In a nutshell, I'm homeless, mental and a tiny bit fat", all technically true. Jacqui replied with "That all sounds like the making of a great TV show... you should write a script!"

And so once again I find myself musing over a writing career. I was considered quite the literary genius in High School (yes, really) but it was most definitely a big fish, small pond scenario. I dare say there were more talented writers within my school but my talent coupled with my massive gob and gift for self-promotion meant I was the best known author in Scared Heart in the late 90s. My English teachers, who were of course my favourite teachers, wanted me to do an English degree. They were absolutely correct but someone, somewhere put it on my radar that you could actually study FILM at university... or filim as I would've pronounced it back then as a much more Geordier Kati... and my mind was made up. I often wonder how different my life would be if I had indeed studied English but there is of course no way to know.

This blog is the most writing I've done in years and I do love it. It doesn't reach the masses like I dreamed it would... I have not become the latest blogging sensation making my fortune from my musings on life, parenthood and shitey mental health but it is cathartic and good for my head space and right now, that's more valuable to me than fame and notoriety. Only just, mind you.

I have all manner of ideas floating around my noggin for novels - both adult and young adult fiction - but nothing I can pin down and start working on. I don't even know the process of writing a novel! I dare say this can be learned but again, where do you start? I push ideas to one side, telling myself that for now I'm just focusing on getting mentally stronger and oh yeah, finding somewhere to fookin live but I know for a fact that there is no perfect time to do anything.

My therapy is now underway and so far, it's going well I think. The others in the group are warm and interesting. Needless to say, we are quite a mismatched crew as crappy Mental Health does not see age, colour or religion and will happily bring anyone it fancies to their knees (bastard!) but we're getting along quite well. It's certainly fascinating. As to whether or not it's 'working', I think it's far too early to tell. I don't even believe that this group will 'fix' me and to be honest, I'm not interested in being fixed. For me, it's about learning coping strategies and gaining a better understanding of my illness so it's hold over me is not quite so strong. I am a work in progress - cookie dough to use a Buffy analogy which I'm inclined to do wherever possible - and I feel I always will be. And I'm cool with that.

I still don't have a home of my own but I am happy to report that I am settled in one place until the beginning of November which, after being on the move since the end of July, is an absolute joy. I have a plan of attack which I intend to launch this coming week to move along the whole process of me being allocated somewhere to live. I can't sit around and wait for the council to sort it. I want to put pictures on the walls and buy Harry Potter cushions from Primark that will delight me and my children but infuriate my big sister. I want to make a little home for me and my small humans.

When I sit down in front of my laptop to write a blog post, I'm often unsure of where I will be by the end of it. Well, I'll still be sitting in front of the computer obviously but what will have flowed from me through my fingers and on to the screen in the past hour? That is not always quite so clear.

I think I expected to write about how I am and oddly, despite being "homeless, mental and a tiny bit fat", I think I'm okay. I think I'm better than I was. But the blog has also ended up being about my writing. Typical me with my need for validation and attention, still suffering a case of Wannabeitis that has followed me round since my teens, I tend to picture myself at book signings and literary prize givings more than I think about plot structure and target audience for my novels. No please, do roll your eyes, be my guest! I know I'm quite ridiculous at times.

Over all, yes, I am okay. I think! I completed my fourth (and fastest ever) Great North Run last Sunday and I am immensely proud of myself for this. And for the first time ever, I'm still running post-GNR. Unheard of, I tells ya! I did a recovery run on Monday, went for a five mile walk on Wednesday (admittedly I only walked that far coz I got lost) and then ran again on Friday. I'm also 99% sure I'm going to do the Great South Run next month despite the fact that I did it last year and hated every second of it... So much so, that I gave up running altogether after it. I'm glad I don't stick to all the decisions I make!

Will 2019 be the year I write my first novel? Will I be sat on the sofa with Phillip and Holly, talking about how my breakdown and my poor mental health was the catalyst for me turning my life around and being the writer I'd always dreamed of being...? Should I perhaps focus on writing for the love of words, language and storytelling rather than on it being a path to the 'This Morning' studio?! I don't need you to answer that.

It's a Sunday. A new week begins tomorrow. My Headspacing is teaching me that I can't change the past and the future hasn't happened yet so maybe I'll just focus on today. Sounds like a plan, yes?

Thursday, 2 August 2018

Pinch Punch!


[Started this last night in the caravan and finished it tonight back in Whitey Bay... just FYI.]

