Tag Archive | life

Life: The Masquerade Ball

Since August 3rd I have been on a Contiki group holiday travelling from Los Angeles to New York.  At the beginning of this article, I am in a hotel abutting the beach in Panama City Beach, Florida.  For most people, this state of events is ideal and has the potential for wonderful times and indescribable adventures.  Sadly, as you will all have picked up by now, I am not most people.  Neither my brain nor my heart will permit me to compute the idea of a month of such glee or merriment.  I simply cannot stress enough just how frustrating it is to me that I so desire to join in the fun and have a great time with the new friends Pippa has made (for reason I address myself in 3rd person here, see..) and yet, there never comes a time when control of the requisite organs to appreciate my situation rests in my hands.  My illnesses are constantly usurping my power and forcing me to conceal the true madness behind the mask (yes, I am a Phantom of the Opera fan!).

The Pippa I was before I became medicated and up-to-a-point subdued and diluted would have been standoffish and shy to a fault, but eventually she would have found her feet and met her lobster (Friends has been playing on the coach!).  Sadly, the Pippa who survived assault and constant mental, emotional and physical abuse with scant comfort to punctuate the suffering, attempts to fit in and finds her lobster but buckles under the strain of being so constantly watched and masked in front of strangers.  That is what has happened in the midpoint of this wonderful trip that has been eagerly anticipated for years.

Precisely halfway through my sojourn abroad my mood took a nosedive.  My sleeping hasn’t been too bad, which can sometimes lead to depression, yet just before a wild night in NOLA (New Orleans), most of which I do not recall, I felt as though I had no reason to live.  I had just seen the most beautiful natural sight I’m sure I’ll ever see: the sunset over the bayou in Louisiana from an airboat floating on calm waters.  I’ve included one of the pictures I captured of the moment that nearly brought me to tears but though it is a cliché thing to say, you really did have to be there sitting at the front of the boat with spray hitting you and showing you just how alive you are at that moment in time.  I felt free and alone in a crowd.  It was perfection.  There was no pressure, there was no suffering, there was no thinking or living.  There was just being.  I thought it God’s gift.  Sadly, as I have previously said, the greater the gift from God, the harsher and greater the payment owed to the Devil.  The Devil took his payment in full not three hours later (even Faustus had more time to settle his debts!) when I determined to drink my way down the notorious Bourbon Street in New Orleans.  It has been said that I was “drinking like I didn’t want to live” and I am forced to agree with my travelling companions.  I did not want to live.  Life will never be as perfect or easy to deal with as it was on that boat in the middle of the swamp seeing a spectacular sunset, and somewhere, subconsciously, my broken brain told my broken heart that both should go down after a high like that and then my entire system was in agreement that Bourbon Street would be a location where I tried to die happy rather than England where I have attempted to die miserable many times.

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Louisiana Sunset

I remember the entirety of Bourbon Street, including the bulimic attack I had during a helping of gumbo.  I even remember being cogent enough to request the Uber to take me and my two friends back to our hotel.  The last thing I remember is getting into bed at probably about 2am, but after that, I have no clue what befell me or my roommate, though I am told I was a very abrasive drunk.

Drinking like I didn't want to live...

Drinking like I didn’t want to live…

Since then, I don’t know if I am almost disappointed that I am not dead or if I am just reacting to the poor opinion of me that the other passengers now have, but my mood has refused to be improved.  Despite my proverbial inhalation of my SSRIs and antidepressants, my bulimic attacks have not slowed up or gone away and I cannot get into the spirit of the trip as well as I was before I grew tired of wearing the mask that showed the rest of the world the portrait of a sane person, while beneath there resides a broken, bat-shit crazy bitch.

When I am back home, I wear a mask to a certain extent with people I do not trust or have only just met, but when you are spending a month in the company of the same people and without resorting to Facebook and Instagram stalking – something I refuse to do with my time – you have no idea who they really are as much as they cannot tell who you are.  When it’s a fortnight or less, it’s not so bad because I can keep it together (more or less…) for that duration of time, but I’ve never had to maintain a constant mask for over four weeks and to paraphrase the great Tennessee Williams, I’ve never had to depend on the kindness of strangers for so long.  It’s exhausting and it made me think about how often I don the mask and thereafter how long I wear it in the company of others.

I have since made up my mind and decided that none may know me as long as I live, save my children and the only love of my life.  They are the only ones with whom I feel – or will feel – safe.  As such, I wear a mask to all others to protect myself from being further broken and rendered unable to show my face to those who have to see it, who deserve to see it, who must see it.

Anyway, I’ll leave you all with that thought as I sit watching my roommate get ready to go to a club in Miami Beach that according to a club promoter I am too ugly, too big and not sufficiently “Miami” enough (yes, I am using Miami as an adjective that’s how low my self-esteem is currently, that without the mask I’m still too warped physically for the world that the Grammar Nazi in me has checked out for the night!).

