#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
When dad came back into my life I could have never foreseen or predicted the journey I was about to take, I thought my addiction took me to dark places within myself, but dads addiction opened a new door to new fucking stratosphere of sadness and pain, but this time the option to turn to substance to help self medicate wasn’t there.
Trying to reason with someone who is permanently intoxicated is near on impossible, sometimes there would be a glimmer of hope, he would be hospitalised which gave him some clean time, I would get drawn into a false sense of security and hope, the promises of stopping drinking and sometimes he would stay clean for a time, but he would soon crave, kick-starting the cycle of madness all over again. – again It wasn’t easy.
Loving an addict is like grieving the loss of someone who is still alive, coming to terms with the hurt when you realize that the drug is more important than you. The sadness can be all-consuming and it used to come in waves, often I would push to one side my needs or the needs of others prioritising the needs of my dads.
I found I had become addicted to dad, every waking moment, one moment I had hope, the next I would be waiting for the dreaded phone call to arrive. I was on a parallel journey with the addicted side of dad whilst he became obsessed with his drug of choice, I become obsessed with him.
My friends and family became sick of my incessant obsession with dad, I would turn down opportunities to socialise, soon the invites stopped coming.
I knew first hand when I was entrenched in my addition I couldn’t see or acknowledge the damage I was doing to myself, let alone the damage and pain I caused my loved ones around me, that’s not to say I didn’t care, but I was so self-obsessed with myself I didn’t have the capacity to see. So I would try my dammed best to not take dads refusal of help personally, but the rejection and denial still hurt.
It seems counter-intuitive and is often greeted with confusion when someone suggests to a family member of an addict that they should seek help for themselves, after all its the addict who is ill, their rationale is “if the addict gets clean, then everything will go back to normal.” But the thing is, life will never go back to normal “Whatever the fuck normal means”
I started to come to terms and to accept that whilst the opportunities to get clean might be there for dad if choice nor will isn’t there then I could never force him into recovery. Accepting he was on his own journey was hard, I had a choice whether or not I walked his journey with him, or walked away. In my case, I stayed, but I accepted I needed support.
Accepting help can take you on a journey, a healthier journey, helping you to become a more resilient version of yourself, you become more self-aware, your mind becomes less consumed with the addict. One of the biggest learning curves was accepting that I wasn’t responsible for dad’s addiction, the same as my mother or father wasn’t responsible for mine.
The anger I felt, at the time was indescribable, resentments which I had bottled up from the past and anger around dad coming back into my life ate me alive inside. Then came the guilt, I would be ashamed of some of the thoughts that consumed my mind. I couldn’t talk to family, they were sick I hearing about my wows, I could see colleagues eyes roll at the very mention of dad.
I found talking, and being able to offload the hurt and pain with like-minded people acted like a pressure valve slowly being released, it helped me lighten my thoughts, patterns of thinking, it helped me get back in touch with my own emotions, focusing less on the dad, what he said, what he did, or worse didn’t do
Support gave me a new perspective, the ability to see things differently.
In my case eventually, dad’s alcoholism did kill him, I still live with regrets, I am not the person I was before dad and his addiction, but I am certainly a stronger version of who I was. Nothing in life is easy, but with the right support and willingness to accept support, it can help ease the burden.
We only have one shot at this thing we call life but what I learned so far is that above everything that I have been through, is that the most important person in this world is ourselves.
So for those still living on their wit’s end
Please don’t forget you
There is no denying you will still feel like crying
Addiction is a heavy burden to bear
But try not to despair
Remember“Deep down they know you care”
Make a pledge to yourself
Be the best version of you
That’s all you can do
Your life is not over
Make time to mourn
But be the best version you can
And continue to learn
Appreciate what you have got
We are not here long
Live one day at a time
Continue to be strong
Try not to be afraid of who you truly are and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more posts, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up, If you liked the post please share, if you don’t then do nothing and that’s ok too.
I knew deep down that my drug use couldn’t go on forever, I just never knew when or what would make it stop, I was praying for someone, something any intervention to make all the pain go away. This period of my life was like being in a real-life nightmare, I knew my drug use was causing me harm, physically, emotionally and spiritually, but still, I felt compelled to use it.
I can still vividly recall the many time’s I would look at my gear before ingesting it, knowing deep down it wasn’t good for me, I could stare at it for a while but could see no other alternatives so just went into “Fuck it” mode and would down the lot.
My thinking became so distorted I truly believed that the drugs were giving me some relief from life at that time, I had developed a warped sense of reality, I no longer trusted anyone, apart from one person, my dealer.
