Valium

There’s a box of diazepam in the bottom of my bag. I carry it around like a weapon, or how I imagine someone might carry a weapon. I have taken only one and yes, it definitely worked.

The problem is the historical child abuse left me with complex PTSD, so that as soon as my anxiety peaks, my immune system crashes.

This week I have suffered from oral thrush, mainly. Oral thrush is a thick brown-yellow discharge which coats your tongue, down into your throat. My glands swelled, my muscles tightened until they became rock like and my hands stopped functioning as hands.

The response my body has to the fear of attack is real and terrible. I was a terrified child, teenager and young woman, scared shitless of my mother and her poison. The doctors all agree that talking therapies will help me. Unfortunately for me, talking therapies are expensive and out of my price range.

Today is the day the landlady thinks I am moving out. Today is the day she normally evicts her tenants (so that she can enjoy her school holidays in a nice Scottish village, rather than a busy German city). It is 9am and I am sweating profusely and have needed inhalers already.

I have seen and spoken to five doctors this past week. I explained I was suffering from the physical manifestation of psychological pain and that I had been dealing with this for as long as I can remember. All they can do is treat the symptoms. All they can do is write down the heightened anxiety and try to medicate the asthma, the psoriasis, the shakes, the diarrhoea etcetera.

In order that the doctors had context and didn’t think I was exaggerating, I brought in some of the witness statements about the attacks I have endured at the hands of the landlady. It is important to be believed, and, for a woman who was never believed when she reported her own child abuse (my mother’s catch-phrase in relation to my child abuse is ”that one has a grand imagination”). Each doctor took time to read the accounts other people gave of their interactions with my landlady. They offered empathy, compassion and whatever help they could, apologising profusely that they couldn’t do more.

The girls are coming. The single mothers and friends. The ones who know what it is like to be moved on, shifted, evicted, at the whim of some property owner. They are bringing their cameras and their kids, and for the next week there will be a sit-in here.

We need a new caveat to the law in Scotland. It is commonplace in other countries, but because of our historical patriarchal land system, we do not. Other countries state in law that landlords must not punish tenants. We need the same respect for our mothers, our women, our young families.

I might take another valium, if I need it. I would prefer, with the help of my friends, to stand firm and grin and begin the process of updating our laws.

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