A pale Iris sky

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I breathe in the profound chill of seeing a lunar cycle behind your eyes.
The rise and fall of expectation hidden in the craters.
We used to bathe in Diana’s silvery light, but now our backdrop is sickly cerulean blue.
Each pulse of dilation seems to drink in the strength, leaving only disproportionate waning, in ever-diminishing orbits.
Where once the gravity of our entwined existence kept us giddily and circling, now it pulls us only to the ground.

I’m still searching in your eyes in hope of a new moon, but are you already seeking out something new?

© PickledSparklyMoosePrincess – author

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She resuscitates the hopeless

Ah, lovely fate with your twisted sense of humour. How I, on occasion, despise thee.

I’m totally putting everything that goes wrong at fate’s door because the only other possibility is that some pixies snuck in and lobotomised me while I was sleeping, and I don’t particularly like the idea of unsolicited trepanning, so yes, let us give fate a single raised eyebrow and disappointed look, rather than turning all that anger inwards.

It started off with a juice in the cereal bowl incident. This always upsets me because it doesn’t take that much effort to focus on the size, shape, weight and colour of the bottle in hand, buuuuut, my muesli finally got to taste that apple juice it’s been lusting after all week, and I can only imagine that it made the museli feel sick because, knowing that I was at least in part responsible for this situation, I tried to eat said cereal and juice combo but with no avail. And so it was, with a screwed up ‘yuck’ face, I started over with my breakfast making. The second pre-caffeine attempt at juice met with an even worse fate…a trip to see the deep pile rug. Now that’s going to smell lovely if I didn’t get it all out. I should come with strict instruction not to let me get out of bed until I’ve had a cup of tea, its just too dangerous for fruit juice and carpets the world over.

Work seemed to be trooping along just fine, even though I was neck deep in someone else’s soup of data that I had to polish into a gem. I was just seeing some headway when something didn’t fit and a penny dropped. The world stopped spinning for a second, I double checked and then ALL the pennies dropped, I mean, we are talking a veritable monsoon of pennies here. Not only had I spent days dragging myself through the unbearable tedium of this task, but, it would seem, I had overlooked one minor but very crucial aspect.

I forgot that I reanalysed the samples and got data that was a bazillion times better than the original, or, I forgot to check that I was really using the right files (with admittedly almost identical names). Just. Brain? Remember that thing you are meant to do? No? Yeah, exactly, I thought so….you’ve lost the ability to remember haven’t you? This is deeply frustrating because now I have to do all that bullshite processing again. It practically killed me through boredom the first time, how can I think about doing it again? Oh I see, you remember the pain of the data processing just fine, typical! At times like this a temporary lamobotomy might be useful. I’d be far less pissed off about the whole thing and less prone to chewing off my fingers or stabbing myself in the neck with a biro (somehow I did that today by mistake, put on a cardigan while forgetting I was holding a pen. Now I think I may have inadvertently tattooed my neck in a not so cool kind of way).

And another thing. Where the hell did my (insert whatever item I want or need right now) go? I remember having it, and picking it up and planning to put it some place safe and then nothing. Just a black void in my head where the vital information should be. A void that is quickly filled by worrying about whether that cupcake I ate yesterday had been sitting around too long in the wide open world. For fuck’s sake! I spent the entire cycle journwy to work repeating to myself that I needed to charge my bike light as soon as I got in so I wouldn’t forget. I remembered right up until I got to the plug socket and then boof, gone into the void and at 8pm, of course the light was still predictably dead. On the cycle home I repeated to myself that I needed to phone someone to say happy birthday as soon as I got home…then I walked through the door and boof, gone, and I spent a good deal of the day reminding myself about this one, did I do it. No, of course not. And I feel shitty as hell about it.

Past PSMP really tries to be helpful, but sadly has zero logical skills, and refuses to write things down to remind Future PSMP because clearly she’ll totally remember because 1. It’s OBVIOUS and 2. It’s important.

So, as I opened by blaming fate, I’d like to close on that note too. Rather than take responsibility for my ridiculous neuronal spaghetti, I’m going to say, this is what I was served and I shall simply have to tolerate these fatalistic flights of fancy. Or, i’ll have to start fashioning dresses for myself from post-it notes.

Please don’t hate me when I forget, erm, like, everything. I promise you it’s much more frustrating for me than it is for you.

