This blog will no longer have any new posts added to it.
It will remain online, so your able to read what has been previously written.
My new writing space which is now up and running can be found at
This blog will no longer have any new posts added to it.
It will remain online, so your able to read what has been previously written.
My new writing space which is now up and running can be found at
I’m saying goodbye … goodbye to ‘Fragz’.
Because most of you know me as ‘Fragmentz’ but, actually, my name is Helen.
It always has been.
After writing ‘Saying Goodbye to Fragmentz – Part 1′ I had so many ideas on a Part 2, and probably a 3/4 as the final ones, but as it happens I don’t have those thoughts any more. I think the first one has done a good enough job of trying to explain a bit of of why its time to move on. I had planned to write this sooner – but a bit of illness got in the way – so its taken longer than expected, however I’m now feeling a deep sense of ‘now is the time’.
So this is it. The last ‘Fragmentz’ post.
Now is the time, to say goodbye. To an identity. A persona. Something that to begin with gave me a place to speak out about things I couldn’t vocalise. A thing that then became a place to be louder as my confidence increased. A space to connect and ‘be with’ others and feel less alone. To be part of the collective voice speaking out against and writing about particular issues.
Over the last year, a couple of people have asked me ‘so, how did Fragz come about’ – and for a while I had intended on writing a blog/about me page that explained, and that also talked about the merging of two identities. Because, increasingly overly the last 12 months, thats what it has felt like … that Helen and Fragz have, instead of being separate, have merged and become one. Because for a time, they were two different beings. One who on the face of it could not express openly in front of people the torture of mind and life, but who could write about it. As life has changed and moved, and I’ve grown and gotten stronger, so has that voice that could not speak. I have a voice now. As Helen. But I kept the voice as Fragz too. As I wrote in Part 1 – I then became defined. Defined by Fragmentz, and the stuff Fragz writes about/talks about/tweets about. And, don’t get me wrong, I know who did the defining. Me. I felt needed. Wanted. Part of something.
But I also became defined by the abuse. By the past. By my story.
Read Part 1 for more on that - saying good-bye to fragmentz-part 1
Most of you know me as ‘Fragmentz’ but, actually, my name is Helen.
When I started a new little journey 18 months ago, to seek out a healthier and happier life, I had no idea where it would take me, or that it would bring me to the place I’m at right now. I’m definitely not healthier, thats for sure. But I started the journey of trying to seek more happiness. More settled-ness, healing, restoration, wholeness. Big asks huh?
My GP wanted me to do EMDR (for Post Trauma Stress Disorder) therapy. My heart didn’t/doesn’t. Still didn’t/doesn’t even though it remains on the table as an option …
Because despite making great strides forwards in learning to live again, compared to how things were 5/6 years ago, my mind was/is still raging in battle. Battling nightmares that persistently persue me and don’t leave alone, flashbacks, anxiety, and a never ending fight with God.
We fell out. Big time. When I left London, moved back to Lincolnshire, I felt I had lost absolutely everything. I had my spent my life fighting to survive and thrive, and to be strong, and to ‘serve’ and do everything I thought God had wanted of me, incl going to London, and yet it wasn’t enough. London, at the same time as being the best two years of my life, also became the worst two, especially when in the last few weeks of my time there, what happened happened. In an instant – life went from being quite tough already/difficult to being life changing for the worse and intolerable. London will always be a reminder of ‘that day’ – which is why its so hard to go back.
So, God. Yeah, we fell out. Well, I fell out with him is probably fairer to say. And maybe ‘fell out’ is quite a light expression to what really happened? Because what really happened was I spent weeks and weeks and months screaming at Him. Screaming obscenities and anything and everything that was in my mind. My favourite name for Him was ‘sadistic Nazi bastard’. I call God every name I could come with. If He, or anyone in fact had physically been present in those days of rage- well, I dread to think.
But God wouldn’t leave me alone. He kept flooding my mind. But at the same time as the dark. There were times when I felt schizophrenic. Seriously. And then one day, laying on my bed, in a drunken haze, smoking, I had a bit of a ‘moment’. A weird moment. But a moment all the same, that made me make a decision I now regret. I’d been awake over 28 hours, and I was hallucinating. But in the ceiling I saw the face of Jesus (if you’ve been following my tweets the last few days, I’ve been rethinking about this and asking about other peoples experiences of this). Staring down at me, was the face of Jesus. And to begin with his eyes, were bright, but I couldn’t look Him in the eyes. How could I look at Him, in the eyes. Those eyes. Those eyes, turned red. Burning red, staring into me, into my soul. Beating down on me, scorching red. And then they turned to black. The face remained the same, but the eyes, they changed from kind, to burning red, to black. And they never left me.
As your probably thinking – and I was definitely thinking, this was all a bit mental right?
I had to move, jumped off my bed, left the room, paced the flat screaming for Him to leave me alone. For God to leave me alone. To go away. That I hated Him. And in that instant the face left my mind. And I drunk myself into more drunkenness and finally fell asleep on the floor in my dining room.
That was the moment I decided I could not bring myself to believe in a Jesus that would torment me so much any more. That I could not believe in a Jesus who apparently is light, and love, and peace and mercy, justice, and love. Because that wasn’t what I was getting. When I tried to look at God all I got and felt was pain, hurt, torment, anger, fear.
So I walked away. I then spent the next 6 months holed up, away from a lot of people and not engaging with anything or anyone. Except the people who were paid to be in my life, and I had no choice about otherwise I’d have been sectioned.
As time progressed, things started to change. I started to learn to live again. Started to learn a bit of normality again, in terms of functioning as a human. And ever so slowly I got swept back up into going to church again. Swept back into being part of the community I lived in, made friends again, started to venture out/work and generally work on this thing called ‘life’ again. And thats whats been happening over 5 years. Slowly, and often painfully, but things started to change. And those years have bought me to this place, where I am today where I can completely say, despite the difficult days that still arise, I am glad to be alive.
