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Update 31.08.2015

Hello readers, I’m sorry I don’t write so much these days.  Now that I’m not fending for myself in Bulgaria, not homeless and not in hospital I tend not to feel the same urgency to ‘get things out there’, and life has become a bit boring.

I have decided to diet and exercise more.  I have a treadmill which I have decided to use for an hour a day.  I missed yesterday and the day before, but I pretty much stuck to my intention last week.  The nurse I have coffee with told me that it is better to have two half-hour sessions because that boosts your metabolism twice in a day.  I’ve stopped buying chocolate and crisps when I order my shopping, for two weeks now, and I’ve been getting some really intense chocolate cravings.  Sometimes if I am out, like Thursdays with my nurse, I’ll treat myself to something chocolatey, but since I don’t really go out much it’s not too big a problem.

My medication has been decreased with a view to tapering off altogether.  I’m on 20mg of Depixol at the moment.  I seem to be stable still during the day, but my dreams are very chaotic and vivid, I don’t know if that is a withdrawal symptom.  Things are very settled with my neighbours.  We don’t see much of each other and most of the time it is very quiet.  There is one man who often brings my bin back in on a Wednesday.  I don’t know why he does it, I haven’t asked him.  I sort of wish he wouldn’t.

My other nurse, Jennie, who does my depot usually, took me to Ikea the other week so I could buy a wardrobe.  We found a nice big one for somewhere between £100 and £200.  It is the size of two regular wardrobes put together.  That has meant I’ve been able to empty my bags that were stacked on the floor.  It’s nice to have easy access to my clothes again.  I’ve got two bags of clothes that need to go to a clothes bank because they are spoiled.  They are sitting in the otherwise empty side of the wardrobe, when they are gone I’ll be able to hang some more stuff up.  Jennie is going to take me to a clothes bank on Friday.  I’m a bit upset that moths seem to have got to some of my favourite clothes and left holes in two kaftans and a sweater.

Other than all that mundane stuff I am trying to contribute towards the campaign to free Raif Badawi (see my pinned post).  There are campaigners who go and protest outside embassies every Friday, which is the designated day for flogging him.  He has not been flogged since January, though.  No reason has recently been given for this cessation.  His case is back under review and people are hopeful that that is good news.

That’s it for today.  Maybe I’ll try and make my life more eventful then I should be able to write more frequently!

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At Home

I have been in my new home now for a week and a half.  I’m sleeping on the sofa because the bedroom is full of boxes, and I have the radio on a lot.  I can’t have the tv on at the moment because I have to find my Freeview box.  I’d rather find it than buy a new one but in reality it might be like looking for a needle in a haystack, it could be at the bottom of a box that ends up going straight in the shed.  The nurses on the Assertive Outreach team have been helpful, yesterday they put my table together for me, so now I can eat sitting down instead of standing in the kitchen.

The gap in the kitchen for the washing machine is too small by 2 centimetres, so at the moment I am waiting for them to contact me to visit and assess the job to have it widened.  They have been making excuses about why they’re not getting in touch.  My Moving Forward worker has been trying to get them to contact me for about 3 weeks now.

I’ve been feeling ill and very lonely.  I was with other people in hospital for two and a half years, I’ve got used to being around people, even if most of the time I felt I was being bullied.  I’ve forgotten how to cook nice meals, and the kitchen is so small I have to close the kitchen door to get into the fridge, and there’s not much cupboard space.  I had to have one big cupboard with lots of shelving taken out because it was in the way of the fridge-freezer space. Gone are the days of eating in the kitchen, now I have to eat in the lounge.  There is really only room for one in the kitchen.  Whatever was wrong with my old flat, at least it was huge in comparison with this.

I left hospital with about eight big black bags full of stuff which are still sitting in half of the lounge.  At least as a bungalow there is no noise from upstairs, which is good, and so far the neighbours are quite quiet.  I wish someone would play some loud music, that would give me permission to do the same, at least occasionally.

