I hate this notion that if you’re on a psychiatric ward and you’re not continuously trying to escape, there’s something wrong with you. Or rather, that there’s not something wrong with you - you’re fine, you’re faking your illness, and so on.
Maybe it’s just the unit I was on. It was tiny and for a funny age group. I could never figure out if it was understaffed, ridiculously disorganised or both, but for a period of about three weeks over half the ward were continuously either getting restrained or doing something that was about to get them restrained. There was another girl was constantly plotting suicide attempt after suicide attempt and I was left to my own devices.
And - shit the bed - I didn’t always use that time to do an acceptable activity, such as getting into restricted areas, verbally abusing staff, physically abusing staff, punching walls, purging, cutting my arms with razors, piercing major veins and arteries with staples, throwing cups of water about or throwing furniture about. I ticked a fair few off that list at one point or another, to be fair. I sometimes punched the wall early in the morning because I was angry at something really vague after twelve hours of restless sleep. I scratched my arms with my nails too, but that doesn’t count. I didn’t throw cups but I accidentally knocked over a fair few.
I could kind of understand the other patients being a bit wtf about why I was there. We were 16 and 17. We were at an age where everyone’s angry at everything, and we’re in a world where we have a lot to be angry about. And we were all very ill. When one girl said I was lying about being suicidal because I wasn’t trying to kill myself at every opportunity, it didn’t upset me too much. Partially because I was mid panic attack and it took me several hours before what she said filtered through, but also because who could really blame her for thinking that when the hospital staff were making the same assumptions? When the only way you could get any attention at all was by kicking off?
This type of thinking is everywhere. There is major confusion surrounding mental (and neurological) health. At one end of the spectrum, people think it’s just a problem with willpower, motivation, whatever. At the other end there are people who think anyone with issues is lost to them forever. Often we can see people holding conflicting opinions, which change based on the particular disorder or person they are talking about. Nearly everyone thinks they’re an expert on chronic fatigue (and why I should drink more coffee and ‘just sleep less’) but as soon as I mention epilepsy, they panic and start getting nervous every time anything flashes.
In hospital, the priority was always given to the most aggressive person. This created a viscous cycle (ironic really, when the ward existed to help us break out of viscous cycles of our own) of what quite quickly turned into violence. The staff would prioritize the unreasonable requests of someone kicking off over the needs of everyone else. This meant that the more violent you were, the more attention from hospital staff you got. The staff should have been giving the most attention to the most ill and so there was a belief that the more violent you were, the more ill you were.
I can’t really explain how difficult it was to become part of that. All of the permanent staff and maybe half of the Bank staff really fucking cared about us, even if some of them just didn’t get it. But the reason I had become ill enough for hospital in the first place was because I’d been fobbed off by doctors and been left on endless waiting lists and I was coming up to the third year of living with with untreated epilepsy and none of it felt real by this stage anyway. I’d scream in the night, and get told I “wasn’t really having panic attacks” by a nurse the next day. I tried to suffocate myself with a carrier bag (on suicide prevention day no less) and was still “well enough to be discharged”. I couldn’t trust any of the doctors and what they were saying about discharging me anyway because I knew that in the end it didn’t come down to my health, it came down to funding and the sheer lack of it. It was a mess, the whole system is a mess. I’m a mess.
It’s difficult to work through emotions, especially when I’ve never had more than 8 sessions with one psychologist/counselor/whatever. I think accusations of faking illness came to represent something bigger for me. The sheer chaos that causes people to think it’s acceptable behavior. This culture of spending cuts that ends not at moral boundaries, but boundaries set by whoever can shout the loudest. Having to fight for help that part of you doesn’t even want in the first place because all you can think about is how dying would make everything okay again.
It’s 2014 and people aren’t empathetic enough to understand that not everyone reacts to things in the same way.
One time, when I’d just moved into my first hostel, I got followed in two blokes in a car.