And all of a sudden, it’s August! I mean really it’s not that sudden… Having lived through January to July 2018, the arrival of August is inevitable but I still find myself feeling a little shocked that we are at the start of the eighth month of the year. My, my how time flies…

I’m in quite the reflective mood on this day, Wednesday 1 August. Since Monday teatime I’ve officially been “on holiday” at Wild Rose caravan park in Appleby in Cumbria. Being able to poke my head out of the van and see ridiculous, majestic hills all around me is really quite something and it’s brought me a sense of peace. Not that there’s been much peace and quiet on the holiday thus far but then when you’ve got two mams and four bairns, what can you expect but noise, fun, chaos and the occasional meltdown?

Eva, Hal and I were invited by my step sister in law (she’s married to but separated from my step brother) to join her and my two nephews, Charlie and William at her parent’s caravan. Our children don’t see a huge amount of each other owing to the fact that I don’t come up to the North East anywhere near as much as I should… Not only should but that I want to! The wonderful thing about children though is that time apart doesn’t really matter. Within half an hour of us arriving at Claire’s house in Whitley Bay on Sunday, everyone was best buddies. For the most part this has continued through the holiday with the odd, inevitable falling out.

This is my first holiday of the year and Lord knows, I bloody needed it. I love my job at Primark and my bar job at the Community Centre but I haven’t had any time off since February. Of course, I had visions of me meditating quietly at some picturesque spot on the campsite and really connecting with nature and that absolutely has not happened! But there’s been beer, ice cream, board games, gin, giggling fits and mini adventures. Every night I say I need to get to bed early and every night Claire and I sit up until midnight, putting the world to rights. I needed that for my soul as much as I need to get my mindfulness on!

Heading up to the North East last Sunday coincided with me moving out of the house I’ve been calling home since the end of March. It was wonderful while it lasted but it was only ever a temporary measure. Technically, I am now… well, homeless. I realise this sounds dramatic but I am of ‘no fixed abode’. Upon my return from my hols I will be staying with friends for a week as their guest and then my house sitting career begins. Living out of a suitcase might become tedious after a while but I’m oddly excited about my nomadic August. I’m treating it as an adventure! Here's hoping that I manage to get on the Keyways register by the autumn or I really will be screwed. Friends are kind but I can't 'sofa surf' forever... Not with two children. 

I finally got a start date for my therapy. My referral was completed in April and I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever get a space. Medication helps, there’s no denying that, but I need practical tools to cope with my condition. Now that my start date is only weeks away, suddenly I’m terrified. It’s going to be hard going, I know that. It was made clear to me when I was referred that I would have homework to do each week. It is not a sit round in a circle discussing your feelings type of group, I’m told, more of a classroom setting with practical advice and strategies to cope with a Personality Disorder.

I so badly want to get better but sometimes when I think of the work that will need to go in to it, I just feel exhausted. I do not want to stay broken, repeating the same mistakes and destructive behavioural patterns that have plagued me for so much of my life but it’s hard to muster the energy to work hard on yourself when you’re not entirely sure you deserve to be fixed. My children deserve a happier, healthier (less shouty and crazy outbursty) mumma for sure but I know I have to do this for me. Eva and Hal will reap the benefits if I find a way to focus on me.

On a more basic level, there’s so much I can be doing to help myself. I found out from reading Fearne Cotton’s Happy book that the lovely Tom Fletcher has Bipolar Disorder. I had no clue this was the case! He calls it his ‘wonky brain’. When asked what he does to manage his disorder he said he really tries hard to eat well and trains as often as possible. I’ve seen pictures on Instagram of him doing push ups with Buzz and Buddy on his back so I’d say he’s reasonably fit! I’m unlikely to ever be able to do decent push ups full stop let alone with my children on board but I can run… slowly. Back in January I was walking at least a mile a day with podcasts for company – why can’t I do that again? Well I can! And I shall… Wanna know what else I can do? Stop eating like an unsupervised toddler at a birthday party (not my joke but I do love it). My food choices of late have been mindbogglingly dreadful and my weight has increased as a result. I’m embracing the “I’m on holiday!” excuse with every fibre of my being right now but once I’m back in Ket’rin, it stops. I want a stone off and I think I might actually be ready to do it. I fucking hope so! Watch this space blog fans.

Five months left of 2018, let’s see what they’ve got in store for me, eh? The DBT group will take me right through in to early 2019. I have a new role to train for at Primark. I want to find a place to call home and make it somewhere I can be me in all my ridiculous, noisy, slightly crazy glory. This year has been bastard hard so far but oddly, despite everything I've been through and the low lows I've had to endure I refuse to see this year as a bad one. Let's be having you August! 

Saturday, 14 July 2018

An analysis of Russia 2018... from someone who knows nowt about football

A funny thing happened in England this summer... Two funny things actually. The sun shone A LOT and the England squad played really rather smashing football. 

