#shithappens – you cannot avoid it but you can learn how to deal with it – On this site and in my blogs I share my own personal journey, to highlight that people are not on their own in this journey we call life! #WARNING CONTAINS OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE
But it’s not all bad, I woke early this morning inspired to write, a new spring in my step, a new theme for the book…
To say the past few weeks have been pretty hectic would be an understatement, with so much going on with work, family, life… I have found it difficult to find not only the urge but also the inspiration, confidence to write.
The writing comes in waves and I never know what direction the next wave will take me in, but I am learning to ride whatever wave hits me and go with the flow and more importantly “trust the process”, it can be hard, but I reason with myself that not everything in life is easy and most of what happens is out of our control, the only control we do have is how we deal with those crashing waves when they arrive.
Constantly coming into contact with other people. other human beings who have and still are coming to terms or who are still riding the wave of this thing we call “life” can be both draining but inspiring all at the same time. the worst part is despite all this personal insight, I still struggle, I am human just like the next person.
And despite all the misery, doom, and fucking gloom, I find myself constantly inspired and amazed by the resilience of the people who I have the pleasure of coming into contact with in my day to day life…
The women who have lost their sense of identity, who have lost themselves in unhealthy relationships, but yet are still sitting around a table sharing their stories in order to help the next woman OR man.
The people who have been entrenched in addiction, who have lost everything, their possessions, their health, relationships, who have found themselves on the streets, with only the pitiful stares or glares from strangers, passers-by who are now reclaiming their lives and taking back control.
To all the people who work selflessly to help others, without recognition because it is the right thing to do, who don’t crave adulation or praise to feed their starving egos.
I am reminded that I want to surround myself with people and have relationships and friendships that are collaborative opposed to being competitive. I haven’t got the time, energy or will to engage with people riddled with their own insecurity who are prone to making frequent lies and exaggerations (about themselves and others), in order to elevate their own egos by putting others down.
As I get older and perhaps a little wiser I am forever learning and reminding myself, that with all the worldly distractions that bombard us in our daily lives we must always remember to make time for ourselves…
Learning to love ourselves Before anyone else Learning to laugh at our imperfections Or laugh at past mistakes Taking on new challenges Raising the stakes Embracing change Using our intuition as our compass Or a map as our guide Leaving the past behind us Where we no longer need to hide As we navigate new terrain Accepting we count We do have a voice We can have a say And a chance to make new friendships along the way
If you are reading this, thank you for your friendship and companionship on this journey we call life
Unless you shop in an indoor shopping center or physically blind it is near impossible to go about your daily business without seeing evidence of deprivation, the vulnerability that exists in today’s society. Individuals sat passively begging, sat with a cup in front of them, wrapped in a sleeping bag, small groups gathering up to no good, people openly under the influence no longer concerned about trying to disguise their drug use. SPICE also is known as the poor man’s drug is available on most street corners for as little as a quid a spliff.
Seeing people beg who appear vulnerable makes us question and test our moral obligation to help that person in need and with more people sat or approaching people for money and with so much advice about what the right thing to do It has become even harder to decide which side of the fence you are going to sit on?
Recently after looking at my monthly bank statement online. There were rows and rows of charges to Greggs, I totted it up and I had spent shy of £60 in Greggs in the previous month and the only thing I ever buy for myself is a black tea. So I made a pact with myself, I wasn’t going to buy any more food or drinks for a month. (particularly when I also know that Greggs daily donate leftover food to all the local charities) I continued to buy a weekly copy of The Big Issue, I continued to sit and have a chat with the folks on the street and when I explained to one of the guys about my self-imposed pact, he agreed with me, “I mean where do you draw the line?” he said? just before I left him another member of the public came around the corner with his usual bacon and tom dip and a coffee from the local cafe.
I work in the city center, I simply cannot afford to give to everyone who asks? I get angry at the thought of an unsuspecting shopper who has just come from the local food bank to feed her family or the guy who is barely surviving on his pension, who would love to help but are barely making ends meet themselves. Most will willingly accept your offer of food or a drink, whilst others will refuse preferring cash instead.
What we are seeing is an increase of people hustling hiding behind the guise of being homeless, however, their actions serve only take advantage of the already disadvantaged and socially excluded using that other person’s homeless status to extort change from well-meaning members of the public. These are often the very same ones who will have access to a roof over their heads, access to benefits, their actions only serve to contribute to blurring the lines.
The hustle has been going on for generations but it was mainly behind the scenes and hidden in close-knit communities, in local pubs, and between trusted neighbours, however, over the years, the hustle has started to flood into more public spaces. Once reserved for street homeless begging has become the new street hustle, this is evident in with the increase in people begging. There is no denying that homelessness is on the rise, but you cannot compare this figure based on people begging in the street. We live in a compassionate society it is human nature to want to help another human being in need, but how do you tell who is desperate and in most need – put quite simply you don’t.
My friend recently shared her experience going home on the bus
“Three of Sheffield’s finest homeless sharing my bus ride home, counting out the days’ earnings. Interesting conversation about the general public taking the piss and they’ve earned £89 each. 2 pizzas for £10 and their suppers sorted.”
The majority that I know are people who are dealing with addiction and/or mental health problems are often connected with having had traumatizing upbringings that make them unable to face being alone with themselves without intoxication and whilst intoxication helps in the short term it is not sustainable in the longer term without causing irreversible emotional and physical damage.
All people begging have a story to tell and how your cash donation will help towards supporting them, if you ask about the support they need they will tell you that there isn’t anything available, even though they may have been visited by outreach teams, PCSO’s or ambassadors before you arrived.
The reality is that there are services who are out on the streets trying to befriend and offer support and lure people off the streets on a daily basis, because they all know that sitting or living outdoors in all weathers is not going to help or improve or help support their physical or mental wellbeing, or who know that begging mainly serves to fund their already unhealthy addictive and potentially deathly habits.
There is an array or groups/agencies who go out onto the street to provide interim resources such as sleeping bags, hats gloves warm food/refreshments, dress open wounds or tend to pets veterinary needs because their owners are either not ready, able or willing to accept the support on offer.
Some may argue that the support that is on offer isn’t adequate or agencies aren’t doing enough and I might agree to a certain degree, but I would also argue that all the groups and agencies are doing the very best with what they have got but at least they are focusing and prioritising their efforts on the ones they know are in desperate need. Which is why public support for these local charities is needed more than ever.
