04.03.2019 – Day 1
So, here’s what’s happening in Hannah Land.
There are seven weeks and six days until I take my place, on a real stage, in front of one hundred and twenty-six people, and try and make them laugh.
That means, there are, if my maths is correct, which probably it isn’t given I failed my maths GCSE, twice if my mother asks, but it was only ever once, fifty-five days for me to get my shit together.
OK, so, somehow, in the mental realms of this universe, I have blagged a spot at the 2019 Merthyr comedy festival. At 5PM on Saturday the 27th of April I will perform twenty minutes of stand-up comedy, at an actual comedy festival, with an actual audience who have purchased actual tickets, in the town I now call home.
That’s insane right? I think its mental. I mean, granted, I’m not shy, and if you ask my parents (don’t mention the whole maths resit thing mind) they’ll tell you I was designed for the stage.
My mother would say something along the lines of, ‘we knew she was destined for bright lights only we thought she’d be a stripper.’ And my Dad would probably tell you I get it from my gran, ‘who was an actress, don’t you know?’
Anyway, what I’m saying is, this isn’t a shock, me, the personified show pony, getting on a stage and making people laugh is probably an obvious move to everyone who knows me, follows me virtually, or who has served me in a supermarket.
I like to make people laugh.
What isn’t so obvious though is, I’m doing this, being, this person, whilst I battle horrendously with OCD.
I’m not saying people with OCD can’t be funny. Some of the funniest people I know suffer immensely with mental health, that’s what makes a lot of us funny, but what I’m saying is, this is possibly the most frightening thing I’ve done, vulnerability wise.
I wrote the book, I document my feelings daily on social media, I put myself out there an awful lot, but to stand up and confidently announce that I think I’m funny, and that, so should a paying audience, makes my arse twitch.
Now, let me tell you a bit about my OCD is it? My obsessive, compulsive, disorder, also known as Sophie. (I’ve never told anyone that by the way, so, feel privileged to be invited into the darkest bit of my head for a wee while.
Before I go on, I name everything by the way. Cars, body parts, Scott’s body parts, the toaster, everything has a name. I’ve done this since adolescence because I read once that if you wanted to bond with something you needed to humanise it, and it’s worked well for me…
When Boris my car died it was awful.
When I told the doctor that Eric had thrush it was embarrassing.
When I asked Scott when did he get Kurt circumcised it was confusing, for him not me.
You get the picture?
Anyway, Sophie. If you want to picture Sophie, she looks just like me, OK, less like Yoda than I do, but like me. She’s highly strung, and she wears black clothes that have sharp edges. Basically, she’s a colder, cooler looking me, with perfectly filed, painted fingernails and eyebrows that are on point.
She never needs her lip waxed and her teeth are three times whiter than mine on the whiteness scale. She doesn’t have a flaky scalp like me, and her tummy is flat and she one hundred percent doesn’t pick her bellybutton whilst watching reruns of Love Island and eating Wispa bites.
Sophie likes to exhaust me. That’s her sole purpose. She is intrusive and somewhat mean and makes me doubt everything. EVERYTHING.
Here’s an example of Sophie’s dialogue, which is, obviously, internal, as in, in my head. It’s a tiny example of what wizzes around my brain by the second.
Sophie; It’s a nice day today, your arse is going to sweat profusely. It’s going to leave a mark on your jeans, people will think you are a sweaty, unfit for purpose, disgusting human being.
Arse; *begins sweating*
Sophie; see, it’s not even something I’m controlling. Its you. There is something wrong with you.
Head; tell people your arse is sweating, you don’t want them to think your arse is sweating and you don’t know it is, they’ll understand if you say it out loud.
Sophie; defiantly tell people how disgusting you and your arse are.
Arse; *ups the sweat ante*
Sophie; I wonder why you sweat so much? I think it’s because you are fat and disgusting.
Me; I am neither of those things, though, am I?
Sophie; you are also delusional then. A delusional, chubby, sweaty mess.
Me; nope, I think this is the OCD.
Sophie; you haven’t got OCD, you’ve made this up. You conned the doctor, you’ve conned yourself. You are a liar to add to the whole sweaty, disgusting mess mix.
Me; lets change the thought subject. Let’s think about green fields and blue skies and sunshine and happy lambs bouncing around the place.
Sophie; Lambs that have shit all over the field, probably eaten said shit, then have gotten
killed for you to eat!
Me; ha! I don’t eat lamb! Have that!
Sophie; of course, you do. You eat it all the time.
Me; are you sure? Oh god.
Sophie; you eat sheep all of the time. What you think is chicken is actually lamb, baby lambs with stomachs full of shit.
This is approximately three or four seconds of thoughts. Only I can decipher our Soph and only I can control her, which is the highly ironic and the desperately sad truth of the matter.
For reference before you misdiagnose me as schizophrenic, Sophie, is me, the dialogue above is played out by only me, an internal battle conversation that doesn’t go away.
As a sort of disclaimer, Sophie doesn’t tell me to hurt anyone, or myself, she just likes to play holy fuck with my nervous system. Like the time she convinced me I was sexually abused or the time she persuaded me I was a lesbian, had bowel cancer, Parkinson’s, racist tendencies, are you getting the picture?
Sophie is what you call Pure O. So, the compulsive bits of the obsessive compulsive disorder, are in fact, the ongoing, continual thoughts. I don’t wash my hands continuously, I don’t need labels facing the same way, I don’t clean obsessively nor do I need the volume on the TV on an even number. I do however have routines, things I must abide by, ways which may seem a bit quirky, or even cute, to the onlooker but ways that dictate every single move I make.
Its all a bit like superstitions on acid, if that makes any sense?
Odd socks. I won’t eat or drink anything red, I can’t wear earrings if I’m drinking because something terrible will happen.
I’m in constant punishment mode.
It’s the reason I run, the reason I drink and the reason I like to sleep a lot.
It’s the reason I had a troubled adolescent, the reason I have troubled relationships, the reason I like to be on stage, being funny.
And you know what? I’ve come to accept it. I’m not scared of stigma or the uneducated opinion, nor am I out to glorify something that is, a bloody horrible thing to endure. But I want it documented that it won’t stop me anymore.
Our Sophie is going to have to learn to stop heckling, I want real, actual humans to do that. Well, I don’t want them to, but you know what I mean? I want to stop fearing the worst, I want to not have to catastrophise everything, I want to live in the moment and start feeling free!
I Hannah Phillips, vow, to get my shit together. My mental shit, my comic shit, my creative shit, even my actual shit because my diet totally needs readdressing too.
So, that’s the plan.
I’m writing this Jerry Maguire style, getting my shit together, mission statement for a few reasons;
1. So, everyone can track my progress.
2. So, I can track my progress.
3. So, I can join the highway to well.
4. So, I can look back, after April the 27th and say, ‘bloody hell lads, I did it!’
5. So, I can have at least sixty thousand words written bloody down, after all, you must actually write to be a writer.
And on a final note, if you’ve read this in a Scottish accent, you get me, because that’s how I’ve read it back. Part Braveheart, part Amy Macdonald, Full Hannah the lunatic runner.
Stay tuned and thanks for having me x