June 14 and Russia 2018 kicks off. I'll be honest, I wasn't paying a huge amount of attention. I heard the England team being discussed and the word that was used more than any other was 'young'. No shit. I'd find out later in the tournament that of twenty three lads in the squad, seventeen of the little whippersnappers weren't bloody born in the summer of 1990 when Italy hosted the World Cup!! Foetus's in footballs kits! But I'm getting ahead of myself... 

As I don't follow Premiership football closely (or really, at all) the players were unknown to me. I heard names like Stirling, Kane, Dier, Henderson... and they meant nothing. The last time I really paid real attention to an England line up the names on the shirts were Shearer, Sheringham, Pearce, Redknapp and Owen. And of course I remember Beckham and Rooney too. This new lot, these babies, I didn't know who they played for or if indeed they were any good. 

England kick off their World Cup campaign on June 18 with a 2-1 win over Tunisia. At this point, I'm still a bit like your nan when you tell her a football result and she reacts with "That's nice, dear". 

The second game falls on a Sunday. It's a beautiful day (which is presently the norm in the UK) and my friend Jo has been told unequivocally by her husband Stuart that she is to go out, take their beautiful 18 month daughter Phoebe with her and leave him in peace to watch the match. I'm at a loose end so me, Jo and P pile in to Jo's car and head to a country park. 

We arrive and decide to have lunch. Jo's in the cafe getting food for her and P when I think to myself "I'll just check the score..." Quick check of the BBC Sport page... "HOLY SHIT JO! We're 3-0 up already!" Had the score stayed at that, well that would have been a wonderful result... But it didn't. The England/ Panama game ended with a score line of six goals to one. Now in fairness, Panama aren't exactly Brazil (although in this World Cup Brazil weren't really Brazil either...) but a 6-1 win is a 6-1 win, thanks ever so much. 

A 1-0 defeat to Belgium followed but our spirits were not dampened as we were already guaranteed a place in the last sixteen. England were definitely getting out of the group stages. Guess who didn't..? Current World Cup holders Germany. Auf Wiedersehn, Pets! 

The defeat against Belgium means we face Colombia in the next round. Pundits say this will be a trickier match. By now, I'm invested. It's Tuesday 3 July and the children are staying over with me. Hal goes to bed as usual and Eva stays up. I want to watch the match so I do her a deal. She can watch Netflix on the laptop with headphones if I can watch the first half. She agrees. At half time she says she wants to watch something with me (our current fave is Gortimer Gibbons' Life on Normal Street on Amazon!) so we watch that with the telly on mute and me keeping half an eye on the match. 

In true dramatic style, England concede a goal right at the end of added time. It's particularly infuriating that the only reason there was so much time added was because the Colombians were playing dirty, getting booked and arguing with the ref left, right and centre. So we go to extra time. I tell Eva she must go to bed - it's a school night after all - but she begs me to let her stay up. I'm convinced it's a ruse to stay up later and that she has no real interest in the game but she proves me wrong. I took a wonderful picture of her lying on the sofa, propped up on her elbows, glued to the TV. 

No goals in extra time which of course means the one thing England fans dread more than anything... A frigging penalty shoot out. Well that's it, isn't it? I'm tempted to order Eva to bed to spare her the heartache that I've suffered myself in the past but I also want a hand to squeeze while it happens so I keep her up. 

When Jordan Pickford (he's from Washington, y'know) saved Bacca's attempt Eva squealed in delight. It was a magnificent save but I knew we still needed one more penalty to win. Up steps Eric Dier... Me and my little girl are on the edge of our seats. England holds its breath. Is this it? Is this the moment when a 24 year old from Cheltenam re-writes England penalty shoot history? Or is it the moment where we inevitably crash out of another major tournament...? BANG. It's in. We're through to the next round. I pick Eva up and somehow manage to jump up and down with her in my arms. She's nine and a half years old and weighs around four stone but England just won a World Cup penalty shoot out and apparently that gives me superhuman strength! Who knew? 

Without a shadow of a doubt, I will never forget that moment. It is my personal highlight of Russia 2018. Me and my first born, whooping and laughing and hugging. Giddy with joy. 

I was behind the bar at work for England's 2-0 win over Sweden, pulling pints with an eye on the big screen. It was glorious when the final whistle blew and what we'd only dared to dream about had come true: a place in the semi-final. At the start of the tournament fans were just hoping we'd make it out of the group stages (Germany didn't, did I mention that?) and now we were semi-finalists. The last time that happened - Italia 90 - I was eight years old.

Of course, we know now that the semi-final was as far as we got, bested by Croatia. I was back at the Community Centre where I work but this time on the other side of the bar, drinking Bud bought for me by a fella from Walker. 