But this thing with God. Well, I never sorted it. Properly. I started going back to church, sure. I started trying to pray again, sure. I started trying to sing the songs again. I started helping with the youth again, trying to be the person everyone once knew me as/expected (or that I expected them to expect). I even re embarked on the journey of discovering whether ‘ordination’ was for me. Which was the reason I’d gone to London in the first place. To spend time ‘serving’/working for churches to explore if that was what I was being called to. Turns out it isn’t. But it was by starting that particular journey again, and the one I had embarked on 18 months ago, to seek out better health and happiness that got me to a point of revelation.
Several things happened – and I’ll leave writing about those in detail for now. But several things happened, big things, that got me to the point of realising that I had NEVER gone fully back to God and said sorry. I had turned my back but I had never turned back around towards Him. Properly. And through some random incidences got a sense of ‘now is the time’. Someone challenged me quite recently as whether I was a Christian or not. I was a bit surprised and taken aback, even though it was something I often wondered about. How dare they ask me outright. Of course I’m a Christian. Or was I? I think deep down, I was. Always have been. But there was this sense of needing to repair my relationship with God. And turn my focus back toward Him. Turn my body back in His direction. Start again, with trying to look up at heavens and seeing God. To turn my eyes back to His.
And through some real moments of weirdness, that I can ONLY describe as being those ‘God type moments’ that usually want to make me cringe and puke when people mention, God has bought me to a place of being able to come back.
I fell out with God. But He never fell out with me. I walked away and turned my back on Him. But he never did me. And that has been so evident. So evident in the fight. Because He has never let go of me.
Part of the journey I embarked on 18 months ago, that I keep mentioning was about this. And its led me to a new church. I had spent a bit of time last year, seeking, searching. As some of you may remember from my tweets/blogging of it, it was not overly successful. In fact it wasn’t successful at all, incl me having a go at one of them during the service, getting my stuff and walking out in a rage (do this new church really know what they’ve let themselves in for?!) …
I’d stopped looking to be honest. Couldn’t be bothered any more. Couldn’t be bothered going to any more churches that were completely off key and where I wanted to punch the Pastor. Couldn’t be bothered to visit another church that I’d been to four times and no one spoke. Or where you felt the eyes of everyone stare into when you walked into the service. Or where the coffee at the end is in a coffee shop where everyone goes into their little clique and your stood there, alone, like a div OR any more churches where their ‘ministry’ times consisted of you being pushed to the front and forced into having hands laid on you (two of my worst nightmares – being touched by strangers or people I don’t like/trust (if you know me or I trust you, its fine, you’ll know if its not!) and having to go to the front for any kind of prayer - whats that about? Why isn’t the back just as good?)
So, I’d given up, but by accident discovered this new church. I’d been working a few days a week away from my home town, and that week I had to cover some shifts in the town of this church, about 20 miles away. It was a client who told me about it. Because of the food bank they run. So we went one evening. And visited. And then I decided that if I was going to be working in that town, and visit the evening stuff a bit, I wanted to check out a morning. Check out that the mornings were as authentic as the evenings. That the mornings were not a complete contrast. So I went in a morning. And I’ve never stopped going (aren’t they lucky).
That was about 3 months ago … and its been revelationary. And life changing.
And I’ve not walked out. I’m hoping that If I was going to I would have by now. I’m learning to try and resist the temptation to deliberately annoy them so they reject me. I’m learning to try and accept the kindness, love and warmth they have extended out to me. I’m learning that they have stocks in ‘Kleenex’ as there is alway someone there with the box when needed, which so far has been most weeks. The flood gates have opened. I’m learning to accept the email sent the other day from the Prayer Coordinator woman, who has been praying for me about the health stuff, is genuine when she say’s they’ll stand with me whatever it takes. Soon after starting, and after speaking to a friend who also knew of the church and its leadership, at her advice, I met with the Pastor. I needed to try and tell him my story. Who I was. Who I am. Where I have been, but also where I want to be. Because other wise, if I had not, if no one knew, it would have got too difficult. Too easy to walk away. To easy to not cope with their love, and welcome and to run – even though I would have kicked myself forever. But I knew I would leg it when it got tough. So I made a conscious and deliberate effort to open myself up, be vulnerable, and trust that this was and is a safe place and space to do so. To maybe find and explore and seek some of that healing, restoration, wholeness. And so far it has been. It is.
And through a random set of coincidences, which I’ll have to write about another day, over on the new blog, I got to a point where a sense of ‘now is the time’ that I’ve been feeling about everything, incl ending ‘Fragz’ overwhelmed. And so on the 20th October I gave my life back to God. And I don’t know who is reading this, some of you might be cynical, some of you might be sighing, some of you might be happy, like the one or two people I told immediately after screamed with joy. I don’t know what your reaction is, and to be honest, I don’t care any more. Because I’m done with the fighting. The battling. Please know this was not some hyped dramatically crazy scene. Nothing that happened that day was hype. And I would be the first to shout it out if it had been (if you know me well, you would know this is not the sort of stuff I normally go in for). It was just deep. because that day, through several sets of things happening, I truly believe God was calling me back to him, again. Again again again. Because He has been for years. And that the sense of ‘now is the time’ overwhelmed me, alongside the several other things that happened.
So, what has this got to do with Fragmentz I hear you ask? Good question.