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

20-08-2015

Holiday Blues

I am about to go to the United States with Contiki on Wednesday on what will be one of the biggest – and longest – adventures I’ve ever done.  That is my summer vacation (see, I’m already mastering the lingo!), but one holiday planned and approaching only makes me begin to think about my next one, which of course, for a British girl is Christmas 2015.

Christmas is a strange holiday, one about which I have mixed feelings.  When I was a younger girl I adored it.  Not because of the gifts or the great meal or because it was a time when family made the effort not to bicker and bite, but because it was a time when I was part of something…something great, memorable and important.  Ever since my paternal grandparents passed (my grandfather died quite some time ago, a nonagenarian and my nana died years after him in her 100s), Christmas has never been the same.  For a few years after, we still went up – as was tradition – to Whitnash in Warwickshire and had Christmas with my father’s sister and her family, but that did not last.  After that, the adults of the family (I was still at school and about 13 years old, I reckon) decided that presents would no longer be shared among everyone but that instead my father would give to his niece and nephew and my aunt and uncle would give to me.  Though, seeing as my cousins are closed in age to my mother and father than I am to anyone else, I was still the baby of the family and it still feels, as we haven’t had a ‘proper’ Christmas since that Christmas was another thing I loved that got taken away from me undeservingly and unwillingly.  I don’t get the wrapped gifts anymore, I don’t get to sit round a decorated tree and listen to the Queen’s speech (though admittedly that might be the thing I miss least!), I don’t feel the spirit of Christmas anymore.

My dad always says that Christmas is for children, so maybe as an adult I shouldn’t care or I should feel that it was only natural that Christmas should be cancelled as there’s no one younger in the family that celebrated Christmas together than me and I’m all growed up.  I disagree with my father.  Christmas isn’t for children.  It’s for family.  It’s for togetherness.  It is for home.  Just because members of the family who died naturally first are gone does not mean the world shuts down and what makes the living happy dies along with them.  If it did, wouldn’t the world be a depressing place?

I may sound callous, but I am one of the most unfeeling people, so I’ve been told, concerning death and sympathy for bereaved.  My motto is that people die and that’s the natural order of things.  I’ve felt grief but I have not the constitution or the mindset to let it claim me or take things away from me.  The most I have ever felt and constantly feel to this day concerning grief and the death of someone loved is that my godbrother died when he was only just out of school close to Christmas and I never met him but if he had not died I doubt my godparents would be my godparents.  So, the only thing I ever think is that if I could I would swap with him.  I never met him but the amount I love my godparents and their son and his family, I would do anything to spare them from losing such a valued member of their family, whereas if I could, I would gladly sell my wretched soul to the devil if he sent Tim back to his family.  You can tell from all the photos and painting of him that there was brightness and happiness in his soul, and he was taken before his time, whereas my soul is black as pitch and I’m still here to miss Christmas and lose my sanity bit by bit.  Why should I be here suffering when I so wish sometimes that I could be put out of my misery and many people could benefit from someone much better and much more loved than me taking my place on an earth that to him, I’m sure, would have been full of glee and unknown contentment?  And Christmases with his family…

Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked!  The point was that I feel things so differently from others because somewhere along my brain broke, that my feelings about the dead are so warped and confused that I hold the unknown dead so dear in my heart but cannot wrap my head around how the death of my grandparents resulted in the death of Christmas.

At Christmas time, the world is bombarded through social media with photos of happy celebrations and times spent with the family.  There are, naturally, instances where Christmas is a time of sadness and grief and loneliness as it has become for me, but usually pictorial evidence of that state of mind during the Yuletide rarely makes it onto the likes of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.  Actually, though the idea of suicides being more common in the Christmas holidays is shown to be a myth (see the links to the CDC report), as it has been found that the summer months actually see higher rates of suicide and suicide attempts than the winter.  However, for Christmas to be no more a time when I wonder why the hell I’m on this planet, traditional Christmases like I remember when I was in my formative years would have to resume.  I tried to make a go of it and force it myself, for who can you blame if you don’t make an effort yourself, yet I having Christmas in a student property in Exeter was almost twice as depressing because I actually plucked up the courage to invest my heart in it.  That was the last time I even contemplated trying to resuscitate the Ghost of Christmas Past and accept that what my Ghost of Christmas Future was showing me was a lifetime’s supply of Christmases travelling and forgetting that December 25th has any significance whatsoever.

Last year, I went to Morocco for the Christmas holidays on an Explore tour and as an Islamic country I saw maybe two Christmas trees maximum.  There was no atmosphere of the holiday at all and weirdly I loved it.  On Christmas Day itself, we arrived in Rabat and the Holiday Blues were starting to get to me a bit so I left the group for a day and explored the city on my own in my “Frozen” t-shirt with Olaf on the front saying “I like warm hugs”.  That was the only Christmassy element of that trip but I thought about what other families back home were doing and enjoying together and it made me realise I will never stop looking for that.  One day, I won’t have to save up to go travelling the Silk Road or Jordan or Ethiopia.  One day, the only thing I’ll have to save up for is turkey with the fixings for a family of my own.  That is a day I’ll love, but it still gets me down that I’m about as close to getting that day as I am to getting to hold my son in my arms.

