I Hate This

There are some days where I can put up a facade of functioning. I’ll be able to complete most regular, easy tasks; I’ll speak animatedly and tell people things aren’t that bad. However, it’s often just a disguise, a false front that I don’t even realise is false until I’m back by myself. Of course, there are days where I genuinely feel okay or even positive but most times, there’s something that feels really wrong beneath the surface.

Then, there are days where I can’t even pretend to function properly. There are days where, like yesterday and today, I walk around in this daze of upset and sad and lonely. My voice will have no inflection in it – it’ll sound like I just don’t care about anything. On particularly bad ones, I will snap at people that I don’t feel well enough to talk or do anything and then spend hours afterwards feeling so guilty about it that I shut myself off. I’ll talk to people in a bid to distract myself from this awful feeling but it’ll never work. It just comes across as desperation.

Today is going especially unpleasantly. I had to make a really horrible decision yesterday that has left me feeling terrible, even though I knew it was the right thing to do for everyone involved. My skin feels awful and I’ve been purposefully trying to avoid talking to the family when I never usually do that. Even though I told my mum I feel mentally unwell, she blamed it on the change in the weather and the fact that we’ve all been feeling shitty. It just reinforces in my head that no one will believe me because usually I can function enough to get up and get out the house.

I’m so tired. I hate having to pretend that this bone-deep weariness is from just lack of sleep or being just a little bit sad when everything feels a bit unhinged and heavy. I haven’t been able to explain my thoughts to people around me, leading to misunderstandings which make me feel even worse.

There’s also this thought in the back of my head that I’m really fine, that I’m being dramatic and that I should just get up and try. But I have been trying. I’ve been trying so hard that I have no try left. I keep on getting bursts of crying because I can’t bare that my mind is working against me to tell me I’m a liar and a faker and not worth anybody’s time.

I don’t want to feel like this anymore. God, I hate it so much; it’s like the moment I take a few steps forward, my brain pulls me back. This time, I can’t even properly blame myself because feeling like this isn’t my fault. It’s just so horrible and even though I know it won’t last forever, it feels like it’ll never end.

How do you admit that you don’t feel well without making it seem like a cry for attention? Because I refuse to self-diagnose, I don’t want to say I have anything but then it just feels like people don’t care. It’s just a “spell” or a “phase”, according to so many members of my family. I feel trapped and shut in my own head, when so many people expect me to hold it all together. It seems like there’s no time for my unhappiness or breakdowns. Fuck, is that needy to say?

I just want to feel well but I know that can’t happen for a few days or even weeks. Talking to people has helped and I’m just trying to reconcile with myself that people care. This mountain isn’t impossible to scale – it’ll just take a while to climb. I guess, you can’t climb a mountain without support.

If you need help, I’m always a message, email or comment away. Here’s my contact page, if you need it. You deserve to have a voice.

I’m really sorry for how negative and disjointed this post is. Thanks for always supporting me through it, though. Blogging is part of the reason why I haven’t totally broken down. I appreciate that more than I can say. I just feel so awful at this current moment that I can’t do much apart from yell it onto a screen in the hopes that someone will understand.

Love from Elm πŸ™‚

On Respecting Personal Boundaries and Family

Trigger warnings: this post mentions self-harm, suicidal thoughts, potential alcoholism and a description of a panic attack. Please don’t read this post if these topics make you feel very uncomfortable or trigger you.

On the morning of my English exam, I found out that my mum had told my sister that I’d used a dating app to talk to girls and that I’d met someone on there. It was only because my sister had started to use Tinder and was feeling really nervous /happy about it. I didn’t get angry: I just asked them to respect my personal boundaries. As I’m still feeling quite defensive about my identity, I wanted to be the one to tell my sister. After a brief argument, in which all of us got slightly irritated, it was resolved and I went on to do that exam. When I came home, things were okay – more tense, but okay.

A couple of days later, the day my exams finished, we were all talking again. I’d been talking to my sister about her dates that she was going on at the weekend, having a lovely conversation which made me feel more comfortable about opening up myself. When my mum got back, we were still talking about it and she was talking about the dangers of online dating. I started to react really badly, attempting to contradict her when she was talking about her friend who had got conned. Although I didn’t mean it, it came off as really argumentative and belligerent. What I was trying to do was to make her think about what she was saying. After I pushed too far, she got upset and said that she “might as well keep her mouth shut” and that’s when I completely lost it inside my own head. I went upstairs and was just washing my face when I heard them talking downstairs, again.

Like a fucking idiot, I listened. I can be really quiet when I want to be, utterly silent as I got closer to the top of the stairs, so I heard everything. My mum was really upset with me, explaining to my sister that it felt like she could never speak, that I was always arguing with her. I didn’t hear much of what my sister said because my heart was smashing in my chest and the worst sort of disgust was starting to grow. The instability that had been increasing steadily suddenly roared to life: I walked into my room and twisted my arms behind my back, wanting to tear at myself to make what I had done just go away and fuck off. I had no idea what to do – I couldn’t think past the roaring in my ears that had started as I’d slammed my door shut.

After a few minutes, I’d calmed down a bit and walked downstairs. I told my sister that I had heard what they had said and that every time mum talked about the online world in a negative way, it felt like she was disapproving of a central part of my identity. I started to tell her that I couldn’t have got through the last few years without people I’d met online but I got interrupted by my own tears. She was calming me down, telling me that mum didn’t mean it; that she was trying to communicate with me but that I often reacted as if she was attacking me.

I don’t remember precisely what happened for the few minutes after that. I know I had a panic attack, that I was gripping onto her hand and telling her I hated myself, that I had always done, and getting unspeakably upset when I didn’t think she understood. I vaguely remember hitting out at the arms of the sofa linking my hands together behind my back so that I wouldn’t be tempted to hurt myself. It was genuinely horrifying; I haven’t had that bad of a panic attack on somebody for months and I was terrified. When my sister suggested getting my mum, I practically wailed that I was scared and scared and scared; I couldn’t stop crying. This is when my awareness comes back a bit more because at that point, my sister had succeeded in stopping me from screaming.