What its got to do with Fragz is this: through that experience on the 20th October, and the thing that happened earlier on that morning/at the beginning of the service, I feel as though the thoughts and dilemma’s I was having regarding my identity, and who I am, including my ‘name’ were boldly taken on. See, on the way to church the week before and that day I had been quite cocky with God. And given Him a challenge. A really stupid one. One that would actually be my worst nightmare, and one that I assumed would never ever happen, in a church full of other people. But, it did. I simply cannot explain it. I also can’t explain the song that was sung in the service by the preacher before he preached. And I cant explain the stuff he preached. Because it was all stuff I had challenged God about, and said something on the lines of ‘Look here mate…’. I had a conversation/non conversation that kinda went like this ‘if your listening, I’m challenging you to this … actually no I’m not, because that would be stupid, and would never happen, and I’d hate it/be cross/whatever if it did anyway) and so on. Then I got to the point where I said, literally, ‘Right, actually, fuck it God, if you are listening (which I don’t think you are) that IS what I’m asking for’. I never imagined that it would. But it did.
And it’s not very often I’m not able to explain away some thing, especially when its comes to God stuff. I can always find an explanation. But this … this was/felt/is different … And it addressed everything I had been thinking/battling with regarding who I am. My name. My real name. My ‘Fragmentz’ name and my ‘Helen’ name.
So back to what this has to do with Fragz. This is the thing. That day/that moment I knew, properly knew my name is Helen. I am Helen. He has called me by name. He has, and He did, forever and a day, and He did again on the 20th October. He didn’t call me by Fragmentz. He didn’t use Fragz. But He used Helen. Which was an important detail to me when I was doing that convo/non convo thing I mentioned above, because lots of people call me Fragz. Or H, or Ellie, or other nicknames. Which is fine, but my challenge to God was about Helen.
Because most of you know me as ‘Fragmentz’ but, actually, my name is Helen.
So, I’ve been challenged. Am being challenged. About who I am. Who I really am. My identity. My name. And about taking that back, and living in it. And moving forwards in and with it.
And that is not ‘Fragmentz’, because actually Fragz has served its purpose. I am not the same fragmented person I was back then when Fragz was born. Hell yeah, I’m still battling. I’m still journeying, processing, and this is the VERY beginning of a new journey. One I’m not sure I’ve ever been on before, and I wont lie, its a bit scary. But I’m wanting to, am going to continue the journey, the process, and move on from the start again as me.
I want to, and am learning to reconnect and re engage with God again. As Helen. I am learning to love, and be loved again. As Helen. I want to continue to seek after healing, restoration and wholeness. As Helen. As the person I am. No more Helen and Fragz. Just Helen.
I want to learn to trust, laugh love, live, hope, dream, shine and strive fully again. As Helen.
And I’m back on that journey again … but this time its with God. Properly with God. Deeply with God.
I’m making changes. Changes by saying Goodbye to Fragz, and focussing on other things and withdrawing from some conversations. Not totally, but not being so involved as I was. I’m making lifestyle changes. I’ve made the decision to make this new church ‘my church’ – and seriously, it really has fast become my church (what did they do wrong I hear you ask?!) – I’m committing to focussing on myself, and God. My relationship with God. And so thats meant pulling back and withdrawing from some of the things I’ve been volunteering with. Because ‘now is the time’. I’m committing myself to continuing to seek this healing, restoration and wholeness I’ve talked about. I have no idea how or what shape that is going to take, but I’m opening myself up to it. Because now is the time.
I went to a prayer meeting a few weeks ago, in the evening. They have these nights every now and then that focus on something, like prayer or worship or whatever. So this was a prayer night. And after people had time to pray and reflect, they were asked to share if they had anything. The Pastor, Chris got up, and talked about the church corporately, but also people individually, and the he was sensing God saying this -
‘We cannot alter the past BUT we can bring the past to altar’.
It made me cry (no surprise there) and took me away a bit actually. Because, for the first time in my life I’ve gotten to the point where I’m realising/have realised that I cannot change the past. I cannot remove it. I cannot erase it and make it go away. And I cant continue ‘living in it’. But I can bring it and give it to God. I CAN bring it and give it to God.
And thats what I’m wanting to do. I cant alter the past, but I want to bring it to the altar. Of God. Every time. Each and every time something comes up, trips me up, haunts me, plagues me. The nightmares, the memories, the flashbacks, the overwhelming senses of darkness that overcome at times, the person I was, I am, and going to be. Everything. I’ve given my life back to God, but life is still tough. Theres no quick fix to any of this. My health is still crap too, and seemingly getting worse right now. BUT I want to look to God. I want to learn to be able to be before the altar of God as I am, with everything I have to bring and know that I am OK. And OK in Gods eyes. I want to learn, in time to fully bring the past to His altar. I took communion, in church, on Sunday just gone, and having not been able to for several years, it felt like another huge significant moment of coming before God and His altar. This is the start. Of a new journey …
And so that is why we end up here. I have so much more to write. So much more I could say, I could be here all night, and this blog would be EVEN longer than it already is. So I’m bringing it to a proper end now …
The end of an era has come, and the start of a new one has begun.
I’ll still be writing. I’ll still be tweeting. Just not here, and not as Fragz.
I’ll still be exploring all things such as life, and faith and how it affects the every day … but the most important thing in all of that is that I’ll be doing it as Helen.
Because you all mostly know me as Fragmentz.
But actually, my name is Helen.
You can connect with me on Twitter – ‘@helen_a13′ or my new writing space which is at www.helenblogs.com (nothing on/done to it yet, but it will over the next week or so).
So, this is it.
After 5 years, all I’m left with to say right now, is thank you. Thank you for being part of the ‘Fragmentz’ journey, at whatever point you have been. Some of you through it all, some of you the last few years, and some the last few months. Whoever you are, and however long you have been part of this – thank you.
You’ve all known me as Fragmentz.
But actually my name is Helen.
And thats who I’m claiming back.
