Learning to cope.((I don’t have the drugs to sort it out)).¬†

For the whole of my adult life my mood has been controlled by psychiatric drugs. Since puberty emotions became something intolerably intense for me that needed to be dampened because I felt I wasn’t strong or capable enough to deal with them. 

Any mood swings or problems were considered pharmaceutical in nature; an issue with my medication or dosages, and not just normal human fluctuations.

For over 17 years feelings have been tempered, flattened, smoothed over by daily waves of serotonin with a pinch of norepinephrine and dopamine and one bland day I’d just had enough.

It has taken me two years to complete my borderline homeopathic taper off prozac but as of a couple of months ago I have been drug free. It will be undetectable in my blood soon if not already.

The world has changed. Everything is more vivid and vital, sharper, urgently demanding my attention. Things are loud and overwhelmingly contradictory, and tears flow freely for the sake of a broken pen, or missing words. 

I would like to clarify that although I have never learnt to cope with strong emotions, that does not mean that I am weak or incapable. I need to remind myself this on a daily basis.

And so I wade through the great spectacular symphony that describes the breadth and depth of human emotional capacity. I never realised that the orchestra was so big, that there were so many different instruments that all used to feel just like a blanket of disappointment or anger but now have individual notes of their own.

I don’t know how to deal with the stitching on a favourite dress coming undone, or how to stop myself from shaking while I’m telling you my point of view, but I know this is where I am now meant to be amomg tears, smiles and torn up letters.

I’m incapable of taking an eyetest and not all news is good news

My left eye is a menace. It refuses to behave in eye tests so I’ve been to the optician 4 times during my ‘holiday’ and have had new glasses made twice; I’m still not convinced that the correction is right. I’m to give it another few days before I’m allowed a third test with a more experienced optometrist….I’m getting all the spiel from the regular staff about adjustment periods etc while I’m sat there wondering just how far away they are from my face and how bad the cross eyedness will be when I remove them this time. The first left lens was the wrong power and I suspect the second has a marginally wrong axis or centre of vision does not align, or, y’know, both, or neither. Lets face it, I don’t like change. 

The staff clearly think I’m some kind of nutter…the way this should work is, you get your new glasses, accept everything’s been done perfectly and just deal with the headaches, you don’t tell them all about it for god’s sake, and not repeatedly! I hope they are right and I don’t fall off my bike tomorrow.

What a nice headache-inducing way to spend my time off work. Sigh.


It was my intention to be creative these two weeks, make something, create something, but inspiration has not been abundant and playing ‘ori and the blind forest’ took precedent. I’m shite at computer games at the best of times, but one on a PC without a controller is well beyond my skill level even on easy.much swearing has passed. 

So instead I downloaded a karaoke app that lets you record yourself singing along to the songs on your phone. So I did that, and recordings  (so far only k’s choice) are only available for a laugh on request because I kind of hate my voice and don’t want it here for posterity. I will say though that it’s annoying how few contralto alternative, indie and (+/-pop-) rock singers there are out there to copy ;p


Also the depressed, anxious and otherwise unpredictable and neurotic dachshund who I was playing with, picking up and generally bonding with last week viciously bit the damned gardener on the leg on my birthday so considering her age and deteriorating behavioral problems, she was sadly wished all the best in her journey to the doggie afterlifeūüė¶


It is upsetting but being small and cute doesn’t mean a dog is immune from being dangerous. Responsible dog ownership means making difficult decisions. In a weird way, I’ll miss my mum’s snappy, growly little fluffball, but not nearly as much as she will.


In other news, for a change and to build my confidence, I rode the Highland pony today while my friend rode ‘the beast’ that is Buster, but they were both like lazy angelic horses the whole ride so that was lovely and relaxing for all. 

Now thanks to said pony my knee injury that I’ve been trying to ignore for a few weeks is niggling again. Dammit. 34 and griping about my joints and singing karaoke at home alone. How did it come to this??? 

Gastroscopy timeline (educational but not so fun)

Oversharing warning!!!

Description of an unpleasant medical procedure on a health anxiety sufferer – Get out now while you still can and go read about puppies instead!

Ever wondered what it’s like to have a camera down your throat? Well, it’s about as fun as you imagine it to be, but it’s not painful, and it’s not deadly and even a freakshow like me can go through with it whilst conscious…so…I reckon pretty much anyone can do it.

