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Dreadful Nonsense

"I've read your blog. it's really funny. you should write a column." - Jon Ronson

To Be Or Not To Be

30 July 2011
There is someone in my Twitter timeline who I seem to regularly unfollow, and then quickly refollow.   I have followed and unfollowed her quite a lot as Twitter to me is, for the most part, a jolly and silly distraction, filled with links to animal videos,  laboured puns, fascinating discussions and local knowledge.  I found it stressful to occasionally see people in pain, as you do when people post about break ups, or death, or illness.  Her conversation, you will see, occasionally veered into the profoundly unhappy, and so I followed and unfollowed, but I always found her too fascinating to leave permanently.

Last night, she tried to commit suicide.  It was something she had referenced quite often, usually at weekends, usually late at night, usually drunk. I didn't see the post in time.  I don't know what I would have done if I had, but I hope it would have been helpful.  Thankfully, last night, someone else read her posts, and reacted accordingly by calling the police.  The police came, she was brought to A&E, she is still alive today.  This is all wonderful, and I hope she now gets the help that she needs.

I was curious to see what sort of response she got, so I had a look at her @ feed.  I wasn't surprised to see that, at the very time she tweeted in a moment of profound despair and without hope, some people saw fit to call her "selfish" and said it was "unfair" of her to post about it.

My response to that is to want to hunt each of them down and punch those people right in the face.  Really?  You think that's helpful?  If someone was diagnosed with lung cancer, would you whisper in their ear they should have been more careful about what they were breathing in?  Should people drowning stop splashing about and drawing attention to themselves?  You unsentimental fucks.

Suicide is not a simple matter.  It's not an easy decision.  For a lot of people, it doesn't even feel like a choice, but a necessity.  But for the most part, it's also not a death wish.  Suicidal people don't want to die, they just can't see any other option.  Life has become unbearable; death seems like the only alternative.

There are alternatives.  The first one is Maytree.  I was a volunteer at this wonderful place for three years, and it remains one of the most powerful experiences of my life.  It's a house in Finsbury Park in London, where people in suicidal crisis can go for five days to sort their heads out.  It's not a medical institution.  It is run and staffed almost entirely by volunteers.  It is free for guests to stay.  Guests can come and go as they please.  Their belongings will not be searched.  They will not be sectioned.  They will simply be talked to.  Talking is what Maytree does best.  All day long and all night long.  Just talking about everything under the sun.  It's amazing.

If you heard what some people have going on in their heads, the opinion of themselves that they hold, the things that they have experienced, the losses they have had to endure, the horrors they have seen, then you would wonder that they are still alive at all.  Suicide is not an act of reckless abandon, it's not selfish, it's not the easy choice, and it is not the only answer.

Please think carefully about how you use social media.  It's all very easy to throw out an opinion here, a judgment there, a stupid comment that you don't really mean.  It could genuinely mean life or death to someone feeling most vulnerable at that time.

Maytree:  www.maytree.org.uk
Phone them on 020 7263 7070

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29 July 2011
One small bit of admin: the comments *are* working, but only if you click on the title. You can then comment below the post. I'm working on getting comments on to the main page, but I've tried for 30 minutes already and I now remember the old BlogRage I used to suffer from back in the day.

I will keep trying. In the meantime, please let me know you're out there - click on the header and leave a comment or tweet me or email me. Or fucking skype, if you must. I hate skype. Just let me know you're there. Massive thanks.

Forbidden love

24 July 2011

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Christmas Day 2010

23 July 2011
Deep breath, everyone. We're diving right in at the deep end.

You may have noticed that two of the tabs at the top of this site are set to lead you to the blood donation websites for the UK and Ireland. (There's also one for NZ - LORRAINE, I'M LOOKING AT YOU). This is because I think that most of my readers will be reading in those two countries. I'll be tracking my traffic, and if there are more hits from elsewhere, I'll add on one. This is very important, and I'll tell you why.

On Christmas Day, I had a blood transfusion which saved my life. To give credit where credit is very much due, a surgeon, his team and a plethora of nurses also saved my life, but without that donated blood, I'd be pretty dead now, and that would be sad for all of you, but very much sadder for me.

I'm going to tell this story because it's my story. The thing with almost dying (and if you've almost died, back me up here) is that quite quickly what happened to you becomes the property of everyone around you. People will tell you stories of where they were when they heard you nearly died. They will tell a lot of other people about what happened to you. Then those other people will tell you about how they felt when they heard from the other people about what happened to you. And somehow you've lost control of the story.

In early December, I found out I was pregnant. This was excellent news, because I wanted to be pregnant. It was going to be brilliant and exciting and amazing and we had for a long time been discussing names for our future child and there was a lot of grinning at each other and holding of hands and nervousness but most of all excitement and anticipation.

But then on Christmas Day, something inside me ruptured. It turned out my pregnancy was ectopic, which means that the embryo had become stuck on its journey down my fallopian tube (the right one, fact fans) and didn't quite make it into the womb. It then set about growing happily, steadily, for six weeks in a space where there literally isn't room for a developing baby.

