Author Archives: Psaryce

About Psaryce

In a word, I am quirky xx

A Beady-Eyed Creature Invades

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Tae A Hamster

Furgus The Inquisitive!

This little critter has invaded my home! He’s a Syrian Hamster and just adorable. Furgus is very inquisitive and not really shy! Here’s the back story before I talk more about him directly …

I have missed having a pet since the last rabbit (Zuri) was rehomed almost 2 years ago. I had rehomed my rabbit Dobbie due to health decling and me being unable to get down on the floor to care for her properly and regularly. Zuri was my daughter’s bunny and was rehomed when said daughter moved out. Now I know bunnies don’t make noise (unless in extreme distress) but it still felt like the house was oh so quiet with just me rattling around in it.

I thought about a cat (I am a cat person first and foremost) but with no window or door screens and living on a busy road that wasn’t an option. I’ve only had “indoor” cats so think I would not cope with wondering where my beloved was at any given time. But more my neighbour of 7 years (almost) has lost 2 cats to traffic accidents since I’ve lived here. Nope – I’m not risking that happening to a pet of mine.

I considered a small dog. I had dog-sat for my daughter a few times and enjoyed the company. But I feel I would need a dog small enough that I could pick up if it were ever injured or ill. I trialled a Jack Russell but he was too heavy and we didn’t get on well. Then I looked around some more and decided to hold off because even the rescue dogs are very expensive here (not like back home).

So cats were out as were dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs (had them and they stressed me out every morning demanding to be fed). Not keen on ferrets (mostly because I know nothing about them. Birds were a no as well – they seem like too much work plus I’d get one that squawked night and day knowing my luck. Gerbils I had as a child and decided they’d just a bit too small. Rats aren’t my thing either.

I gave up all thought of a pet for months until I saw a post for a free cage online. And it was posted by a lady I knew (not well but still). So I collected the cage and began thinking again. What would I like to live in it? The lady had kept a hamster in it and so I decided that was the pet for me! We’d had one years back, well it was my daughter’s when she was about 3 years old. Hamish his name was. He was cute.

So I started searching for rescue hamsters in my area. Blue Cross and the RSCPA websites kept showing me results for ones that were like 100 mmiles away! Ugh! I tried a few lesser know charities and no luck. I scoured Facebook sites and Gumtree along with any other site I could find. Nothing! I was surprised. It being after Xmas, I thought there’d be a few needing a new home. Sadly no.

Eventually (after a couple of weeks), I cracked and went to the pet store. There I found several to choose from (of course) along with some super sweet bunnies and guinea pigs. I debated between a Syrian Hamster and and Dwarf Hamster. The dwarf was so tiny and twee. He was also balck and white but more mottled all over. But Furgus was fluffy and set to get fluffier. Plus the dearves tend to be very fast and I thought I’d be better with a slightly slower model.

The lady packed in in a bow then another and finally another. She explained it was in case he chewede through (he didn’t). She said when I was home, to take him out of the first 2 boxes, open the third (the one he was actually in) and leave it in the cage. She said he’d eventually come out to explore his new home. Well this little varmit couldn’t wait to get out of the box! He scurried right to the opening and might have fallen if I hadn’t gotten it in the hole of the cage pronto.

He excitedly explored his new home sniffing all the time. He ignored the woven house I got for him to sleep in. He climbed the bars of the cage sniff, sniff, sniffing. He climbed up beside the wheel and sniffed it. He then started spinning the wheel from the outside while hanging on by his right 2 feet! Silly hamster! All this went out and repeated itself many times over about an hour. He then settled down for a sleep … next to the food bowl and under the water bottle! The opposite side of the cage from his house.

Late evening, he woke up and was happily running on the wheel. Clever little boy had worked it out (there wasn’t a wheel in thye cage at the pet store). Isn’t it interesting how animals seem to know how to do things yet we humans have to be taught?

He then began moving the paper tissue bedding out of the house and into the corner he’d slept in earlier! I thought “What silliness is this?!”. How could he prefer to sleep in the open when he had a nice cosy house all his own.

Well, the next morning there was no sign of him in the cage. There was a few bits of food outside hs bowl but no Furgus. He’d obviously given up on the idea of making a bed in the open corner and slept in his house. I was thrilled!

I’m going to gradually get him accustomed to me once he’s had a few days on his own in there. The cage has 3 levels but at the moment he only has access to one. I will eventually let him scale all three but one floor at a time. I have a playpen coming so that when I go to clean his cage he can roam about in it and be safe. I also intend to use it as a means of getting him used to me.

At the moment he’s eating a green bean. I had some fresh ones so sliced one open and took out the seeds as they can cause problems. I only gave a small piece so shall see how his digestive system handles it. He seems very happy with it so far though!

Love,

Psaryce x

 

 

 

Night Tremors and Why Having Fibro Sucks!