Whilst the signs of poverty are visible, what isn’t as visible are untold stories about how someone who has successfully transitioned from the streets with the right support from local services, that’s where awareness campaigns such as Help us Help help, sharing #Storiesfromthestreet trying to demonstrate that at the right time, with the right support people can live a life off the streets, stories such as Stuart who took part on the first Help us Help film Since being involved in the filming, Stuart has now stopped selling the Big Issue and is focusing on his own Recovery and was one of the Key volunteers who help to shape this years Recovery Months activities.
The Big Issue magazine was launched in 1991 in response to the growing number of rough sleepers on the streets of London, by offering people the opportunity to earn a legitimate income through selling a magazine to the public, this worked well for years but did you know that The Big Issue sales are on the decline?
Vendors on your local high street are not earning an hourly wage while they’re standing out there in all weathers. operating on a self-employed basis meaning they have outgoings and have to turn a profit just like any other enterprise out there.
Vendors buy their magazines from The Big Issue for £1.25 each and sell them to their customers for £2.50 a time. So it is heartbreaking to hear from a big issue seller that they sold 2 mags during the day, making a £2.50 profit only to see someone yards away, wrapped up in a sleeping bag being given fivers or twenties even.
The style of begging is changing, people are getting bolder and will now approach people walking in the streets for spare change “is it right or acceptable to approach and intimidate unsuspecting members of the public for spare change?” The increase of hustlers on the streets is only making it worse for the minority of those who are legitimately vulnerable.
The act of giving money to people on the streets only serves to reinforce the rationale and justification for those who are hustling that it is ok to beg. Now i am not encouraging people to be less charitable far from it, after all, we need as many people possible in our society to do their bit, but know this there are services, charities doing all they can to help those you see on the streets. If you want to practically help people on the streets, why not get involved with the charities, volunteer your time, work alongside those trying to help, if you haven’t got the time, then donate your cash to a local big issue vendor or a local charity.
If you were after an answer, then I am sorry to disappoint as there is no right answer, the only person that can answer that million-dollar question “Should I give money to people who beg” is YOU nobody can tell you what to do, but before you hand over your spare change please base your decision on an informed one, go out, do your research ask your questions, then decide…
Try not to be afraid of who you truly are and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more post, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up OR leave me your email. If you liked the post please share, if you didn’t, then do nothing and that’s ok too
After a weekend of catching up and reminiscing about the good old days and the not so good old days with family from dad’s side. On Tuesday I attended my first Novel Slam! Call it a sort of X factor for budding writers a chance to pitch their novel in progress against some of Sheffield’s writing talent for the chance to read an extract to an audience and receive feedback from esteemed judges (all of whom I have never heard of before). Feeling like a fish out of water, I purposely made sure I was one of the last to arrive, only to find that I was half an hour early, people were mingling talking in pairs or small groups, welcoming each other they all seemed relaxed and reading for the slam, I wasn’t up for talking or really meeting people per say, I mean I had nothing to say I was there to take it all in, I knew only one person in the room a lady called Anne Grange local writer from Sheffield who provides support around editing, proofreading I had met her the week before to discuss my book, she also offers a ghostwriting service which is very tempting I’ll tell thee, but I am determined to do this!
This writing malarky is a personal challenge AND trust me! it fucking challenges me. I have no ambitions to become the best selling author, I am not looking for an agent I just want to write this friggin book, its like an itch that won’t go away, my confidence and resolution swings like a pendulum, one minute it comes easy the words flow easily the writing feels like it has a purpose but then it can switch in a nanosecond to an unrealistic burden I have placed on myself, where I question and doubt myself frequently – but being me I am determined not to give up.
I have worked late most nights chasing funding trying to justify the return on the measly offerings of investment to run this year help us Help Christmas Cabin campaign, so this week has certainly had its challenges.
Last night I was well and truly spent! 5 O’clock came and I could have quite easily gone home, but I didn’t because I had committed to attend a charity event celebrating the 20th anniversary of a project that supports and advocates for young people in the LGBT+ community after the event I felt compelled to write a thank you letter to the Say It organization.
So here is my thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you letter to Say it
To Steven and all the staff, volunteers, trustees and more importantly the young precipitants of the services provided by Say it charity I would just like to say a very very BIG thank you for last night’s event. Being a passionate advocator for societies judged, misjudged and misunderstood tonight, can I just say you were all truly inspirational and I feel compelled to explain why…
I nearly didn’t come tonight, I was tired, mentally drained, hormonal and quite frankly knackered I could have quite easily given tonights event a miss…
“This isn’t political” But I work for Sheffield Drugs, Alcohol and Domestic Abuse team (DACT), who have the heavy burden of commissioning much needed, and high demand support services for people affected by substance misuse, domestic and sexual abuse. I say it’s a heavy burden because whilst budgets are being cut year in, year out, the demand for these invaluable services continues to rise. I have the utmost respect for my managers who have the responsibility for making sure that the less than adequate budgets are spent in the places where they are most needed when we all know that all services are needed and deserve investment.
I am the user involvement lead for the DACT team and my role is essentially is to engage, consult and empower people who have either used or are currently using our commissioned services, this is the best part of my job, its the part I love the most, its what gets me out of bed every morning. Connecting and seeing people who have experienced sometimes, most times horrific forms of trauma and but have somehow found the courage and strength and the resilience to kick back never ceases to amaze me, working alongside them is an honor. – So thank you
For me user Involvement is all about coproduction, it is about people coming together to come up with fresh ideas and solutions, it’s about bringing people together who all have something in common, its about empowering those who have previously been disempowered, it is about finding a space where they have a voice, its about empowering them to find themselves, learn about who they really are, its about empowering them to overcome the limiting beliefs that have often held them back from achieving and being the best they can – Tonight I witnessed what true co-production looks like – Thank you
Being the Domestic abuse user involvement lead I have recently been involved with one of Say it’s projects, Call it out, which received funding from the DACT working with people from the LGBT+ community who have been affected by domestic abuse. I recall the first user involvement event I came along to, feeling nervous, frightened that I might offend someone inadvertently because of my lack of knowledge about the “right” language that should be used (and for those that know me I am renown for saying the wrong thing from time to time) within the LGBT+ community. I laid my cards out at the beginning of the session and shared that I am not an expert about issues within the LGBT+ community and acknowledge that I have still got a lot to learn, so it was reassuring when everyone in that room said that they felt the same too. -So thank you
A few months after this meeting I was privileged and humbled to see one of our service users go to speak at conference organised by Say it talking about their experience of domestic abuse and being part of the LGBT+ community, not normally one lost for words, the same as I was last night and that’s is why I am so thankful that I came along – Thank you
I came away having learned a lot last night and from everyone involved with Say it
I heard about a lady called Sheena Amos who I have never heard or met before the speech written about her, brought tears to my eyes and goosebumps to my arms.
