Not up to human contact

As anyone who knows me on facebook can attest to recently, I’ve been avoiding human contact of the electronic variety as it was messing with my head a little. On top of work it was too much.

But in lieu of my writing a post, of me torturing you with my whingeing rambling I thought I’d post a video. It spoke to me (as so many of Tim Minchins songs do)

Looking back to know how to go forwards

Maybe it’s something that comes with getting older but I’ve become intrigued with my family history. I never heard many stories about my Dads side other than the bare minimum, for example I knew that my Grandfather was involved in WWII he taught dispatch riders how to repair and ride their bikes. I only found out most of the facts that I do know once my grandparents had passed away, they had all gone by the time I was 12 years old so I had not reached the point of wanting to know where I had come from by the time they had all gone.

I tell my Dad that he should write down his memories before he forgets them completely or he is gone and those stories are gone forever, adding to him that I wish he had told me those stories about his childhood when I was younger rather than repeating the same old stale stories time and time again then I might have shown more interest! Anyway…I’ll get to the point, I’ve realised that my memory is not good and I should really write down the little tales he does spin, when he tells me them, as boring or mundane as he thinks they are.

Today we were discussing his childhood, I mentioned that I had been looking at pictures of the area he grew up in after reading a blog post by another writer about the area he grew up in. It set off his memories and as sparse as they are they linen housesmade me smile, made me sad, gave me a connection to his past that I’ve not had for some time.

My dad grew up in Northern Ireland, a post WWII baby boom child with three older brothers. The family owned and ran a linen bleaching Mill that is actually documented in a book about the Linen Houses of the Bann Valley (scary to think that I come from such stock as common as I am living on a council estate). I never hear many memories from my dad about he and his family from that time so the little stories tend to stick.

As young children my Dad and his one brother that was still at home by the time he remembers, would play at the mill watching the linen being laid out on the green meadows to dry in the sun. They would run around the mill playing around the machines and probably pestering the workers in the same way that I did with anyone who came to the house when I was a child.

Older than my dad but the same sight he would have seen on a regular basis

Older than my dad but the same sight he would have seen on a regular basis

They would get the men who were piling up the rolls of dried linen to help them make forts out of the rolls, creating the biggest temporary fort any child could want. With gaps to use as doors and windows they would play in it until the rolls were collected to be taken to another factory, pretending to be soldiers and such as the factory worked around themFormer_Cowdy's_mill,_Banbridge_-_geograph.org.uk_-_260516

The Mill has seen much better days now and I'd be surprised if it's still even in this good a shape

The Mill has seen much better days now and I’d be surprised if it’s still even in this good a shape

While looking into the family tree I found a document that even my dad didn’t know existed. It’s a ships boarding record showing my Grandmother, Dad and uncle all going to South Africa back in the 1950’s to visit my Grandmothers family. I’ve found quite a few od them now and will be willing to pay the websites annoying fee (I’ve gone past the free period now) to print them off so he can see them. It saddens me that those boarding lists show that my Grandmother would take her younger children with her to visit the family in South Africa, leaving the older children at their boarding school and my Grandfather to run the business (or so I assume).

Leaving for months at a time due to the journey length on a boat, separating the family that was already emotionally distanced from each other. She trained as a home economics teacher so surely she must have know that the relationships that children have when young are important? I guess that unfortunately at this point in history it was seen as more important for young boys to be strong, to be trained to be independent and able to cope with the horrors that their parents had lived through. Discipline was everything and caring, loving them would always come second if not last.

What shouldn’t have surprised me was how few memories my Dad has of his grandparents. They lived in a house down the road from them but the only thing my Dad could tell me today about his Grandfather was that they used to see him on a Sunday on the way to church, where he would give them a mint imperial. His Grandmother even lived with them after her husband died but he couldn’t tell me much about her at all, the true legacy of an upper middle class family, no warmth, no connection between the people who are supposed to be bonded by blood.

I heard so many times in my childhood that ‘Blood is thicker than water’, that family is important and you ‘Should’ do this and ‘Should’ do that….I have now accepted that what my old therapist said is true…’Should’ is a bad word for me, it’s one of the reasons why I feel so appallingly guilty for so many little things. I try not to use it in my vocabulary too much now but it’s damn hard.

This whole ‘family’ thing confuses me a lot and always has done, especially since my fathers side classes people as cousins and ‘close’ family who I’ve never seen, barely talked to or in most peoples eyes would not really be part of their family. Third cousins, second cousins twice removed….in other words so far away in the blood line that marrying them would be completely legal and not result in deformed offspring, people I shouldn’t care about at all.

The digging into the past will continue, my Grandmothers side is intriguing and a post may follow about hers but more and more I realise my parents have improved on what theirs did to them, it’s just that they didn’t improve enough to avoid my emotional struggles.