When the darkness overwhelms, fill my emptiness with your mercy,
When the darkness overwhelms, fill my brokenness with your healing,
When the darkness overwhelms, fill my cracked bones with your restoration.
When the darkness overwhelms, fill my black clouds with your light.
When the darkness overwhelms, fill my heart with your hope,
When the darkness overwhelms, fill my mind with your peace.
When the darkness overwhelms, fill my soul with your love.
When the darkness overwhelms, fill my life with your grace.
I’m saying goodbye.
Goodbye to ’Fragmentz’ – both on Twitter and eventually on this blog.
This is the first of a couple of blogs that I’m going to be publishing over the next day or two explaining where things are at and why ‘Fragz’ will no longer be …
It may be a bit ‘bitty’ and long but please bear with me, its really important for me to write this out.
Last year I quietly (yeah, I can do quiet sometimes) embarked on a little journey on my own, a journey to try and seek out a way to live a healthier and happier life. I knew this meant I finally had to address some of the issues my life has and does face, including issues with my self esteem, weight, and the constant horrific nightmares that have plagued me forever and a day, and still do.
See, in the grand scheme of things, the nightmares, the weight, my self esteem have been insignificant. When the bigger picture is about fighting to stay alive, and not die, other things take a back seat. Fade into the background. Are not important. And that has been ok. Because when life was consumed with blackness, and I had a desperate longing to kill myself, and when self harm and destruction was my normal way of coping; having a nightmare, or not thinking I had any value, or whether I was too fat or not didn’t matter. Nothing mattered then.
When I took the overdose, just over 5 years ago, I expected to die. I wanted to die. But I didn’t. I lived. I was alive. But that was about it. I was empty. The years before that, when I thought I was low, and could not get any lower, I did. Life did. Until I was nothing. Or thought I was nothing. But I was alive.
And thats when ‘Fragmentz’ entered the picture. I joined twitter, and was blogging/writing on another site under a different name. During one of the particularly messy months of life, I deleted everything, and went ‘offline’ for a while. And then I realised that writing had become a tool for me. A way to process. A way to reflect, think, sort what was going round my head. An outlet. And so one night, not too long after the OD attempt, with a few bottles of wine and several packets of ciggies I reconnected with the online. And Fragz was born.
That evening had been particularly tough – when it had been decided to let me home, and not section me, the Crises team had taken everything out of my flat that I could have used to hurt myself with, i.e knives/razors. So I smashed the mirror the bathroom. I had a ‘needs must’ mentality. The problem with that was that it was quite a hard mirror to smash. Instead of breaking into big pieces with sharp edges so I could use bits as a makeshift razor, it actually sharded. I continued trying to break it/smash it to get something from it that was useable. In the end I threw it, in temper and frustration. I was walking from the bathroom to the lounge via the kitchen, and I just chucked it, really hard on to the floor. So hard that it did smash this time. But not into anything useful. It smashed into thousands of tiny little pieces. Little shards. Into tiny tiny fragments. And I crumbled on the floor, in the kitchen, surrounded by these tiny tiny little fragments. And thats how I felt. Like tiny little fragments of life, totally smashed and crushed, and broken. (you may remember a blog or a poem I once wrote about a vase smashing into tiny tiny pieces, being broken and broken and broken until all there was left was dust – that was inspired by this). I was alive, but all I was was little fragments of mess and more mess. Thats what my life was. Fragments.
It was the perfect name for twitter, and a blog. In which I vowed to use as my space and place to be as open and honest about how I was feeling as possibly, because for that time of life, I felt totally alone, alienated, and unable to express to anyone what was going on behind the closed doors. I was alive, but I was not pleased about it. I was breathing but I didn’t want to be.
And so I started, tweeting and blogging. And people starting reading, and following, and I started to engage with people again. And as time went by, a few more people followed me, and a few more people would read my blog. And then every now and then I would write something that someone would like, and pass on, and then it was passed on again, until sometimes a blog or something I’d written had thousands of people reading them.
I wrote about depression, self harm, being a survivor of abuse as a child, being a survivor of rape as an adult, about church, God, life, everything and anything in-between. I would write what was on my heart, stuff I was unable to verbally speak out. Stuff that for a long time I was unable to look anyone in the eye and say. Stuff that I felt so ashamed of, and so alone in that I felt unable to even utter that I was struggling to the ‘outside world’ because I didn’t want people to think I was weak.
What I wanted was people to see a happy person. A strong person. The person everyone thought I was. I wanted people to see what they saw, and nothing of behind the closed doors. That meant when I first moved back to Lincolnshire, after the assault, and leaving London, no one knew what had happened/was happening. It felt unsafe.
And yet, I found the space and place to express everything and anything that was going on here. And on twitter. By writing, by poetry, by art, by photography, and by talking, honestly, openly and bluntly online. Because I was ‘fragmentz’. And that was ok. It was OK for Fragz to be herself, because there was a distance. A barrier by default, the computer. It meant I could be honest but not have to look into anyones eyes. Or have them look into mine, because the last thing I would want is people to focus on me, because I inherently believed that I was worth nothing. Even to this day, I struggle at times when people look at me, look me in the eyes, especially if people are being nice to me or we are talking deep. So I find myself looking downwards often. And its why I found myself being able to communicate much more easily online than face to face. Especially when addressing the issues that have affected me, such as the abuse.
I never pretended to be anything online, so much so that my bio has always said ‘I appear to be intellectually challenged at times and very uninteresting. Am good at saying alot about nothing in particular’ because I never sought out for people to take any notice of me. I started on the assumption that no one would anyway, because who cared? But writing, having this blog, being Fragmentz was for me. My outlet. I didn’t care what anyone else thought. I really didn’t (hence managing to often get into confrontations with people).