We would spend hours talking shit, I felt like he was the only person who knew me, got me, understood me, turns out this was just a part of my delusions, psychosis brought on by my dependency on the drugs.
I loved my job, It was my only place of sanctuary away from home, I love the customers the camaraderie but I could also sense that, that was also spiraling out of control, people started to treat me differently (or so I thought, I never considered it might be me) I was becoming less reliable and then one day I was given pay packet and asked to not come back.
I was a walking paradox, I was a fake, everything about me was a lie, to the outside world all was good, life was good, but on the inside, I was screaming and crying to be helped, but the words would never come.
I tried to hide my raging habit from friends and especially family fearing what might happen if people did find out, Oh god the shame I would bring on the family I couldn’t tell people that my parters job was dealing drugs and I was his joey, but they knew something wasn’t right.
Family and friends questioned my ever decreasing weight loss, I would shrug it off and blame work or being forever busy and always on the go, or worse I would interpret their questioning as being envious for not being able to lose weight themselves.
I became a master manipulator, I could twist people’s concerns and make them about them and not me. My mom had tried to seek help and had me assessed by professionals, on one occasion she even called the police, but would always deny that I had a problem and of course the offers of support.
All this did was isolate me even more which was more soul-destroying. I couldn’t go on like this forever, I knew something had to give and it eventually did, I snapped.
I gave up, I didn’t care anymore, I had no more fight left me, I realised I didn’t care what my partner said anymore, his words just bounced off me, they no longer perpetrated me as they had done before, I no longer gave a fuck about anything including myself!
I can look back now and say hand on my heart that my addiction was the best thing that ever happened to me and I wouldn’t change a thing, the lessons learned have been life-changing, and any old or new ambitions I ever had have been realised in my recovery.
My drug addiction took me to dark places within myself I never knew existed, in early recovery I was still in that dark place, but I was brave enough to switch a light on when i did I started to see myself differently. My recovery was and has been slow, painful and many a time has been extremely hard, the struggle was real, but then when I compare it to how I was when using, there is no comparison.
In my early recovery whilst I still felt isolated, physically and mentally, I knew I had to step away from old associates and take a risk on trying to find out who I was. Ironically I started to feel more comfortable with being alone, not depending on or someone being dependant on me offered some light relief, it was a different kind of isolation.
I had always ways been incredibly resourceful, so a large part of my recovery was about honing these skills to better use. This meant focusing on me, putting myself first instead of everyone else, even when at the time this felt selfish and self-indulgent, I knew deep down it was the right thing to do.
I started to learn and assess the healthy and unhealthy ways that I was using my energy and learned to identify my positive and negative behaviour patterns.
The relationships that count have been restored and the new friendships that I used to desperately seek out are now present and a constant in my life.
I am now longer afraid of my feelings, including the negative ones, I now realise that this is part of who we all are, we all will experience pain, whether self-inflicted or by another, it one part of being human.
Before I felt constantly suffocated by my thoughts too afraid to say what I thought, now I will tell you what I think, no longer afraid to share my views out of fear of being laughed at or brushed off.
I am better able to accept that change is inevitable, I come to accept that time and other peoples actions are out of my control, the only thing I have control over is how I respond to change. I am willing to take a risk and have learned to trust that success always out weights the failures.
Life feels less frightening I am less afraid of failure I welcome failure, we all need failure, it helps us learn, failure isn’t a bad thing it is healthy, its character building and improves our sense of resilience.
Rather than bottling up what’s happening for me, I will now confide with people who I trust, people who are able and willing to accept me for who I am and who will tell me the things I might not like to hear.
Hand on my heart I truly believe that had it not been for my brush with addiction, I wouldn’t be who I am today, if you are in dark place, I encourage you to never give up on yourself, you are more than you think or feel you are, find the courage to switch the light on within yourself to find your way out
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, If you liked the post please share, if you don’t then do nothing and that’s ok too, Love Fordy x
Every single one of us craves the feeling of being part of something bigger than ourselves. By nature, we are tribal, and back in our caveman days, tribal culture was necessary for survival.
I have always been a daydreamer, as a kid, I would fantasize a lot, I was trapped in a fantasy world wishing and hoping for something or someone to make me feel loved and content, it became a form of escapism.
Growing up I spent much of my life tiptoeing around my desire to find a group of people among whom I could be accepted, I always felt on the outside, I felt like everyone had someone and I had no one. I would adapt like a chameleon to fit into a group that felt safe and secure from the outside. I was on a continual search but my tribe the people who I belonged to kept on eluding me.