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I was given the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia in September (2019). Ever since I haven’t been convinced this was right. I still feel that all too often it is a diagnosis thrown out at people when their GP can’t be bothered to work out what’s really wrong. Especially those, like me, who keep pushing for answers. In March the same GP had actually said to me “well you are 50” :O as if that explained everything I was experiencing! I was too shocked that day to respond as I would have wanted to but I did throw that comment back at her in September. She, of course, didn’t recall saying it.

Unlike most I have heard of being diagnosed as having fibro, I wasn’t subjected to numerous tests or referred to anyone else. She just threw Fibromyalgia at me and that was that. She still didn’t refer me to anyone. I pushed to get a referral to occupational health so I could get some mobility aids. The OT has been very helpful and I’m so grateful to her.

But all this time I didn’t believe I had fibro. I knew I had ME (chronis fatigue) and the fatigue and exhaustion have been (and continue to be) my biggest concern. I simply do not have any energy. I cannot stay awake during the day for very long (2 hours tops). And the littlest activity drains me. This is what I had tried to get my GP to understand. Even with decent sleep I never feel rested. I never feel recovered or energized. It sucks!

Yes I get the odd time when simply brushing my left thigh causes terrible burning pain. Yes a lot of my body aches or feels sore on most days. But I thought these things were being caused by other things. Mainly having arthritis and myopathy and neuropathy. Well my GP did say that my arthritis was “very little so shouldn’t be causing so much pain” and the myopathy was “inconclusive due too the specimen being too small”. I pointed out that the arthritis was found 4 years prior and could have gotten worse and that she was the one who told me I had myopathy!!! Ugh! I feel I have to beg for her to listen and understand and BELIEVE me!

I had gotten so mad at one point prior to all this at her attitude (which used to be very good and she trusted what I had to say) and I saw a different doctor. Oh my word was that a mistake! That one dithered about one of my meds and would only give me 2 weeks worth at a time and kept wanting me to have blood tests. Problem was I couldn’t get the tests done before the medicine ran out!

Anyways I had an episode the other night that I have never experienced before in my life. It was scary! As per usual, I had video messaged with my mom then went to bed and read on my kindle for about an hour. My hands were a bit cold but that’s not unusual for me – they are usually cool. I put the book away, turned on some sleep music and switched off my light. I do this every night. I laid there for a while listening with my sleep mask on. Then it began!

It started with a tremor feeling inside me. In my torso. It felt as if every organ was shaking and contracting. It felt like a wave that started low in my torso and increased in intensity as it rose up to heart. My lungs felt contracted as did my heart. I think I held my breath during this as my lungs didn’t expand. Then it stopped. I remember thinking “that was one weirdly strong shiver”. But I wasn’t cold – just my hands.

It began again a few moments later. All my insides shuddering, shaking and contracting in a wave-like manner; growing in intensity once more. I cannot recall how many times this happened but then it got worse. Suddenly it wasn’t just my insides but my arms as well. With the internal wave of tremoring, my hands and arms began shaking uncontrollably. This happened at least twice before my legs also began twitching too. Then my head began to shake!

I thought I was having a “fit” and was so scared! With every pause between these episodes, I tried to think of what might be causing it. It couldn’t be my meds because those haven’t changed in 2 years. I hadn’t eaten anything new. Nothing at all had changed.

By this point, my heart was aching and my head was pounding. I knew my heart had been contracting so figured that was why it felt sore. My head I think was from lack of oxygen since I couldn’t breathe properly during the tremors. It was then I started to feel cold. I was already in my PJs, 2 pairs of socks and under a duvet and a quilt so no reason to be cold. During a pause, I cautiously made my way downstairs. I couldn’t get comfortable in my bed and downstairs would mean I could fill a hot water bottle and make a hot chocolate.

I got to my couch before the next tremor began and waited it out. I then turned up the heating and put the kettle on. Another tremor as I waited for it to boil then made the hot chocolate and filled the bottle. I managed to make it to the couch before it began again. When I could, I took my temperature … 98.6. Nope I didn’t have a fever. I was still trying to figure this thing out. I wanted to find a cause. I tested my blood glucose … a bit high but nothing that would cause all this.

Through all this I did wonder “should I call for help?”. I debated calling 111 for advice. The last time I did they, they sent an ambulance and I ended up in hospital for a week. Nope, I decided that I wasn’t going to do that again. It was not a fun experience.So I decided to wait it out and see what happened with the proviso that should things get worse I would get help.

It finally stopped 45 minutes after it first began. It felt like hours. I felt so drained and was in so much pain from it all. I wanted to go back to bed but I knew I didn’t have the strength to climb the stairs. My heart still felt a bit shaky at times and I kept worrying it would set the whole thing off again. I eventually drifted off huddled in my quilt with the hot water bottle and my Huggle hoodie on (with the hood up!).

