askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)

Some time ago, in response to a '30 days' prompt written by a LiveJournal friend, I wrote about the misconception many people have that Cyclothymia is a 'mild' mood disorder.  Since then I have been consistently surprised by the depth of feeling and appreciation expressed by those who have replied to the entry, or sent me a private message.  With this in mind, I wondered if, nearly 2 years on, I might not have more to share on this topic.

When I first wrote on cyclothymia the diagnosis was still ringing fresh in my ears.  I had followed the advice of the psychiatrist - along with heeding his dire warnings of the inevitiability of developing 'full blown' bipolar - and dutifully begun a lengthy course of anti-psychotics and ant-depressants.  They hit my body hard - I put on about 2 stone and tottered on the edge of being clinically overweight.  I slept 12 hours a day and when I missed a dose I felt like I had bugs crawling around in my skull.  After about a year battling through such fog, fatigue and feelings of 'fugliness' I decided to come off the meds and give self management a crack.  I approached my GP for assistance with this. but he refused to assist as I - foolishly - admitted I still had all the same mood symptoms which had prompted the psychiatrist to prescribe them.  So I did it alone, cold turkey.

I sometimes wonder, 2 years on, what damage I did to my brain chemistry in coming off meds like I did - I certainly wouldn't recommend anyone else end their usage in that way and I think the 'bounce back' effect such a sudden removal of chemicals had on my brain, caused the 6 months or so following that decision to be extremely difficult.  It really underlines the need for better patient advocacy and support for mental health patients.  Nonetheless, here I am.

A combination of life events and going completely med-free for the first time in many, many years, caused a number of physical symptoms and illnesses to arise and I now suffer from a small number of physical problems relating to anxiety and stress which were diagnosed after rounds of physical investigation and tests.  Management of aforementioned physical ills can be done through drugs or through lifestyle changes and self management.  After experimenting, as I did with psychaitric drugs, I found a more hollistic route to managing my phsycial ailments. 

What would I tell someone else looking for advice on how to live with cyclothymia based on my several years accumulated knowledge?  A few things;
  • As ever, remember - tell yourself, your family, your friends, your doctor - this is not a mild condition, it is a milder form of a very serious condition.  It destroys lives and rips apart relationships. Do not let anyone, or yourself, underestimate it.  But don't fear it.
  • Cyclothymia kills - when you wake up depressed you lose all sense of perspective, you believe you've felt this way for days, weeks, months, not hours.  You can only remember any other state as being terrifying, free wheeling mania and, because you are depressed, all you feel is anxiety and guilt over the times you were manic.  People with cyclothymia - as with other psychiatric, depressive conditions - make stupid, short-sighted, snap deicisions.  And some of those decisions you don't - can't - come back from.  Never let being told you have a 'mild' condition stop you from picking up a phone/walking into A&E/screaming for help.  Do not become a victim of cyclothymia.
  • You probably won't get better from cyclothymia or 'get over it'.  But you will, very likely, find a way to manage it.  Sometimes the highs and the lows will be worse than others, sometimes they will be better.  Cyclothymia is a living thing - it waxes and wanes, grows and shrinks.  If you can work - alone, with friends, in therapy, with a CBT workbook, anything, to find a way to identify what causes periods of acute depression or unending mania then do it - in the long run it will help you tremendously.
  • You will not definitely get 'full blown' bipolar.  Psychiatrists do not have crystal balls, they have not met every person with cyclothymia and followed them for the whole of their lives, they cannot know how your mental health will unfold over the next 10, 20, 50 years.  Do not let them bully you into decisions because they are telling you to be afraid.   Ask for an advocate - such as from the charity Mind - to be present at your meetings.  If you have sympathetic family and friends, ask them what they think about you taking meds; my friends helped me decide it was the right choice for me when the psychiatrist told me I needed to take anti-psychotics and anti-depressants, my friends also confirmed what I suspected when I felt I was ready and able to live med free.
  • Don't believe that living 'med free' means living 'medical help free'.  Sometimes I get to a point where I haven't slept for a week, or I haven't sat down for 48 hours, or I can't stop cleaning the kitchen because the little anxious ticks have blindsided me and I'm useless.  When that happens I seek out the help I need - sometimes that is sleeping tablets or anti-anxiety medication (although I recognise I abuse meds and alcohol, so I choose the least addictive, least easy to abuse option) and sometimes it is a talking therapy session.  I am lucky in that I am currently enrolled at a university so I can use their counselling services for free and at short notice.  If you have a good GP and/or CPN you should be able to quickly access short term talking or counselling therapy on the NHS.  If you have money, you can always go private.
  • You haven't failed: sometimes I go months without acute mood swings - I recognise they are there and I feel the ebb and flow of the ups and downs but they don't inhibit my movement or life - sometimes I get the very worst of the ups and the downs for a few months in succession.  Whilst I am not able to recognise it in the midst of the black - and most likely you won't be able to either - I try and reflect back on those times afterwards, see if I can identify what contributed to such a bad period, or what I might be able to do differently, but I also do something nice for myself - buy a new cd, have a long bath, take a day to myself watching my favourite movies - you don't fail when cyclothymia symptoms become pronounced, you succeed when they fuck off again.
  • You are in control; ultimately, how you handle the ups and downs, how you respond to other people/how you treat them (it might be an explanation, but it's not an excuse for being rude/evasive), and how angry you feel about cyclothymia 'picking' you, is up to you.  Let it consume you and it will.  Focus on it and you will see nothing else in your life.  Kick it in the arse whenever you can, forge strong and meaningful relationships and friendships with as much or as little explanation as you want, make plans to help yourself - I give myself permission to nap after work when I am particularly low, I set a '2 day' limit on time off work without a doctor's note for when I am so anxious or unhappy I can't face myself in the mirror.  Yes it is hard, and yes sometimes it does feel like a unending battle, but it is all I know and sometimes, albeit only sometimes, I'm pretty sure I'm a step and a half ahead of where I was a year ago.
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
What a year. What a life. What a world.

