The Little Book of Abuse

December 4, 2011

‘The Little Book of Abuse” by Jasmine Birtles published by Boxtree in 2000.

“Look at him. Living proof that Care in the Community doesn’t work.”

“Uh oh. A couple of clowns short of the full circus, aren’t we?”

“Now do you see what happens when cousins marry?”

“Your intellect is rivalled only by gardening tools.”

“Not the brightest crayon in the box, are we?”

“I can hardly contain my indifference.”

“I’m not taking advice from you. You can’t count to twenty-one unless you’re naked.”

“When they made you they broke the mould… but some of it grew back. “

“If I want to hear the pitter-patter of tiny feet, I’ll put shoes on my cat.”

“As an outsider, you do you view the human race?”

“You look familiar. Didn’t I dissect you in biology?”

“When I want your opinion, I’ll give it to you.”

“Have a drink with you? I’d rather suture my own boils.”

“Make yourself at home! Clean my kitchen.”

“Do I look like a people person?”

“You! Off my planet!”

“I like children too. Let’s swap recipes.”

“Did the aliens forget to remove your anal probe.”

“Why don’t you go home and tell our mother she wants you?”

“And your cry-baby, snotty-nosed opinion would be…?”

“I’m not mad, I’ve just been in a very bad mood for thirty years.”

“Do they ever shut up on your planet?”

“Whatever kind of look you were going for, you missed.”

“Sarcasm is just one more service we offer.”

“Are those your eyeballs? I found them in my cleavage.”

“I’m not your type. I’m not inflatable.”

“I’m trying to imagine you with a personality.”

“Back off! You’re standing in my aura.”

“Don’t worry, I forgot your name too.”

“How many times do I have to flush before you go away?”

“I just want revenge. Is that so wrong?”

“You say I’m a bitch like it’s a bad thing.”

“I never forget a face and I can remember both of yours.”

“Macho Law forbids me from admitting I’m wrong.”

“Nice perfume. Must you marinate in it?”

“Too many freaks, not enough circuses.”

“Just smile and way: ‘Yes, Mistress’.”

“Chaos, panic and disorder – my work here is done.”

“Mummy, I want to grow up to be a neurotic bitch just like you.”

“Everyone thinks I’m psychotic, except for my friends deep inside the earth.”

“Did I mention the kick in the groin you’ll be receiving if you touch me?”

“You look like shit. Is that the style now?”

“Is it time for your medication or mine?”

“And which dwarf are you?”

“How do I set a laser pointer to stun?”

“If I said anything to offend it was purely intentional.”

“Do you know, I went through the bargain bin and didn’t see that one.”

“Have you got a minute? Tell me everything you know.”

“Earth is full. Go home.”

“Gene police! Get out of the pool!”

“That’s a fun outfit – it’s fancy dress, right?”

“Men have feelings too. But hey, who cares?”

“Nice dress. Are you hoping to slim into it?”

“Don’t piss me off! I’m running out of places to hide the bodies.”

“What a pretty maternity dress… you’re not… oh well.”

“Next mood swing: six minutes.”

“I don’t believe in miracles. I rely on them.”

“He is so ugly they printed his face on airline sick bags.”

“I’m busy. You’re ugly. Have a nice day.”

“Speak up! You’re entitled to your own stupid opinion.”

“I hate everybody, and you’re next.”

“And your completely irrelevant point is…?”

“I used to be schizophrenic, but we’re okay now.”

“Warning: I have an attitude and I know how to use it.”

“Of course I don’t look busy, I did it right the first time.”

“Why do people with closed minds always open their mouths?”

“I’m multi-talented: I can talk and piss you off at the same time.”

“Do not start with me. You will not win.”

“How can I miss you if you won’t go away.”

“All stressed out and no one to choke.”

“You’re one of those bad things that happen to good people.”

“You have the right to remain silent, so please SHUT UP.”

“If we are what we eat, you’re fast, cheap and easy.”

“You, David Mellor, Michael Winner – in an ugly competition who’d win?”