I managed about 4 hours before waking with a horrendous headache. All that next day I felt dreadful. I was sore all over from all the twitching, contracting and shaking. My body is not used to that much activity! My headache stayed depsite medicine (though it was bearable with the meds). But I was completely spent and still felt the occasional rumble of my heart. With each one I anticipated everything to kick off but it never did … thankfully.

I did a bit of research and found that tremours are a symptom of fibromaylgia. I say a bit but I really spent hours reading a wide variety of sources before I finally accepted it was true. I did not want this to be the cause. I was still fighting the diagnosis in my head and wanted something to blame; preferably something more tangible. Fibro is such a mysterious illness. So much is not known or understood about it. There seems to be a stigma (maybe only in my head) about it. Like if you say you have it then people don’t take your seriously. Just like with chronic fatigue (ME). People don’t get it. They cannot understand (if they even bother to try). It’s also like the stigma about mental illness. None of these things are recognised as real problems because they are “invisible”.

But now I have to take stock and come to terms with this diagnosis. It’s time to stop fighting the diagnosis and start fighting for a way to cope and manage it. I know it won’t be easy – nothing is these days. Just typing this has sapped my energy and caused my shoulders and hands to be filled with a burning pain. I will need to rest at least twice as long as it took to write this in order to recover and be able to do something else. I’d never wish this on anyone and my sympathy goes out to those who also suffer.

Love,

Psaryce x

Stuck Without A Home

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The topic of me moving back the states has come up again. It was while talking to my mom on the phone and she said that my sister thinks I should just “come home”. They are not the only ones who have suggested this but no one seems to understand my predicament. There are a wide-range of multiple obstacles, consequences or reasons why I have continued to stay in England.

Firstly, medical care! Here in the UK, I am privileged to have access to the NHS. I have Type 1 Diabetes, Myopathy in my legs, Arthritic in my hips (and I suspect also in my hands and knees), anxiety and depression. Thanks to the NHS, I have free prescriptions, free doctor visits, free appointments with consultants and mental health care. Are you hearing me? All of my medical care is FREE!!! I do not have to worry at all about having enough money to get medicine or see a doctor – ever! This, for me, is a huge factor in staying here. I am terrified at the thought of trying to cope with medical stuff in the US. I know there have been times when I would not have been able to afford my insulin but didn’t have to worry because I lived here. I honestly do not know what would have happened if I had been in the US at these times. It’s likely that I wouldn’t be here to write this and that’s a very scary thought.

Second, income! I have battled for years to get the benefits I am entitled to here. I don’t feel I have the strength to start all over again over there. Also I have heard such horror stories of claims taking years to be awarded and some not being awarded at all. The US system is based on how much tax you have paid in and I haven’t paid much in since I only worked part-time jobs for a few years before moving over here 18 years ago. The US want recent taxes paid as well so the little I contributed years ago doesn’t count at all. When I think of the process of applying for benefits in the US, I foresee a long, complicated experience of having re-prove my illnesses and fight for any scraps they might deem fit to give me. This again is a daunting prospect.

In addition, I have limited funds due to existing on benefits (for health reasons). I therefore would have to leave everything I own behind and start all over again. This may sound materialistic but consider basic things like my car, bed, couch, phone, computer, sewing machine, overlocker, fabrics, TV, vacuum cleaner, dishes, towels, lamps, clothing (I couldn’t possibly take it all), spiritual items (I have a trunk full and more of those!), plants, books, craft supplies, knick-knacks and souvenirs amongst other things. I have several items that I cherish that would not be able to go with me or be replaced – such as a 1932 Singer sewing machine, numerous crystals and Wiccan objects, photo albums, momentos and souvenirs. When I moved here 18 years ago I arrived with 2 suitcases and have had to build up from nothing. I don’t think I have it in me to do that all over yet again!

Not just that but also I wouldn’t have any money to live on while fighting to get any benefit. I wouldn’t have a car (which is a necessity where I grew up in VA) to get around and no money for public transport (even if I could be brave enough to use it!). So what would I live on? How would I get food, clothing, medicine, doctor fees? And how could I get to the doctor if I had the money? Or to the shop for food if I could afford it?

Third, immigration! At present I have Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK. Due to the number of years I have lived here, I am entitled to benefits, medical care and what-not. I can stay as long as I wish and come and go without any problems. However, if I leave for 2 years or more, I would lose all of that. I would only be able to come back on a visitor visa for up to 6 months in a year. I wouldn’t have access to the NHS nor any benefits (rightly so).

The ONLY way around this is to get citizenship here (I would be a dual citizen of both the US and UK). But it currently costs about £2,000 for all the fees and what-nots to become a citizen here. Again I have limited funds and cannot afford this. If anyone wishes to donate money to me for this purpose, please feel free – I would forever indebted to you!