In my teens I became a young mom, in a new relationship, I was caught up in a new identity and I gave up on my longing to fit in, my new mission was to deal with the cards I had dealt myself and get on with life. But there was always something missing, that longing for something, I still didn’t know what, but it was still there. I turned to drugs to drown out the dull ache, the empty feeling of loss, I would seek out others who I assumed would make me feel perfect, happy or content. – that clearly didn’t work
It wasn’t until I turned (or should I say was forced) to turn the spotlight on myself that I realised that the stories about what was normal and what I thought was perfection I’d been telling myself simply wasn’t true and the tribe or persons I was looking for, didn’t exist.
I learned that the something I was searching for was already there, in me
I realised I had been trying to cover the inner void with appearances, acting in ways that were socially acceptable but in doing that I wasn’t actually investing any time or attention on me, I was constantly avoiding me.
According to Byron Katie “We have 20/20 vision about others, but not about ourselves.” I have learned and am still learning a lot about how not to be the victim and started taking personal responsibility for what happens to myself, rather than blaming everybody else.
As a society we have a skewed image of normal, we perceive that normal becomes having the ideal relationship — or a relationship — a solid emotional self, a healthy life, plenty of money, drive and motivation, clear objectives, and an established sense of purpose. The implication is, that without these things, you’re not normal, I realised that normal doesn’t exist and if it does I would much rather be abnormal thank you very much.
We live in a society where individuals don’t know how to be truthful and how to come clean with each other, in a society that worships an idea of perfection and is neither open nor tolerant of difficulty or even difference.
But life is about challenge and doubt. We cannot escape it but we can restore balance when the balance isn’t present but to understand this requires you being connected with yourself to even begin to acknowledge it.
I learned that honesty had become a dirty word and that many people are scared, to tell the truth, out of fear of rejection, myself included.
I learned to realise that instead of trying to be part of a tribe that already existed, I would need to create my own. I now realise that there were people who I had, overlooked on my quest to find my “perfect tribe”. I had missed/overlooked them because they might have looked different to me or didn’t have anything in common with.
I learned to be more open, take some risks and let people in, turns out that some of those people I let in have become my most unlikely friendships will last a lifetime.
Connection doesn’t necessarily involve knowing all the answers — but at least knowing what the questions helps? It’s ok to have issues, and experience challenges. It is ok to know some things and not know others, to navigate something, or handling a type of experience or feeling. Fear is normal. Anxiety is normal. Insecurity is normal.
I have learned the hard way and that being honest with yourself is not the easiest thing to do. Looking after everyone else, putting their need first, while your needs are put on the back burner doesn’t work.
The weight of responsibility can feel like a heavy burden at times, it can also feel lonely, but the bottom line is that “this is your life to fix and shape as you see fit.” Healing takes time and distance to pick up the pieces that were broken, there are NO QUICK FIXES.
We live in a society where it feels like technology is taking over, how we communicate is very different than it used to be, (I”m not saying its all bad) but it will not and cannot replace being able to sit opposite someone in person, look each other in the eyes, and have meaningful, genuine conversations about what truly, deeply matters to you.
Something or someone can never fix the relationship that we have with ourselves, because the reality is, that the only thing or person that can do that for us, is ourselves.
Do yourself a favor
Make time for you, even if it’s 5 minutes a day
Remind yourself that you are enough, even when you might not feel like you are enough
Ask yourself “how are you feeling?” Answer yourself honestly
Start to get to know who you really are, question everything, including your own thoughts!
And most of all, try not to be afraid
Learn from your mistakes
I promise this – The more you learn about yourself the closer to will get to accepting yourself.
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, If you liked the post please share, if you don’t then do nothing and that’s ok too, Love Fordy x
When I entered the mental hospital, I genuinely had nothing left, no feelings, no emotions, I mind was blank, my body completely numb, there was no resilience left in the tank. After a few sessions with the shrinks they concluded that I had had a couple if mini mental breakdowns in the run-up to the finale which saw me running around the streets in a drug-induced psychosis thinking I was John the Baptist who was being stalked by the devil himself, they also concluded that of course the speed wasn’t helping and was a contributing factor.
Upon being discharged I returned to a toxic relationship that had contributed to my mental health breakdown in the first place. I assumed after my short respite in the hospital, as did my family that I was fixed and that if I abstained from drugs that life would go back to normal “whatever the fuck that means”. But one afternoon two months of being back in the family home, the penny dropped, something inside of me changed and I decided there and then, that if I stayed there any longer I would be back to square one. That I would get sucked back into all the charade of deceit, manipulation and coercion disguised as a relationship all over again.