It was dark. It was also late October, which means that ‘dark’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘late’. The hostel, as I aggressively shouted at my mates after every journey to college for the four months I lived there, is in the middle of fucking nowhere. At this point it had never occurred to me to buy a buspass, and thus when I wanted to do anything, I was left wandering down generic residential backstreets for twenty minutes until I got to the train station. I had at this stage met most of the other residents at least once and was fairly confident that I wasn’t going to violently kidnapped every time I stepped outside after sundown.
As I walk out of the front door, I note two guys parked up in a car. The car was a generic yoof car. The two guys inside were generic male yoofs. But look again! One of them looks like my neighbour. Is it my neighbour? He’s grinning at me. He must be my neighbour.
In hindsight, I should have realised it wasn’t my neighbour. Said neighbour moved up from London eight days ago. How would he have become such good mates with anyone with enough money to own a car when he only knowns people who live in a youth hostel?
But it was too late. I had smiled back. For anyone who lives in civilized society, this isn’t an issue. But alas, this is Birmingham.
I walk up to the car.
"You wanna chill?"
This was the first time I had come into contact with the now familiar conversation format. I head off down the road.
I had at least crossed the road and gotten around the corner by the time the car drove back up to me.
"Where do you live?"
The advice of a thousand responsible adults floated into my head. I was already out of site of the hostel and its CCTV, and I wasn’t feeling as YOLO as usual. I live in the hostel. It’s pretty damn obvious, but I picture my mom’s house and tell them I live over there.
"What you doing here then?"
I LIVE HERE. “I was visiting a mate.”
They drive off. I continue with my day completely oblivious to the fact they are turning around ahead and coming back.
"What’s your digits?"
At this stage, I’m getting incredibly frustrated at how rude these guys are. They aren’t asking me whether I would like to give them my digits, or if they could have my digits, or any obvious reason to give them my digits. Also, they have followed me up a dark road in a car.
"None of your business." They drive off, turn around again, and by the time I rush to cross over the dual carriage way they have lost me.
None of that is particularly interesting. It happens to any female who dares walk around in the open. But a conversation I had a few months down the line made the whole thing seem a little more worrying.
It’s late January. I’m sitting in the office speaking to the night worker. By this stage, I had given up trying to keep up with the turnover of residents and had decided to spend my time getting ridiculously drunk on my own instead. A girl I don’t recognize walks into the office. She seems younger than me, and I learn that she has only recently moved out of a care home. She talks about her ex boyfriend, who appears to have reached a new level of dickhead. I imagine it was an easy crossover from that topic to talking about men following us down the street, because she recounted a similar story to the one above. Only she was followed by men in a BMW, who were a bit older than the yoofs that followed me.
I mention my story.
We look at the worker.
She explains what’s going on.
Not long ago at all, the hostel was women only. In fact, most referring agencies haven’t realised that men now live there too, because when I got asked where I wanted to go (one of those trick questions you get so it seems like you have some control over anything in your life) I was told it was women only. There was the one girl who would go right outside the hostel to sell her body. Obviously, word got around, and we were dealing with the consequences. And if the people who get paid to deal with the hostel don’t realise that men live there, then what did the blokes letching around outside think when they saw my male neighbours walk through the front door?
I’m not a middle aged woman. I am not writing about something that happened in the eighties. I am talking about January just gone. There are men who hang around youth hostels thinking they are going to get a blowjob out of it. There are men who will follow the young women who live there down dark roads. And yet there are still people who think sexism isn’t a thing any more and there are politicians who act like under 25s claim housing benefit for fun.
Chuggers, aka charity muggers, aka those people who stand in the street trying to get you to support a cause are a major feature in my local city centre. There are a few who stand out. For example, there is a guy who hands you an incense stick and then asks you to give him a donation for it, despite the fact that you don’t actually want the incence stick and you only took it because you were completely bewildered and stupidly thought it would make him leave you alone. There are the Christians who ask you whether you care about death, which I find particularly irritating because my answer is ‘no’ and whenever I admit it to myself, an overdose usually follows within the next 48 hours.