I feel the need to tidy away 2011, make room for 2012 but attempts to do so seem doomed to failure as a sense of hopelessness in front of 'fate' overwhelms me each time I try. The irony of course being that I don't believe in fate.

I've been trying to form in my mind the things I want for 2012 in the belief that determination is 90% of the route to realisation. 'Space' is right up at the top - I simply can't live in my parents house, if I want to be alone I have to sit in my bedroom. If I want to cook I have to squeeze in the kitchen in between them being in there and endure endless questions. I really value silence and solitude and time to myself and for the last year and a bit that has been completely absent. The main block on that road is not knowing where I want that space to be and whether I should rush for the short term pay off (very tempting) or play a longer game for savings and a place in September. Much of this is dependent on the current PhD application I have.

The PhD is second on the list; I am struggling to motivate myself to complete the application which has been further frustrated by my laptop killing itself this week so any work must be done in an environment I don't enjoy working in - namely on the family PC in the spare room. I am pushing myself to have the application in by today (which is difficult as yet again I can't get a second referee and have been told in fairly unequivocal terms by my first referee that this is the last reference he will write for me, which whilst fair given it is now 4 years since I started my MA, royally fucks me over for any future plans) and the funding application in by the end of next week. I am basically shooting in the dark though as have nowhere to turn to ask for assistance in writing the application and online guides only tell you how - not if what you've written is any good. I had a dream where the person I have asked to supervise me told me my application was a pile of shite and there was noway I would get a place. Thanks for that one subconscious.

Third and finally on the 2012 wish list is a relationship. This one really complicates the first wish the most - where I choose to live and perhaps buy a house, is going to impact on my potential love life. There do not seem to be any women my age in the area. There are older women (significantly older, I have no problem with 8 years or so difference) and there are teenagers who are just leaving for university or at university. There are no mid-late twenty somethings who have ended up somewhere they never intended to be and would quite like to meet someone and build a life. Buying a house in this area feels like condemning myself to singledom for the foreseeable future and I don't want to make a potential positive of owning my own home into a life sentence to loneliness. Unlike the above two where there are numerous routes and options available to me this 'wish' is the one which seems to pose the most insurmountable obstacle to my own happiness.

I feel more conflicted and lost now than I ever have before and that in and of itself is quite distressing. I'm at an age now where I thought I would have things straightened out and I'm angry at both myself and the world for not delivering on that - I feel I've let myself down. It struck me yesterday, as I walked past my University college graduation photo in the hall, that 2012 will be 6 years since I first graduated and whilst I would not claim for a moment those 6 years have been wasted - I travelled round the world and I lived in a great city and I got a good Masters degree - I still find it hard to understand how 6 years could have passed without me getting a clearer idea of not only where I was going but where I am now. Indeed, in that 6 years I've lost some of the things I thought were a sure thing - like the certainty of marriage and not returning to live with my parents.