Just for information’s sake, here are some useful links to articles and reports concerning Christmas holiday suicide and suicide epidemiology in general:

http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/suicide/holiday.html

http://www.samaritans.org/sites/default/files/kcfinder/branches/branch-96/files/Suicide_statistics_report_2015.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2040383/

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/taxonomy/index.html?nscl=Suicide+Rates

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

24-07-2015

Music of the Night

Softly, deftly music shall caress you

Hear it, feel it secretly possess you,

Open up your mind,

Let your fantasies unwind

In this darkness that you know you cannot fight,

The darkness of the music of the night.

So often I feel that life and living is simply a run.  It’s a run from the time you’re expelled from a womb to the time when you decay and die.  To get from A to Z you have to run, whether you choose to run towards death or away from it.  The irony is that I am as bad at running as I am at life.  Somewhere, sometime before my brain and heart broke, I couldn’t keep up with life’s pace and I slowed down, then stopped altogether.  Now, whether a hurdle tripped me up or I wasn’t fit enough or I ultimately decided I would not run, I got left behind.  Life, the living and all that encompasses left me behind.  Others who fall and fail and struggle through life, who cannot keep pace with the run of life, are tugged along by the other runners in the race, those who knew them, loved them – who would miss them – and saw them fall.  Nobody saw me fall.  Nobody looked back at me lying in their wake.  Nobody realised I was no longer in the race.  Someone had already won and I had already come last in that instant.  Now, I’m up and I am walking.  I am walking but nothing I, or anyone else, can do now will lessen the distance between myself and those ahead of me who might have knelt down and given succour.  So, when humankind forgets you are part of it and is complicit in your survival or lack of it, to whom or what do you turn so that you can keep walking towards death and find an end to the journey?  What is it that keeps you company on your long, dark, solitary odyssey that your life is to you with a broken brain and a broken heart?  The caress and possession of your mind, heart and body by music, the sweetest and darkest music that lets the burning in your muscles dwindle and is the balm to the crushing weight of the world’s dismissal and apathy of you on your shoulders.  Music is the door from this world where Pippa trudges to Calvary alone, no longer able to run with life, to the sacred world where Lucrezia and Cordelia sing with angels and thrive away from the great race in the night no longer “dark and full of terrors”.

My extended metaphor aside, I want to write about music today, seeing as I’ve been crying (inexplicably, I might add!) through three episodes from season 2 of Glee!  It was nothing in the show particularly that elicited such a visceral response from me but it’s a show that, despite being cliched, unbearably American and full of unrealistic teen drama (even from the adults), is about music and the joys of music healing people and bringing them together with other people, who would have left them behind or never known them and made a difference in their lives.  Can you see how this fits in with my metaphor dragged out above?  Just in case I’ve been too cryptic, I’ll spell it out: it’s a show about people falling, failing and fumbling their way through life but more than that, it’s a TV show about others picking you up and being aware that you matter, especially in the episodes aired in the aftermath of Cory Monteith’s tragic passing.

Anyway, back to music!

The first tunes I remember and the first moments of insurmountable joy I experienced during a melody were those of Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s composition.  I used to adore musicals and Kid’s Week in London was the highlight of my year.  Now, I find them just adaptations of better works and overly sentimental romances, but Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s works still hit a resounding note with me, despite the fact that I listen to them less and less.  Just to give you a rundown, of all his musicals, I have seen (though, even where I haven’t seen the show, I know of the songs, e.g. I have never seen Song and Dance but I have sung Tell Me On a Sunday):

  • Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (1968)
    • NB. also my first exposure to Donny Osmond, whom I love also!
  • Jesus Christ Superstar (1970)
    • At Chigwell School, this was one of the shows and I played trumpet in the orchestra
  • Evita (1976)
  • Cats (1981)
  • The Phantom of the Opera (1986)
    • I believe, other than the Joel Schumacher film, I have seen the show in London’s West End over ten times
  • Whistle Down the Wind (1996)
  • Bombay Dreams (2002)
  • Love Never Dies (2010)
    • NB. I saw this twice and the original ending (SPOILERS!) was that Christine dies and Gustave resides with his natural father, the Phantom, after losing his mother and I LOVED THAT!  Then, after a cast change and alteration to the musical, I saw it again and the ending was changed so that Raoul returns after leaving his wife and “son” and the Phantom lets Gustave return to the father he knew rather than stay with the father he knew no and I HATED IT

I have also seen all of the BBC 1 talent show-auditions for Andrew Lloyd-Webber productions and adored them, but I’m getting sidetracked by a delineation of the history of my fanatical following of Lloyd-Webber.  I’ll get back to proper writing now!

