WHAT’S IN A NAME?

Image result for what's in a name

What’s in a name? My own name is important to me but perhaps not in the sense that most people would feel that their name means much to them.  I have changed my name quite a few times during my life. I feel I have needed to do this precisely because I’ve never had a solid sense of identity to represent the person I show to the world and the individual that I feel I am at a given phase in my life. Sometimes, I have changed my name to metaphorically, run away from myself, usually for some emotional reason.

I don’t give my birth or last name here because I want to retain the anonymity of my blog. I don’t share my blog or my blog details with any of my family or friends – only my readers and followers.

When I was a teenager my life changed very radically in that the sexual abuse I had suffered since toddlerhood finally ended. As the months went by and after the initial sense of trepidation wore off, I began to feel safer in my own body, and I decided I didn’t want to be called by my birth name anymore (I didn’t want to connect with that abused child inside).

I then begged my parents to let me change my name and eventually, they agreed that I could use my middle name and so at the age of seventeen, I went by that name. However, I can’t say I was terribly happy with that either, but it was as far as my mother and father were prepared to go, so I settled with that, at least, for the time being.

After I had married, I was free to go by whatever name I wanted. I chose carefully, not rashly nor hurriedly. I changed to suit who I felt I was at that point in my life. It goes back to that fundamental core lack of identity. During my young adult years and in the short time before I became a mother myself, I was Rachel and Jacqueline. But, I think I was still running away from myself as I was never really 100% happy with either of them. Of course, when I had my children, I kept my name, Jacqueline (although often abbreviated and then the spelling altered from time to time), more for their benefit than for mine and did so until they grew up and were no longer living at home. My life altered again then as I got used to living alone without a partner (I wad divorced by then) and without my children with me.

And so, as the subsequent years followed, I changed as we all do throughout the different stages of our lives. Then, finally, in 2014, I began writing this blog, and through the course of writing, I’ve discovered who I am inside. I’m Ellie. I should have always been Ellie – I’ve never felt so comfortable in my own skin. I love my ‘WordPress blog world’. I still don’t share it with people in my outside life. This is my reality; where I can honestly express myself freely. This is where it’s safe to share my secrets. I can write about what’s in my heart and what’s in my mind, and that’s exactly what I do.

At times like this, when I feel truly free, freed up in the course of my writing – in fact, then I have wings. I have wings and can fly. Perhaps, my next name (if I were going to have one), should be Tinkerbell! x  😉

Image result for tinkerbell laughing

 

(Photo credits – imarcade.com and cartoonbucket.com)

 

LOSING SIGNIFICANT OTHERS

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More loss! How much more? It seems like an endless stream of significant other people in my life have departed or are leaving me. I am devastated and heartbroken. I don’t cope well with what feels like abandonment, especially as someone who has BPD or EID (Emotional Intensity Disorder) where this and rejection constantly loom like some ogre behind my shoulder, threatening to suffocate me.

I very recently lost my Mum (as some of you will know). This bereavement came five years after losing my Father. You could say that I should have expected these losses at some time, given that both my parents were in their eighties. However, this is always a major blow even after taking that into consideration.

Now, other important people in my life are leaving, and it’s beginning to get too much to bear. One of my two main Carers left last week, taking early retirement. Now, Helen, my P.A. and Support Worker is moving on after fifteen years with me. She is taking a different career path, and I will be acutely aware of her absence in my life.

Then, finally (at least for the time being) a very close friend announced yesterday that she was moving to the coast, eighty miles away to be nearer her daughter (we have known each other for nearly thirty years). We’ve had many happy times visiting places of interest, chatting over cups of coffee, pouring our hearts out to one another, and in general, putting the world to rights. We can phone or write, but with neither of us having transport or good health, it is unlikely that we will see each other again.

It’s all beginning to get a bit much, I’m lonely and am fighting hard not to fall into a pit of despair and depression. The friends that I do have seem to be mostly cyber-friends, either on Facebook, Twitter or WordPress. At least, in social media, I could put out some ‘friend requests’, but in real life, it’s not quite as easy as that. I guess if I reach the bottom, the only way to go is up, so I’ll try to hang on to that for the time being. Please, bear with me a little longer.

AIRING MY DIRTY LAUNDRY IN PUBLIC

ddirty laundry

Why write a blog? Why write a blog at all? Why do I feel the need to share with total strangers, my innermost thoughts, my idiosyncrasies, my Pandora’s Box of secrets that if written in a diary, would, without a doubt, be kept under lock and key?

