(though not necessarily in that order)

(though not necessarily in that order)

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Dissertation writing, the spoonie way

(a work in progress post, will get updated occasionally, I expect.)

1. You can't leave it all until the last 3 weeks, as you reach a point where you just collapse very easily. Slowly but surely approach is the only option available.

2. Realise at any point you might have a week out due to hospital stay/recovering from a hospital stay.

3. Accept some days you'll get to the office to work and the lights will trigger a migraine, so you leave again by 9am.

4. Have targets such as "4000 words every 10 days, as a minimum, if nothing goes majorly wrong". Daily targets won't work, see point 3.

5. Days with outpatient appointments become "editing days". You'll probably spend a good hour in a waiting room so have a printout of the dissertation and a red pen to hand. Once you are next able to work (either that day, or the next) you'll need an easy task to get settled again, making the silly little changes found on the hard copy is perfect.

6. Some days you'll need to make your drinks when you get to work, rather than take in your own - 4 litres of diluted squash makes bag too heavy, but the neat squash necessary to make 4 litres of diluted squash probably isn't.

7. You'll eye up all your books, wondering if they are needed today. Sadly, they probably are.

8. You'll mildly sprain your wrist about twice a week from misjudging picking up a pile of books. Seemingly you'll never learn, as this frequency stays constant.

9. Occasionally the office rubbish bin will get upturned and used as a foot rest, for those days when having your legs down means your poor heart works far too hard.

10. Salty crisps become clinically indicated.

11. Some days your body will just need to sleep. You'll consider putting all the books under your pillow in case some sort of osmosis will take place.

12. Every target has a buffer zone of a few days. Putting on the pressure tends to result in incapacitating yourself.

13. You try to meet your supervisor at 11am, because that's become a point of the day when you are fairly lucid. After the early morning slurring, before the post-lunch slump.

14. It becomes a toss up between expending energy on doing ironing, or wearing crumpled clothes and getting work done.

15. Some days the brain fog will win. That's ok.

16. Some times, two days in a row, the brain fog will win. That's ok.

17. Cake. Always cake. And occasionally chips. With salt, naturally.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

On becoming the helped

James Rhodes (pianist and general cool dude) just tweeted this:

All in all, one of those videos which just makes me appreciate the world, and people.

I've always been the helper. The one quite literally helping the old lady across the road.

Even last week when in hospital poorly, I was caring for the old lady with dementia - taking her back to her bed after she'd tried to get out, sitting with her to calm her a bit and prevent her taking out her cannula for the 4th time. And worrying as I'm not steady on my feet, and fearing we would both fall if I lost my balance as I had her gently but firmly latched onto my arm.

I'm the physical doer. I used to be the one standing on altars in church to change bulbs, or clean the reredos, or whatever. Is easy to be the physical do-er, I found, you just do it. And people are helped, and can appreciate the difference in a short time-frame.

Nowadays, often I'm the one in need of being helped. Of physical help - when I've fallen over and can't get myself back up again. I can buy a piece of cake, but I can't walk with the plate to a seat to eat it. Some doors are too heavy, even if I turn around and lean on them.

Becoming the helped not the helper is strange. I struggle with it. I'm stubborn, y'know. I never want to put anyone out, I struggle to ask people to help, but if I'm lying on the carpark ground with legs not working, people will come and help. Thankfully. The world is full of properly good eggs (even if they are wearing flipflops sometimes). People offer me help and I never know quite how to react. I'm always outwardly grateful, I hope.
But I still haven't quite got over the issue of pride. It isn't a big issue, it is just this niggle.

The shift from being the physical helper to physically helped isn't one I'd really considered. There are some things about declining health that I've considered, accepted, adapted to, moved on from. There are others who pop up unexpectedly and go "aha, gotcha, think on this for a while, feel a bit shaken up".

It also makes me question how to help in non-physical ways too - I like helping people, but I've got to shift how I do this.

"Any act could become kindness, if it doesn't have a profit motive"

Someone said to me this week, when talking about me learning to live with my body: "Kindness isn't about indulgence, it is taking the 5 year old kicking and screaming to the dentist". Hmm.