“I’m not that medieval, sometimes, I write my thoughts down
I can never remember, who I am
Who I am, where I am, what on earth, I’m doing here”

  ~idlewild, everyone says that you’re so fragile

I know what you said, but that doesn’t mean that I understand which hat to wear

You sit me down to watch a TV show about health anxiety that makes me uncomfortable (due to being comparably mildly inflicted, and finding their behaviors grotesquely inspiring) and tell me in less than eloquent ways, that this stomach-churning anxiety I allegedly feel coursing through me on a daily and irrational basis is simply a fictitious product of what would, if it were real, be munchausen syndrome. That I’m not happy unless there is something wrong with me, and implying that I haven’t really achieved anything in overcoming a 15-year eating disorder because I’ve just replaced it with something else to fixate on. You seem to think that you understand exactly what is going on, that I’m copying someone else, and that I don’t need comforting or therapy or medication because there is nothing wrong with me and I just need to grow up and get on with things. At times like this, I just want to cry.

(Before I continue, I put on the hat of honesty with baubles of self-doubt)
I am in the referral process for CBT for anxiety. I recognised that this issue is infringing too much on my life and needs to be tackled (preferably without meds). I’ve had anxiety (mostly health and social-related) since I was about 5. I had my first panic attack at that age not long after I cut my hand on a broken mirror and realised that I was actually mortal, and not magical after all. It’s been downhill from there. It didn’t occur to me before now, before those suggestions of fake illness, that I might not be deemed ‘sick enough’ to be helped, but now I wonder. Do I really have anxiety? (puts in analytical hat) Well I have the physical symptoms, racing heart, chest pains, tension headaches, ibs, nausea, sweating, shaking, numb extremities, dizziness, the familiar racing thoughts, sleep disturbance, exhaustion, and terrible waves of nauseating fear, and I’ve been diagnosed and medicated for it before, but (puts on elaborate self-doubt hat) what if I’m making myself feel all that now so I can basically get attention? That would be so messed up. If that were true then surely THAT would need some psychological straightening out?

I was feeling positive about the prospect of new therapy and another bright shiny door towards freedom opening, but voices all too real and present, seem determined to tell me what I am and what I am not.(dons wizard’s hat) Few things upset and piss me off more than being told what I am, who I am, what I represent. I detest being defined as a portrait of a person that I don’t identify with. You think I haven’t changed? Well I’ve got news for you buddy…

So why, if I’m so worried about my health, can I let a dog lick my face, and cuddle a muddy horse? Why can I drink from a hosepipe but not take the last cup at the water dispenser or use a fork with any suspect marks on it? Well (balances analytical hat ontop of wizards hat) that, my darling, is a lesson in inconsistent and irrational thoughts.

“If you were my head
I would be heard”~K’s choice, my head

untangling this bedragled psyche

My subconscious is trying to tell me something. I really wish it would be a bit more direct and less distressing in its cryptic and undulating efforts.

Yes, I’ve been dreaming again – and no, we are not talking rainbows and unicorns and happy fluffy clouds.

Attempting to fall asleep is challenge enough on nights when my overactive parnaoia tells me that I don’t breathe enough and if I fall asleep I will die from asphyxiation (way to go brain, I thought you had a doctorate?). But eventually I made it there and hoped to escape the fears and frustrations of real life but what met me was actually far far worse.

I dreampt that my grandmother was still alive, albeit gravely ill. A grand concert had been arranged in her honour in a huge theatre hall – the place was packed out with her friends and family and everyone else who loved her even from afar. I sat close to the stage with her and she seemed worried – she was asking me about her symptoms that she was scared about. I reassured her as best I could, knowing deep down that these signs were  portent of the  shallowing of her vital signs into the beyond. I had to leave for a moment, and when I returned she had gone – whisked away, I was told, to hospital with my mother and brother. No-one could tell me which hospital or what had happened, and I ran out immediately to see if I could catch up with them before the ambulance left but there was nobody there. What followed was a typical dream scenario – I needed to return to my seat to recover my phone to ring the hospitals but I couldn’t find my way in. I repeatedly found myself being spun around in corridors and wandering down precarious steps with the lights flickering off, I simply could not find my way back despite the growing frustration and  fear, the right door refused to show itself and my exhausted unconscious eventually spat me out of the building, leaving me unable to get back in.  A female friend hugged me and took me back to her hotel room to try and get some rest, and she went to bathe while I fruitlessly tried with my sudden inability to read or recall numbers, to use the predictably dead room phone. When she came back out, she was dressed in red and black lingerie with deep red lipstick and dramatic black eye makeup, she glided on over to me, clearly determined to distract me from my distressed state, but despite the allure I chose the weight of rejecting someone over the guilt of not trying every possible route to getting to my grandmother before she died. When I left the hotel, the world had been sucked inside out, and the theatre no longer stood where it once had. I was at the centre of a hurricane of sadness and guilt with no place to go. Unable to resolve this dream scenario, my subconscious moved on to another plane and whatever happened thereafter was nothing to me, nothing to put between the trauma of what happened there.

