Liebster Award Nominations

Hi Everyone.

I’ve been kindly nominated for the Liebster Award by 4 fellow bloggers: maryangela  Starrelizabeth writingforjonny and weegiemidget . Thank you for the nominations guys.

Part 1: The Liebster Award

What’s The Liebster Award?

The Liebster Award is taken from the German word for favourite, and it’s a tool to help generate more interest in blogs, and for bloggers to interact and engage with each other.

Bloggers who have 200 or less followers are nominated by fellow new bloggers, to answer questions about themselves and their blogs; and nominate other bloggers to do the same.

What Do Nominees Have to Do?

Here are the rules for nominees:

Part 2: Answers To The Questions I’ve Been Asked

Nomination #1

Questions Asked By MaryAngela

1. When did you start your blog and why? (This also answers question 2 of starrelizabeth‘s questions.

I originally started Silent D And Me in May 2015. I decided to finally speak out about mental health after losing a relative to suicide. I deleted my blog in September 2015, and restarted it again in December 2015, following my friend’s suicide attempt.

2. What is your blog about?

My blog is mainly about my struggle with Clinical Depression (Silent D). I also write about all mental health issues, to raise awareness and reduce stigma.

3. What is your ideal morning routine?

I’m not really a morning person, so I have to ease myself into it. I like to start the day with several cups of tea and as little stress and noise as possible (I have 2 sons, so this isn’t always a possibility). I spend the majority of my day in my kitchen; drinking tea, listening to audiobooks and motivational talks on YouTube, baking and writing.

4.What did you do with your first salary?

I don’t remember exactly what I spent my first salary on, but I did buy CDs, Clothes and videos (showing my age here!) every week.

5. Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

Pedantic answer: in the mirror.

Sensible answer: I don’t live by a set blueprint, because life always seems to have different plans for me. I do have a list of things I want to have accomplished by the time I’m 40 though (which is only 8 years away! Eeek!) I don’t currently drive, so that’s first on my list. I want to have my house finished, as I’m currently living in a house full of half-finished jobs. I want to have travelled abroad at least once, as I’ve only been abroad once in my life. I want to get at least one of my many half finished writing projects completed, and published or commissioned. I also want to complete a university degree. My children will be adults then, and I hope they’re happy, settled and on their way to achieving their dreams.

6.What is your favourite song and why?

Oooft! This is a tough one. I don’t have just one favourite song (I know, I know EVERYONE says that). But it’s true. We all have different songs that conjure up different memories. To whittle it down, I’d say my favourite is Miss You by The Rolling Stones. It grabbed me the first time I heard it, and it still grabs me. It also has some pretty cool cover versions too.

7. If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

I’d be a mind reader. I have a habit of assuming people don’t like me. If I could read their minds, I’d know for sure. Also, mind reading would help me to identify the genuine people from the fakes out there.

8. What is your favourite flavour of ice cream?

Chocolate. Always has been, always will be. Yummy.

9. What is your favourite show/movie and why?

Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet is my favourite movie. It’s clever how Baz Luhrmann fused a classic masterpiece with a modern backdrop, all the while not losing the oldie worldie dialogue. It shouldn’t work, but it does. The soundtrack is brilliant too.

10. If you could have one wish, what would it be?

To bring back deceased relatives and friends, and throw a big reunion party.

11. What are your hobbies?

Blogging (obviously haha!), reading, cooking, baking, watching films, walking, spending time with my husband and children, visiting museums and art galleries, genealogy, socialising with friends, talking for hours on the phone with my sister, about a myriad of subjects and psychology.

Nomination #2

Questions Asked By StarrElizabeth

1.What’s the song that’s been stuck on repeat in your head lately?

Waiting For A Train by Flash and The Pan. I have no idea where it came from, but I’m really enjoying it.

2. Why did you start your blog?

See question 1 of Mary Angela’s questions.

3. What’s the best TV show or movie you’ve seen lately?

I watched The Help recently, and loved it. *Spoiler Alert* I love films where horrible people get what they deserve.

4. Who’s your biggest inspiration?

Blog-wise, it has to be Lisa Lynch of alrighttit.

In my personal life, my husband, children, Dad and sister are my inspirations.

5. Where’s one place you want to travel to before you die?

New York.

6. What’s your dream job?

I’d like to write for a living. Then I can work in my pyjamas. Haha!

7. If you could do anything for the next 24 hours, what would you do?

Sit on a secluded white beach, somewhere exotic; reading a good book and drinking cocktails.

8. What’s the goal for your blog?

I’m in a kind of write-and-see phase at the moment. I’m surprised that anyone’s reading it, to be honest. I’m just going to let fate decide where me and my blog should go.

9. If you were a cartoon character, what would be your signature outfit?

I’d model myself on Jane Lane from the 90s cartoon, Daria. She was really cool.

10. Do you have any pets? What are their names? When did you get them?

I have a cat named Figaro. We got her in August 2011, and I’m amazed she hasn’t run away yet.