Here’s my timeline:

T-6 hours, breakfast and 1mg diazepam 

T-2 hours, last water plus 2mg diazepam

T-1 hour, leave for the hospital

T,  taken for blood pressure and pulse check 

T+45 mins, still browsing the oatmeal for amusing distractions, wishing i’d taken more valium

T+50 mins, taken to the theatre

T+55 mins given lidocaine throat spray and description of what will happen, seriously wishing i’d taken more valium.

T+60 mins, mouth guard in, tube in, and around 4 mins of weirdness and wretching while I hyperventilated and set off the heartrate alarm and the consultant took a video and three biopsies. I wasn’t allowed to watch the screen while they did it :( 

T+65 mins, breathing and heartrate returning back to normal, results explained (stomach polyps, no sign of reflux), and released home.

T+4 hours, unnecessary irrational concern that the sudden rise in heart rate might have caused damage. 

T+13 hours, wake up overheated, wander around looking for thermometer in case I have a deadly fever. Cant find one, go back to sleep because it’s probably just the valium wearing off. 

T+18 hours, eat breakfast but discover mild vague stomach soreness and consider perforation, cancel horse riding, even though it’s probably muscular pain from the wretching.

T+20 hours, order myself a cute handbag as a reward for being so brave yesterday

T+24 hours, observe dull heartburny chest discomfort that I worry is either my heart or some esophageal tear. Take gaviscon, it gets better.

T+30 hours, starting to get a grip because I’m not displaying any dangerous symptoms…still checkimg temperature and avoiding exertion:/


I’m intrigued as to the biopsy results but expect them to be normal..Someone could have told me they were going to check for celiac because I’ve been gluten free for over a month! I also anticipate another day or so of vague discomfort while my insides heal from the bruising and the little fleshy chunks they cut out. Lets be honest here through, even if these mild and largely non-worrysome symptoms don’t improve overnight I’ll still be on the phone for some medical reassurance as soon and the department opens tomorrow! I like to get my money’s worth out of the NHS!

Phew! What an adventure. I’m glad I did it, but I’m not voulenteering for another any time soon. I highly recommend the sedative that I declined this time. If there’s a next time I want to be out cold (as long as I can control my tube pulling-out reflex).

Indecisive miscellany 

At the traffic lights a middle aged woman siddled up to me and positively beamed about the Rolls Royce that had just driven by. Wasn’t it glorious! Her brother had owned one back in the day because he was quite well off, don’t you know, but not she. Oh no, she was a humble lady, proud to have built up her organisation by talking to 750 people in 32 different countries, and not a smart phone in sight! Not like those immoral noxious drivers who won’t change their selfish habits until they kill someone. 

And then the lights changed and I bid her farewell.

I really need to stop making eye contact with strangers while my bike is static.

Pickledsparklymooseprincess et al. Is out at a reputable journal near you now. It comes with metrics too, some kind of mesmerising social experiment on manuscript popularity and self-indulgence….so exactly how many people have tweeted about my findings, how many news sites are relaying our message? More importantly, why do i care? The work speaks for itself, the scientific community will either accept, digest, cite and build, or disagree, overlook, or seek to prove us wrong. And yet I keep on checking of anyone has ‘liked’ that tweet by #healthypartidgesnutterideology*

I’m favouring the Oxford comma these days. For no real reason except a dry need to jazz up my punctuation parties.

(I’m wearing the parenthesis costume so don’t even think about it.)

This ongoing dietary adventure is somewhat of a sideshow. All “gluten-free” this and “dairy-free” that and all I want to do is lay in bed eating apple pie with icecream chased by an Irish coffee. When hunger strikes it’s not a lesson in exploration but in stock-taking and problem-solving. An academic exercise in keeping myself preoccupied with anything else but fixation on this shameless digestive oppression. 

A word of unsolicited advice if I may though: when at a wedding and rolling your eyes at everyone throwing themselves around to the likes of ‘five’ or ‘sclub7’ don’t be pulled into telling anyone what kind of music you like because to a wedding dj, rock/metal/electronica is a metaphor for Bryan Adams and bloody Bon Jovi. And having effectively ‘requested’ this shit, someone’s dad is gonna make damned sure you dance to it even though you’re dying inside. 

*fictional, or at least presumed fictional. 

Ps. It is probably clear that I  don’t know how twitter works…please don’t mock me, at least I didn’t draft a 400 character tweet (I’m looking at you boss lady) 

How do you turn off your inner superego-centric pessimist?

By the way, I’m actually asking the question,  not answering it.

I have a very stubborn inner pessimist. Negative thinking has taken me to very many places in my life and it’s been largely a cold and dark experience. Sometimes dark and dank are just what you need though, so what exactly am I missing out on?

