Tag Archive | nerves

Three Years Later…

It feels strange returning to my former lifeline almost three years later to the day when I haven’t given so much as a glance to LaBellaBorgia Speaks in just as long.  There was a time when I depended on this space for care, for self-help, for self-preservation and readers, sympathisers and even medical professionals came to me through this medium to support me and keep me fighting.  I am as yet undecided as to whether this hiatus was wise or no…for maybe if I’d come back and pushed some of my shame and sadness onto this page, the cup may not have runneth over (not the usual implication of that adage, but I’m running with it) and my mind may not have breaketh into millions of pieces.

Yes, as you will have gathered, only in times of disaster and near-death do I come to this space so my presence belies the tumultuous events of the past weeks and this post is a harbinger of death and doom (sorry!).

Let me give you a speedy update of life from 2015-2018 to paint the picture…

Upon my return from the USA, I began my career in the wine industry, which is my true second passion.  As you will recall, teaching did not pan out (when does Plan A ever?!).  This was a happy time filled with new experiences and the beginning of my true passion for wine and the industry that has been my home professionally thenceforward.  I now work as an Assistant Manager within the Jeroboams Group in which I’ve worked for just over a year and enjoy purveying quality wines to the discerning London drinker.  Personally, I still have not found love but I am not sure I’ve ever truly applied myself to looking for it or being open to it.  Also, I no longer live in a windowless room in Essex with my parents but am the proud occupant of a spacious room – with two windows, no less – in Leytonstone, London in a house-share with two of my dearest friends.  I still travel extensively and since graduating, have been to numerous places in Europe, Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan, Israel and Palestine and am looking forward to visiting Ethiopia and Colombia in the near future.  I have more or less kept the same friends, though there have been some welcome and indispensable additions – yes, Jeroboams girls, I am talking about you here!

All-in-all, life hasn’t been too harsh a mistress this past three years.  Sure, I’ve had my skirmishes and battles, but who hasn’t who has chronic mental health issues?  I’ve wept with pride as I’ve watched this war-torn and wretched world make gargantuan strides in destroying the stigma associated with mental health and general acceptance of the shades of grey that permeate 21st century society.  Obviously, there’s still a way to go but this is one global issue that is been well-tackled.

I will say that despite these strides and new equal opportunities initiatives in the workplace, I have never once disclosed my disabilities.  I am no fool and my worldview is not so naive as to make me believe that if I did companies would be clamoring for my presence.  It is a secret I have kept in my professional life for three years and now I know what the shelf life is on that kind of repression…three years, funnily enough.  I wish to God I had and this whole sordid mess could have been avoided.

A month ago I began to feel the claws scratching away at the wall erected to keep away the crazy and keep it hidden from view.  I tried my damnedest to shore up the gaps and brace the wall but the fall was inevitable and I was always going to lose that fight.  Needless to say, when the wall came tumbling down, I went down notoriously, in flames and feeling the world of hurt.  When an anxiety disorder allies with dysthymia and overwhelms the mind’s defenses, the fallout is going to be nuclear and when you haven’t told anyone, the stress of your loved ones, your coworkers and those you respect finding out your shame, carefully concealed for years and buried deep, is the radiation poisoning that holds you down.

I don’t know that I’ve taken weeks to rally since I was eighteen or nineteen.  It’s a renewed and utterly unwelcome sensation to be rendered so powerless and so beleaguered by nervous spasms when I try to venture outside, by anxiety attacks so potent they leave my arms weak and trembling for hours after, by hallucinations in the night so real they scare the sleep from me, by periods of depression so acute my lungs hurt from sobbing.  I believed I was strong, so strong to keep all my shame buried far from the eyes of others but I was stupid, more stupid than I’ve ever been and now I barely see an end in sight and even if I make it through, I don’t know what I’m going back to on the other side.