Then, my mum came in and my sister initiated a family discussion. Without going into too much detail, because it makes me seriously anxious to remember the specifics, mum and I were telling each other how we felt. We came to the conclusion that I react out of anger a lot when mum doesn’t mean to upset me – she just wants to talk to me. I keep my emotions in too much and become defensive. By this time, I felt like it was my fault all the time and was yelling in my head that I was disgusting. Mum said that, in terms of the online stuff, that she was trying to protect us but that she needed to let go.

There is something my mum does which frustrates me, a lot. When I get upset with her for something, she just “backs down” but not in a genuine way; she uses phrases like “I should never have said anything”, or “I’ll keep my mouth shut”, or “I’m scared of you”. I told her all this, telling her it made me feel terrible but I don’t think she understood precisely. I wanted to yell at them, tell them that they had no idea how much their “casual” words affected me. That I wasn’t like them, that I couldn’t let things go, that them being silent to begin with fucked me up. However, I started to realise that they were right: I did react angrily a lot of the time and I wanted to stop it. I have so much locked-in anger and sadness that when it does come out, often, it’s not because of them – it’s because it’s built up for far too long.

At some points, I couldn’t actually speak or I couldn’t get my words out. I would mouthe “help me” at my sister when this happened, my hands opening and closing because I felt like I was choking. After one particular instance of this, I told them that I would take the anger out on myself and mum’s response to that was “so you self-harm now then?” That made it even worse but I reeled in my snappish response, instead telling her that what she just said made me feel shit. I was trying to explain to them that I passively wanted to die a lot of the time – not that I wanted to actively do anything, but that I wanted to disappear. Upon telling mum that I’d told her this before, she said she remembered and would ask me if I was suicidal (but only when we were talking about suicide anyway). In response, I said that I always said no because her version of suicidal thoughts is actively wanting to do something, so I wasn’t technically lying. Instead, I wanted to scream, “YOU ARE ALWAYS DRUNK WHEN I WANT TO TALK TO YOU MOST SO HOW THE FUCK DID I EXPECT YOU TO REMEMBER?”

We agreed to be more communicative. Thanks to my sister, I started to know what it was I was doing wrong and that my emotions can be overwhelming. In the days after, it was easier not to snap; it was easier to realise I was being unreasonable. It’s not perfect but it’s okay and yes, I still get violent flaring pieces of anger and I still can’t talk to them about it yet but maybe, when I don’t want to destroy my mind as much, I’ll start to have a go.

It’s really hard to look at it from an objective standpoint and to not get some of my residual anger out in a biased rant. I’m trying, though. I understand that I can be very mean sometimes and react without thinking but some of the things my mum says still very much upset me; I don’t want this to be a one-way communication. I know that my emotions right now aren’t necessarily the most constructive thing but I can’t be the only one trying as it would make me hate myself more, thinking that I was still doing everything wrong. I’m tired of that.

The last two weeks have taught me that neither I nor my family are faultless. We all have barriers to work through and it’s not going to be easy but it’s going to happen. This summer, I don’t want to argue or to be treated like a child; I don’t want to snap or become furious at the slightest provocation. I have to thank my sister for helping us all to realise what we’ve been doing to make ourselves unhappy.

I want to set my own boundaries; I want to communicate well. Unlike before, where everything seemed impossible, I think this might potentially work.

God, this post has drained me. I feel so upset from writing it but it’s also, strangely, settled something deep within me. If I get my unhappiness out on this blog in a helpful and non-destructive way, it might not transfer into me being a total nightmare. Then again, I don’t want to be too negative; I don’t know. It’s tricky. After this, I might just go and relax so that I can collect my thoughts without becoming overly anxious.

Thanks for reading this, if you got to the end. I know that I can be far too honest sometimes but if I can’t express things here,I can’t express things anywhere. I will be okay, though. If you’re struggling with something similar, hold onto the days where it’ll get easier. We can get through this.

Do you find that talking to your family can be really hard?

From Elm πŸ™‚

A Little Christmas Tag!

IT IS TWO WEEKS UNTIL CHRISTMAS ARE YOU EXCITED?? Because I am and I’ve catapulted myself out of my “Scrooge Phase” and have finally become all Christmasy. For my first Christmas post of the year, I’m going to be doing a Christmas tag!

I was nominated by the wonderful Chloe Lauren and you can read her post here. She’s one of the most positive bloggers ever and you should totally look at her blog because CHRISTMAS!

This fab tag was created by Girl Enters and I love the idea of it. Christmas tags are so fun because you get to scream about how much you LOVE CHRISTMAS.

The Questions

Do you like Christmas?

I like it a lot more now than I did before; I used to not get hyped at all. I love it because of the presents and decorations and how it brings all my family together. I don’t get as hyped for it as some people do but when people around me are getting festive, it’s almost contagious.

What do you enjoy most about Christmas?

I really love going to Christmas markets and also spending time with my family. When we go to my Grandma’s, we often all get really involved in bringing in the presents and the ridiculous excitement on Christmas morning with stockings is something I still do. I’m not a child, okay?!! I’m just… Alright, maybe I am a tiiiny bit of a child. (I look like one so shhhh)

Do you travel at Christmas or stay at home?

On Christmas Eve – or usually the 23rd – we go to my Grandma’s for Swedish Christmas, where we open presents and have Swedish Christmas dinner. The next day, my sister and I go to our mum’s house and have a ‘second Christmas’ there. So in a way, we do both.

Do you send out Christmas cards?

I personally don’t because I can’t write them. When I do send them out, it’s usually to friends who can read Braille or if I’m feeling especially festive, I’ll ask someone to write it for me. I’m SORRY! Writing print isn’t, erm, exactly my forte.

Do you go to any Christmas parties?

