Living with Emotional Instability

So, what exactly am I talking about here? A few years ago I was given the delightful diagnosis 'Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder'. Please don't Google it, it'll make me sound like a terrible person and I'm really not. I actually can maintain relationships and I'm a good employee. My colleagues in mental health are surprised when I tell them. But the 'personality disorder' part is a post for another day. Today is all about the emotional instability (let's face it, every day is all about the emotional instability).

It's hard to quantify what I experience, mostly because I've never been inside anyone else's head. My lows are more extreme than my highs; I've been clinically depressed but have never experienced 'proper' mania. However, I think I do experience more extreme highs and lows on a daily basis than most people do. I regularly feel weighed down, like everything is absolutely fucked, like there is nothing good in the world. I can then go for a run with some of my favourite music and feel on a high, like everything is awesome and it will be forever, and like seriously, every tiny thing is brilliant and has anyone ever appreciated a cup of tea as much as I have right now?! (I experience The Hum all the time). All this can happen within an hour. Or less. When things are bad I have experienced (and this is my term, not a clinical one) really rapid cycling through emotions. As in, rage, hysteria, crying, panic over and over again.

So what's it actually like? Well, it's terrible and it's brilliant. It's terrible to feel crushed, and like you have to drag yourself through the day. It's terrible to feel like everything is over and there is just no point in carrying on. But it can be brilliant. It's brilliant to appreciate every little thing. I wrote a list the other day (as you do) of things that I absolutely love: tea, patterns, bright colours, dancing, the Top Tips page in Chat magazine, most food, gigs, books, The Internet, my duvet.... Can you imagine how wonderful it is to extract pure joy from these things on a daily basis? I'm very lucky that I can experience that without experiencing self-destructive mania.

But it's exhausting. It's exhausting feeling things so extremely. These states tend to feel permanent, so I feel like I'm going to be depressed forever, or happy forever, or angry forever, or anxious forever. Things that seem fairly tiny can have a big emotional impact on me. Sometimes this is good ('Ooh, a pattern, I'm so happy!') but sometimes this can be dangerous; feeling under too much pressure can make me feel totally inadequate, which in turn makes me feel everything's fucked, which can then make me lose all hope. I've also resorted to some less-than-ideal tactics for emotional regulation.

I don't really see any point in asking, 'Would I get rid of it if I could?' I've got it, so I guess the real question is, 'How do I live with it?' Well, there are things that help: appreciating the highs; trying to be self-aware enough to know that these states will pass; trying to address my needs in helpful/safe ways; looking after myself physically and emotionally. For me, mood stabilizers never really seemed to make much difference, but I know that they've worked for other people. I want to give mindfulness a proper go, it would be good to practise 'sitting with' these emotional states, without being scared by them.

One of the most exhausting things is pretending to be 'normal', or pretending to be calmer than I really feel. Sometimes this has to be done. But sometimes I think I take it too far, and I pretend everything's fine when actually it's really not. Apart from Pete, everyone sees an edited version to some extent. The problem with not sharing is that you can only keep things to yourself for a certain amount of time. When things become really extreme, they kind of share themselves. So maybe it would be better if I shared when things weren't so extreme. Maybe talking to people would be a massive thing I could do to help myself, and help everyone else help me. Maybe this blog post is a good first step. Maybe.

So. Hi, I'm Liz and I experience extreme emotions. It's awful. And amazing. At least I'm rarely bored. How's things with you?

P.S, Next week is Mental Health Awareness Week. Link me to any good posts you find!

30 Before 30: Time's Up! #BEDM

It happened. I turned 30. When I first blogged about the list back in January 2012 turning 30 seemed like a long way off. The list seemed pretty achievable, so how did I run out of time?! In fairness, a lot has changed since then. I've gotten divorced, engaged and married (again), moved house four times, changed jobs and...well...lots of stuff, but if I tell you everything I've done in the first paragraph it'll kind ruin the post. Apologies to those of you who have read all my other 30 Before 30 posts, some of this won't be news to you! Without further ado, I present to you the best bits, the underwhelming bits, the stuff I half-assed and the one thing I wimped out of...

The Best Bits

Go on a family holiday. I actually managed this twice, and it must have gone well because we're all going back to the Isles of Scilly this summer. When I wrote my 30 Before 30 it had been years since I'd gone away with my parents, and I loved reconnecting with them on holiday (also, they like cake just as much as I do, so... lots of holiday cake).

Travel outside of Europe. I still can't believe this actually happened! Pete and I went to Japan last year and it was incredible.

