The Rough And The Ready

Close-Up, Eye, Eyelashes, See, WomanLast Friday I was struggling. I was on edge all day. On the verge of panic. Unable to cope with all the multi-tasking I have to do at work. I became tearful at work when I thought of weeks more of this intense pace stretching out in front of us, without the chance to break away and go and visit Goldfinch in Australia. I wanted to run. I didn’t know who from or why. But I wanted to escape.

This is how I felt five years ago. I was cornered. I was overwhelmed. I didn’t know who was safe, who I could trust. Friends and colleague were talking about me and Jack. I had no idea exactly who was saying what, except for those who blazenly taunted me to my face. Every aspect of my life was touched by the slanderous gossip, name-calling, accusations, undermining of me as a person and my sincerity or integrity.

Ambulance, Wear, Interior ViewYou know where it led me. I went to a park after a night out with friends because I did not want to go home. I was the victim of a crime that night and woke up the next morning in an ambulance.

But around a month before that night, I remember a small incident. I escaped my part of London and travelled to the other side of London for a social event. My sister Milly was there. I met some new people who had been working with her on a project. There were some deaf volunteers there too. Milly and I both learnt British Sign Language when we were teenagers.

I remember saying goodbye to Milly and her husband when they dropped me off at the train station. Somebody had given me a gift. Two bottles of wine, one red and one white, I recall. As I walked towards the train, the gift bag gave way and the wine bottle smashed on the concrete floor. There were glass and wine everywhere.

fdshhgdhsvMy main concern was that glass was a hazard to other people. I searched for a member of staff asking if they had any cleaning equipment to clear the glass. I would have done it myself. I asked if they had a hazard sign or cone or tape, to warn other people. The station employee said just to leave it and they would sort it out. I was so anxious. It was my fault. It was my fault there was dangerous glass on the station floor. It was hazardous to other members of the public. I wanted to fix it. I stood rooted to the spot, determined to be a warning to other people that there was broken glass and they must be careful. I became unreasonably emotional and ended up in tears.

It wasn’t really the glass that was upsetting me. It was the situation in my personal life that was overwhelming and was completely taking all the joy out of life. The effects of tiredness and stress can accumulate. If you become isolated with a challenge and do not know who to trust you can become desperate in your thinking. Its as if you are cornered, they are coming at you from all directions, you want to escape. I wanted to fix it. I was ready to accept some responsibility for the situation between Jack and I. But the relationship between us was so strained back then…he would not speak to me.

annie disappointedSo, when the wine bottles smashed, I just fell apart. You know the expression “the straw that broke the camel’s back”. I was in a flood of tears. I didn’t know what to do. A guy came over to ask if I was alright. When I explained I had dropped the bottles and now there was broken glass all over the floor, he responded by kicking the glass to the side of the wall (so it was less hazardous I suppose) and telling me not to worry, accidents happen.

Well…last week, those feelings were coming back. Every summer since I was attacked I have a rough few weeks. I have flashbacks of events from that night. But I also seem to relive all the stress and anguish that led me to go to the park that night. I had wondered if having made peace with Jack things might be different this year. They don’t seem to be. I am having waves of panic, sleepless nights, dreams recalling some of the most stressful situations I was in five years ago, those same feelings of being cornered, under attack, needing to escape.

I actually think I might be having a worse time so far this year. Perhaps that is because I am cut off from friends and family socially. Perhaps the accrual of tiredness because of work has made it hard. Normally my life is graced with variety. I am involved in different work, different projects, I work with different people, in different locations. The past few months have been the same…every day the same. The feeling of wanting to escape is growing.

Fear, Woman, StopAt the end of this month it will be five years since that night. It is still the night that took me away from my chosen career, my chosen home, my world, my purpose. It is still the night that left me with severe injuries, blackouts, headaches, nightmares and fear of whom I could trust.

People say such silly things. Someone said to me again the other day “everything happens for a reason”. If only I could sent fire to that expression. Do people think about what they are saying? It was also recommended to me that I focus on the positive and what I can do to help others. Yes yes, I know that having experienced a traumatic event myself and gone on to do marvellous things, I may be able to be of assistance, inspiration, a source of practical advice to someone else. I do realize that we learn things when we go through challenging experiences and we can develop precious qualities and we may be able to help others. But really!

The truth is my life has been like broken glass ever since that night. My life is in pieces. But I am a positive person and I do make the most of my situation. I keep going. I keep smiling. I keep singing.