I fell asleep this afternoon, and I dreamt that my grandmother was lying in bed behind me with her feet intertwined with mine.  I dreamt I thought that I didn’t want to lose her and thought about going to the doctor for her.  I actually lost her when I was 16.  I don’t remember I’ve ever dreamt about her before.  It seems like a huge coincidence that I dreamt about her on Halloween.  Tommy Boyd said that when pagans celebrate Halloween they remember the dead, people they have lost.  I was afraid that my grandmother had come to collect from the other side, and that maybe I didn’t have much longer to live.  Just because it is Halloween . . . .

I don’t know how to finish this.  I’m not a very good writer so I suppose the best thing would be to acknowledge that and just finish it here.

Beginnings and Endings

Tomorrow my tenancy starts in my new home, but I won’t be moving in immediately.  I still need to decorate and I’m going to see if I can get some volunteers for that, but I’ve never decorated and have no idea about things like how many pots of paint I am going to need.  I have been awarded 45 points by the council to buy decorating stuff with, but their colours are very limited and a bit boring (I love the way the WordPress site puts a squiggly red line under ‘colours’ spelt the English way! It doesn’t like ‘spelt’ either!)

The idea is that I should erect a shed in the garden to store the stuff that won’t fit inside my bungalow.  It would be a metal shed, which is both cheaper and more secure than wooden, apparently, but it will still be very expensive and security will be a constant worry.  I had wasps in my kitchen last week, they were coming down the boiler flue, and the man who came round to sort them out commented that the back was open to intruders, being on the corner with nothing beside.  I’ve been in that situation before, before the new houses were built next door to me in London, and I was burgled several times.  It’s not a nice feeling.  I woke up one morning to find someone in my bedroom.  But he broke in through the front door.

I’m looking forward to moving in now, but the shortage of money makes it a time of great anxiety for me.  If it weren’t for the fact that I need to buy a shed I would be OK, but I’m just short of what it is estimated I will need for that.  At the moment I am waiting for the outcome of a budgeting loan application, and I expect that to take another 3 weeks to come through.  In the meantime I have a discharge meeting on Tuesday, and I’m hoping they will give me longer than just two weeks to move in.

I’ve called this post ‘Beginnings and Endings’.  Obviously it will be a new beginning in the bungalow, and an end to nearly two years and five months in hospital, and an end on three years homeless, but that wasn’t what I had in mind when I named my post.

By endings I was thinking about the end of life.  I’m 53, which isn’t old, but it is still the wrong side of half way through my life.  I’ve been thinking I don’t want to grow old alone.  I have no partner, I have no children.  My mother has arthritis and uses a wheelchair.  Apart from her shopper and her cleaner I am the only person she sees, every two weeks, which is how she wants it.  I’ve been thinking about suicide as an alternative to getting very old and dragging myself around lonely and in pain. Lately I’ve been thinking about Dignitas.  I’ve been thinking about them because I wouldn’t know how to commit suicide myself, I wouldn’t have the tablets and I can’t see me hanging myself, I don’t think I’d do a good job of ending my life.  I’ve also thought how unnatural it seems to me that an organisation like Dignitas exists to help people to die.  I don’t know if they exist for anything else.

I’m a bit confused.   I’ve been seeing old people out and about and they seem OK, talking to each other on the bus.  Many of them seem mobile enough.  But I feel a general despair because I don’t think I have any friends and I don’t think that, at my age, I can make the kind of friends who would be able to stand in for lifetime friends, of which I have none.  I think my last years will be very, very lonely.  I don’t have much hope at the moment about anything.  I think boredom is going to be a longstanding problem for me, and I can’t see the point of hanging around for that.  I also don’t fancy the idea of a care home, which might be a necessity later on.  Ever since the mental health services got involved in my life I have felt insecure and that I have no reliable freedom, I don’t want to end my days in care.  I don’t want to drag my way through the last years of my life subject to situations I don’t want to be in.