I recognise of course that we live in difficult times; the economy is poor and both jobs and funding for educational opportunities are scarce. I am lucky enough to be in a stable, secure job with strong prospects; I regret that I cannot *feel* the meaning of that though, I simply acknowledge it to be true. I came across a Nietzsche quote last night which, whilst I do not know the context of the writing it was taken from, certainly seems to express the reason I cannot settle at this time for 'adequate'; Is life not a thousand times too short for us to bore ourselves?

How true that is - something I feel all the more keenly since the death of my colleague in November.

Life is a thousand times too short to live without fulfilment and joy.


askygoneonfire: scribbled 'fuck you richey' over the concentric circles of hell (fuck you richey)
I still have questions/photo requests to answer for day 15 but I'll come back to it as it's causing me a block when 30 days is supposed to relieve the same....

Share a song that represents your mood.

Inevitably, this is a Manics song. Today's choice is Love Torn Us Under.

Lyrics below cut )


I've just had a week or so of not really sleeping, leaping out of bed full of beans in the morning, talking 10 to the dozen all day at work and generally bombing about.  Yesterday I felt a change creeping in; I'd been woken by nightmares all night, physically I was aching and exhausted. Suddenly imbued with fear of loud noises and anxiety that makes you crawl into a ball; 'there's nothing nice in my head/the adult world took it all away'.

Last night the nightmares returned once more and I awoke with the absolute knowledge spending any time with people would ruin me; unfortunately I'm still living with my parents so whilst 'not seeing people' just meant staying in the flat with my phone turned off in Brighton, it now means staying in my bedroom and fending off shouted-through-the-door questions ("do want a tea?" "your washing is dry, are you going to fetch it in?" "do you want some of the pudding I made?") as politely and monosyllabically as is humanly possible to avoid raising any concerns which would lead to more interaction.  How I long for a place of my own.

This week, I can tell you now, is going to be hell.

Have been trying to write more about how I feel and what I hope in terms of getting through it today/this week - and in the future - but after more than an hour of writing and deleting, I have to admit defeat.  Thinking is - as I said on twitter earlier - like wading through treacle at the minute. 

I need a job where I work on flexi-time so I can actually manage this stuff without being completely useless at work half the fucking time.

I just want to say 'help me!' but who that would be directed to, and what they would do about it is beyond me.  Moreover, in a week or so, this will be over and I'll be back to 'normal'.  Although how you define normal when normal usually means common and not one of my three states exists longer than another, I don't know.

askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
Write about a common misconception people have

"Cyclothymia is a mild mood disorder."

At least that's a common misconception amongst the few people who have ever heard of the condition. Pretty much every site google takes you to when you search 'cyclothymia' starts with "cyclothymia is a mild form of..." which, all in all, implies cyclothymia just isn't a big deal. It is.

Cyclothymia turns your life upside down and is more than capable of ruining every relationship you've ever had. You meet people whilst you're manic and the most engaging person they've ever met then, a day or a week later, you meet again and you can't raise your eyes from the ground long enough to talk to them and IT FUCKING BLOWS. And living with someone who wakes up one morning and can't stop crying, with no warning whatsoever? Who would want to be around that?  Cyclothymia pushes potential partners, and established partners, away.

I found a great article which really sums up this shit state of affairs with more information on what the condition actually entails;
Cyclothymia: This so-called mild form of bipolar is no laughing matter.

The reason I think this is such a problematic misconception is that when people hear the word 'cyclothymia' they do what I did; they google it and the misconception spreads. Suddenly dis-empowered people - mental health patients - get another kick in the metaphorical nads when their friends, family and in some cases, mental health workers, see that they are suffering a 'mild' mood disorder. Suddenly all your talk of 'sorry, I know I'm unpredictable/I know I messed you around/my mood disorder is making my depressed because I see myself ruining my life' looks like empty posturing and attention seeking gubbins when in fact, you're trying to be honest.

I find it frustrating too that this misconception is left unchallenged by so many. Few would argue, after The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive, that Stephen Fry has a real and genuine mental health condition that dramatically impacted his life. Fewer still know that his actual diagnosis is cyclothymia, not bipolar disorder. If they did, I sense the understanding of the word 'mild' in all those articles would alter.

Cyclothymia is milder than other conditions; such as schizophrenia and bipolar; the altered mental state it induces is a less significant change than in those conditions, sufferers are not as immediately recognisable as being somehow 'wrong' when in the grip of an attack, but they are no less worn down by it and negatively impacted by the unpredictability and instability of their mental state.  