Again I heard about Noah Lomax, someone who I had never met or heard of, Noah committed suicide at just aged 15 and since his death his family have been fundraising to provide counseling for teens using SAYiTs services whilst listening to Noahs story I felt compelled and committed to doing some fundraising to keep his spirit alive (first though I have to try and keep the forget me not seeds alive in 2020)
I saw some amazing spoken word and performances by some very brave and inspiring individual’s
You all reminded me that it is ok if you don’t understand everything as long as you are willing to listen and learn
You all reminded me what real genuine compassion looks like
I also learned that I think I am a straight version of Steve, But seriously steve last night you reminded me to never shy away from who I really am, even if that means offending some people along the way, because they might not agree with what I say, but under all the bravado and smiles what most people don’t see is that this can be hard at times.
And I have to be honest it has been tough of late, fighting, kicking back at negativity, stigma, shame, injustice in today’s society sometimes feel like I have been surrounded by mob of negativity vampires sucking the life and fight out of me, but tonight you helped me find my garlic, you armed me with an invisible stake to help warn and keep at bay the negative blood-sucking vampire mob at bay, the mob commonly refer to as today’s toxic society. Today you helped build and restore my sense of worth – Thank you
Most of all you reminded me, you all inspired me to continue fighting the good fight…
I have always kinda looked forward to the menopause, the final change that my body will go through. Looking forward to the day when the endless cycles of monthly periods fuck off, meaning in my head…
No more Tampax
No more worrying about pregnancy
No more flooding
No more carrying spare pants during the time of the month
No more planning holidays around my “time of the month”
No more mood swings
No more PMT = no more prozac
No more cramps
No more “sorry I can’t I’m on” excuses – (I’m going to have to think of something else)
I mean which women in her right mind wouldn’t heh ? for years I had been biding my time waiting for the 12 consecutive months without the dreaded period which would tell me I have reached menopause,
My mother hadn’t really experienced many of the hot flushes or dreaded sweats associated with it so I was hoping that I might be one of the lucky ones. I mean some women have even described going through the menopause as being the best thing that has happened to them, so I was more than ready for the change!
I’ll take you back when it all started (A year ago) – I hadn’t been myself mentally or physically for a while. Now I consider myself to be a pretty insightful person, I have my own understanding of my own spiritually, how to manage my self-esteem I have a deep understanding of what makes me tick! How to manage my emotions, my thoughts managing my own mental health has always been a priority for me since overcoming a dependency many years ago. It was about the same time that I started journalling and thank god I did because without the journalling I might have been suffering in silence for a lot longer and unnecessarily!
Last year desperate I went to my doctors I explained all the symptoms I was experiencing, low mood, episodes of lethargy and fatigue, I was thinking I had ME or Chronic Fatigue, but he suggested that I might be Perimenopausal? Now don’t get me wrong I had heard of this before, but what I now realise is that I didn’t know or understand enough! So for those who are not in the know
“Perimenopause refers to the time before menopause when the ovaries begin to decline in function and continues until menopause.”
My three options at the time were I could
Go down the herbal route, but knew nothing about being peri, I wouldn’t know where to start and to be honest I didn’t have the patience to go down the trial and error route, hoping I find a miracle herbal cure.
I could take HRT, that was a no goer, I had heard about the cancer scare associated with that.
I could up my current dose of Prozac from 20 – 40 ml,
I opted for the latter and for over a year it worked. I had been taking the increased dose of prozac and it appeared to be doing the trick, well it was until about 6-9 months ago (to be honest it could have been longer as the changes are often subtle)
Nah neither did I? Well, all I can say is “I don’t know what I did in a past life to deserve this fucking penance!”
The silence angers me –Since my diagnosis, I cannot tell you how many women I have spoken in private or on a one to one who have or who are experiencing similar symptoms. I feel like I have stumbled on a new phenomenon and the more I learn about it, the more I read the stories on the closed private forums the more I am consumed with a mixture of shock and amazement that nobody talks about it and the silence angers me!
I have suffered from dark bouts of depression brought on by varying symptoms including, brain fog, Alcohol free hangovers, waking up swimming in sweat, feeling constantly knackered, despite trying my best to look after myself, swollen tits, swollen waistline one minute I feel like kate moss the next if feel like Jabba the Hutt, (I swear someone is inflating and deflating me just for the laguh) you name it I think I have gone through it over the past few months!
I have struggled to get my head around this peri shit, I am slowly learning and understanding that everyone is different and the symptoms will vary from woman to woman, which makes diagnosing, treating and managing the symptoms difficult or in my case very fucking challenging. It has taken a while and it is still sinking in that my body is going through some complex changes but knowing and understanding more about it, has helped a lot.
So I wanted to share some of the things that I have done that have helped – I have talked about it, in fact, I think I have done a lot of peoples fucking head in, but to be perfectly honest it isn’t in my nature to keep my gob shut!
I write I keep a journal, as well as being private and a chance to offload my shit? it has become invaluable in terms of understanding my symptoms and more importantly recording them, which is essential for me because i am all over the shop!
I am now learning to accept and validate my symptoms instead of hiding behind them, out of fear that no one will understand! becuase all the really matters is that “I know and I understand”
Go see your doctor!!!!!
I was invited to a closed Facebook group called Totes Merry Peri – this has been a lifeline, a chance to talk to over 122,000 other women all of whom appear to be going through similar experiences –
There is loads of information online – here are a few links I have found helpful
I am passionate about more people understanding addiction, I always have been and always will, I will openly talk about my own and fathers addiction, in the hope that it will help remind others that they are not alone and help shake the stigma and shame that clouds what is a serious issue in our society. And for those who know me, they know that it is hard to silence me, after all, it has taken years to “find my voice” and have the courage to speak up when others won’t or find they can’t.