For my third form prom, I sang The Music of the Night from The Phantom of the Opera and for the reason that it speaks of how music brings a lonely, scarred, incomplete man love, a vocation and a life, I have never found another song to replace it in my heart.  Those lyrics that opened this article are words I long to sing and love to recall when nothing but music for a while (kudos to any music lovers who get that reference!) can soothe my achy, breaky heart.  (I am on fire with these references!).

The lyrics of the entire song are about transcending out of this banal and brutal world to one where fantasies can come to life and you can be who you are, not who you appear to be.  That is my life, through television, through film, through whatever I can find.  My need is to leave Pippa behind and become someone else who can feel love and give love in a world that is not going to find pitchforks and cages with which to punish me for being ugly, for being evil, for being a monster.  For, that is what you become when you fall and the run of life leaves you behind because no one living, who runs away from death and towards life itself, remembered to look for you or reach for your hand to save you, who are forced to begin the long march to death.  You become a monster and a beast with no salvation other than that you search and yearn for beyond this life and away from this earth that has forsaken you.

reaching-out-300x196LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

28-06-2015

 

Pippa AKA River Tam

I was watching the episode War Stories from Joss Whedon’s AMAZING series, Firefly, when it occurred to me that the quote in the little spotlight I put together is such a good expression of what I feel 99% of the time and what I am sure other people who suffer from depression and other mental health illnesses feel too.  For those of you who have never seen the show (and therefore have not lived!), it is only fourteen episodes long, plus the movie Serenity to tie it all off, because FOX cancelled it prematurely and a decision that is rage-inducing to all its fans still going strong today as Browncoats.  River Tam is the character played by the glorious Summer Glau who has her mind altered painfully by the government, leaving her lobotomised but clever, agile and more perspective than her other shipmates.  It never occurred to me until today how good a character she is for mental health illness sufferers to relate to, but I guess I’ve found another kindred spirit in a TV show.  Let’s face it, no matter how much I tried to believe it, I was never going to be the eternally happy Kaylee (Jewel Staite), was I?  No, best make myself into the lonesome, ostracised and damaged young girl that is River Tam.  That’s realistic thinking for you.

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Hope that speaks to you as much as it does to me!

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P.Mistry-Norman

02-04-2015

Many Happy Returns

I have had somewhat of a Jonah week and as such, I have decided to wish myself a happy birthday and congratulations for surviving yet another year of my existence without succeeding in topping myself, something that is in a big way due to LaBellaBorgia Speaks.  I do hope you like the little card I’ve designed myself and will wish me all the luck and pray for me to make it to my 23rd birthday!

Publication1

 

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

16-03-2015

The Day My Heart Broke

As you will have realised by now, this is the place where I share my darkest and innermost secrets and memories and experiences.  I have written of my virginity, my mental health illnesses, and the demise of my family and the dashing of the majority of my dreams.  So now I am going to share a very poignant and traumatic memory as I have currently gone off my pills in a social experiment to prove – somewhat self-destructively – to my mother that every time she takes away my tablets or chides me for taking them or the like, she is more or less instructing me or relegating me to suicidal tendencies and periods of severe and excruciatingly painful depression.  This memory came to mind particularly as I am getting a tattoo on the day after my birthday which has the date when my heart was broken irreparably.  29th May 2013.

Basic Hand of Fatima with Heart design by Ellie Hall

Basic Hand of Fatima with Heart tattoo design by Ellie Hall

So, as you can see from that date I survived it and have resigned myself to an unhealed heart and a life without the love of a partner.  People have called me weak, lazy, sensitive, crazy and a plethora of other negative and hurtful things over the years, but I may be all of those things (from time-to-time!) but my one redeeming aspect is that I am still here, I’m still fighting and I try every day to convince myself that driving a knife through my ugly body (seriously, I could be a study on physiognomy!) is a bad idea.

Many people with depression and other mental health difficulties fall when conversations like the one I’m about to share with all of you – and I hope you’ll read it with an open mind, as usual – occur, but I put myself out there and opened my breast to the dagger that was thrust into it.  I asked for it and though before I was dealt an almost fatal blow (I won’t lie, my emotions in the aftermath of the final part were all over the place and in the time directly after I read it all, my death was not far off) I am now glad I was told the truth so candidly.  For, although the 29th was one of the worst days of my life, in the beginning of June ’13 I had no false hope where the love of my life was concerned.  Yes, I still call him the love of my life because he is and will always be but now I do not live in the expectation of my feelings being mutual or reciprocated in any way.  I am content just still to be as much a part of his life as he’ll permit me to be.  So, when in films and television shows and books, some hero or heroine professes that they’ll be content just to be friends or a part of each other’s lives (Angel and Cordelia spring to mind initially…), most of them end up giving in to their feelings or someone inevitably will come round, the reality is that sometimes that just doesn’t happen and the heroine is left on her own and the hero finds his true love.  David Copperfield in this way is a fairytale, for in real life, Agnes would never get her David and the family she has with him.