“I heard you had a thought once but died of loneliness.”

“I’m so happy I could kill.”

“Sorry if I looked interested. I’m not.”

“Well, this day was a total waste of make-up.”

“I’m not your type. I have a pulse.”

“I don’t know what  your problem is, but I’ll bet it’s hard to pronounce.”

“What would I do without you – apart from be happy.”

“You’ve got all the personality of a wet wick on bonfire night.”

“Please, keep talking. I need the sleep.”

“Yes, it looks like a willy, but smaller.”

“I’ll try being nicer if you’ll try being smarter.”

“Go out with you? How about never? Is never good for you?”

“I see you’ve set aside this special time to humiliate yourself in public.”

“I’m really easy to get along with once you learn to worship me.”

“I’m out of my mind, but feel free to leave a message.”

“It sounds like English, but I can’t understand a word you’re saying.”

“I can see your point, but I still think you’re full of shit.”

“I like you. You remind me of when I was young and stupid.”

“You are validating my inherent mistrust of strangers.”

“I have plenty of talent and vision. I just don’t give a damn.”

“I’m already visualizing the duct tape over your mouth.”

“I will always cherish the inital misconceptions I had about you.”

“Thank you. We’re all refreshed and challenged by your unique point of view. NOW GET OUT!”

“The fact that no one understands you doesn’t mean you’re an artist.”

“Any connection between your reality and mine is purely coincidental.”

“What am I? Flypaper for freaks?”

“I’m not being rude. You’re just insignificant.”

“You sound reasonable… time to increase the medication.”

“Does your train of thought have a dining car?”

“Errors have been made. Others will be blamed.”

“See, you should never drink on an empty head.”

“He’d be out of his depth in a car park puddle.”

“He’s not so much of a has-been as a definitely won’t be.”

“You have delusions of adequacy.”

“She has the wisdom of youth and the energy of old age.”

“You’re depriving a village somewhere of an idiot.”

“There’s nothing wrong with you that reincarnation wouldn’t cure.”

“Nice girl. If she had tow more legs she could star in a Western.”

“I’d like to say something nice about you but you haven’t paid me enough.”

“He’s a man of few words –  but not few enough.”

“Can I buy you a drink, or do you just want the money?”

“So I’m slow. You’re ugly, but do I ever mention it?”

“Are you usually this stupid or are you just having a blond moment?”

“I may not be the best-looking guy here, but I’m the only one talking to you.”

“Just because you smell like an ape it doesn’t mean you’re Tarzan.”

“Nice girl – has a face like a cobbler’s thumb.”

“Is that your face or are you trying it out for an ugly sister.”

“It must be a thrill for you to know someone who wears underwear.”

“Wow, you’ve been hit really hard with the ugly stick.”

“You’re like a empire – flash, empty and a disappointment to millions.”

“Is that a goatee or has a bird just crapped on your chin?”

“Nice hair. Was it that shape when you bought it.”

“I just don’t hate myself enough to go out with you.”

“Please don’t try and kiss me – I’ll only laugh.”

“You’re so dull you couldn’t entertain a doubt.”

“You’ve got the personality of a dial tone.”

“You’re not paranoid. Everyone does hate you.”

“She has the face of a saint – a St Bernard.”

“His nose is so big he can smell the future.”

“Is that your nose or are you growing a third arm?”

“I like you – but then I’ve never had any taste.”

“She’s got a face like a smacked arse.

“He doesn’t act stupid, it’s the real thing.”

“One more facelift and you’ll have a beard.”

“Go on, I know you like me – I can see your tail wagging.”

“I’m fond of him, but not as much as he is.”

“The less I see you the more I like you.”

“Use your brain. It’s the little things that count.”

“If ignorance is bliss, why aren’t you happy?”

“He won’t bore you with a long speech – he can do it with a short one.”

“I’ve never seen anything as ugly as  you without paying admission.”

“You’ll never be as old as you look.”

“Taste? I’ve seen crab dressed better.”

“He’s not himself today, thankfully.”