Hence why I am sharing this post – It’s tough being a woman, let’s face it #shithappens and I firmly believe that by simply making and taking some time back to reflect #haveawordwiyasen or talk and confide with friends, family, connecting with people in a similar situation as yourself is a stark reminder that you are not alone…
Try not to be afraid of who you truly are and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more post, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up OR leave me your email. If you liked the post please share, if you didn’t, then do nothing and that’s ok too
I wanted to share openly about my own experience of coming to terms and living with being peri-menopausal, I have written this and I am sharing this because this weeks experience is still raw and I am still coming to terms with the fact that as well as impacting on my personal life, that this condition will at some points impact of my working life and this week it did.
My personal development, growth and self-esteem is a priority for me, particularly in the line of work I do, I know the value and importance of self-care, particularly when you are caring for others. I have worked in the addiction field for over 20+ years, I know first hand how much the stigma, shame and limiting beliefs can keep people trapped in a vicious cycle where they believe they should settle for less.
Normally a confident, tenacious, pragmatic and outgoing person, I’m a doer I rarely stop, I am passionate and love my job, but for three days this week, I was transformed into quite the opposite, I was a shadow of my former self. I don’t want sympathy, I don’t do that well, but what I hope to achieve by sharing this post is some understanding and greater awareness about what some (not all women) may be experiencing, suffering even in silence, whether that be out of fear of being judged, or accused of being an hypochondriac, being overlooked for that promotion because of a condition that no one in the work pace rarely talks about… The fucking menopause, or in my case peri-menopause.
Now before I start, I am not blaming everything in my life over the past year on hormones! But I cannot simply ignore the changes that are taking place in my body neither.
Monday 30th September
Today is a good day, todays make the end of national recovery month, its time to start planning the Christmas cabin in November, BBN assessments are nearly completed, works gone well. I’ve got loads done and I’m looking forward to going out with two mates after work for a good old catch up, and we did. I cannot recall the last time I had laughed so much. I go to bed with a smile on my face.
Tuesday 1st October
I woke up feeling groggy, it felt like a hangover, but I hadn’t touched a drop of alcohol, I couldn’t be sure, I had been sniffling over the weekend, perhaps it was a little bit of cold coming on. Today was going to be a long day, I had a 6 pm meeting which worked well for me as today was a 5:2 day so the busier I am the less I think about food and the easier it is to fast. I can normally go no problem through until 4 pm without even thinking about food, surviving on caffeine and water and keeping busy with work.
I have already had my coffee this morning before leaving the house, but this morning I don’t finish it, I can’t stomach the taste. I arrive at work and don’t finish that coffee either. Its 10.30 am and I am craving food, any food will do, but as its a fast day my options for eating something under 100 calories are slim, and I sense deep down that once I start I won’t be able to stop. I take to making another black coffee to quench my hunger but it tastes like metal, I’m craving a cup of tea, I only drink tea on an evening or a weekend
By noon I have caved in, I find a bag of crisp and a tomato cuppa soup, 200 calories down, that should sort me until 4ish.
Wrong, once I started I couldn’t stop, I could feel myself going downhill, feeling mardy and sorry for mesen I could physically feel, dark cloud descend over me, it started to feel heavier, I was looking at the computer screen but couldn’t take in any emails, I decided to take myself outside for a break, some fresh air, give myself some time to have a word wi mesen.
I bumped into my daughter who was on her way back to work after her lunch break, she asked me what I was up to and all I could say was “ feeling shit, just needed to get out of the office for a bit” I glance further up the street to see Sarah* (name changed), shes street homeless and addicted to heroin she is sat in the pissing rain begging, normally I would spend 10 minutes chatting to her, or making a call to probation for her, but today I wasn’t ready to hear the bullshit excuses that would come flowing from out of her mouth.
Under normal circumstances, I have the patience of a saint with her but as soon as I saw her bloke trotting over to her, recently released from jail, I knew she was back to square one. Now don’t get me wrong, I get the excuses, I understand the fear of failure that comes from years and years of not just letting her family, her kids down, I know she’s given up on herself, I am a realist, I know that change has got to come from her and I will always listen. But not today – she looks up, shes embarrassed when she sees me, she knows I am going to ask after her leg, which should have been treated over two weeks ago, she attended hospital, and should have stayed, but discharged herself early. She comes out with feeble excuses for missing her script, not going to housing, she’s got an appointment at the local drugs service later and is going to ask them to increase her script so she doesn’t have to beg! and all I can say is “tha not letting me down, it only takes me two minutes to make a call, its up to you if the turns up and lets face it, its not me sat out here in pissing rain, begging for cash so numpty over there can score some more SPICE and you and I both know why you are asking for an increase in meth? Its to share it with him! She knows I know, there is an unspoken understanding between us, but today I don’t give a fuck! She knows the score (literally) and she knows what she needs to do when she’s ready.
I am just about to leave her when a woman I have never seen before stands at the side of us, she looks me up and down, there was an awkward silence, and I’m not sure why? Sarah senses it and explains that it is her bloke’s support worker, but all that is running through my mind and is just about to roll off my tongue is “who the fuck do you think you are looking at”.
I take a deep breath, say my goodbyes and head into Sainsbury’s, I still haven’t got a clue what I’m going to get with only 300cals left! I walk up and down all the isles and come across some items on sale, grooming kits half price, I purchase two. (That’s two early Christmas presents out of the way) and leave buying nothing to eat.
I head back into the office and I am still ranging over the way that support worker looked me up and down “Shes lucky I didn’t smash her fucking teeth in” and I gasp at what I have just said out aloud across the office floor (christ I haven’t used language like that since I was 15 and at school. and the cloud just feels darker and darker my mood is slipping, to the point, I don’t give a fuck about only having 300cals left, I’m going in for the leftover kids birthday chocolate cake that was brought in the week before by a colleague! But I don’t stop there, I ask my gaffer if she’s got any nibbles in her locker, she never fails to disappoint and before I know it I have munched my way through another two snack bars. My energy levels are dropping, I could just lay down there and then on the floor and sleep! I can feel myself snapping and with practically no tolerance left in the bank, I send my apologies for the evening meeting and leave work early.
