Just Don’t Think

For almost a year now, I’ve had the same obsessive compulsive destructive thoughts intruding my head space. They led to a horrendous breakdown when 2016 was winding down. Functioning like a normal human being was neigh on impossible.

While I’ve mostly recovered from that fucking mess – by which I mean I can get out of bed, hold a conversation and sometimes write something decent-ish – I’m still working on cleansing my life of the thoughts that want to do nothing more than see me fall, and fall hard, as in fall so hard I don’t get back up again.

The thoughts are there when I wake up. They’re there when I try and write. They’re there when I’m digging out my blackheads. And they tire me the hell out. I mean really. My brain gets so fucking exhausted that I’m ready for bed by 3pm.

Sleep is often the only branch I can cling to for relief from the rapids of my thoughts. The moments the thoughts are crushing me when I’m awake are few and far between but they are just so beautiful.

The really fucking tragic thing is I know what’s happening to me, and I know how to solve it. But it’s hard. I’m re-educating myself in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques, re-reading Mind Power by James Borg and talking to my mother.

Talking to my mother has probably been the most effective treatment source. She told me how she had managed to get her excessive worrying down from 8 hours a day to only 15 minutes by doing one simple thing – not thinking. That’s right. Just. Don’t. Think. Instead, live! Just LIVE! When your thoughts get the better of you, and they will, try again and again and again until all you are doing is living.

Instead of letting herself be rattled all day every day, my mother, my mountain, allows herself 15 minutes to worry about the things that are stressing her the hell out. The rest of the time, those thoughts can just fuck the fuck off. They’re not welcome in the temple of her mind.

Right now, I would say that 16 hours in 24 are poisoned with negative thinking, and this simply has to change. I refuse to allow my life to be dictated to by irrationality. I know I’m capable of it, it’s just this time the thoughts are rooted so fucking deep I know it’s going to take a little while. But I have a belief in myself that’s stronger than the doubt trying its hardest to make itself heard.

 

A Thrifty Witch Haul : Ox Blood Dress

I live predominantly in black and have for the past, hell, about 17 years? But now and then I’ll see something and I’ll think ‘maybe…maybe just this one time…’and I’ll feel all brave and go getting. I’ll feel like I’m throwing myself outside of my neatly arranged all black box.

However my excitement quickly turns to panic, and 9 times out of 10 I’ll quickly back THE FUCK AWAY from the colourful-whatever-it-is. But the other day, on a thrifting adventure, I landed on an ox blood dress (though it might just be a long-ish top) for £2.

I thought to myself ‘the man likes red, and it feels a bit Goddess-ishy.’ Red is good too, because it’s the colour of passion, the colour of action, the colour of energy – all things I need to be channeling right now.

The dress still had the original Zara label attached to it. Who knows, maybe someone with much the same thought process as me had bought it originally then failed to find the courage to actually wear it outside the house.

I tried it on, and, while it’s not made of the loveliest materials in the world – polyester and elastane – it fits gorgeously. It’s tight where it should be tight, and beautifully flowy where it should be beautifully flowy.

The fact that it’s an ox blood red colour is quite the big deal for me, and, yeah, you can scoff at this, it does take a lot of courage to step out in something that isn’t charcoal.

 

 

Patreon Supporters!!

In case any of my Patreon supporters are reading, I need to let you know that I’ve been having some issues with signing into my account. I have been trying to get the situation resolved for weeks now…hopefully I will be back in and writing tomorrow! I’m so sorry for not letting you know sooner. Thank you forever for the support!

My First International Exhibition Is Happening

A few months ago, an art curator called Jan Van Woensel contacted me. He’d seen my photography and poetry on Instagram, and was interested in exhibiting my work in Belgium.

Needless to say I first thought it was some kind of joke. I mean, my photography on walls? Nah. Wouldn’t happen in real life.

But it wasn’t a joke. It was mightily serious. And I have the photographs to prove that it’s actually happening.

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If you happen, for some reason, to be in Genk in Belgium on May 24th, check out the Your Eyes Burn Like Wild Fire show where I and dozens of other artists are having our work on public display.

My Arctic Library : Children Of The North

I was feeling so fucking sad the other day. Sad because of cruel people. Sad because of the dishonesty and lack of respect in the world. Sad because my head has been a difficult place to be recently. I wanted to scream until my heart burst.

But then the postman came with a package, and in a moment, I became gentle and soft and curious.  Inside was a bubble wrapped book, Children Of The North by Fred Bruemmer.

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It had been sent by Mia, a reader of my blogs, and the second person to answer the call I put out to help collect all the books written in England about the Arctic. For a while I was able to forget about the hurt and focus instead of this beautiful act of kindness.

There’s something about books published in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Something special which is rarely there nowadays. It feels like more attention was paid to the little details back then, details like tiny illustrations running across the page borders. Details which help to bring a book to life.

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Children Of The North was published in 1979 and features the exquisite photography and writing of Fred Bruemmer, a Latvian/Canadian researcher and photographer. He is the one behind that harp seal pup photo.