Hahahahaha NOOO. I don’t get invited because I’m an antisocial moth Γ—100 but I’d like to go to one with family or maybe friends. The closest I get is a New Year’s party which acts as a kind of substitute birthday party.

Do you decorate your house?

Not much, besides the tree. We have a Christmas ornament on the door and my stepmum and I plan to buy Christmas candles this year (we really should do that). I’d love to get some reindeer ornaments too because, as with everything, THEY ARE SO CUTE!

What tops your tree?

An angel. It’s getting quite old but I love it – we used to have two, one for me and one for my sister, but I think one of them went missing or something. We used to have a star as well but we haven’t seen that in a while… I swear, elves are stealing our decorations.

When do you put up your Christmas tree?

Usually it’s around 5 December – this time, we put it up two days before that because we’re all going to be quite busy this week. (One day, I’ll go on a rant about how much I love Christmas trees which hopefully won’t turn me into an actual Elm).

How long do you leave up your decorations for?

We usually have them up until 5 January or the 6th because we like to keep the festive spirit going. This time, we might have to take the tree down a bit earlier because guests are coming round so I’ll just sob over fallen pine needles and mourn the loss of my kindred spirit… Right, I need sleep.

Which do you prefer, giving or receiving presents?

Hmm… I’d say giving because I love seeing people’s responses but also receiving because I’m paranoid people will hate the presents I got them and buying for my family is a nightmare. I don’t like getting too many presents because I hate my family spending too much money on me but I suppose they have the same thought process as me, in that getting someone something they love is amazing.

When and how did you learn about Santa Claus?

What?!! Santa isn’t real?
I learnt about that – my heart’s still breaking – when I was about 7. There were these hairbands in my stocking – the only ones I’d received – and I was eavesdropping at the door of the kitchen and heard my aunt say, “Those were some lovely hairbands you got Elm!” In my little brain I started going “Hmm… Have these bitches been lying to me?” and that, children, was how I realised Santa wasn’t real. As a side note, I had to keep on pretending to my cousin that Santa existed and every time, I probably had a weird little smile on my face.

What’s your favourite thing to eat during the Christmas holidays?

I know Christmas cake and pudding is great (actually it’s gross and I don’t like it) but I either love Advent callendar chocolate, chocolate orange or those decorations you get on the Christmas tree. A few years ago, I may or may not have eaten them all. Do you notice a pattern? I 100% certainly absolutely don’t.

Nominees

And I nominate…

Ruby Rae Reads

Indy

Sumedha

Kate

Jasmine

Lu

Bethany

I really hope you like this and that you’re having a fabulous December! Even if it’s freezing here in Britain, I’m still enjoying myself.

What kinds of decorations do you have up at Christmas?

From Elm πŸ™‚

I Told my Mum about My Blog??

As you can tell by the title, something pretty amazing happened a few days ago. Really, I’m still in shock that it actually happened. You won’t understand how confusing the title is to me until I explain a bit about my mother, so here we go.

My mum can be a very suspicious woman. She regularly tells me about the dangers of talking to people online or going online in the first place and in the past, I’ve had to make up stories about where exactly I’ve met some of my friends. When I’ve brought up online things in the past, she’s shut me down and not only that but she’s extremely, extremely over-protective of me because I’m visually impaired. Partly because of how she treats me, I’m not very open to telling her anything whatsoever. However, I appear to have not given her enough credit.

Two days ago, the morning after she and I had had one of our biggest arguments in which bad mental health only made an appearance to myself, I was sitting at the kitchen table. I’d been internalising a lot of horrific stuff the night before but that morning, I wasn’t so agitated and I was thinking about how far my writing style had come compared to how it was before. Calmly eating, pondering her apology to me an hour before and also the state of my blog, something wild snapped in my mind. “Oh fuck it,” were my actual thoughts. Whenever I think like that, I either a) Do something very stupid, b) Make a spontaneous decision that turns out really well or c) Decide I don’t have anything to lose. I’m not entirely sure which one I did that day.

“Mum, can I tell you something?” There. Those words were out in the open and as you know, following those words always comes a ‘big’ announcement. I stopped what I was doing and focused my entire attention on saying it – I couldn’t tell you why I picked then to explain, or why I even told her.
“Sure,” she said. I was absolutely terrified for a split second before it all went blank. This was huge for me and I hadn’t even thought about it??!! What was I doing?!

So, I told her. I said I had a blog, that my sister knew because she had a blog for her art but that I never showed anyone mine, that I’d been doing it for over two and a half years. She didn’t speak throughout my explanation and I spoke in the most matter-of-fact way ever. I was so incredibly casual about it that I don’t quite think she understood how huge it was for me.

“…And I wanted to tell you because it’s a really big part of my life so yeah,” I finished. It didn’t feel like a weight had been lifted off because telling her had never worried me. Telling her about this blog was never something that had even gone into the realms of possibility.

Her response? “Well done.” Nothing else. She asked me no questions; she didn’t ask anything apart from what I wrote about. I told her the truth: that I screamed about my boring as fuck life and that a few people read it. I didn’t tell her how happy it made me and that writing connected me to myself in a way that I’d missed. I didn’t tell her how much support people reading this give me and how much I love them for it. That’ll come later – or maybe never.

Sorry, can I just – WHAT??? I told my mother??? Someone who doesn’t know exactly how I met some of the closest friends I could ever have?

I still can’t believe I did that. My mother – the person who constantly worries about where I am, what I’m doing – was completely fine with my blog?? Of course, I haven’t told her that I’ve met people from online, or just how closely connected I am to the ‘blogosphere’ because I think I should leave that until she’s more used to the idea. The fact is, I’ve revealed a massive part of my life to the parent I least expected to be fine with it.

This has shown me not to judge people too harshly. Sometimes, opening up isn’t the best idea but other times, it can really make things easier. I don’t think I could have done this a year ago and maybe it was a mistake because I know she doesn’t understand it but you know what? I’ll give her time. I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt.