I get home and there’s a loaf with my name written all over it and a tub of cold Lurpack fresh from the fridge and before I know it I have scoffed two slices! Now the 5;2 is well and truly outta the window. I am no company, the telly is shit and all I want to do is be alone, mainly so I don’t offend anyone else. I go to bed early, I just want to forget about my day, the overeating, being a bitch and fingers crossed wake up tomorrow in a better mood.
Wednesday 2nd October
I was so sleepy after pressing snooze for what seemed the hundredth time, I crawled out of bed, I head downstairs to make a coffee, perk me up. But I simply have no energy, I cannot think straight, the thought of actually going through the rest of my morning routine and getting ready for work seems impossible and soon I am having an internal argument in my head, which brings me close to tears!
I head upstairs and I cannot even think about what to wear for work let alone get dressed for work! I give in, I cannot go into work like this, I simply don’t have the energy to walk let alone work. I call my gaffer and explain, going through the menopause herself I know she understands, but deep down I am still paranoid that she is thinking “come on trace is it really that bad”. I finish the call and head back to bed. I am woken about 11 am, the phones ringing, it is our old man. He knows something is wrong, I tell him I’ve not gone into work and explain. I feel like a fraud, how do I explain that two days earlier I was laughing and joking but today I cannot move?
I spend the whole day in my PJs, some recently washed clothes need putting in the drier – but I don’t have the energy, I cannot be arsed.
I could spend the whole day writing – but I cannot think straight let alone write
I switch tv channels to find something that will help pass the day – I search for the Jeremy Kyle show I mean at least that might cheer me up, remind me I ain’t got it all that bad, but then I remember that’s been cancelled!
I take some comfort from some of the posts in the closed menopause FB group, I see post about different tablets people are taking with claims that they have worked wonders and I am tempted to get online to order everyone on amazon prime, but deep down I know that everyone is different, this is trial and error for everyone and fuck me, if I took everything, how the hell would I know which one was working? Or what was not, I mean some tablets counteract each other and others take months to work?
I’m a month in on the Estrogel and progesterone, apparently, it takes 3 months to kick in, but then I think, but what if it doesn’t work? What a fucking waste of time?
I want a solution NOW, I want to go back to the old me, positive, optimistic Tracey, the one who would do anything for anyone, but who at the moment can’t do fuck all for herself!
I wonder is it the menopause? I mean it could be ME or chronic fatigue, what if I have been misdiagnosed? But then I remember the sweats and swollen tits, that always take me back to the days when I was lactating, sensitive tits, weighing me down like cannonballs.
I consider calling the doctors and insisting that they give me EVERY blood test going, to help determine what the fuck is going on with my body
I look online to consider going private, but they can fuck off robbing bastards, earning money off women misery, I mean £250 for an hour consultation, other women taking advantage of a sister – it is fucking wrong!
I don’t want to eat, I fucked up yesterday, I can feel myself getting fatter, but I am craving carbs, shit food, anything to help sooth these feeling of self-pity, nothing is working.
I have had a fun day of self-loathing, I fucking HATE feeling shit, I HATE feeling powerless, I HATE it when I act out as a sad victim, this is not ME!
I try to remind myself that this will pass, I mean this time last week I had organised and was hosting a conference for over 100+ people in recovery from substance abuse, I had a lovely email from one of the attendees letting me how much my kind words meant to her, Now I have none for anyone, not even myself!
This time last week I was juggling managing three different projects, I was on fire! Today I could even piss on myself if I was on fire!
I head to bed early again, hoping and praying that this will have passed by the morning, its got too, I cannot go on like this.
Thursday 3rd – I open my eyes and feel ok! I allow myself some time to come around before getting into the morning routine, but as soon as I stand I know straight away, this heavy dark fog is still clinging onto me. I know there is no way I’ll be going into work, I am more accepting this morning, I mean what’s the point in beating myself up, I mean I did enough of that yesterday, I make a couple of calls, rearrange some meetings, then head back to bed.
I wake up a couple of hours later, I remember the washing going stale downstairs and remind myself that despite feeling like shit, there is no excuse for being a tramp!
I manage to tidy the kitchen, potter around and I wonder, is the fog lifting? I decided I ought to have a shower, change out of the PJs and put on some clean clothes. By late afternoon, I still feel groggy but I also feel a lot better?
I spent the afternoon reflecting, trying to make sense of how I was feeling. My mom phones me, expecting me to be at work, she’s off today so pops around for a coffee. We have an offload about how shit it is being a woman. oh and fucking bunions, another ailment that I have developed! I’m glad that mom was off work and called around and I realise I should spend more time with my mom.
Back to thinking – Everyone talks about what to expect when you start your periods but no-one mentions what it’s going to be like when you come off! There was no mention of how you periods change across your life course how they are affected by contraception, pregnancy, childbirth and perimenopause, the menopause?
Well, I think I know why! It’s because it’s fucking worse than starting!!
Coping with two sprouts and hairy armpits was bad enough but when the time came I went straight to my mom, who gave me a box of Tampax and was told to go to the toilet and read through the instructions. I remember it was pretty dam daunting considering I had never inserted anything inside myself before! The first failed attempt resulted with me dropping the mouse down the basin, I watched it expand to twice its size, wondering if that happens once it is inside how the xxck I was supposed to pull it our afterwards!! After failing on numerous attempts, before finally, successfully inserting a Tampax, I found it a breeze, well apart from the thought of walking around with a piece of string hanging out of me totally which freaked me out.
I was ok with the mood swings because I was permanently in a bad mood anyway which, I could validate as a reason for being a bitch every month! apart for the monthly cramps and indignity of shoving something alien inside me every month, it just became a part of being a teenager, it became the norm!
It wasn’t until after the birth of both my kids that I started to notice PMT, I was like the Incredible Hulk on steroids for a week into the lead up to my period, as soon I started the monthly bleed I could feel my whole mind and body transform from being angry and tense to being relaxed, or normal whatever the fuck that means. I have been managing the PMT symptoms with a daily dose of Prozac for the past 20+ years, with little or no problems!