Oxfam, however, are the current subject of my frustration. They were out in force, like they (or some other charity that I can’t tell apart) usually are. I only spend time in town out of necessity, because it’s 2014 and anything not in the city centre is basically wasteland, but it’s difficult for me. My whole life is pretty much post-ictal (you might want to google that) and although medication is beginning to work for me, I am still dizzy and extremely tired and a bit dazed all the time. I can’t usually concentrate on more than one thing at a time and even being able to process what people are saying can be difficult enough that I want to cry. Also I am a loner, and no one wants to look after me. I am defined by how tired I am and the amount of close friends I don’t have. I am also completely aware that I am not the only person who gets tired or the only person who hates speaking to people they don’t know. And I am cynical enough that I know I don’t need to have a reason to not speak to someone who’s trying to sell me something, and I have read enough books on branding and enough lefty magazine articles on capitalism to know that’s what chuggers are trying to do.
To be fair, if I shake my head at most chuggers, they leave me alone. I do my best not to be rude - after all, I’m not a complete dickhead - and generally they get the message and we both move on with our lives. However, as I was reminded today, this doesn’t always work.
She was the third Oxfammer to approach me on my walk across the centre. They’d all been under 30 and lacking a local accent. Between her and and her partner, they’d somehow managed to take up the whole walkway. In my head I was back at primary school, playing our slightly altered version of British Bulldog which we called Chain, but with the added complication of not actually being able to run past them. I opted to skirt around her rather than go through the middle. She approached me. I shook my head and barely bothered with a smile. It’s 2014. No one smiles that much this far south. She asked me a question. As I said, I’m not a dickhead, so I took an earphone out, turned around and responded:
"How old are you?"
"Do you have a phone?"
I paused for a second as I had a flashback to a time when I said ‘no’ to this question. A time when I was young and foolish. A time when I actually engaged with these people out of curiosity.
"Is it pay as you go or contract?"
I finally catch up with the conversation I’m having. Not happy at being pursued, despite the obvious lack of interest, I turn around, put my earphone back in and tried to remember where I was going.
She says something else.
I look back at her.
I hear her beginning to explain how it works. I assume I shook my head again, because I heard her asking me if I care that people are without water. I completely blank this out until I reached my destination. Had I replied to her question, she was looking at one of two answers. The first being no, I genuinely don’t care, not because I’m a horrible person like she implied, but because I am wrapped up in my own life, with my personal heartbreak and my fears about my future and my health and the deadlines at college and whether that rash on my hand is eczema or a severe side effect to my medication and whether I’m getting the flu and if my housing benefit will be stopped again and when I do have time to think about how shit the world is, the first things I think about are the things close to home, metaphorically (and in this case literally) because the ‘starving kids in Africa’ thing has been shoved in my face so often that I am completely numb to it. And it’s harsh but it’s true. When I see yet another 30 second advert on the TV, I don’t want to donate money. There is a child who is apparently starving to death on the TV. I am watching a child starving to death. Why is that being broadcasted to millions of people? There is no way that child was able to consent to this. How can you film a suffering child even for a second, rather than comforting them? How am I supposed to think of this child as human when the charity so obviously doesn’t care about them as an individual with the right to dignity? It all seems so insincere and perverse that I can’t even comprehend it, let alone feel any emotion about it.
The second answer, obviously, is yes, I do care. And this is true even if I don’t at the same time. I care enough that I was offended that she asked me that question in the first place. She doesn’t know me, she only knows that I’m 18 and have a phone, and yet with one question, she implies that I’m selfish to the level that I let people dehydrate to death for the sake of it. It probably hasn’t crossed her mind that any money I have stays in the bank in case my benefits get cut. She doesn’t even know I’m on benefits. At that specific moment in time, with my lack of tracksuit and cigarettes, I didn’t fit the stereotype. She doesn’t know that I have my own causes, not ones I’ve chosen, but ones that have been forced on me, and the fact she thinks to alienate me with that question means I can assume that she probably doesn’t see the link between different types of injustice. Because she’s accused a teenager in Birmingham of not caring, rather than the people in Westminster who genuinely don’t.