Fourth, my youngest daughter. I am the only family she has here now since her father moved out of the country. Yes she’s an adult now. Yes she’s moved out of my house and in with her boyfriend. And yes they may marry one day. But for now that is all new and unpredictable. I feel I should be here since she has no other family here.

Fifth, the weather. In Virginia it gets too hot in the summer for me. When I went to visit 2 years ago, it drained me and I was exhausted the entire time. Yes it rains a lot here and that adds to my depression but the heat has a far worse effect on my physical health. This summer in the UK, the temperature went up to low 80s (F) for a few weeks and I was in a bad way. My legs, ankles, feet and hands swelled up to a painful extent. I was dizzy and exhausted. I could do nothing at all as every movement was a painful, energy-sapping struggle. Yes there is air conditioning in the US but I still wouldn’t be able to cope with going outside since the temperature reaches nearly 100F most summers. It is also an oppressive heat – normally humid and sapping. The thought of how it would impact my physical health is not a good one.

Sixth, quality of life. What would I DO over there? Granted I don’t do much here but I know my options even if I don’t utilize them here. I have a garden and a greenhouse so can potter about with plants (which I love!). I also have house plants to tend which makes me feel needed. I have my sewing machines and supplies so I can create new things when I am up to it (like costumes and clothing). I have a ton of crafting supplies that I could keep myself busy with. I have books and my kindle which I do use to read and escape. I have my computer to entertain me and to use for looking things up or getting ideas and information. I volunteer at a sewing group for a charity which keeps me busy when I feel up to making things. I have my car and can go for a drive (not often due to anxiety while driving) or go to places like the parks or into town. I have a few friends and do get together with them or go to events with them.

I no longer have any friends in the US and am not that great at making new ones so wouldn’t have a social life at all. As said before I wouldn’t have a car so couldn’t get out whenever I needed or wanted to do so. No trips to the park to get away into nature or enjoy the weather. I wouldn’t have any of my sewing or crafting supplies, nor my books to keep me occupied.

Seventh, family. Aside from my mother, my family are an issue. My children in the US do not speak to me (therefore I wouldn’t be able to spend time with my grandsons). One sister doesn’t speak to me. One sister didn’t seem to be willing to make time for me when I was there 2 years ago even though it was the first time I’d been back in 16 years and had 3 months forewarning that we were coming over. Uncles, aunts and cousins have never stayed in touch and we’ve never been close. I have no living grandparents left. So that’s the family.

Eighth, my divorce is not yet final. I believe it would be very complicated to start the process in the US after all this time away plus I would no doubt need money to do it. Here I am able to access funding for the divorce costs and as it’s already going through I see no need to stop it now.

So it isn’t as easy as it sounds. It’s not a simple case of “just move back home”. I truly wish people would understand all this or at the very least try to put themselves in my position. I feel pressured move back to the US. I feel guilt for being here. I feel guilt for thinking of leaving here (because of my daughter). I feel regret for having moved over here in the first place. I feel stupid for not foreseeing the consequences of moving here. I feel torn between the UK and the US.

Psaryce x

Why Bother Getting Out of Bed?

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I awoke at 7.30 this morning. Unlike some mornings I wasn’t sad or crying but rather I wasn’t feeling anything at all. I sat up and took a sip of my iced tea (I always have a glass by my bed at night). Still not feeling anything. I lit up a cigarette and began pondering. How did I feel physically? Was I ready to get up for the day or did I need to go back to sleep? Neither question had any clear answer attached. I continued to ponder the pros and cons of getting up and those of going back to sleep.

Part of me could envision drifting back to sleep in the hope that when I awakened later I would have answers to those questions. Like I would somehow magically be filled with energy and excitement about the day ahead. I would get up with gusto and make a darned good start on all the millions of “To Do’s” on my ever expanding list. Things would get done; rooms would get clean, the laundry would get washed, the rubbish would magically relocate to the big bins outside. I would possibly even tackle the grass out back that desperately needs to be cut or I’d tend to the plants which have been neglected for about 2 months. Oh and my sink would become devoid of dirty dishes and would sparkle from a thorough cleaning. Just thinking of all this began to wear me out. I looked about my room at saw all the clothes that still hadn’t been put away after washing, the bin overflowing with rubbish, the dirty windows, the laundry bin and my mood began to sink. This made the idea of getting up seem even less appealing. If I couldn’t countenance going back to sleep and having the energy to do anything then how could I do it without a few extra zzz’s?

I was halfway through the cigarette and feeling despondent. There was nothing I had to do this day (I rarely ever have anything I have to do) and no one counting on me. This has been a difficult aspect of living alone to cope with as I’ve always had people depending on me. As a result, I have never had to make decisions purely for me. Thanks to depression and a marriage which pretty much squashed my fragile confidence, I don’t value myself enough to make good choices when it comes to how to spend my time. I tend to waste my days escaping into books or the television. My mind is constantly battling with the question “Why expend your little energy doing that when it’s only you here?”. Inevitably, it convinces me to not bother as there is simply to much for one person to do. Well for one person who has physical and mental health problems.