Well, that was until Last year when I went to the doctors, I explained my symptoms, he suggested that I might be peri-menopausal, he explained that my moods may be due to a fluctuation, lack of serotonin, due to going through the change, my options were, go down the herbal route (i was like Nah, too much time and trial and error required), take HRT, (Nah, that will give me cancer) or up my current dose of Prozac from 20 – 40 ml, I opted for the latter and it worked for a while. But over the past 6 months, my symptoms had gotten worse, a month ago i agreed on the HRT, after 4 weeks of feeling better I am now sat here feeling like I am back at square one! but today I am being a little easier on myself, I know that pulling myself down isn’t going to help, I know this feeling will pass, I reason that I will just have to ride it out. I go to bed early again and pray for a miracle
Friday 4th October – I wake, I feel ok, I could write this week off, but I know that I couldn’t spend another day sat staring at the four walls so here I am I’m back at work, firing on full cylinders, the dark mist has lifted, I feel back to being myself, I can drink my black coffee without baulking, I am feeling assertive, its lunchtime and I have already achieved loads. I met with a friend, a published author for some tips about my book, and she too shares some of her experainces with “Going through the change”
And whilst I feel a 1000% better, I am still slightly pissed off and angry, I am angry because if according to the research over 70% of women will go through some sort of biological hormonal changes, then I question why isn’t this spoken about more?
I always thought I understood what the change or menopause meant I have sat in meetings with women suffering from impromptu hot flushes, wafting fans, or even using cloths to clear their brows. These are all typical symptoms I always associated with the menopause. I hadn’t been suffering from either of these symptoms and genuinely thought I would be one of the lucky ones! It wasn’t until earlier on this year that I had even heard the phrase peri-menopause!
But hey how would I know? Because no fucker talks about it! I now know that there are plenty of online secret forums, where women openly share about their different symptoms and for me, this has been a lifesaver, reassurance that I am not alone.
I am slowly coming to terms that this isn’t going away so for now, I need to find some new coping strategies, I will have to adapt some of the old coping strategies I adopted during my recovery from drug-induced psychosis 20+ years ago, I know I have been through worse and even though I don’t want to have to deal with another challenge, I know and accept that I cannot avoid it, all I can do is manage it the best way oI can.
I am learning to accept that
I am going through some hormonal changes
Managing the change will be a process of illumination
There will be times when I’m not at my best
That there will be times when I will feel physically, emotionally and spiritually drained is part of the process
It may take longer than I would like for the symptoms to pass
There are no real quick fixes
Well, that has been my personal experience and I’m only just starting on the final cycle of what has been a lifetime of monthly cycles, in fact, 24,072 to be precise.
The conversation about what it’s like being a woman shouldn’t stop when school stops, learning and sharing about periods continues – supporting women throughout their lives, from menarche to menopause and beyond. So in the meantime, I need to work on practicing more self-care and self-compassion and ride the menopausal wave until it finishes and if that means it affects my performance at work occasionally then so be it, after all
How come I can talk about my personal experience of addiction, but cannot talk about my personal experience of going through menopause? I suppose that they are both complex and unique subjects to each one of us. I have overcome the shame associated with my brush with addiction and now wear my past with a badge of pride, yayyy I survived.
Going through the change has felt a little like when I was going through my own addiction, like a shameful drug, you try and hide and pretend that everything is normal when it is quite the opposite. I can recall the day after being sectioned and being diagnosed with drug-induced psychosis, starting my period and wondering if my recent mental state was down to “the time of the month” and not down to the copious amount of drugs I was taking (trust me it was the drugs)
I have always struggled with PMS for years I have been prescribed 20mls of Prozac to help manage the monthly hormonal rages and it has worked for years. But then last year, it felt that the Prozac had been swapped for a placebo because it felt that they were no longer working. I was really struggling and it didn’t feel right, I was doing all the right things, the self-care, the stuff that made me feel good about myself, writing, mindfulness, practising saying no to things I didn’t want to do, sometimes I felt on top of the world, then other times I thought I was going fucking insane, I have more than once actually considered if I was bipolar. It’s a standing joke in our house “is it David Banner time?” I laugh it off, but it is true, I do feel like I’m ripping out of my clothes every month, going from happy to bloated and angry, I do all of it every month, I have all the incredible hulk symptoms apart from turning green!
Last year I went to the doctors, I explained my symptoms, he suggested that I might be peri-menopausal, he explained that my moods may be due to a fluctuation, lack of serotonin, due to going through the change, my options were, go down the herbal route (i was like Nah, too much time and trial and error required), take HRT, (Nah, that will give me cancer) or up my current dose of Prozac from 20 – 40 ml, I opted for the latter and for over a year it worked.
I had a year of normality (whatever the fuck that means) but then a few months ago, I realised that I have felt more and more washed out, feelings of a hangover without the alcohol, night sweets, and feeling physically incomplete, going from feeling emotionally intolerant to feeling emotionally numb, constantly lethargic. My bullshit antenna has been working overdrive, I simply have had zero tolerance for fuckwits! But deep down I have felt and known something wasn’t right for some time. It was only after looking l back over my journal and started to realise and recognise that this just wasn’t a one-off, that I had been experiencing these feelings for a while but hadn’t connected the dots, or I had been brushing off the symptoms and just getting on with life. I think I have been in denial about the whole paus stuff, mainly because I always want or expect a clear diagnosis, but with the change its not always clear, the changes my body have gone through have been subtle, gradual. Thank god for journalling I know for a fact that without sitting down and #havingawordwimesen every morning I would probably be running around pretending that everything is normal when it is not, just like when I was turning to drugs.
Journalling helps me see things differently, it helps my personal development penny to drop, I have been able to look back and can now see clearly how the symptoms have been there creeping and building over time. I genuinely thought I was going insane sometimes, preferring to isolate myself and hide away from the world, constantly questioning “what the fuck is wrong with me”. I am starting to realise the reason why I cannot drink as I used to, after all, it makes sense, I mean I wake up most mornings feeling hungover without a drink, its no fucking wonder I feel worse after actually having a drink.
My emotions have quite literally been all over the place, you have probably recognised this in my writing, consumed with feelings of self-doubt, when I for the most I try to be optimistic, apparently one of the side effects of going through the change, is heightened emotions, this might also explain a lot too. I have often had maudlin thoughts about being the wrong side of life, this is probably the final physical change that as a woman I have to go through. After years of monthly mood swings, rages, stomach cramps, stained pants and thousands spent on Tampax (which should be free by the way) am I finally making out the other end? Will all this physical and emotional shit stop?