Hooded Man, Mystery, Scary, Hood, HorrorBut still…it’s back again. The waves of panic, feeling cornered, feeling overpowered, under attack, nowhere to run to, noone to turn to, nobody to trust…it comes back. I ended up on my own at that park because for so long I had put a brave face on, I had kept going, kept working, kept smiling and kept singing until I shattered like broken glass.

The brain is powerful. The things that cause flashbacks are varied…the smell of grass, the smell of men, the warm weather, feeling dehydrated, feeling there are excessive demands on me.

When I was on my way home after work last Friday night there was a man walking towards me. He was carrying a grocery bag. As I neared him, his bag burst open and glass bottles of beer smashed onto the road and beer began running down the hill. It took my brain back to that night I dropped the wine bottles at the station just a few weeks before I was attacked.

I watched the guy. He shrugged and laughed and carried on walking.

jhvbdkjxhfbIs that what people want me to do I wonder? Shrug, laugh and carry on. These past couple of weeks have made me realize that despite it being five years, despite being busy, despite having the longed for peace with Jack, despite so much else that has happened on a positive note…the memories of despair and the memories of trauma are still there. They leap out at me from the shadows of my mind.

I think I am in for a rough few weeks.


Well I Thought So Anyway

The highlight of today was without doubt the rendition I performed of “The Sound Of Music” for my manager to enjoy…well I thought so anyway! I even twirled around with my arms outstretched to explain how the opening scene of the best movie of all time begins.

I went on to serenade her with “My Favourite Things”, before we had to get back to work. If she had encouraged me I could have continued with the entire score from the musical quite happily.

Today was one of the most intense days yet in some ways. It’s hard to explain how much our workload has multiplied beyond our capability. But we keep going! Except that I am strangely not feeling stress at work any more. I just keep going as fast as I can, and then I come home and switch off to work completely. I relax with a meal, a shower and then bed!

caoiongI am so glad I have my fifteen minute walk to work in the sunshine. I can sing to myself to fortify my heart before the craziness of work begins. I am singing as often as can be. I sing in the shower, on the way to work and now I am even singing at work. Perhaps it’s my way of making sure the stress does not creep up into my heart.

The Highlight Of Today

Flowers, Bouquet, Bouquet Of FlowersAnother long day trying to keep up with the craziness at work. Strangely for the first time today, I felt stronger physically. I slept like a baby last night – ten hours! That was good though. Sleep is so good!

The highlight of today…well there were two actually. The first was flowers. One of the local florists was closing down today, so they were giving away all of their bouquets. I am sad for them. But after a long day at work, it is so nice to come home with beautiful flowers to cheer my little nest up.

The second highlight of the day…ok, I might make this three highlights. This morning the sunshine and blue sky were so heart lifting. I sang to myself all the way down to work. I love my morning walk to work when I sing with nobody around to hear me.

The third highlight was after we had technically finished work. We were just trying to finish off some paperwork to make tomorrow easier. It was unpaid overtime. To cheer us up, my manager put some music on. She picked a playlist from her phone. It was a surprise to hear the first song. Oh my goodness did we dance! She played a bunch of other songs too, and then just for me she played “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” again! It felt really good! We need these little moments, these little highlights to help us cope with the stress.

What We’ve Got!

2020 is turning out a shocker for so many. There are a lot spinning in a panic that might be worse than the symptoms of the virus itself.

Ache, Adult, Depression, ExpressionHold tight guys! Hold it together. Stress is a tester. My best friend (who is a psychologist) always said to me that everyone has a breaking point and would succumb to prolonged stress in one way or another. But remember that the situation you are facing right now is one that we are facing. All of us are facing it. It will pass. It will. We are very well aware that some are going to fare worse than others. Many people are trying to pull together, to be extra helpful, extra kind, extra encouraging. That is lovely. (Try to put out of your mind the toilet paper hoarders and the panic buying.)

The world is finally stepping up and making some huge sacrifices – why? To save lives. For the first time since I can remember, it seems as if in a huge way it is being made clear that a lot of people do understand how precious human life is. Life is very very precious. Because of that we are all making sacrifices in different ways.

Bear, Teddy Bear, Injury, Game, MoodWe are also all aware that for some the losses will be greater than for others. This is a situation that will leave us bruised. But we will heal. Think of all those who love what is good and kind and hold life as sacred. They are your family. We are your family. We know that many of our family are experiencing pain and loss and stress.

