Archive | January 2014

Talk with the Conservative MEP for South West and Gibraltar, Julie Girling

Talk with the Conservative MEP for South West and Gibraltar, Julie Girling

My flatmate actually managed to get me out of the flat for once and took me to the Conservative Future talk that concerned the UK and our current and future relationship with Europe and the EU. Was a small group talk and had my roommate there so was the perfect first social activity for me to try and get out more after a couple of very secluded weeks!

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

31-01-2014

The End of the Beginning

I’m going to do a couple of posts over the next few days centering around specific moments of psychological breakdowns since I have started attending the University of Exeter continuing until the present.  Have no fear of being exposed to every deep, dark and dirty moment from the past three years; I am simply planning to lay out my rock bottom moments, one for each year.  I believe they might be good indicators of how the disorders develop and how I dealt with their consequences with an increasing amount of assistance from various university services.

As Maria teaches in “The Sound of Music”, the beginning is ‘a very good place to start’, so let’s commence by returning to a night during the third term of my Fresher’s year when the world began to seriously spin out of control.

A manifestation – the very worst kind – of my social anxiety is hallucination.  It happens but rarely, however, I challenge you to remain calm when see what you think are real shadows coming out of the darkest places of your rather large studio flat to scare and get you.  On one of my many sleepless nights alone in Birks Grange Village, I started to see things and called Estate Patrol when I fled my flat and sought refuge in the cold night (or it might have been early morning by that point) air.

The amazing and compassionate estate patrol people put me back into my room and stayed at my side, first confiscating my kitchen knives, until another wellbeing services worker came to talk me down and sit with me until dawn.

During the time she sat with me, I managed to self-soothe…eventually and regain my self-control.  She even helped me get back outside as I had not left my flat for a week and that entails only eating Domino’s pizza (imagine how much I was spending) and not being able to face leaving to take my rubbish outside, so also image the state of the place, though to be honest, you may not wish to.

Where some people have brilliant experiences in student halls, I did not.  It was not through any out-of-character behaviour of the people I shared the corridor with, it was more that I did not make a good and sociable first impression and that my room was right at the end of the corridor and not at the door end, which would have been helpful!  It meant that I had to walk the length of the corridor to get out and the other occupants of the first floor preferred to stand or sit in the corridor and socialise.  The sitting was fine though it meant I would stay in my room, but the standing on either side, something I came to call ‘forming the gauntlet’ as I am a fan of C.S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower series, was petrifying for me.  It felt like I was being constricted and watched by them and I knew they were all friends as they got up to some loud and drunken games during the night most nights of the week, so it was pretty difficult to take for a quiet, isolated girl.

So, you can see just through what I experienced culminating in that night in my first year that not only is depression expensive and results in an incredibly unhealthy way of living but also that with help (and admitting to begin with that you require it!) the cycle of self-loathing, fear and denial can be broken.

Before I wrap this up for today, I would just like to praise the university’s Estate Patrol for rescuing me and knowing how to deal with me properly.  The lady who came to see me was part of the university’s emergency response team, but I don’t recall what division specifically, but whatever category they fall under, they do brilliant and crucial work in and around the campus.  She was the one who told me to get an appointment with the best doctor I’ve ever seen and continue to see at the Student Health Centre and even came with me to my first appointment, so I really do owe every positive step I’ve made since that horrific night to that woman, Estate Patrol and my doctor.

Thank you for reading!

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

31-01-2014

Great minds…erm, malfunction alike?

I mentioned before that my doctor was surprised at how many students at university suffer from depression and anxiety and I felt today was the right time to consider more how I felt about that as some rather surprising news came my way the other day and I have been so preoccupied with other affairs that make me fret more that I filed it away to be worried about in due course.  Well, now is the time!

My friend group has always been somewhat of a mish-mash of personalities, shapes, sizes and talents and I adore all my friends so much for just that reason.  We are a strong group because we all provide different things to the group.  Yet a few of us have one thing in common: recent, past or current suffering from depression and I find that really intriguing.  This is specifically the group of friends I have just managed to retain from school thanks to my best friends also being in Exeter and succeeding in keeping me in the loop, I will get on to my minuscule university friend group in good time.