In short, it is a common and damaging misconception.  
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
So, odd day. Started off, as every other Tuesday does, with therapy.

Suddenly realised something about me, and how I manage - or don't manage - my moods.

My Mum's most common refrain, if I, or my brothers, is playing a certain kind of music - such as Radiohead, the Manics (GATS, THB, JFPL only) etc etc is "why are you listening to that suicide music?" She even said it once when I was listening to Josh Ritter's Hello Starling (my response? "it's not suicide music, it's about the return of hope" her response "pff!")

It's an infuriating little quirk and no amount of explanation of what a song is about, or what a certain genre of music is doing will change her. However, it reveals a little about how my Mum deals with extreme feelings: WE DO NOT TALK ABOUT THEM.

I've always been rather British about this and concluded that not speaking about dramatic emotions is good and right. But over the years, and through the diagnoses that attitude has begun to change. I am thinking about how this attitude affects me because if I do move back in September, I'm going to be living under the same roof as it again

My main fear is that if things do go a bit pear shaped emotionally/mentally for me again I am going to be under enormous strain trying to keep it hidden - as I did as a teenager - which, of course, compounds the problem. I've spent the last 7/8 years expressing most of what I feel as it happens to my friends and partners, and being allowed the space to simply express it, with no repercussions, no being told not to think/feel those things, no being told to push it away, ignore it, no being told it's "not as bad as you think" or "you always take on so, don't" or simply "you'll feel better tomorrow".

The thing is, all of these bits of 'advice' from my Mum come with the best possible intentions. Deep, deep down she truly believes that if she doesn't acknowledge any of the things I say are happening to me/I'm feeling then they won't be feeling. My two eldest brothers had complete mental breakdowns - full on break with reality - and she very nearly managed to pretend that things weren't as bad as they were/happening for the reasons they were. In short, my Mum makes denial a world class sport.

The effect of all of this is that somewhere in my head is the hard-wired idea that both expressing and experiencing extreme emotions of any kind is wrong. It's reductive and not a little absurd to suggest that all my problems come from this deny/suppress environment, but I think it's fair to say it doesn't help.

Interestingly, my Dad has a very practical approach to all this, he's brilliant at coaching and counselling my brothers and has the gift of being able to provide practical perspectives and solutions to emotional hardship. However, I'm his only daughter, and I'm the youngest.  I feel like being number 4 of 4 kids with some sort of mental health failings means that I am the failure, I am the disappointment and if I told him I'd either disappoint or worry him - most likely both.  I don't want to do that.  

Of course, social factors aside, most of the things that mentally shit me over are probably genetic.  Genetic like the ligaments and joints that comprise my knees.

After I finished with therapy and had lunch I headed along to the Doctor's Surgery to talk about my knee pain.  My burning, flaming knee pain that happens whether I stand up for 8 hours at work or not and I was told that.....I have arthritis!

Joy.  Bought glucosamine, despite my massive scepticism of alternative remedies and went away with instructions to keep my knees straight when sitting - i.e. not sitting with my legs splayed apart with the knee joint turned outwards and to never cross my legs.  Or do the breast stroke when swimming - although I used to swim competitively and was taught to swim racing breast stroke which has a much straighter extend rather than kicking to the side so I might ignore that one.  Finally I was told to work on building up my quads - continue cycling to work and do some weird toe curling exercise when sitting.  Le sigh.

My seagulls remain in ruddy health and are growing like weeds.  Managed to capture two not-very-good occasions of them feeding, in each case I got my camera to the window after the main feeding was over.  Turns out nature is difficult to film, who knew!




askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (conor)
You could be happy and I won't know...

Is it too late to remind you how we were
But not our last days of silence, screaming, blur...

For the tiniest moment it's all not true
Do the things that you always wanted to
Without me there to hold you back, don't think, just do.

 
It's funny really, the way songs can make everything come rushing at you. I've written about this before, I know. And tomorrow I am starting another NaBloPoMo which this month means I'll be writing to prompts, so you can at least be assured I'm unlikely to write about it again, but I wanted to do a bit of a free writing blog post, working from an audio prompt*. So here we go...

And miles from where you are
I lay down in the cold ground
and I pray that something picks me up.

That's where I arrive, after that first lyric. Pick me, oh god please let something come and pick me up and return me to that place. Make the line "you could be happy and I won't know" a lie, make it something I create not respond to.