11. How has your week been?

Last week was a mixed one.My washing machine broke last Tuesday, and I had to buy a new one. I started a new job where I work (sounds like a positive, but it’s really not.) I received 4 nominations for the Liebster Award (yay), and I had a really restful weekend. This week has started off quite busy, catching up on all the laundry I couldn’t do, or hand washed really badly last week. I’m hoping for a productive week this week.

Nomination #3

Questions Asked By Writingforjonny

1. If you could go back and teach your childhood self one thing, what would it be?

Perseverance. I gave up too easily on things, which is why I left school with virtually no qualifications.

2. What is your guilty pleasure?

I like to put my earphones in, block the world out and listen to music. I’m very anti-social in this respect.

3. Who is/has been your biggest inspiration?

My husband and children. They’re the reason I get up in the morning and face another day.

4. What is the favourite thing about yourself? (Get those feel good feelings going)

Hmmmm… I’m one of those people who sees the beauty in others, but not in myself. I suppose I like that I’m not vain.

5. Funniest thing ever witnessed?

I was travelling to work by bus, one snowy morning. The bus was packed with teenagers, on their way to school. Around 10 minutes into my journey, a small group of teenagers congregated around one of the bus windows. They opened the window, and one of the teenagers threw a snowball (they must’ve brought it on the bus with them) out of the moving bus window; and hit a guy square in the face. Yeah you guessed it, I have a sadistic sense of humour!

6. What is your main vice?

Smoking.

7. If you could go back in time and live in any era, which would it be?

The 1960s. I love the music and the fashion from that era.

8. What has been your greatest achievement?

My children are my greatest achievement. Being a parent is the toughest job ever.

9. If you could create your own TV show, what would it be called and what would it be about?

I’m currently writing a sitcom. I don’t yet have a title for it, but it’s about a group of women who meet each other at an evening class.

10. What is your biggest wish for the future?

To be doing a job I love.

11. If you could change one thing about the world we live in today, what would it be?

The next generation of adults wanting to be known for doing bad things to other people. They have a kind of anti-hero mentality, where they view villains as cool, and the super heroes as lame. Let’s just go back to seeing The Joker for what he really is – a massive dobber.

Nomination #4

Questions Asked By Weegiemidget

1. How did you choose a name for your blog?

I wrote down a list of names, and chose the one I could imagine myself saying on a regular basis.

2. How did you decide on the subject of your blog?

I have clinical depression, and I’ve lost a relative to suicide. I wanted to start a blog to raise awareness of mental health issues, and also have an outlet for my feelings and experiences.

3. If you could choose a film to be reviewed in this blog, which one would you choose?

Control. It’s the story of Ian Curtis, who was the lead singer of the Manchester band, Joy Division.

4. Why?

Because it isn’t a film I see being reviewed a lot. Also, Ian Curtis’ untimely death by suicide is something that isn’t discussed by the mainstream media very often.

5. Which of my film reviews would you pass onto a friend if you wanted them to see a film with you?

Terms of Endearment.

6. Why?

Because my friends don’t like being ambushed by a weepie. They like to go into a film, with the prior knowledge that they’re going to be an emotional wreck when the credits roll.

7. Which of my TV reviews would you pass onto a friend if you wanted them to watch a programme with you?

The Grand Designs review you wrote.

8. Why?

So me and my friend could play a Grand Designs drinking game. For example, if one of the couple has a trendy name, we have a drink. If the wife/fiancee/girlfriend/mid-life crisis mentions spending all her husband’s/fiance’s/boyfriend’s/father replacement’s life savings/pension on their “rural project” we have a drink. If the couple are moving from St John’s Wood, we have a drink. Judging by your very accurate (and very funny) review, we’ll be pissed by the first ad break. Haha!

9. If you could move anywhere as an expat, where would you move?

America. Although, we could just move to Cornwall and be considered expats. (Cornwall is a world away from our hometown of Manchester, that’s why I love it!)

10. Why?

It was a toss-up between America and Australia. But I’m not that great with snakes or alligators in swimming pools, so America for the win. I think mine and my husband’s Celtic appearances (we’re both of Irish descent) would be welcomed by our American neighbours. In Australia, we’d just be another set of “Flamin’ Poms.”

11. What 3 tips would you give to a first time blogger?

  1. Don’t over-think it.
  2. Use every social media platform to promote your blog
  3. Be yourself on your blog, and don’t self edit too much.

 

11 Random Facts About Myself

1.My maiden name is Caroline Murphy, which is the same name as Benjamin’s birth mother in the film, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

2. I had both sets of back teeth removed when I was a child, and a third set grew in their place.

3. As well as the books I’m currently writing, I’m also writing a script for a sitcom.

4. As a teenager, I was an Army Cadet. I tried to join the Army when I was 16, but failed the medical exam due to having mild asthma.

