I am so miserable, please send me ice lollies.

This week was going to be so good. I had a load of blog posts scheduled, I’d started writing a couple of other things, I’d had a good weekend away in Derby, I was ready for my first day at my new job…

Within a couple of hours of being home on Monday night, I was horizontal turned into the worst stomach bug I have had for about fifteen years. This morning I really wanted someone to come and put me down. It’s horrendous.

I suspect norovirus, but I’m not allowed to confirm with the doctor or mix with the general population. Probably just as well as everyone I see is starting to morph into walking chicken drumsticks, like in a cartoon.

I am SO hungry.

So yeah, I had to push start date of new job back after calling in sick on what should have been my first day. I’ve had to abandon my first week of a concrete streaming schedule because I can hardly stand up and look like death awoken. I haven’t been able to go and visit my granny because I’m Patient Zero. I haven’t eaten for four days, and for someone who’s obsessed with food this is the worst.

The only point of this post is because I’m feeling sorry for myself and I’ve bored Sean to death already by telling him every ten minutes how hungry I am and how miserable I am and how terrible I feel. Normal service will resume soon. In the meantime, please send me ice lollies and anything else that won’t turn me inside out when I eat it. Thank you very much.

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The medical care has been top quality, however.

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Have Been On My TBR the Longest and I Still Haven’t Read

I feel like I’ve mentioned most of these before, which gives you some idea of how miserably extensive my TBR list is. Maybe I’ll get so sick of myself that I’ll do something about it. Advance!

Wing Jones – Katherine Webb

wing jones

The fact that I’m putting this on a TBR list AGAIN brings me skin-crawling shame. I’ve had this since the Edinburgh Book Festival last year and its sprayed edges keep looking at me from the cabinet in the living room. Once I’ve read The Fandom, Wing Jones. I promise.

Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo

six of crows

Bought Six of Crows before going to Florida last year, got about five pages in on the red eye flight home and fell asleep after a gin and a dose of Kalms. I will read it again without any of these factors in the mix and hopefully stay conscious.

The Sun is Also a Star – Nicola Yoon

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This is one of my two longest-standing TBR books. I picked this up with Orangeboy and The Hate U Give, read THUG and then never quite got round to starting the other two. Oops.

Orangeboy – Patrice Lawrence

orangeboy

See above.

Les Miserables – Victor Hugo AND The Complete Fiction of HP Lovecraft

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Look at the cover of that Lovecraft anthology. Every time I pick it up to read it I end up staring at it instead.

Sean bought me that glorious hardback edition of Les Mis for a birthday present after he saw me eyeing it up. This means it looks really pretty in the bookcase, where it’s been sitting ever since. Multiple people have told me it’s even more of an experience than the musical, so I really have no excuse.

Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

wuthering heights

I always felt like a horrible English student because I couldn’t stand the “classics”. I found them chronically dry, far too wordy and very difficult to read. In my old age (ha) I’m finding that I too am chronically dry, far too wordy and very difficult to read, and therefore I’m more inclined to give them another go.

Doctor Sax – Jack Kerouac

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I don’t even remember buying this, but I loved On The Road (see last week’s TTT) so I’m assuming that was my motivation. Kerouac is one of my favourite writers, so I know this is going to be good…I just wish I didn’t keep forgetting I actually own it.

Tender Is The Night – F. Scott Fitzgerald

tender is the night

Similarly, I’m fairly sure I bought this because I loved The Great Gatsby, but have not read.

I must stop doing this.

 

Am I Normal Yet? – Holly Bourne

am i normal yet

I’ve never read any Holly Bourne books. Grab your pitchforks. Then chase me into a shop and force me to buy it without being distracted by notebooks and shiny covers. Thanks!

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Is there a support group for people like me? Cause I think I need one.

Being Excellent.

I thought about this post while I was lying on a trolley in the hall of my local leisure centre, with a tube and a tourniquet. The man next to me called it a “civic duty”.

It’s not a duty. You don’t HAVE to give blood. Some people can’t, for reasons medical or arbitrary. But it is a good thing to do, and I can do it.

I’ve become more aware over the past twelve months of my own incredibly fortunate position. I’m white, able-bodied, financially comfortable. I live in Scotland which is a pretty swell place to be at the moment. I own my own house and drive my own car. I was able to walk away from a job that was damaging my mental health without any financial repercussions. I don’t face any discrimination for my religious beliefs or sexuality. Privilege seems to be a dirty word right now, but I’m not too dumb to recognise my own, and the more I do the more I feel like I have to give something back.

Maybe it is a duty, after all.

If you’re in the same position I am, here are some of the things you can do to be an all-round swell human being.

Give blood

I’ve already said that some people are excluded from this, but if you can, you should. It’s painless, they take a TINY bagful and I’ve never seen anybody pass out dramatically in a sports hall. Worst that’ll happen is you’ll be tired and have a slight headache. Go in the evening and then sleep it off. You’ll save a life.

You can learn more here, or here if you’re in Scotland.

Join the organ donor register

This one is EASY. You don’t even have to do anything except fill in a tiny form and then tell your loved ones that you’ve done it. The rest happens after you die. It might actually be the least amount of effort required to do anything ever. I’ve had naps that were more taxing.