Now that both my parents know, I don’t know how to feel. I suppose it’s nice that they know – or rather, BLOODY CONFUSING because I thought I was a complete whimp – but I’m still 100% going to keep the anonymity. Being able to express myself in the limited way I can (because people from real life read this a bit) is so much better than not being able to express myself at all.

Thank you so much to everyone that’s supported me the last few days. It hasn’t been easy because I’ve been feeling really down, more so than usual, but I’m trying my best to take a break from things that stress me. Blogging gives me a purpose and telling my mum connected me back to that purpose.

Have you told your parents about your blog? Would you? I never thought I would until I did and sometimes, their reactions are surprising. Don’t pressure yourself into anything and only tell people if you feel like you want to because this is your space.

Love from Elm πŸ™‚

I’m going on Holiday!

Hi!

When this is published, I’ll be on the plane. Along with the fact that I am now scared of flying, despite the fact I’ve gone abroad ever since I was a baby, I’m going on holiday with my mum and sister. It should be… Interesting.

We’re going to Tenerife; I’ve been once before when I was small but I don’t remember it. It’s going to be boiling; we’re mostly going to be relaxing and going on the beach. I’ll have to get over my intense dislike of sand but I should be able to do that. If I get scared or something, I’ll just go to the pool (oh god, I’m so bad at swimming!).

I’m actually really excited in my own way although it might not seem it. I love going abroad to new places, especially to relax. It’s going to be a good escape from everything as my mental health has been very bad the past couple of days, ever since I got hit with a horrible spell of loneliness. That means this holiday I could actually relax – for once in my bloody life!

However, as usual, I’m a little nervous. There’s the fact that my mother always gets stressed on holiday and can’t understand why sometimes, I don’t feel like doing things or why I get paranoid incredibly easily. Also I’ve done no work so far this holiday which means relaxing will make me feel guilty. In order to combat that, I’ve downloaded a lot of books to read – both for English and just for fun. Because I love reading, it won’t be a chore and I can do some research whilst I’m at it.

I also need to work on my coursework and personal statement but that’s not so important. The main priority is for me to relax – write, read and do the things I love. I’ll be writing some posts on the plane and on holiday to either schedule or just post whenever so there won’t be a blank from me for 6 days, don’t worry!

The truth is, I kind of just want to get away from everything. Ever since my friend left on Wednesday, I’ve been really dispondent because I miss him and having someone to talk to if that makes sense? Going abroad should distract me from that awful feeling. I forgot how feeling happy for a bit felt and I’m looking to get that back. I’m terrified that I’ll be lonely because I’ll be away from my friends but honestly? MAYBE I need that.

I’ll still be around to talk of course! You’ll be getting some holiday-type posts and creative posts on your reader in the next few days because for me, blogging helps me relax.

Have you gone on holiday this summer or are you hoping to?

Love from Elm πŸ™‚

An Update On My Mental Health

I am so tired.

Sitting here in the evening, with everything around me silent, I can’t help but think I should feel calm or somehow rested. I don’t. I feel sad, annoyed, frustrated but yet somehow disconnected. This is how I’ve been feeling for the past few weeks and I want to talk to you as frankly as possible, in the only way I know how. For me, blogging about it is the only way I feel comfortable even thinking about my jumbled mind.

3 days ago, I had what can only be described as a mild panic attack in front of my mum. It was over something small: my sister had moved my hair removal cream and had used it. I now no longer knew where it was. I utterly flipped out at about 9 o’clock in the evening: it slowly evolved from me getting agitated about my lack of ability to understand that because my sister has a mental illness, she can’t realise that what she’s doing makes me anxious to me gasping for breath and wailing about how terrible I feel and about how, sometimes, I hate myself. I felt selfish and needy for doing it but in some ways, it was a release of pent up anger and emotion.

I honestly can’t remember all of what I said. I downplayed it but made sure to truthfully tell her that I didn’t always feel like this, that there were days where I was fine but that I did feel anxious pretty much all the time. Standing on the landing, I got upset at how my mum tried to make excuses for both me and my sister. I told her that I didn’t tell my dad much at all (a lie) and that I’d been seeing my head of year about how I felt (a truth but I didn’t tell her what I spoke about). At this point, I was miserable and whenever she tried to hug me I flinched away; I really didn’t want anyone near me, especially not her at that moment because she was so incredibly surprised that I was having this “meltdown”, as she phrased it to my dad in a text later.

My mother is incredibly difficult to talk to and so I hardly ever do; however, afterwards, she suggested I spoke to her more – I think I will. More importantly, she said I should go and speak to the GP and maybe get a referral to a counsellor, or something such as that. Bringing her own experiences into it didn’t help me as much as, I think, she hoped it would because my mind flashed back to the points where she didn’t feel sympathy for me at all and, years and years ago, treated my sister terribly. I had to let it go, though; I don’t hold it against her any more because she did help me by putting things into perspective.

The fact is, I feel like I’m seconds away from falling apart utterly. I’m so sad now that I can’t think properly but I’ll try. Here’s a list of all the things, or as much as I want to say, that are making me anxious, panicky or that make me feel numb.

β€’ I literally have no motivation to do anything at all
β€’ I haven’t read blogs and I have this irrational paranoia that I’m an awful blogger – I know this isn’t founded in truth and may look like I’m crying for attention but I know I’m acting stupidly; you guys have always supported me
β€’ I have feelings for someone currently but whenever I think about it, I want to just sob because it wouldn’t work out; trying anything would be a waste of time and would make things painful and complex
β€’ I’m scared of seeing the GP because if I’m having a bad day and am especially erratic, they may refer me to something which is too serious and if I say the counsellor or any other person, they may think it’s worse than it is – I explained this to my mum
β€’ I don’t understand if many of my thoughts are real or based on truth; I always get scared that I’m making stuff up in my head
β€’ All my work that I have to do is too much, too huge and even thinking about it is panicking me
β€’ I never follow my own advice; I’m a hypocrite
β€’ I feel bad but I’m sometimes unable to deal with people who even irritate me slightly
β€’ The self-depreciating dialogue inside my head has grown so much worse but I never know if I’m just putting it on or what I really feel towards anything
β€’ I’m so, so confused

I don’t know. I need sleep but I don’t know if this sleep will leave me feeling refreshed or if my thoughts are going to crowd in on me again. I don’t know how to write this post so that it’ll alleviate some of my worry; am I going about this the wrong way?