And no, I don’t blame her for it. I’m not going to make the same mistake she did in judging someone I don’t know. In this case I’m going to blame Oxfam, because they are the ones who’ve decided that the best tactic is to saturate every pedestrian area for a mile with young men and women who only have a basic understanding of the political and economic causes (and cures) of ‘starving kids in Africa’. Having been a chugger myself on several occasions, I know that some groups can make it seem like that’s only way you can contribute to the cause, and I know that the only hint of training you might get is just doing it. I know that it can be a major if not the only source of income and public awareness. But as with a crash diet or a Wonga loan, just getting everyone you can out to collect money will do more harm than good in the long term.
I’m on a psychiatric ward. The following explains why, but the main point of me mentioning the unit right now is to set the scene.
I’m on a psychiatric ward. It’s… almost midnight. I don’t have a clock in my room. I can hear snoring from a fellow patient across the corridor. Doors slam at a rate of twice a minute as nurses wonder around doing nurse things. My lights are off, but a yellow glow filters into my room from the corridor and an orange glow joins the mix from my window. The bathroom light is turning itself on and off. It’s supposedly on a sensor but it doesn’t appear to take anyone’s whereabouts into consideration. I’m lying in bed. Someone changed the sheets today and I feel like I’m trying to fall asleep in an envelope.
I see random flashing in my eyes. That’s expected; the result of some neurological fuck up that no one wants to investigate. The general anxiety is expected. Sleeping is extremely unpleasant for me (The result of some neurological fuck up no one wants to investigate). The sound of a man sighing from about three feet to my left is unexpected. I open my eyes to discover there is no one standing there. I sigh. I know what’s about to happen.
I look around my room. I don’t have to move much. My bed is by the wall so I can curl up in the corner to sleep. That won’t be happening too quickly tonight. I note nothing strange in my room, unless I count myself. I know it would be easier for everyone if I believed that what I am about to experience is real, but to the upset of every psychologist ever, I know it’s completely inside my head.
I begin to turn over to the wall and - WHY IS THERE A LINE HERE? THERE SHOULDN’T BE A LINE HERE, IT HAS THE WRONG AMOUNT OF DIMENSIONS GET IT AWAY FROM ME - I slam my palms against the wall. I manage to hit the light switch. Putting my bed in the corner seems like a better and better idea. I breathe heavily. No one bothers to check what the noise is about.
Lets try again. I turn the lights off. I’m curled up in bed. I close my eyes. I’m now curled up on the pavement somewhere trying to stop a weird man strangling me with a rope. I open my eyes and sit up. I don’t feel like I’m completely back in the room. I move the blankets well away from my neck.
I know I shouldn’t look up but it happens anyway; I need to shock myself back into reality and away from that man and here’s the quickest way of doing it. I unconsciously take a sharp intake of breath. I focus on the dark outline of a male face in the reflections in the light bulb above my bed. The faces do not go away. They change but they never go away. There’s no point turning the light on. I can’t put off the inevitable.
I lie on my back. Close my eyes. Open my eyes. The reflections and shadows are a different face now. I sit back up. I note a space on the floor empty of clothes to aim any vomit at.
Maybe it’s not too late. Maybe I can calm down and keep my eyes shut. I know this isn’t real, but the fact that it’s all in my head is what makes it so bad. There’s no point trying to put the rest of it off - it has to happen before I can sleep, and thanks to some neurological fuck that no one wants to investigate, I sleep twice as much as everyone else.
I lie down. Look up. New face. Look away. Panic attack is an understatement. The bathroom light pops back on. I don’t believe in the interpretation of the devil I’m imagining, but that doesn’t help me as much as it should. I look at the other light. Different face. It’s angry at me. It doesn’t exist but it’s still angry at me. I can’t keep up the eye contact so I look away, back to the light above my bed.
That’s done it. I hear screaming. I think it’s me. The lights on. My feelings and my thoughts are completely separated from each other. They’re like a couple who got married when they were too young. They’ve spent their time fighting each other, and now they’ve both given up even pretending they can function as one. It’s like I’m operating in two different realities at the same time. My feeling are controlling what I’m doing, but my thoughts are analysing what’s going on.