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70 years ago today (may contain disturbing images)

This past few days my mind has been full of worries about my life, “will I keep my driving licence? can I keep working? There’s another form to fill in I must get it done.”

But in amongst all these worries my mind has been in the past, 70years in the past. auschwitz-concentration-camp

70 Years ago today Auschwitz was liberated and after accidentally flicking onto a program last week about a survivor of the Holocaust I have been watching many programs that have been made about the German death camps, prison camps, work camps throughout the second world war.

auschwitz_survivors

Liberation of concentration camp survivors

It puts every worry I have into a stark perspective. I have a home, food, clothes, heating, sanitation, medical care…..what in truth do I have to worry about?

I watch these people talking about their time during the war and what they had to survive. I am humbled and horrified by the things that humans can do to each other and the strength of the people who can survive it.

Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, political prisoners, anyone who was seen as ‘Undesirable’ to the Third Reich were tortured, starved and killed in the most inhumane ways possible, it’s hard to believe that this happened in the 20th century.

ebensee-survivors

If you listen to the survivors the biggest thing that they are desperate for now is that what happened is not forgotten. That what they went through is not hidden, is believed and that the next generation understands what can happen if the hatred of a few is carried out by the many.

I’ve learned more about the reality of it by listening to these people over the past week than I ever did sitting in a classroom. The horrible truths that they speak of will stay with me forever.

The separation of the weak, the sick, children, the old, pregnant women who were all immediately gassed or killed, then thrown into pits or burned. Their clothes, belongings, hair, teeth all taken from them to be sent back to Germany or to be reused in the camps.

Children who were twins, experimented on in horrible ways to try and ‘find cures’ for diseases to benefit the ‘pure’ Germans.

twins experiments

Twins experimented on in Auschwitz

Those that were left were worked on starvation rations, housed in sheds where people could barely sit never mind lie down. Covered in lice and surrounded by human excrement they were almost certain to contract a disease such as typhus or dysentery and many died from these if not because having them meant they were picked out as sick and murdered.

Unfortunately there are so few of the survivors left alive that their worry is once they are gone it will drift into the mists of history as ‘just another story’ and listening to them speak to camera they are trying to pass on their memories to the children of today so that it will continue in the collective memory.

I didn’t know that when the camps were liberated, the Allies made the locals come to the camps and look. To see what they were living next to and turning a blind eye to! They were walked around the camps, past the piles of the dead who had been left there to rot because the prisoners couldn’t bury them, to see the crematoriums where hundreds of thousands of human beings had been burnt en mass. I felt a certain amount of angry satisfaction that the Allies did this, as well as making the SS guards and other German workers that were captured when the camps were liberated, take over the tasks they had made the prisoners do. To bury the dead, to clear up the horrific mess that they had helped to create.

Locals being walked around a concentration camp

Locals being walked around a concentration camp

Not surprisingly this subject makes my blood boil. It doesn’t matter to me that I am not one of the ‘minorities’ that were targeted, I am a human being and that is enough for me to empathise with those who have suffered at the hands of people who were “just following orders” and committing atrocities.

The saddest thing is there are still people in command of countries that try to make this sort of thing happen. There are still those that believe they are better than others just because of their faith, the colour of their skin, the way they dress, the country they come from. How can this still be happening in this day and age? Why can we not accept that we all have differences but that does not make us any better or worse than others?

All any of us can do is speak out when we see people hurting each other, try to accept that we are different but that is not a bad thing and teach our children to do the same.

quote-in-germany-they-came-first-for-the-communist-and-i-didn-t-speak-up-because-i-wasn-t-a-communist-martin-niemoller-348521

Let what happened remain in our memories for the human race to learn from and never let it happen again.

I turned 30…yeah big deal

Last year I turned 30, now my friends and people I know seemed to make a big fuss out of this when they did and tried to do the same to me. They didn’t quite get that I really don’t give a monkeys about my birthdays. I like a card, I like cake, but that’s about it! Long story short, my birthday is in the middle of the school holidays so I never really had the whole fuss at school, people often turned down party invites because they were away on holiday…I learnt not to expect an awful lot and now hate having to make a fuss about myself so why bother.

In the clear out I’ve been having of my house this past couple of weeks, I found my pile of 30th birthday cards and the version my sister and family had done for me. It was genius and made me smile so as much as I can’t stand the woman I will admit that it was a damn fine piece of thinking. If you want to smile, ignore my notes, ignore the ending of this post and smile away I won’t judge you or be upset ;)

Here’s what they did….

30th birthday c 30th bir

and yes they were right, I would like to be younger again. But with the knowledge I have of how things should be and how to stand up for myself (and preferably with a better big sister) so that I don’t end up this messed up!