5. I left school with only 2 GCSEs – a C grade in English Language and a C grade in Geography.

6. Despite my poor academic performance, I have held some very well paid jobs. I used to be a salesperson, and I’ve sold software products, mortgages, escrow services and employment law services.

7. A teacher at my primary school said I had a flair for writing, when I was 6 years old. I was really annoyed with this, because I wanted to be a painter and live by the sea.

8. I got an E grade in GCSE Art.

9. I was very confident (translation: a pretentious little brat) in primary school, and played the lead in my year 6 performance of Aladdin.

10. I attended a drama school in the evenings, when I was 10 years old. I didn’t last long, as I found the other students’ larger than life personalities intimidating.

11. I’m a major procrastinator. I never finish what I start. Except eating cake. I always finish that.

Part 3: My Nominated Blogs 

My Nominations For The Liebster Award

1.LiveBySurprise

2.Amber

3.Jessica

4. ConfessionsOfAFlawedHuman

5. TheWorryGames

6. Sass&Shamrocks

7. Claire’sBlogSpace

8. ThroughSalt&Honey

9. HopToHappiness

10. MusingsOfAnInsomniac

11. OldSingleBitter(&drunk)

 

My Questions For The Nominees

1. Why did you start your blog?

2. What’s your happiest memory?

3. What would be the title of your autobiography?

4. Who would play you, in a film of your life story?

5. Which is your favourite season?

6. If the world was going to end tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?

7. If you had to pick a new first name for yourself, what would it be?

8. Who would be your ultimate dinner party guests?

9. If you could give your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be?

10. What’s your favourite quote?

11. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

 

Thank you again to the people who nominated me for the Liebster Award, and congratulations to the fabulous bloggers I’ve nominated.

 

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B For Bereavement

Alex and Grandad

My Uncle Alex with my Grandfather. Circa 1995

Hi everyone. I’m now on the letter B of my A-Z of Mental Health Challenge. This post looks at bereavement.

I’ve chosen to write about bereavement today (10th February), because today is the fifth anniversary of my uncle’s rather sudden and untimely death.

My Uncle Alex

Alex is my Dad’s identical twin brother. When Alex left, he took the other half of my Dad with him. He helped my Dad to bring me up (despite my mother being around, but I’ll get to that in a later post), and my childhood memories are filled with wonderful adventures spent with my Dad, my uncle Alex and my cousin Stuart.

Although my Dad and Alex were two of eight children, they were the closest siblings. They had shared a childhood of horrific abuse, and neglect. More than that, they’d survived it together.

Their horrific start in life, didn’t stop them from loving unconditionally. My Dad and my uncle Alex always vowed that they would never be like their own parents. Their children would be loved and cared for – never beaten or starved as they were. They kept their promises. Where the majority of my other uncles and aunts became carbon copies of my grandparents, my Dad and Alex are the antithesis. They love their children and grandchildren without agenda. They love, for love.

The Division of Strength

My Dad was always the physically stronger of the two. He was the greedy twin, and was born a healthy weight; whereas Alex was born very small. My grandmother told us once that when the midwife asked her what she would name the twins, and she told her that the smaller one would be named Alexander; the midwife said “blimey! His name’s bigger than him!”

I’m not sure how he did it, but my uncle Alex soon caught up with my Dad in terms of physical size; and grew to be just under six feet tall. But throughout their childhood, my uncle Alex was very sickly; and seemed to always suffer common viruses more severely than my Dad.

Where he lacked in physical strength, Alex gained in emotional strength. My Dad has always had a ferocious temper (my opinion is, he has suffered from PTSD for the majority of his life, due to the abuse he suffered in childhood), and he became well known in the area as a force to be reckoned with. And like any true hard man, my Dad has never been a bully, and he has the respect of a lot of people in our town. He reminds me of the type of hard case you see in old movies – his strength could crush a thousand men, yet he can cradle a fragile baby without squeezing too tight.

My uncle Alex, although physically as strong as my Dad, he lacked the temper but made up for it in emotional strength. He was very level headed, and wasn’t a push over. My Dad fell prey to two horrid women, and because he’d been conditioned by my grandmother to believe he deserved to be mistreated; he was destroyed emotionally by his two marriages. Alex had a child with what I can only describe as a cheap slapper, and although it seemed he too had fallen prey to a predatory woman; he walked away from that relationship before she could completely destroy him.

A Father and Uncle in a Million

Alex maintained a strong bond with his son, Stuart. He wasn’t a weekend Dad, who’d look after his son half heartedly; while counting down the hours until he could offload him back on his ex. He put his everything into Stuart. Me, my Dad, Alex and Stuart would go swimming most Saturday mornings, and then we’d spend the rest of the day (and sometimes the night) back at Alex’s lovely home; playing Subbuteo, drinking cold lemonade from fancy glasses and watching films in front of the cosy open fire.

