Your App is ready…

I’ve not been terribly active on the blogs this year.I’ve been working on something else for you, instead.

For the past year, I’ve been working on an app to give you what I never had, but desperately needed, not just in the early days as a non-drinker. But whenever I needed a little boost.

Someone to pat me on the back, to tell me I was doing a great job.

To remind me WHY I was making this life choice-to STOP DRINKING permanently.

Because why the fuck shouldn’t we have someone sit us down, and remind us, not just daily, but several times a day, why this life of non-drinking is brilliant.

But I didn’t just want it to be airy fairy little messages on motivation. I wanted you to have tips! Actual practical tips, every damn DAY. 

Daily solutions to that question we all have: what the hell do l do with all this spare time I suddenly have, now I’m not getting rat-arsed all the time.

And I didn’t want you to have to have ANYTHING on your phone that gave away that this app had anything to do with non-drinking. 

Because whose business is it how you intend to improve your life?!

See? This is the app on my phone. Nobody would guess what it’s about.


And you don’t get notifications when a new inspirational update appears. So to get to control when you check in and have a look.

Because who wants personal notifications showing up for all-and -sundry to eyeball 👀?

Yes there are other apps out there. Dealing in the usual stuff. The woe is me. The sadness. The lack mentality. I’m sure they work beautifully.

But this is NOT what I wanted for you. I wanted HAPPINESS. 

I wanted you to feel and experience what life is like, 12 years down the line as a non-drinker without having to wait 12 years to do it.

With daily pictures of a nice life that you should expect as the norm. 


With little hints and tips that I love and that have worked so many times for the people who have used them when doing sessions with me.

I called it SO? Because so fucking what if we can’t drink, because when we start, we can’t stop? It doesn’t have to define us.

SO who cares if we now have to carve out the most amazing life for ourselves instead?

SO what if it’s different to how others seem to live?

Really and truly, these past twelve years have taught me, that the only part of Sober, worth bothering with, is SO.

I put everything I have into this app. Not just financially. But more importantly, emotionally. 


It’s the culmination of everything I’ve learned so far. Of every conversation I’ve ever had, with you, and everyone else who ever put a question to me.

It’s the end result of obsessively searching for solutions to every recovery-based struggle I ever wrestled with.
It’s very simple: download the app and you will get two free updates every day, or five for the paid version, which is £2.99 for the year.

I recommend you try the free version first. It may be all you need.

From the day you download the app, your history page will store one month’s worth of updates for you to constantly refer back to.

The first update you get will disappear after your read it once. I don’t know why. No one knows why. 

But if you check back in for the next update, whether later that day, or the day after, then it won’t ever happen again after that.

There is no signup. I get so bloody irritated by apps that want a million bits of info from me. If you do too, then this will be a welcome relief…jut download and begin. It’s that simple.
It’s also not a forum. I’ve included two great interactive sites that are run incredibly well by folk who I like personally and trust professionally, if that’s what you are looking for.

This is one-on-one. Nobody else’s business. Just a few moments of inspirations. Several times a day. To help you build strong non-drinking momentum.

It works. That’s what excites me the most.
And if you want it, then you can download it here:

https://appsto.re/gb/uSWOfb.i

To my chicas who were kind enough to test the app for me, then were so lovely with their feedback-I can’t thank you enough. You have given me the confidence to tell everyone else about it. And I’m so appreciative of you ❤️

(Also you’ll be hearing a lot more from me, now everything is up and running, thanks for sticking with me whilst I went off the grid and got this done. I’m really very grateful)

Carrie xx

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Coming Full Circle 

When I was a drinker. 
My houses were never homes.

Okay, flats. I always lived in flats as an adult. But they were never nice.

I had no idea how to make a home lovely.

How to create what I needed from a living space.

Mainly because it never occurred to me to ask myself what I needed from my home.


(My home now).

By default, the only time I was ever there was to drink, or to recover from a hangover.