But I attracted people, because of the things I was writing about. People related and engaged, and I discovered a whole new world of people, online, who were like me. Who had no idea how life turned out to be so fragmented. Who had no idea which way to turn next, or who struggled with the big things and who were not easily placated. I discovered people who knew what it was like to be told ‘get a grip’ or things like ‘God intended all this stuff to happen for a reason’ and could relate to the desperateness of feeling out of control.
As life progressed for me, I started to manage to control life a little bit better. With the help of professional’s who took me through counselling, and a CPN who to this day I will always be forever thankful for, I started to learn to live again. Slowly. And it feels like its been really slow. But I started to learn to live again. I started to learn to laugh again, and very very painfully started to learn that I could and can love others again, and that possibly they can love me. And so thats what I worked on. I worked hard on controlling the self harm desires, the destructive behaviour, the smoking. I rebuilt. Rebuilt to get to where I am right now, where I sit and write this blog, right now, having not self harmed for several years (something I’d done for 10 years or more) and being deeply grateful that I did not succeed in my attempt to die.
And that took me to last year, where as I said at the beginning I embarked on my own little journey, during which my GP suggested counselling again. Something called EMDR, which is a type of therapy that focusses specifically on trauma. At that point I’d been discharged from all mental health services for a couple of years, and the thought of going back into the ‘system’ albeit in a totally different way ie through choice, and it being a community service as opposed to a crises one. He felt that it could be a way forwards. I was not convinced. And so I started to think about other options available …
One of the things I am very good at, is believing things for other people. I’m very passionate about people, other people, and their value and worth. I believe one hundred per cent that people are beautiful, complex but beautiful, and that everyone, everyone deserves love. Everyone except me. And in the process of rebuilding life, learning to live, laugh and love, the most hardest part was the ‘being loved’ part. I became so aware of the painful reality that deep deep down in my soul I don’t believe I deserve to be loved. But it was easier to focus on other people, throw myself into loving others, by doing the job I did, by being part of a church again, by supporting people online and offline in support networks and survivor groups, and generally be the strong person for everyone else. And forget about what I felt about myself. Except I couldn’t/you cant. Its not that easy to just forget, anything, whether its an experience/trauma or just what you have inside your head. For a while I managed it, but all the time it would come back to me, my own failings, my hatred for myself. But I’d push it to the side. I’d gone back to church, I as rebuilding life, doing everything we should do to be a good person. But it didn’t and hasn’t bridged the gap. The hole. I even embarked last year on trying to pick up where I left off when I moved to London. The whole point of taking a few years out to go and work for a church in East London had been to progress with the idea that God was calling me into ‘ministry’ (ha). So I started to pursue that again, last year, too. Thinking that it would bridge the gap. Fill the hole. Sort everything out. Make me a better person. Thinking it was a good step forwards, picking up where things were so abruptly halted. But it wasn’t meant to be. The Church of England don’t want me as it happens, but thats ok, I’m not sure I want it either but it went very badly, to the point where one meeting I had with the one person I needed to impress I was left me unable to speak. In the meeting. I couldn’t open my mouth. As you’ve gathered, I’m not often lost for words. But I could not speak.
So the journey progressed, I continued growing stronger, jumping around a bit when it came to God, and church, but I got stronger. Have got stronger. AM stronger. And I started to started being able to vocalise my story more openly, able to support other woman who had experienced similar situations, and be able to share where I have been. I got more and more involved in conversations about abuse, rape, surviving etc. I wrote a couple of blogs, that got a lot of attention, and I’ve found myself being asked every now and then to write something specific or to be involved in a particular conversation. I found myself becoming the person people thought of if they needed to talk about the issues I became known for writing about. I became known as ‘fragmentz – the survivor’. I had several organisations approach me to link up. Several radio stations contacted me, all via ‘fragmentz’. But that felt like a good place to be. A strong place to be. Surely that meant I was doing ok? That meant all was fine, I’d come through the darkness, I’d battled the clouds, and come through the other side. After all, thats what people told me, thats what I told people, gave the impression of, and to some extent its not wrong. I’ve passed through the darkest of dark for the time being, and can look back and see there is hope. Hope for someone like me, a survivor. And I felt I needed to be there/support/tell this to others.
And so ‘Fragmentz’ evolved. Fragmentz moved from being the broken shards, simply writing because there was no where else to express what was happening and the horrors of life, to being someone who ‘spoke out’. Became a voice. The last six months that continued more and more, my time line got busier, and I started to get involved in stuff both online and offline. I started focussing mostly on issues that affected woman, tweeting and retweeting and throwing myself into the never ending conversation about things like rape culture, and the never ending talk on issues that were in the media that day relating to abuse and rape. It felt really empowering to begin with. I felt like I had something to contribute. And that I was strong enough to. And so it went. But it soon started to consume me. It soon became the only thing I talked about it. The only thing I tweeted about, or retweeted. The only conversation I’d have with people would be about violence against woman, rape, rape culture, my own story. It became really heavy. Really heavy on my heart. But I continued because its what I had become, its what I knew, what people knew me as. I think I became dependant on it. Defined by it.
All the time in the back of my head was the journey I had started that I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, 18 months ago. Seeking out a healthier and happier me. To begin with, being this person, being ‘Fragz’ felt like that was a part of it, but over the months I then started to question who Fragmentz was. Who Fragz is. I started to question whether I had become two different people. Or whether ‘Fragmentz’ had become more of a persona than anything, and that I was living up to that persona. And that was impacting how I wrote, tweeted, lived. And how I related to and communicated with people offline too.