“Oh, please save your breath to blow up your girlfriend tonight.”

“You’ll never make Who’s Who but you might get into What’s That.”

“Her face bears the imprint of the last man who sat on it.”

“Would you mind standing downwind?”

“Be reasonable. Do it my way.”

“Since I gave up hope I feel much better.”

“I’ve had a lot to drink, and you’re beginning to look human.”

“If you don’t go away and leave me alone I’ll find someone who will.”

“I never forget a face but in your case I’m willing to make an exception.”

Fuck, I was bored.


How deep is your depression?

October 12, 2011

This is the last bit that I wanted to record from Overcoming Depression by Dean Juniper before I finally give it to a charity shop.

How Deep Is Your Depression

Though depressions come in varying degrees of depth and length, they are often longstanding, moderately troubling, states which make life seem pointless or trivial. If you agree with the majority of the following statements about yourself, then you are probably suffering from mild to moderate depression.

  • Secretly you are sorry you were ever born.
  • When you look back on you life it seems a succession of crises and struggles.
  • You are easily hurt.
  • There is always some relationship or other coming apart.
  • There is always a huge gap between what you want and what you are.
  • There is always something to depress or worry you.
  • You deny you are guilty, but your thoughts and actions reflect little else.
  • You find the prospect of death a little thrilling or, at least, a kind of solution.
  • Most common life-satisfactions seem to you overrated, but you cannot do without them.
  • Secretly, you despise everybody, yourself included.

You are also probably still within reach of the type of self-managed help that this book offers and, if you let yourself work within its systematic betterment programmes, there should be sustained benefits for you.

But depressions can be significantly deeper than mild to moderate. They can reduce mental and physical efficiency to levels of virtual half-functioning. If you agree with the majority of the following statements, then you ahve moved into the severest category of depression.

  • You often feel tempted to stay in bed all day. There seems no point in getting up and dressed.
  • Eating meals has become a chore, and you know you are undernourished.
  • You find it hard to concentrate for more than a short period. Conversations fade in and out.
  • If feels a huge effort just to walk about. As for going to work, this is almost impossible (or is impossible).
  • Starting conversations is extremely difficult. It feels as if your lips are frozen. It is an effort to speak.
  • The nagging need to escape to the safety of your bed asserts itself in work or in social events.
  • Feelings of contentment or pleasure (if they occur at all) are very short-lived and are soon blanketed by moods of despair or bitterness.
  • Fatigue and exhaustion are with you continuously, even at the moment of waking. Sleep is difficult to attain and maintain.
  • Often you weep but usually only when you are alone.
  • Irritation with other people increases. You make angry asides under your breath.

If you have agreed with most of the above statements, this book can certainly help you, but not on its own. Your safest, most reliable, but not necessarily easiest course is to seek professional aid. You have a legal right to ask your doctor to refer you to a clinical psychologist for a diagnosis and a therapeutic recommendation. This may be difficult. Your doctor may not want to refer you. Insist on it; if necessary change your doctor or see another partner, but make sure you get professional help.

Uh, brain damage?

July 21, 2011

I was skimming over a book that I am planning to give to a charity shop. It’s a self-help book about depression. It has a quiz in it called “The Pleasure Test” to help you work out what you like to do. I suppose the fact that I read that and immediately thought “oh, I’d like to know that” is also proof that my brain doesn’t work properly in the first place but moving on…

So I jump to the quiz – looks pretty easy – six sets of six questions arranged in panels A-F. Here it is:

First two pages of "The Pleasure Test" from 'Overcoming Depression' by Dean Juniper

First two pages of "The Pleasure Test" from 'Overcoming Depression' by Dean Juniper

Second two pages of "The Pleasure Test" from 'Overcoming Depression' by Dean Juniper

Second two pages of "The Pleasure Test" from 'Overcoming Depression' by Dean Juniper