That’s what I needed from my housing.

So that’s all I did. Sleep. Or drink. Or get ready to out drinking again.

Nice homes wryr for other people.

Not people like me, who didn’t deserve nice things, and wouldn’t know how to create them, even if I did feel I deserved them.

I stopped drinking, as we all know, or I wouldnt be writing any of this.

And when I stopped, gradually? The fog lifted.

And, over the years of non-drinking, I changed.

I changed every time a question came up in my own mind.

Little questions like “what do people do in their own homes if they don’t spend all their time drinking”

And 

“How do people go about making their homes and lives lovely places? Do they learn it in a class somewhere?”

(I’d always felt like I’d be born without instructions everyone else seemed to already have read, so this was nothing new.)

We have the internet now. On our phones. Which is very helpful.

Most of the answers can be found on there.

If I’d stopped drinking now, instead of 11 years ago, I’d have just hopped on my phone and spent hours on Apps like Pinterest and Houzz.

I’d have stripped down my dingy flats, and made them into the homes I was discovering online.

(And then kept recreating them, because we change and evolve at a rate of knots when we become non-drinkers, so the stuff I thought was the height of chic 5 years ago, would be of no interest to me now. That’s how I know I’m doing non-drinking right, the sheer rate at which I still, even 11 years on, keep changing.)

By the time we stop drinking, our world revolves around alcohol. It’s our life. Our hobby. 

The only thing we truly feel anything remotely like enthusiasm for.

So of course the world feels full of drinkers and bars and happy hours.

Understandably, no other human appears to talk about anything else except getting pissed.

Because our world has become so tiny, that it’s all we see.

But the world is nothing like that.

Most people, are nothing like that.

And right now, in 2017, there’s never been a better time to let technology show us that.

11 years ago, technology was far less accessible.

So it excites me that I get to live vicariously through the women that come to me for lessons in stopping drinking.

Because they get to use these brilliant things I never had!

I’m not going to talk about the journey I made, that resulted in me caring about my home.

Not this time, next time I will.

And I’ll follow it on with the other things I replaced drinking with, how I did it, and then how my ladies use 2017 technology to do it now.

It’s all I have to offer these days.

Because I genuinely cannot be arsed to tell anymore sad drinking stories from my past.  

😴😴😴😴😴😴

If alternatives are what you are looking for.

If coming full circle, back to a life that you know you had the potential to have.

Could have had, before drink got in the way.

Then stick around for the next few weeks.
Because that’s all I’ll be talking about.

If you are ready to come full circle with me, that is …

The Habit of Trust 

  
I don’t doubt my ability to walk nowadays. I don’t need to. I’ve been doing it again consistently for quite a few years now.

There was no other way to gain my own self-trust when it came to walking. No form of cheating my way around it. If there has been, then I definitely would have done. But nothing worked except doing it.

Doing it again and again. Badly at first. Very badly. Doing it badly and in the full knowledge that I would fail at it. That I would fall, again and again. That it would hurt. Hurt when I fell. Hurt from the practise. 

It really was the only way, though. Just to keep going. Until I fell a little less. Until the pain was not as frequent. Until my mind trusted my body to be able to do it consistently enough to keep me safe.

Once my mind felt safe, my world became a bigger place. I could leave the house and go places, without it constantly panicking and wanting to leave. See there’s a discord between a panicked mind, and a body that cannot deliver the panicked mind to safety, at the speed it requires.

When I was in public and I couldn’t stand being there anymore, I wouldn’t be able to do much about it at first. Any attempt to flee would just result on me going over, face first usually. Once you’ve face-planted a tile floor, it’s definitely something you try to avoid as much as possible in the future, trust me.

My brain needed to feel safe, but my body couldn’t give it a quick fix. Trust is quite slow to form. I never really appreciated that until my mind chronically mistrusted my body. It’s a combination that results in a very empty life.

