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Panic

I'm sitting here this afternoon, inbetween lifting Cracker off the laptop keyboard every few minutes because she's gotten way too overexcited over some food I'm trying to eat, and panicking over the idea of leaving the house tomorrow.

I've suffered from panic attacks for several years now, but they really hit the fan after Nick's death, of course. They'd be easier to deal with if I could predict them in any way, but really just about anything can set them off. A few weeks ago I was having regular attacks over the idea that Lily might have some sort of hideous fatal mouth or jaw or tooth cancer because she was doing strange things with one side of her mouth and occasionally pawing at it. Turns out she was just losing a tooth, and she's now fine and it doesn't slow her down in the slightest (then again, Cracker has absolutely no teeth and I'm still not sure she's even noticed). So generally they tend to focus on worrying about the cats (Nick used to be included in that too...), my own health or doing regula everyday things that now terrify me.

A couple of weeks ago, my brother suggested to me that, if/when my PIP is finally sorted out, I should consider getting the card from the new local cinema that allows me to go see as many films as I want for only £16.90 a month. He figured it would be a good thing for me, as I like films, of course, it would get me out of the house and it's a pretty low-effort social activity. I could just sit in a dark corner of the cinema with my over-priced bottle of water and pack of Malteasers and enjoy films without having to resort to torrenting if I wanted to see them when they actually came out. I have to admit, he's probably right.

Anyway, this week I got my Hardship Fund cheque from the university, which was £300, and my brother informed me last night that he's managed to secure another £300 for me by selling my mother's old jewellry that he found in the attic recently (I don't wear jewellry very often, apart from sometimes earrings and very occasionally necklaces/pendents. Most of my mother's stuff was rings and stuff with coffee beans on that I used to buy her when I was young, because she was a coffee fiend and I figured she'd appreciate the connection). So I'm currently in a place where I can pay several upcoming bills and have some money left over, which is something of a rarity for me over the last few months. So, flush with success over yesterday's trip to Tesco's during the daytime, last night I had the idea of going to the cinema on Monday.

And then my brain started to think about that idea, and then everything went straight to hell.

Outside is scary. Talking to strangers is scary. Being around other people is scary, even if you might be going at a time when no-one else would likely be going to see the film you want to see. People will stare at me, laugh at me, talk about me behind my back. What if someone sees me and reports me to the DWP for daring to do something outside the house instead of sitting inside and being a penniless miserable crazy person? What if something goes wrong? What if the house catches fire while I'm out, or someone tries to break in, or something else happens to one of the cats? Too many variables, all of them out of my control, and they sink into my stomach and churn and churn until I'm practically frozen with fear over something that's still theoretical.

I have no-one to talk me down any more. Well, no-one close enough to do it immediately. Nick used to have that job, obviously. When they can the cats try to help too - well, Lily does, nuzzling and licking me (and occasionally nipping my nose) to try to take my mind off things. Cracker tries too, but her attention span isn't the best. Beyond that, the only people I talk to on a semi-regular basis are my brother who calls every evening, and a couple of people who I talk to sometimes over IMs. The social isolation makes the panic worse, and then makes it worse again by making it difficult to deal with it. Most of the people who said they would stay in touch with me after Nick's death have moved on, much as I feared, so that's out as well.

One of my hopes when I started writing here again was that putting all of this down would help me somehow. Putting my feelings down into words does help me to see things a little clearer, but not with the actual calming down from panic attacks. I've got no idea of how I'm going to deal with that.

So I'm just going to sit here on the sofa, watching YouTube and avoiding doing anything productive.
I went shopping in the daytime today.

That probably doesn't sound like too big an accomplishment; like it would be on par with "successfully posting a letter" or "having a telephone conversation with someone you vaguely know", but it's a pretty big one for me. Even before Nick's death and my complete breakdown and withdrawl from society, I was pretty socially avoidant and anxious about crowds, so now it's more like throwing myself willingly into a vat of acid with acid-proof sharks swimming around in it.

Normally, if I have to do any grocery shopping that can't be done at the corner shop 100m from my house, I do it in the middle of the night. After all, what's the point of having a 24-hour Tesco's in the area if you're not going to go shopping at 3am? Also it's quiet, there are very few other shoppers around, you don't have to get in a queue for perusing the Clearance shelves and the staff usually play classic rock or party tunes to keep themselves awake as they stock shelves. For someone like me, it's all in all a good time for shopping.

But at the weekends Tesco's closes at midnight on Saturdays because of the Sunday Trading Laws (bah) and so when I realised I needed to go shopping today I was faced with a decision - either wait until the early hours of Monday morning or go during the daytime today. In the end I decided I didn't want to wait. Also I needed batteries.