I didn’t bother to read the instructions first and doodled down my answers on a little square of white paper. When I got to the instructions I realised that I’d answered 6 as “most pleasurable” and 1 as “least pleasurable” instead of the other way around. Plus adding up the scores seemed to depend on the answers being in columns rather than rows. I was getting confused and frustrated. I tried to work out my score from my little square of white paper and couldn’t do it. Really couldn’t do it. Frustration was increasing and getting into that tight, unpleasant feeling. So I took another little square of white paper and rearranged my answers into vertical columns and the correct numbers. It was hard to hold in my head which box across was which box down and then also ‘translate’ the number but I did it eventually. Then I tried to add up my scores and still … couldn’t work out how to do it. I went to another window and started typing in some stuff from another book in an attempt to cool down a bit (impressing myself by this more mature response rather than a tantrum). I came back to my little squares of white paper and looked at them again. With total fucking shock, I realised that I had seriously screwed up rearranging my answers. The first row didn’t go have the number 1-6 but several were repeated. I tried to correct it. I looked at the other rows and realised they were all like that – I’d thought I’d done it right at the time. I’d genuinely thought I’d done it right and it was so utterly wrong. Here are my little squares of white paper:

First attempt at answering quiz

First attempt at answering quiz

Second attempt at answering quiz

Second attempt at answering quiz

It was only as I was writing this post and working out how the hell to upload images, etc, that I realised that the answers were in fucking columns in the second attempt (that being part of the point of doing it again). I hadn’t down it wrong – though the first row was now wrong after my panicky rehashing. But I believed it had been wrong. I was convinced I had done it wrong. I couldn’t see how I’d done it wrong but yet, there it was: wrong wrong wrong. Part of me was even a bit impressed that is was so wrong.

It’s taken my two hours to do all this – work this out and work out how to put this stuff in a post. All in the safety and calm of my sitting room and in my nightie (oh yeah, showering …). I can’t even imagine me doing any of this in public. The humiliation and embarrassment? And it’s a big assumption that I would get to that public place. And guess what, I’m kind of upset just now too (you can tell by the excessive conjuctions). And I’ve still not got the fucking answers to the goddamn fucking quiz.

There’s something wrong with my thinking. I don’t feel like anyone believes me. I don’t often believe it either. So that’s the point of this post: a little bit of proof for the future.

Overcoming Depression by Dean Juniper

July 21, 2011

How many self-help books are called “Overcoming…”? Is that the only way of looking at mental illness or something? Certainly was for me and that didn’t end very well.

Anyway, I was given this book by my ex-boyfriend. I think he told me that he thought it was “good” or “useful” or something similar. He had a mild depression after we split up and I wonder if this book helped him with that and he thought it would then help me. Mild depression, as in the subtypes of depressive illness used by ICD10 and DSMIV, is an actual geniune illness and the “mild” at the beginning of the name trivialises and demeans a pretty fucking unpleasant experience. But that is another rant. However, mild-to-moderate depression and severe depression are not the same experience and it pisses me the hell of when they are all treated as one and the same thing.

Very little of this book was useful to me. Most of it was very proscriptive and frankly patronising. For example, according to the book, to cope with depression requires that people:

“‘Have aims and hopes that are adjusted to their personal realities.

Maintain a steady, other-blame, credit balance on their personal responsibility account.

Keep up regular programmes of anticipated and realised pleasures.

Sift and select what they read, view and hear so as to exclude the demoralising or the morbid.

Sustain a faith in something or some person outside themselves.

Establish and nourish at least one confising relationship.

Have hobbies, activities , interests and manageable responsibilities.

Preserve healthy rhythms of sleeping, eating, etc.

Stay sensitive to they own mood-changes and are quick to react to them with rest, relaxation, recreation or variation.

Do no carry the sins of the world on their shoulders.

Are orientated to the present and future, and do not dwell on the past.”

Now, there are parts of that quote that I do agree with and can see the sense behind. But there are just so many unspoken unassumptions and priviledges in it. Who says what “healthy rhythms of […] eating” count? Is everyone equally able to “sift and select […] to exclude the demoralising or the morbid” and what is meant by “demoralising” and “morbid”?  I bet there’s quite of range of opinions there. Still, I find it interesting to read as it shows another way of looking at life and living. I do at least realise that my way is rubbish.