Maybe if they sorted out the neurological fuck up. Maybe.
Tuesday the 14th was a day just like most others.
I awoke at ten to eleven. I usually have a mental health work visit me at eleven on Tuesday, and I was proud of myself for being awake before her arrival. I quickly finalised arrangements to meet up with my ex at 12:30, thinking I had given myself plenty of time to make myself look somewhat presentable after the appointment.
It got to half eleven and I was still waiting for the woman to turn up. I checked my phone to see if she had texted a reason for her ridiculous lack of punctuality, and she hadn’t, because she wasn’t late, because the last message was me agreeing to meet her at 11:45 instead. She turned up.
“Have you overdosed recently?”
“Are you planning to?”
At 12:22, I was back in my room trying to find all the things I usually take with me when I go out. Rucksack, whatever was already in said rucksack, chocolate, purse, my phone- which was already telling me the time was twelve thirty.
One of the reasons I was meeting up with my ex, and not someone who was still my boyfriend, was the fact that I value punctuality and reliability in a person. He had been three hours late when we had plans too often (ie, more than once). I didn’t want to give him wriggle room in any future arguments by being 5 minutes late when we were meeting right outside the building I live in. Another reason he is my ex is because he is a spectacularly shit liar, and at this current moment in time, he was trying to pretend that he doesn’t get most of my text messages. I figured that he probably wouldn’t send me one to tell me he was waiting outside to somehow prove that he was telling the truth (“Didn’t you get my text? See, I told you something’s wrong with my ph-“) and in my panic, I realised I couldn’t find my waterbottle, which I find essential for any trip further away than the bathroom. I picked up what I deem to be a valid substitute - a bottle of wine - and left.
He drove me to a cul-de-sac around the corner. We argued. I got pissed. I still don’t understand why he doesn’t love me any more.
I returned to my room at 3 in the afternoon complete with KFC. I know it was ‘3 in the afternoon’ because my ex felt the need to keep pointing it out. The freak.
I fell asleep. I woke up. It was now 8pm. I took my apparently useless anti-epileptics and decided that I wasn’t going to get back out of bed. I got a bit sad and took a small overdose of aspirin. This doesn’t happen that often - usually I take a fairly large overdose of antihistamines and thus avoid getting sad at all. I still hadn’t found that bottle of water, and, following on from my earlier logic, thought the sensible solution would be to wash down the aspirin with wine.
It was an hour after this when I noticed I still had a hangover from earlier. For some reason, I had it in my head that taking a small overdose of aspirin would get rid of any pain I was currently feeling, but the opposite had occurred. I took myself and my apocalyptic headache down to the office in the hostel I live in and asked if it was okay to take paracetamol with aspirin. I have heard my fair share of paracetamol horror stories and even I have limits to how YOLO I can be with over the counter medication. A few trick questions later and the woman was dialing 999 and I had a creeping sense of de ja vu.
The paramedics turned up. It is a well known facts that all paramedics look the same, and it is actually easier to tell individual ambulances apart. I’m sure they probably think the same about people who overdose in hostels, which is why I stopped pointing it out. They did paramedic things while I sat there answering their questions. This led to the worst thing I have said so far in 2014.
“So you took these aspirin tablets?”
“Okay. Have you had any alcohol?”
“Enough to wash them down.”
I asked the paracetamol question again. It turns out I would have been fine to take them. I was now satisfied that I could deal with my hangover without the help of trained medical staff and wanted to go back to bed.
“Right, have you got enough money from a taxi back from hospital?”
“What? Yeah. Oh wait I spent it on KFC earlier. I have a buspass.”
“The busses don’t run at 2am.”
“I have… ten Euros?”
“I have a card with money on.”
“There’s a cash machine at the hospital. Go and get a coat.”
I went through the bag packing ritual for the second time that day, but I left the wine on the bed.
We got to the hospital, where I was abandoned in the waiting room by a nurse I’d been given to. She asked me if I would stay there and I said yes, because I was a slightly disorientated teenage girl who didn’t appear to have much else to do that night.