My body couldn’t cheat it’s way into my mind’s good books again. It did it the hard way. Daily graft. For years. For far longer than it actually took me to learn how to walk again.

Turns out a body that works is no match for a mind that refuses to believe in it.

I grew up near what was known as Europe’s biggest shopping centre at the time. What was vast then would obviously be quite modest now. But it’s quite big still. Definitely too large for someone whose mind would not believe their own legs could get round it after learning how to walk again.

So I just avoided. For years. I would venture a few hundred yards into the door and then just leave again. Even when I was fine. Even now, with everything else that I could do. I refused to try. Because I hadn’t ever gone back and done that small piece of work that my brain needed from me to let me know it was ok.

This week I did it. Finally. Because putting this sort of sh*t off is ridiculous. And because I’ve not had to relearn anything like this is a few years now, it was really strange.

It took me back to a time when everything was impossible. When every little physical action had to be relearned. It’s hard to put into words what it’s like to rebuild yourself completely. But repetition features very heavily. I’d forgotten that. Until this week, when my brain refused to move until my body remembered.

Habits are so important. Repetition is so important. Unhelpful habits can destroy even the most determined individuals, if they aren’t addressed. But deliberate repetition of a new action, no matter how scary or hard, can totally rebuild trust. Totally rebuild a life. Like I totally rebuilt mine.

If your mind is telling you that something is physically impossible, it’s only because it doesn’t know any better right now. But I promise you, the repetition of a new habit will win the mind over eventually. 

So, as ever, just keep going. 

Happy New Despair

There’s a special kind of despair a person whose body doesn’t work experiences with each New Year.

Because even the most appalling mathematicians amongst us (and I’m certainly one of them), cannot escape the significance of a brand new year starting, when nothing has changed for us physically.

I hated every New Year. Hated them. It brought with it a type of despair I’m scared to explore by visiting it even just retrospectively. It feels like you are the only person in the world left. Like help is never coming.

Like you cannot be saved.

I think if I’d learned just to ignore the New Year. To not react to it. To just keep plodding along (not quite putting one foot in front of the other yet, but whatever the non-moving equivalent of that is), then I could have saved myself a lot of heartache.

There are so many ways to get well. I know it sounds easy to say that from where I stand these days. It’s true though. Countless ways. 

If I’d made any New Year’s Resolutions back then, I realise now that a really helpful one would have been to approach each new treatment as if it was the first one I had ever tried. Not drag the emotional baggage of all the ones that didn’t work around with me. To just drop them. To never look back at what hasn’t cured me.

To always be forward facing.

If I’d had a second New Years Resolution, it would most likely have been to be more honest with myself: had a treatment not worked? Or had I just not worked hard enough to make it work?
 
And then, with that in mind, I would have resolved to fully drop any treatment that wasn’t working, instead of sticking with it because it fit my current believe and ideals.

I can’t go back and change how long it took me to get my life back. All I can do is take the lessons I learned from it and use them to make right now a beautiful place to be.
A place where I never feel fear or despair again. And I can do that now. I do it everyday.

So if you are in a place where everything is dark. Where you can’t believe in your own ability to ever be well again. Just keep going. There are plenty of us who have felt how you feel now. And we got out.

And where we find ourselves now was completely worth the journey, I promise. 

New Year New Nothing

  
I used to love New Years resolutions. They were an excuse to drink as much as I could fit the last week of the year, followed by obsessing on all of the things I was going to deny myself in January. Helped along with a handy dash of self-loathing, just for good measure.

Every resolution was about what I consumed. Because I truly thought what I didn’t drink or eat would transform who I was. Like my identity was little more than a makeover. 

It never worked. Obviously. Because obsession and subtracting just made me and my world smaller. It didn’t fix anything. I was still as broken as ever.

I decided a few years ago that it would be better to have New Year Resolutions that would make me bigger. Teach me things. Make my world as big as possible.