Needless to say, I became a total tomboy as a result of being brought up around strong male influences. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

On Sundays, Alex took Stuart to the dry ski slope. Stuart was a strong skiier and snowboarder from an early age, and went on to ski down Ben Nevis in Scotland, years later with his high school.

Alex was the person I turned to if I needed good, practical advice on anything. When I was being bullied by my first employer as an apprentice, Alex told me to just hang in there and ride it out. When I eventually lost my temper, and told the salon owner to shove my job where the sun doesn’t shine, I thought my uncle would be disappointed in me. But when I told him the full story of what had led me to lose my s**t, he said that in some situations I need to use the temper I inherited from my Dad. My Dad was in full support of what I did, and even rang my employer to give her a piece of his mind.

The Creator

Dad and Alex were incredibly talented. My Dad is a brilliant painter and photographer (I keep trying to get him to pick up a paintbrush again, but he seems to have lost heart.) Alex was astonishingly good and sculpting things. He once made a snowman as high as his bedroom windows, and sculpted it into a work of art. It had a big smiling face, and one hand was waving at us. It was magnificent. I wish I’d had the foresight to ask my Dad to take some photos of it.

One winter, Alex made a sledge for Stuart from the frame of an old go kart. Instead of wheels, he cut down some old skis, and made sort of runners with them. There were two skis at the front, and they were attached to the steering wheel. I’ve seen sledges like this one in the shops since, but back in the early 90s, this sledge was something else. Alex would pick me up after school while my Dad worked, and he’d take me and Stuart to the local woods. There’s a big stately home in these woods, and at the front of it is a massive hill. We would hurtle down the hill on Stuart’s home made sledge, and all the other kids admired our vehicle.

Halloween was another time of year that Alex’s talents were showcased. Stuart’s costumes were always out of this world. Before you could buy Ghostbusters costumes in the shops, Alex made one for Stuart, using an old boiler suit and parts from an old vacuum cleaner. One year, Stuart came to a Halloween party as a character from Salem’s Lot. He was unrecognisable. Alex had used latex to sculpt a gruesome face (more gruesome than Stuart’s real face haha), and used face paints to complete the look. It was astonishingly realistic. Some where along the way, my Dad and uncle’s talents hadn’t been used to their full potential. I can’t help but wonder whether they would’ve made careers from their talents, had they had supportive parents to put them through college and university.

My Dad and Alex as 50-somethings

As my Dad and Alex reached their 50s, we all thought they’d start to slow the pace down a little. On the contrary, they seemed to up the ante. They took up fell walking, and would spend most of their weekends camping and walking in Derbyshire and Cumbria.

They took on the Old Man of Coniston, and shared a celebratory drink at the summit. They scrambled up the treacherous Helvellyn – a challenge I think they were a little under-prepared for. But nevertheless, they scaled it’s face and then laughed in it as they ambled back down to level ground.

All that walking and fresh air really did them the world of good, and they looked much younger than their years.

Great-Uncle, and Grandad Alex

My children and my Dad have an inseparable bond.  And because of this bond, my uncle Alex treated my children like his own grandchildren. The sledge, which had once brought so much joy to my childhood, became a regular winter feature in my childrens’ lives.

Alex has grandchildren of his own, but because Stuart is in the Army, he didn’t get to see them as much as he would’ve liked. But when he did see his grandchildren, he doted on them.  So my children were a substitute for him, when he couldn’t see his own grandchildren.

One day in around 2010, Alex came to my house, one tea time. He had an old Manchester United portable TV with him, that a work colleague was going to throw away. Knowing that my eldest son is an avid football and Manchester United fan, Alex immediately took the TV off his colleague’s hands.

He brought it to my house, and set it up in my son’s bedroom. We laughed and joked about how slow it was to tune the channels in, and my son was over the moon with his new present.

After Alex’s death, the TV broke. My eldest son was devastated. It was as if he’d lost another part of his Great-Uncle Alex. I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away, so I kept it in my spare room until my best friend persuaded me to let it go, some 3 years later.

14th January 2011

I was due to start working at the place I work at now as an agency employee. On Friday, January 14th 2011, I attended a short induction to prepare me for the following Monday’s start. When I got home, my husband was waiting in the front garden for me. My beloved uncle Alex had been diagnosed with cancer.

Anger seared through my windpipe. Why him? Why has this b*****d decided to pick on my uncle? The anger dissipated, and was replaced by hope. He was going to beat this. He’d fitted his own kitchen and survived his childhood. Cancer had well and truly met its match.

Alex had been feeling ill since around November 2010. He was in immense pain, and the pain radiated through his back. He went to his GP, and was prescribed some antibiotics – they’d diagnosed him with a chest infection. The antibiotics didn’t work, so he went to our local walk-in centre. They diagnosed him with pluracy, and prescribed more antibiotics.

Christmas came and went, and Alex was still no better. My Dad’s twin intuition kicked in, and he was agitated all through the Christmas period.