A few weeks ago, someone approached me and asked me to share my story for something they were involved with. I don’t know why, because usually I’d be happy to, because I had gotten good at talking the talk, saying what I needed to, not going too deep so it affected me particularly but being explicit enough that I was able to connect with and reach out to other people who needed support that I could offer – but anyway, I would normally say yes. But this time I was not sure, and spoke to someone who I respect very much. Their only hesitation, and their piece of advice was to just consider whether I was starting to become defined by the ‘fragmentz’ identity, and whether or not that was holding me back from ‘living’ and moving forwards. I remember them telling me how much more I am than just ‘fragmentz’. It jaw dropped me. They were right. Because they summed up, and hit the nail on the head on a few of the vague thoughts I’d started to have myself. I had/have become defined. I have defined myself. And I was living to that definition.
I love writing, blogging, tweeting, connecting, chatting.
I am a fighter. I am a survivor, of abuse, rape, depression, suicide, self harm and a few other things in between.
But that is not ALL I am.
I am rediscovering that those things are not ALL that I am. I do not have to be defined by them.
I have also rediscovered God. In a way I never expected. Which I will write about tomorrow/over the next couple of days, because that is also incredibly important, and has also HUGELY impacted the decision to move forwards and say goodbye to Fragmentz.
Because you all mostly know me as Fragmentz.
But actually, my name is Helen.
I was reminded the other evening about the day, a few years ago, when I got into an eyes red rage fight with a street preacher. Actually, maybe it is unfair to say that we had a fight, because I never gave him the chance to speak. I’m amazed actually that I didn’t punch the guy.
It was in the middle of a city centre. That I was visiting. And waiting for a friend to arrive for coffee.
A few minutes earlier, as I was arriving at our meeting place, I could see the crowd gathered, so being the nosey that I am decided to go and see what was going on. I stood at the back of the circled crowd of about 60 people, with shopping bags in one hand and a smoke in the other. And I watched. And I listened.
I was starting to get a bit bored, but decided to stick it out a bit longer because my friend had text to say they would be 5/10 minutes as they were running late.
So I stuck around and continued to watch and listen. And that’s when it got a little bit more interesting.
Because that was when someone else, who had also been watching and listening decided to have their say too. Someone who looked like maybe he had been sleeping rough. Someone who looked like maybe he could do with a good wash, a shave, some clean/non ripped clothes and a good meal or five. Someone who maybe looked as though he had been in a few scraps. Someone whose words were slightly slurred, because they’d perhaps had a little bit too much of whatever cheap alcohol he had been able to lay his hands on.
Someone who looked like they just needed some love and care.
Someone who felt that he needed to respond to what the guy on the stool was shouting. Someone who felt that life’s darkness and pain was better dulled with alcohol and drugs, and someone who felt that we could find our own happiness. He was someone who needed to tell the crowd to just be happy being who you are.
This guy made me smile. Because despite his obvious dishevelled-ness and alcohol induced merriness he had a beautiful twinkle in his eye (the eye that was not black and healing from wounds) and an apparent desire, however big or small to cling on to whatever life was offering him.
I’ll never forget seeing the shock in his face, and I’ll never forget the horrified feelings I felt when, whilst addressing the crowd with his own ‘be happy’ message, the preacher guy, having stepped down from his stool grabbed him by the shoulders and pulled him backwards, so he could get back up on his stool, and tower above the merry man, whilst still having a grip on the merry mans shoulders.
And with one hand gripped on his shoulder, which appeared to make the merry man powerless to move, with the other hand he started waving and pointing at the merry man below him.
And then it started. The preacher man, holding and pointing started shouting at the gathered crowd, which was getting bigger as each second went by.
Addressing the crowd, pointing at the merry man he was shouting at the top of voice –
‘do YOU want to be like this’, ‘do YOU want to end up looking like THAT because if you don’t follow God you will’
and a couple of other things I don’t recall. I simply could not comprehend or believe what I was witnessing. And then he yelled
‘do you want to be like him? a nothing, worthless, a no one’
What? Did I just hear that right? Well I didn’t have to question long because a second after he said it the first time, he repeated it again, pointing at the merry man and asking the crowd if they wanted to end up like him, a nothing, worthless, a no one.
The look of bemusement and bewilderment in the merry mans face will never leave me.
It was at that point I saw red. It flashed across my eyes.
I grabbed my bags, stormed through the crowd, up to these two men, one on a stool with a firm hold on a vulnerable merry man and intervened. And when I say intervened I got hold of the merry man and moved him out of the way, and put myself in his place, but instead of facing the crowd and having this guy looking down on me and berate me, I got my finger in face and started shouting back as loudly as he had been shouting at the crowd.
As I said at the beginning, I’m amazed I didn’t punch the guy. Or swear. But I didn’t. However, my mouth ran away with me (what a surprise I hear you say) …
I shouted at him how dare he. How dare he speak to someone like that, how dare he lay his fingers on someone, how dare he pass judgement on someone. How dare he abuse and mistreat the vulnerable. How dare he suggest that someone was not worth anything? How dare he?
I shouted at him that the Jesus I knew would love a person like this. That the Jesus I know and I have read about in the Bible would love, cherish and care for a merry man like him, that the Jesus I know about is a Jesus who believes in people, all people, including this merry man being worthwhile, precious, valuable and definitely not a no body. That the Jesus I knew about was a Jesus of grace and mercy and kindness. And on I went, for about 5 minutes, telling him and the crowd about the Jesus I believed in which was everything opposite to what he had been preaching.
I ended by shouting at him that the Jesus I knew about would LOVE this man.
At this point, the merry man had wondered off. I stopped to draw breath and realised I had run out of things to say, so I picked up my bags, turned on my heels, leaving the street preacher speechless, and a crowd clapping and shouting as I stormed back out of the circle and back down the street we were in.