You can learn more here.

Donate to your local food bank

Yes, we shouldn’t have food banks. The sad fact is that we do, and people rely on them. a A lot of supermarkets have donation points and when I go shopping, I like to buy two or three things to throw in. Doesn’t have to be food, and trust me, EVERYBODY buys tins. Go for something else. UHT milk. Toiletries like toothpaste and shampoo. Condiments. Tea and coffee. Biscuits.

And actually, while we’re on the subject:

Donate sanitary products to your local food bank.

Surprise! Food banks don’t just give out food. Period poverty is real, people, and take it from me: those are NOT something you can go without. AT ALL. EVER. They’re not a luxury. Please throw some Always in there. Do it for me.

Support small content creators

So YouTube recently (I suspect in response to the Logan Paul shitshow) changed the goalposts for the criteria YouTubers were required to meet in order to monetise their channels. This means that for a lot of smaller content creators,

A lot of people make videos because they’re passionate about what they’re talking about. A lot do it because they love the community and want to be part of it. But for some it is an income source and one that makes a big difference, so to have that suddenly cut off is a big deal.

So whatever your hobby is, be it books, games, competitive llama grooming, whatever it is, I guarantee that there are a bunch of smaller, hobbyist YouTubers making videos purely for the love. Step outside the big guns and look for some of them. You’ll never find a more enthusiastic, unconditional community.

Review something

I don’t mean start a blog and start waxing lyrical about books. Literally take a minute or two to give a book you loved or a game you played for hours or a really cool artist a review on Amazon, or Goodreads, or Etsy. It’s the easiest (and most valuable) way to give something back to a crea

If you have them on Twitter, drop them a note as well telling them! I’m not even an author and every time someone tells me they look forward to reading my posts I get a warm fuzzy feeling that melts my cynical heart.

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What have I missed? What else can I be doing to give something back? Let me know in the comments!

Time to Talk: about triggers.

Today is Time to Talk Day, a day for everyone – not just those who struggle – to talk about mental health. On the table: one of my personal bugbears, trigger warnings.

For a start, if you haven’t already, try this article from The Atlantic that circulated a few years ago. In relation to the increasing use of trigger warnings on content that might be uncomfortable, it claims that:

A movement is arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense.

To this I say: bollocks.

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Let’s get this out of the way first: there is a difference between something being a trigger and something making you uncomfortable. I have a Twitter account, I can’t help but see some amount of trash online every day that makes me very uncomfortable.

I’m not triggered.

Remember when you learned about the First World War in school? Shell shock? Reactions to loud noises? Yup. PTSD. Sexual assault. Violence. Accidents. Anxiety symptoms. Flashbacks. Panic attacks. Triggers.

When I was fourteen years old I had a mental breakdown. Around the same time I watched The Exorcist and my warped, malfunctioning brain led one into the other, crashing down around me, until any reference to the film was enough to give me a serious case of The Anxieties.

Tubular Bells? I’m leaving the room. GIF of creepy girl vomiting that weird green crap all over the priest? Probably going to cry. Even saying the title dried my mouth out faster than a nasty hangover.

imagesEven searching for that picture still makes me vaguely uneasy.

For me, it was relatively easy to avoid anything that was going to trigger this reaction, as it was unlikely I was going to bump into Linda Blair in Tesco shopping for crucifixes and pea soup. But things like sexual assault and violence that are becoming more of a talking point – the #MeToo movement, for example – and it’s becoming increasingly easy to stumble across something that can cause a similar reaction in people who’ve had a traumatic experience.

Trigger warnings are there to give people a warning, an opportunity to prepare themselves, a chance to make sure they’re going to be OK.

They’re not an easy way out, an excuse to coddle a bunch of millennials into avoiding things they think might be difficult, creating a society of easily-offended cotton wool fluffs.

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You wouldn’t laugh at someone who served in active combat for suffering from anxiety and flashbacks if a car backfires in their street. If you agree with that but in the same breath accuse a sexual assault survivor of being soft because they want the option to avoid or be aware of something that might cause them distress then you have problems I’m not even sure I can be bothered to unpick.

Putting warnings on things isn’t a sign of a soft society, it’s a sign of an educated one. We know that some things have an adverse reaction on peoples’ physical health, we know that some things have an adverse reaction on peoples’ mental health. It’s like saying “well you shouldn’t have allergy warnings on food”.

I’d like to invite anyone who thinks that to come and look after me when I’ve accidentally eaten something with gluten in it.

You can, of course, argue that some allergies are fatal. Guess what? Bad mental health days are fatal too. Suicide kills more people every day than anaphylaxia. The fact that we aren’t treating them equally as seriously is a sign that that we still have miles to go.

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In conclusion, don’t laugh at trigger warnings. Don’t take the piss. Don’t slam your hands on the table and claim you’ve been triggered because you disagree with something. Don’t be an ass. Don’t do it.

Since it’s Time to Talk Day, DO: talk about mental health, ask your friends how they’re doing, share this post if you think I’m making a modicum of sense.

It’s mental health, my dudes. It’s a big deal.

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If you want to read an awesome YA book on PTSD and what triggers can actually do, let me point you in the direction of The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson.

The Impossible Knife of Memory

Stock images from Pexels.