For me, going out at any time is fraught with anxiety, but daytime is the worst. There's too many people around, and I constantly feel that they're all looking at me, judging me, thinking and talking about me, mocking me. It doesn't help that I've currently got what would be several days' beard growth on a man adorning my face, of which I'm horribly self-conscious about but also too depressed to do anything about (it's a vicious circle) And supermarkets are always crowded in the daytime, especially at weekends. If I could I'd keep my eyes glued to the floor the entire time I was there so as not to make eye contact with anyone for even a second, but that way leads to being run over by a trolley. On the other hand, I'm probably one of the few shoppers who actually notices the people in the disability scooters. I'm not good in the taxi journeys there and back, either; too much traffic on the road for one, and any vehicle that comes too close (in my mind) to the car makes me flinch away from the side as though it's about to come through the door to punch me; and I live in constant fear that the taxi driver will try to start a conversation with me - especially if it's a driver who's picked us up in the past, because they inevitably ask where Nick is and then things get even more awkward.

But I made it through. I had to wait at the Clearance shelves for about five minutes because a woman with quite obvious OCD was there arranging everything on the shelves according to food type and size (not a shop worker, just a customer), but I can understand that urge and it seemed to be making her happy. I managed to not break down and buy a 12-box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts (even though they had new Cookie Dough-filled ones) and bought foods that, when combined with other foods, will make complete meals and will last me a good while before I need to buy more. I also bought foods to snack on while watching stuff on the TV. And I bought the cats a treat of Sheba Tuna with Prawns, which was well-received.

Forgot to buy the batteries though.

Na-na-na-na...

Depression problem #23: random bouts of insomnia. Still, I can't complain too much; I've got a cat by my head, another lying purring on my boobs like they're a built-in cat shelf, and Iain Duncan Smith has resigned.

The way I found out went a little something like this: I was chatting on IMs with a friend, and the conversation went a little something like this:

Him: City of Titans will happen. I still have hope.
Me: I will sacrifice a Tory to make it happen.
Him: That's not saying much. I also don't think they're worth much.
Me: Yeah, but I'm not going to kill anything I actually *like*, am I?
Him: I imagine their worth is like the Zimbabwe dollar.
...
HOLY SHIT [KAT] YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO ACTUALLY DO IT
Me: [halfway through talking about something unconnected] Who did I-
Him: Literally this very moment Iain Duncan Smith just resigned.
Me: Holy crap I'm good.


The only bit of this that's causing confusion is that he's resigned because he disagrees with the proposed cuts to ESA and PIP that I was talking about yesterday. Which means that he's technically on our side - a concept my mind is having a few problems wrapping itself around right now, as Iain Duncan Smith has traditionally been the equivalent of a Penny Dreadful villain stalking the disabled with his his previous record. The fucking bastard Tory government is desperately trying to spin this back into something vaguely positive ("We totally don't understand all the fuss about this; it was all agreed in our weekly meetings over a glass of freshly squeezed baby's blood!") but it's looking increasingly likely that the cuts now aren't going to go through - at least not the way they are right now, at least. Oh, it's still very likely that the government will try to sneak them through somehow, but the sheer number of people in both Parliament and the House of Lords now who are opposing them are going to make that almost impossible.

And I've had requests to work my magic on George Osborne next. Watch this space...
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Friday Five 18.3.16

1. Do you consider yourself young, old or middle aged?
2. When you think of your parents at your current age, did you consider them older than dirt?
3. What were you really into when you were a kid?
4. Who was your best friend in elementary school?
5. What do you bring with you everywhere you go?

1. I think, at 36, I'm officially in the "middle-aged" category now. Sometimes I feel older though, because really, I've been through an awful lot for 36 years.

2. When my parents were 36 I wasn't even alive, so I tend to think of them as young. Which is strangely contradictory when you consider I now think of myself as "middle-aged"...

3. Pretty much the same things I'm into now, actually. Transformers, super heroes, comic books, cartoons... I also watched a lot of Real Ghostbusters cartoons, for example. And of course because I was a precocious freak I was also into reading all kinds of stuff about UFOs and ghosts (and believing nearly everything I read to boot, which is the only real difference between then and now). Basically, I don't appear to have grown up very much.

4. In primary school I didn't have many friends. I had one friend who was friends with me for about three days because we had the same shoes, then she decided she hated me because I dared to talk to someone else (5-year-old politics!). I had a friend called Lynette and another called Hugh for a few years, then when I changed schools it was a girl called Ruth and a boy called Mark.

