Triggered

I never really understood what it meant to be triggered. On social media it seems to be a byword for someone who is ‘too sensitive’, and whilst I understand the true meaning of it, I never fully grasped what a crappy thing it is to be triggered until recently. I’m guessing that I’ve been triggered before, but I don’t think I’ve had the self-awareness to recognise it for what it is until now.

At least as far as my own experience goes, being triggered is not just about getting upset over being reminded of something bad in your past. It seems to me that when you are triggered that reminder serves to, emotionally, put you right back in that place you so desperately want to forget.

I really don’t remember much about my childhood, and I prefer to keep it that way, but some things stuck. None of them are good. When I was about 16 my mum got a gall stone stuck in her bile duct, which caused her to go bright yellow. She was admitted to hospital, and since my dad was (is) a complete waste of space, myself and my little brother and sister went to stay with some aunties, on my mum’s side of the family.

That side of the family is extensive. My Nan and granddad popped out kids into the double figures, and cousins, well, we stopped counting when we got past 30. Growing up the message was clear – if anything ever happens we’ll be there for you. What a load of shit.

As a kid we were always visiting my mum’s side of the family. Everyone loved my dad, thought he was a ‘diamond geezer’, but after he dumped his family for some disgusting old trout (after years of emotional abuse I might add) you’d think they’d stand by their sister, right? Nope! Amongst other despicable things, my uncle (my mum’s own brother) let my dad rent his flat, which in itself is pretty low, I think.

So, mum goes into hospital, and I’m already at breaking point at this stage after the messy divorce, plus I’m at a pretty delicate age that’s difficult for any teenager to deal with at the best of times. I’m trying to get to grips with that, plus I’m at college and barely coping with what I now recognise as crippling anxiety. I’m self-harming pretty badly too, but no one knows about that yet.

Thankfully, I go to stay with one aunt and my brother and sister stay with another, but we are only there for one night before they decide they don’t want us.

After being dumped back home where I start to figure out how I’m going to look after two school-age-children, cope with college and try not to worry too much about my mum, the phone rings. It’s my uncle, and he wants to know where my dad is because he hasn’t paid the rent. I said I don’t know (I didn’t, and yes it’s a touchy subject with someone whose family has let them down so monumentally), so he gets angry that I’m not giving him the information he wants. He hangs up the phone but then calls straight back. I don’t answer it, so I’m left a lovely answering machine message informing me I’m a cunt, and that he wouldn’t piss on me if I was on fire. ‘Scuse the foul language, by the way.

That evening an aunt picks us up to take us visiting at the hospital, and I’m told not to tell my mum I’m upset. The one single adult I feel like I have left in the whole world who cares about me, and I’m not allowed to say anything.

Aaaaanyway, mother gets better and I set to work not thinking about this kind of stuff, whilst keeping a hatred of everyone on my mum’s side of the family simmering on a low heat for the rest of eternity.

On Monday, my mum was back in hospital for an operation, and oh boy did I find out what being triggered really meant. On top of being worried about mum, I felt the huge weight of responsibility settle on my shoulders and honestly, I felt like I’d be crushed by it.

Things were very different this time around though. My brother and sister are both adults now, and if I ask them for help, they’ll give it. I’ve got some pretty marvellous friends who are only ever a text or a call away, and I actually have quite an amazing support network at work, of all places.

I know all of this, but for the last two weeks I’ve felt like a frightened and abandoned child who is completely alone in the world. I’ve been wondering whether, if I saw my father, I might try to wring his wrinkly old neck. Because I’m so furious that he wasn’t there when we needed him in the first place. Which is weird, because he’s the very last person I want help from right now. ‘Triggered’ seems like a very small word for such a big feeling.

Whilst waiting for the hospital to ring, a couple of aunties are incessantly trying to get hold of me, wanting updates. Every time the phone makes a sound I’m on it, my heart pounding, anticipating the news of how the operation went. My brother and sister are with me, and they sit up straight and pay attention. The whole room is on high alert. But nope, it’s an annoying aunt. After the initial shot of adrenaline, all I can think is, alternately, ‘where were you when we needed you?’ and ‘I hate you so much, I wish I didn’t have to have anything to do with you’.