Why am I writing about this now? Well, simply because I have been thinking about it. Every now and then over the last few years I’ve thought about the merry man, wondered where he is now, and hoping he is ok. I hope that he knew he was/is loved by someone. And I’ve thought about the street preacher and the continued untold damage he is doing in ‘Gods name’ and hoping those that he affects negatively are being scooped up by gentle souls who can whisper the real truths into their lives.
I think about the anger it stirred in my soul. The red rage that flashed because someone in front of my very eyes was being told they were not worth anything. That person could have been anyone. It could have been me.
It has been me, over the years.
I don’t believe anyone, who ever they are, where ever they have come from, wherever they have been, whatever they have done is worthless.
This is what stirs my soul into action, to speak out against injustices when I can/when I see it, such as this time, or other times when I speak out loudly on behalf of other people.
Its what stirs my soul to work with vulnerable people, be it young people, the dying, people with mental health issues, people with learning disabilities, people on the fringes of society for whatever reason.
I believe that Jesus loves people, including this merry man. That He is full of grace, and mercy, and that He cherishes and sees all as worthwhile.
I just hope/long for the day when l fully believe that that includes me too.
This is for YOU.
I dont know if you are a friend, some one I say hi to once in a while, or some one I have not yet met, but this is for YOU.
I don’t know if your a friend of a friend, or a tweeter that just happens to pass by, or maybe this just lands in your lap because its meant to, whatever the case may be, this is for YOU.
I dont know where you have come from or where you are going, but this is for YOU.
I dont know the intimate details of your desires, but this is for YOU.
I dont know the deepest darkest secrets that you daren’t reveal, but this is for YOU.
I dont know why tears fall from your eyes like a never ending waterfall, but this is for YOU.
I dont know what hurt you hide behind the smile, but this is for YOU.
I dont know what the scars on the arms represent, but this is for YOU.
I dont know what the slashes that you hide behind clothes mean, but this for YOU.
I dont know the story behind your tired and weary eyes, but this is for YOU.
I dont know what it is that makes you curl up and want to die, but this is for YOU.
I dont know your story, but this is for YOU.
This is for YOU.
YOU are wonderfully unique.
YOU are valuable.
YOU are special.
YOU are good enough.
YOU are forgiven.
YOU are strong.
YOU are courageous.
YOU are brave.
YOU make the world a better place.
YOU have a purpose.
YOU have a future.
YOU are important.
YOU can hold on.
YOU can make it.
YOU can live through the darkest night,
YOU can rise up from the ashes.
YOU can lift your head high once again.
YOU can live in hope once again.
YOU can learn to laugh once again
YOU can learn to love and be loved once again.
YOU can dare to dream once again.
YOU are not a mistake.
YOU cannot be replaced.
YOU are being thought of, right now, right this very minute.
YOU, yes YOU, beautiful YOU.
YOU are on someones mind, my mind.
YOU are precious and YOU are loved.
There are some images that you just can not erase from your mind right?
I have quite a few.
One of those images is watching the face of a woman as I stood in a room with my hands behind my back, watching her, a daughter holding the hands of her father, as he took his last breath, and passed away.
Another image I will never forget is the face of another man, whose hand I was holding and whose face I studied, as he too moved on from this life to whatever it beyond it.
I will never forget watching a lady, whose family were travelling back from the States to be with her, battle with her breathing, and eventually become too tired to keep the fight. I sat vigil, in place of those loved ones who were in a plane above the seas. There was music playing, and I laid a rose by her hands as she slipped away.
Another image in my mind is watching another scene unfold one evening, as another person crippled with illness and disease died. That day I cradled and comforted them and silently cried as they took their last exhales. A few hours earlier, in the same shift I had nursed with a colleague someone else, and stood back watching as family said their goodbyes, and as she slipped away. By 8.30 that evening, myself, and my team (I was the Senior Care Leader) and the Clinical Nurse in Charge sat in the empty dining room, crying. Together. We cried. Myself and the Nurse went out and smoked, and smoked. And we cried, and wondered if we could keep doing what we did. But then a pager went, the ciggie’s went out, the tears were dried, and the night continued. I stayed on to support the night shift coming onto duty, and on we went …
On and on I went, day in and day out. Sitting with people as they died. Comforting people, crying with people, laughing with people, remembering with people. Doing life with people, more importantly being part of the process of doing ‘end of life’ with people.
Because we are all born. And we all die. And for that season of my life, my purpose was to be there in the midst of that, in the midst of the pain, the darkness, the journey of moving on from this life to another.
See, some of you know me as @fragmentz who writes and tweet’s a lot about nothing much, which is fine, because that is what/who I tell you I am. Some of you will know me as @fragmentz who was a nursery nurse, a youth worker and a church worker. And then some of you will know me as someone who has just spent 5 years working in a nursing home, which as well as providing care for the elderly, also provided end of life care to anyone who was dying. That meant we cared for, looked after, nursed, supported and provided emotional love to people of all ages, from all backgrounds and situations who were dying.
Initially my job was as a Senior Care Lead, working ‘on the floor’ providing the practical care that people who are sick need. That was me in a uniform changing beds, bathing, washing, supporting people to eat and drink, administering medications, being part of a team of people ensuring the very best of care was provided so that the people we were nursing were comfortable. My role involved liaising with the Nurse in Charge, with Dr’s, with other healthcare professionals, families, and most importantly the patient themselves. It involved ensuring the staff I worked with kept the very highest standards of care possible and leading by setting a good example. It was tough, really really tough.
What would be tougher would be then moving into a more ‘pastoral role’. I was asked to become the ‘activities coordinator/pastoral overseer’ and became responsible specifically for supporting the people we were seeing coming to us specifically to die.