St John of the Cross wrote "Christ is like a rich mine with many pockets containing treasures: however deep we dig, we will never find their end or their limit. Indeed in every pocket new seams of fresh riches are discovered on all sides". Kindness is like that too. Respect is like that as well. Humanity is like that also.

Anyway, the world is good. Has helpers everywhere. From the physical picker-uppers-of-people-on-the-floor, to the listeners, to whatever.

Kindness, respect and humanity. Awesome.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013


Now... I'm stubborn. Most of you would probably agree with this adjective, when describing me. I'm stubborn, stubbornly determined, stubbornly daft...

I know lots of stubborn people. My grandmother, who was one of the most amazing people I have ever been fortunate enough to meet, let alone be related to, was stubborn. Stubbornly brilliant. Stubborn minded, stubbornly kind. Took many people under her wings, opened her house to them, fed them, loved them - from the runaways to the lost to the struggling.

A dear friend M, who is currently stuck in one room in a nursing home and on constant oxygen, is stubborn. Everyone thought she'd die a year ago, but she didn't. In fact, she returned home after that hospital admission. And made it to church on my final Sunday in my dearly beloved former parish. Wearing a huge hat my mother had bought in a charity shop, as M was concerned about her forming bald patch, and the most cheeky grin I think I've been privileged to see. The amount of effort, planning and stubbornness that got M to the door of church that Sunday morning in July 2012 was phenomenal (and was kept completely secret from me, so the surprise made it even more special).

I know quite a few elderly stubborn (interestingly enough all spinster or long-term-widowed) fiercely independent Christian women. I always have, and I hope always will. They outpour love, outpour hope and pore over their bibles and texts with a scholarly and inquisitive mind. They accept people for who they are - in their own ways. Maybe not with quite the PC language some might hope for, but with a love that is evident.

I feel very indebted to these stubborn souls who have given me love - often tough, sometimes argumentative, love.

So... no surprise I'm stubborn. Not by any stretch am I amongst the saints I have mentioned above, that's something I aspire to rather than achieve today.

But I am stubborn. For better or for worse.

A flight of stairs might be a challenge, but I've a plentiful derrière and whilst gravity proves a challenge for climbing flights in the conventional way, I can bottom-shuffle contently if I must. (though Victoria tube station tends to get my trousers a wee bit dirty)

Both my brain and my body are stubborn, not necessarily with the same end in mind. 

I was determined to go to every lecture this term, I succeeded. But I'm now paying for that. My body isn't cooperating, or behaving, or functioning. Brain 1, body nil. ish.

I was too fat/weak to climb over the barrier on that bridge to jump off very nearly 4 years ago (celebrations of that day's anniversary shall involve cake, I'm sure). Body 1, brain nil.

I do a lot of fighting with my body. But at the moment, I've got the next 4 months sorted - I've got an MSc to complete/succeed in - and then...


I was going to do a PhD. But then my brain decided against that, saying actually I wasn't being called to do that, I was being called to teach in further education.


I was then going to do a PGCE in Post-Compulsory Education. But then my physical health nose-dived. I'm regularly needing to just have a little break lying on the floor to try and kick my heart back to sensible again. In September, I could walk with 1 walking stick. Now, with 2 sticks, I'm rather limited - most days 20 metres is too far in one go.
And I've just fainted in the kitchen whilst trying to make a simple meal of quick-cook pasta and a courgette, with shop-brought sauce (NB: I'm embarrassed to admit to using a jar of pasta sauce. I've always enjoyed making my own pasta sauces but it is something I've been too poorly to do in the last 4 months).

So... I'm stuck. As a stubborn 'un, I'm not good at being stuck. There is always an end goal, even if it disappears out of sight occasionally.

I'm stuck, struggling to live independently, but not wanting to relinquish the independence.
Stuck without a plan for paying the rent, or a flat to pay the rent for, or a job, or, or...