When I write, I pour my heart out, as if I were talking back at myself, as if I were confiding in a much-trusted friend or a therapist. I write under a pseudonym to protect my anonymity and to keep the contents away from those prying eyes outside of the blogging world that would tear me to pieces in disbelief if they read the fairly shocking truth of my actual life.

One dear friend who has discovered I keep a blog and just cannot understand the logic of it, has said so many times, “what do you want to put your innermost secret of secrets out there for?” Then adding, “Why on Earth do you want to air your dirty laundry in public”?

I hesitate, giving this careful thought, cautious not to make their opinion of me worse. I fail miserably by saying things like, “I get to know other people who often feel as I do or at least are interested enough to want to read past the first few lines”. “I get support”, I say. “Who from?” is the next question and they then add one long string of complicated technical words like, “What a lot of rubbish you are mumbling. These computers are just machines that speak to each other”. They then sometimes state the obvious in that machines don’t have emotions or character, but plainly, they completely fail to understand that there are people with thoughts, worries, ideas and feelings, at the receiving end of these much-criticised machines.

I feel I have made good friends; friends who I can share humour with or occasionally share my darkest, deepest thoughts with who do not rebuke me, nor criticise my language skills. And I feel very privileged to be thought of as trustworthy enough to read of other blogger’s inner worlds.

The world of bloggers is as secret as it is public: We spill the contents of our hearts onto the paper under glass, usually under a pen-name so as not to be discovered, and before we know it, we’ve pressed the PUBLISH button, and there it all goes, spewing out into the world for all and sundry to see.

Personally, I feel it helps me. It is the time I can let go of my thoughts and inhibitions and just share what happens to be in or on my mind and that it always a relief. However, when my words go out into the universe, I am self-critical about what I have written, and find myself thinking, ‘Well, that wasn’t even worth the paper it was written on! Who on Earth seriously wants to read my thoughts?’ But occasionally, I get feedback to say I have helped someone feel less alone, or that we have shared some humour, so that makes at least two of us who have benefitted at least somewhat! Sometimes I don’t get feedback, or I have doubts about what I have written and am only too ready, and sometimes do actually hit the DELETE button, and there it all goes, gone, out into the ether, unspoken and unheard.

 

 

 

‘THE BORDERLINE’ AND FACEBOOK

sometimes when i say i'm okay

BPD and Facebook! Not a good combination when I’m feeling vulnerable. I’d posted the above image on a mental health support page and 51 people ‘liked’ it but not one truly got the message – that I really wasn’t ok and was in need of a hug, all be it virtual. One ‘friend’ cut me off altogether. Such is the capricious nature of Facebook. But, when I’m feeling low, the last thing I need is what to me feels like a ‘kick in the teeth’.

BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder); sometimes referred to as EUPD (Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder) is now being referred to by my local mental health team as EID which stands for Emotional Intensity Disorder because people such as myself, feel their emotions far more deeply than the majority of the population. I speak for myself, of course.

The first paragraph, above, is just an example of how easily I get affected and upset. That meaningless, minor event has been enough to send me from feeling happy and content with my world to now, feeling alone, hurt and totally rejected, and although I know I get things ‘all out of proportion’, as some would say, I feel it … I really feel it, and it hurts. It hurts, just like if someone had punched me in the back. Emotional pain is just as great as physical pain. In fact, speaking as someone who has a great deal of both, I would say that emotional pain is harder for me to bear than physical pain.

TWO DAYS LATER – I’ve been watching some YouTube videos on all sorts of topics today including mental health issues. One or two videos were quite helpful. However, I saw one that made me angry. I don’t mean the type of ‘raging anger’ that is meant to be ‘typical’ of all people with BPD but isn’t necessarily so. I mean very justifiable anger, I think … you tell me ….

Why? Because one particular five-minute video continually referred to me and other folk with BPD as ‘The Borderline‘, as if I were an object of curiosity in a museum. If we all took that attitude, then would we call other people with illnesses such as pneumonia or cancer by their diagnosis, i.e. how is ‘The Pneumonia‘ today, or, have you spoken to ‘The Cancer‘ this morning? I think not. Am I being unreasonable in asking to be spoken of respectfully, and not just seen as my diagnosis, but, as a warm, thoughtful and reasonably intelligent human being that I try to be to the best of my ability?

man in box

Image courtesy of ibtimes.com

Well … back to where I started – Facebook (friend or foe?). It has its problems; there’s no doubt about that – it certainly gets a mixed review from me. I have made ‘friends’, but I have also lost a few. I’ve read some good articles and posts, and some dreadful, misinformative posts too. I’ve joined and left a few groups over the time I’ve been with FB (far too long, I’m beginning to think). It can bring people together but it probably also causes more wars between them too. I’ve deleted and deactivated my account more times than I can remember and for various reasons but I’m always sucked back into its vices after a few weeks (fickle by name, fickle by nature). 