This evening, I also spoke to my sister about it; I’ve barely told anybody else because I just don’t want to think about it. She was great but did point out to me that with my mum, I can’t lash out because that’ll make it worse. People know how sad I’ve been but it’s so hard to go into the extent of why: that I feel blank sometimes and sad the next; that one day I won’t do anything productive for hours and hours and the next I’ll have such good intentions but only complete a few of them.

Now I think on it, writing this post has helped, if only because I’m a little relieved that I can get this out there. This isn’t supposed to make sense; my mind’s whirling and I can hardly think for the worry that I’m running out of time in every single aspect of my life.

I just want to be happy. My head of year said that I need to start actively doing something, just little things to help. On the other hand, before I do anything I have to acknowledge that there’s something wrong. I have to accept that I’m not feeling good and why – or try to piece the reasons together by writing the “stream of consciousness” that this has turned into.

Only when you truly know what’s happening with yourself can you start to implement little things to help. That might involve sorting through your thoughts – something I’m not good at so I understand – but once you have a little idea, you can start to help yourself a bit more. If you can’t do that, others can help; it’s almost good that I had the panic in front of my mum because even for the way she handles things sometimes, she can do something to help.

You can be in control of your own mind; it takes time and effort and it won’t be easy but it can be done. If you feel unexplainably bad, perhaps start trying to work through the reasons. That can be triggered by an event like I had or a sudden realisation: this is you and so I can’t dictate to you how it’ll work. Only you can do that.

Things will get better but it won’t happen overnight. I’m so exhausted but I have to give it time, effort and a willingness to get a little better, slowly. I think I can do that.

From Elm πŸ™‚

On Having Divorced Parents

My parents divorced about 9 years ago, when I was 8 and my sister was 11. We were told separately: me in a graveyard by my dad and my sister was told by my mum at home. I cried, asked where mum was going to live and then my dad got me a recorder as a present to cheer me up. I have no idea what my mum said to my sister but because I was 8, I didn’t really get it and just knew my mum was moving out: I didn’t know if I would go with her and for some reason, I thought I would never see her again.

I don’t remember much from that time. I don’t remember the arguments that came before their divorce – I knew there were some; I remember vaguely some shouting . It didn’t really come as a surprise to me, both then and now: my mum hadn’t lived full-time in the house since I was 6 because she’d been working abroad. Then again, I couldn’t tell you much about how I’d felt because I don’t remember it: I wish I did sometimes. I know I was sad, that there was a battle for custody and that they got joint custody of both me and my sister. Mum got a rental house and then a year later, got a proper one.

I’m lucky: my parents get on. They don’t fight; they don’t hate each other; they aren’t awkward around each other. My dad remarried and my mum now has a steady boyfriend and it’s all good from that standpoint. I don’t dislike either of them and because I don’t remember them screaming at each other, I don’t have a reason to. It’s not all like that and the divorce – however “amicable” I thought it was at the time – has affected me in ways I only realised recently because before, I thought that absolutely everything was fine.

There was one thing I’ll distinctly remember for a long time and that was when my mum kicked our bin in. Being carried by my dad, I had no idea what was happening because this was after they’d split. She got so angry: I only remember me yelling at her in my 8-year-old way. We had to replace that bin, although it wasn’t for a while and when people came in, we didn’t comment on the dent. I don’t blame my mum because her and my dad were having a massive row but when I think about it, it’s kind of fucked up and the worst part is that it didn’t phase me and I thought it was normal to do that.

As much as my parents get on, they live in two separate houses. That means I switch between them and not on a regular schedule either: at the time of organisation, I got so panicked when a week at a time at each house was suggested that this idea was scrapped. We never did implement it: I go to each house when I feel like it. Or, I don’t. I wish it was that damn simple because I’m so grateful that they don’t hate each other but it just makes switching between their houses much more difficult.

When I was younger, it didn’t bother me: it was exciting. I used to joke: “I have two rooms!” and “It just means that friends can come to two houses!” – forgetting the fact that I had two good friends in primary school – but as I got older, problems started to happen in my mind concerning the switch. After discussing it a lot with my dad – who is the only one I can really talk to about this – I’ve come to the conclusion that it comes down to guilt.

I feel like a package. I’m at dad’s right now but that’s because my mum is with her boyfriend; it just feels like my mum thinks that going to my dad’s is a necessary evil or something. Every time she says “And you can come back to mine tomorrow!” I feel miserable inside because I’m not brave enough to tell her that actually, I’d rather stay at dad’s today. I’m terrified I’ll hurt her feelings because my sister’s at university and she’d be alone at the house.

My mum does try and she’s a good parent but sometimes I feel trapped. My mood noticeably dropped when I go to hers: I become snappy, horrible, not myself and because I feel on edge most of the time, my self-esteem plummets. Then it’s fine; I settle back in; I go to my dad’s and feel relaxed. It’s the expectation: she thinks that I’m coming to hers and when I go to dad’s? “I need a break anyway haha!” It’s like I’m being passed from one to the other. When I spend a while at dad’s, mum asked WHEN I’m coming to hers and that makes me feel worse. I don’t want to upset people.

At least I get to see them though: I should stop complaining. There are so many people out there that can’t see one or both of their parents. However, when you’re treated like some sort of object occasionally, it affects how you feel about yourself and I don’t like that. Whether it’s because of this – whether it’s the root cause or this has just increased an existing feeling – recently, I’ve not felt worth much.