Stubbornly, I go on. After all, there's an MSc to flourish in, a congregation to love yet more, a world to discover, a life to live, tastes to be tasted, sounds to be listened to, people to be helped, music to be immersed in...

I'm stubborn. Some people see my stubbornness as young/immature naïvety, unfortunately. Some people see it as misguided optimism. Some people see it as bloody annoying cheerfulness. Some people see it as being out of touch with reality.

I'm just stubborn. Stubborn enough to prove all those who see me as all those things wrong.

My grandmother was always more than just stubborn, but I think it was always at her core. When setting up a meals-on-wheels charity, or whatever; someone, somewhere, sometime, would have told her it was too difficult to do. She was stubborn, however...

I trust the right thing will happen. Whether that be my life, or buying a meal for a hungry person, or giving cake to someone looking stressed, or love resisting everything else, or death, or life, or music, or maths, or anything. Maybe I'm stupidly optimistic, rather than realistically pessimistic as I've always said, but the right thing does happen quite often. However much the b**gers try and get us down.

Today marks 5 years since I was admitted to hospital, following over a week long overdose. Mum found me throwing up, and someone who never will realise he saved my life had being trying to tell me to tell someone, so she was told the truth. I then spent a week attached to drips being very poorly, with doctors not sure whether my body would recover, then in the 4 hours I was free before my psychiatric assessment I managed to overdose again (and attend 2 hours of maths classes, being the stubborn and studious being I am). Because at the time it seemed rational to do so. 
Since then, several suicide attempts included, I've just been stubborn.
Today, stubbornly, I'm just glad to be here. Even with the unknown future, the fainting, the dislocations, the pain etc.. I ate cake, I bought a stranger cake, I zoomed around campus up/down hills on my mobility scooter to feel "alive", I spent hours lying flat on the floor recovering, hours working, but hours smiling too.

So, here's to stubbornness. Here's to the lovely fantastic stubborn ladies whom I owe my life to. To the friend who listened and persuaded me to tell the truth 5 years ago this evening. To the people I love now, and the people I loved then, and the people I loved before then too. Here's to stubbornly living. To stubborn livers, stubborn hearts, stubborn heads.

Stubbornness has got me here and in stubbornness I know I can go on. Sorry world, I'm here to stay. Stubbornly, for sure.
(and sorry kitchen surfaces, I hope I didn't hurt you when I fell)
((and by the way, how on earth does one eat a cupcake whilst maintaining dignity?!))

Friday, 12 October 2012


(rubbish title, I can't think of anything better right now though)

So lots has changed. I'm studying at a "conventional university", living in university digs, I'm living independently (my external help comes from phone calls, emails, Skype, and about-weekly visits from parents 60-odd miles away).

One thing that has changed is that I've started identifying as disabled, specifically physically disabled. I've become Accessibility Queen/Bitch. I'm able to do stairs, if I must, but I'd really rather not. I've realised my legs aren't really able to do much helpfully and that a wheelchair might be the way to go. That's OK. If it helps, it helps.
Ok, so a wheelchair does provide its own challenges. Kerbs become impossible, as least to start with. I have to work out whether my back/shoulders/elbows/wrists/fingers cope with self-propulsion. That's a job possibly for the month I have "off" over December/January.

I've accepted this as much as I can before I first sit in a wheelchair. I've got a mobility scooter which is fab for the outside stuff - I only have to manoeuvre by foot inside now and my legs will be ever thankful for this fact. The ability to take a heavy bag across campus or to get to my flat and back to lectures within an hour will always be something I'm grateful for. Is great for conserving energy (and saving time).

What I hadn't factored is the response of others. The sympathetic "Oh, hun, I'm so sorry" response. I question step-free access, I get back an apology. Whether access is possible or not. An apology for having my level of health (or apparent lack thereof). I have been trying to use the piano room on campus (the one for non-music students). This requires, in theory, a trip up a flight of external spiral stairs. The Students' Union have been ashamed, embarrassed, have tripped over themselves trying to help, offered multiple solutions, just because the room hasn't got obvious lift access. They've been great and I'm sure that once I've made a decision on which of two solutions I want to pursue, they'll continue to be great. However, I wasn't ever expecting the sympathy vote. The furrowed brow, the realisation that whilst I've accepted the reality, others believe this reality to be "most disastrous". Difficult to work out how to react in that way.