5. My keys and my phone. And my numerous dysfunctions. Not that I go many places.

(from http://thefridayfive.livejournal.com/139534.html)

Mar. 18th, 2016

Over here in the UK this week we had a Budget, which is basically when a politician who has somehow been given control of the nation's money sets out his plans to waste that money for the next year or so. It's all very thrilling and fun for all the family, provided you're rich. This year's Budget has had a couple of extra fun things - a "Sugar Tax" on soft drinks (joke's on them; I'm perfectly happy drinking water) and the inevitable cuts to disability benefits, which sadly do affect me.

My own ongoing experiences with the DWPCollapse )

Currently, the fucking bastard Tory government (that's their full name, don't believe the people who claim they're just called "Conservatives") are trying to make things even worse for disabled people claiming these benefits as well. One thing they want to do is cut the basic ESA benefit for all new claiments, regardless of marital status or anything else, to £73.10 a week - which as I've already said, is all but impossible to live on. The other thing they want to do is reduce the "scoring" for whether you can dress yourself unaided or use the toilet unaided in the PIP assessment "because those people will already have aids to help them at home and so don't need any extra money", thus reducing the amount of money people can get from PIP by anything from £30 to £50 a week.

Imagine that. You've already had to go through the humiliation and probable soul-crushing acceptance that you can't use the toilet by youself, which is then added to when you have to admit it to an uncaring government official. The government then turns around and tells you that you just aren't disabled enough for them, now kindly piss off and die in a gutter somewhere away from the rich people. For all my problems (and there are a lot of them) I am regularly thankful that incontinence isn't one of them (except maybe for when I drink too much orange juice and then get up and suddenly realise that I really should have gone to the bathroom 15 minutes previously and now have to get up the stairs with my legs crossed, or when I have a sneezing fit because apparently I'm older than I used to be, or at the very least my bladder muscles are), because short of being completely confined to a bed or wheelchair I can't think of a bigger indication of "needs assistance to live the same life as everyone else". And yet the government have decided that it's not good enough any more. "Disgusting" is too mild a word for it.

(I do score points on the "needs reminders/prodding to dress self" scale; not because of any physical problems but because I just don't see the point of doing so. Depression has made it so that I just don't care what I look like most days, especially since I don't leave the house and my makeshift bed/sofa most of the time anyway, but I admit that I find it easier to explain the stupidity of the "toilet needs" cut better.)

Right now, a rare thing is happening though. The government is actually facing opposition to these plans, and not just from the other political parties. Even other Tories are standing up and going, "Actually, this is going too far," So there's talk of possible u-turns on one hand, while others in the government are attempting to hunker down and insist that these changes are going through regardless of what anyone else thinks, and they're good for people, honest, and we're totally spending more on disabled people every year...

Inevitably, these news stories bring out comments from the Peanut Gallery as well. For the most part, it's actually been quite surprising - the majority of people I've seen have been agreeing that disabled people are being treated abysmally and that it needs to be stopped. Of course, there's still the occasional neanderthal who has to come out with the usual lines of, "But I pay my taxes and no-one helps me!" or "But there's benefit scrougers out there and they need to be stopped!" Firstly, I've paid my taxes as well, and the difference between you and I is that you aren't currently classed as a suicide risk, so shut the fuck up right now. Secondly, yes, there are a minority of people who game the system. There's also a minority of people in the country who break the law, but we don't put the entire British population in prison because of them, do we? You wouldn't think you'd see people actually jealous of the disabled, but wonders never cease.

Welcome to life in Cameron's Britain, where the rich get richer, the poor get poorer and the disabled get shived in the stomach and left to bleed out in the gutters.

Untriumphant Return

Six years. It's been a while. Stuff's happened, obviously, since I was last here.

Nick died. November 17 2015 - so exactly 4 months ago. I got woken up at 4am by the cats biting my elbow (well, Lily was biting as Cracker has no teeth), heard the silence of the house and realised it was not a good silence, went to his room and found him dead in bed. Bronchopneumonia and sepsis, it turned out to be. He'd had a cough for several weeks but we'd thought nothing of it, mainly because of an advert that had been on TV a couple of years previously that went, "Had a cough for more than a few weeks? It could be CANCER!" and so whenever I mentioned the cough we'd laugh about that and he'd tell me it was nothing serious. All the other symptoms were masked by the ridiculous amount of painkillers Nick needed to take on a daily basis to do things like get out of bed and move about - he was on 40mg of morphine at the end because of the state of his knees and back. So neither of us knew anything until it was way too late for anything to be done.