I’m told by the media,  by my mother, by my therapist, by that labrador down the road that positive thinking is a good thing that you can learn, and that you don’t have to just (figuratively) shit all over everything including yourself. Though this is far more frowned upon as literal behaviour.

As it happens I am in the process of nominating someone for an award and so am having to overcome the cringe-inducing wince-fest that comes with open and borderline superfluous flattery. I recognise all these awesome qualities in people around me but I never tell them, and I’m unable to recognise them in myself. 

Fortune peeked over my shoulder and decided that my therapist should get me to focus on the good things as about myself cos I figure I’m pretty sucky in most capacities compared to everyone else. The single admirable property that I will openly admit to possessing is honesty. The rest of that box remains bare. Sorry doc that’s it, the thesaurus has been scoured and there are no more appropriate adjectives. But low and behold a far worse challenge lay ahead. Due to my utter failure to get with the positivity program, I was tasked with asking a few close people to tell me what they like about me. Apparently this is not just attention-seeking…

Have you ever asked someone what they like about you? It’s fucking weird. I mean in Britain, you don’t go gushing about why you love your friends or family, you just stick by them and they should know that if you hang around long enough then you probably like them some. It goes unsaid, like some mystery current underlying your relationships. You’re never quite sure if your pal secretly thinks you are a wanker but they bought you a pint at the weekend so you’re probably ok in their eyes. So why are we so repressed and inhibited that it feels plain creepy to go listing the things you like about someone? In theory it’s a perfectly pleasant thing to do.

 I’ve only got as far as asking two people, one of whom could only come up with one thing that they like about me and that is my nose, which makes me paranoid because I have kind of a big nose and is by far my least attractive facial feature. Sigh. I’m not going to list the things my therapist and other generous surveyee said because that would take this horrifying experiment to another level of unnecessary squirming to this most uncomfortable topic. 

I can’t quite explain the emotional reaction I have to being given compliments, it’s something deeply awkward and dismissive, because I suspect there is some species-wide delusion  psychosis or pity going on behind those positive words and I don’t want to be the one to burst the bubble. If you’ve seen the series braindead where people are being controlled by brain munching bugs? I imagine it’s something like that. On some level of course I really appreciate the comments even if I don’t believe them because it shows people care enough to try and boost my self-esteem. I assume others feel the same so I avoid dishing out compliments but maybe I’m the only weirdo who finds all this pretty nauseating because sarcasm has to be replaced with earnestness (real word) and that’s a damned big leap. I’m tempted to try reciprocity on this subject with my therapist as an experiment to see if she feels uncomfortable, partly because I want to give something back and partly to look for signs of squirming. Humans are bizarre.

I understand from old Freud’s theory that this kind of self-denial phenomena is due to a strong superego and weak ego.  Superego being the morals that parents bestow in the early years and ego being the logical decision-making mediator between your mind’s chaotic self-gratifying impulses (Id) and reality.This seems fair because a weak ego is also considered the cause of anxiety. So this deflated balloon of a personal aspect needs a bit of air, even if I think it’s just hot air!

Ironically without a highly functioning logical sector, this challenge seems utterly abstract and unattainable. Maybe I’ll start reading Jung again, he seemed to have it all sorted. 

Restricting for the good of my gut?

It’s been a while since I’ve felt the need for a sprawling rant about how everything is pissing me off, but such a mood has descended yet again.

The issue is my damned digestive system. So you know about the drama with the failed endoscopy, for which I have to go chat to a specialist on Monday, but that’s not the issue right now, the big problem is that for ‘ibs’ symptoms I have to do a low FODMAP elimination diet for 4 weeks. You probably don’t know what this diet is and I hope you never have to find out in detail. You have to cut out certain types of food including wheat, dairy, some fruits and veggies, plus onion and garlic. This on top of the no coffee, alcohol or citrus that my stomach requires. It’s basically a torturously strict set of dietary rules with the result that you can basically only eat potato and rice for 4 weeks. Maybe I’m exaggerating but today is day one and I’m utterly fed up. Being vegetarian plus low FODMAP and lactose free is a big challenge, and one that I do not relish. We went to the supermarket especially to stock up of special foods for me, only for me to realise today that a few of them I’m not actually allowed to eat because they have a banned ingredient hidden in them (no fair!!) the strawberry jam was a particular disappointment and I nearly smashed the damned jar right there and then for containing fructose syrup. The wheat-free cake (contains milk) and dairyfree icecream (contains lupin) are currently at risk of violence because I  chose them specifically, I want to eat them, but I can’t. I’ll have some vegan cola sweets instead and give my teeth and blood glucose a nice surprise. I’ve discovered that rice noodles are no substitute for wheat noodles and that gluten free bread is a whole other food group that appears to only contain dry, slightly sweet non-doughy produce. If I’m required to dine out this month I’ll be restricted to a gluten free pizza or a baked potato with a glass of water….how very exciting indeed. I have to attend a wedding and didnt tell them I was going to be wheat-free and onion and garlic-free so I’m going to have to just suck it up and eat what I’m served unless it’s literally onion soup with bread because, no, that really doesn’t sound very clever….and cue rolling around on the hotel room floor waiting for the abdominal pains to pass….