(Meanwhile, I'm hoping with all my might that my mentor has got better chairs in his new office. I very nearly got stuck in the office he was in last week - low chairs with a slight spring and I don't mix. Having to get help to get out of a meeting is a wee bit embarrassing...)

I guess, after years of being "mentally" "unwell", I've never quite had the sympathy in the same way that a young(-ish) "physically disabled" person gets. Especially as I'm clearly deteriorating, at an age when most others are flourishing. However determined I am to live life as it comes, I have to deal with others. With their expectations, their sympathies, their thoughts on disability (whatever that may be). It is weird, given that a year ago I had a diagnosis but outwardly looked OK. Now I'm with stick, with mobility scooter, with wedge cushion under my arm and considering when to try out wheelchairs - with a view to knowing whether they are feasible or not.
I've come to terms, as much as I can do at this present time, with this. Now I just need to deal with the world as they deal with this too. That wasn't something I was expecting.
Coming to terms with my body myself, was step 1.
Letting those around me start to come to terms with my body, that was step 2.
General public, or those I only come into contact with infrequently, isn't something I had factored in. If I accept me, if my loved ones accept me, I reckoned I'd won the battle. Turns out there is a whole other battle out there.

A smile, a shrug, a "what happens, happens" attitude is my current method of attack. What will be will be. I've proved myself stubborn enough to deal with most things, this is just that yet another thing.

Stubbornness has made me fairly secure. I'm determined enough to become an academic that I will become an academic. Just got a couple of years, a vocation to explore, a body to live with, a PhD to start/complete and a life to life in the meantime. Furrowed brows aren't necessary. Sympathy neither. The occasional open door would be great, especially in a place full of heavy fire doors, but I'm not ready for people to all fight to open the door for me. Not yet, not never, methinks.

Ready to live with being me. Not quite ready to live with others treating me how they expect to treat me.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012


Coming back to neglected blog and this time I am convinced I will actually publish something. So many half written posts sitting as drafts, 'tis getting silly.

Anyway, update since last time:
- I have a place on an MSc course. I start mid-September. Currently waiting a decision on whether I can have on-campus accommodation on health grounds. Delightful.
- I am no longer a student (after 4 years fairly solid studying). My final exams of my music diploma were a month ago.
- I failed a big music exam and can't afford to retake it. Not quite sure how I feel about that.
- I aced another big music exam and had a ball preparing/taking it. The viva was with a nice chap, we ended up slagging off some other musicians. *ahem*
- Physical health isn't great, trying to prevent further slides downwards on that.
- I took grade one tuba. Result pending. Got the giggles in the waiting room to the point I had tears rolling down my cheeks.

Think that's enough update.

So, I leave this town in two months, and I leave all positions of responsibility by the first weekend in August.
I always fear I'm only interesting because of what I do. Or I'm only the person I am because of the things I'm involved in. I'm passionate about what I do and that's why I do so much. Papers over the cracks, as it were. Stops anyone asking my opinion on non-things stuff, as I'm one of these focused types who people don't distract from doing things.
And slowly but surely (1 more youth choir rehearsal, 4 band rehearsals, 2 normal Sundays, you get the idea) my things are being stopped. Leaving me without my busy schedule.

I'm sure that won't leave me without a personality, but it will change me.