Go back to Norway for a visit. I managed to make it back to Steinkjer in 2014 and it was awesome catching up with everyone properly.

Learn to drive. OMIGOD I ACTUALLY LEANRED TO DRIVE. Granted, this was nearly two years ago and I'm still a very nervous driver, but I've got that pink license and ain't no one taking it away from me.

Volunteer. I actually did a few different voluntary things, but the final one ended up leading to an actual, real, new job which I bloody love.

Get a tattoo. Got one, liked it so got another. And another. It's a shame that two of them are on my back really, because I don't get to enjoy them!

Go to at least 25 gigs. I don't know how many I actually managed but it was more than 25! This photo was Arcade Fire at Earls Court and it was amazing. Actually amazing. I'm very glad I rediscovered gig-going!

Join a book group, and read 100 new books. Again, I've lost count here but it was waaaaay more than 100! Another old passion rediscovered.

Get my hair professionally coloured. Went blue. Might as well go the whole hog, eh?

Attend the 10th anniversary of Fake Christmas. We've now had 12 Fake Christmasses, which makes me feel horribly old, but I don't care because Fake Christimas is awesome.

Seriously consider vegetarianism. I considered it. I tried it. I'm now properly pescatarian. Just don't mention the crispy beef incident.

Do something new every week. Although I've been pretty flaky recently at this one, making an effort to do new things has been really rewarding, and something I definitely want to pick up again. Starting NOW. Well, maybe in a couple of hours.

Continue to blog. It hasn't always been consistent, but I'm still here. In fact, this blog turned seven last week. SEVEN?!

The Underwhelming Bits

Learn to walk in heels. I sort of did. As long as they're boots or chunky, with a strap. It's fine but it didn't change my life.

Go for a whole week without watching TV. I did it. Conclusion? I really like TV. 

Take a course in psychology or counselling. Well, this part started well, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to try and do a part time Psychology MSc. Which led to a breakdown. Ironic.

Sample every type of cuisine in Cardiff's Red Hot World Buffet. Achieved. I felt very full.

Get a sewing machine. Got one. Started loads of things, finished pretty much nothing. Sewing machine has spent the last two years in the garage.

Enter my writing into a competition. Did this. It was ok but didn't really inspire me to write more, which is what I was hoping would happen.

Submit a PostSecret. I didn't actually do this. When I wrote the list I really loved Post Secret, but I've gotten quite bored of it in recent years.

The Stuff I Half-Assed

Go to a blogger meet up. Well, I did do this properly in that I went to one and enjoyed it, but I feel like I really should  have made the effort to do more!

Listen to a new album every month. I did this a bit. But probably not every month - Spotify has turned me into a playlist freak.

Submit three pieces of writing for publication. Now, I did get an article published in the SEN Experience (niche) but my other two attempts remain...unattempted.

Read ALL the Babysitters' Club books. As much as I love them (and I do) the time, effort and money involved in actually achieving this were waaaaaaaay beyond me!

The stuff I'll be doing this year (I hope):

Go to Glastonbury.
Go to Scotland.
Complete my therapy.
Jump out of a plane. With a parachute (obviously).

The one I wimped out of:

Perform on stage. I just couldn't bring myself to do it.... I did kareoke, I did my shark song in front of about 100 people and I gave a speech at my wedding. So that's something. Right?

So. It's done. Will there be a 40 Before 40? Probably not. I think I'd have done a lot of the good stuff anyway, and setting arbitrary targets does start to feel a bit pointless after a while! However, I feel like the travel-type ones have been really enjoyable so next I'm thinking maybe a London Bucket List..? Except it'll be called something else because I hate the phrase 'bucket list'.

Wow, that was a crazy long post. Well done if you made it this far. Have a sticker. Also, if you're doing #BEDM, say hi and send me your links!

April's Photo an Hour: Bluebells, Cider and the First Ice Cream of the Year #BEDM

Well, I don't think I'm going to win any prizes for actually completing Blog Every Day in May, am I?! How is is already 8th May..? Still, better late (and completely off topic) that never, right?

Two weeks ago was a Photo an Hour day, ably organised by Louisa and Jane. My Saturday actually turned out to be pretty photogenic (in my opinion, obviously you're free to disagree - I'm nice like that).

12.30pm: Driving to the South Downs.
OK, so it took me a while to remember that it was a Photo An Hour day.

1.30pm: Enjoying the fresh air and a l l  t h e  s p a c e.