Social media, in general, has a hell of a lot to answer for; not just Facebook, but also, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus+, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr etc (I have to say I’m not with many of them, though). What about WordPress here, and Blogger etc – do you consider them to be social media in some way too? After all, we have followers that stay, followers that go. Some participate – some sit in the back row and watch – however, both are fine with me. I write because I enjoy it – sometimes I make sense; other times, not so. I have made sense in the past, though – I have written two books a good while ago, both more serious poetry (some of which I’ve shared over the years). Finally, I’ve also been known to rant. However, just now, I think I am mortal danger of beginning to ramble so here I will stop and bid you adieu 🙂 

THE DOUGHNUT AND SANITY CHALLENGE

Photo Bridget moment Blurt

Well, I’ve pulled myself out from the mire that I’ve been in lately and I’m feeling up to a challenge … nothing major yet but it’s a start (from little acorns mighty oaks do grow) so there’s hope for me yet.

I love writing, especially my blog, all be it a bit sporadic sometimes but reading, I struggle with. It’s not the spelling and grammar side of it as I’d say I’m fair-to-middling compared to most bloggers. In fact, I quite enjoy a tête-à-tête with a bit of vocabulary and an occasional close encounter with the English language.

I’ve borrowed a book from a colleague at university and I’ve got to hand it back within one week. So, in my spare time, which doesn’t amount to much these days, I’ve set myself the challenge of reading and digesting it in this time. No problem … except I have the attention span of a weary ant.

The book in question is a relatively new one called, ‘A Sane New World‘ by Ruby Wax. It’s a brilliant, clever, witty and informative book about her own journey through depression and mental health issues and how she went about improving her situation. Mental health affects 1 in 4 adults, including myself, but this book is written for everyone as anyone of us could become that 1 in 4 ‘mentally unravelled‘, (in Ruby’s words), at any time.

I know most people could knock this out in a couple of days as it consists of a mere 260 pages which I know is nothing compared to Homer’s Iliad or War and Peace but for me, it’s quite a challenge as my concentration when it comes to reading novels leaves an awful lot to be desired. I am determined to fulfil this challenge mainly because I’m interested in finding alternate routes to overcoming mental illness. I’ve made a start have already encountered a good dose of humour and many poignant observances. Hopefully, by the time I’ve got to the end, I will have gained a bit more sanity.

I came across this idea for my second challenge from a local Facebook page. It’s a page for those of us who find life a struggle sometimes, (so, that’s all hands up, is it?). We set ourselves small (or large if we are feeling brave) targets to achieve, to help overcome some of the situations that we find difficult for whatever reason.

My difficult situation? Well, I’m fine going out with Charlie, my wheelchair who some of you might have already met. I can go almost anywhere depending on whether the battery and motor are up to scratch that day but I’m really not good at stopping somewhere to grab a coffee and cake and then sitting with it in a café or coffee shop on my own. I’m great if I’ve got company but sitting alone, I feel a bit of a prune!

So, this challenge is to take my book to a café every day this week; order a coffee and something nice from the menu; sit by myself and then to read as many pages as I can in 30 minutes (just long enough for me to get out of the shop before the usually occurring uncomfortable squirming and panic kicks in).

Today, I had every good intention and headed straight for the coffee shop just after lunch, got to the counter and was just about to order a coffee and pastry when panic suddenly set in and I bolted out of there. I was really cross with myself but I’m going to have another go tomorrow. In the meantime, by way of compensation for my atrocious disappointment, I stopped off at Tesco and bought myself a large jam doughnut, took it home and indulged guiltily. However, I’m determined to repeat the jam doughnut affair tomorrow, only in a coffee shop while reading my book and thereby, at the end of this week, I will have completed both challenges (and probably gained half a stone in weight to boot which I could well do without). Next challenge: to lose that half a stone I’m going to put on this week!