How can one person contain so much unexpressed guilt, be it real or not. What the hell do I feel so guilty for? If I don’t work out the puzzle I wonder one day if I will just explode and scatter all this oppressive horror back into the cosmos where it belongs.

 

“they really don’t believe her
she keeps it all a secret
found the Golden Muses
doesn’t need to prove it

(She Waits)
she’s a time bomb” ~kidney thieves, Arsenal

 

The morphing face of perception

As I have described before, I find my own visage reminiscent of something squiddish. Or at least I did. Some peculiar change has taken place recently in the face that lives in the ocean at the bottom of the mirror that cannot entirely be explained by my all too tardy discovery of eyebrow pencils. No, there is something inexplicably different and almost, human about the overall mask. It’s uncannily like I am simply Homo sapiens like you and not a demon-spawed sea-creature abomination. Could it be that I’ve transformed through some cephalopodic adolescence into my mature form? A flood of aquatic hormones that has flushed out the adolescent obsession with facial paranoia? A transition where dysmorphia is displaced by clarity.

It’s funny how a slight change in perspective can alter perception so vastly. The monster under the bed retreats into its former scarf and slippers form with the flick of a switch but I’m left wondering which switch got flicked this time, and how do I keep the light on?

“I think I should be

a little more confident,

in my self,

in my skin” ~Daughter, Home

If Google says a nude cake-eating contest can cure cancer then it must be true

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If I told you that I can cure cancer by any of the following:

Dietary changes
Oxygen therapy
Coffee enemas
Vitamin C
Fasting
Prayer
Some random exotic fruit

and said that doctors, scientists and big pharma are in some giant conspiracy and they don’t actually WANT to cure you. What would you say?
I hope you’d just laugh, and tell me not to be so ridiculous, and if I persisted I hope some sedatives and a nice white coat would be on hand, but a story I was told the other day has highlighted once again, how ignorant, selfish and dangerous an unfounded belief in so-called alternative therapies can be.

The story went something like this: a young man in his twenties was diagnosed with lung cancer, he had a round of chemotherapy but the cancer returned and he was advised to have surgery and further chemo. This young man then refused surgery because he didn’t want to live with only 1 and a half lungs and refused chemo because it was just poison and instead embarked on a highly publicised campaign for dietary alternative therapy that he believed would cleanse him of his cancer. He was featured on tv and had many followers on his  blog telling him how brave he was and how they wanted to do the same, give up on tested western medicine and try eating more celery instead (maybe not celery but you get the gist). Of course, shortly afterwards his cancer aggressively metastasised and he died, but I’ll bet people are still reading his blog and looking up to him.

The same theme has been bouncing around the Internet for years and the newspapers for at least a century. There are more and more sites popping up claiming to have some secret cure that doctors don’t want you to know about and it is causing a lot of unnecessary and dangerous attention to be turned to practices that are untested and unregulated and away from those that are. They appeal to our primal desire to find a natural answer, an offer of something familiar and proclaimed as safe in stark contrast to the frightening array of strange and powerful drugs with terrible side-effects. I understand how desperate people can get, I really do, but it breaks my heart to think of desperate souls reading this mumbo-jumbo and thinking that’s the way forward for them too, an easier option, and it is for those people precisely that I start to worry about these days of selfpublishing, of irresponsible use of freedom of speech. For a much better, more accurate version of this diatribe see here, it’s a fascinating read. At least the Guardian have got their head screwed on considering this subject. Hopefully the media coverage of the demise of Steve Jobs and the revelation that he regretted choosing alternative therapies such that proper treatment came too late to save him, will encourage at least a few to reconsider their position.

For anyone who clicked a link expecting me to be touting a new miracle craze, I’d like to explain what cancer actually is as what it isn’t, as far as I understand it (I’m a biochemist but not oncologist).

Cancer is not an impurity, a curse, a possession, invasion or a myth.

Your body is made up of millions of cells that all check themselves regularly to make sure they are functioning normally. If they fail quality control, the cells go through one of the many pathways to death, and generally speaking, another cell comes along to take its space. More or less a one-in-one-out situation because your body is a pretty full concerthall. Anyway, sometimes a cell has a problem with its DNA so that it no longer realises that it should die, and it keeps on living even though it’s not working properly. This immortality means that the cell is alive much longer than they normally are, and other DNA problems, like those that tell it to divide when it shouldn’t (arguably this unregulated division might be the first step of cancer formation) So now you have cells that are dividing fast and don’t realise they are doing anything wrong, and your immune system hasn’t noticed a problem because the cells are your cells – they aren’t foreign. See here for a nice description about what cancer is in someone else’s (better) words. So how are you going to go about removing those cells that are starting to sap the nutrients out of your blood and are growing out of control and obstructing your organs without killing off your healthy cells? Well that is what billions of pounds of research goes into every year in the relentless search for cures for cancers because your cancer will be different from Fred’s cancer and Juliette’s…but rest assured that progress is always being made, and that abandoning cutting edge science for massage therapy is going to take you and your loved ones in only one prematurely sad and painful direction. Acupuncture and aromatherapy cannot reverse the DNA damage that has already occurred.