I suppose this change malarkey is just that, its change (which I know I don’t like much) but even though I have had my low points, I have also learned a lot about myself, so it is not all bad. So now I have started with HRT, I’m four days in, I don’t if its the acceptance that I needed help that has made me feel better or if the gel is actually working its magic, either way I’m still here, I am feeling a lot better, I am still writing, I am still dealing with life on life terms, or should I say more on my terms.
A large part of my recovery from addiction has been founded on coming to terms with myself, learning self-compassion and being honest with myself and not shying away from who I am.
So I suppose with this Menopause malarky, just like my recovery from addiction, I am going to have to do the same again, by starting to practice self-compassion, learning to listen to the changes my body is going through instead of trying to reject and fight the emotions and feelings that are perfectly natural, normal and part of being a woman.
I have been asked to go on BBC Radio Sheffield next week and do an interview about me, the show is called “Laid Bare, with Tony Robinson” do you think he’ll be ready for me laying all out there and baring the real Tracey?
And remember to try not to be afraid of who you truly are if you would like to subscribe to more post, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up OR leave me your email. If you liked the post please share, if you didn’t, then do nothing and that’s ok too, Love Fordy x
I was pulled the other day about an opinion I had made recently at work, apparently, it wasn’t appropriate, basically, it wasn’t the right time or place to have shared my opinion. A wave of shame smothered me but being compliant, I took it on the chin and apologised.
But after the meeting, it didn’t sit right and after a lifetime of feeling misunderstood or unheard, the feeling of shame hung around me and I needed more time to process it.
I find it hard sometimes in the workplace, after all, I am well known for my honesty and for the most time, it is welcomed, refreshing even, I am often praised for it, I am normally the one brave enough in room to say what everyone else is thinking because they are too afraid to speak up, but when my opinion goes against the status quo, the party line, I am expected to stay silent.
"Living with integrity means: Not settling for less than what you know you deserve in your relationships. Asking for what you want and need from others. Speaking your truth, even though it might create conflict or tension. Behaving in ways that are in harmony with your personal values. Making choices based on what you believe, and not what others believe.”
― Barbara De Angelis
Whilst I recognise that life is all about compromise and everyone has the right to their own opinions, what I struggle the most with is comprising my voice, or feeling like I have to compromise my true thoughts out of fear of offending someone. Particularly those in authority, or who are on a higher grade than me.
Some people assume that me speaking my truth comes easily, it comes from a place of confidence, self-assurance, at to be fair most of the time it does, but for the other times, it can be scary and daunting.
After a lifetime of feeling misunderstood (mainly because I was unable to articulate how I felt because I didn’t either know or was more concerned about upsetting someone else), I now realise that the feeling of being misunderstood didn’t come from others, but came from a lack of understanding myself.
I have worked hard and I am still working hard on being happy in my own skin and being true to myself. This hasn’t and isn’t easy either, this has required me to work on reversing years of self-doubt, undoing limiting beliefs and assumptions that have held me back from being true to myself.
Asking me to be silent, is like asking me to go back to the person I was years ago, pretending to be a person I no longer recognise or relate too.
Shhhhhhhhh don't say that It will get you into trouble
Don't like what I say?
Then look the other way
Being mindful of what I say
Just in case it is taken the wrong way
I won't conform
To some of societies norms
Don't worry about me
I’ll carry the slack
It’s ok I've got a strong back
I won't change me
I won't give me away
This is me, I am here to stay
Finally happier in my skin
I won't be silenced out of fear of not fitting in
Like me or not
That is your choice
But I will never be silenced
I will always have my voice
Right, thats working on me sen for one day… I have got a life tha knows
It is the run-up to National Recovery Month my favorite month of the year.
All-day yesterday I had the privilege of being in the company of being surrounded by some incredible people all of whom carry their own recovery toolkits, each toolkit different from the next, but all equally they have supported them on their own recovery journey and like the chef and any tradesman or women our trades are worthless without our tools.
Just being able to share and laugh even, about the insane moments in our lives that for someone who has never personally experienced addiction may never understand or relate to is priceless. To talk about what was in our own recovery toolkits, we talked about the times the days when we left home without it? or misplaced it for a while, or even losing and having to replace it with a new one and start again.
Each an everyone of us has found our own recovery, developed our own recovery toolkit, everyones toolkits will look different and contain different things these could be
Conversations from the past when the penny has dropped, the Eureka moments lets say…
A collection of tips and tricks of the trade shared by others who have openly shared some of their own tools from their own toolkits to help us in our own recovery.
New understanding and self awareness of how our own addictive behaviour worked for us
Memories that remind us of how far we have come
Mementos or souvenirs from completed programs or groups
Certificates, our reward for new found knowledge
New foundself esteem and self worth
Memories of volunteering or giving back
Notes to remind us to make time for ourselves
After years of selfishness, a bank of appreciation for our loved ones our communities
coins of compassion
I don’t know about you, but I know that there will always be some new tools that I can take and use in my own toolkit, writing is one of them.
Each and everyone one of us has our own recovery toolkit “What’s in yours?”
We have all wondered or asked ourselves “There has got to be more to life than this?” this generally occurs following either negative or unhealthy period whether that be years of self-abuse, self-doubt, returning to unhealthy relationships, turning to substances or acting out on behaviors that push people away, whatever the reason, I would hazard a guess that you have been there too? You know like one day you can be having a great day then BAM some unexpected Shit happens which can leave us feeling lost, fed up or go into fuck it mode.
I have all run around being the fixer, trying to make everyone happy in an attempt to create some sense of happiness and satisfaction for myself but unfortunately, that instant gratification I get from making someone happy doesn’t last that long and soon fades. Thinking that by doing and giving my all to everyone else, in return for feeling valued, loved, wanted, accepted, quite frankly its just a form of denial in itself.
I believe we can either own our stories (even the messy ones), or we can stand outside of them—denying our vulnerabilities and imperfections, deleting the parts of us that don’t fit in with who/what we think we’re supposed to be, chasing other people’s approval of our worthiness. It is quite frankly fucking exhausting and can feel like its a never-ending performance.