I can count just now in my head (don’t worry I haven’t kept a spreadsheet!) five people in my friend group, including myself, who suffer/have suffered from depression and please enlighten me if this is perfectly normal, but having been reliably informed that I have a rather unique group of friends who are more my family than anything else, I do find it curious that such a large ratio of us have/had the same mental disorder.

I could blame it on environment or upbringing, but I will do a separate post on my alma mater at some point and between us we go from the working class to upper middle class quite nicely so upbringing simply cannot be the common factor.  The only common factor is the depression itself – the way I see it, anyway – and I am more convinced of this on account of my university chums.

Now, I just ought to state clear-as-crystal that I do not seek out like-minded people and befriend them as best I can.  I’m not insane you know?  *Wink*  Hence, why it has surprised me so much when yet another person I know reveals themselves to be depressed and it has happened frequently enough for me to notice.  

I wonder if there is something in the manner or even pheromones (but I’m not scientifically minded enough to speculate more about that!) of depressed people that lets other sufferers know that they are not alone and are safe, even if it’s simply a manner of sitting or speaking, there is a visceral and subconscious message sent out, like a cell broadcast that is transmitted to all the depressed people in a 10 metre radius.  Sorry, I’ve just been reading a lot of Aristophanes recently, so the metaphors and similes are coming a bit too naturally at the moment!

The presence of depressed people in my university-specific friend group is extraordinary and almost incomprehensible to me, as the net has been cast even wider yet the catch is still kippers (see what I mean with the metaphors!).  I had to interrupt my studies last year so that I could be less suicidal away from home and I know a few people who had to do the same for similar, if less drastic, reasons, but what a coincidence it is…yet I wonder if Albert Einstein has it right:

~ Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous ~

I am a Quaker at heart and an ignorama (I’m over declining again, aren’t I?) to a fault, but I do believe in a higher power – God, if you will – and it is the greatest comfort believing that somewhere out there, someone is taking care of people who need it by gathering people together.

That was a bit of a happier post and less dark and dreary than the previous ones, but I hope it gave you something to think about nevertheless.

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

30-01-2014

Motherhood

“In a child’s eyes, a mother is a goddess. She can be glorious or terrible, benevolent or filled with wrath, but she commands love either way. I am convinced that this is the greatest power in the universe.”

~ N.K. Jemisin, “The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms”

At this point, I would just like to shed a bit of light on my relationship with my mother.  Over my life I’ve met a few people with notable mother-child relationships.  Some people are lucky enough to have a mutually loving relationship with their mothers, others have mothers who adore them but they cannot love them back and vice versa.  I don’t know which of these broad categories my mother and I fit into but I am going to try and pinpoint it in this post – if I can…

My childhood was traumatic.  It felt incredibly harsh and almost as if it didn’t exist at all.  I still swear that when I was twelve years old I was at my most mature.  I am an only child born to parents who were already looking at their prime in the rear-view mirror at the time of my birth.

I am not laying any blame for how I’ve turned out at my parents’ feet, I just feel it is a contributor to the negative as it is to the positive as well and thus, needs to be shown as part of what happens to make a young adult with such a cocktail of mental disorders.  

I will start by saying that my relationship with my father is uncommonly strong.  We talk almost everyday for about an hour each time and I love my daddy.  Even when both of us – since neither of us are the most talkative of folks – run out of things to say, it is one of the most comforting things for me just to know that my father is on the other end of the line just listening to me and spending time with me.

Contrarily, my mother and I do not have a solid or stable relationship at all.  When I was in school, I attended counselling to deal with various problems that – I feel – stemmed from how I felt about my mother and how I perceived her feelings for me.  I am not going to lie about anything here to make people feel better or to sugarcoat what happened.  This is my story and I intend to tell it how it really happened, though, there are two sides to every story, but I’m telling mine.