A superficial thing is that clothes get misplaced from one house to the other. I’ve honestly lost a bunch of my clothes because when I transfer, I bring some but not all: they get washed, put in a place where I can’t find them and then I get so stressed. It gets to the point where my parents communicate with each other to find out where the fuck my tops have gone because “They’re not at mine,” which consequently makes me panicky because it puts pressure on me to find my clothes. It’s another thing which I don’t have independence over and I feel like crying because I really hate being told “Okay, have you packed everything?” and having to organise when to get picked up, with my mum constantly asking “Can you say this-” when I’m on the phone.

I just sometimes hate it, you know? It’s so much better than if they were still married because they’re happier but I wish I had more freedom: it’s not that I don’t, it’s that I feel guilty about upsetting my mum especially. She wants me to spend most of my time round hers: I’m going shopping with her tomorrow so she can help me buy clothes and I don’t want to go. I want to stay home, revise and actually relax without becoming angry or defensive. I hate myself when I’m like that.

Knowing that people have it worse can be comforting but it sometimes makes me feel like my problems or feelings are stupid or worthless. Then, I shut them out or block them because I feel like I don’t deserve to feel them because both my parents are nice, don’t argue any more and ine happy now. I shouldn’t feel like that but I do because I am lucky.

I know that their divorce is all in the past but I never got to talk about it when I was younger. I didn’t really realise it needed to be talked upon because it seemed pointless: everything was okay; I wasn’t bothered. I haven’t spoken to my sister about it much at all because it’s too late now but I still feel panicked when I think about how they might both be lonely if I leave.

Opening up about this has taken a huge weight off my chest. I always feel like I can’t talk about it because it happened so long ago. It’s not like it’s serious but I know that at least some of my worry and excess clinginess and paranoia is due to feeling like I have to juggle houses and being at the whim of plans I have no control over. I don’t know. Even talking about this is making me feel guilty because I know my parents love me so much but the reality is, I couldn’t have gone through this unscathed.

I want you to know that you’re not alone. Going through a divorce is so hard for parents but it’s hard for us too. Even if it happened 5 years, 10 years or however many years ago, it can still affect you. Time doesn’t dictate whether you should be “over it”: I should know; you can talk about how you feel. If you don’t feel like its worth anything, remember that it’s your mental health. It’s not easy and if you need to speak to anyone, you can: my email’s always open because I know what it’s like, especially, to not realise that a part of the reason you get so angry now and in the past is because you weren’t aware you could express your feelings of panic and isolation before.

From Elm πŸ™‚

How I Survived Christmas

You know what the most stressful thing is? Juggling family politics without telling various members of the family, having breakdowns on my sister and pretending to be extremely drunk so that mum didn’t find out, becoming ‘tipsy’ and telling everyone in my contacts list that it was a placebo effect, and figuring out which presents I should take to which house based on which ones I like best.

For some reason, Christmas has always been an… Eventful time of year for all the family. On Christmas Eve, I went to my Grandma’s house and yesterday, I was at mum’s, and so I got two Christmas dinners – Swedish and English – and two sets of presents.

At Grandma’s, I was my usual anti-social moth: I was reading, shouting about memes with my cousin or bitching about some of my family members with my aunt and Grandma. I’d feel bad, but when I was speaking to my aunt, I told her about loads of my thought processes and came out to her as bi without freaking out. My aunt’s never been the most accepting sort – not like my dad – but she’s not bad at all, and I only got unbelievably pissed off with her once.

We stayed over on the 23rd and 24th, and I stayed inside on the latter day whilst my sister and dad went into town. There was my customary reading time, plus speaking with my Grandma and hugging her dog, Daphne, on several occasions. Once all of the family – and by that I mean sister, dad, aunt, cousin, grandma and dog – were in a vague state of togetherness, we had dinner.

When I was younger, I never really had much enthusiasm when eating Swedish food; it was like a chore and I complained so much that it irritated everyone. In the last three years, I’ve been much happier to try everything than I was previously. We had sill – which is sweet pickled herring; janssons – anchovies and potatoes which is the most glorious thing ever; meatballs, regular potatoes, ham and vegetables. It’s basically a part of my childhood, even if I didn’t eat it much when I was small because I was a little shit.

We’ve always opened our presents on Christmas Eve – at least at Grandma’s – because it’s what you do in Sweden. If it suddenly changed I wouldn’t be able to deal with it, but luckily, we sat down to open our presents and I would have fought with my cousin over who handed out the presents, but he was being an arse and couldn’t be bothered, and so it was me and my dad who did it.

In short, I was happy with what I got. That included two bottles of perfume +a few samples, two jumpers, a nice top, a skirt, a new hairbrush and toothbrush (my family appear to have caught onto the fact that I’m becoming more health-paranoid/conscious) and various other little items. I said on my Twitter that my dad got 6 bars of chocolate and my aunt got a Fitbit, which made me sob with laughter and my family didn’t understand why; my Grandma was obsessing over a cookery book she got and my cousin took my dad’s mini skateboard that my sister had bought for him. Nothing much happened after that, except me staying up too late and crying slightly because of my dismal excuse for emotions but that’s beside the point.

Unfortunately or maybe fortunately, yesterday was more eventful. We were dropped at mum’s – going halfway and being picked up by her – and I knew the instant we were out of dad’s car that my behaviour was going to be shit. I hate how I act around my mum sometimes because I can be horrible, which doesn’t help my mood.

We had English Christmas dinner, which was delicious. Before that, I had gone up to my room and read, answered texts and replied to emails, so I didn’t feel as stressed. I walked downstairs, surrounded by the scents of cooking, and tried to tell myself that I’d be fine and that I could act happy, because I was happy, right?

With the addition of one of mum’s friends, dinner wasn’t awkward. I didn’t complain or get annoyed, but I did have a bit of alcohol because it was Christmas. After dinner, like with Grandma’s, we opened our presents.