My belly already feels a bit better and this pisses me off because I don’t want to have to cut out any of these things indefinately. That and I’m hiccupping like a motherfucker so I guess it’s just a choice between reflux or ibs these days. 

If anyone is reading then please send moral fortification because it’s not yet been 24 hours and I want out from this restrictive hell hole! 

On an unrelated topic, my latest manuscript got accepted and the next edition of pickledsparklymooseprincess et al will appear soon In a biology journal near you. I will celebrate this weekend with some strong rooibos tea and oat biscuits maybe followed up with a gaviscon chaser. Living the dream. 

Don’t even think about eating apple pie in front of me right now, I won’t be held accountable for my actions.

In which I forgive myself and don’t refer to myself as a pathetic idiot

If you get triggered by descriptions of medical procedures then probably don’t read this…

Today was hard for me. I mean really hard. I had to go for a hospital procedure that is basically my idea of hell. I’ve been losing sleep and taken up a whole therapy session fretting over it. Despite much reassurance my anxiety rather got the better or me. I was pretty much holding it together right until I went for some admission tests, y’know the boring blood pressure etc and then the eye faucet was opened. 
Oh dear. Well that wasn’t super helpful but I was unreasonably stressed and couldn’t understand the nurse very well (a combination of anxiety worsening my attention, and a nurse with hayfever and a heavy accent). 

I got my shit together and read my kindle for a bit. An elderly lady with a stick was ushered in and asked to change into a gown. I wondered if she was agile enough to change herself but she managed it OK. As I was called to have the canula put in I got freaked out and the lovely nurse was very nice to me while I sobbed about stopping breathing and dying…so I was put back in the waiting room uncanulated. Being somewhat teary I got a concerned look from the old lady across from me. Despite the effort for her to get up and hobble over to me, she did so and gave me a hug, asking of I was OK. In her thick Scottish accent she told me she was 90 years old had stomach surgery for cancer 40 years ago and had been a regular attendee at the clinic ever since. She said I’d be fine and I almost believed her. People can be so lovely.

I went through to the theatre and the nurse in charge of the actual tube down throat manoeuvre tried to calm me and with some hesitation I agreed to them going ahead. I was shaking so much that no sedation was out of the question.  It took three nurses and three attempts to get the stupid canula in due to being dehydrated. So that was a bit painful and sore so I got dizzy and teary again. They sprayed some godawful demon banana flavoured anaesthetic down my throat, flushed out the canula with saline then gave me sedative, within a couple of seconds I was relaxed, they put in a mouth guard and then I came to in the recovery area a few mins later. 

Apparently it did not got to plan.
Sedated pickledsparklymooseprincess did not enjoy having a camera being pushed down her throat and so she started trying to pull it out with her hands. I don’t know how many times they tried or how much sedative they gave me, I asked why they didn’t just hold my arms down but during the chat the head nurse had with me afterwards. She rather suggested that I was uncontrollably uncomfortable and it was impossible for them to restrain me enough go continue.
So basically I went though all the hunger, thirst, build up, the tears, the stress, fear, needles, sedation and presumably gagging, plus associated throat soreness that come free with the procedure without ACTUALLY managing to have it done. 

A large part of me is disappointed and not very sympathetic about this turn of events, however I am proud of myself for agreeing to the procedure, going to the hospital, having the canula put in, having sedation and trying to have the scope. Sadly it wasn’t my day and I might need a general anaesthetic if they decide I really need it done that badly.
So there we have it. Not what anyone wanted but I almost made it. On the plus side I’ll be less scared of canuli and sedation now (and hospital procedures in general). So for the next few days I’ll be stopping myself mid-thought when the words idiot, stupid or pathetic come to mind. Lets face it, this was not a pleasant morning but I got through it and even without the rose tinting of time, would try again (though the nurses may disagree!)