 

This year two of my main resolutions are to write a post every day. Because the more I write the more I learn. It won’t all be on here, I’ll spread them out over all the different places my bits and pieces end up.

The second one is to give away one free session per week. As my 90 minute sessions are £150 it’s probably quite a good deal. Especially if you live on the other side of the pond.

I’ve 52 slots. I’m going to give half away right now, so you can get organised and put your name down on the waiting list if you want one. And half as the year progresses. Just email me or message me below if you want put yourself in for one.

I feel like these are two things I can do that will push me to make 2016 a bigger, more exiting place of discovery. If I’m wrong? Then I’ll do something different next year. But I don’t mind being wrong.

Id rather be wrong and make progress. Than be perfect and live in a restricted, sterile place where nothing happens.
I’d rather have New Nothing, but bigger versions of everything I already have. 

Peace Be With You?

  
I went to a christening recently. I hadn’t been inside a cathedral for years and I’d forgotten there’s a full service as well as the baby-wetting sideshow.

As the bishop was doing his thing it came to my favourite part of the service growing up. The bit I’d completely forgotten about. The one where we are asked to turn to one another and offer the people nearest to us a sign of peace. Then we actually say to one another “peace be with you”. I had no idea why I loved it so very much as a kid. Possibly the idea of being legitimately able to talk in church without incurring the wrath of the strict Irish priest-or much scarier still the particular brand of wrath exclusively handed out by a contingent commonly known as the hardcore Irish Catholic gran. Heaven deliver and preserve us all from publicly shaming an Irish grandmammy -and coming between her and her Sunday worship I’m telling you. Cos if you do then you’d better be a praying man-and a far braver man than I…

It’s not just the chatting though. It’s the actual fact of it I think. Turning to a person you may never have met and telling them you wish them peace. Because peace is such a lovely state of being, isn’t it? And though I know we can’t physically give it to each other, we can nevertheless offer the wish. I’m sure a lot was lost in translation between the church switching from services in Latin to conducting them in English but I think they were bang on with the terminology here “offering a sign” not forcing, not insisting, not demanding. Just offering. “I wish you peace, I’m pretty sure it’s here for you if you want it. No prob’s if you don’t. No fuss. No bother”

Imagine if we lived in a world where we could all stop each other in the street, in the supermarket, at a bus stop. Where we could just all lightly offer each other a sign of peace whilst we waited in queues. I can’t help but think the world would be a much less lonely place for some. Because some people need that feeling of peace very badly indeed.

I didn’t know anyone else at this Christening. It was in a town I’d never been to before either. This would have been impossible a few short years ago. Back when I was frail. Frightened. Back when I was the person I fought so hard to leave behind. So very hard. The one who was desperately trying so hard to navigate the world after being away from people for so long . Who constantly wanted to run away from wherever she was. To a place that felt more manageable and safe. A place hundreds of miles away from where my life is now.

To overcome these feelings of chronic fear and uncertainty, is to live a life full of miracles. Nowadays, when I find myself holding conversations, laughing and sharing a moment with a group of strangers, I kind of step outside of myself and I feel so proud that I can do it. That I can physically stand. That I can look a person in the eye and talk to them. That I am confident enough in myself and in the world to laugh and joke and just enjoy having this moment with them. Then my automatic reflex is to feel silly for feeling proud of myself.  A woman my age probably shouldn’t be bursting with pride that she can handle a situation on her own without her mum having to literally hold her hand throughout it. But I override this feeling of silliness and I remain proud. I offer myself a sign of the peace I have once again managed to find in this situation, despite feeling like it still eludes and defeats me so much of the time.

I liked this offering of peace malarkey very much. So much so I decided I was going to start offering people peace silently in my day-to-day tasks. Offering them the same congratulations I now offer myself when I do something that was impossible a few weeks, months, years back. That I would silently give them a little of what I am finally, finally able to begin offering myself. Support, stability…dare I say love? Yes, probably a bit of that too. Everything that peace represents or feels like; solidity. Certainty. Ease. Comfort. A weird thing happened when I tried to do it though. I found that I love people so much these days that I was already unwittingly doing it anyway. It’s probably why I hug everyone I meet-or hold their hand whilst talking to them, (a trait generally unacceptable in anyone over the age of 9, yet I do it anyway flagrantly, shamelessly) because I can’t help it.