Here’s the thing. I didn’t take an overdose to kill myself. But if I wasn’t harbouring some form of death wish before looking up at a screen that informed me of a three hour waiting time, and then another screen which was blasting out the visual and audial diarrhea of a Celebrity Big Brother spin off, I definitely was afterwards.
At exactly 00:00, I decided I’d had enough. I went to reception.
“Where can I book a taxi from?”
“There’s a freephone by the vending machine.”
“Thanks. Is there a cash machine around here?”
“Not this time of night. You could get the taxi to drop you off at one.”
I did book the taxi, but I couldn’t even comprehend the thought of waiting there for it. I bought a bottle of water and set off on foot instead.
The route was simple enough, although it was one that most responsible adults I know wouldn’t be a fan of. I decided not to take a shortcut through an inner-city field pretending to be a park, and was minding my own business wondering down the main road.
As I watched a bus I could’ve caught go past, a car pulled up.
“You wanna chill?”
“You wanna hang?”
Now this wasn’t the first time I had been walking in this part of Birmingham after dark and found myself approached with this proposition, but it was the first time it had happened while I wore fluffy pink pajamas and a fetching pair of 2003-style trainers.
“Are you sure?”
A few sarky comments later, and they drove off. The boys of Bordsley Green must really dig the pasty pale look I pull off so well. Either that, or they are more desperate than I will ever be. And the sheer fact that, despite everything, I feel that I can still take the moral high ground on people like this, gives me hope. I can have slight alcoholism, I can accidentally lie to nurses, and I can still judge people who I barely know. And for some reason, that makes me care a slight bit more about my internal organs.
One good thing about having gone to both a grammar school and a special school is that you get to watch people squirm as they try to fit you into both stereotypes at once.
"Aha!" They think, as soon as I mention King Edwards, "Here’s someone with a first class education! Someone I can look up to!" They begin to wonder whether I will go to Oxford or Cambridge, and how many A*s I got at the end of year 11, and what instruments I’m grade 8 in and what national sports teams I’m part of and where about in Four Oaks I live and then… and then I drop the James Brindley bomb and they look at me like I’ve just relieved myself on the dining table and suddenly they realise the default reaction to someone who went to a special school of using short words and congratulating me when I do simple mathematics isn’t going to work and oh do they panic. They start trying to figure out why I ended up at a special school, but obviously, they can’t just ask me - they haven’t ruled out the possibility that I get violent mood swings when answering basic questions about who I am. And I guess being too down to Earth is impolite and they’ll have to ask someone else about my health when I’m almost out of earshot.
But that can’t be done right now because I’m standing there, waiting for the conversation to continue. (Not really. I’m enjoying the pained facial expression of whoever it is I’m talking to, and I’m in no rush to get to the inevitable outcome of their current thought process.) I’m not in a wheelchair. I don’t look autistic. (Wait - what?) They don’t want to offend me by asking if I attended a school for those too ill for mainstream education because I was too ill for mainstream education. Milliseconds fly by. They can’t let on that they don’t know how to react. The pressure builds. They can find only one way out of this:
"Did you find the work at King Edwards too difficult?"
Why would the work be too difficult? We took the same GCSEs as everyone else. The difference between the grammar school and the special school wasn’t how difficult the work was, it was the attitude of the staff. At the grammar school, they didn’t want my health getting in the way of my education. The special school didn’t want my education getting in the way of my health. The whole culture of King Edwards was built on the idea that the more work you’re made to do, the more intelligent you become. That doesn’t lead to a well-rounded education, or indeed a healthy child.
All this is completely lost on the type of person who thinks ‘ill’ is a worse insult than ‘stupid’.
Imagine if we decided to spring clean the internet. Like, we designated a week to deleting really awful blog posts and unused accounts. That’d be cool.