Been thinking about vocation, in a church type way, too. I'm the one who'll set up for services, fold linen, pick up the fallen petals from week-old flower arrangements. All those behind the scenes things, which I don't mind doing and feel helpful to do. However, I leave this church in less than a month and then won't have linen to help fold or things. I'm not great with visiting ill congregation members, I'm not able to help the church financially as I live off the minimal income of being a church organist... I know being a Christian isn't just the church, it is about how to live. If you take away all my responsibilities and things I do, will I struggle to help people, to serve?
I am struggling to work out where faith comes into my move to start the next chapter of my life. I'm not going to find a church where I can fold the linen, play the organ, change the altar hangings at liturgically appropriate points - I might be able to find a church to be the organist at, but I'm not going to be able to Do All The Things. I like doing things, I like being helpful, taking the pressure off some stressed people, that kind of thing. I'm a do-er not a think-er. I'm a do-er not a say-er of the right things necessarily. (Add into that the tangle of "will I be physically able to do some of these things in a few months time?" and you probably can see why I am in a wee pickle.)

I do believe that things will settle but I don't know quite where or how this will happen.

All in all, I'm very ready to move on from here, just not ready to deal with the change. Or rather, not feeling assured that I'm in control of everything to do with the change and life. (I'm not in control, but that doesn't stop me wanting to be.)

So, apologies in advance for any slight life/identity crises over the next two months and beyond. Could we go back a bit, when I was confidently ready to leave this current life, but the leaving wasn't so all-consuming?

Grant me the ability to see where I'm heading, not to dissolve into a puddle of overwhelmed thoughts, to be assured I'm more than my actions/things and to help those who I can help.

*hides under the desk for a bit*

Wednesday, 25 January 2012


Plodding. That's what I'm doing.

Creating lists of tasks for each day, starting at the top, working to the bottom then at about 10pm after completing the final thing, I'm writing a list to start the next day.

At least I'm being efficient, eh?

I can't work out whether this is due to being in limboland, or depression, or winter.
Limboland = MSc application/moving away from home/leaving the town I've made my town/starting to live independently. Half of me wants to aim for the Best Possible Places, half of me wants to apply to less well respected places which might understand I'm a bit quirky. But then most maths departments are full of people who are a bit quirky - if they weren't quirky, they wouldn't be mathematicians. 3 weeks today, I shall go to where I'd really like to get into for their open day and will work from there. Ideally, within the next 5 weeks I'll have applied. Then there's funding, accommodation, disability stuff (for instance, whether I'm going to be more physically disabled by then is a fairly pressing concern, whether I can find suitable MH support, whether I can keep my fabby specialist physiotherapist, even if it means trips home every few weeks...) before we even get to the "am I academically able?" crap.

[I have a first class honours degree, yes. I have a humongous love of the subject, yes. I've wanted to study beyond undergrad level since I was 5 years old, yes. I've not really had to try much yet though. It has come naturally. I hit a vague wall in middle of the second year of my degree, which I eventually leapt over and continued achieving. That can't continue forever.]

I'm just plodding. Getting everything done, not really thinking, not wanting to think. Weird audio/visual hallucinations are back, but I'm not really sleeping enough, so that's not any great surprise?

Plodding. Wishing I could get more hope out of my current situation, more excitement, more fun. But that is selfish. Sometimes life is just a bit... well... ploddish. And that should be OK. But it doesn't feel much like OK.

This might just be a reaction to grey skies.
This might just be a reaction to a new vicar moving into the vicarage this week - I can't help but know the "old situation" at church is over.
This might just be a reaction to bad joint pain.
This might just be a reaction to the crappy crappy politics of this country.
This might just be a reaction to an essay. Or a looming diploma. Or or or or or ORRR...


Plodding is fine. Plodding is easy really, I know what is expected, I do what is expected, I continue as per. I plod, I moan about plodding, I feel tired, but sometimes moaning/exhaustion is just what happens.

Plodding is fine so long as it doesn't get too quick. Then I end up burning out, past experience would suggest this would result in injury, psych wards and the like. I burnt out during my sixth form years, in spectacular form, 3 weeks before my final exams. I don't want/can't/won't let that happen again.

Plodding onwards. Consoling the grieving, watching out for the frail old ladies (and the near-miss accidental abductions which happen as a result... [long story...]), worrying for those I love, teaching the maths, doing the music, even baking the cake. Smiling vacantly too, at times. Or crying on buses (seriously, WTF was that about?)