Now, I guess I should stop stalling and writing about age-old books and Cordelia again and actually speak about Pippa.  This blog, after all, is called LaBellaBorgia Speaks and that’s me.  So please dig in to the following online conversation (so don’t worry about me recalling it all accurately or with exaggeration).


I know I’ve been distant lately and I feel I owe you an explanation, one which I am ashamed to admit I am too much of a coward to give you in person.  Please do read this in its entirety though I fear it will be lengthy because I do, more than anything and with no melodrama, wish you to know everything I have been feeling for years, which I have kept hidden, but I can’t anymore because to put it quite simply, it’s killing me.
I have always had few friends and God knows I can’t keep a new friend to save my life and understand me fully when I tell you that I seldom leave my house or flat if it is not with family or you.  To me you are my family and that fact has plagued me more than it has consoled me, for it has been apparent to me for some time (and I do not intend to be harsh, I merely say what is true) that I see you as vital to my existence, whereas I am not as important to you, which is the result of either you simply having more friends or it is because I am not the kind of person who can be needed to carry on each day, as you are to me.
I know my shortcomings.  I am difficult to know, needy, intolerant, deceitful and a whole host of other things and I know I exasperate you, but know that I could and would give anything for you and some of the most frightening night terrors I have are ones in which you leave me and I can do nothing to stop it.  That is the thing that frightens me most and so I hope you can grasp how hard it is for me to make this confession.
Recently I had lost my faith in the God who has kept me alive so far, yet when it seemed that something supplanted that faith I was confused.  It was the realisation that I believe in something much more powerful and much more personal than God and that is the power of you, me & x.  The belief I had that our friendship would be the strength of my life and the love that I clung to above all others was misguided, I see that now, because I expected too much.  I hoped you would be as devoted to me as I am to you two, but I overlooked a few things:  I am a woman and my nature is to be devoted (I did not get Materfamilias tattooed on my right arm for my own enjoyment); you two have so much more to live for than do I; as a woman, I am inclined to see others’ feelings and you two have never truly been privy to my own.
What I am about to say here has the potential to shake our friendship to its core and possibly to tear it down, but I am willing at this point to risk all (yes, I have been watching The Borgias too much!).  It pertains particularly to you.  I have never been particularly discreet about the fact that I love you and as more than a friend, but I don’t believe I’ve ever actually said that to you.  I do not confess this with any spirit of hope that my feeling are returned or may ever be, in fact it would please me greatly if you never loved me ever.  I would never want to ruin your kind, trusting and lovely soul, which is what I would do to it were you ever to allow me to and that would break my heart and spirit.  I feel so much for you that when you hurt and your nature doesn’t permit you to hold a grudge or bear ill will then I hate for the breaking of my own heart and then for yours.  The months after you and Lily hurt me in a way more than the months when you wanted her and that – believe me – is saying something.  The only and I mean the only reason I tell you this now is so that you understand the very heart of me and why I have done what I have.  When I couldn’t have you, I went after someone else and now I have terrifying flashbacks that have on occasion led to sedation and I’m not pinning blame, it was above all my own fault, but I settled and in doing so I made sure I would never be able to love anyone else but you.  I have spent years of my life learning you: what you eat, what you drink, how you feel and think, so that I can feel as though I am the one person who knows you above all even though I know that’s not true.  When you tell me that we can’t hang out, the thought that immediately falls into my paranoid mind is that I have done something wrong and I am hurt much like a girlfriend would be.  I know I’ll never be that to you, but I would ask that you don’t shut me out because of what I’ve just told you and know that every time you do my heart sort of breaks.


Well that certainly is a lot to go through, and I’m not going to lie, it takes a lot of guts to say all of that, it really does, and I respect that very much honestly. I don’t think I could do the same.

I guess I don’t really know exactly how to respond, I’m no expert at this stuff, but here goes. First off, I must admit I’ve known that you liked me as more than a friend for some time, and I do think, through nobody’s fault, it has caused something of a wedge between the two of us. This is not your fault, I know that when you like someone, no matter who they are or how ridiculous it seems, you can’t help it. You just do. And that’s totally fine. And I am only sorry that I don’t feel the same way. In a way, I do partially blame myself for this, perhaps it would have been the mature thing to tell you I didn’t feel the same way years ago, but for whatever reason, I didn’t, and I’m sorry for that. I love you like a sister, and that is God’s honest truth.
I also feel partially responsible for how, and it does feel this way, that we’ve drifted apart in recent times. I can’t make excuses, I think it is just, unlike both you and x, I am not someone to who emotion comes easily. I’m not good at expressing emotions, in fact I’m rather embarrassed by it, and so it is true that I sometimes choose to hang out with people who, like me, do not deal with things emotionally. Call it a cheap move, it’s just the way I feel sometimes, I’d rather avoid issues than solve them, and that isn’t fair. I feel I owe you an apology for several years of that.
But there’s one other thing you need to know, and that is that none of this will force us apart. I think this stream of confessions, bearing the soul and all that, will help bring us back to a kind of harmony that seems to have gone missing. We’ll all know where we stand, as such. Pippa, you are the older sister I never had, and though I’m afraid I do not see you in a different light, and that isn’t going to change, I would not want to be without you. I would say to you, and I accept how empty the words can sound, that you shouldn’t shut yourself off from people. You can make friends, I have seen it, even if you do find it hard, and you deserve to find someone special more than anyone I know. I accept it’s hard, and I do not expect you to change that overnight, but there’s a whole world for you out there, you just need to explore it, and I only wish you could. And now we’ve all laid our cards on the table, I have every faith that it’ll clear things up. There’ll be no more need to feel awkward or smoke and mirrors. We know how all three of us feels, in all honestly, and we can accept that as the way things are. I have every faith it’ll only make the three of us better friends.
So uh, I guess, that is me, doing my best at talking about stuff. I hope everything made sense. And hope to see you both soon