Around January 5th, Alex was taken ill at work. He was in too much pain to carry out his duties, so his employer called an ambulance. He was taken to a local hospital, and told that his chest infection was just taking a little longer to go away. Not satisfied with their diagnosis, Alex returned to work, picked his car up and drove himself to another hospital. Just half a mile away from the hospital, the pain became so unbearable, Alex had to stop his car in the middle of a dual carriageway.

His sudden stop had caused a tail back, and some of the other drivers got out of their vehicles to find out the source of the delay. Alex explained to them that he was too ill to drive, and some of the other drivers pushed his car to the side of the road and called an ambulance.

He arrived at the hospital, and was examined by a doctor in the Accident and Emergency Department. She was rather an obnoxious creature, who insisted that Alex was fit and well, and he was wasting their time. The truth was, Alex had never been a hypochondriac in his life. Instead, he was a no – fuss person, who hated being ill. Alex asked to see a different doctor. This doctor took the pain seriously, and admitted him to the medical investigations ward. They conducted a series of tests on Alex, and found his cancer.

The Enigma of Alex’s Cancer

I’m not sure whether this was Alex’s doing, but we weren’t informed of the severity of Alex’s condition. As far as we were concerned, Alex’s cancer was treatable, and he would be undergoing a cycle of Chemotherapy.

Everything seemed positive, and Alex gave us the impression that he was going to fight it with all his strength. Little did we know.

The Last Hello

I waited until Alex had been home from the hospital for a few days, before going to visit him. Armed with a bag of DVDs and some other bits and bobs, I walked the short distance to Alex’s house. I approached the front door, and glanced through the front window. There, sitting in his armchair was a very frail Alex. He had a friend over, visiting him. I waved to him through the window, and his friend took this as his cure to leave. I wasn’t sure why his friend felt he had to end his visit at the time, but now I know why.

My uncle’s friend, opened the door and let me in. I walked through to the living room, and choked back the tears. My lovely uncle had aged 20 years. His face was gaunt and sallow, and he’d lost a lot of weight. A walking stick was propped up against his armchair. The devastating truth hit me like a ton of bricks. My uncle was dying.

He was not at all impressed to see me. He launched into a rant about how the rest of our extended family hadn’t left him alone since his diagnosis, and he just wanted to sleep; but felt that no one was allowing him to rest. I was angry at my extended family. Their actions weren’t borne out of genuine love or concern, it was another way to compete with each other on who was caring for him the most. The eternal martyrs.

I listened as Alex offloaded his anger and desperation onto me. He was exhausted, and in excruciating pain. Reading between the lines, I think his anger wasn’t really directed at me, it was directed at me having to see him so ill and vulnerable. He was unable to eat, and he said he felt perpetually nauseous. The thing which haunts me to this day, and always will, is how his voice had changed. He didn’t sound like my uncle Alex anymore, and it unnerved me. Cancer was taking every aspect of him away from us.

After he’d finished telling me off for going round to visit him, I got up to leave. Alex rose unsteadily to his feet, and grasped his walking stick. He slowly walked with me to the door, all the while informing me of his busy new cancer schedule. “Tomorrow I have my first chemo treatment, then on Friday I have the McMillan Nurse coming. Then on Monday, I have…….” I cut him dead, mid sentence. I got the message. “I’ve listened to everything you’ve had to say. Don’t worry, I won’t come round and prevent you from resting. I’ll see you soon.” I looked through his tired eyes, and into him as I said those words. I hugged him tightly, and tried not to cry. “I love you.” I whispered in his ear. He gave my shoulders a short, tight squeeze.

This was the last time I ever saw my uncle Alex alive.

A Glimmer Of Hope

Shortly after my visit, Alex took to his bed and slept. And slept. And slept. He was prescribed Morphine for the pain, and had been advised that he wasn’t strong enough to begin his Chemotherapy.

He moved into Stuart’s old bedroom, so he could be closer to the bathroom. He started to feel stronger. He spent his days watching DVDs in bed, and planning his future. He felt he was winning the battle, and planned to take early retirement; once he’d had the all clear. He told my Dad in one of their daily telephone conversations that he couldn’t wait to resume their camping and walking weekends, and he felt he’d been given a second chance at life. “I’ve got away with it.” He practically sang down the phone. My Dad was ecstatic. He wasn’t going to lose his brother, after all.

The Cruelest Twist of Fate

On Wednesday, 9th February, my uncle Alex was rushed into hospital. He’d developed septicemia, and was burning up and hallucinating. The family gathered around his bed. His condition deteriorated rapidly. He began to fight his impending death, and what my Dad witnessed that night will haunt him forever.

In the early hours of Thursday, 10th February 2011, my uncle lost his fight. He was 56 years old. I awoke from a fitful night’s sleep to the news. I was numb. But my first priority was my Dad. I had to get him through this. I got my children dressed, fed and into school. I then ran home and tried to call a taxi to take me to my Dad’s house.