This is when things get a bit blurry, though it wasn’t because I’d drunk that much alcohol. Mum was drunk, and I hate it when she is because she tries too hard, and gets too erratic, and just never responds to what I say how I’d want her to. As we opened presents, I was happy, the smile not quite translating onto my face no matter how I tried. My presents were great: I got chocolate, a rug for my room and a fluffy pillow, all of which were cute. However, I steadily became more and more inwardly sad, and now that it’s over, I’ve figured out why.

Whenever I have the barest hint of alcohol, my mum thinks that it’s the end of the world, and treats me like a child. She always has treated me like I’m younger, and I know it’s because she gets nervous because I’m blind, but it’s majorly messed up my thoughts about independence because I panic whenever I think about it. It’s not her fault, but that’s a thought for another day. Last night, I asked mum’s friend if she thought that alcohol tolerance was affected by size of the person – she said yes – and I told her straight out that I didn’t want to feel stupid for having such a quick reaction to it. I don’t remember it all, mainly because afterwards I chose to block it out, but I do remember my mum saying loudly that my face was becoming red – something that’s common in our family which my sister has too – and telling me I should have water, and making tutting noises which made me feel so upset that I engaged her friend in conversation. She treated me like I was my age, not laughing or acting like I was pretending to be all grown up.

Then, I cried on my sister. She’d gone to the kitchen and I followed, my head starting to ring as I drank water. I was trembling so hard then that I had to sit down, and she was there – helping me, talking to me.

I can safely say that last night was the first time in about 2 years that I completely – and I mean completely broke down about having very little sight. It doesn’t bother me usually, but everything had been building up: my mental state, my mother, my negative thoughts about myself. My sister let me cry as I gripped onto her hands, telling her how not being able to have something was so difficult sometimes especially when you’ve never had the ability to know what it’s like. She held me and listened as I told her how I felt, barely able to speak at one point as I had an existential crisis. Usually, we don’t talk about that kind of thing but when we do, she listens to me.

After that whole thing happened, I was in no mood to socialise or to pretend. I spent a little more time with my family and then went upstairs, spoke to a few friends and managed to pour water all over myself. Deciding to tell that fact to L was probably a mistake because he laughed at me, and I think I sent a few nonsensical texts to people: firstly because I had a little bit of alcohol, but secondly because I wanted to cheer myself up by laughing. It worked, thank god.

All in all, I may not have felt altogether happy this Christmas, but it gave me a break which I needed. Now, I can start pulling myself together, though I had moments over the last two days where everything got too much and I remembered I was single, etc etc, which shouldn’t bother me since it’s been 2 months. Things like that aren’t always logical, though, and I’m becoming more okay.

How has your Christmas been, if you celebrate it?

From Elm πŸ™‚

Me and My Sister

My sister and I have never been the classic sibling unit – doing things in tandem, playing together outside when we were little – but I love her and have more respect for her than any other member of my family.

We’ve always annoyed each other, in some respect. When we were younger, we weren’t close but we were close enough – we’d playfully beat each other up, scream at each other, and she’d chase me round the house, yelling. I remember this time when she was attempting to play my electric keyboard, I grabbed a tambourine and shrieked at her. That was over a year ago, and there’s a video of it which still makes me laugh.

I’ve always thought that she was pretty awesome, but I didn’t look up to her. She can play the banjo a little, used to yodle, and is such a good artist; she knows when to stop pissing me off even if sometimes, she drives me insane. Over the past 2 years, though, I’ve started to respect her and I’d say that she was the person, in my family, who I trust the most: even more than my dad.

More complicated than you can imagine, she’s got a whole personality that used to be hidden behind a seemingly uncaring exterior. Yes, I know she loves me, but before I didn’t appreciate how much. To show you a little of how she and I work, I’ll share some memories with you.

I came out to her as bi two years ago, after my mum’s not so great reaction,; she was totally fine with it. “Look, I’ve had sex with both guys and girls,” she said frankly to me, and our sexuality has been a point of discussion ever since. My mum is… A tad homophobic, which my sister made me realise. Whenever she says to us, “Remember when you used to be bisexual?” my sister and I laugh about it, like today, until we can’t breathe. Because it’s not funny, but it’s something we both experience so we find humour in it. There’s not much else we can do.

She knows how I act. When I get angry, I can become a bit aggressive (I hate it), but unlike the rest of my family, she knows it’s me getting furious with myself. Over a year ago, I was finding a bit of food difficult to cut up, and she calmly talked me through it without getting furious with me, whilst I cried angry and frustrated tears, and she made me feel like I wasn’t pathetic for it. That was one of the first times where I started to really trust her. She’s known me all my life and in that time, she’s built up a thorough understanding of who I am, including my appearance insecurities, occasional negative attitude towards my mum and all the rest.

In the summer, she travelled a lot: Croatia, Rome and finally Thailand. We joined her there for two weeks, and her transformation was astounding. She smiled, laughed, regailed me with stories of how shitty some of the hotels she’d stayed in were, and all the people she’d met. When our dad and stepmother were out one night, we walked along the streets of Bangkok: listening to the sounds of cars, walking into a shopping centre, wandering into a bar and letting the music wash over us. There, over a table, I told her everything that had been going on. Straight off, she told me what she thought, not judging me: as we walked back, we continued talking and it was so bloody freeing to trust her with it all.

Today, I saw her for the first time in about a month, because she came back from uni on Tuesday. We spoke for about an hour, and I opened up to her about my breakup and how much pain I’m in. Instead of scoffing or telling me I was being childish, she asked me questions and listened, giving me advice and treating me like the 16-year-old I am. It was refreshing, because in our time where we haven’t lived in the same house, I’ve learnt that I missed her so much more than I thought I would.

She’s studying art at uni, and I think that’s wonderful. From what people have said, she’s incredibly talented, and it’s her passion to do something with illustration. I love that. Through it all, she’s stuck with something she loved. Maybe she didn’t get top marks in school but that doesn’t matter because she’s fucking intelligent, and I hate the education system for making her feel like a failure sometimes.