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This book is a ‘compelling portrait’ of the offspring of the north, who are born and grow up in the harsh and unforgiving climate of the Arctic. I didn’t already own a book all about the children of the far north – yet I’m deeply fascinated by the little souls who thrive in the cold. So this book really is a blessing. I can’t wait to get my read on!

If you think you might be able to contribute to my Arctic Library and be a part of this ambitious dream, let me know in the comments or you can send a note to katiemariemetcalfe@hotmail.co.uk I would be ever so grateful!

When You Are Born

Today I was writing an article about terminally ill children. One story was particularly painful, that of an 11 week old boy who was diagnosed with terminal cancer…

I have been thinking about children a lot recently, and having a family so I started something this afternoon…it’s very rough, very rough, but I just needed to get something out.

 
When You Are Born
 
I imagine that I will lose
an ocean of blood
when your time as a hermit ends
and you venture
out from the dark cave
of my womb.
 
But I will hardly notice,
even when they’re sewing
up the holes made by your shoulders
 
Because all the love will disguise
all the pain.
 
I will learn of tiredness
like I’ve never known
and my nipples will become
tall as pyramids, sore as new teeth.
 
I will have gained
a perfect new adventure
in the most beautiful skin
I have ever seen.
 
Everything will be as exact as it should be,
and you will have plenty enough eyelashes
to keep away the dust.
 
I will be forever
imagining your freckles
as star constellations,
and will kiss each one
at dawn and twilight.
 
I will ache for the volcanic eruptions
of your cries, then for your forest lake of silence.
 
I will live to watch you watching me watching you,
I will not be afraid to let you see me cry.

A Day Of Food When I Was Anorexic VS A Day Of Food Now

I thought this would be interesting to write about because my relationship with food is so radically  different to how it used to be.

When I was 14 years old I developed Anorexia Nervosa. Over the course of a few months, I bid farewell to over half of my body weight. The hair on my head thinned and dropped out. My periods dried up. My nails and bones became brittle as kindling, and a strange, blonde fur (lanugo) started to blanket my sad and broken skin.

My body was trying in vain to keep itself warm, to keep itself alive. When the fur didn’t help, my body started to cannibalize itself from the inside out.

First it consumed any fat that I had left, then it started to steadily eat away at my muscles. I was – very effectively – starving myself to death and became little more than a bundle of bones tied up in a scrap of dry flesh.

Yet I wanted to be…no, I needed to be thinner, smaller, less noticeable. I needed to be leaving a fainter footsteps when I walked. I needed to be practically able to float. Nothing else other than getting thinner mattered in the world. Nothing. 

My diet when I was at lowest weight (just under 5 stone) was tragic. Nobody really knew what I was eating because I lied about what made it past my mouth. I became an expert at magicking food away to anywhere but my stomach.

Before this sickness adopted me, I wasn’t fussy with food. Actually, I fucking loved food, and had a more than healthy relationship with the stuff. But it didn’t take long for it to become the enemy, for me to be afraid of it even touching my skin.

This is what a day of food looked like for me then:

Breakfast

  • 15 grams of dry branflakes.
  • A small glass of water.

Note: It was VITAL that the branflakes were weighed, and I quickly replaced milk with water when I realised how many calories I could save. But then I started to become worried about the amount of water I was having and thought that it would increase my weight, so I started to have my branflakes dry instead. There were some days, before I was admitted to hospital, where I would actually count the number of branflakes in my bowl. They always needed to be an even number.

I’d forever had tea in a morning, but that quickly became forbidden when I became ill.

Lunch

  • 2 Ryvita’s each with a transparent layer of sandwich spread.
  • 1 small apple.
  • A bottle of water.

Note: I would eat about half of one of the Ryvita’s and then throw the other one and a half in the bin. When I was having lunch at school this was easy enough. Though I still did it discreetly, just in case. More often than not the apple wouldn’t get eaten and would be thrown in the bin too.

Dinner

  • A Quorn burger or something similar. Whatever it was I didn’t want to eat it.
  • Peas, Carrots.
  • Mashed potato.

Note: The fights that I would have with my mother at dinner time were so apocalyptic they became legendary. I would scream so loud I’d break an eardrum or two, and I think I remember even catapulting plates of food. I’d usually end up swallowing a few tiny mouthfuls, then somehow manage to get away with not touching the rest, most of which would end up down my sleeves then in the toilet.


After I’d pretty much reached the weight I was when I was a toddler, I maintained my exhausting anorexic existence for over ten years. I would sort of get near to being better than I’d relapse, then I’d sort of get near to being better again, and I’d relapse…and so the cycle continued on and on and on.

It pushed my terrified family to the edge, then, making me watch, flung them over relentlessly. They’d dust themselves down, repair what had been broken, then they’d be taken right back to the edge again, even more terrified than before. And again, I was made to watch as they were flung over.

Fast-forward to 2017, 17 years after I was diagnosed with anorexia, and my relationship with food is poles apart from what it was. My family and I have, together, recovered.