Years of depression have left the house in dire need of a deep clean from top to bottom. Those years have also sapped my energy and lowered my stamina to nearly zero. As mentioned before, I can get exhausted just thinking of all that needs to be done.

Lights cigarette #2. Still in bed. Still deciding whether to get up or not.

The silence of the house hits me. I am truly alone. The only things I can hear are coming from strangers outside. Their cars driving by, the neighbour in his garden and someone walking past either speaking to their companion or on their phone. My bedroom is at the back of the house so I couldn’t eavesdrop even if I wanted to. I don’t. I don’t want to risk hearing that their on their way to meet up with a friend or how they’re looking forward to doing something or seeing someone later. That they have a life and people in it. I turn my ears off and my mind drifts back to my past.

While in my first marriage, I was a housewife for a time and I developed a schedule for my weeks. At the time I had my husband, two children and my mother lived with us. I had a purpose, a reason to get up. I would see my husband off to work and my children to school. I would actually dress for the day (and not in sloppy baggy pants paired with whatever to I found that suited the weather). I dressed as if going to work and viewed my role as housewife as just that – my job. I had my cleaning rota (a room a day), a menu for meals, laundry schedule and errands all planned out for the week. I allowed some time for my hobbies (sewing and making jewellery) but my main focus was on running the house and raising my children. So this worked very well for me back then (but any attempts to do this in recent years has failed due to lack of motivation). I kept busy and at the end of the day my children and husband would return home and fill the house with life once again. I didn’t have time to be lonely, depressed or sad. I had the life I wanted and felt it was rich. When your mind drifts to the past like that, it’s easy to think of it as perfect. It’s hard to remember the negatives as you tend to focus on the aspects that you miss and wish you still had. It is a very slippery slope for one with depression.

Luckily, I couldn’t go far down that route because my hips began to hurt from sitting in the bed. They don’t like being in the same place for very long no matter what position I am in (sitting, standing, lying down). I gave in to the call of sleep and laid back down with the intention of drifting off thus delaying having to find those elusive answers. But I couldn’t settle. My mind had begun it’s daily chatter that plagues me every waking moment. It is relentless in it’s judgements, commentary and harsh taunting. It constantly second guesses every little thing I do making me feel incapable of doing anything. It persistently says “You will screw that up” especially if I am doing something out of my comfort zone (which is reading and watching telly). As I type this, it is commenting on every typo I make.

I got my phone out and tried to Google “why bother getting out of bed”. All the results centred on finding a job or volunteering. I cannot do either right now. I don’t if I will ever be able to do those things. I cannot be reliable enough to turn up. If I’m having a bad day (physical or mental) I can barely manage to exist.

I go to light a third cigarette and stop myself. The pain in my hips is too bad to stay put any longer.

So, I got up. I threw on some pyjama bottoms and made my way down the stairs. I made a coffee and let the dog out (I’m currently dog sitting). I glanced over Face Book then began writing this. I still have no idea what to do with my day. I would like to think I will fill my time doing meaningful things but wouldn’t be willing to hold my breath on that happening. These days I have to rest often in between doing things and those rests have a tendency to last far longer than I intend.

This is a brief glimpse into a typical morning for me. There is so much more that has gone on in my head but it include it all would only confuse the reader. Mine is not a mind any would want to delve too deeply into for it is a chaotic place where thoughts swirl about as if trapped in a tornado.

Psaryce x

Faux Friendships & Social Media

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I’m planning a cull. A Facebook “friends” cull. I intend to be harsh. It’s for my own good.

For many years I have only added people I’ve met in real life and thinking it was the smart way to ensure that everyone in my cyber-circle was genuine. So this is not a tale of faceless, unknown in reality relationships, but rather one of real life connections made face-to-face (to be clear, when I add someone as a friend, it’s not because I want just an online friendship, rather as a way of connecting and sharing when we’re not face-to-face). Yet I have realised majority of them actually aren’t genuine at all when it comes to wanting me in their lives. Oh I have known this for some time now but have clung to the hope that I was wrong. However now is the time to cut loose.

Over the years I have discovered that there is a distinct difference in what classifies as friendship in the US (what I grew up with) vs friendship in the UK (what I am currently experiencing). People here seem to be polite enough and seem to want you in their lives but never quite see it through. Promises of “meeting up” or doing something together are plentiful but they rarely lead anywhere real. To me this is just window dressing. These people appear to say these things just for the sake of saying them; never truly meaning them. A favourite saying is “I’ll check my diary”. This I say as not only have I experienced it countless times but one of the rare true friends I have has also been fobbed off with this comment. It’s code for “never gonna happen but I’ll string you along as it makes me feel like I’m being polite”.