Just now, she came and gave me a hug as she has a habit of doing. I used to be suspicious whenever she did that, or try and push her away, but her going away to uni again in a few days makes me sad. Both she and I aren’t social in the slightest, and we rarely talk abthe deep shit, but when we do it always makes things better because she’s done shitty things and learnt from them.

Yes, there are still things she can’t understand about me, as I have with her. Our thought processes are very different, in the way that we react to certain situations. However, at the end of the day, she’s my sister. They say you can’t choose your family and that’s true, but she’s my sister by both blood and emotion and I’m proud to say it.

From Elm πŸ™‚

I Refuse to Be Embarrassed When Talking about Sexual Things

Ooh, yes, I DID just write that title. And why? Because why the fuck not?

I’ve learnt everything about sex, my body in TERMS of it and about other people from the Internet. Sex education in my school was terrible; the last teacher I had for PSE was the only one that told us useful things. The rest of the teachers said, “Don’t get an STI, this is how you put a condom on, bye!” Nothing about how to deal with feelings, physical intimacy, or that pressure to do things does exist.

So, I decided to find out about it by myself, before the last teacher came along and told us that we shouldn’t have to do anything we didn’t want to do, and that saying no was okay. I used youtube, older people I knew, but I could never ever ask my parents for fear of embarrassment.

Even now, I’m telling myself that making this post is stupid. That NO ONE will want to read it, because it’s been somewhat drilled into me that talking about sex should be done in a whisper. Bullshit.

You might be wondering what the aim of this post is? It’s to show you that asking advice from people is totally fine, and that you should. You’ve heard it before, I know, but I want to discuss my experiences of talking to people. If you want me to, at some other time, I’ll continue the discussion with other topics (you can even email me to ask me to cover something).

At the moment, I’m 16. Up until a year ago, I was basically told, “DON’t HAVE SEX!” which made me worry. When I THOUGHT I was ready, I was told I wasn’t. I want to tell you that there is nothing wrong with doing anything you want to do, and that people who discourage you should think: is that them worrying for you, or just pushing what they think onto you?

I’ve been in 4 “relationships” – two of them official, and the other two very small things. Well, the thing with Jasmine wasn’t so small, except for the length of time (about three weeks in total).

With all but one, I’ve discussed sex. Physical intimacy. And with every single one, there’s been a recurring theme: “Don’t do ANYTHING you’re not comfortable with, okay?” from both sides.

I won’t talk about the specifics of each, not because I don’t want to, but rather because I literally can’t. At least one of them reads this, one doesn’t know and I doubt the other two would be okay with me saying exactly what went on.

Setting boundaries is so important. All of the people I’ve ever done anything with were respectful, and we never forced each other to do anything. I had a couple of instances of fear where I thought I’d overstepped, done something they didn’t want, which caused me to get so paranoid. After talking it through with them, they assured me that it WAS okay, and that they didn’t feel rushed. In the situation with Jasmine, where she was worried that I was getting too nervous, I told her I was okay: communication is something that’s pretty much essential, if you want to feel comfortable.

I wouldn’t say I’m experienced, but I’ve had physical experiences with both guys and girls. I remember feeling, one time, like I was trapped: I enjoyed it at the time, but afterwards, I felt so sick and worried there was something wrong with me. It took me a while to realise that it was okay NOT to be attracted to someone, but that I should never force myself to do anything just because I think it’ll make me more attracted to them. If I’d have talked it out, without being embarrassed, not as much fear would have been in my mind.

The most valuable source of knowledge came from my friends. Robin, especially, has given me so much advice. After I became comfortable with asking her, we sat in the bar in Italy this summer and just chatted about sex, what to expect, how to handle certain situations and the most important thing: things might be awkward sometimes, and you won’t know what to do, but you have time to work it out. I didn’t feel very embarrassed, and the questions eventually came to me easily.

I’ve talked to my other friends too, but not as much. Jasmine always made me feel very inexperienced and a bit stupid, but people like Wren – who understand my fears – I can talk to. There aren’t many people, besides those on youtube and the Internet in general, that I can ask about non-straight sex, so for all of that, I had to wing it. Oh NO, that makes me sound like I’ve done more than I have!

Again, I’m not exactly a bloody Guru on this. I’m still learning, and I will make mistakes with who I trust and who I get physically involved with. Even so, there are some things you should remember:

β€’ If you feel awkward talking to your family, talk to your friends about this
β€’ Don’t think you’re too young to ask questions – it’s better to know now, rather than get anxious later that you know nothing
β€’ Asking about sex doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to do it right then; only do physical things when you feel comfortable
β€’ If you’ve never felt sexual attraction, there is nothing wrong with you
β€’ If you feel attraction to a lot of people, there’s nothing wrong with you either; don’t be afraid to explore that, as long as you’re safe
β€’ If you don’t rush it, and you’re ready to deal with any consequences, then go for it. Don’t let anyone else judge you

I don’t want you to be in a situation where you can’t speak up. If you have questions, if you have CONCERNS or if you’re just worried that you’ll be too embarrassed to do physical things with your partner, find someone to talk to. Whether that be friends, family or someone online, don’t think you’re too immature or that you’re wrong for asking for help. Sex can be shitting scary, and also if you think you don’t know what the hell you’re doing, it can stop make you even more terrified.

Some people are genuinely very uncomfortable talking about it, and that’s okay too. Either because of a bad experience they’ve had, or just because they don’t want to – don’t pressure anybody to talk, or NOT talk, if they don’t want to.

Z you know, I’m always here if you just want someone to chat to. Maybe you didn’t get anything out of this post, but even so, if you find yourself being curious about anything and you’re too afraid to ask anyone else, I’m here. Not that I’m some high-up agony aunt, but I’ll do my best.

Drop me an email if you need to. I hope you didn’t find this post too forward; I want to be as open as possible with you, to show you it’s okay.

From Elm πŸ™‚