It's sad of course but the team brought us so much joy this summer. One of the main reasons I wanted to write about the World Cup was just to try and capture the mood of the country. Here are a few things I will remember: 

Alan Shearer singing 'All Night Long' by Lionel Ritchie in to a bread stick

Three Lions breaking records and getting back to Number 1 

The Alan Shearer and Ian Wright videos that did the rounds on social media

Twitter. Honestly, it's been glorious throughout the tournament

Waistcoat Wednesday

#GarethSouthgateWould 

Mini Roundabouts painted with the England flag

I've probably missed out loads but these are the ones that stand out. Of course there were negatives... Many shared articles and stats about a rise in domestic violence during major tournaments and there were reports of vandalism as moronic fans celebrated England's defeat over Sweden by trashing Ikea but over all, it's been a rather lovely time for our country. 

Today England will face Belgium again in the third place play-off. Big Al Shearer says it's pointless and the lads should just have been allowed to come home. I agree with him... mainly because he knows way more about football than I do! Whatever happens this afternoon, our boys can hold their heads high. They made us believe that football can and will come home one day. Roll on Euro 2020 and Qatar 2022.

"It's coming home, it's coming home, it's coming... FOOTBALL'S COMING HOME!"
 

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Just the facts, ma'am

I started a post yesterday and saved it as a draft. Reading it back today it was a world a way from how I'm feeling now so I scrapped it. I find it fascinating that my mood can shift so drastically from one day to the next... Fascinating and a little bit shit, obviously. 

Over the past week or so, I've found myself waking each day unsure of which version of Kati I'll be spending the day with. As I'm not overly keen on most of the potential variations this is not an ideal way to start the day. The fact that three to four mornings a week I also wake up on an airbed certainly doesn't help matters but we'll come to that shortly. 


So my mood has been all over the shop and I was starting to wonder if perhaps my medication needed adjusting. I don't necessarily want to be on a higher dose but after reading a brilliant article on the Blurt Foundation website this week about the stigma surrounding medication and mental health, I decided to just go with it. Appointment is booked for after work tomorrow to see my GP. Today however, I feel better. Massive overshare: my period arrived today. Yay! I mean, not yay because I feel like I've been hit by a bus and I'm roughly the size of a small shed but at least my mood has levelled out and I've got an explanation of sorts for my escalated sugar consumption just lately. 


As my head is the clearest it's been all week, I thought I'd seize the opportunity to bosh out a blog post and get a bit of perspective. The more I add to this little blog o' mine, the more it helps me to understand my own head and thought processes. 


Over the last few days I've described my life as an "utter shit show" in conversation with others. I did it earlier today when talking with my (now ex) accountant. On the one hand, I like the way it sounds and it packs a certain comedic punch but on the other hand, I actually feel like it's a fairly accurate description. 


Let's look at the facts, shall we...? 


I am 36 years old. Single. A mother of two. I am currently living in a friend's spare room. My whole world in one place. Of course I still have a heap of stuff at my ex-partner's house and thankfully he's okay with it staying there for now. When the children stay over with me (three nights a week), they get my bed and I sleep on a single air bed on the floor. When my mood is low (as it has been several times this week), I find myself lying there wondering how the actual F this is my life?! I mean, for reals. I have a degree. I'm reasonably intelligent (but admittedly somewhat lacking in basic common sense). I ran my own business for almost four years. I had a mortgage (albeit briefly) twelve years ago!! And now... Air bed on the floor. 


I must at this point state that I am insanely grateful to my lovely friend for letting me and my small humans invade her home, life and space for a few months. It's a temporary measure and I long for my own home but I will miss living here when I'm gone. Living with your ex is not ideal and she offered me a little bit of space to call my own. I won't ever forget that. 


Back to the facts though... I'm in horrendous debt and my credit score is dog shit. If I'm lucky, I might be debt-free (ish) by the time I'm 40. I haven't left the UK since 2006 and my passport expired in 2009. I won't even bother delving in to the great big bag of unrelenting crazy that is my mental health or the pain I still feel at the loss of my dad.


Shit show, right? Fact. Here's the thing... I'm okay with it. I mean, I'm not really obviously because no sane person would be but here and now, I'm kinda at peace with it all. I won't say "I don't care!" because that would be utter bullshit but I can see things to be grateful for. Sometimes I can't. Sometimes the pit is so friggin deep, I can't see light at all. Right now... I see stars. 


Here are some more facts... I am healthy. Not so much, mentally but physically I'm in reasonable nick, rampant sugar addiction aside of course. I can run and yesterday I did five miles. My children are healthy and clever and funny. I have not one but two jobs I enjoy. Nothing will compare with the honour and the joy of running my SW groups and helping people transform their lives but sometimes it's okay to have a clock in/ clock out job you can walk away from at the end of your shift. I have a roof over my head. It's not my roof but it's a very nice roof over a very nice house that I'm lucky to live in for a spell. Is it a squash and a squeeze trying to fit everything I need in to one room? Of course it is and I'm not the tidiest individual but when I look round my room I see pictures of my daddy (not to mention one of me, Eva and Tom Fletcher!) and cards my awesome friends have sent me. I have amazing friends: Fact! The Holy Trinity of Chrissy, Jenny and Tracey. My birthday twin, Sam. Beth. Caroline. Jo. Katy. Rachael. Amy. My Bosworths. EB. Lynney. Katie. Me Little Gem. And that's just off the top of my head. 