Whether you are Chinese, Italian, Iranian, Spanish, French, American or German….or any other nationality – you are our family and we are feeling for you as much as those on our doorstep. Oh my goodness…I wish I could run round giving everyone huge hugs. But that would not be a good idea right now in view of social distancing. When this is over – I will devote my life to going out and meeting every member of the human family and hugs – lots and lots of hugs. I feel so much empathy at the moment for what others are going through.

Man, Bear, Packages, Made, Hard, MuchFor those of us who are stressed – please don’t let that stress crush you. This situation is one I have never faced before. But I have been through some serious stress before. Being attacked and the injuries I had was a big stressor, but also the “bullying” I had to endure before that chipped away at me internally and left me crumbling inside. I have been through phases of enormous stress. I know the effect it can have. Stress and burnout can have huge consequences, so please speak up if you are feeling completely overwhelmed. Carrying around overwhelming worry within can be very damaging.

But take one day at a time. Right now many of us are worrying about what has not happened yet. We are carrying around an inordinate amount of anxiety and it is robbing us of strength. Appreciate what we have today. Try not to let worry about tomorrow drain your strength. Appreciate that we’ve got life. We are making sacrifices, but we are protecting lives, we might be losing income and we might be anxious about other losses, but we must be appreciative of the nuggets of wonderful that are around. We’ve also got an international family who are hurting, so please please please let this crisis bring out the very best in you as a person. We should not be divided by horrid things like racism, nationalism or any isms. We should be united in love and kindness – more than ever before.

Good Night To All

I am heading to bed to make sure I have enough rest before another crazy day at work tomorrow.


I know there is a lot of anxiety and stress around, but please try to make sure you rest and sleep sufficiently. Sending love to my entire human family. We are all in this together. We want you to get through this time. Good night for now. May your slumber give you strength!

Stress Free Shopping

Woman, Sleeping, Sofa, Home, RelaxingCan I just say sorry that I have been too tired to respond to some of the gorgeous comments I have received of late. I appreciate them so much! They are lifting my heart.

My excuse is that working for the NHS at the moment is like running a marathon every single day! I come home needing to rest. I read posts…but I have so little energy to communicate after all the talking I have done all day.

grasesaI had to go shopping for myself and my landlord’s family yesterday. I walked into the supermarket and was shocked. It’s not just toilet paper that had vanished! There was no meat (that does not matter to me because I am vegetarian) and all sorts of other sections were virtually depleted. But something strange happened….

I had a list of what my landlord’s family wanted and in my head I knew what I had ran out of. So I wandered into the chilled section…through to the fruit and veg section, round to ambient goods and this is what happened. It was as if someone had gone ahead of me and made sure that everything on their list, and everything in my head was waiting for me…but the very last one. I picked up the last one on the shelf of all of the following:

  • Edam cheese
  • Skimmed lacto-free milk
  • Hummus
  • Greek yoghurt
  • Goat’s butter
  • Prawns
  • Haddock
  • Salmon
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Peppers
  • Rocket
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Strawberries
  • Lemons
  • Eggs
  • Rice (because I am tall, I saw a pack on the very top shelf and used my umbrella to reach it!)
  • Taylors coffee
  • Granola
  • Ginger cordial

I had to get some other things as well. But everything else there was a decent amount of. All of the listed items, I arrived at the shelf on time to pick up the last one. How on earth did that happen?

Girl, Young, Model, Blonde, PortraitI was so relieved! I left the supermarket with my spirits slightly lifted. It was a stress free shop. Phew!

It’s been another long day…but I have a happy snug feeling. I love LOVE. I am tired, but there is so much love around me. My family are wonderful. My friends are wonderful. My neighbours are wonderful. Jack is wonderful. Goldfinch is wonderful. Your lovely posts and your comments on my posts are wonderful.

In a world where there is so much worry, there is also a lot of wonderful. I am so grateful for it! I going to drink my warm lacto-free milk with some honey and drift off into sweet sleep.




Update On 2020…In Case You Hadn’t Noticed!

Year 2020, Grass, Graphic, Nature, Blender, Wallpaper

We’re still at the start of the decade

And we find people are more afraid

The supermarket shelves they raid

Feeling governments have betrayed

Through flood waters they have to wade

Wondering if they’ll receive any aid

Not sure if pensions will be paid

If you cough they’ll all upbraid

Kids worried they’ll fail their grade

Their dreams and hopes seem to fade

So stressed their nerves are always frayed

To keep the vulnerable safe they prayed

I think in bed I should have stayed


…still can’t find can’t toilet rolls in the local Waitrose!