This week I was talking to a young man about his career options at an event I attended. At the end of our chat he smiled the most beautiful smile and said to me very quietly “thank you Carrie, Jesus loves you”. And it was such a lovely thing to hear. Just that offering of love. Just there if you want it.  No prob’s if you don’t. No fuss. No bother. It made me realise we do all offer each other love and peace so much of the time, that it really is our default setting. That all love given does in fact return. That we are all loved. We are never alone. Regardless of what shape or form our beliefs may take.

At a baptism or a bus stop. May we all feel loved beyond a capacity to comprehend. May your god go with you. May we all find peace. Because if we can find that place of real peace, we don’t really need much else in life-yet the stuff we used to want to compensate for the lack of peace, the people, the places, the possessions. they seem to find us anyway.

Trust her, she’s a doctor 

“Sometimes you just have to trust another person’s instincts”




My life has shown me that the biggest epiphanies come in the most unlikely of places. I just never expected a hospital treatment room to be one of them.

And I definitely didn’t expect the words of a Nuclear Medicine doctor to affect me so much that they touched me more deeply inside than anything I could have possibly imagined.

She wants me to take a radiation tablet. I want me to take the radiation tablet she is offering. It makes sense. There is no downside.

But I cannot bring myself to do it.

There’s none of the usual instruments I refuse to engage in during a visit to a hospital for any reason. I never go near wheelchairs. I’m quite a passive person by nature and hate causing people problems but l don’t care what the NHS rules are regarding patient transport. I’m not using one.

But she’s not making me sit in a wheelchair, or a hospital bed. She’s not going to sedate me so I can’t control my body (so far I’ve been fine with that since learning how to walk again, but I worry I’ll freak out one day & have no control of it & be an inconvenience without being able to take responsibility for it).

I genuinely did not think I would be like this with her. I’m quite mortified. I’m wondering if this is an appropriate moment to put it into context for her a bit.


You see Doctor, three years ago I wouldn’t eat anything that wasn’t vegan, or organic.




It seems ridiculous though. I never give a thought to what goes into my body now.

And four years ago I would spend hours planning on how I would cope if I had to go somewhere & I thought I might have to eat something prepared by someone else. Sometimes it would be days of panicked preparation.




I genuinely do not have a problem with ingesting radiation. Yes it’s slightly weird. But I don’t honestly think that I think deep down its going to hurt me. I’ve worked too hard to overcome irrational thoughts like this one.

How about if I told you that five years ago I would only eat fruit because I truly believed everything else would hurt me. That I didn’t know who to believe about food, so I shut down and chose what seemed to be the only safe option.



Even when my hair fell out.




Even when I was wearing clothes from the children’s section.





Even when I would wake up every morning with bruises all of my body from my bones sticking out and digging into my mattress.



For years my entire life was spent in a cycle of trying to defeat illness & protect myself from what I thought was imminent disaster. It was a solo effort. I never asked anyone else for advice. Or help. Or guidance. And this protection took the form of obsessively monitoring what I consumed. Because I believed that this was the key to my salvation.

And now I am free from the self-created prisons. But it never occurred to me until this moment that I possibly do not trust people.

I like people. All of them. I enjoy people. Yes I definitely do that. I see the best in people. It’s easy to do that when you are happy all of the time.

But trust? No. I think I forgot to trust people. It’s a skill I didn’t realise I needed to relearn.

And now I have a choice. I either decide now is as good a time as any and give it a go. Or I go home and don’t get any treatment at all.

And that would be pretty f*cking stupid.