There have been two things, two simple things that have tugged me from one day into the next over the past week since – big confession now, guys – I threw myself down the stairs on Monday (I’m fine, I have a bump on the head and some soreness but that’s about it).  Just two.  Neither of them are particularly deep or difficult to find, but they were everything I had and all I could find for myself in the moments when I truly and honestly knew there was no succour to be found on another shore or with another soul.  I think I’ve always known that in my darkest times, I am alone.  I have no partner, no BFFFFFFF, no kindred spirit that’s coming for me if I call.  I am made stronger because and no one else pull myself up from the brink with whatever tools I can find.  This time round, I went to two things that have never let me down in the past: music and TV.

I started singing and playing the autoharp again, having let it sit and gather dust for a year.  I didn’t care that my window was open and I was singing the likes of ‘Wake me Up’ (Avicii), ‘Ten Thousand Miles Away’ (Bellowhead) and ‘Carry on Wayward Son’ (Kansas) to the population of Leytonstone at the top of my voice.  I didn’t care that my voice is not as good as it used to be.  I remembered happier times making music when I was younger and singing with people I loved and who loved me in return before we lost each other along the way.  It was a reprieve – a much needed, welcome respite from the struggle.  Step one of recovery accomplished: return to a happier place in your mind and “lay your weary head to rest” until “you cry no more“.  (See what I did there…?)

That segues into step two so beautifully I may cry (again)!  As you might have seen from previous posts, I fling myself into other worlds and fictional characters when Pippa no longer has the strength.  TV is a huge, humongous, great, large, monumental, gigantic, elephantine, immense draw for me.  I’ve said this before and I’ll keep saying it until the day I take my own life, TV is the perfect medium for anyone that suffers with anything like what I do.  This is naturally my opinion, but I swear by it and live my life by it.  TV has the power to draw your attention away from your trembling hands, heaving chest, pulsing brain for any amount of time you wish.  For a short recovery time, you only need a miniseries or a couple of TV films perhaps.  For a bit of a bender, you need something long, thought-out and completely immersive (not sure that’s the correct nomenclature, but I’m going to run with it).  I found Supernatural!  After many years of letting it go on and on, I finally delved into the depths of the Winchester Bros’ adventures and upon realising that no.1 on the call sheet for the 14-season strong show, Mr. Jared Padalecki, has had his own battles with mental health and suicide, it spoke to the very centre of my soul.  Yeah, it’s a show about battling demons and angels (really love it on a modern exploration on Christian theology by-the-by, but I digress!), but it’s a show about struggling with inner demons, family issues, work-related drama, nonexistent self-esteem and fear at its very core and that’s why fans adore it, it’s why the cast and crew adore it (I’ve watched more hours of Supernatural convention footage than is advised) and it’s why it’s the longest running Sci-Fi & Fantasy show since records began.  Other than the plot points and intricate character arcs that take place over the many, many seasons, the show comes with the real-life hero of Jared Padalecki, which, unusually has been more of a help than the fictitious elements he portrays along with Jensen Ackles et. al.  Going off-piste for a brief moment, I suggested a while back that the unfortunate souls who live amongst us with mental health issues manage to gravitate to those of like minds and not always knowing it is taking place.  I guess I feel this way about my own immersion into Supernatural.  I did not know that the show had such a direct and well-known link towards mental health issues and charities etc. until I reached season 6 (about 4 days ago.  I’m now on season 10 – make of that what you will).

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Slogan from the March 2015 Supernatural/Jared Padalecki campaign 

Listening to the cast support their leading man as he visibly and notoriously succumbed but then rallied only to honestly vocalise his feelings and experiences and raise campaigns and funds to help others…there are no words I have that can express the irrational hope, kinship and inspiration to ‘Always Keep Fighting’ (the slogan for the J. Padalecki/Supernatural mental health awareness and support campaign).  Step two of recovery in progress: find something to obsess over that diverts attention from the pain and suffering and provides an escape hatch from an excruciating reality.

I am just over 1,700 words on this one and I’m tuckered out now.  It’s been so great to come back to LaBellaBorgia Speaks and I hope some of you give this post a read and it helps you with your own struggles or if you know me, helps understand a bit more of the disappearing act I’ve put on (I hope none of y’all think I’ve just gone to Bali or am riding round in sports cars).  I will be committing more to LaBellaBorgia Speaks over the coming months and we’ll see how it goes.