I’m now crying so hard I can barely see through my glasses, but it’s so worth me reading all that again.  It’s so cathartic for me.  I will just say that I know most of you readers will have no clue who this is, but I fear, that despite my preventative efforts, some of my acquaintances will surmise to whom I was talking, so please – for ME – keep the confidence of LaBellaBorgia Speaks, as he doesn’t read it and I doubt he ever will, but it’s where my soul and heart lies now.  It’s a broken heart but it beats here and thrives in the honesty and true life I can’t find away from the blogosphere.

I will say this final thing…I took some of his advice that day.  I have travelled and will carry on travelling the world searching for something to fill the void that is in my heart.  To name but the most memorable: I have seen the ruins of Carthage, inhaled the tanneries of Fes, glimpsed the Misty Mountains, felt Apollo’s sun beating down on me in Delphi, drunk Jack Daniel’s in Piazza San Pietro and watched the sunrise where the Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea meet.  That was good advice and when I spend the summer in the USA and January ’16 in Tuscany, I’ll be following orders, but one thing I would say now again is that to wish me on someone else and to want me to spend my life unhappy trying to love someone else with a heart that is not mine to give away is worse than what my mother does when she tells me to stop taking the tablets that keep knives in the kitchen and out of my bedroom.  What my mother does is condemn me to a painful, self-inflicted death, but what the love of my life does – unwittingly, as ever – is condemn me to a painful, living death that would be drawn out and have not one…but two victims.

That is something I’m not strong enough or malicious enough to survive or inflict on someone else and I’m so glad of that.  It means that tomorrow will be better and that I’m keeping someone else’s heart safe even when mine has been so amicably crucified.

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

25-02-2015

Help from a Housemate

I just wanted to share with you all another bit of kindness and love that someone gave to me yesterday.  My house-daughter and flatmate, Katie, came back from a weekend in Totnes and brought me back this postcard just to help me not be depressed and feel as lonely as I ever do.  I am always mildly surprised by the way my flatmates put up with my nonexistence and ornery presence in our home, but this a lovely thing to do that she didn’t have to, which makes it all the more special.  So today, after the success of Jack’s article about talking openly about mental health and helping people just because you can – and you know you can – I want to say thank you to someone who has helped me just by being their usual kind and lovely self. I’ll be sure to bring you something special back from the Game of Thrones Exhibition today.
10978631_10153549406676521_6646300915097484906_nLaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

10-02-2015

Words of Tender Loving Care (TLC)

Many people say stupid, dumb stuff to people who suffer from mental health issues and disorders.  I won’t – personally – dirty the homepage of this blog with them, so if you want to view the kind of thing I mean, check out this page: Worst Things to Say to Someone who’s Depressed.  What I want to focus on just a few days after 2015 has begun (Happy New Year, by-the-by…) is how much in 2014 and before that, people have helped me with their actions, but more importantly their words.  You will probably have heard the children’s rhyme: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me” but I am a firm believer that the opposite is true, succinctly, that physical violence and pain I can take but I can never forget and it takes me so long to forgive the words that come out of people’s mouths (including mine sometimes!).  A Bible passage that has always spoke volumes to me, ever since – in fact – I heard it paraphrased in the LuxVide TV movie, St. Paul, “It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man” (Matthew 15:11).  I realise that this is primarily concerned with imposing the rules on meat and foodstuffs on converts to Christianity and peoples who were not originally Jewish, but I found it so meaningful and applicable to someone, like myself, who does find that words sting more than whacks!

Anyway, the true reason for this mini-article/spiel is to thank all the people (not just the ones whose words are featured in the world cloud below) who have said kind, helpful and lovely things to me in the past year.  The most poignant and effective words that can swing me out of my depressive and anxious ruts are the ones that remind me of:

  1. the fact that I am/can be loved
  2. the bravery that I show by not killing myself every day
  3. the great number of people in the world – like me – who suffer from mental illness(es)
  4. the awareness that I have talents such as writing and compassion that are valued by others
  5. the kindness of people, people who don’t treat you like the broken soul you feel and the disaster you are

So, there you have it, in the spirit of the New Year and new pages being turned, this article is as positive as I can make it and I hope you will take a moment to peruse the passages written by family, friends and commentors in my oddly put together word cloud below.