So this lady crosses the room and, bless her, she holds my hand and looks me in the eye and says:

“Sometimes you just have to trust another person’s instincts”



And then she allows me to instantly practise trust. Possibly for the first time in a decade. In the middle of one of England’s busiest hospitals. Which is important to point out. Because with most recovery comes the urge to put it off. It’s all well and good to understand the actions that need to be undertaken in order to be recovered. But most of us prefer to sit it out as long as possible. To refuse to engage in the practicalities of changing our behaviour. Because procrastination is far safer.

I know this. I’ve been there. Countless times. If I had not done it there and then? I would never have done it at all. And then fear would have won. I would have stayed in life’s Waiting Room. Nothing would have changed. I would still be stuck.

And she was right. Very little happened to me afterwards. Except that my hair is falling out. But I trust her when she tells me it will grow back.

And maybe it will be good for me to learn that I am more than my hair. Maybe that’s the next lesson.

I’m looking forward to finding out.

when you don’t get to forget

  I started this little website when I was a really different person. A broken person. A shell of the person I had once been.

The sort of person who would get frightened when someone asked how she was. Not just because it would be a lie to say anything except “totally terrified”, but because to say “I’m fine” would be to tempt fate. 

To be fine left me open to all sorts of things. Because I had been fine on the day I nearly died, hadn’t I? I’d been so normal and so fine. And fine had changed to disaster so very quickly. 

I learned to be really wary of fine. Of okay. It seemed like a state that could never be permanent. It seemed arrogant almost. Because you cannot un-know how quickly life can change once you have experienced it. 

You never get to forget.

A lot of people cope with this knowing by building their entire life around protecting themselves. It’s a full time job to see the world as a totally unsafe place. 

Fear on this level isn’t a mental thing. The body remembers it. Feels everything on the outside as potential trauma. It’s why I used to shake so hard people thought I had a physical illness. It wasn’t physical by then. It was my body experiencing constant, all consuming fear.

Overcoming fear seems like an impossible endeavour. I never thought I would get to the other side of it. My greatest hope was that I could learn to hide it effectively enough to be considered normal.

If I had known then that fear does dissipate. Gradually. That time does heal. Slowly. That the flashes of normality would turn into moments. That moments would morph into whole days of feeling okay? It would have made the road to here a lot more bearable.

When I set this little website up I was still very broken. Life was still very dark. I didn’t think it would improve beyond being physically able to care for myself. 
I’m glad I was wrong.

The majority of the people in my life didn’t know the broken shell that I was a few years ago. Who shook constantly. Couldn’t look people in the eye. 

Cut her hair with kitchen scissors because she couldn’t bear to be touched. 

Who couldn’t look in mirrors because the stranger staring back at her was too much to take in.

Who wore her dad’s clothes because it was the easiest way to be invisible.

I don’t think of that version of me very often these days. But I never forget her. She’s etched onto my soul and remains my greatest teacher. Even if I’m not always comfortable with it being this way.

Sometimes it’s easier to pretend I can forget. It’s why I let the original site go. I wanted to move on. I wanted to forget. To see if it was possible. 

But life had other ideas.

I never forget that there are people right now who are in the same situation that I was in. Who don’t believe that they will ever feel unbroken again. Who think that this shell of a person is who they have to be forever. 

And it would be wrong of me to try and forget that anymore. To forget that it’s why I moved to London. Why I changed my career. Why I searched for every available platform anyone would give me.
 
Why a commitment to help others who are now where I once was is a permanent commitment. Not something I can try to forget in a bid to feel normal.

No one really gets to forget the defining moments that shaped them. Good or bad. The real art lies in focussing attention on the solutions. Remembering that the bits too horrible to forget all have the potential to be resolved. 

If they didn’t? Then I would still be broken. But I’m not. 

And you don’t have to be either.