Back home in the USA, when people say “let’s get together”, they tend to mean it – at least that was always my experience. There is no unspoken code hiding within their words. If they don’t want to meet up with you, they don’t offer. It may sound harsh but there is a refreshing honesty about that. You always know where you stand with people. There is no pretence, no fakery, no bullshit. I’m not saying it never happens over there but that I never experienced it. The people I met and knew were genuine.

They also seem quite cliquey here in the UK and it’s very hard to break into their circles. I thought for a long time it was because the people I was meeting had grown up together but that didn’t hold true. I began to feel it was because I’m not “British” and so was experiencing a form of XXX. I was the outsider as was evident by my “accent”. I made attempts to acclimate myself to the ways of these people so as not to seem intrusive. That didn’t work. It was never going to work as it meant trying to suppress the real me. I think that’s impossible as “me” always pops out regardless of what I do and I’m truly happy about that.

In the USA, when I met someone I hit it off with, they welcomed me into their fold. They introduced me to others they hung out with and it was so easy to get to know more people through that one connection. People were open and accepting and those who weren’t didn’t pretend – they let you know if they didn’t get you or your vibe. That didn’t mean you were shunned by the whole group, just that you didn’t interact with the few that didn’t particularly like you (or vice versa). But you ended up with a large circle of friends who all got along (for the most part) and hence you had lots of options. From my experience, it was like the TV show Friends – we were in and out of each others homes all the time, dropping by without pre-arranging anything and we knew everything about each others’ lives. We had real connections and bonds that didn’t break over petty things (I have been surprised at the number of people who have ruined things over the smallest of things here and not just my experience but others’ too).

Here, people don’t seem to do that whole introducing you to their other friends thing. It’s like they have segregated friendships – these people here, those people there and you (sort of) somewhere else. I find it very strange and damaging to my sense of self-worth. I feel constantly on the outside and never worthy of being brought into the inner circle. Ultimately, it can make me feel merely tolerated and as if my so-called friend is ashamed of me. I can honestly say that I never felt like that until I moved to the UK.

I spend a lot of time on my own these days and have been trying to use this time in a beneficial way (beneficial to me, my happiness and sense of self). It’s allowed me to cut through all the bullshit and see things (and especially people) for what they really are. I find myself longing for the type of connections I once had yet I am no longer disillusioned by the words I hear. I am now basing my decisions regarding my “friends” lists on people’s actions. I will no longer hang on and wait for that diary date that never materializes because that’s no way to live your life constantly waiting for something and it generates feelings of resentment and foolishness within me. I will not continue to be the one who always initiates contact with people as it isn’t good for me – it makes me feel unvalued and unwanted. I would rather have no one on my “list” than a slew of people who do not actually care about me, who don’t really want to spend time with me, who basically don’t value me.

So for those who may find themselves “unfriended” I say thank you for helping me to decide to choose myself, for showing me what does me more harm than good and for letting me see who my real friends are. I shall miss the potential of our friendship but not the negative feelings associated with it.

To those who remain on my “friends list”, know that I value our friendship highly. I feel blessed to have you in my life. You are the few and the rare whom I call my tribe!

 

Psaryce x

Looking Out For Number One

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The title is my favourite line in the lyrics of Public Image Limited’s Bad Life.

It is also something I struggle with. I always have. Far too often I put other people first. And when I don’t, when I try to what is best for me, what do I get? Grief. I get accused of being inconsiderate, of not thinking about others and of intentionally causing pain.

Bullshit! I never intentionally harm anyone (never have and never will). I am not inconsiderate, in fact I think of other people before myself 99% of the time. Well at least I have always done so in the past. But I am growing and in that process, I must begin to consider what is best for me short-term as well as long-term. And that means I can no longer sit back and just take crap from anyone. Especially not right now.

For the last few weeks, I have been battling stuff from several directions. The biggest thing is I have been trying to cope with my mental health issues while attempting to put together a coherent and concise argument against a decision by the DWP to cut my benefits. I have had no help with this at all. Instead, the person who should have been helping me has been dragging their heels about writing a letter of support to go along with my rebuttal. So not only have I not had the help I needed, I have had extra anxiety over whether or not supporting evidence would be available to submit along with my own.

Speaking of my mental health issues, recently I have been worse than I have ever been since I was 16. And the psychiatrist changed my medication just after Xmas. So bear that in mind as you read this (if you continue to read it). It has caused me to feel even more depressed, caused me to be very sensitive and I cry at the littlest things or become enraged almost instantaneously. This obviously adds to the already, ever-present struggle in my head that I normally face daily as I try to cope with these extreme feelings and at the same time resist reacting to them.

