Shit I Have Enjoyed Recently

Worst blog owner ever. Shout out to my friend Dan for holding me accountable

ANYWAY here’s some stuff that’s been occupying my brain recently. A spoiler:

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Downton Abbey movie

When I saw this announced I made A Noise. I think the tech guys I work with thought someone was slowly letting the air out of me, like a balloon.

brandpBrando doing an impression of my actual face.

I’m refusing to let myself get too excited until I hear that Brendan Coyle is going to be in it. Please lord above, don’t do this to me.

Barcelona

Sean and I have been together for three years and this is the first trip we’ve been on together to visit his brother. I had an absolute BLAST in Barcelona – I’ll write another post on it specifically, but it’s a great city and I already want to go back. Patatas Bravas, I miss you…

patatas bravasGet this shit right into my face.

Mental Health

Not poor mental health as such, more poor planning and an inability to get hold of my GP. I ran out of Sertraline for nearly a week. It’s not the worst situation (my entire life doesn’t fall apart immediately) but the physical side effects of sudden withdrawal are HARSH.

If you’ve ever had brain zaps, you’ll know where I’m coming from.

WRITING STUFF

I’ve still been writing. I started what has the potential to be a novel-length…something, and I’m about 7000 words in. I’ve been messing about with various other wee things when I need a distraction. Some of them will see the light of day. Many will not. I don’t really care, I enjoyed myself.

Gaming

I made the mistake of downloading Pokemon Go in Barcelona. Now I’m hooked again. It makes the morning bus journey through Edinburgh more exciting.

pokwmon goEvery day’s a Pika Party in my town.

I’ve been getting into legacy games as well – we started playing Pandemic: Legacy, but we’ve taken a break from it so we can crack into Gloomhaven. I’m REALLY enjoying it – Sean’s been obsessed with it for a while so he’s quite thrilled that he can play it with me as well as his dungeon crew.

Plus Magic: the Gathering continues to dictate my life from multiple angles. I played in my first competitive event for years at the weekend, I’m going to be on staff at a comp event for the first time next weekend, and in between I’m usually talking about it, organising it or playing it.

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Tell me what you’ve been up to recently. GO.

What I’ve Done in March

Working in an office that has minimal natural light is hard. It screws up the brainio and makes my emotions feel like they’ve done a half marathon with no training. A couple of weekends ago my brain hit the wall. I dragged the duvet onto the couch and slept for nearly 24 hours.

But it’s reminded me what anxiety feels like, and it’s reminded me why I’m so thankful for SSRIs.

edinburgh-carlton-hill-landscape-scotland-161863

On SSRIs anxiety is like that funny noise your car makes, enough for you to notice it but you can turn the music up and drown it out and continue driving without worrying that something’s going to snap and send you into oncoming traffic.

Anxiety is driving down the motorway in the rain with no brakes.

pexels-photo-414564

When it hits, I want to not feel guilty every time I speak to my friends, my family, because I’m annoying. I want to not have something open and sit with my thumb hovered over the keyboard before I interact, thinking do I need to? Do I REALLY need to say something? Don’t I think I should just be quiet and not remind people how irritating I am?

I want to be on top of my life without feeling the strain. I want to be able to come home from work after twelve hours out of the house and write and play games and sit on the couch with Sean and laugh at stupid videos without looking at a floor I haven’t hoovered and crashing into pieces, and I want to be able to stay on top of everything without burning myself out.

I want to make everything better. I want to make the world better. I want to open eyes and heal hearts.I want to reach out and touch people who are suffering. I want to sleep away days at a time because people are so awful to each other. I want to do something about it. I can’t.

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I’ve been AWOL recently while I unpicked the weirdness in my brain that the dark was doing. Normally when I feel like this it’s a sign that I need to go back to the doctor and get another round of medication. But surprise! It was just the lighting. Now I know about it I can stop every couple of hours and take a breather on the steps. It helps.

Take a breather. Go outside.

The Black Hole

Last Thursday, Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington was found dead in his home in California. Last Thursday would also have been the 53rd birthday of Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell, who died in May.  Last Friday would have been Robin Williams birthday, had he not passed away nearly three years ago.

All three of them committed suicide.

Mental illness is fatal if it’s left to fester. Suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45. Men ages 40-44 have the highest rate of suicide in the UK. Rates of suicide in women are the highest they’ve ever been on record.

But we only ever talk about it when somebody unites us in empathy, and it forces us to hold a mirror up to our own lives. The aftermath of Robin Williams’ death saw people all over my Facebook wall suddenly opening up in shared grief and a sort of mental health comradeship, and I remember feeling quite touched that the response to his death was so many people opening themselves up to say “I feel it too”, and offers to be there as we all reached out to grab hold of each other. Reaching out is easier to say than to do. I know this.

I was bullied so badly in high school that I used to hope – with a calmness that frightens me – looking back – that I’d die in my sleep and wake up as somebody normal.

I had a nervous breakdown when I was fourteen years old.