It was very odd, telling his friends and family that he had died and then immediately following it up with, "He didn't kill himself." Because for the last few years, Nick's mental problems had been getting the better of him as well. I'd been his full-time carer for several years at that point, and it's pretty safe to say that looking after him was really the only thing that was keeping me going day-to-day. Because after his death I more or less had a complete mental breakdown myself and am now quite nearly as crazy as he was, albeit with my own spin on things. I don't leave the house very much any more, talk to anyone or do very much, because the outside world is really just too big and scary and overwhelming to deal with now. And it has far too many people.

So it's just me and the cats now. And it's two new cats too. Sandy sadly died in 2011 of stomach cancer, and Suki followed him 3 months later of old age and just being lonely. So now I have Lily, who's a ginger flump who barely makes a sound except when she's playing, but who loves to climb up onto the sofa or bed with me and snuggle and lick my nose (and occasionally nip it as a game). She's 12 now, but she neither looks it nor acts like it, which is a good thing as I don't think I could cope with losing anyone else for a good while. The other cat is Cracker, who we got about 6 months after Lily because she was getting a little bit too flump-y and we hoped that a playmate might help her lose some weight. Cracker is a skinny black cat with no teeth and inflammatory bowel disease, which means she uses the litter box a lot- hence her full title sometimes being Cracker the Amazing Pooping Cat. She came from a house with 21 other cats after being rescued from the streets, which made her the friendliest cat in the world, albeit with a lack of understanding about personal space that's remarkable, even for cats, and also one of the most anxious. She doesn't like being on her own - even more so now that it's just the three of us, and howls her displeasure if she finds herself alone in a room for more than 1o minutes.

I'm at university again, this time studying Creative Writing part-time. Well, that's the theory anyway, as I'm currently more or less on extenuating circumstances leave while I try to get myself back on my feet. My tutors are all very understanding, actually, as apparently I'm quite good at my course and they want to keep me on, but it's still difficult to get into classes when I can't face going out and I've got no money to do so anyway. Because of course, with being completely snooker loopy comes the fun of being unable to work and having to claim disability benefits... but we'll go into the fun and games of that in another post. Just rest assured that it's not really possible to live on £73 a week when £50 of that goes on heating and electricity, and that if it wasn't for the help of others I wouldn't have lasted this long.

I decided to start posting here again because I need somewhere to put my thoughts down, and because this is, in theory at least, a way in which I can reach out to other people in some semblance of socialisation. Because most days, other than the cats and my brother who calls every day, I don't talk to anyone at all, and that's probably not helping my mental state. I'm going to try to post something every day, even if it comes down to, "Still here, still not doing much but watching twitch.tv on the sofa." because at least I'm trying then.

Also, I can play with all my icons.

Get 'em in the head!

Well, I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised that it's taken the opportunity to shoot people in the head to cheer Nick up considerably. Well, let's be exact here - they're not exactly people, not any more.

What"s been happeningCollapse )

DisclaimerCollapse )
Well, it's finally here. Tonight we'll see what the UK government is going to be like for the next few years or so (possibly less in the unlikely case of a minority government and the first vote of no-confidence it fails), and Nick and I are going to be covering things as they happen. With alcohol. And chocolate. And more alcohol. And a drinking game!

Of course, the polls don't actually close for another half hour or so and so neither does the BBC's live coverage, so until that all starts I'm going off to clean a couple of glasses and come up with some more rules for the drinking game. So far we've got:

- every time your party wins a seat, take a sip.
- every time Peter Snow looks to be getting overly excited about the Swingometer, take a sip.
- whenever Jeremy Paxman shoots down an MP in an interview, take two sips.
- if Jeremy Paxman breaks an MP (reducing them to tears, making them swear live on air etc) drain your glass.
- if the BNP win a seat, drain your glass.

Six hours of commenting followsCollapse )

Electionwatch 2010 - 23.4 edition

It's St. George's day, and so of course the BNP chose today to launch their election manifesto. I plan to pick through that, but I think that's going to require alcohol and/or chocolate to fuel me through it, so that will have to wait for a later date (possibly tomorrow). Instead, let's have a look at their election leaflet that also came through the door today (with an added bonus feature of a look at some of the other leaflets we've gotten this week).

Where to begin...Collapse )

And now, a brief break while I go play computer games with Nick to calm down.

Electionwatch 2010 - 22.4 Edition

2000: Ok, so I'm cutting this one close. I was asleep till five minutes ago, and the debate's just starting. Watching it on the BBC website this time, while it's being shown by Sky. No line on the screen showing public opinion today, sadly.

Minutae continues here...Collapse )

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