30th birt30th birthday

I wouldn’t say that but I’m sure there were times when it was fun even if I don’t remember many of them. Plus when I was little I didn’t know any better, I didn’t know that my family life was not the idyllic scene that we all wish for.

30th b 30th birth

Yes I probably would have been offended if they’d got it a year or two out, but that much difference I think I would have got it…..I assume that this was just to fill a card and explain their intelligent comedy.

30th bi 30th

Woohoo! they got the maths right.

and with the cards I got a couple of silly things including a coke bottle with my name on it…not a full coke bottle, an empty one. Yeah, that’s what they think if me. OK so apparently the kids had insisted on sending it to me, but really? could they not have sent a full one and bought another one to drink? Bah

So if you ignore the background history of my sister and I, it’s a lovely gesture! It’s funny and shows affection but whenever a post about sisters comes up on facebook, an advert comes onto the telly saying about sisters or siblings and how important they are I sit and swear at it! I scream in my head “no they’re F&*$*&%g not! I wish I’d never known mine!!”

My family to a Tee. Abuse each other, ignore each other, treat each other like crap, but when it’s a birthday or Christmas then a polite card, a note and an obligatory gift to pretend that the rest of it was all BS.

prune and hope

twisted frame

twisted and broken

forced out of shape

the foundations are mangled

held together with tape

no blossoms, no beauty

can come from this mess

one hope remains

one way to redress

cut everything back

let the old branches die

see if the roots

are all rotten inside

when the darkness abates

the gales whisper not roar

when there’s warmth

then the buds may just blossom once more

relapsing sucks

blurredcarsIt’s been a while since I had a proper relapse, one that put me out of action, stopped me driving, stopped me working.

Well that winning streak is over as of Christmas. It started innocuously enough as what I thought was an exacerbation of my old optic neuritis and weakening of my arms due to a UTI, the strips in my bathroom said I was right about that at least and the doctor put me straight onto antibiotics. That bit was following the traditional pattern, nothing new, nothing to panic about and nothing to do but call in sick to work and wait it out.

I had to accept lifts or take taxis over Christmas to get me where I needed to be which was annoying and not exactly great for my independent pride. But pride comes before the fall, so I’ve been trying to put that pride into a box until I need it again and ignore the gut wrenching feeling that comes with thinking I’ve failed myself and others.

Annoyingly, this exacerbation seems to have turned into a relapse. For one day last week I felt almost ok, well enough to drive the mile into town to collect a prescription and buy some wool. That evening I think I already knew I’d made a mistake.

So tired, so much pain in my arm and my vision took a nose dive.

What a way to start a new year, flash backs to 7 years ago when the MonSter first gained a proper foothold in my CNS and was diagnosed. Almost to the day actually and with Optic Neuritis yet again 8O.

Well my Neurologist wasn’t brilliantly helpful yesterday, simply telling me that I needed to go to my optician, get a full report and send it to him by fax. If he thinks the results are low enough then he will give me a prescription for steroids (I’m assuming it will have to be oral not IV and that I am not looking forward to as I had trouble with them before).

visual pathway

yes this looks complicated and confusing, but it’s just a basic diagram of how the visual field if affected by different areas of damage along the optic pathway. A diagram so ingrained in my memory that I diagnosed where the damage was in my first bout of Optic neuritis before the GP even thought there was anything seriously wrong.

The opticians at Boots near me were great, I got in this morning for a full work up. Pressure testing with that lovely machine that puffs air into your eyes, pictures taken of my retina, full visual field test then in to see and try to explain to the lovely optician lady what was going on and what I needed.

It was nice just to know I wasn’t imagining things, I was right that my vision had severely deteriorated since I was last in to get my eyes tested in October. I’m not going crazy in that respect at least! She even redid the visual field testing again in more depth to double check the results and see exactly what was going on before sending it all off in a fax to Dr Lily confirming that I was right about it being Optic Neuritis if a relatively mild case. Now it’s just a waiting game to see what he thinks is the best course of action.

What I found out today worries me more than my own vision though! The amount of vision I have at the moment is well within the limits for driving :-? She said I shouldn’t be driving at night so daylight hours only and short journeys that I may need to do but even that will be pushing it for me. It means that there are people out there driving around without a second thought about it who see the world through a foggy mess as far as I’m concerned! OK so I had about 20/20 vision even after the damage the other bouts of optic neuritis had done, it may not have been perfect but I had good sight and any change will always come as a shock…but really? people go out and drive like this?? I have been too scared to get behind the wheel of my car at all this past month or so and still will be for a while I think.

But then anxiety does have its plus points as loath as I am to admit it. You won’t catch me driving when my body doesn’t feel right, I won’t be behind the wheel of a car when I don’t trust my own nervous system to work, there’s no way I would risk that.