I’m not planning to do anything at the moment.  I was thinking maybe some time in my 60s.  I’m not sure if I could if it actually came down to it, but I’m not so afraid of the idea of ending my life as I once was.  I am afraid of the possibility  of vandalism and intrusion in my new home and whatever future home I establish, thinking of Bulgaria.  I don’t want to live out my life subject to those things, I don’t want to be in fear of things being spoilt all the time, and mental health teams and police refusing to take it seriously.  Saying I’m having auditory hallucinations rather than acknowledge something real and not OK is being done to me.

The End.

 

 

31.08.2014

My radio is playing up, it won’t transmit properly without interference unless I’m sitting still in the middle of the room or right on top of it, so I’ve been playing my way through my Napster library (yes, I’m still with Napster) to see why I downloaded the items in the first place.

I don’t normally play my music during the day, but I’ve got a few that I go to at night and play in an attempt to get myself off to sleep, so yesterday and today I thought I’d do a whistlestop tour of everything in my library, except it’s not whistlestop, I’m playing them right through in alphabetical order of artist.

I’ve got some ‘music for deep meditation’ on at the moment called Bansuri.  I’ve had Alfie Boe on, someone called Antman reading the first 29 Psalms, Amy Grant, AudioBible reading of the Gospel of John, Andy Williams (downloaded for my mother) and Arthur Rubenstein playing Chopin’s Nocturnes.  That’s just the first few.  I’m into the Bs now but I can’t be bothered to list them.  While I’ve been listening to all this I have been tweeting and retweeting on Twitter.  I’ve had a few new followers today and I’ve gone over the 200 mark.

I’ve got a move coming up in the next 2 or 3 weeks to an absolute rabbit hutch of a bungalow.  I’m very anxious about it.  There is plenty of garden so I am erecting a shed in the back to store my belongings which won’t fit into the bungalow.  Within 4 months it will have paid for itself as the alternative would be to keep my stuff in storage.  I’m worried that the shed might not be big enough, I’m worried about money, and I’m worried that I won’t be able to find the things I want inside the bungalow.

In my planning I am compensating for not having a lot of space in my bungalow by working towards being able to afford a cheap house in Bulgaria.  You can get something really spacious for about 6 or 7 thousand euros, and I’m thinking of taking my stuff over there with me.  I know it seems drastic but it’s the only way I am going to have my own space, and the countryside is lovely.  Without a landlord breathing down my neck there I should have a different experience from my first one, if I own my own property.  I should feel more secure.  I should feel secure here, but I feel doomed to a cramped and impoverished existence.  Maybe it’s my fault and I’m being too negative and ungrateful.  I can’t honestly see how I can make it home though.

I’ve got the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band on now, ‘Gorilla’.  Tommy Boyd introduced me to that on his radio programme.

Pastures New

People who have read my blog over the past months will know that I am homeless and have been since 20th September 2011, almost 3 years.  I have now been in hospital for 2 years and 4 months, because they have had no home to discharge me to.

Today I had some good news.  It looks as if my homelessness is about to come to an end, because the council has found me a bungalow with a big garden in Wollaton, Nottingham.  Wollaton has a name for being a nice area, so I hope my part will be as well.  I also hope the bungalow will be big enough to accommodate all my belongings, most of which I have to move from London storage.  I have been told it will cost me £800 to move everything up.

The bungalow will also need to be carpeted, so I think at the moment I don’t have enough money to do both.  I will have to apply to the DWP for a budgeting loan, which mentions carpets and removals as part of what it covers.  I did apply for one before, estimating I would need about £1,000, but the offer was only between £300 and £400, so I didn’t take it up, thinking it would be months and months before anyone found me anything and I’d have time to save.  I have saved quite a bit but the extra loan would make things possible.  I pity those who can’t save.  £300-£400 was supposed to cover both carpeting and removals, which isn’t possible.  After carpeting and removals I will be broke.  The council said the bungalow would be ready to move into around the end of the month, so I still have time to make a further application.  And the hospital won’t just throw me out, but will wait until I can move in properly before discharging me.