Thanks for reading, thanks for supporting, thanks for staying x

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

25-08-2018

 

The Hunger Games: The Odds Never In My Favour

I don’t know that anyone who doesn’t live in the barren countries in Africa or a refugee camp in the Middle East can claim to know or experience true hunger.  However, when you suffer from an anxiety disorder that can lead to hospitalisation and hours of seemingly endless regurgitation as I do, I can assure you that hunger is a very real and recurrent sensation.

It is a shame but I cannot actually recall when my inability to eat began, in fact, to put it plainly, I cannot remember a time when I could sit down to eat and not have to fret about how close the bathroom was or how to make sure I always had a cold liquid to hand.  It’s been that long!  My earliest memories are of me dashing through the halls just beyond Chigwell School dining hall to heave my guts out.  The funny thing about the many times when my lunch at school didn’t go to plan was that often I would fly past the deputy head (the school taskmaster) and they were the only times he never told someone off for running in the hallways.  Small comfort, I know…

I cannot speculate on the matter of how the trouble started, only that it started when I was very young and still has a hold over my eating habits to this day.  I don’t know if it arose on account of how busy a child I was what with musical commitments and studying – yes, I was a geek/nerd at school and am still – but I know that it is nothing whatsoever to do with the actual food.  Doctors have diagnosed it as allergies, but been unable to determine the specific allergen, my mother (a pescetarian) reckons it’s because I eat meat, but I believe it is caused by anxiety and stress.  I think that at some point during my formative years, I must have thrown up during a meal and thereupon developed a kind of psychosis towards eating with people and in a stressful – aka formal – setting, for I am not sick when I eat alone as much as I am when dining in a restaurant and/or in company.

As I’ve said already, I have been hospitalised on numerous occasions because of this and been referred to a throat and mouth specialist in the hospital later, but I do not care about the blood that shows when I am sick more than once per meal, I can easily disregard the tonsillitis that flares up as a secondary symptom on account of stomach acids aggravating my tonsils, and even the cuts I’ve got on the back of my throat from when I’ve had to stick my fingers down my throat in order to feel better on the third or fourth regurgitation matter very little to me.  What I would give anything for to be healed and eliminated is the debilitating sense of failure, wrongness and guilt which accompany the physical sickness.

One of the phrases I am known for using when I see or am referring to a particularly problematic or jarring human being is “it’s like God threw up a person” and though I know it’s not an especially pleasant or eloquent statement, I feel it sums up the sheer inadequacy of the current settings in a situation where you cannot simply press a button to restore factory settings (please pardon the IT Crowd divergence).

The current settings on my body’s mainframe seem to be to fail whenever possible and not backup any crucial information or just shut down at a moment’s notice.  In other words, my body is the MS DOS of computers!  My body does not function with speed or finesse and cannot do the most  basic functions that I expect of it in this – or any, for that matter – day and age.  I am now 21 years of age and despite my romantic, mental, sexual and social lives being non-existent or at best deeply dysfunctional, I feel I am well within my rights to beg the divine beings in the world, to just let me be able to sit down to eat without worrying myself and my fellow diners and having to locate the restrooms ahead of time and then panic if they seem more than a minute’s gallop away.

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence): heroine of The Hunger Games franchise

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence): heroine of The Hunger Games franchise

So, to conclude, I guess I am luckier than the poor souls who live without food and don’t know from where their next meal is coming, but (#thirdworldproblems) having a lobster Thermidor or the best bangers and mash in the country (from The Waggon & Horses, Lymington) steaming and appetising on a plate in front of you and then replacing it into a toilet bowl is a kind of Tantalean torture of the 21st century that is hard to bear.  All I am saying is that people forget or dismiss depression and anxiety because so often there is no physical repercussion, however, this post serves as proof and a cautionary tale that mental illness can lead to and perpetuate all kinds of physical trauma.  Mine is the certain regurgitation and the competition between keeping food down and defeating my body or letting it get the better of me and vacate my stomach.  It’s a game of mealtime and a game that until it’s solved and I have help I can not be expected to win.  I just have to apologise constantly and continuously to the people with whom I sit down to meals for worrying them and for consistently flying from the table.

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

23-09-2014