Therefore on Christmas Day, it reached critical mass, and everything around it ruptured. I started bleeding into my abdomen. You'd think this would be astonishingly painful - and it was, for about 30 minutes or so. After that, I started feeling okay. So THANK XENU AND ALL THE OTHER MADE UP GODS we were staying with my in-laws, because my mother-in-law who is a retired midwife insisted we went to hospital. I honestly think that, if it had happened at home, I would have gone to bed, and then never woken up again.

Once we reached A&E things went downhill. I collapsed twice (the second time I passed out, I did a wee on a nurse's shoes). I started shaking uncontrollably (this was apparently shock setting in) and when they tried to do an ultrasound they couldn't see anything at all, because at that point I had bled four pints of my own blood into my own abdomen. I was made to sign quite a few forms, but still didn't understand that this was all quite serious when they told me I'd have to have surgery. My exact reaction was, and I quote "Are you serious? Fucking hell". Those would have been some of my last words.

Note to self - must think of better last words.

The reasons I'll still here to tell you this story are many and varied, but some of my highlights are:

1. My mother-in-law. As previously mentioned, I'm not one for making a fuss, and once the internal bleeding started, it took some pressure off the rupture site, and I actually didn't feel too bad. I would have stayed at home, and died.

2. Because it was Christmas Day, we were able to cruise right into A&E, be immediately assessed, quite rapidly transferred, and because it was Christmas Day, there weren't many other patients in the lady-care unit I was transferred to. Therefore, when I collapsed no less than five nurses were around to assist.

3. The on-call surgeon was already prepped and ready in the hospital, because he had just finished doing an emergency Cesarean birth. Therefore, it has just occurred to me, I was saved due to the birth of a baby on Christmas Day.

And I still have the nerve to be an atheist.

The long and short of this is: Give. Blood. You simply don't know who may need it next.

(If anyone has found this post searching for "ectopic pregnancy", please feel free to contact me with any questions. It is a truly hideous experience, one of the most difficult things I've ever been through, but you can get out the other side. Please get in touch.)

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22 July 2011
Forgive me, Blogger, for I have sinned.

It is exactly three years since my last blog post. In that time, everything has changed immensely, and also nothing has changed at all. I'm still in a job I hate, I'm still not getting enough sleep and I still can't drive.

I have, however, got married, come to terms with having a dog, moved house, changed jobs, almost died, got another tattoo and met Jon Ronson.

I will write about some and/or all of those things over the next few weeks.

Hello all. Welcome back.

*the most common search term to find this blog. I dread to think.


Hello there. Warm, isn't it?

Who the hell are you?
My name is Sharon, I am clinging firmly to the illusion that I am still in my twenties, and I am the owner of this blog. And if you didn't know that, I'm not sure what you're doing here.

Who is Shazzle then?
That is me, you idiot. I used to blog completely anonymously, and then I got bored of that and started posting photographs of my face. It is an - admittedly completely useless - attempt to stop my twitter account and blog being found by past, present or future employers/clients. It's not working all that well.

What the hell is the site all about then?
Funny you should ask. I have no idea. It started off as something to muck about with at work, and has turned in to something that I muck about with at work, so there's no real content, meaning, direction or point to it. Which is quite a good reflection of my life. [NB - this is a rubbish rip-off of the excellent Rob Newman "pointless fuck" joke.]

Why the title?
It used to be called What did you say? because that was my usual refrain as I don't always hear people when they talk to me, because I get distracted by what they are wearing or something happening just behind them. But I thought that sounded slightly aggressive, so I changed it to the first thing that made me laugh. It was then called Drugs Make Me Cool, which at the time was an ironic reference to the fact that I was always trying to give up smoking, and I am genuinely afraid that most fancy recreational drugs will kill me. For example, penicillin would kill me, and I've never taken cocaine because I think that might kill me too. I do like valium though. The Drugs title brought me a lot of new hits from people trying to "make drugs". So I changed the title again to Dreadful Nonsense because that is how Stephen Fry described his book and if that's good enough for him, it's certainly good enough for me.

What do you do for a living?
I used to have a cool job, where I would go to comedy and music venues every night, and sit in the dark at the back of the room where I would sneer at the performers and then go home and write nasty things that would be published the next day in the newspaper. This was because I enjoyed making snide and flippant comments about things people have often put their very souls into creating. Still, someone has to.

These days, I work with recovering alcoholics and drug addicts. No, I'm not still a journalist. I'm an addictions counsellor.

Where do you live?
Thank you for asking. I left London once the urge to kill others became stronger than the urge to kill myself, and I now live in Lewes, which is near Brighton in the south east of England. It's a very odd place. Odd in a very brilliant way.

I live with my husband D and our dog CJ, a lot of tomato plants, a large collection of Tigger pillows (mine), statues of angels (mine), hundreds of tennis balls (CJ's) and a huge collection of books about war (D's).

What is your favourite colour?
It seems that this Frequently Asked Question style approach is quite a restricting style, since I have already run out of questions to ask myself. If you have any further questions, do tweet/email/yell at me and I'll do my best to respond. But to keep learning about me, why not read my blog every day and then ring me and ask me to elaborate on the stupid points that I made while over-tired the night before?