HOW TO SURVIVE A POWER CUT IN THE AGE OF SOCIAL MEDIA

facebook, twitter & pinterest logos

We had a power cut today – only for an hour and a half, but apart from getting cold because the central heating had gone off (bearing in mind it was only 1-degree Celsius outside), I found the greatest inconvenience was not being able to get on the internet. I instantly felt lost and out of touch with the world without it, and given the choice between having my access to the web or having the heating back; I think I would have willingly pulled on an extra layer or two and opted for my laptop.

This incident reminded me of a time, three or so years ago when we experienced a violent storm that brought down the power lines, consequentially blowing up the local electricity substation. Fortunately, the weather wasn’t quite as cold as it was today. But, amazingly, (in this day and age), we had no power for nearly three days! Extra jumpers, thick socks, wooly hats, warm gloves, blankets and such were all dug out of the depths of wardrobes and were the order of the day (or three days in this instance).

I live in a cul-de-sac and all the houses there were affected. After the initial panic, the ritual of striking matches smelling of sulphur, to light the candles took place.  A variety of wax pillars were found with difficulty, bearing in mind, we were searching at the back of dusty cupboards by torchlight. I then thought to Google the Electricity Company’s telephone number to ask when the power would be back on. I won’t say ‘a light went on in my head’ as there weren’t any lights but it then dawned on me that no electricity equals no technology, therefore, no Google. There we were, back in the dark ages (pardon the pun) and I started to rummage for the telephone directory, not realising then that the phone lines were down too.

It was then apparent that social media had come to an abrupt halt which was a shock to the system at first. Gradually Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr all became redundant. If we wanted some company, instead of Facebook, we had to go and knock on a neighbour’s door and talk to them face to face. The term ‘Like’ meant the appreciation of a kindness done or fondness of someone. ‘Friending’ and ‘Unfriending’ became hanging out with our mates (or not). If someone had ‘Blocked’ you, they had, perhaps, parked their car at the bottom of your driveway, and the term ‘Sharing’ no longer referred to reposting an article from one FB page to another; sharing returned to meaning to have a cup of tea with a neighbour; lending your last box of matches out; distributing a pot of tea around the family, made from boiling water on a gas hob (at least, we had gas), .

Twitter had been replaced by the chatter of children and adults alike and gossip that was only heard on the grapevine. Instagram and Pinterest were impossible – if we wanted to look at pictures we had a resort to a book, magazine or get a bus to the art gallery on the far side of town. I missed emailing. Somehow, writing a letter, sticking a stamp on the envelope to post it in the mailbox and then waiting two days for it to arrive at its destination lacked the spontaneity of reeling off a quick email.

Computer games were naturally out of the question and we resorted to either playing Gin Rummy or Bridge with a pack of cards or digging out the old, well-worn Snakes and Ladders board and a dice. In my case, I managed to find the family Ludo board which was my mother’s before it was mine! But, I never was much good at card games but I could play a mean game of Monopoly. Just as I’d passed Mayfair and Park Lane and was about to collect £200 for passing go … the power came back on only to be greeted by a mixture of delighted “hoorays” and equally rather sad “awws”. All the nostalgia flew out of the window almost as fast as we all flew off back to our own little spaces to get a fix of Facebook or Twitter having suffered severe withdrawal symptoms over the past three days. I have to say, it left me wondering whether I would turn back the hands of time if I could.

reading by candlelight

 

SHIPWRECKED

I am posting this copy of G.Snow’s moving advice for a reason that will become self-evident in my following post. Please take the time to read them both. It means a lot to me. Thank you x

The beautiful piece of writing was done by a commenter, four years ago in response to a poster asking for advice on grief.

The original post simply read: “My friend just died. I don’t know what to do.”

Here was Reddit’s, GSnow’s moving advice:

Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.
I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter”. I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.
As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage, and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.
In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.
Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.
Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.

A DAY OF FIRSTS …

happy woman in wheelchair

(photo sourced at Bing)

Today is a day of firsts. The first time I’ve connected with social media and also the first day at the gym, starting a new modified exercise program geared specifically to my disability. I am feeling suitably proud of myself and my first steps into the world of fitness, and socializing has released a whole jumbo pack of those little happy chemicals, endorphins, flooding into my bloodstream.