But I can honestly say that giving myself some space and time, just an hour in the morning to download my shit in my diary, (which by the way currently contains over 106,00 words) is really helping me to be able to step back, de-construct, review, think about how that situation is making me feel, ask myself what “what can I do?” Be clear about “what I can’t do or change” but more importantly give myself a fucking break!
Any problem, issue or concern whatever it is will require some thinking, reasoning, testing your theories, but you have to make time for this to #Haveawordwiyasen. Reaching out to others can help (you don’t have to do it all alone) seeking out counselors, sponsors or support groups.
You will need to consider what steps you are going to need to take to fix the problem or issue? what action are you going to take? what resources or support will you need? Some people expect that once they have identified or diagnosed unhealthy behaviors that they will change overnight, which is an unrealistic expectation considering some of our behaviors have been manifesting and growing for years.
Working on yourself before anyone else requires you to be brave and vulnerable all at the same time, there can be darker periods of self-reflection that can create states of self-doubt. I always associate these periods as being akin to pregnancy and giving birth, as a mother you trust that all the pain and discomfort will all be worth it because you are creating something magical, creating a new life and new and happier more contented version of yourself.
A starting point can be asking yourself one or two what appear to be on the surface to be very simple questions… (But they are vital)
What do you want?
What don’t you want?
Talking through your answers with your support network can help you get through this, what can sometimes feel a dark, lonely and isolating period. But we have to remember that, that’s all it is! a period a moment in our life that will pass.
Do a gratitude list – I do this often, it helps remind me about all the things I am truly grateful for and blessed to have in my life, this can also help outweigh or fill the voids
What I am learning to value more and more about my Journey is
We all can take back some control
Shit wont change, unless you are willing to change
Even the smallest changes eventually will make a BIG difference
Dont be afraid to try something new, something different
Its ok to not be ok
Be kind to yourself, no fucker is perfect
Read more – there is a whole universe of words out there, reading can help you realise that you are not alone in your thoughts
Nurture your friendships and relationships with others, but remember the most important relationship that you will ever have is with yourself.
So on that note, i’m off to clean the downstairs of my house, cos it’s loppy and i aint going to clean itself
I only share my knowledge with the intention of helping others. I have often questioned myself “Is it narcissistic to share openly about who I am?” But what I am learning is that if anything I take a risk of being misjudged every time I press the send button and a recent misinterpretation or accusation has just confirmed this.
The post on here is a synopsis of my daily journalling, which for me has helped me understand who I am. Writing has helped me understand myself and if my writing has helped another person, then it s a bonus. But the primary goal is my own personal development.
Sharing about some of my most vulnerable moments have actually turned out to be some of my greatest. I have been researching, reading and reflecting on the shame of late. As a result, I have felt better equip to recognise when I am feeling shame and I have learned how shame can silence us, how it has suffocated me and prevented me from moving forward.
I have carried a lifetime of shame, shameful thoughts and feelings that have restricted me and held me back from being my full potential. In my journaling I able to better question emotional and mental shame moments, I revisit them, dissect them then disregard them and then move on. Researchers suggest that the difference between shame and guilt is the difference between “I am bad” or “I did something bad” so for example
Guilt = I did something bad
Shame = I am bad
Shame for me has been like an invisible disease, shame has in the past consumed my thoughts and feelings and stunted my own emotional growth. Over the past year or so, I have learned more about who I am, but also the more I seem to learn about myself the less I actually know, which can be scary in itself. BUT, I would much rather live with the fear of the unknown, knowing who I am and learning to recognise and accept that “I am good enough”.
When I open up or share some of the invisible fears derived from shame that have consumed me, people are often amazed or confused “how can you think like that?” Or “I would have never known that about you, you always seem so confident “ and that is precisely why I am willing to share my own vulnerabilities, because we live in a society where it isn’t trendy or socially acceptable to show “what might be described as weakness”. My view is that what society labels as being a weakness is actually a strength.
We are all victims of our own emotions, and this isn’t about blame, but if we grew up in an environment where emotions were not acknowledged or talked about? Then how are we supposed to know how or what we are feeling?
I have been through my own shit, affected by my own addiction, my father’s addiction and have worked in the addiction field long enough to know that one of the key factors that keep people locked in a cycle of addiction is using substances or behaviours in order to avoid emotional pain. In, fact physical pain and intense experiences of social rejection hurt in the same way and just as we often struggle to describe or define physical pain the same can be said for emotional pain.
Consider two scenarios. In the first, you spill a hot cup of coffee on your forearm and experience intense pain. In the second, you look at pictures of your former romantic partner, a person with whom you recently experienced an unwanted break- up; as you view each photo you feel rejected and experience another kind of “pain.” On the surface, these two events seem quite distinct. Whereas the former involves a noxious bodily stimulus, the latter involves the termination of a social relationship. However, cultures around the world use the same language—words like “hurt” and “pain”—to describe both experiences raising the question: How similar are social re- jection and physical pain? https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/108/15/6270.full.pdf
So if we are feeling highly emotional for what might appear for no reason? We need to learn to understand that there is always a reason. It can help to learn to question where this pain is coming from, if we don’t we will try our best to label it or push it to one side, deny the emotion, sometimes using substances to dull the emotional feeling or acting out in other distructivebehaviours.
Thats why you will see people seek out support groups or another professional, like a counsellor to help them navigate life. Many do this with the expectation that someone else can help them heal from what ever is causing the distress at that time, but the bottom line is that the only person that can heal us, is ourselves. There is no denying that we can learn from others, being able to share some of our own pain with others who have experienced similar emotions creates a safe space to explore ourselves. I haven’t got to where I am now, without the support and guidance of others who have walked a similar path and have been willing to freely share their journey with me.
Helping people understand themselves should never be about personal financial gain however I do class myself fortunate to be financially rewarded in my job, because in addition to problem solving I am also able to help people find themselves. I share what’s most personal to me because I fundamentally value the importance of being open and transparent and that’s why I love working in the recovery field, I get to work and meet some of the most vulnerable but also the most courageous people I know and I am learning as much from them, as they are from me.
I will continue to use my position, my platform if you like to fight for the underdogs, for those who have been disregarded because of personal life choices or whose voice isn’t easily heard or ignored and if some people don’t get that, then that’s their problem, its no longer mine and I am slowly learning that it isn’t something to be ashamed about.