So for now I’ve had to tell my new job that I’m off until it goes back to normal, they’re being good about it I’ll admit but still my head won’t allow me to accept it. What’s worse it having to try and tell the parents why I can’t work with their children for a few weeks, that is making me beat myself up so much that I dread going back. No way to tell how they’ll feel about me supporting their children once they know

Safeguarding *trigger warning*

Here I was thinking yesterday would just be boring and a little upsetting.

Safeguarding is a standard bit of training you have to do to work with vulnerable adults and children, I’ve done the adult training loads of times and it’s upsetting because of the content but I can cope with it. I didn’t think doing safeguarding of children would be any different than the ones I’ve done for adults, I was wrong.

Talk about triggering, about memories flooding in and engulfing me in pain. I fell back into my old publicly ‘acceptable’ self harming in a big way, my fingers are a mess and my lips are bitten to shreds.

The pain of knowing that the people I care about went through some of the more devastating abuse that we covered, that I went through some of the others and hearing them speak about it in a way that made it sound as bad as all the others. I’ve tried to convince myself that it wasn’t ‘that bad’ that I’m just a weakling and that’s why it has left me as scarred by it as I am, that they didn’t do anything wrong to me.

childline-poster-primarywdi83456

For those of you that don’t know about what safeguarding is, it’s about protecting children and vulnerable adults from being treated in ways that will physically and psychologically harm them. These fall into four main categories for children. NEGLECT, PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL and SEXUAL abuse though they tend to overlap as you’d expect.

I’ve known and am still friends with people who have suffered every single one of these categories of abuse, I’ve seen the damage that it does to be subjected to this treatment and how long the after effects last. My intent in writing this was to vent the things that triggered me and to get them down here so I could get them out of my head, but I can’t make my fingers type the words or even think about it, the fear is still that palpable. So instead if this post wakes just one person up to abuse and helps one child or even lets an adult speak about what happened to them then I think it’s worth it.

Surrounded by people I work with and don’t know well enough to open up to, having the urge to speak out about what I went through and yet still having a mental padlock on my voice. It made me wish not for the first time, people had noticed my cries for help and done something. I think that’s why even the slightest indication of something not being right with a child or vulnerable adult and I report it, as far as I’m concerned that’s the way things should be.

??????????????????????????????

 

NO SECRETS! not when it comes to the protection of people who struggle to protect themselves.

So, how do you spot it? Well it is not always easy, abusers are sneaky and the person being abused will often be good at hiding it too out of embarrassment, lack of understanding, fear or brain washing by their abusers.

What to watch out for:

Changes in a childs behaviour- becoming angry, scared, shy, over clingy when that is not their usual personality.

Marks and bruises in areas that are not consistent with the explanation or ‘normal’ for a child to bump.

The child hiding these marks with clothing or in their actions.

Knowing too much about the language and physical acts of intimacy.

Being underweight/overweight, scavenging for food, stealing, hoarding.

Overreacting to being admonished, cowering or hiding. Or alternately not reacting to it at all, being ‘used to’ physical violence.

Lack of personal hygiene, rotten teeth, skin conditions, unkempt clothing which is not changed or washed.

Not wanting to sit, walking uncomfortably, pulling at their clothing in discomfort.

Suddenly coming into money or gifts from people, getting in and out of cars with people that aren’t family.

 

These are just a few of them and none of them are ‘proof’ in and of itself, but they are all important indications that something is not right and if you see them please tell someone. If no one reports their worries then that child could be in real danger. Social services and schools will keep records of all concerns and when these flags are raised will keep an eye on the situation hopefully meaning that the family will get help.

We’ve all heard about some of the horrible incidences that have been publicised over the years, Baby P, grooming of children, Female genital mutilation, Winterbourne care home….be aware and please don’t turn a blind eye. Speak out and make a difference.make a difference

decisions decisions

Roman-Dirge-Lenore-Chicken-288x300

Decisions are painful

the big and the small

internal debates

become internal wars

do I tell this to those

that put questions inside

or continue to hide it

refuse to confide

Mind you what’s the point

they can’t help

they can’t mend it

it’s my mind in turmoil

no reason to share it

My black and white thinking

is turning to grey

but during the phase out

somehow lost my way

and now the confusion

that grey seems to be

unlike they all promised

so much harder for me

The anxiety Panther pounces

Anxiety+Girl
anxiety spirals out of control

no rhyme or reason and no way to slow

my heart as it races, the shakes in my hands

from waking it’s been this way

it’s how my life stands.

 

The triggers well known are nowhere in sight

so why do I feel like I’m ready to fight

that dark little knot in the pit of my gut

that screams I am guilty

no idea of what

 

There’s nowhere to run and there’s nowhere to hide

from my own insecurities, repression and pride

no way to distract

from the thoughts in my head

when the universe screams that I’m better off…….