Never forget that x

The Inspiration We Can All Draw From Katie Hopkins

When I have a fit at night, my arms come out. They dislocate. So I have to go into hospital to have them relocated. That’s happened 26 times in the last 9 months. So we all have crap to deal with in our lives.

I never really took Katie Hopkins very seriously. A bit loud. A bit odd. A bit funny looking. like the middle child who worked out as a toddler that if they say inappropriate things the grown ups will pay them attention and stop putting their sole focus on the cute baby in the room.

I’m hard with myself. Get on with it. Move on. Get your arms put back in.

But the last year Decca Aitkenhead interviewed Katie Hopkins for The Guardian and it was so insightful that it changed my opinion of her permanently.

It’s not something I talk about.

Katie Hopkins is hospitalised every ten days on average because of her epilepsy. Every ten days. I find the uncertainty of that utterly horrifying. I don’t understand how she does it. When your body doesn’t work as it should. When it lets you down in fits and starts. That’s an uncertainty that is difficult to live with. It’s hard to get up in the morning and not know what your body has in store for you. Hard to make plans and execute them feeling secure. most of all having a body that likes to go renegade on you means you never feel safe. Ever. It’s ceaseless, this feeling. It knows no respite. 

I never say why, because it sounds like an excuse, and I won’t have that. I won’t have an excuse.

A lot of people live with this fear on a constant minute-by minute basis. There are those who only engage in the fear hour by hour. Some who have really mastered it will only acknowledge it a few times a day. That’s quite an incredible feat. And really, people’s bodies let them down for all sorts of reasons. and truly, there are many people who do get up every day knowing it is going to be another fight. A fight between their brain and body. And a fight between their mind and the fear.

I look at myself and go, you know what, I’ve had a fair amount to overcome. but I haven’t allowed it to get in my way.

Katie Hopkins has nailed this situation though. I mean absolutely, unequivocably nailed it. She wins. Katie Hopkins has managed to get herself to the point where she does not even engage in the fear. doesn’t acknowledge it. Never even allows herself to let that momentum of “what if’s” or “am I safe’s” to dictate her life experience. I find this incredible. I think she is phenomenal in this regard. Yes. She may be obnoxious. With the sort of political and social convictions we would expect from Nigel Farage, were he to start abusing methamphetamine. But as an individual living with a frightening chronic illness, Katie Hopkins is the blue print we all need to follow. The poster girl for living a fear-free existence.

We spend so much of our lives these days glorifying the struggle. Telling people exactly how bad our physical situation is. Why we are brave. How we are tremendous. We dedicate pointless hours to whining online about our illnesses. Looking for a shoulder to cry on. For someone to be the medicine for our pain.Dedicating Facebook statuses and Tweeting our symptoms to elicit sympathy. Which in itself would be fine if it helped. Which it doesn’t. Or even if just nothing came from it. Which isn’t true.

It makes things worse. Talking about symptoms and illness. Always, without exception, talking for the sake of talking rather than to find a solution always makes physical symptoms far worse. The more time we spend on forums, the more fixated we become on Facebook pages with members who also love to talk about illness? The worse our own illnesses become. And no one deserves that. And the pay-off of a little bit of sympathy? It’s not good enough. It’s too big a price to pay.

Sadly there are not many alternatives. Not so many folk who will stand up and just get on with it. Better than that. People who don’t want to raise awareness, but only want to talk solutions. And Katie Hopkins excels at that. Even if her solutions are for social problems, and are quite frankly absolutely appalling, she still only ever talks in terms of solutions.

Basically speaking, she doesn’t let the internal circumstances of her physical body, or the external circumstances of other people’s opinions set the tone of her life experience. She is in control of her fear. Of her thoughts. She fixates solely on the things she can control. And whilst she cannot control her illness, she completely controls how she reacts to it. More successfully than any one I’ve ever seen.