I have a womanly belly. My arse is taking on something of a curve. My collar bones aren’t sharp enough for me to cut my fingers on anymore. I’m also in a relationship with a Swedish man who has weaned me onto crisps and chocolate and pick n mix and Pepsi. A man who has managed what no one else has managed – he’s managed to make me eat foods which I was still, up until a few months ago, forbidden from touching.

And this is what a day of food for me looks like now:

Breakfast

  • A bowl of…I dunno…maybe 55, 60 grams of branflakes? I don’t weigh stuff anymore, with plenty of semi-skimmed milk.
  • Non Fat Greek yogurt. Again, I don’t know how much, several tablespoons?
  • A BIG cup of tea with milk AND one teaspoon of sugar.
  • A piece of dark chocolate.
  • 1 40 mg citalopram tablet, 1 100 mg quitapine tablet.

NOTE: I used to weigh my cereal OBSESSIVELY when I was ill, and I would NEVER use semi-skimmed milk. Just skimmed or unsweetened soya…soya because it has less calories than the skimmed. Also, when I was in hospital I’d drain the milk from each individual branflake and eat just one flake at a time. I’d didn’t finish a bowl of cereal until at least 5 months into my stay in hospital.

It was only when I discovered artificial sweetener in hospital that I started to drink tea again. I became obsessed with the stuff and would have up to 8 in one cup of tea…how I have no fucking idea. Anyway, I ditched the sweetener several years ago because of a million and one different reasons which I can talk about in another post – though primarily because it works to agitate my mental issues.

The dark chocolate thing is new. When the lovely lady who contributed to my Arctic Library sent me a heap of dark organic chocolate (70% + cocoa content) I became infatuated and have been having some every day since. I’m now on the last bar she sent, and I’m trying to make it last…the benefits of dark chocolate are EXTENSIVE, as you’ll probably know.

The medication I’ve been taking since 2010 helps with the shit that goes down in my brain, because it doesn’t function like everyone else’s and needs some help. The citalopram works as an anti-depressant, while the quitapine works as an anti-psychotic. I was diagnosed with depression when I was 15 along with the anorexia. Then, when I was 24 I was accessed for the millionth time and diagnosed with bi-polar.

Lunch

  • Ham sandwich cobbled together with 2 slices of white bread and butter.
  • A banana.
  • A meringue.
  • A cup of tea with milk and sugar.

NOTE: Yeah, yeah, I know. White bread is shitty, but we didn’t have any multigrain in, so I had to make do. Back in the thin days I just wouldn’t have eaten. The butter is a relatively new. I NEVER EVER EVER had butter on my bread when I was ill. To be honest, I used to be so paranoid about butter that I thought if I touched it, the calories would leech through my skin.

The meringue was just there. Wanted it. Ate it. Licked my fingers.

Snack

  • A muesli bar. Blueberry or something. Love muesli bars.
  • A cup of tea with milk and sugar.

NOTE: If I don’t have a snack mid-afternoon I’m a mega bitch. Seriously. When I was at my sickest there was NEVER a snack.

Dinner

  • A tuna mayonnaise and spinach (!) sandwich made with wholewheat bread. (I went to the shop.)
  • A bowl of Greek yogurt with a chopped up banana and a handful of strawberries.
  • Some more dark chocolate because I needed the good mood boost and brain energy.
  • A cup of tea with milk and sugar.

NOTE: I know a tuna mayo sandwich isn’t the best dinner option, but I just could not be arsed cooking. Anorexia wouldn’t have allowed that back in the day. I had to have what I’d planned to have a week earlier, that or nothing at all.

Snack

  • ANOTHER bowl of branflakes with milk.
  • 1 disappointingly small apple.
  • A cup of tea with milk and sugar.
  • 2 100mg quitapine tablets.

NOTE: I always eat a snack in the evening. I went to bed hungry for too many years. Plus, this is usually the time the man and I devour our crisps and chocolate…

Then later…

  • Some Horlicks because I was having anxiety attacks in bed and couldn’t sleep.
  • 1 banana because I wasn’t hungry but I needed something comforting that could also help me sleep. Bananas are good for sleep.

NOTE: My food routine was ESSENTIAL when I was ill. I couldn’t deviate away from it. If I couldn’t sleep when I was ill, there was no ‘grab a cup of Horlicks’ option.’ I just had to sit there, shaking my legs – it burned calories – waiting for sleep to come.

My, how things have changed. And how very fucking proud I am of myself and the man who has helped with much of it.

I Have A Thing For Septum Piercings

I don’t know when I started to think to myself ‘septum piercings are fucking gorgeous,’ but one day it just happened. I think it may have been when I saw this photo of one of my muses Darby Lagher.

It’s been about a year since I first developed the urge to nab myself some imitation rings, so I could see if I’d actually suit having a septum piercing, or if I’d look like a total twat.

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Personally, I’m thinking it looks suitably mystical and edgy, and I’m liking it a lot. I have a high pain threshold, so I know I’d be able to cope with having a needle put through my nose, but, the idea of just going with pretend rings is massively appealing as there’s none of the faffing around with the healing and the cleaning and the closing up.