Back then I had a Pay As You Go mobile phone, and it had run out of credit. I ran to the top of my road, and into the payphone cubicle. As I was calling my taxi, I could hear a voice coming from the mobile phone in my pocket. Now what I’m about to tell you is the honest truth. I reached inside my pocket and retrieved the mobile phone. It was a flip-front handset, and you couldn’t make a call when the front was down, as the screen covered the keyboard. To unlock it, you had to flip the screen up. When I looked at the phone, the screen was covering the keyboard, but it was still trying to dial out. The contact it was trying to reach was my Dad. My spine tingled. I took it as a sign from my uncle Alex. And this was the first of many signs I’d receive from him over the next 5 years.

The Truth about Alex’s Cancer

There was a post-mortem conducted on my uncle. The coroner, for some reason wasn’t satisfied with my uncle’s medical records.

We’d previously thought that Alex’s cancer was treatable, but the post – mortem results said otherwise. The cancer was particularly aggressive, and had was located in his lungs, liver, breast and bone. It was so advanced that it wasn’t possible to pin point the primary location of the cancer. This went some way to explain my uncle’s rapid decline.

Bright Eyes

My uncle’s funeral came and went in a hazy, numb blur. But I remember the music. Going into the service, Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street was played, and the soundtrack to his final journey in the crematorium was Simon and Garfunkel’s Bright Eyes. You’ll probably remember this song from that god awful film, Watership Down. I’ve always hated that film – even before Alex’s death. But he loved the film and the song.

Bright Eyes was Alex’s song to Stuart. Unwittingly, he’d dedicated a song to his son which would foresee his own demise. I plan to have he following lyrics tattooed into my forearm, as a tribute to my uncle Alex:

“How can the light that burned so brightly, suddenly burn so pale? Bright eyes.” This one line sums up my anger and disbelief that my vibrant, alive uncle could suddenly be reduced to a shell by that awful illness.

Life Without Alex

I think it goes without saying, that my Dad has never been, nor ever will be the same again.

I spoke to him earlier on the phone, and his voice was strained and husky, like he’d spent an eternity in the most unbearable pain. I so wish I could bring my uncle back, even just for one day. I wish I could bring him to my Dad’s house, and leave them both to spend one last day together. But I know that’s not possible. And it tears me apart every single day.

Today, as I do every year, I’ll light a candle for him and say a prayer. I’m not a religious person, but there’s a part of me that believes that there is an afterlife. I have to believe it, otherwise what’s the point? I have to believe that there was a deeper meaning behind my uncle being ripped away from us. I have to believe. I have to hope. I can’t let him go. Not yet.

Thank you for reading this. I apologise for the lengthy post, but I just couldn’t turn off the tap once I’d opened it.

And if you’re reading this uncle Alex, which I hope you are; we miss you, we love you and we’ll never ever forget you. Have a drink for us, where ever you are.

In the words of my beloved uncle: I’m doing a runner now.

See you soon.

 

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Depression fm

 

Radio“Good Morning, and welcome to Depression fm, home of convincing Caroline Cassidy that she should end her own life.

Here’s this week’s top 10 singles :

Down 3 places this week, to number 10: You’re A Failure

A new entry, straight in at number 9: Everything You Do, Turns To Shit

Still in the charts, after 12 years: You’re A Bad Mother is number 8

Down 6 places, one of DJ Silent D’s favourites: Nobody Likes You, at number 7

Another all-time classic: You’re A Horrible Person is this week’s number 6

The tearjerker of the week, it’s: Remember This Awful Moment From Your Past? At number 5

Tipped to be this year’s Mothers’ Day number 1, for the 8th year running: Your Children Are Better Off Without You, at number 4

An oldie, but a goodie at number 3: Nobody would Care If You Died

At number 2, it’s last week’s number 1: I Hope You Don’t Wake Up In The Morning

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for; I can reveal this week’s number 1, as voted for by DJ Silent D is………..

Just End It.”

Catchy tunes eh? They’re certainly what you would call “ear worms”. I’ve tried to tune back into Recovery fm, but I can’t seem to find the right frequency. If you have any ideas as to where it’s moved to, please let me know in the comments section.

Hang on a minute, this isn’t the A-Z of Mental Health Challenge

I’ve interrupted your broadcast, to bring you this news bulletin. As you can probably see, things aren’t so great, over at Silent D And Me Headquarters at the moment. I’ve been shafted royally at work, and everything I’ve tried so hard to build up has come crashing down around my ears. The best bit is: there is absolutely f**k all I can do about it. Super-F**king-Douper.

Being rogered up the tradesman’s entrance by my employer, has set the wheels in motion for an episode of depression. I don’t know how the work thing is going to play out, so I’ll save the whole humiliating story for another blog post.