Firstly, I’ve officially come out. That is on Facebook, you see, and I say ‘you see’, pointedly as it’s the first time that little old me, Ellie, has gone public in the Facebook world. You can find me there if you wish at Elliesofia Thompson complete with a cover photo that has some special meaning and relevance to me. My profile picture is as my WordPress blog image which I fondly call my little lantern girl. 

lantern girl

Why this breakthrough and statement is of any importance, I really don’t know but it does feel kinda scary stepping out into the big wide world all on my ownsome. However, prepare to be stampeded by the swarms and crowds of admirers, dedicated fans and new supporters that are going to be accompanying my regular followers (and you know who you are, bless you). So, come along for the ride and join me on my travels.

If you have only just stumbled across me via Facebook, I would like to extend a very pleasant welcome to you and invite you to make yourself at home. Do feel free to drop me a line via my page or Private Messaging, if you prefer.

Well, as far as my new fitness regime is concerned, I enrolled at the local sports center in the city today. To take this action was at the top of the list of my New Year’s resolutions for 2015 and we are now fast approaching New Year of 2016. Ah, well, better late than never. Hardly an original idea for a resolution, I know. My usual and primary form of exercise is stretching out my fortunately still nimble fingers across this computer keyboard into the small, wee hours. So, I think that moseying around the gym floor in Charlie, my wheelchair (for those of you who have yet to become acquainted), admiring the shiny, important bits of machinery was particularly tough going and burnt off a considerable number of calories. 74 to be exact.

Next time, I should really come on in leaps and bounds as I’m going to start on the much higher level of exercise which consists of lifting an HB pencil, complete with an eraser on the end, in each hand for thirty seconds. I will try not to strain myself so as to ensure that I will be to cope sufficient tapping of keys for me to be able to to update you on my progress in my next post. Next stop, The Paralympics!

THE TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF FACEBOOK

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Social networking? Good or bad?

Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube, Path, Instagram, Foursquare…..I could go on…

Well, some years ago I chose to open a Facebook account. With it came a cauldron of emotion that I didn’t bargain for. It has, I have to say (somewhat feebly) been quite life-changing or perhaps more aptly, I have let it become so. Isn’t that pathetic? Is my life really so uninteresting that I have to rely on FB for the thrills and spills of my day? Well yes, I thought so or at least believed that was true when I first ‘got into it’. Now, I am clambering to get out of it!

To start with It was a good way to stay in touch with friends, follow their lives, share their holiday snaps, admire their families etc. A lot of it was positive but there are also many negatives too,  just as there are two sides to a coin. It is so easy to get hooked into the ‘Like’, ‘Comment’ and ‘Share’ routine and FB gradually becomes disproportionately prominent in one’s life and it can come quickly become a love/hate relationship. I know it did in mine and quite quickly became addictive (not helped by the fact that I have an addictive personality anyway). I got hooked….well and truly….I would get up in the morning and (in the absence of having either a partner, family or children), it was the first thing I did  – I checked Facebook for anything I might have missed or looked for messages from friends, looked to see who had ‘Liked’, ‘Commented’ on or ‘Shared’ whose posts, (a post consisting of an opinion, a feeling, a photo, an image, a quote, a recipe, a weather forecast, a status such as 🙂 [smile], 😦 [frown], 😉 [wink], etc or what colour pyjamas were being worn, or indeed if there were any being worn at all (no doubt accompanied by a photo!).  Everyone seemed to be on FB and if you weren’t, you were considered somewhat of an odd-bod or not ‘cool’.

However, having become a veteran of many years on FB, I’ve come to the see the other side of it (or at least in my opinion). I’m tried of all the pointless exchanging of useless information, the endless and tedious ‘selfies’. the numerous photos of people’s dinners or wonderful pets etc). I don’t like the bitchiness that sometimes goes on; I don’t like the trouble and problems it actually causes sometimes between friends, acquaintances and families. In my case, it has become a weapon of war between my children and myself (as some of you will know) whereby both my son and daughter have ‘blocked’ me meaning I am not allowed to see or know anything they might post about their lives (as in reality, sadly) and they can deny the privilege of seeing photos of my grandchildren that everyone else can see (and that hurts, believe me, that does hurt in the absence of any real life photos or visits from them.

I have to say, I am now slowly withdrawing from the all-consuming Facebook and intend to deactivate or delete my account shortly. A sorry tale in the end but maybe a case of ‘too much of a good thing’ or in my case, too much of too many bad things. Having said that, it works for a hell of a lot of people so if it’s good for you then I am genuinely pleased for you, in fact generally quite happy for you 🙂 .  So, I guess what I am really saying is……IF IT AIN’T BROKE, DON’T FIX IT!!