Plodding. Funny really, I always thought plodding would suffice, thank you very much. Turns out I'm missing something.

Plodding. And wanting to go on a trudging forest walk to out-plod the plod, but being physically unable. Need to work out another way to out-plod the plodding then.

Oh, and to cheer things up a tad, my staunchly atheist cellist desk partner said to me this evening "If God had intended us to bake chocolate brownies, he wouldn't have invented M&S". Bravo, cellist, bravo.

Friday, 2 December 2011


Academic success is not akin to success in life.

My psychologist spent about 30 hours trying to drum this into me as I was panicking with any mark under 90%. That meant Hannah is a failure. Since I've left therapy? In maths, a failure would have been anything under 85%. So I've 'succeeded' throughout, and got a first in my degree.

I was worried so much I wouldn't. It was creating elaborate "what if" scenarios. I wrote blog posts before I'd even started my finals, worrying about not getting that first.

People know I don't like spontaneous hugs from most people, yet yesterday I had 4. And a handshake, from the man who still treats me like I'm an unexploded bomb half the time as he still thinks my mental "stuff" is a major concern. (I appreciated the lack of yet-another-hug yesterday actually)

Academic success has been what I do.

Looking around potential places to my post-grad stuff has made me realise quite how crap my body is. For all I know, I could be a wheelie post-grad. 10 months until then and my walking is distinctly dodgy now. TheKillerHillsOfBristol put me off (and the uninspiring department building, if I'm being honest). TheKillerHillOfBath wasn't going to be possible.

I've got that first, that first which I've been wanting [I think it was wanting, rather than wishing, too] since I was knee-high to a grasshopper - which slipped out of view, into view, out of view, into dreams, out of dreams, into the expectations of those around me.... [you get the idea]

Preparations for concerts still go on. Preparations for next year still go on. More so now I can start getting close to applying to a university. Preparations galore. In the next 10 days, I will do 6 concerts. Apart from a "do I have enough energy?" worry I don't really feel phased by this.

Academic success is not akin to success in life.

But to me, it is. Simply because it always has been. Yeah, OK, my parents helped fuel that, as did the extra tutoring I had from the age of 6 to "keep me interested" (now that tutoring can be considered a rather obvious success), and this striving for 100% came from that. I like easy to measure success. Up until now, that's meant academic. And mathematical.

"I hope you are incredibly proud of this achievement" said someone. I'm not sure I am. Relieved to the highest heavens, yes, but proud? I'm not exactly the person to be proud of myself. Ever.

Incidentally, studying music academically has meant I can now declare 78% is OK. For music essays. Not generally, just for music essays. Funny that, eh?

Thanks to those who have gently prodded and poked and listened to me panic over my degree. Belief in me from others helps when my belief in me is about zilch ± 1%. You know who you are, and you know I think you are all bloomin' amazing people. Thank you. If I could bake a cake for some of you, and it get to you safely, and it not result in food-panic when it got to you, I would. Thanks.

Right, suppose I'd better get out of bed... I love writing "lie-in" across a morning in my diary...

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Not quite there

I've written lots and lots of half finished blog posts, or blog posts which when I then looked at them again in the light of day/minus alcohol I delete and feel relief I didn't publish. Let's try again...

Warning, this is basically an off-loading moan. Because that is what I need to do. You don't have to read it, I don't need any responses. So if you are feeling down, step away now.

Things are slipping. I was expecting some slip, post-degree, but it is hard now it is here. You only have to look at my posts from October/November last year to see this isn't exactly a new thing (that was the beginning of the few month gap when I was between my second year and my final year).
I had a huge list of plans for now. I'm doing a music diploma, which is analysis/essay based, and I've got the first assignments in and done and sorted. I'm planning to talk to someone tomorrow about choosing a programme for an accompanying qualification I want to do. I'm searching for the sonata to fall in love with too, for the performing qualification I want to do. I'm playing piano for maybe two hours a day, before my body gives in and I can't play any more.

It has all gone grey though. I can't work out whether it is all a combination of post-degree slump and Autumn greyness, or whether I have sunk back into depression. I don't *think* it is depression-type depressing stuff yet, but it *is* depressing.