When I was a child I was hit.  There, I’ve said it.  I was slapped for things I did wrong, I was hit for making mistakes.  It was a time when it was acceptable for parents to smack their children and some of my friends had the same punishment tradition at their homes and a few claim to be glad that their parents struck them as it supposedly made them disciplined, but I do not share in that view.  I don’t at all.  I think it is the most loathsome and cowardly thing to strike a child and there is no excuse for it whatsoever.  It literally makes me weep when articles come up in newspapers and headlines come up on news channels telling the story of some poor innocent child being killed by negligent parents or being beaten to death.  I am thus not even capable of thinking about hurting a child and I am quick and harsh to judge people who do.

The fear a child can have of their mother is a horrible thing.  I was plagued with night terrors all through my formative years and they’ve only just begun to dissipate now with the help of medication and audiobooks, actually.  Some of my earliest memories are of running through my parents’ bungalow from my mother.  It is what prompted me to ask for a bunk bed at Christmas and what makes me still need to lock my bedroom door at home in order to get a decent night’s kip.  Never underestimate how a ladder can keep you safe when your mother has a back problem!

The annoying and incredibly vexing aspect of the relationship my mother and I share is that it is so changeable and difficult to read.  One of my former best friends once told me that every child is genetically predisposed to love and cling to their mother and I suppose that is true. She is a graduate psychologist so I might as well take her word for it.  This primal instinct is what keeps me coming back and never being able to truly let go of the aspiration that one of these days, my mother and I will put everything behind us and stop this endless cycle of cruelty that has been fostered for two whole decades…hopefully, while I’m still young!

Some days, my mother is the ideal mother, she is a fantastic cook – honestly, no one can make as nice a proper Indian prawn curry as my mum can.  On those days, no one loves her more than me.  Sadly, those days are few and far between…most of the time, my mother despises me and resents me and blames me for everything that has gone wrong in her life.  When I was born, she was kept in hospital due to a badly done epidural and I was a sick baby so I was a nightmare and a problem then too, but I think that possibly due to that separation so soon postpartum, our relationship was affected permanently.

On the days when my mother is a gorgon sent from Tartarus, it is not even worth stepping foot outside my room just to be called fat and huge and useless and weak.  This is the ultimate point of what the relationship with my mother has done to contribute to my condition.  It is not the words or the actions themselves, it is how intimidating and memorable those insults and strikes are when you are literally at rock bottom and have to work up to no self-esteem.  That is the effect of a poor mother-daughter relationship on a depressed, socially anxious and mythomanic child who didn’t quite manage the transition to young adult as easily as it’s done in “The Sims”.

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

28-01-2014

Amor Numquam Moritur

I had a pretty rough and depressing evening.  I stupidly got angry at this blog because I couldn’t understand what it was for and I was only two posts in.  I got turned down for more social occasions that are hard for me to even suggest because everyone else in my life is busy and has plans, which I really can’t blame them for.  Instead, I blame myself for not being well enough to be thought of to involve in said plans.

Another thing that dawned on me was how much I use Facebook to vent and what a clot I must seem to my friends who still glance over my statuses (stati?) now and again.  I ended up hacking away at my arm and my wrist just to remember what it is like to live and have blood that exists somewhere else and not in my mind….does that make sense?

The earlier comments are all of love and support but then, intriguingly (and retrospectively!) the comments turn to exasperation and sheer tiredness of hearing how P. Mistry-Norman cannot cope with life and how she can’t set foot out of doors anymore.  One of my old school chums made the point that people are too consumed in their own lives and problems to give much of a damn about mine, which is true, I guess, but it took me by surprise and made me think on that worrying and depressing notion.

I wonder that with all the social networking sites swanning around nowadays like Facebook, Twitter and all the others, the blogosphere included, that to be more social on a cyber front, we all sacrifice our ability to see with our real and tangible eyes bit-by-bit or just switch it off. Every time I pay a visit to my immensely supportive GP, he asks me why so many people in his own university doctor experience feel so isolated and why people just can’t show that they care anymore.  An intriguing thought…reflect on it for me and if you have any responses, leave a comment (see, I’m making social progress via the Interweb, yet I am still sitting in the same spot I have been for four days!).