Edit note 6th August 2014:  Today I was told that there is laminate flooring in the bungalow, so I won’t need to carpet 🙂

This Is Madness

I’ve read a bit more of this book and I’m finding it very interesting.  For me one of the most important things it says is that with physical illnesses diagnosis starts with something happening in the body and ends up with the diagnostic concept, but with ‘so-called’ mental illness it is the other way round, that it starts with a concept and mental conglomeration in the minds of physicians and they then go looking for people who fit the concept, like crusaders.  The concept is fleshed out in committee and applied to individuals, rather than subjective symptoms first being recognised in the individual and a remedy sought.  That is my memory of what was said in the chapter called ‘Diagnosis’.

I’ve just ordered another book as well called ‘Untrain Your Parrot’ by Elizabeth Hamilton.  It is a well grounded and often humorous approach to Zen.  The book is in the Multi-Faith room at the hospital but we are not allowed to take them out, and sometimes no one is there who can unlock the cabinet where the books are kept.  It makes sense that the books shouldn’t leave the room, it keeps them available and in good condition.  I have found that when I have spent time reading it in there I approach things in a better and lighter mood.  I’m looking forward to having my own copy because I think it is something that I will read and dip into more than once

I’m a lot more open and self-controlled on the ward these days, but I still feel angry, hurt and frustrated at what I see happening with other people.

I’ve got a bad cold at the moment.

We have started making approaches to accommodation.  It seems to me it could move either very quickly or more slowly than I would like.  I would like it to move quickly.

I’ve been reading a few ‘Freshly Pressed’ selections and really enjoying them.  They are so interesting.  I just read one called ‘There was no escaping his father’s words’ which made quite an impact on me.  It’s about a man who meets up in later life with his father who had told him that he was going from fad to fad and I felt those words from his father had partly shaped the man’s life.

I don’t feel able to write much more today.  I am generally feeling quite upset and that I need to cry.  That is what I usually feel inside.  I’ve had no intimacy for a very long time now, and I feel very much that I am getting old.  I am nearer death than birth.  For a wonderful period in my 30s I was unafraid, but now I feel a bit wobbly.  I’m not sure if I’m a real Christian, and I have been taught and believe that only Christians go to heaven.  I have not been taught to be a liberal, and my emotional attachments don’t really allow it.  I have been taught, and believe, that there is a hell for people who are not Christians.  I know to some people that will make me sound really archaic.  I have found myself praying that love and mercy will be my judge in the end, that love (God is love) will save me at death.  There is also the teaching that not everyone will die but Jesus will come back and some people who are living will be caught up to Heaven.  I suppose many people want to believe they will be among those who do not die.  I would like to live beyond 80, even to 100.  I’m afraid I will die much sooner.  I’m really afraid that I might go to hell, and I’m afraid that there will be no one who cares for me intimately when I die.  I have no children and no partner, and the only member of my family I am in contact with is my mother.  I would like not to feel so tired and worn out, and upset and vulnerable, and as if my time now is not worth anything and won’t be, that I have passed a point where there was a point.

20.09.2012 One Year Homeless

And to think I raided my credit card piggy banks because I thought it would be dealt with within a month.  I didn’t realise I would run out of money before I was re-housed.  The date on this post will be 21.09.2012 because I have kept the blog in Bulgarian time to save confusion.  It is also Greek time and Syrian time.  Imagine how that felt to me last year when I was watching the news and Syria was in my own time zone.  It made me forge a strong emotional connection with events there.  Perhaps that is why some of my past posts areas they are.  Emotions were being stretched in every direction.