The single thing. That's a sore point, I'm not gonna lie. I know I shouldn't be hung up on it. I know I need to learn to "love myself" first (vom!) before I can let anyone else love me but honestly...? I just miss kisses. I miss coming home to someone. I miss that solid feeling of a proper hug from a bloke that loves me. Even with a reasonably chipper outlook tonight I still struggle to believe that anyone is ever going to look at me and see anything worth loving. I'm chaotic and noisy and insecure... oh yeah, and officially NUTS. Whatsapping with a male friend (who must remain nameless) I listed all the things I want in a partner... He needs to be funny and patient and kind. He must look past all of my ludicrousness and see magic! He must be willing to kiss away my tears, hold me tight and protect me when everything gets too much for me. I poured it all out. Painted a picture of all the things my man must be. The reply? "Christ, that's a really big ad to put in the paper!" I had to laugh. I'm asking a lot, I know. And what does the poor bugger get in return? Me. 


At sports day today one of the other parents told me that my writing is "brilliant". I didn't even mention my blog when we were chatting and I had no clue she'd read it. Between us we mused that I should perhaps write a novel..? YA fiction seemed the right fit. I later Googled "creative writing courses" and found one on Groupon for £19. Until my cheque clears, I've got £3 in my bank account but maybe when I'm done being dirt poor, I'll look in to it further. 


Could things be better? Fuck, yeah. Could they be worse? Abso-frigging-lutely. When faced with an incurable cancer diagnosis, an incredible woman said to her mother "It's the card I have been dealt and I’m going to get on with it. I’ll just put my lipstick on and face the world". Sounds like a pretty solid plan to me. I hope that this is one of these posts I'll look back on and feel inspired. Next time I'm at the bottom of the pit, I'll read this one back and hope that I can maybe see the stars again. 

One more thing while I'm on a positivity roll... My hair is amazing. I mean, seriously. It's the dogs ding dongs #justsayin. Shout out to my hairdresser, Beth Sando for giving me four years of great hair after 30ish years of many a dodgy do. 

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Take care, Kati pet!


Note: This post was started (and almost finished) on Friday, early evening. I added the last two paragraphs now - Sunday afternoon - and I'm now gonna hit 'Publish'. The only reason I'm mentioning this is coz I may well write another post shortly about Father's Day. So here, first of all are Friday's musings... a reflection on a very 'mixed bag' week.

I seem to start a lot of posts with an observation about how long it’s been since I last updated the blog. “Why break with tradition then…?” I hear you say. I shan’t. A month. Last post was mid-May and I did two then in fairly quick succession. And then, silence. I just don’t feel like I had much to say. Now however, after a deeply odd week, I am once again ready to empty my brain in to my blog… Not the whole thing, you understand. Blimey, what a terrifying thought. There’s all sorts in there. Film trivia, lines from Shakespeare, the date Wannabe was released in the UK, poetry I memorised when I was seven and Macaulay Culkin’s date of birth to name but a handful of things pinging around my cranium. July 8, 1996 and August 26, 1980 respectively, just FYI.

So what went down this week that’s so blog-worthy? Well, it all started with a night out last Saturday. Fear not, dear reader, I have no tawdry tales to tell of night club snogging or one night stands… But my goodness me, it was a ruddy corker of a night. I’ve been working as part of the Primark Supply Chain at the vast distribution centre in Islip since early February. Initially I wasn’t sure if I’d take to warehouse work or if I’d bond with my co-workers but I am delighted to report that I bloody love it. I’ve made good friends, met people from all across the world and the predictable nature of the work is good for my head. A social gathering was organised for Saturday night and having missed the last one (it snowed so y’know, sod that!) I decided I would attend. It helped that Natalie, a lovely colleague of mine offered me a lift. Ridiculously at the grand old age of 36, I still hate walking in to a pub alone but with Nat as my wing-woman, I felt confident!

I won’t go in to detail on the events of the evening because I was informed by one of the Team Managers that the old “…what goes on tour, stays on tour…” also applies to work nights out but I can report that there was gin, my first (and second) ever Jager Bombs and my first vodka Red Bull in EIGHTEEN years. Yes, really. The highlight for me, as is always the case when I’m out out, was singing and dancing like a mad thing on the light up dance floor in Pop Central. I had the sense to stop drinking at midnight and by the time I climbed in to bed at 2am, I wasn’t feeling too bad at all.