I spent all of my time at my second school failing to recover, and essentially lost four of the most important years of my life.

I destroyed all my friendships – and they were good friendships, and I have so many regrets – by the time I was in my early twenties, because I was paranoid and miserable and constantly anxious and it turned me into a horrible stranger.

I nearly failed my degree on multiple occasions and had to resit all of my second year exams and one of my modules because my brain was wracked with self-loathing and paranoia and have you ever tried writing essays on Shakespeare like that? It doesn’t work.

Had I not made the long, difficult walk to my GP when I was nineteen – a walk that I turned round on three times and nearly missed my appointment – I would have failed my undergrad degree, never sat my Masters. I wouldn’t have a job. I wouldn’t be engaged. I’m not sure I’d be a functioning human being. I’m not sure I’d be here

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I stopped myself five or six times writing this and considered making it a bit more palatable, because I thought ooh…that’s a bit uncomfortable to throw out into the internet.

And it IS uncomfortable. I don’t particularly want to tell my family that I hated myself so much as a very young teenager that wanted to cease existing.

I don’t want to tell the people who probably thought I was a bit of a loser or a weirdo or whatever during high school that I was failing to recover from a breakdown that wouldn’t heal until I was in my 20s.

I don’t want to tell my friends how hard it is to interact with them sometimes because even the slightest feeling that I’m “too much” sends me back into a hole I have to work really hard to get out of, even the slightest thing makes me stressed and my default reaction to stress is either to lose my temper or to burst into tears, neither of which are particularly appealing attributes to have in a friend.

It’s not nice. It makes me uncomfortable, especially as some of these are things I haven’t told anyone for a long time, if at all. But that’s the point, isn’t it? We only ever talk about these things when someone else’s experience triggers it. It’s not something you drop on a Tuesday afternoon out of nowhere. Maybe you don’t do what I’m doing and tell everyone you know, but maybe you tell someone.

I know it’s easy for me to sit here with 20/20 hindsight and tell everyone to talk to each other. When you’re in a bad place, the worst of the worst, it’s a black hole you can’t easily crawl out of. There’s an unwillingness to burden someone else, the creeping paranoia that nobody REALLY cares, despite posts and pleas and helpline numbers. Sometimes we might have told people, in passing maybe, and been shut down. It’s a big step, but believe me, when you take the next big step, and the next one, and the next one, having someone hold your hand as you crawl back into the sun makes a big difference.

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I’m mostly OK now. I don’t remember how I got out. Pouring my soul into things as a distraction, a combination of therapy and medication probably helped, and spending quite a lot of evenings in the basement of a comic book store gave me back the years I lost to my own head. It wasn’t easy, and I didn’t come out of it unscathed, but I came out of it.

Reaching out when you’re in that pit is the hardest thing you can possibly do, but I promise it’s worth it. Find something to get you through the day, and the next, and the next. If it’s 3am and you’re sitting in the dark wondering how on earth you’re going to keep going, call a friend. Call your parents. Call Samaritans. Call me. Call someone.

Good day friends!

I had a blog once, back in the day, but it kind of fell apart due to a) my crippling anxiety with regards to writing things and then showing them to other people (fun fact: I’ve suffered from a generalised anxiety disorder for as long as I can remember) and b) feeling like my life was shockingly boring and I had nothing to write about. I plan on fixing the latter by roping my friends in to give me random prompts every once in a while (fun fact: I nearly called the page “Smells Like Team Spirit”). The former I’ll attempt to get over by ripping the plaster off, firing nonsense into the internet and trying to resist the urge to set myself on fire afterwards.

Since I’ve already dropped a couple of facts in, here’s ten of the most interesting facts about me. Some of these will probably come up in the future. Some, like my awful jokes, will probably not.

1.       Most of my friends call me Sticky. I made a throwaway comment once about how nicknames never stuck. Unfortunately, this one has.

2.       I’ve got a big floppy cat called Stella. She hardly ever moves, chews my hair when she’s hungry and fall over when you pay attention to her. I love her.

3.       I have mild megalophobia. Nobody’s ever heard of it but it turns me into a jumpy bag of nerves any time I’m near an airport.

4.       I run (with my friends) our local Magic: the Gathering community. It’s simultaneously the most stressful and most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.

5.       I got engaged two weeks ago. I accidentally found out my fiancé had bought a ring so he got on one knee with a photo of it on his phone in its absence.

6.       R.E.M. have been my favourite band since I was nine. I never saw them live before they called it a day and it haunts me.

7.       My parents found out I could read when my dad had the newspaper sports pages open and I asked him who Colin Montgomery was.

8.       My jokes are so bad that I’ve been removed from buildings for punning.

9.       I’ve seen far too many episodes of Air Crash Investigation for someone who was already a nervous flier.

10.   I learned “London” by William Blake for my Higher English exam and I could still recite it and then sit down and write a pretty hot critical analysis of it nearly a decade later.

Thanks for reading!