Radio Blah Blah

Living with depression is like having a crackly radio inside your head. Every now and then, a clear transmission comes through and whatever is being played takes over your being. Sometimes the station you’re picking up is a good one, with plenty of silky, summery beats. But most of the time you pick up Depression fm. This radio station plays mainly droning voices repeating the same sentences, over a melody named “Toddler Playing The Saucepans.” I find that the veins in my temples like to throb along to this particular station.

It only takes one knock of the dial, and Depression fm comes booming out. The presenters inform you of the day’s schedule:

Having a stressful time at work? Our resident Agony Aunt, May Younotwakeup is on hand to advise you on the best methods of killing yourself. “

“Couldn’t be a***d cleaning the house today? We’ll be chatting to our resident Domestic Goddess, Gloria Stepford about lazy b******s like you; and how you should be taken outside and shot.”

You get the picture.

Hijacking The Airwaves

This week, I plan to set up my very own pirate radio station. I’m still working on a name, seeing as there’s already been a station called Radio Caroline. Today’s schedule will consist of:

Monday

“Sick and tired of Depression fm? We examine ways to silence the airwaves.”

“Can’t be a***d cleaning the house? Don’t panic. Our expert procrastinator, Ina Minute is on hand to share her hints and tips on how to make the house look clean, using the minimum of effort.”

“Really don’t want to go to work later? Have a look at your bank balance online. That’ll give you motivation to leave the house.”

“Need something to drown out the negative internal chatter on your way to work? We’ll be playing a motivational video by Tony Robbins, to get you in a kick-ass mood”

“Been shafted by your employer? Our resident careers adviser, Itsjusta Job tells you how to mentally punch your workplace backstabber in the face, while suppressing the urge to laugh like a maniac”

“Need something to get you through to 9pm, without jumping out of the window or telling your boss what they can do with your job? We’ll be playing a montage of photos of your children, to remind you of what really matters”

“Having trouble sleeping, due to the b*****s at work? Stop wasting your energy, I can bet that not one of those f*****s have lost an ounce of sleep over you.”

Stay tuned. I’ll be giving you regular news reports from my pirate station.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A For Anorexia

 

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“Caroline doesn’t have Anorexia. She weighs too much.” My psychiatrist explained to my mother, on his first visit to me on the hospital ward.

My mother wasn’t too convinced. She told him all about how I was checking the packets on the food she gave me when I visited her house (she’d left me and my Dad at this point.) She told him how I refused to eat certain things I once enjoyed eating. The baggy clothes, the feeling cold all the time, the obsessive ranting about how I needed to lose weight. The stealing of her partner’s Thyroxine medication (I thought I wouldn’t get caught doing that). She told him everything.

“Mrs Murphy, everything you’ve told me is circumstantial, and can only be related to her clinical depression. People who have depression lose their appetites, they wear clothes that keep them cocooned in their comfort zone, they steal medication to stock – pile for a future overdose. Based on Caroline’s BMI and weight, I’ve concluded that she doesn’t have an eating disorder. Yes, I agree that she’s slightly underweight, but only slightly.”

I was beginning to feel invisible in the room, while this conversation was taking place. My next feelings were, “he’s saying I’m fat.”

I’d been obsessing over my weight for around 3 months, prior to my suicide attempt. But more than that, I’d been playing a sort of game with myself too. I would see how long I could last without eating anything, and if I beat the previous day’s “high score”, I’d reward myself with a piece of fruit, or a piece of dry toast.

I was skipping school at this point, so I didn’t have to face the ordeal of explaining to my friends why I wasn’t eating my usual calorific chip muffins, or chips and gravy combos from the chip shop at lunchtime. Instead, I would sit at home and suppress the urge to raid the cupboards. I chain smoked to suppress my appetite, and I was drinking gallons of water to bloat myself. I exercised aggressively, and that became a game too. I would count how many sit-ups and press-ups I could do over the course of the day, and then strive to beat that score the following day.

Because I wasn’t formally diagnosed with an eating disorder, I’ve always dismissed that period of my life as just another episode of major depression. But now I’m older, and have read up on eating disorders, I can say that my psychiatrist was wrong. Furthermore, I’m rather outraged that he would even think of conducting his conversation with my mother in my presence.

What Are The Causes of Anorexia?

One of the main triggers of anorexia, is trauma. Young people who’ve experienced a traumatic experience, are more likely to develop an eating disorder. The reason for this, is the patient’s need to regain some control over their lives; because the traumatic event has left them feeling like they’ve had control taken away from them. The fundamental function that we all have autonomy of, is what we eat, when we eat it and how much we eat. No matter what life throws at us, we still have total control over that one aspect of our lives.

Another main trigger is low self esteem. Everywhere we go, we are surrounded by unrealistic expectations and examples of how our physical appearance “should” be. Ridiculously thin women stare out at us from the pages of magazines, skeletal models trundle down catwalks, fat shaming photos and videos are passed around on social media, while idiotic keyboard warriors guffaw and make offensive (and not very intelligent) jokes about the people in them. With all this ignorance around us, it’s no wonder young, impressionable people develop eating disorders.

