When faced with my demons I clothe them and feed them…

Archive for December, 2010

Day in the Life

Hi there.

Everything’s fine. Just fine…

OK, what’s a few imperfections between friends?

Isn’t it our very flaws that make us human and interesting? Mentally or otherwise?


And I ain’t tryin’ to make you wrong. Just insisting on my right to be right … at least occasionally.

The dynamic has shifted in our household. D and I are getting into some kind of heavy engagement/confrontation situation. Which is an absolute nightmare … for both of us.

L is the only one who remains relatively unscathed. She is like a cat. Self-sufficient. Concerned about very few things other than regular mealtimes and a little love.

It’s pretty much the ‘life flashing before my eyes’ scenario. I have always been the object of female jealousy and have had to defend myself against the She-Devil so many times that I have achieved mastery of this particular kind of psychic defence/martial art.

Why do Cameron and Clegg (or Cleggeron as my pal A prefers to call them) not appear to realise that the most important job any human being can be doing right now is taming the She-Devil?

Why is there no proper definition of a ‘She-Devil’ in the Oxford English?

Why do you hear so little about her in the popular press?

Would respectfully suggest, your Honour, that I suspect a cover-up.

She is a reality. My reality. I battle her daily. In the form of other women, sometimes ‘men’, but most significantly and scarily of all … in myself.

I can give you plenty information on the She-Devil as I have been studying her for years.

Listen to her sing. You’ll notice she can’t hold a tune and that her singing is in itself an offensive weapon. Know that she won’t decamp voluntarily. She will unfailingly outstay her welcome. She is insensitive to all needs but her own. She is bent on preserving self at the expense of you and me. She cannot be destroyed. Only tamed. Or defused.

Do NOT expect to be able to whip her ass in a fight. It won’t happen. Trust me cos I know of what I speak.

How to tame a She Devil (Advice for the Urban Shaman Part 42 1/2)?

You gotta give her a massive reassuring hug. She is full of fear so try every weapon in the book to win her over.  Begin with a flattery offensive. Tell her her hair looks great (it doesn’t). Continue with some slingshots of patently insincere appreciation of her special and unique gifts. Lie shamelessly and through your gritted teeth. Remember, it’s you or her. Her way or the highway.

The She Devil cannot detect these kind of self-defensive porky pies.  She doesn’t have an ironic bone in her body (and indeed, will often look as if she has no bones at all).

And how not to deal with a She Devil? Do not on any account attempt physical violence of any sort whatever. It will backfire on you very badly indeed. You have been warned!

Even worse than this? Laughing at her. Don’t even go there. Babs. XXX


Short-Circuiting Christmas

Hiya. It’s six am ish and I have already been up for two hours.

I really only need about three hours asleep. When I was ill and every day a grim struggle just for survival of course I had to take more.

My life has changed.

And ‘it’s all good’…Dizzee. It’s all good ‘cos it’s all God.

Listenin’ to Pulp. ‘We Love Life’. Waiting on an insomniac friend to get a cab here from Tottenham. I like to have company. My house guests are lazy mo’ fo’s. Yesterday they lay abed until midday. Then were hung over for most of what remained of the day.

Our Christmas was therefore as fucked up as most people’s. We stopped short of open rowing, tantrums or hysterics. We are all way too mature for that kind of carry-on. We feel the impulse to lash out at one another but don’t act on it.

For our dinner we had nut roast (traditional veggie fare), roast potatoes, gravy, Brussels sprouts ‘n’ peas. Followed by Xmas pud, which L pronounced ‘ the best hot cake she’d ever eaten’! Woah! Thank you Sainsbury’s. (Product placement…)

Further bulletins later as I have a guest. Love, XXX


The truth lies in the observation that: “with regard to the phenomena of mysticism in its proper sense, psychopathology has nothing to offer, and for the very good reason that infused contemplation is brought about by grace, which does not destroy, but perfects and elevates the natural capacities.”

Brian Wilson may be a tormented genius – like William Blake or Tchaikovsky – and Sally Clay may be something of a mystic – like Teresa of Avila or C S Lewis. However, both remind us that for each celebrity who steps ‘into the mystic’, (as Van Morrison said), there exist hundreds of similar, but unsung, spiritual travellers among the so-called ‘mentally ill’.  This is not to say that all madness has a spiritual basis; or that all people with ‘mental health problems’ want to explore their spirituality. However, we have met lots of people who had been pushed to the farthest reaches of their own human nature, and had slowly began to make sense of the experience. Like characters from mythology, they wrestled with their demons and became the heroes of their own stories.

Spirituality is often confused with religion. All faiths have spiritual origins but customs and rituals often dominate organised religion. By contrast, spiritual experiences are often highly personal – often lacking any sense of order. As such, they can be threatening – as Brian Wilson and Sally Clay showed. This suggests something of the power that lies beyond our everyday selves. This might signal God, the Absolute, or the Cosmos; or perhaps is just a sign of our own latent power, waiting to come to life. The epiphany – or realisation – associated with deep spiritual encounters, is a ‘wake up call’. Something significant has happened and nothing will ever be the same again.