This wasn't on the hour, but it was far too brilliantly gruesome to leave un-photographed.

2.30pm: Sheeps!

Next, onto my favourite bit of the walk, and the reason why we decided to come back after doing it last year... The bluebells!

3.30pm: It's not a country walk unless it finishes at a pub. 
Sadly they'd stopped serving food, so we were left with only one option...

4.30pm: Fish and chips!
Detour to Eastbourne = proper fish and chips. Followed by...

The first ice cream of the year! Seriously, it was a gooooood food day.

5.30pm: Couldn't look less fun if it tried.

6.30pm: This is the best bit of motorway ever. Seriously, it's always quiet.

7.30pm: Marvelling at the fact that it was still light.

8.30pm: Bubbles are for life, not just for honeymoons.

9.30pm: Everything is awesome!

So, yeah, busy day! I love it when Photo An Hour actually falls on a busy day; I feel like I'm letting the side down a bit when I spent all day on the sofa hungover.

If you're doing Blog Every Day in May, or you joined in with Photo An Hour, please send me your links!

#IndieAmnesty: Confessions of a 2005 Indie Kid

An awesome thing happened on Twitter last week; bands, ex-indie kids and John Prescott (?!) lined up to confess their embarrassing deeds done in the heat of indie fandom, using the hashtag #indieamnesty.

Allow me to take you on a journey through space and time...

I still have no idea what was going on here.

The year is 2005. Franz Ferdinand and The Futureheads released their debut albums the previous year and a British indie revolution was in the offing (in fairness, The Libertines had already released two albums and broken up, but they were ahead of the curve).

Bloc Party released Silent Alarm and I was hooked. Aside from the fact that I wasn't very cool, I went into full-on indie kid mode. A gig a week became the norm and I would bore anyone and everyone senseless with opinions I'd rehashed from that week's NME. Cardiff was a great place to be; it had Barfly for gigs, Welsh Club for indie pretentiousness, Fun Factory for £1.50 ciders and Metros for 99p doubles and dry humping sweaty boys on the dancefloor. Good times.

Anywho, I guess it's time for the #indieamnesty confessions to begin.

Kir started us off with:
I still can't decide if Eddie Argos' tache was ironically bad or just bad. Same re: Art Brut. One for the 2005 indie art pop aficionados there.

I then remembered this:
It's true. No regrets.  
In fairness to Kirsty, that should have read 'lipstysalter and I'. On a similar theme, we used to buy NME every single week.

And then some more that didn't make it to Twitter:

I used to buy my favourite/the cheapest songs as 7" singles. I didn't have a record player, so used them as posters instead.

I actually used to sing along to indie songs like this because they just meant so much. Actually, I think I still do that. Seems like Fee is struggling not to laugh at me and I do not blame her!

I once nearly had sex with Stephen Fretwell's bass player because I thought it might help us get into Athlete's aftershow party. Turns out Mr Bass Player was not important enough to also get entry for my two friends, so.... overaries before broveries and bye bye Mr Bass (also he wasn't that fit).

I busted a series of brilliant/humiliating/competitive dance moves under the influence of cheap vodka. On the plus side I perfected my 'Are you suuuuuurrrrrrrrrre?' fingerpoint/full Common People lip sync routine.

I had a massive crush on Ross from The Futureheads. I still would.

I loved MySpace (the pirate was my profile pic) and genuinely worried about who to put in my Top 8. Probably not as much as my brilliantly, hilariously emo housemates did though. 

And, worst of all, my one actual regret in life:

And, to finish off, just because...


So, please, tell me your fangirl/fanboy confessions! Surely I wasn't the only one?!

An Unexpected Start to Our Honeymoon: March's Photo an Hour

March's Photo an Hour day fell on the day after our wedding (and Easter Sunday). I figured the day would be pretty predictable (breakfast, drive, hotel, relaaaaaax) but I was wrong...

The morning started off with me desperately trying to make myself look decent; I'd obviously put in a lot of effort the day before and didn't particularly want to meet everyone the next morning looking gross. We had breakfast with our friends and family, laughed at the previous night's photobooth pictures, then packed up our stuff ready to go on honeymoon. Then things started to go awry.

Having packed up our stuff, Pete suddenly remembered that he hadn't seen the car keys since Friday evening...

1pm: Wedding aftermath. I went back to the pub where we'd held our reception the night before, to collect leftover wedding cake and forgotten shoes. No car keys.