Blog Word cloudLaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

04-01-2015

Let it Go

I am about to attempt something completely new and different (can you tell that’s the theme over the past week or so?).  I am going to attempt to communicate the way I feel about depression and social anxiety and coping with the aforementioned through music and a video blog.  So, this post is less wordy than my others but I hope you will play the video below and listen and see what it is I want to say but often am unable to.  Otherwise, stick around and the next post in my guest series will be up presently!

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

12-11-2014

Father Dracula

In the year of our lord 1442, the Turkish Sultan enslaved one thousand Transylvanian boys to fill the ranks of his army. These child slaves were beaten without mercy, trained to kill without conscience, to crave blood of all who defied them – the Turks. From among these boys, one grew into a warrior so fierce that entire armies would retreat in terror at the mention of his name, Vlad the Impaler, Son of the Dragon.  Sickened by his monstrous acts, Vlad came to bury his past with the dead and return to Transylvania to rule in peace. His subjects called him prince, I called him father, but the world would come to know him as Dracula.

The legend of Vlad Țepeș has been many things throughout the years: a horror story, a legend of atonement and sin, a vampire chronicle, a story of romance and loss.  However one aspect of the fact-based narrative that has rarely – if ever – been explored is the role of Vlad Dracula as a father.  As I sat today watching the new Legendary Pictures and Universal Pictures release, Dracula Untold, I found myself utterly enchanted until the epilogue section which will henceforth be unmentioned, with the movie that saw Luke Evans play Vlad Dracula the Father.

Vladimir Dracula (Evans) with his son, Ingeras (Parkinson)

Vladimir Dracula (Evans) with his son, Ingeras (Parkinson)

I sat down to this film with my best friend as one of our traditional Matt-Pippa movie excursions and so I was by no means depressed or morose when the film commenced.  A happier and less depressed person would have grasped onto the historical or west vs. east themes of the film, which I did eventually, but for me, it was the sheer raw emotion displayed that caused my poor old ticker to palpitate in my breast.  With the initial voiceover by the Impaler’s son (see block quote), it felt crystal clear to me as a slightly deranged and basket case of a viewer that fatherhood and the father-son relationship was the crux (no pun intended!) and the heart of the movie.  It is – in short – what sets it apart and bears it aloft from the commonplace and slightly boring modern vampire films that have reformed the image we have in the 21st century of the vampire.

As a daughter of a delightful father, whom I adore to the ends of the earth, I am incredibly drawn to the father figure as painted onscreen, but as the daughter of a father who often did not raise arms and try to move heaven and earth to protect me, I was taken in heart and soul by the powerful and sacrificial father image that Dracula Untold created.  I have no desire to detract from your enjoyment of the film and all its wondrous surprises and positives by illuminating its plot too much so I’ll endeavour as best I can not to divulge too much as I write now.  That having been promised, the story about the drive of the royal prince who has to fight the Turkish threat and offer up his soul, his kingdom, his subjects and his reputation in order to safeguard his child is too enchanting for someone in my position not to elucidate.

Vlad the former Impaler who occupies the screen for the first section of the film reminds me of my father: at home in Castle Dracula during a ten year peace and happy with his queen and son having suffered extensively during his own formative years.  It is the Vlad who refuses the Turks what they demand as the cost of peace that made me smile and almost weep in my seat.  He defies the greater threat, a threat that has the potential to wipe out everything and everyone he holds dear, when the price of peace grows too dear.  It is his love for his family, his respect for his wife and his unconditional love for his son that drives him from this point forward despite his underlying yearning for peace.  The ultimate draw of the character is that his paternal and visceral need to protect his offspring outweighed and conquered his preference for peace in his land.  I can only say that I would be very different now if in the 21st century and without the magic and the devil and a pressing Turkish invasion, my father had valued my sanity, my unscarred body and what my future might be above serenity in Theydon Bois.

So, you see during this film instead of feeling for and finding myself in the shoes of the mother, unusually and refreshingly for me, I felt more kinship with young Ingeras.  This certainly put things in a different perspective than usual and instead of feeling the force of a natural maternal love, as I did in Brave, The Borgias and Angel (to name but a few!) I found myself in a role of vulnerability and the unconditional love of a child and feeling as a child does as my mind flew into the media and put down roots there.  That is not to say that the feelings of Mirena never took rest in my mind – they did – but it was ever linked to the child and a child’s link with his father.

The questions that floated around my mind during the film were: what will my children do without a father to protect them?  How can I possibly hope or think it’s possible for me to protect them by myself?  Will I be enough?  Is it selfish and heartless and unbelievably evil of me to knowingly bring a child – or children – into this world to face it without the love and pride and protection of a father?  Understand that if during a movie that is essentially about a vampire prince in Wallachia, I can be ruminating those questions, precisely how unstable and mental I am and why I need this blog to get some of the crazy out of my brain.  What is especially troubling still is that a piece of media can still get into my head and lay all its babies there and turn me into a blithering, blubbering, bawling shell of a person just because a vampire is a daddy!