Remarkably, I dodged a hangover and by 9am Sunday morning I was showered, dressed and receiving the children from Pete. So far, so good. In the afternoon, I attended a… wait for it, Yin Yoga and Gong Bath workshop at an amazing local studio, LW Dance and Fitness. My gorgeous friend (and birthday twin) Sam paid for me to go as a gift and what a gift it was. An hour of deep stretching followed by a sound bath which, if you’re unfamiliar, is lying under a quilt on your mat while the instructor (in this case, gorgeous Kanti) plays gongs and bowls and all manner of other wonderful things around you. It is essentially a very fabulous public nap with a great soundtrack and I loved every minute of it.

A sensible soul would have thanked the gods for the lack of hangover and popped off to bed at 8pm on Sunday night but not I. No, at 8pm I was arriving at a mate’s flat for a horror movie double bill. Another night out meant another missed dose of Quetiapine. While I don’t need to take it every day, I was soon about to find out what would happen when I mixed a boozy night, missed medication and not enough sleep. Let me assure you, it wasn’t pretty.

Monday morning arrived as it inevitably does and when I woke around 7am I found myself completely incapable of getting out of bed. Of course, I wasn’t physically paralysed but the notion of leaving the safety of my bed and having to interact with other humans was just too much for me to cope with. Sitting here now, it seems even to me like I must be exaggerating but I know in that moment and indeed for most of Monday, I just couldn’t. Couldn’t what? Couldn’t anything. I felt broken.

Since my diagnosis earlier this year, I’m starting to realise the impact that my disorder has on me and also, I’m coming to understand the consequences of straying from my routine, such as it is. I do not have OCD or a similar condition that enslaves me to doing certain things a certain way each day but if I do not take care of myself adequately (sleep, food, meds) then my body and my brain will go on strike. My ability to function like a normal (ish) human being will desert me.

A good sleep on Monday night meant I was able to return to work on Tuesday but I still couldn’t ‘people’. I was very much in my head. I have days like that where I power down and keep social interactions to an absolute minimum. Luckily for me, the nature of my job means that I can actually get away with being a bit of a moody witch without it affecting anyone else’s day! When I want to be sociable at work, there is scope for that but when I just want to get on with things and do some thinking (and inevitably some over-thinking too) I can. Another reason why the job is so ideal for me in my current mental state.

By Wednesday I was feeling a bit more ‘me’, whatever that looks like but I did something very un-Kati when I got in from work. There is never a time when I don’t have ‘stuff’ I could and should be getting on with but I made a spur of the moment decision to ignore all of it and start ‘The Staircase’ on Netflix. Cuppa, blanket, TV show. Boom! It’s my understanding that normal folks do this sort of thing quite often. Of course I felt a bit guilty and twitchy about it but the world continued to turn so I figured I hadn’t done too much damage to the balance of the universe.

On Thursday I had a bit of an epiphany so took to Instagram’s live feature to share it. Quite simply put, this is what occurred to me: doing nothing is good for you. I’ve been so focused this year on doing things to get better (meditating, exercising, writing etc) that I’ve completely overlooked the very necessary and simple practise of sitting the fuck down and just watching something. It was only after I posted a pic of me on Wednesday doing my relaxing with a caption about “there are thing I should be doing…” and my lush friend, Katie commented “This is what you SHOULD be doing” that I realised she was right. I really hardly ever just sit down and watch a TV show or a film… Or if I do, I’m always doing something else as well. The most common thing would be twatting about on my phone but I could also be writing or making lists or just actively fretting about all the jobs I’m neglecting by having the audacity to sit down!! No more. Just being is as important as all the doing in the world and I intend to do much more of it.

Self-care is important. Eat right, sleep well, create some Headspace, exercise… and occasionally (or maybe even semi-frequently), just do absolutely SOD ALL!

[If you're local to Kettering and you're interested in the Yin Yoga experience or in the other fantastic and varied classes on offer at Louise's amazing studio, check out www.lwdanceandfitness.co.uk]

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

The Fog

It's almost 5pm on a Wednesday. I've been home from work over two hours and what I haven't achieved in that time is frankly staggering. Oh, wait! I tell a lie... I've managed a fair bit of unnecessary and unprovoked emotional eating. Dear me... I've been in a weird mood all day and rather than let it continue I thought I'd try and write my way out of it.

Ever had one of those days when you just can't seem to wake up properly? I don't just mean a day when you're particularly tired but more when you feel foggy, like you're going in slo-mo. It isn't my medication doing it as I deliberately take my Quetiapine at 8pm so it doesn't slow me down the next day. I just feel a bit off today.