I’m writing this now because on a slightly different topic, I discovered the other day that the NHS are spending 4 million quid a year on homeopathy and I was dumbfounded. Doctors are educated people who are trained to treat according to rigorous, evidence-based studies…and to my knowledge, every attempt to verify the effectiveness of homeopathy has failed (as logic dictates) but patients are still demanding their sugar pills because they read somewhere that it’s better than antiretrovirals for HIV (or whatever condition they have). As well as being a staunch supporter of western medicine, I’m also a believer in the strength and usefulness of the placebo effect. I know someone who thinks that nibbling the corner of a paracetamol will trigger them to make their own painkillers and so thus they ‘cure’ their headaches by essentially taking no drugs. I’m not going to discuss the sanity of this individual right now, but the placebo effect is so strong that it can chase off a migraine. There are, clearly, times and places for placebos, but cancer treatment ain’t one of them.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for alternative positive things like meditation, healthy diet, vitamins, prayer and even acupuncture and art therapy if it makes you feel better, but when we are talking about serious health conditions never, and I mean NEVER instead of proper medical care.

Now for those that say that chemotherapy is unnecessary poison, I’d like you to think about it long and hard because honestly, the real poison is the false hope and abandonment of medical care that your words strive for.

I know I’m not saying anything new but it’s something I feel very strongly about, so I’m saying it anyway in an uncharacteristically serious and factual manner. The lifetime risk of cancer is fast-approaching 50%, and it’s something that will affect your life one way or another if it hasn’t already. Please be prepared, and take some time to understand new medical advances. Normal non-ranting blog service will resume shortly.

“I don’t want to be hostile.
I don’t want to be dismal.
But I don’t want to rot in an apathetic existance either.” ~Tool, intolerance

A little argument with my stomach

Me: Hello stomach, thanks for agreeing to talk to me
Stomach: erm Hi…so what’s this all about?
Me: well, after many happy years of working together, you’ve developed a bit of an attitude problem recently.
St: go on…
Me: you are getting less and less tolerant of my choices and are just grumpy all of the time and I’m not standing for it.
St: I see what you are saying but let me explain from my point of view. I’ve tolerated your weird food and drink choices for years, and agreed to your ridiculous unidirectional digestive tract rule, but you haven’t been keeping up your end of our bargain. Don’t get me started on those anxiety fits you keep promising you won’t have…then, you infected me with some godawful bacterium…
Me: we both know I didn’t do that on purpose..
St: fine, but it made me feel crap and yet you still insisted on feeding me black coffee and rum so is it any big shock that I got moody?
Me: hey, I felt crappy too..
St: ha! Good! Anyway then you bombard me with antibiotics that you know I don’t like…
Me: there wasn’t really another way…
St: You would say that, and what about those proton pump inhibitors then? What kind of sick punishment was that? I was busy trying to get through the antibiotics when you damned well inhibit my acid producing ability…that’s just not cricket! How was I supposed to do my job?
Me: sorry but that was a necessary evil
St: oh yeah, I bet it was…it took me weeks to upregulate my proton pumps so that I could make enough acid.
Me: that’s why I had to increase the dose
St: bitch.
Me: but you adapted again didn’t you?
St: I certainly did. I rose to the challenge, it was all under control until you removed the proton pump inhibitors.
Me: I did taper
St: ok then I’ll taper the floods of excessive acid I now have.
Me: fab!
St: I was being sarcastic. gimme the damned drugs again, I think I might be dying without them.
Me: I’m afraid I can’t do that, it’s for your own good..though it does feel like you are trying to dissolve my whole body from the inside out.
St: on your head be it. You’ll have to wait for me to adapt again and don’t you so much as look at a pint of cider or so help me, I’ll show you exactly how grumpy I can be. Let’s see of we can’t involve oesophagus in the party…
Me: right…so…would you like a cup of tea?
St: make it chamomile and then get out of my sight, I’m busy trying to deal with all that cheese you insist on swallowing….not that it’s any of my business but you are aware what lactose intolerance means, right?

That didn’t quite go as planned. I guess I should give my stomach a break.
Quite a fiery fellow though eh?