The hardest part of my early recovery journey apart from being a single parent on benefits, with no means of going back to work I had lost sense of my identity I was a shell of the person I used to be, the home I was given was also a shell, no furniture no home comforts,. I recall my sister insisting that I go back to the family home and take what was mine, but I didn’t have the energy to fight over something that was also being used as a bargaining tool to entice me back. I also knew no amount of materialism could fix what was broken everything that I thought I knew and believed had been sucked out of me, I had to start again.
I knew that I couldn’t go back to being who I was before, I was no longer good old “Fordy” who would drop everything in return for feeling accepted or for an easy life. Something had changed, I had changed, I was no longer a passenger in this reality we call life, I was now the driver, albeit with L plates. As I look back I was still very vulnerable and still mentally unwell for a while, I had taken myself out of a toxic relationship and environment, but I still had more work to do on myself.
I learned to distinguish who my real friends were and trust me apart from family there was no one, well no one that was good for me. The people I would once call friends were just actually transactional associates who didn’t have my best interest at heart.
I learned this the hard way from a relapse, I had been clean for over 4 months, I bumped into an old associate (who was also an old dealer) with the offer of selling some stolen goods to make some quick cash, I agreed and started making a little on the side, one day I was offered some speed, despite this person being fully aware of my past history, and at the time I naively thought, “it won’t hurt” but as the drug started taking a hold, my body shook and I thought that my head might explode, I couldn’t think straight, it was like I had been teleported back to a very dark place. It wasn’t the reaction I was expecting, but then again, I wasn’t the same person, I knew that drugs weren’t the answer.
The ability to be honest with yourself is not the easiest thing to do knowing that you need to nurture some love for ourselves. Looking after everyone else, putting their needs first, while your needs are put on the back burner doesn’t work.
The weight of responsibility recovery comes with the knowledge that this is your life to fix and shape as you see fit and it can feel like the loneliest place on earth. Healing takes time and distance to pick up the pieces that were broken, there are NO QUICK FIXES This is one of the main things I learned since walking out of those doors of Middlewood hospital twenty plus years ago, I have also learned…
I have learned that my drug use was a very poor solution for fixing problems within myself, that only I could change.
I have learned to accept that shit things happen and that not all of it is my fault or within my control – but this takes time a patience.
I have learned to accept that I cannot change others into someone I want them to be because this is simply impossible – however you do have a choice, you have either accept them, tolerate them or walk away.
I have learned to become brave, trying new things, meeting new people opening doors to something different.
I have learned to accept that I will fail at something and that failure isn’t a weakness, its part of life.
I have learned that sometimes in order to gains some perspective, we need to step away and make time for self-reflection – this is a biggy and where peer support can come in handy
I have learned to love myself and put myself first – without feeling selfish or that I am letting others down
I have learned that you can create beautiful amazing things from sadness.
Other lessons learned from a loved one’s addiction
All this learning also helped when my father was catapulted back into my life 10 years later. Dad has always had a woman on his arm, I realised he had a new mistress and I was shocked when I realised his new mistress, was alcohol. Everything I had ever learned about my own addiction took on a whole new twist, I was now on the receiving end of a loved one’s addiction. I was forced into developing a whole new set of coping strategies.
I had to make a decision “did I stay or walk away?” I had every reason to walk away, I mean I didn’t owe this man anything, but knowing what I knew about my own addiction helped me to understand his and over the three years of caring for dad, I was able to see, that dad was no different to me, he shared memories that haunted taunted him, memories he was unable to forgive himself for.
I knew deep down that despite all the help, offers of support not just from the family but from professionals that the only person that could say goodbye and walk away from his relationship with alcohol was himself, sadly he never could and sadly he died from it.
Years ago I had never heard of AA or NA before, but now there is so much more on offer and with over 49 different support groups operating in the city, there is much to chose from. Over the years, as more people speak out, as more peer-led support groups, online forums develop there is more than ever someone out there who can help you find yourself again. But don’t be duped or fooled into thinking that a support group or someone else alone can cure you, but they can help you cure yourself but more importantly love and accept yourself.
As a recovery community, we don’t look down on relapse we see this as being an opportunity to learn and accept that relapse is part of the journey to finding and loving yourself. all we can do is help and guide others, by sharing our own experiences we can demonstrate that using substances to fix something that is or may seem to be broken isn’t a solution and by offering, encouragement, support, and guidance hopefully, we can inspire and show that anything is possible.
Try not to be afraid of who you truly are and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more posts, 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
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?
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