I shouldn't have even been at work today. It's my rest day as I have to work this coming Saturday. Part of the deal when the 9-2 shift became a permanent thing was working one in every six Saturdays. This will be my first. When there's plenty of work on, you're permitted to work your rest day as overtime so I did just that. I took my running gear with grand plans of driving to Pitsford to do a long run after work. After sleepwalking through a five hour shift, that plan got shelved but I toyed with the idea of popping upstairs to the gym. Yes, we have a staff gym at work! Free to use and open 24/7. All I had to do was go upstairs and I'd be there... Next thing I know, I'm swiping out of the building and walking to my car.

Within seconds of walking through the door at home, the kettle was on and I was rummaging in the cupboards. One Soreen bar was followed by a bag of salted popcorn then came half a roll with ham and a packet of crisps. Why stop there? Devour some left over Easter Eggs why dontcha? (Sorry kids!) I feel sick now... Didn't stop me having a cinnamon and raisin bagel with another cuppa just now. I Googled 'emotional eating' and read up on it. Diagnosed myself there and then. Yup! That's me. The website was very informative but offered no solution or ideas to combat the problem. Great! Thanks for that...

Part of the reason I wanted to write now was to help me understand what's going on right at this moment. I found when I looked back at posts from earlier in the year, it was comforting to see that I have made progress since then. What I'm feeling now is very familiar and also unpleasant. It's a feeling of "I have so much to do... I don't know where to start. There's too much to do... I might as well not try." I genuinely don't see myself as a lazy person but I get easily overwhelmed and I guess that's part of what I'm feeling now.

Faced with the rest of the day to myself (the children are with their dad) rather than feel excited at the prospect, I felt faintly panicked so I ate.

AHA!!! Fucking hell! I didn't even realise that's what was going on until now. Wowsers! A genuine light bulb moment. What else can I learn from this exercise? Let's backtrack and see...

I got home and thought "Well I have grown up crap to do... Or I could go and see Infinity War again... Or maybe I'll start season 2 of The Newsroom? What's on Netflix at the mo..? I've got more ironing to do. I need to call Center Parcs and where's that bit of paper with that thing to do with my tax that I need..." OVERLOAD!! Solution: foodfoodfoodfood. Eat the food and don't think. Eat the food and don't think. Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit. What a bloody revelation and all because I decided to avoid my life admin and blog instead.

Back when I first started counselling at the age of 14, I used to find that I'd say things to the psychologist that I didn't even know I was thinking or feeling. I believe so absolutely in the power of talking about your problems which is why I'm desperate to start my therapy. The waiting list is long however and all I can do is just that: wait.

For now, I guess I just proved that this blogging malarkey is helpful. I know some see it as a vanity project and I can't deny that it's fuels that part of my (unstable) personality (disorder) but it can get so cluttered inside my head. This is my way of filtering through the noise and the chaos and at least trying to understand it.

So what do I do now...? I'm actually feeling slightly better than when I started. I still feel a bit sick from overeating and the associated shame will niggle at me for the rest of the day. A To Do list would seem a good place to start. I learned a tip from a pithy little book called Eat That Frog. It's about how to manage your time better in business but the skills are certainly transferable to every day life. You make your list and then rank each task, making sure you do the most heinous job on there FIRST. I mean... If you have to eat a frog (do an undesirable thing) then you don't want it staring at you for hours, do you? You'll never eat it if you have hours to mull it over. So just fucking do it, eh? Makes sense! Another book (perhaps the same one?) suggested allocating time to each item on the list as, Grade A avoiderers like me will make a five minute job last an hour if it means I'll run out of time and not get round to the worst job/ ugliest frog.

A list of tasks. A time in which to complete said task assigned to each item on the list. No faffing. No more procrastinating (I've done at least a week's worth already today!). The fog has lifted (just about), time to get shit done, Katherine Emily.


Saturday, 12 May 2018

Third Time Lucky

This is the third time since Monday that I've attempted to post an update. Often an idea will roll round inside my head for a few days before it makes it on to here. Sometimes ideas come and go. The post I attempted to write this week was to be entitled 'Breakthrough' and the gist was the notion that "Hey, I might actually win this battle against my crappy mental health!" While I still believe that to be true, a few instances in the last few days have served to remind me of just how fragile and fleeting a positive mindset can be.

My last proper post was all about a magnificent Saturday I'd spent in London town in the company of Christopher Moyles and Team Dubland. It was most certainly not an average Saturday. Last Saturday was equally wonderful but in a completely different way. It certainly wasn't a run-of-the-mill Saturday by any stretch of the imagination but it was a little lighter on celebs!