The power of purposely calling someone by the wrong name is immense. Personally, it makes me feel uncomfortable that it should matter at all; a name is just a string of letters put together to make a sound we use to identify someone when we speak or write about them. To call someone by what you have decided is their ‘real name’ when they request a different one is used seems rude in a way that’s unnecessary if there’s any real reason to be angry at the things they do, because if they are really a bit of a dick then it’s probably a better mode of attack to point out why. If you’re just going to be dismissive of them, then don’t give a non-issue any weight because they’ll cling onto it to prove they’re the victim. Obviously there’s a line somewhere, but in a large majority of cases, someone else’s name isn’t yours to mess about with.
I used to go on great anger-fuelled campaigns when I hated someone. Don’t get me wrong - I didn’t pick on someone because they were vulnerable. I found that I ended up attacking people who’d attacked me when I was vulnerable. Or I’d go after someone who seemed to be getting away with a lot more than they should.
Well, I was only a child. I say child; it was around the ages of between 12 and 16 that I directed my fury at people who were a similar age to myself and who would probably realise their errors later down the line without my help. When you’re 15 and someone’s twisting something someone else said to make you look like a sex-crazed pervert, you don’t respond too kindly. When you’re suffering with about a million mental health issues that have defined your personality to the point that you’re not even too sure you’re there anymore, you don’t stop to think that releasing your frustration whenever possible is not the best idea. When you’re stuck in a school which appears to still be in the 1950s and you’re surrounded by manipulative shits who cannot even comprehend that they don’t live in a soap opera, doing nothing isn’t even an option.
I never really bothered fully explaining my actions whenever I did anything. I didn’t care that my teachers, or even other students, thought I was a pathetic lunatic because I knew that everything the school stood for was more ridiculous than I could ever be. I probably did try and get some of them to understand at some point, but there’s only so much trust you can give people when you’ve been let down so often before. Besides, I knew nothing I could say would change anything that mattered.
Anyway I got to about 16 and there was the change of school and some sort of improvement in my health… or maybe I just grew up. As I said, I can’t tell what’s me and what’s a disorder. I no longer had a habit of trying to make people I disliked more emotionally unstable than myself, probably because of that change of environment. I became more analytical and I focused my energies on making myself a better person and making the world a slightly nicer place. There wasn’t anyone I actually hated who I was forced to spend time with. There were people I disliked, but none that I hated.
And then things happened and there’s someone I really hate. It scares me that I can hate someone so much; I’d forgotten what it felt like. I recognise that people can be good in some ways and bad in others and I recognise that I’m not exactly a decent person myself. I’m not forced to spend time with this person but we do anyway. And so I’ve been reduced to acknowledging the hatred at appropriate points in the conversation and moving back to the topic in hand.
I wish I had the energy for one last manic tirade.
You did something for someone you care about. This something was amazing and took all of your strength and courage and it made them really happy, or maybe just made their life worth living for a little bit longer. But you use it against them or you let them know that you did it because you felt like you had no other option and you tell them that it ruined your life and by doing that, you took that good memory away from them and you made every action you took completely worthless.
It’s not instinct, is it? It’s the same way you can know the answer to a sum but not the method. You’ve gotten the end point of the metaphorical mathematical problem but you’re not sure how to get the marks for working it out. So you work backwards.
I don’t like her. But why? I just don’t. No wait, that’s not an answer. She’s manipulative. How do I even know that? I can’t actually know that. I’ve never even spoken to her… But we’ve been in the same room as each other; she’s on the extreme edge of my network of friends. I’ve observed her. So? It’s the way she… She just… I can just tell. No, that’s still not an answer. It’s the way she tries to ethically bitch. What? She doesn’t speak about someone’s appearance, only their actions and why that makes it okay for her to bitch about them. No, I’m missing something… It’s her awkwardness around people she doesn’t really know. It’s the clothes she wears. Not in an aesthetic way, but, I guess it reminds me of me. She’s too much like me. She’s barely like me. She’s like me enough that I would know how she would go about being manipulative. I wouldn’t be manipulative like that. I think. But if I was going to, that’s how I would do it.