Mother is on the mend now, and although we don’t know exactly what the future holds (we are waiting to hear what, if anything, happens next) I’m sure now that I can deal with it. I won’t crumble when my family needs me, and I’m choosing to see it as a good thing that I’ve had to revisit all of these feelings.

By thinking it through, I’ve been able to challenge my own thoughts. I think I’m all alone, but I’m not. I think I can’t cope, but I can. I think everyone will abandon me. They won’t – the family and friends I’ve chosen to keep in my life won’t let me down.

So, this was my brain on Monday. Tuesday was an insanely frustrating day, trying to get my mother out of the hospital, which we eventually achieved a mere 6 hours after she was physically ready to be discharged. About five of those hours were spent waiting for a letter to be printed off for her to take home with her, just outlining what she’d had done. I’m failing to see why that took so long but also, another hour was spent waiting for the pharmacist to deliver some unknown drug for mum to take home with her.

Whilst some poor person was no doubt sitting in recovery for hours waiting for a bed to become available (as my mum had been the day before) a bed was being taken up waiting for a patient to be given Co-codamol, a frikkin drug you can buy in a supermarket for under 30p.

A) why didn’t they give her the prescription so we could collect it from the pharmacy ourselves? Not that we would have bothered, we have a drawer full of over-the-counter painkillers already… and B) why the flip is the NHS giving out prescriptions for stuff like that in the first place? How much must that cost? At least ask if it’s needed first!

Wednesday I was late getting to sleep as we had shopping delivered, then on Thursday I took my brother to an awards ceremony. I can’t go into details (at his request, he keeps things on the down-low) but we spent the afternoon hobnobbing with important police officers and commissioners. It was a weird kind of afternoon, but we both did surprisingly well in a social situation we both found excruciatingly uncomfortable.

Friday and Saturday I slept most of the day (keep in mind I’ve been working nights as usual) and now finally, finally I’ve had enough rest in order to be able to think straight.

I haven’t felt Christmassy at all so far, and what with everything that’s been going I haven’t felt like wearing my Christmas hats or anything like that. However, I am off work now for four whole nights!

So, expect normal service to resume shortly, with hopefully three weeks’ worth of festivities somehow crammed into a few days. Challenge accepted!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Responsibility

What with one thing or another, when my week off work came around I felt that it was desperately needed. What I forgot, since I was wrapped up in all kinds of different thoughts, is that I don’t do well with that much time to myself.

I’m not going to be hard on myself, because I got more done than I usually do and that’s an achievement. A massive room sort, lovely time hanging out with Pea, seeing friends, quality sibling time, walking loads, binge-watching Stranger Things, taking time to read… but I always feel sad by the end of the week and wish I hadn’t booked so much time off in one go. Long weekends are the best breaks for me, I just need to remember that.

Although I do have a whole week booked off in September there’s not really much I can do about that. In the first half of the week I’m camping with my brother, and in the second half I’m photographing my friend’s wedding. I’m starting to get a little nervous about that, but they’re the good kind of nerves. It’s something I’ve never done before but for once in my life I’m not actually doubting my abilities. Well that’s a weird feeling!

Since I’ll be so fully occupied I doubt I’ll have time to feel sad.

As far as eating goes, I have been eating all the things, but miraculously I have still hovered within a few pounds of the 14 stone mark. My body seems to be really happy at that weight, and I can easily maintain it whilst having a really unhealthy diet. I could call target right now and ‘live my best life’. Is that what I want though? Is my definition of my best life one where I settled for less than I wanted? Do I want to keep up with what could easily escalate into an uncontrollable binge/purge cycle? Maybe once, but not now.

I’ve been so unsure of myself lately. I’ve been stuck in a rut, especially as far as Slimming World goes, and I’ve felt boredom settling in. I spoke to my sister yesterday about perhaps stopping my membership for a few weeks, then I thought it through on my own. Then I got another opinion from a trusted friend, and eventually figured out what it is I actually want and need.

I need a fresh start, that’s for sure, and I’d absolutely love to have my old consultant Amanda helping me get to target. Now I’m just a plain ole member again I’m free to switch to her group if I wish, but I feel bad about leaving my existing group.

Y’know what? I’m sick to death of feeling bad. I can be miserable and guilty where I am, or I can change things and be happy in the long term. I have to remind myself – I’M NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERYONE ELSE. I feel the most ridiculous amount of responsibility, so much more than anyone would probably guess. There’s someone at work with a poorly family member. I don’t even know him that well at all but when talking to him about it I felt guilty that I didn’t know how to make him feel better. That’s just… stoopid! Most of the time just being a friendly ear is enough.