Increasingly though it's not her arms I want to be delivered back to - just someone. I miss that intimacy. Indeed I miss it so much I had a very confusing evening with my ex on Saturday where we fell back into a coupley-intimacy we rarely shared when we were actually going out. But then copious amounts of wine spritzers (yes, really. And no, I've never drunk one before) will do that for you.

In my dreams I keep saying "I love you" and then turning around to find out who I have said it to. Not once has it been Ali. Friends, family, acquaintances, strangers. But not once has it been her.

All of this is probably particularly confusing because the last week has been spent in a manic haze. The end of this period of nervous activity was bookmarked in the usual manner - I slept for an inordinate amount of time. Saturday night I went to bed at 1am, slept until 3pm, got up for 2 hours, napped for an hour and a half and then went to bed at 11pm - bringing the grand total of hours I was awake on Sunday to 6 and a half. An unremarkable 11 waking hours continues the trend today.

with a name I've never chosen
I can make my first steps as a child of 25....
just because I'm sorry
doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it at the tim
e

It's coming to that - I'm none of the things I wanted to be - would have chosen to be, but it's time to try and dismiss that nagging feeling of being some how displaced from my own life and attempt to forge ahead with what I have. I have contradictory feelings of regret (I regret I regret things I regret I regret anything, I regret nothing...)but there simply isn't time to sort through them. Somehow I need to just step out of the place I have been in for the last year and a half.

I realised the other day that I really do want to stay in Brighton and the move back to the East Mids if I don't get a job by September is a second choice, not a first one. But part of taking this step as who I am not who I want to be is going to be sucking it up and doing that if that is what is required to move closer to some of my longer term ambitions.

I've waited here my whole damn life
And I've forgotten what I wanted
Maybe I can do it
If I put my back into it

I am so saturated in regrets these days that I find it near impossible to look forward. But increasingly I am recognising that is what is holding me back. Or at least, I think it is a big component.

I've got one thing coming up next month - the ArtFor Pride exhibition - and I really want that to go well. I've got one painting sketched out to do on Wednesday and I'm hoping to get a couple of others done in the next few days as I have some holiday from work and apparently the weather is going to be shit so holing up in my attic room and getting on with it is a really appealing prospect.

It's the longer term which it remains difficult to envision. I need to let go of how things ended with Ali - no amount of self flagellation, soul searching or in depth analysis of the dynamics of our relationship is going to provide me the answers I was once convinced I would eventually find.

In slow motion the blast is beautiful

I think my Romantic inclinations are at least partly responsible for turning what was, in the end, a disastrous relationship, into something tragically beautiful. I rewrite my own history as some sort of tortured artist who creates the apotheosis of her academic career as the defining, life-giving relationship crumbles unacknowledged around her ears. Falling into a pit of alcoholism and despair in the face of a betrayal she rewrites as a refutation of everything good and pure in the world.

Except it wasn't that.  It was mundane, and yes, hurtful and distressing, but mundane.  Why is it that I can only understand my own history by writing it down and translating it into something more than the sum of its parts?  I need to learn how to make my life and my actions worth more because of their objective value rather than because of the value I can impress upon them through the smokescreen of forcing them into a neat narrative.


* Snow Patrol's Final Straw and Eyes Open.
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
Conversation with my housemate led me to scramble under my bed and pull out my travel box. Therein I found the picture of me hugging a koala. And I found the photo of you and your koala.

I opened my travel diary. Let the pages flick through my fingers. Let them stop flicking quite at random. Do you know where it stopped? On the day we collected your resized ring from the jewellers. Monday 7th May 2007. We went to the Chinese Gardens, right in the centre of sydney. There was a Russian waitress. Like every Russian we met whilst travelling she was rude and angry. We went for an engagement dinner. It was at Cafe Otto, just down the road from our YHA hostel. We tipped 11% and were their best customers all night.

Has she bought you a ring yet? Are you planning a date? Do you still think of me? Still miss me. You must feel something, you still read your friends page, but there's only me and Chris on it.

Are you hoping I'm happy or still miserable? I'm still in love with you, I don't know what that makes me. Stupid, probably. Honest too, I said I'd never stop loving you. It's been 1 year and almost 3 months.

Valentines Day was hard. I thought of you. Of how happy you were when I showed you into our rose petal strewn bedroom. Did she do something better? Did you feel your heart swell?