People with experience of psychosis talked about the personal meanings of their ‘breakdowns’ in  ‘From the Ashes of Experience’[iv]. Many of them described their recovery as a spiritual journey. Their spiritual wake-up calls seemed to have been forced by the breakdown itself. The terror and confusion of madness seemed to be a necessary evil: something they had to go through to find meaning in life – or simply to find themselves.

We took this a stage further in ‘Spirituality and Mental Health: Breakthrough’ [v]and invited both people who had been ‘mentally ill’ and health and social care professionals, to share their understandings of spirituality. All the contributors to the book used a common ‘spiritual’ language, but the personal nature of their experiences stood out. They seemed to echo the Buddha’s invitation to follow their own path to spiritual understanding:

“Be ye lamps unto yourselves, be your own reliance. Hold on to the truth within yourselves, as to the only lamp”.[vi]



Health: A madman can look a lot like a messiah: There is no easy way for cult followers to tell if their leader is sane, says Raj Persaud

To My Son

Jasper, you are currently fifteen and lying upstairs trying to sleep away your latest growth spurt.

I am the privileged Mum who has watched you grow from a tiny babe in arms.

You were the best thing that ever happened to me. Nature’s greatest and most unexpected gift. Her affirmation of the worth and value of my life. Her way of ensuring I stuck around, and her way of motivating me to ‘not give up, and not be a quitter’ (Eminem).

You also gave me the strength and determination I needed to ‘reach for the stars’. Not to count the cost. What I could not do for myself, I could do for you. That primeval maternal instinct provided me with an imperative I could not dodge.

I had to ensure that you would never go through what I have been through darling Jasper.

If I had to die a thousand times over I simply had to make things OK for you. If that meant starving in order to feed you, that’s what I would do.

And the loss of you to foster care was undoubtedly one of the most heart-wrenching griefs of my entire life. I felt the pain a cow feels on having its male calf torn away from her and taken off for slaughter Jasper.

I understood the helpless suffering of a vivisected feeling living breathing mammal. There was no room in my head for any question but an eternal, resounding and endlessly echoing ‘why’.

‘Why are they doing this to me?’

‘Forgive them father, for they know not what they do’ didn’t seem an adequate response. For how could they not know that to cut into a sentient animal’s flesh would bring pain?

Maternal pride is a joyous thing Jasper. And I feel it every time I look at you. You are flesh of my flesh. Closer to me than any other living being. You were my partner in crime from the first moment I saw the miracle of your tiny fist waving at me over your transparent plastic cot in the Whittington maternity unit.

The happiness of those first two weeks totally anaesthetised any pain I felt following the emergency Caesarian by which you were born. You were light as my own heart as I carried you proudly up and down the ward.

And as for childbirth itself. Who are these women who fear and dread the pain of labour? What nonsense! There’s nothing to it! Breathe, woman, breathe! It is your fear alone that creates pain in your mind! You are surrounded by angels, and giving birth to another! How can that possibly hurt?

I can truthfully say I had not one moment of genuine psychic or physical pain throughout the whole process, and I was in labour for twenty-five hours.

A good friend came to be my birthing partner. She sat patiently for so many hours, keeping watch, on sentry duty. And though I don’t often see her now we will always be bonded by that shared experience.

And Jasper. So many of my friends and colleagues ask about you as soon as they see me. Even when they have never met you Jasper! You have the thoughts and good wishes of SO many people that you don’t and maybe never will know.

How could you fail, buoyed up on a magic carpet of love like that sweetheart? How could you fail to achieve greatness, since you were born a great soul?

And you are a master psychologist Jasper. The only person’s head you have trouble working out is your own! And that goes with the territory I’m afraid. The teens herald massive change. You cannot remain untroubled at times. But always know Jasper that ‘this too shall pass’.

Happy Christmas, most precious boy. XXX

Mad For It

As the Madchesterites used to say!

Feelin’ a little like a Cambridge graduate who finds herself teaching the remedial class.

That DOESN’T mean I think you’re stupid, gentle reader. It’s just a reflection of my half a degree of pissed-offness with my stats dive. Twelve readers today folks! And who is this elite band? You don’t like to reveal yourselves, do you?

Anyway, reminding myself that ‘I write because I write because I write’ I will continue to bore you with renditions of ‘another day in the life of’ a suburban housewife (crossed out), aspiring R and B singer (crossed out), all-round happy bunny (not crossed out but permitted to remain in all its glorious imperfection).

Today I made it as far as the end of my road. An improvement on the many days when, stricken with fatigue, I couldn’t even get that far.

Luckily, that was as far as I needed to go in order to enjoy a cup of coffee and slice of tiramisu with friends. Buy baccy and soya milk and cat food. And (piece de resistance) HAVE MY HAIR DONE!

Told you. I’ve got it made. I’m in clover. No one can touch me for sheer jamminess!

No one can touch me full stop. Without my permission!!!

Sometimes I voluntarily touch even people I don’t much like. But I reserve the right not to be touched by people who don’t like me. It’s called healthy boundaries folks. Read up on your codependency!