The cut in my PIP has lead to beginning a new battle with the council regarding my housing benefits. Where I live, you only have 2 options to contact the council: 1) by telephone. This is not an option for me as my anxieties preventing me from making this type of phone call and 2) via an online form. I, naturally, chose the latter. The system and the form itself were ridiculously stressful. There had been no forewarning of what detailed information I would need to hand so I had to scramble about in a rush to avoid the thing timing out. It did. 3 times. So I had to input some of the information 4 times in the end. This was bad enough but some fields on the form apparently required you to click an “Add” button even when you had no information to put into that field. The form did not tell you this, nor did the error message that kept popping up and preventing you from continuing to the next section. 2 hours later I was a wreck. I had been in tears while at the same time filled with rage. Tears over the undue stress I was having to face and rage at the council for stopping people from being able to go down to their office and speak to them face-to-face. Not only do I feel more capable of relaying information in a face-to-face situation, this lack of access to a human only serves to highlight just how Americanized the UK is becoming. We are no longer people. We need not have names as we have our National Id Number. And that is all we are now to the powers that be – a number. But that is a topic for another day.

Throughout all this, my central heating stopped working. This caused another battle to come my way as every winter we have lived here, the heating goes out. Every year the plumber my landlord used has said the boiler needs to be replaced. This year he has sent a different company to come and look. The new guy agreed – it needs to go. But whereas the previous plumber was quick to communicate and attend the property, the new guy is not. Over a week went by after his first visit without a word. I call and am told they will call me back. They don’t. Not for several days. Meanwhile, I have come down with a cold/flu bug thing and shivering despite many, many layers of clothing and blankets (not a good place to be when trying to think clearly enough to write to the DWP and navigate silly forms that make no sense). It’s been almost 4 weeks since I first reported the problem and it’s still not resolved.

So, I’m sick, freezing cold, mentally unstable, overwhelmed, trying my best to focus on taking care of practical things that have time limits attached to them (as previously mentioned plus trying to find the rent money & stressing over having to pay it late again) and a friend is giving me grief because I cannot deal with anything more than what is already on my plate. Well I don’t have the head space to deal with that and the way I feel right now, I don’t even want to. I have to finish off this stuff for the DWP and get it to them by Friday or I am screwed financially for certain. I have to build myself up to face opening the 3 letters from the council, which by past experience will only confuse me as they tend to contradict themselves and which will force me into having to find the courage to phone them to find out what they actually mean. I have to phone the plumber yet again to try and find out when I might be able to feel my toes and fingers again (seriously! I have been wearing winter hats & gloves in the house!). I have to try and make time to rest so my body can heal as I have come down with yet another cold/bug in the last 2 days. I have to find a way to build myself to facing my upcoming dental appointment on my own. All while trying not to think about the potential problems I face should I not be successful in getting my PIP restored, should my health decline more and I end up in hospital, should my landlord get fed up with the rent being late, should the food run out before I get paid again, etc.

With all of this going on, I am literally focusing on purely trying my best to get things done and just get through each day. I’m Looking Out For Number One because that is what I need to do right now. 

Psaryce x

 

2017 – My Year of Getting Kicked

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I have been struggling to write my usual end of year review post. This year has been a harsh one but I don’t want my post to be all doom and gloom. I’m trying my best to stay in a fact-based mind set so I can recap with some distance. The year was far too emotional to write about any other way. Distance isn’t easily obtained for me at the moment as I am still reeling from all the BS I’ve dealt with over the past 12 months. Yes it is all past but some of the crap 2017 sent to me has to still be dealt with and so it’s not gone.

The year began with me in low spirits. I didn’t have a roadworthy car so struggled to get out. This affected my therapy sessions as I fund it hard to get there without undue stress, anxiety and panic attacks. Quite early in the year, these sessions abruptly came to and end. It kind of blindsided me and left me feeling abandoned.

Car trouble was a theme of the first half of the year. I bought another one but within 2 weeks it became apparent that the seller had lied to me. It was going to cost far too much money (that I didn’t have) to fix it. I felt such a fool. I was then stuck with 2 cars that weren’t driveable and still stuck in the house.

Then I got ill. Very ill. I thought it was a bug and ignored it for weeks. It came to a point where I knew I needed help. I was at home alone (as usual) thinking I didn’t need to go to hospital. I called NHS advice line. They sent an ambulance as I argued I didn’t need one. The EMTs turned up. They insisted I go to hospital. I’m not that ill I kept saying. I was that ill.  I spent a week in hospital and many weeks at home recovering. I say weeks but I do believe it really took much longer before I was fully healed.

In the spring, I was assigned a care coordinator and a support worker from the community mental health team. This was to help me get out of the house and engaged in activities where I might meet new people and thus improve my mental health. It hasn’t really worked out that way. Life has been throwing too much crap at me and instead of working on “me”, we have been forced to cope with all the rubbish. Two different benefit assessments, countless weeks of exhaustion, anxiety, panic and depression that all stemmed from these two appointments. Followed by a final harsh kick in December when I discovered that I have lost another £246 per calendar month in benefits despite my conditions worsening. FU DWP! From December 2016 to December 2017, I’ve lost in total about £1,000 per month in income. Who the hell can take that kind of hit to their income??