Anyway, on to the title of this post, which I am sure you’ve noticed has had no relation to the prior words.  For the classically educated among you, you may be able to translate the Latin which means “Love Never Dies”.  I did not choose this phrase simply by typing into Google ‘cool quotes for blog post titles’ – no…  If you are a friend you might be aware that I carry those words around with me everyday and they never leave me but for stepping into showers.

Those three words are on a ring, a silver band, that sits in perpetuity on the ring finger of my left hand.  Strange choice of location, you might say, since that spot is generally reserved by society for the wedding and engagement rings.  It was no accident that I chose to place it there.

My opinions on marriage tend to shock and surprise my friends and family but I am not ashamed of them at all.  I have only ever been in one semi-serious relationship and I know and have known for four years that I will never be in another relationship as long as I live.  Most people who say this are victims of rape or abuse, but don’t go imagining such fates for me, please, not when nothing of the sort occurred.  For a time, I was happy, I lost weight, I felt alive but as everything does, it came to an end and I reflected on what I had learnt and experienced in the few months when I wasn’t single.

I am too independent for a relationship with another adult.  I pride myself on needing very little social contact, mostly because very little is available and I’ve forgotten how to be around people, and I adore people-watching.  Now, people-watching is something most people relish, even if they’re not impersonating Sherlock Holmes and trying to work out if the guy in front of them in some queue or other is an alcoholic.  This activity has made me realise that so many people are treated poorly and give up so much of themselves in relationships and I’ve seen relationships play out and leave so much destroyed in their wake.  If I were to sacrifice anything else of myself, I would quite literally be a shell and I have no desire to chain another human being to myself.  I get enough love and attention from the characters that I bring to life in my mind (more on that later…).

Anyway, going back to those three words in a dead language and a time-honoured tongue. It is my wedding ring that sits on my finger, for I will never don a true wedding band so why let the space go to waste?

It reminds me that though I feel utterly alone 99.9% of the time, I have one love that will endure everything and is the one thing that constantly forces me to stay my hand when it is holding a knife and that is the love for my children.

‘Children?  Children?!’ I hear you say and wonder how someone as twisted and unstable as me could possibly even consider being a mother to children.  Well, the plain truth of it is, we all have dreams and so many people over the course of my life have scoffed at my dreams of one day just being a mother and having a real family to call my own and cling to.  It is a shame that even hoping to have an alternative family is an offense to some sensibilities but even though I still keep a baby boy doll at the end of my bed just to remind me that I have to survive because my dreams aren’t out of reach yet, I still deserve the chance to have my undying love.

So many films and tv series that I have watched and thrown myself into focus on the love a man has for a woman and vice versa: the ultimate love story, but I beg to counter that a much sweeter story is of parents caring for their children because that is the only love which never dies, or it is – at least – to me.

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

27-01-2014

A Medium Mind

One of the reasons the subtitle of this blog is “An insight into a medium mind” is that part of my condition means that I spend hours, if not days, not being myself.  I do not mean that I simply feel unwell or off-kilter, in fact, what happens is that I truly forget who I am.

Over the twenty years which I have spent on this planet, I have – just as everyone does – experienced hardships and problems that have made being myself and accepting my lot in life incredibly hard.  This is where what I call (yes I am a “Miranda” fan!) my medium mind enters into the equation.

Medium has two meanings:

1) synonymous with mediocre and average

2) the singular of media, entailing TV, movies, journalism and literature.

It is the second of the two that I associate my own mind with.  For, whether I am deeply ensconced in an Austen novel or glued to “Firefly” on the television, I have left P. Mistry-Norman far behind in the real world.  It is in this way that my mind becomes its own medium and portrays a story, just as a television screen would.

Now, I know this sounds preposterous and fanciful, hence why I have never revealed this fact about myself to anyone for fear they would deem me insane, but instead of it being a negative aspect of my disorder, I have – over the years – found it to be quite the opposite.  It helps me to cope with things I find to be insurmountable and devastating in the real world.

I am not going to go into too much detail about this at the moment, especially since I am currently feeling quite like my old self, but I fully intend to track my delusions when they are next made manifest.   

I would just like to request anyone reading this blog at this time to keep an open mind and not judge me too harshly for “inflicting my opinions on the world” as it was put in “Sherlock” recently.

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

26-01-2014