Quote – Osho

July 13, 2009

“When sadness comes, just sit by the side and look at it and say, “I am the watcher, I am not sadness”, and see the difference.” Osho

First of all, what’s the correct way of using quotes within a quote? Nested quotes, if you will.

More to the point: this quote describes an interesting idea. Emotions are tricky to describe and the language that we use, at least in English, is often in the first person. For example, “I am sad” or “I feel sad”. When there is a more extended description, like “this sadness is overwhelming and feels like I am being sucked down under the surface”, there is still a fundamental assumption that the person is the emotion and the emotion is an integral part of the person.

Maybe that’s not completely accurate? Or at least, maybe that’s not the only way to think about it?

If I try to describe an emotion without using this first person way then it seems to change the meaning I’m trying to get across, at least with my clumsy words. So if I try to say “I am sad” without using the first person I end up with “the sadness came into my head”. I am sure other people would say it differently.

Also, writing this reminds me of some reading I did a few years ago about the difference between emotions and feelings. I couldn’t get my head round it then and I think it would derail this idea to try and incorporate that here. But it might be relevant.

To be Captain Obvious for a second: the words change the meaning. Our conventional way of describing emotions isn’t the only way of describing them and when using another way the emotions themselves may feel different. In this quote, there is a description of separately yourself from your emotion. As someone who feels very intensely at times and perhaps over-identifies (goddamn, the NHS has paid thousands for me to use words like this …) with her emotions this sounds good to me.

There are many times I feel like I am a slave to my emotions. If I am having an episode, whether that is depressive, manic or mixed, then my emotions rule. Some separation from these emotions would be very welcome and even everyday ‘normal’ emotions can cause me trouble. However, as someone who has a lot of problems with dissociative symptoms like depersonalization then I know full well that too much separation from emotions is not helpful and just turns you into a human who despite walking around and talking isn’t really living. Not that I am saying that this idea of simply being aware of your emotions and sitting with them rather than diving in is the same thing as depersonalization because it isn’t. There needs to be balance. Maybe I’m just showing my age but balance and calm acceptance is exactly what I want.

Quote – George Bernard Shaw

July 10, 2009

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” George Bernard Shaw

I like the idea that I’m not already fully formed and that I might actually have the power to change myself. I was told in my early twenties that I lack a sense of agency about myself and at the time I didn’t really understand what that meant and furthermore didn’t think it sounded very important either. If only I’d paid more attention.

In some ways, I’m very passive especially when it concerns my mental illness. The depression comes, the depression goes, the mania comes, the mania goes … and it seems to have fuck all to do with me. I didn’t used to think this way or at least, not to this extreme. For my age and the length of time I have had my illness I had more episodes that the majority. And of course, almost all the people I know do not have episodes at all. I don’t think there can ever be a convenient time to get ill but my illness certainly seemed to come at particularly inconvenient times to me and in the end that cost me my degree, career and any thought of banking on the future. That timing and my inability to ward off or attenuate the onslaught of my episodes made me give up trying to affect them. And somewhere along the time I gave up trying to affect my future at all. For someone who thinks fate is just patronising construct to try and lessen the blows of random happenings and essentially a way for people to opt out of making decisions for themselves I seem to have made my own little construct that does exactly the same thing.

The “finding yourself” meme does nothing for me. I’m right here already. To be less facetious, “finding yourself” and “creating yourself” are essentially the same idea: knowing more, experiencing more and living more. The way to go about that is different and that, to me, is the heart of this quotation. The idea that I have the power to change myself is new to me and frankly I’ve not done much with it. There is comfort in the idea of fate and trusting that necessary changes will occur regardless but finally I can also see the comfort in the idea that I have some choices too.

Quote – Mark Victor Hansen

July 1, 2009

“Your belief determines your action and your action determines your results, but first you have to believe.Mark Victor Hansen