I am surrounded by kindred spirits whom I know absolutely I can trust. Or as near as dammit! Anyone well acquainted with descendants of the ape species knows that you trust them at your peril. But luckily some of us run with the wolves.

Dispatches from the Hair Front. It’s now vibrantly red with subtle blonde highlights. The ‘look’ I had in mind was ‘fire’. Failing that, a light-skinned Cheryl Cole!

‘The thinking man’s Cheryl Cole’ maybe! Hur hur.

Resolutely refuse to give in to the ‘dowdy’ urge. Sticking to the script. Glam’s the word.

At risk of just lookin’ plain ridiculous and ‘mutton dressed as lamb’. Can’t ever happen to me, cos vegans are forever young.

Thought of my wonderful and much-loved friend A again today. Wearing her friendship ring. And knowing that she is finding it in her heart to smile.

Forgiveness? Or just flexibility? Being willing to let go of stuff that no longer serves me?

Take care folks. Lots love your faithful favourite blogger.  XXX

I’m Tearin’ Down Your Balcony…

‘All those who looked down on me…’ Eminem.

Had a personal visit from a Jehovah guy I’ve become friendly with.  If I can’t get myself to Bible Class, the mountain will just have to move to Mohammed.

I was talking in the last post about Dizzee and bein’ on auto-pilot. And that’s how I feel today. I’m not gettin’ a buzz from writing this. It’s just what I do, and like all hobbies become work, there’s more than a thimbleful of drudgery in the task.

Yesterday was a steep learning curve for me and my housemates. I don’t want to compromise our privacy by going into any details. But remember what I was saying about my ancient drug habit? They had one too. And we all simultaneously got into a state of craving.

And sometimes the only thing to be done when in a state of craving is ‘to give in’.

And sometimes, when you are extremely lucky (and sensible) giving in is the best thing you can do. Cos by the act of submission you can remove that cancer (of addiction) from your system once and for all.

It was mad stressful. Lesser people than us would have been at each others’ throats by the end of it. The miracle is that we remained friends throughout.

I never want to do another drug. I don’t include caffeine and baccy. I’m talkin’ chemicals. The one remaining substance in my life now is seroquel (quetiapine) to help me get off to sleep at night. It’s an anti-psychotic. I won’t need that forever.

I’m alone in the house, L and D both off to their respective jobs. Snow still so thick on the ground that I’m tempted not to go out at all. May make it down to the local health food store. Get some soya yoghurt. Tho’ it hardly seems worth it just for that. Part of me wants to go back to bed and sleep the rest of the day away.

Love to all my Peeps. Z XXX

Like a Pig in S**t


Suck my m***** f***** dick.

‘Had enough of bein’ courteous and smiley, now I really gotta get grimy, blimey…’ Dizzee.

Hey Zoe, what’s with all the swearing, rude girl?

Been huggin’ my hip hop demons too close is all.

Can’t get to DRA today. The weather would turn the whole affair into some kind of Antarctic expedition.

My plans? Slide down to the corner shop. Get cash out of the ATM. Pay the extra £1.75 so’s I don’t have to go any further. Buy soya milk. More baccy. Consider my ancient drug habit and decide to manage without.

D has gone to work delivering sandwiches in Central London on a bike. Good luck!

L has been quietly writing her book in her room. I had a moderate girly lie-in myself.

Last night we took turns to choose music vids to watch on the lap top. I bored everyone choosing one Eminem track after another. His vids are quite simply,  superior to anything else I have ever seen.

They richly returned the compliment with Guns and Roses and Metallica. Forgive them. They know not what they do. (And they’re from Brasov).

I received my usual flurry of Christmas cards from relatives and a few friends. And sent precisely none. Haven’t been ‘doin” Christmas for many a long year. The excuse for a fabulous nosh-up is never unwelcome tho’.

Gospel of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John…and Dizzee. And the greatest of all these is…

Advice for the urban shaman part IV?

Develop more than a passing acquaintance with our home-grown London Grime talent. And Dizzee, who uniquely has succeeded in ‘crossing over’ into pretty much every other genre you can think of, so therefore can no longer be considered strictly ‘grime’.

All the while somehow pulling off the miraculous achievement of staying true to his roots and ‘keepin’ it ‘ well and truly ‘real’.

‘Bein’ a celebritee, don’t mean shit to mee’…

I love Dizzee so much I took the unprecedented step of going to a music festival to see him, Lovebox at Victoria Park in Hackney. He was the consummate professional. He jumped through all the ‘performer’ hoops to perfection. But I could see he was on auto-pilot. There was no passion in the performance. He got no ‘buzz’ from facing yet another audience.

And that’s the key to his greatness. He’s completely devoted to his art. Think Bobby Zimmerman. Fifty years younger and born in E3, London Town.

Here endeth the ‘Dizzee’ puff-piece. And urban shamen everywhere. Don’t commit the cardinal sin of underestimating rappers who find their way to Zoe’s (non-existent) Top Ten of All Time.

Take care folks. Lots love. X