And this is why I am writing this blog. Because then I became so much more involved in the ‘big picture’. Became so much more involved in the holistic element of caring for people, especially those who are dying. I became the person who had the time to sit with people and their families for hours on end. I was the person who had the time to sit with and explain options, talk about the next stage, what the Dr’s said, what could or could not be done, and so it goes on … I was the person to support the patients and their families see through whatever was going to come, and for those people it would be death.
Because that is why they were with us. That is why they came to us, either from home or hospital, so that they could be cared for well in their last few days. Because they were in them. Maybe months, weeks or days. Mostly weeks and days.
Today we have seen the review of the Liverpool Care Pathway for dying patients Independent Report released. And its recommendation is for it to end. To be phased out by the end of the year. This is from the Panel Press release …
‘The Liverpool Care Pathway should be phased out and replaced by an individual end of life care plan, an independent review led by Baroness Julia Neuberger recommended today.
The review was commissioned by Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb in January 2013, because of serious concerns arising from reports that patients were wrongly being denied nutrition and hydration whilst being placed on the Pathway’.
For those who don’t know – ‘The Liverpool Care Pathway for the Dying Patient (LCP) is a UK care pathway covering palliative care options for patients in the final days or hours of life. It has been developed to help doctors and nurses provide quality end-of-life care’ (source: Wikipedia)
And it is something I have experience of working with. It is something I have seen implemented properly, and something I have seen working well. It IS a tool that when used as it was designed to be used can ensure that the suffering and pain of someone who is dying is kept as minimal as possible. That they are comfortable, pain free and are afforded their last days and hours in dignity. Which is what my role was there to ensure, that people were comfortable, pain free and dying in dignity. It is a tool that when used properly and well can be individual, can be done in conjunction with personal care plans and can ensure that the care a person receives is personalised to them.
Today the social media has been awash with comment. Comment, views, thoughts and opinions, from some people who know a bit about it, and some people who know little about it (and a few people who know a lot about it). Much of the conversation has been negative. I have tried to engage with people. I have tried to engage with the person who suggests that LCP is ‘evil and unchristian’. He knows this because they heard this on a radio phone in where a few people spoke of their negative experiences. I’ve seen tweets that say outrightly that nurses, care staff and people who dedicate their lives to caring for the dying are murderers, sick, have no compassion, don’t care, should die themselves or be thrown into jail. I have tried to engage with people who are out to criticise and who refuse to actually research, learn and understand what LCP really is, what it really stands for and does, and why.
The report acknowledges that the panel ‘recognised that, when applied correctly, the Liverpool Care Pathway does help patients have a dignified and pain-free death. And they support the principles underpinning it’.
So, what is at fault here? Really? Is it really the Liverpool Care Pathway which has been implemented successfully for many thousands of people enabling them to die in comfort, and without pain, or is it lack of understanding, training and the misuse of something? And don’t get me wrong, where this tool has been used and abused, the outcome is horrific. Wrong and horrific. I do not doubt or deny that. But why is that not being challenged and dealt with? Why are we seeing, because of the failings of a few, the entire LCP abolished?
This can only be a bad thing. It IS a bad thing, and a very sad day for end of life care.
If you look deeper you will find the tweets that talk about how the last days of ‘Mum/Dad/Brother/Sister’ were kept dignified, and that they were able to pass away from this life to another without battle. Without pain. And what it meant to the patient, and to the families.
If you look deeper you will find the stories of people who were helped immensely on the LCP, families who have nothing but praise for and the staff who work tirelessly. But you have to dig deep, because at the moment the over riding theme we are seeing talked about is about ‘starving people to death’ or ‘people being dehydrated to death’.
Lets be clear here, if thats what you are reading in relation to LCP, then that IS NOT THE LIVERPOOL CARE PATHWAY BEING IMPLEMENTED PROPERLY.
Never once did I see anyone refused food or water. That is not what it is about. Whatever the media or the hype might tell you.
What is about, and what we must must must make sure we have is guidelines in how to ensure that those who are dying, who are already at the point of no treatment (LCP is also not about refusing treatment, it is something implemented once that decision has already been made), have the right to die well.
We have midwives and processes to bring babies into the world.
We must have processes and people dedicated to ensuring people pass out of this world well too.
I’ve read some damning comments today. Please do not tar us all with the same brush. There are many compassionate people out there working day in and day out to make a difference to the the most very vulnerable, the dying.
Another image has entered my mind today whilst thinking/talking/reading about the LCP.
Its of my dear dear Gran.
I remember cradling her for hours on end, one night, in the hospital, the night after she had been told she was dying. That there was no more treatment left, and that it would be days, not weeks. I sat with her all night, in a ward, in a hospital bed as she shook and screamed in pain. As she cried in delirium because her body was torturing her. I cried as she cried in pain, and prayed for it to end. For the pain to end. Eventually she was given enough pain relief to stop her screaming. But we could not touch her, because her whole body was consumed by it. Even to gently stroke her hand, in her sleep she would wince. 12 hrs later, the Liverpool Care Pathway was commenced. After much debate as to whether or not she could be moved, she was transferred to the nursing home that had been her home for 7 years. And on the LCP she remained.
For the few weeks that she clung on, with the LCP in place, she was able to be made comfortable. She was given water when she needed it. She was given food when she could take it, but she was equally not forced when she could not. She was not subjected to endless blood pressure checks, blood tests, Dr’s coming round for ‘this and that’, endless routine tests to see what else could be done. She was allowed to rest, and get to the point of being totally pain free, so we could sit with her, hold her hands, laugh and reminisce with her in her moments of awakeness. It meant we could spend some precious time with her at peace, instead of seeing her screaming out in pain.
That is what the Liverpool Care Pathway ensured. How can that be wrong?
Please please remember her and the many people who have passed away, pain free and in dignity because of the implementation of the LCP before you rush to criticise it too heavily. And the staff who work so hard and compassionately to make sure it can happen that way.