Tell me you still care about me. Even a little bit. Send me a text or an email, pretend you accidently sent it to the wrong number/address. I won't reply. It'll be like it never happened. Much like Monday the 7th of May 2007.
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
Prompted by a recent post by someone on my livejournal friendslist I have decided I want to write a post which could most accurately be categorised as autobiography. I intend this to be an overview of one aspect of my life this past year. I'm hoping it bookends things for me just by forcing it into a narrative form. I need it to be public, which is why I'm posting it, but I am also aware it has limited appeal, which is why it's below a cut.

Read more... )
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (conor)
...when I have thoughts like these I wait until they form a coherent whole and I then post the considered, occasionally articulate, contemplation. Tonight, however, I just want to get it out.

Right now I am fearful of an unspecified *something* that looms at the back of my mind. It seems to whisper that my anticipation of what next week will bring is misplaced. That the unformed hopes I have will never achieve a clear shape. It will be unconsummated optimism.

And the fear, the dark cloud whispers, is not of a tangible thing but it is instinctive and well placed. You know what you fear and you should. Because tinsel and champagne will never eradicate the cause. Nothing you await with baited breath ever has or ever will.

You see now why I don't post this? I understand my expression perfectly, it is as solid and exhaustively descriptive as it is possible to be about the solid reality of the emotion which doesn't let me sleep.
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
It's been more than 10 nights since I slept solidly through the night. I'm currently doing a very nice line in sleeping in 2 hour bursts and waking up exhausted. At least normal insomnia adds [unwanted] hours to your day, this variety just makes me fantasise about perfect silence, perfect darkness and a bedroom at the perfect temperature. That said, I think I'd manage to wake up even then by breathing too loud or... Or whatever the thing is that means I can't sleep through things I used to.

I was going to explain the subject line, but if you get the reference an explanation will rather detract from your pop culture triumph.
askygoneonfire: My white rat (November the 5th)

I've decided to blog everyday for a month in celebration of my paid account time here on Dreamwidth.  Given how prolific I have been over the years on LiveJournal and various other sites it seems absurd that I am sitting here, on [my] day 1, completely without inspiration.  Perhaps this is just the reason I need to begin blogging regularly - writing and creating is something that must be done daily lest the intellectual muscles required begin to atrophy.  The fact that sentence took me 15 minutes to write and I'm still not happy with it should serve as evidence enough.

Right now the biggest thing in my life is my rats.  It's hard to imagine a sentence that would make me sound more like a lesbian spinster. Nonetheless, it's the truth.  I've had them since they were 6 weeks old when both of them fit in the palm of my hand - or they would have done if they'd stay still for long enough.  We named them after two male rats from Terry Pratchett's Maurice and His Educated Rodents, a few months later we discovered they were girls but the names fit far better than we could have hoped - Hampork was, like her namesake, fond of running headlong into situations without much thought beforehand which were likely to result in injury .  Dangerous Beans is much more considered, sitting back and planning before acting, fully capable of puzzling out the most complex of barriers between her and chocolate.

These two little rats have been constants in my life her in Brighton through the most life changing of events.  They provide focus and motivation for me even in my blackest depressions and celebrate the energy of my manias with me; running around the flat and playing endless wrestling games.  They are there every day and every night, they welcome me home and sulk when I leave.  They love unconditionally.

For these reasons, and many more which should be obvious to anyone who has ever loved a pet, I spent more than my monthly salary on Hampork's veterinary treatment over the course of 9 weeks or so.  Sadly the infection she had was antibiotic resistant and despite attacking it with a plethora of antibiotics, nothing worked and on Saturday night I had to take her to the emergency vet where we - the vet and I - concluded her suffering had become unbearable and that it was time to euthanise her.  In flood of tears I said goodbye and took a taxi home where I sobbed into Dangerous' fur and told her the news.

What it comes down to is this; these little girls, my little rats - they are my family.  I'm nearly 200 miles away from any blood relatives and after the dissolution of my 5 year romantic relationship last year I am a singleton.  We make families wherever we make our home - I'm never sure of cause and effect in that binary, perhaps we make home wherever we find a family.  Whichever it is, I made one in Brighton - family or home or both - and whilst friends inevitably compose a large part of the connection I have to this city, it is the rats - or, as it stands now, rat - which give me both the responsibility and consistency in my daily life.

It is the minutiae of life which seem to shape us the most - the capacity to keep up with the numerous small but essential requirements, the way we respond to challenges to those well trodden ways, the ability to prioritise essential over every other demand life places at our door. 

Dangerous and I remain a family.  And I remain here for her even if I can't stay for me, or you or anyone else.  It's about more than just owning a rat.

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askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
a sky gone on fire

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