if it exists:
- There is porn of it
- There is a dubstep remix of it
- Glee have covered it
- There is a parody Twitter account of it
- People hijack Tumblr posts with .gifs of it
- Someone has tried to turn it into a meme
- It has been given as a reason for violence within our society
- George Osborne has blamed lack of economic growth on it
- The Daily Mail thinks it causes cancer
"Girls swearing isn’t attractive"
The women of the world stop as the 14 year old posts the status on his Facebook. His 340 friends are in awe of his revolutionary statement. Never has anyone witnessed such wisdom, never has anyone said something that made so much sense. The world becomes a classy place, as men are left to do the swearing, heavy drinking and smoking, and women change their vocabulary to be better spoken. Equality is achieved. The war on terror is over. Climate change is halted.
On Friday I went to Bournville College, where I study, to finish off some work. While I was in a classroom (the Mac Suite to be specific) we found out through word of mouth that someone had been stabbed near the entrance of the college. Shortly after, we were told to stay in the classroom to avoid having too many people milling about around the crime scene. We were told that this was to make the jobs of police and paramedics easier, and we stayed where we were. When I finished my work, a considerable amount of time after, I left the college, past the area that had been taped off from the public, and went home.
Today it seems that either the Birmingham Mail is milking this situation for a story or that people actually think metal detectors would have stopped this from happening. The crime took place on the steps leading up to the college, not inside the college. It’s ridiculous to think that metal detectors in the college would stop anything happening even directly outside. There are already turnstiles and security guards, meaning access can only be gained by those with an ID card or those who have gone to reception to explain their presence and have been given a sticker. No one can get into the college any other way.
As mentioned in the Birmingham Mail article, many people have metal items on them on a daily basis, and as an art student, I am one of them. To say that anyone carrying metal through the detectors should empty their bags makes it apparent that they have never witnessed the queues at the turnstiles around 8:50am, or when only one is out of order. Personally, I can say that had the college had metal detectors, I would have chosen not to go there, not simply because of the message that is sending to students (Both that there are people in this college who want to stab you and that you can’t be trusted at all) but because of the disruption every single morning.
People working near the college may think that security needs to be tightened, although I would imagine they don’t, as the nearest workers are on a construction site that has its own security guards, and one person agreeing that metal detectors should be used does not mean the whole neighborhood agrees. However, they do not attend the college, nor do they work in the building, and it is obvious that most people who do, understand that metal detectors are a bad idea, as the misleading article did not include opinions from anyone who uses the facilities on a daily basis.
I was not aware of the college being ‘closed’ in the way the article implied. Friday afternoons are very quiet and the college appears to close early every Friday anyway, as there is nowhere to buy food on the campus at times when you could any other day of the week. It was a normal close. There were no question of the college being closed on Monday, and I doubt that many people are going to be petrified tomorrow morning of being stabbed; we’re not children, and whilst we will be a little on edge, we’re not expecting to be shot.
As with everyone else, my thoughts are with the family. I hope justice is done, I hope that the teenager makes a great recovery and I hope that the lazy journalism doesn’t reach anyone who has been emotionally effected.
I’m left with memories of running, uncertain as to if there’s anywhere to hide while the world collapses in on itself behind me. I end up on a bus, putting distance between myself and what I left behind: a familiar hotel in a cluttered street somewhere around what I considered to be Aston and yet also Stockland Green, I think… yet it was so middle class, like how the French tourism team would like you to think said tourist destination is.
I remember being on the double-decker bus with my rucksack on my back although as I think harder about the dream I remember it as weightless; I was holding a pass, most likely some form of ID card in my left hand, and I was holding one of those vertical bars to keep myself upright in the other; I was standing by the door and looking across the driver to the outside world. The scene was now the industrial area around Spitfire Island, but at the same time a seaside town I visited out of season for twenty minutes during early childhood for a quick toilet break on a long journey, and I’m so far from home, looking ahead at a futile adventure that would never happen, an escape I’d never achieve.
As I began to realize that it wasn’t real I wondered if the world existed behind me when I couldn’t see it; I didn’t know if it collapsed in on itself or if it was just not there at all. I wasn’t sure which was worse.