We spend a lot of time voicing our outrage at Katie Hopkins. We talk about her like we talk about illness. We make her bigger and bigger each time with our awareness of her. And the real irony is that if we treated Katie Hopkins like Katie Hopkins treats her epilepsy? Refusing to talk about it? Not acknowledging it? Focusing on other things within her immediate control? Katie Hopkins wouldn’t have a platform to say these things anymore. She would just go away. It is our need for reaction and retaliation. In wrestling things to the ground and obsessing over details that keeps her firmly in the spotlight.

If we all became as allergic to sympathy as Katie Hopkins is. If we could harness that ability to stop giving attention to the things that frighten us. Our inner world would become a far more manageable place. Today. Right now. It really is as easy as that.

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Taking the Lady out of Ladies Day

Torn dress. Broken shoes. Body covered in bruises. A black hole where memories of the afternoon should be. 

Welcome to Ladies Day at The Races.

At one time synonymous with grace and glamour. Now little more than a glorified Hen Night without the wedding to look forward to. I love a day at the races. But I’d truly rather chew my own face off than attend Ladies Day. Though I used to, of course…

Sliding down the door of the loos onto a nest of broken glass. Momentarily thankful you’re at the stage where you can’t feel anything. Knowing the pain will be waiting for you when you wake up tomorrow.

There’s a special type of vitriol reserved for drunken women. Especially a drunken women in a pretty dress. I should know: I was a seasoned drunk and so on the receiving end of it regularly.

Smashing your phone into pieces during yet another botched attempt to call someone so they can come and get you because there’s no way you can control yourself enough to get home alone.

It’s one of the biggest double standards we have in Britain. Yes it’s okay to get as drunk as we like, as long as we can hold down a job and keep it. Yes it’s fine to lose control and do things a bit out of character, as long as not too many folk see it. Of course it’s okay to drink enough to put our health at risk and skew our judgement enough to put ourselves in potentially dangerous situations. Just don’t do it on a day named for women. When everything should be beautiful and feminine and bright.

Because then it becomes offensive. Doesn’t it.

There’s been concern in Australia for a while now over the way women behave at the races. Concern for their safety in regards to alcohol abuse. Because, contrary to popular myth, Australia, (and in fact Ireland believe it or not) both tackle alcohol abuse incentives staggeringly well compared to the UK. Australians understand what we still cannot grasp. That alcohol is not Equal Opportunities. That alcohol does care whether you are a man or woman. That alcohol does indeed hurt women far more than it hurts men.

That we as women have the right to earn as much as a man. Dress like one if we want. Have sex like one if that’s our bag. But drink like one?

No. We can’t. It hurts us. A lot. Physically. Mentally. In ways we refuse to even acknowledge. But still we struggle on, trying to keep up with the boys. Still we insist it is our right. Still we keep harming ourselves.

I have no right to judge any of the ladies at Ladies Day. Even on their worst day they still won’t be as bad as I was during my dark days of drinking. What I do reserve the right to judge is the way UK Racecourses are handling the drunk ladies of Ladies Day.

This week it was announced that  Grand National organisers wanted to counteract the behaviour of messy drunk, (paying attendees) by making sure they didn’t appear in any publicity photos from the day. Not a Ladies Day mind you, but the start of things to come? Almost certainly. Because it won’t be the behaviour of the drunk male attendees that riles them. It never is.

Because that’s how we solve the ugly problem of our drunk women in Britain. We make unsightly things disappear. Not the carnage. Not the violence (and there is violence at Ladies Day and it’s horrible.) not the injuries, or the stomach pumping. Just make sure we don’t capture it for posterity.

After all, if none of us can remember it the next day, and there’s no photographs to prove it-it didn’t happen, right?

Ladies do deserve their own day. a day to dress up, feel beautiful and enjoy something as lovely as a day at the races. They also need to know that they deserve more from this day then alcohol abuse, injuries and blackouts. We all collectively are responsible for lowering women’s standards to the point where they are told to expect so little from their hard-earned days out.

It’s up to us to come up with more effective measures for tackling this issue than our friends at Aintree.