Organising my musical Christmas. I spent hours composing a Christmas piece for the concert band I'm MD of, have sorted the Carol Service for the choir I lead. I've done most stuff I need to sort now.
It all feels futile though. I'll still be here at Christmas, I'll not top myself. Not only because I can't be bothered (yes, it is at that stage...) but also because I don't think I want to. So the fact I'm preparing for a manically busy time so it isn't too stressful shouldn't feel futile.

Things started to wobble before the exams. But I threw myself into hours and hours of revision, alongside my planned "relaxation" time. So I was busy enough to keep going. Now though, there isn't quite enough to keep going without thinking. Hence the absence of morning as I was asleep and the fact it is 3pm and I'm writing a blog post to distract myself.
Then tonight I'll go to a recital, than dash off to a rehearsal. Tomorrow I'll feel empty, but I have something on early-ish morning, some rehearsal after lunch, teaching and then another rehearsal. I'll stay all happy outwardly because I have to. Smile!

I'm realising I'm not as fixed as I'd let on. Easy to gloss over the cracks, isn't it? If I was to move out tomorrow, I'd be stuck. I simply don't have the ability to live alone yet. And, err, I want to live alone, and actually live in a city I haven't yet decided on, next September.
I don't want to admit defeat now, that's not my style. But I would live on sandwiches because the stress of boiling pasta or vegs in a place on my own is too much. That's if I could get in food, which would be debatable. I can cook, fairly competently/interestingly, if someone is there to help if a pan boils over, or to just be there in case something goes wrong. Otherwise I'll end up hiding under the sink and the kitchen will be on fire.
I can't ask for a ticket on a bus. Or a ticket at a train station. Or tell the hospital receptionist my name when I'm going for a physical health appointment.
Trying to talk to strangers, like the podiatrist who was concerned about my scars = knee surgery (Note to self: shouldn't have injured yourself in such a way that 3 health care professionals have now assumed knee surgery...) is just hard work. But walking like I do now is hard work, so I had to go to the appointment.

Stupid stupid thing is I can stand in front of 50 musicians and can talk and conduct them no problem. I want to become an academic, a lecturer, who quite feasibly will stand in front of 100 first years and lecture them. I can sit in front of audiences of 300 without any more than a twinge of urgh about the size of my stomach and perform.
I can see myself reaching my academic and musical goals, because I'm a stubborn so-and-so who wants to get there, so I will.
I fear I'll be an academic unable to get on a bus. Through fear of talking to the bus driver. Unable to food shop if it requires talking to people.

The professional Hannah is such a fake front, and unless I am in that environment I can't employ the calm professional exterior. I'll reach my professional goals because I am so bloody minded I'll get there if it kills me, but fail at the life stuff. If it is detached from life, which my maths is, then I can do it. My music is detached, my teaching is, and as soon as you add in the life stuff - the getting around, eating, communicating with others day-to-day - I fall to pieces.

I can travel across London on my own, FFS. By not talking to anyone (except myself...) and planning journeys in great detail first. By hitting myself and talking to myself when it gets too much. Which I count as an OK way of coping if I get from A to B without damaging anything or anyone else.

I'm full of semi-anger at my incompetence. I thought I had come far enough, now I can travel around London just about, or work, or complete my degree, or walk down the road on my own. Just hard realising how far I have to go before I'm where I'd like to be. Maybe I just need to have a trusty sidekick. To steer me in the right direction when I've gone wrong.

I know that I've come a hugely long way from where I was. But the fairly-fine-and-reasonably-dandy view of my life has worn off, and I'm stuck realising how far I need to go. I'm nowhere near there now. Anyone got a magic wand spare?

Sorry, self-pitying arrrrrgggh greyness. Given I have no-one to splurge on, as I've become too "OK" to be supported by mental health things and so forth, I need to do it somewhere. Otherwise something is bound to go mightily wrong and that'd scupper everything. Muttermuttersighsigh. Fecking "living" crap.