Myself and my small humans spent last Saturday hanging out on Baggers & Bling - the narrowboat owned by my lovely friend Sophie and her family. It was a Bank Holiday weekend and for once the weather played ball. I mean it really, really did! Blue skies, glorious sunshine and all the optimism and joy that comes with a sunny UK Bank Holiday. The Smith's boat was moored at Foxton Locks and the whole place was a-buzz. Families and friends enjoying a beer or an ice cream in the sun with no work until Tuesday. Marvellous! It was one of those days that if you'd tried to plan it, it would all have gone to shit but our visit was spontaneous, the stars aligned and everyone had a jolly lovely time.

Driving back from Foxton with two tired, happy children in the car - sun still shining, music on - I had the first flicker of "Maybe, just maybe I could beat this thing..."

Sunday only served to cement the idea. I returned the children to their dad and borrowed his lawn mower while I was there. The grass needed doing and despite the ridiculous heat and the fact that I've never mowed a lawn in all my 36 years, I decided I was just the woman for the job! Once the lawn was cut I tackled the house, cleaning it from top to bottom. Mundane? A waste of a sunny Bank Holiday Sunday? Perhaps but I was so filled with energy, positivity and determination that it seemed like absolute the right thing for me to do.

The biggest achievement of Sunday wasn't the lawn mowing however, it was the fact that I spent pretty much the whole day alone and I coped. Not only did I cope, I actually enjoyed time by myself. Un-fucking-believable. Unheard of! Kati does not enjoy time with Kati. Kati doesn't like Kati! Ah but this Kati is positive and focused and a joy to be around...

Bank Holiday Monday morning I made my first attempt at a blog post, rattling on about how positive I was feeling and how I was maybe, kinda, sorta starting to believe that I was going to be okay... Maybe even better than okay. Saved it as a draft, went to work. My intention was to return to it that evening but Eva and her current allergy to sleeping gave me the evening from hell and the blog remained unfinished. 

[Sidebar - I considered an entirely different blog post while working on Tuesday entitled 'My 9 year old is trying to kill me'. It was a shade dramatic and Daily Mail-esque but felt entirely justified after the umpteenth night of Bedtime Wars with my beloved first born!]

A few days later, I had another stab at getting the post out in to the blogosphere, taking bits I liked from my previous draft but it still never got as far as me hitting publish. I was so determined to record the monumental occurrence of self-belief as so much of my blog has been doom and gloom but it just never felt ready to share.

And then two things happened - my grief roundhouse kicked me in the face and my positivity packed a bag and fucked right off.

In the spirit of honesty and self disclosure, it is partly my fault this happened. I ran out of Sertraline mid-week and while I knew I needed to get myself to the pharmacy to collect my tablets, I didn't prioritise it. Why would I? I was feeling tip top. Until I wasn't. In short, I grossly underestimated just how much my medication helps to keep me functioning as a normal-ish member of society. The tablets help to keep me level so I experience less of the high highs but I'm also spared the lowest lows. Had I been taking my meds daily, I could perhaps of coped better with what happened on Thursday afternoon...

Innocently clearing out my 'other' inbox on Messenger where all the strange messages from foreign men reside (You know the ones "Hello. U luck beeutiful lady. Lets chat") I stumbled across a handful of messages sent in the wake of my dad's death. They'd sat there because they'd been sent by people who I know but aren't Facebook friends of mine. Reading these messages - kind words from kind souls saying wonderful things about my wonderful dad - took me back to the first few days after he died when a wave of similar messages arrived hourly via email, text and Facebook. I miss my dad every day but on Thursday the bear was back and it just crushed me. I cried like I might never stop.

And so to yesterday when I got further proof of just how much I need to be medicated. I arrived at work with my usual happy swagger but as the hours passed I could just feel myself shutting down. I avoided eye contact, not feeling capable of the banter I usually share with my colleagues. I just couldn't face it. I could feel myself getting wound up and, suspecting tears were nigh, I removed myself from the warehouse for a bit.

Alas, the tears came later. Along with a row with Pete. I could hear myself spitting words at him, hating myself for not being able to control my emotions. The added frustration of knowing that all of this could have been avoided if I'd just taken my feckin tablets made the whole situation worse. I eventually got a grip and apologised to Pete but collecting myself felt like trying to squeeze one of those daft pop out snakes back in to the can.

It's Saturday morning now. I collected my prescription yesterday and there's now Sertraline back in my system. I'm tired having worked at my new casual bar job until almost midnight and then waking up at 6am (SAKE!) but I feel like I might just be okay today. One day at a time, right?

I know that everything I was feeling was real. I can get better. I am already getting better! I'm finally losing weight. I've started running again (despite giving it up last year!). I've taken on a second job so I can be less skint. I'll get there. Wherever there is? If I could I'd add the "I dunno!" shrug emoji lady here as she is my current favourite and most used.

Until next time kids...