So you see how the maternal-paternal-filial feelings have all come together in the aftermath of me watching this film to a head.  My children – I know and promise to every higher power and the cosmos – will have all the love I can give and will never have cause to doubt their mother’s love, but what plagues me now is that although I will give them the best godfathers, uncles and grandfather I can, I want them to know that if anything should happen to me, then a father on this earth will fight to its ends for them.  I say that knowing and being certain that I cannot ask nor expect their godfathers to do that for my children.  That frightens me more than anything; that something will take me away from my children and they’ll end up living the same life I do, not knowing if anyone really loves me or if the world is really against me or I just have that kind of luck.  Then, what I have sworn never to do and have often said to my mother, that I would die before I created another me, I will have failed dismally and utterly and it’ll be infinitely worse than failing myself or my parents or my friends because I’ll have created through my own means and by my own will, tortured children who will never be whole, all because I wanted a family of my own and then failed to protect them and ensure their secure future.  That is what Dracula Untold revolves around: the legacy of leaving a safe life for your children no matter the cost or what stands in your way.

That’s why, I guess, I invest so much heart and mind in these sci-fi & fantasy shows, books, and films that have these awesome father figures that possess magical powers or vast armies or some superhuman (or all of the above!).  Angel is the vampire with a soul father to Connor, John Crichton is father to baby D’Argo with the knowledge a whole galaxy wants in his brain, Noah Bennet adopts Claire and exercises his influence to protect her and that’s just fathers in Angel, Farscape and Heroes for you to consider.  Vladimir Dracula as played by Evans, like Angel, other than being a vampire, alternates between being good and bad, light and darkness and right and wrong, illustrated ever so clearly in his final showdown with Mehmed II (played – vexingly, I might add – by Dominic Cooper) where the adage, “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter,” (Harry’s Game, G. Seymour, 1975) has never been so apt.  This is not least due in part to the fact that they symbolise a clash between east and west and Christianity and Islam, which I found a bit on the head due to the threat from ISIS currently experienced by the world, but nevertheless, it presented me with an interesting conundrum.  Although Vlad is undeniably set up as the protagonist and Mehmed as the “cardboard” (Matt’s word) villain, in the final fight where perhaps conventionally. we would usually side with the man who didn’t sell his soul and his eternity to the devil, oddly, we find ourselves rooting for Vlad as he fights for his son’s future and to keep the promise he made to his wife.  Much like Buffy the Vampire Slayer is ironic as it is now the pretty (meh) blonde girl chasing the monsters with a knife, the inversion of a supernatural heroic villain fighting a foreign threat who is – in this film, if not in history – represented as a bit of an arsehole for his family made me ask the question: can – and should – a father simply be good?  Mine certainly was and is, but I don’t know if I would have the mental and physical and psychosomatic problems I do now if my father had had a bit of evil or darkness in him enough to wage a bit of a war for me against the arseholes (myself included!) that turned my life into the circus it is today.  I know that Mirena is portrayed in the gothic setting of Dracula Untold as the stereotypical mother and damsel in distress and therefore, she is not characterised or shown, at least, to have any flaws or darkness within her – it’s all in her husband!  So, the question of whether a mother can be innately good and sin-free never really entered my mind during the feature film, for Mirena does appear to be the perfect, almost fairytale if in an Angela Carter setting, mother.  Vlad, however, in order to be a good father to his son (and, indirectly a good husband to his wife) is required to turn a bit evil, if initially temporarily and with the potential for redemption, so I just wonder if when a mother has a pristine soul, a father has to be bad, or if a father just has to have that hint of darkness in order to be the strong, virile protector he has to be.  Needless to say, it’s something I’ll be thinking about for a while and I doubt I’ll ever reach a cast iron decision on my opinion on the matter, but I will say this: the darkness within my mother has never in my life been a darkness used to protect me and the light within my father has not protected me from her darkness either so as a future single parent, I aim to be a light shade of grey and thus tone down the darkness from how strong its pigment is at the moment.  That is all I can do for my children: not be my mother and not be my father, but have the darkness of my mother and use it the way a father like Dracula did in the film for their good and to have my father’s light and accept it as the good in my soul the way the mother in Mirena does to counteract the strong and masculine darkness in Vlad.

I hope this article hasn’t bored you to death as I skirted around the plot of Dracula Untold and that I haven’t dissuaded any of you from seeing it, if you haven’t already!  I will conclude by saying that we all have monsters residing within us but it is whether we allow them to have the active or passive role in our lives that defines us as people and as children and as parents.  The right kind of darkness can be a force of light and the wrong kind of light can be detrimental.  Don’t judge someone’s darkness because it is not an obvious asset to them – it may be the only thing keeping them alive because that’s certainly what the darkness in my soul is to me.

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P.Mistry-Norman

15-10-2014