2pm: I went back to the Holiday Inn, where I found Pete in reception, still surrounded by wedding stuff, and still without car keys. The AA were unable to help, given that we were in Somerset, on Easter Sunday, with their cheapest lever of breakdown cover. D'oh.

3pm: Still no car keys, but the Holiday Inn lady took pity on us and gave us free coffee. Emergency locksmiths were either unavailable or unable to help. The reality of the situation began to dawn on us: one of us was going to have to go back to London on the train, alone, to collect our spare car keys. I loaded up a bag with leftover cake and got in a taxi to the station...

4pm: On the train, I received a phone call from Pete. Good news: he'd remembered where he'd left the keys!!!!! Bad news: I was 10 minutes into two hour the train journey, next stop Reading.

5pm: Hi, Reading! Bye, Reading!

6pm: Train selfie. I think cabin fever had set in by this point...

7pm: WE MADE IT! Finally, we made it to our lovely hotel, Woodbury Park near Exeter... A mere six hours after we'd originally planned to arrive. When we arrived we got told that, due to an online deal, we would be charged less than we'd anticipated and receive a free dinner each night. Winnner, winner, chicken fish dinner,

8pm: After a quick jacuzzi visit, we got ready for dinner. I LOVE PATTERNS.

9pm: Dinner was amazing. This was a blue cheese risotto and it was goooooooood.

10pm: Champagne (thanks, Pete!) and wedding cards in bed. An awesome end to a slightly bizarre day!

As usual, thanks Louisa and Jane for organising us - if it wasn't for Photo an Hour my blog would be pretty empty this year!

Why I Started Dreading My Wedding (and What We Did About It)

Ah, wedding planning. Never has one process been so laden with expectation, expense and other people's opinions. Maybe it's because I've done it all before but I never wanted to try and achieve a Pinterest-perfect day. I was hoping I could avoid any planning-induced freak outs.* But freak out I did.

After Pete and I got engaged last August we decided to crack on with wedding planning. We knew we wanted to get married in 2016, it had to be in the school holidays, and we already had another close family wedding planned for the summer. So we started planning an Easter wedding (whilst reassuring everyone that, yes it was quick but no, I'm not pregnant). Plus added bonus: we're getting married on my 30th birthday, so only one cringeworthy celebration to plan!

Originally we wanted to have a traditional, 100- people strong guest list. I'd had a really small wedding (10 guests) first time around and I felt like I owed it to my family to do it 'properly' this time. For about a week this was really exciting, then reality started to hit. The freak out came. I didn't like the idea of 100 people looking at me, and the logistics seemed ridiculously complicated. Although I had been repeating the 'keep it simple' mantra to myself, it was all starting to get a bit out of control. I guess I felt like, if people are coming to a big wedding, they're going to expect something wedding-y. And, I'm going to say it, big wedding aren't cheap. Yes, we could have found the money, but it seemed ridiculous (to us anyway) to spend more on one day than we would on our next car. Before I knew it I was dreading the wedding. As in, actually crying about it every night. I think it's a big, unhelpful stereotype that all women dream of their big day, I was actually dreading it.

Eloping wasn't an option (Pete didn't want to- I would have) and I was worried my family and friends would be disappointed if I cut down the guestlist.

So what did we do? Well, we're still getting married! We found a compromise. Immediate family and very close friends only, giving us a total of 35 guests. It did lead to a couple of difficult decisions, and I really hope I haven't upset anyone too much. I hate upsetting people, but ultimately it wasn't worth putting myself under months of stress. There are some people I feel very close to that I just couldn't invite. Yes, weddings are about friends and family, but they are also about the couple and I think most people would agree it's better if the bride makes it to the wedding day alive and (relatively) sane. 

As usually happens to me in these situations, everyone was far more understanding than I'd anticipated. This feels much more manageable, and the planning process has, for the most part, been pretty enjoyable. Having such a small, close group has allowed me to not really give a crap about the details. Goodbye, Pinterst! Goodbye, wedding magazines! I'm proud to say that my wedding day will not be very 'matchy', my invitations were brought off the shelf, there will be no favours, and I haven't made a fucking thing (except cake). It's ok to not have a sophisticated wedding, it's ok to not have a unique wedding, and it's ok to not be obsessed with the planning process.

That said, I did freak out again last week about everyone looking at me, so THANK FUCK we'd cut the numbers down! Ah well, it's my (birthday) party and I'll cry if I want to.

But you know what? It's only a wedding. It's one day. Marriage, now that's worth freaking out about....

*I'm not entirely sure why I wasn't expecting to freak out. I always freak out, about everything.