I was reading this post from Elsie from A Beautiful Mess about how she changed her life, and although she wasn’t giving advice, simply sharing her experience, I was inspired to do something similar.

I had a pretty notebook with no particular function, so rather than let it sit there gathering dust I’ve used it to list a whole bunch of stuff I want to change, do and work on. There’s no time limit, though in general I’m thinking along the lines of the remainder of the year, and my plan is to just flip through it and decide which thing to do next.

Some will take longer than others as I’ll need money (such as re-carpeting most of the house) but others are simpler, like making a doctor’s appointment I’ve been putting off or not ripping pages out of my sketch book if something isn’t ‘good enough’. I think it’ll be a fun, useful and eye-opening project.

So, a plan of action. I’m back at work tonight which always makes eating healthy easier too, so back on plan it is. It’s soooooo hot this week, I’m going on my walks straight from work so I don’t get burnt to a crisp, and I’ll go to my group next week and explain to them I’ll be moving on after that. Simple, right?

Now I’m hanging out in the garden until it’s time for my pre-work nap.

Bye for now!

Hayley x

By a Thread

Since I last posted I’ve been in a dark place. Me starting to feel a tiny bit better was then replaced by depression coming along and punching me right in the side of the head with all its strength – and I’m still reeling from the blow.

Notable achievements over the past week have been having a shower and being awake for a few hours in a row. The other day I even picked my post up from the floor. It sounds funny when I put it like that, but I’m not exaggerating. That was a big deal.

My ‘ordinary’ job has been quiet, which is lucky, so I have been going home early at every opportunity, though without pay. I know I can’t really afford it, and I feel guilty and scared about that, but also I know that being unconscious is the only thing that feels good at the moment and I’ll take any opportunity that will allow me to achieve that. What I dearly want from most from life right now is to be asleep. To be anything but feeling like this.

Oblivion please.

Eating well has gone out of the window and I skipped weigh-in on Tuesday partly because I genuinely didn’t have the energy and partly because I wasn’t in a fit state to interact with people, at least unless absolutely necessary. I wanted to go, but there’s only so much I can handle.

Somehow, on Monday night I managed to find the strength to make it to my own Slimming World group and deliver what seemed to be a perfectly acceptable new member talk. Huh. Although I suspected I had it in me, I didn’t think I’d be able to do it feeling like… this. But I did. Cool.

Let me try and explain what it’s like. I know things, logically – for instance I went out for a walk last Thursday and I knew that the cool breeze was lovely on my face, I knew that the sun was making everything look pretty, and that going for a walk is good for me. I knew it but I couldn’t feel it.

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I took a picture. See, pretty yes?

Afterwards I went for a really nice meal at a pub down the road. The food was super fancy but in a down-to-earth setting with no snooty staff. I had a chocolate bomb and the waitress came round with a teeny tiny saucepan full of sauce to pour over the top, melt the shell and reveal the delicious insides. It came with real flowers on top. I ate a flower. Normally that would have thrilled me, but not then. Damn.

Today a friend very kindly came out with me for moral support while I was putting up some posters for my Slimming World group. It went a lot better with company, and I am feeling more confident that I’ll find some hidden reserves in order to give my group the service they deserve when I launch on the 24th. They really do deserve it, they are special people.

In the meantime, after sobbing down the phone to the doctor’s receptionist my appointment has been moved from next Wednesday to this Saturday morning. I’m genuinely counting down the days. One more to to get through once tonight is over with.

I know I won’t feel better straight away, but I need to know that something is going to get better.

I was looking back at photos from last year and the end of November was the last time I can say I felt really, properly happy. I really want to get back to feeling like I was then, and looking like I was then, too. Blimey I felt skinny!

I might be hanging on by a thread right now, but the truth is I know deep down that it’s a deceptively strong thread. I will be back to how I felt in November sooner or later. It’s testament to how much I’ve changed though because although I slip (more often than not these days it seems) apparently gone are the days when I completely give up.

So if you’re not feeling tip top right now, just like me, then give yourself a pat on the back for still putting one foot in front of the other, even if it is a tiny step.

We’ll get there.

Hayley x