Despite all this, I tried. I tried to go out and do things. I tried to meet new people and make new friends. I tried to take back some control of my life. I tried (very, very hard) to stay out of the Black Void. I was not very successful. Much of this year has been marred by depression, loneliness and anxiety. My overall mental health has declined as each attempt was made and failed. I have become more withdrawn and despondent. The future continues to look very beak to me. Years of constant assessments, financial worries, instability and nothing good to look forward to.

Yes this is a rather glum post but this year has really knocked the stuffing out of me. I feel battered by the assaults and enslaved by circumstances that I do not (at present) have the power to change. Remember, I tried.

For one, I tried doing a volunteer gardening programme. I love gardening and thought it would be ideal for me. It wasn’t. I felt foreign there amongst the people. People who were rude enough to ask “what mental health illness do you have?”. I didn’t really know how to cope with being asked such a question. After being asked that on two separate occasions, I’d had enough. The benefits did not outweigh the negatives.

I tried to get back into Shamanic drumming. I went quite a few times in the summer (after I’d gotten one of the cars repaired) and even bought my own drum. It was good but I think I overdid it. I went to too many events in one week and got overwhelmed. I tried to pace myself after that but it all sort of fizzled out for me.

I attended a few events in the summer and a couple in the fall. Most of them were good but left me drained afterwards and I had to spend a few days recovering. I had braved going to one event on my own by taking the bus as I didn’t want to be stressed about parking in the city center. It was great at first but that good feeling didn’t last. After trying my best avoid it, I was forced to speak to my ex. I didn’t want to but I can’t ignore people that speak directly to me – just not how I was raised. After that I saw 2 further people who I had no desire to acknowledge so I went home. Some might say I gave in but it was the better option for me at the time.

There have been some good times. Despite all this negativity, I won’t let it ruin the fun I have had and the moments I’ve shared with friends. My highlight of the year has to be being brave enough to go to London with the lovely Arianna to see the sexiest Ant to ever exist …

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At 63 years old, this man seems timeless. He is physically fit, vocals are perfect, high energy and to watch him live you really wouldn’t think he was more than 40 at the most! The band was ablaze, the walls vibrating and I was in ecstasy. Physically I paid for it for several days after but it was more than worth it. I didn’t want the night to end.

As mentioned, yet another walloping came from the DWP in December without warning. They cut my PIP benefit by £246 per month. A week before Xmas. I totally lost the plot. I went into crisis. I reached out to my support worker. He had to go to a meeting. I told him that I didn’t want to be here anymore (as in I didn’t want to exist). He rushed off to his meeting. He later apologised but for me the damage had been done. I had been sat staring at a blade as I spoke to him. Sat fighting all the immense desires to pick it up and cut. I think shock at being dismissed so casually is all that prevented me from giving in to the urges. Knowing I would be alone most of the holiday periods and that I would be changing medication during that time, he arranged for others to visit in his place – they call it “shared care”. I reiterated my anxieties over answering unknown calls so he agreed they would come to my house on set dates to be arranged.

On Friday 22nd, Chris visited and we made a plan on when I would be visited. The next two visits went fine. Then New Year’s Eve hit. I’d gotten upset in the morning and battled to just hold on until someone turned up. They didn’t. After 6pm, I rang the out-of-hours number. The man I spoke to apologised profusely but couldn’t explain why I’d had no contact. He made a note for someone to visit the following day. New Year’s Day. No one showed. No one attempted to even call. Again. Wednesday 3rd January, I texted Mark, my support worker to let him know the state I was in (I lost the battle with the blade) and what had happened. He replied he’d have them contact me – he’s off ill. Not that the guy can’t get sick but again his tone and words left me feeling fobbed off. No one has come. Still. No shared care visit or call. My “Care Coordinator” hasn’t even bothered to check on me. This has all lead to further depression, anger and isolation. If the people who get paid to pretend they care about you don’t bother then how can one even consider the possibility that others might/do. Trust has gone out of the window as far as the mental health team goes and it’s left me feeling in limbo. And I am stuck here. If I don’t carry on working with them then I have no help at all. This country’s mental health care leaves a lot to be desired.

Although it is now 2018, I view this as all part of last year. It has carried over. So much for cutting ties with 2017. I am being forced by circumstances beyond my control to bring too much rubbish into the new year. If nothing else, I must battled the DWP to restore my benefit monies. These things that, yes I have a choice on how I react and perceive them still have to be dealt with  in order for me to survive. Survival seems to be my word for the last who knows how many years and I am quite fed up with it. I am tired of just existing but no matter what I try, I can’t seem to break free. Perhaps this will be the year that I do. I must carry on clutching at any meagre straw of hope as I have done for several years lest I sink into total oblivion.

Goodbye and good riddance 2017 – I shall not shed a tear for you.

 

Psaryce x