I have marked the anniversary by playing loads of music and buying a CD off eBay.  That is the first eBay purchase I have made since before I first left for Bulgaria.

That’s it really.  I can’t be bothered writing anything else tonight.

Oh, I can watch the BBC with my dongle even if I can’t watch anything else.  I can watch live tv, but not archives, and I can’t play live radio.

I Want To Go Home

I really think it’s the right thing to do, I think anything I do here in Bulgaria before or without doing that can’t possibly be right.  But I don’t know how to go or who to go to.

I know that through the legal system isn’t the only way of approaching things, and that some high profile people seem to have tried to make their positive position and kind feelings very clear to me.  I appreciate that and am really sorry for those people if they feel embittered or betrayed, believing I don’t care or am really cynical or despise the reality of what they feel, and because of the responsibility and integrity with which I am sure many of them try to approach their job I am ashamed if I have made them feel that way.

I don’t know what to do or who to go to.  My flat is my home, I have tried for years to insist on that, not only for my own sake but also for that of those who have no other option but to try to make such a place their home.  But I don’t even want to attempt to deal with the problems between me and my neighbours and my housing association.  I have asked the mental health services before, and my housing association, for assurances that I’m not going to be hospitalised or something, and they never answer emails like that.  I think they have viewed me very unkindly and inaccurately, if not cynically.

So where would I go?  I have a home, but I’m afraid to be there.  I need a legally committed communication on this.  I’m sorry, friends, but I really do.  Using the media isn’t good enough.  I don’t understand why you can’t or won’t commit yourselves.

I don’t have the keys to my flat.  My housing association broke in to do some work and has changed the locks and they have the keys.  I don’t know how to get hold of them without telling them my address here, and I don’t want to do that.  That feels stupid, it seems so obvious that there should be no problem for me to do that, but I know how they have acted towards me in the past.  So I might feel clear skies but discover I have delivered myself over, yet again, to a dungeon.  How melodramatic does that sound?

Am I worth anything to anyone?  Should I be?  Should I believe that I am? 

Maybe more to the point, is anyone else worth anything to me anymore?  The truth is, I don’t care.  I can’t care, not after what you have put me through.  You need to rebuild this relationship, it is not my job.  I can accept apologies and an expression of a wish to try again, even if my answer is no, or even a summons, but being put under the obligation of responding to a plea or an invitation is not something I think is fair.

Everything I do here in Bulgaria, I feel as if I am desperately trying to avoid detection.  My first reaction when people shout at me is self-defensive anger and rejection.  But that seems to be the way people here do things.  I don’t expect ever to encounter anything different.  So I feel as if I just have to get in there, if I can, if people will let me, if I can hide my predicament well enough and the predicament they might find themselves in by having anything to do with me, and do my best to hold on, if I can.  If I still have the heart.  If I don’t why would I want to, and why should I try?  And also, of course, I find myself having to cope with the closed and dishonest ways people handle the situation.  These   days when people say they can’t do something, I don’t know if they really mean it or if they are saying ‘go away’.  But you can’t prove it.  But it’s still fear and prejudice. 

I was thinking over the weekend that I need my personal power back.  That if people shout at me or whatever, if I shout back or show any kind of strength in expressing my own anger, it won’t be made an occasion for people to arrest me or use the mental health act against me.  I feel I daren’t express the full extent of my anger in these situations, or my love or my need or acceptance of my own failure in the communication, or an insistence that I am entitled not to be treated that way.  I don’t think that is something I should have to feel, since those who start it are completely unbridled in their own expression. 

I’m not talking about physical force in my reaction or any kind of physical attack.  On the other hand, is there something wrong with grabbing someone by the wrist in that kind of situation and saying, ‘hey, that’s not OK, and I don’t want to let you walk away having spoken to me/treated me like that’?  Because that is the worst thing I have ever done to any of my accusers.  The spectre of the mental health system is always over me in those situations.

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