The Failings of The Medical Field

Around a year ago, I received a letter from my eldest son’s school nurse. Because it was his last year of Primary School, he and his peers underwent a medical examination. Their height, weight and BMIs were measured and recorded. Then the results were sent to the parents. I was absolutely livid, when I received my son’s results.

In this letter, it said that based on my son’s BMI, he was considered to be overweight. The letter went on to patronisingly inform me that there are “resources” available locally to us, such as cookery classes and family exercise activities. Cheeky bastards.

My eldest son has played competitive football for 4 years. This means he attends football training once a week, and plays league games on Saturday mornings. At the time his medical examination took place, he was the captain of the school football team, and was also on the school rounders team. This meant that he trained 3 lunchtimes a week, and played competitive games twice a week after school. He was (and still is) a very active, sports orientated boy. He also has asthma, for which he is assessed annually by our practice nurse. She has never once raised any concerns with us regarding his weight or BMI.

As for the assumption that we are a family who leads an unhealthy lifestyle, what a crock of shit. My husband and I cook fresh meals daily for our children, and use only fresh ingredients in our food. Fast food is an occasional treat for our children, and we have a perpetually half-full fruit bowl on our dining room table. My youngest son also plays competitive football, in addition to never being seen outside without his beloved bike. Both my children are strong swimmers, and my Dad takes them to the local baths once a week.

My husband and I aren’t couch potatoes either. We both walk around 4 miles a day, and we only take healthy food with us to work. We both have medical conditions for which are monitored regularly, and our weight and BMI have never been a cause for concern to our doctors.

Anyway, back to the letter. I phoned the number on the letter, and spoke with the nurse. I told her how angry I was with the tone of the letter, and informed her of the above. Her response was “in some cases, very active children can measure high on the BMI chart due to their muscle density.” I asked her why this wasn’t taken into account when she took the readings, and her response was, “I have to follow the guidelines in my books.” So in other words, she isn’t allowed to apply her own common sense to her professional duties. Whatever happened to medical professionals being allowed to form their own opinions? Why does every person they assess have to be pigeon – holed into categories? Don’t they understand that everyone is different, and sometimes don’t conform to the generalisations in their textbooks?

This reminded me of my psychiatrist’s comments. I was displaying the behavioural signs of an eating disorder, yet because I didn’t fall into the right category on his chart, my symptoms were dismissed. When someone is already obsessed with their weight, the worst thing a doctor can tell them is they weigh too much.

And it’s this blatant callousness that provides the ideal breeding ground for weight issues in young people. Had my son seen the contents of that letter, would he have become self conscious? Would we have found ourselves sitting in an outpatients department, being told by a so called professional that he weighs too much to have an eating disorder? Would we have had to sit next to a hospital bed, while my severely malnourished son was being force fed through a tube? And for what? A poorly worded letter, written by some idiotic nurse and her bullshit textbooks?

Early Detection 

I feel, and this is my opinion; that doctors are failing to detect eating disorders early enough, because of these stupid charts. They are presented with a patient who is displaying the early behavioural symptoms of an eating disorder, but because their weight hasn’t decreased to the point that they fall into the correct category, treatment is refused.

It’s difficult to say whether or not a full recovery is more likely, if doctors intervene before the patient’s weight is deemed to be at a dangerous level. But it does make me wonder.

The other thing that sticks in my craw about doctors, is they very seldom listen to their patients’ parents. Parents know their children better than anyone, and they know when something isn’t right. But because they don’t have a silly chart and a medical degree, doctors dismiss their opinions. My mother reeled off several alarming symptoms, yet my psychiatrist wouldn’t deviate from his chart. I didn’t belong in the right pigeon hole, so my symptoms weren’t taken seriously.

What’s The Solution?

Just like when I examined the issue of addiction, I have no one size fits all solution to anorexia. I can only apply my opinion to this, and make the following points:

  • young people who’ve experienced trauma should be monitored closely by responsible adults, and the development of any unusual behaviours addressed in a timely manner
  • the media should take more responsibility for the part they play in the development of eating disorders in their audience. Airbrushed photos should be banned, and models of all body weights and shapes should be used to promote products
  • the medical profession should base their diagnoses on the bigger picture, and not just a small aspect of it
  • district nurses should be allowed more autonomy to use their common sense to the medical assessments they carry out in schools. Again, their opinions should not be based on charts
  • parents should be supported, and their opinions considered seriously by medical professionals
  • the plus-size sections of clothes shops and online shops should be eradicated. This system promotes weight stigma and shame
  • social media should monitor what’s being posted more stringently. All photos, statuses or articles which promote stigma and bullying should be removed, and the perpetrators banned.

 

I hope this post has been helpful, and I invite you to discuss your opinions, experiences and suggestions on this subject in the comments section.