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Feb. 28th, 2016

(no subject)

I don't know what I'm doing. And I don't know what I want. So I don't know what I should be doing. 

Feb. 14th, 2016

(no subject)

I hate how much I need and want approval. I get myself into these weird embarrassing knots about it with folks I don't know very well cause I don't know how they be, and cause I'm pretty free and open with compliments and reassurances that when I don't feel like I'm getting them in return I'm like... I just get myself stupidly antsty. And make a tit out of myself and ruin whatever was there.

And ruin a perfectly nice day. And forever.

Most of the time I feel like I'm okay being a people, and then stuff like this happens and I just want to not exist for a while.

Cause as well? I know that this will have been nothing. They're probably not even bothered. But I'm here beating myself up.

Faking being normal is hard. 

Dec. 28th, 2015

Early new year styled thoughts

I’ve been really thinking a lot about the year that’s been, and the year that’s going to come.

At the start of 2015 I was really not in a good place. I read back and I can see the depression there… at the time I didn’t feel depressed, just frustrated and overwhelmed… which is more of less the same thing I guess.

This time last year I was hoping for change and progress. And this year I made that change happen and I made that progress.

And it’s been really fucking hard work. Really hard and really difficult, but I was so desperately miserable where I was, and I was lucky enough to have professionals who could help me on my way.

This year I got treatment for PTSD; and I finally (like in November) got to see a knee specialist who finally gave me a diagnosis on my knee. These were two things that I felt were really holding me back. The problems with my knee kept a huge question mark over my immediate future, but with the diagnosis of fucked ligaments but not so fucked they need surgery, I can make a plan to deal with it. And I can just make plans in general. There’s no longer this ever shifting 6week-6month period where I’d have to deal with recovery.

This year I had to move, which was incredibly stressful, but I also got good insight into who of my local friends are reliable and can be called upon in an emergency. I’ve moved somewhere I don’t love, but it’s cheap for the area and I can walk to work, which means that I have a plan to clear my debts.

There is a cloud that has been lifted and I can see far enough ahead to want to have the ability to save money, which means I need to clear debt first. It goes against all my instincts, because I want a security pot. But all the economics stuff I’ve read points to clearing off debt first – and to consider the interest saved by repaying as interest earned instead. And whilst I still squint at it, I kind of get it. And having put my money into a spread sheet and crunched the numbers, it’s a thing I can get on top of. It’ll probably take 2 years, give or take, but it’s under control and that feels much better. Because money has been, and probably always will be an enormous stressor for me.

And what this year has really taught me the hard way, is that I need to be less stressed. My heart was making me seriously scared to the point where I saw the doctor for it and had a lot of tests run because my blood pressure was scary high in the surgery. It turns out that over-all it’s just within limits, but something had to change. And I made that choice to change it. And it’s a choice I have to make regularly. I don’t drink caffeine. I already didn’t eat a lot of salt, but I’ve now reduced it further. I go to the gym now, I go and I do cardio. I sit on a bike with a heart rate monitor and I bang it out for at least half an hour, and 95% of the time I feel much-much better for it. I still get stressed though, but at least now when I feel my heart tripping out and like it’s trying to punch its way out of my throat I know it’s a stress reaction and I can take steps to lower my stress levels.

My anxiety and PTSD symptoms are much better. They are still a work in progress, but things don’t feel insurmountable. Mostly now it’s finding triggers that I didn’t realise I was avoiding until I have a massive reaction to them. Having a melt-down in work as a result of a flippant comment someone made was a fun one, as was breaking down in tears in a coffee shop reading a book that’s introduction was a graphic description of a car accident. (Quick aside about trigger warnings; if I had been expecting a thing about cars or car accidents in this book, I could have controlled my reaction to it. Instead I had an anxiety response because once I’d started reading it I had an idea of where it was going to go, and then it did. Not fun. Not pleasurable. Ruined all enjoyment. Please reconsider your position on trigger warnings if you’re against them.) But these moments catch me unawares because in day-to-day life I am much better. I am less hyper-vigilant, I am more relaxed.

This year I’ve made some really positive steps towards liking myself and treating myself with respect. And demanding that respect of others. It has meant there has been some adjustment as people got used to me as I am now. I have also been making efforts to be a better friend to the friends I already have, and I have been making efforts to make more friends. I feel like my social circle is too small, and being one of the few single folks I often feel like I’m over burdening my friends who have their own stuff, and the stuff of their partners as well. Making friends as an adult is hard though. And I am not great about trust and being open with people… I am trying. But being emotionally vulnerable makes me incredibly scared because I’ve had a lot of very shitty friends, and known some very shitty people. And look, I just don’t find painful things about my life funny. I can’t laugh at myself, because enough people laughed at me growing up, that you know. I just want to make friends with cool and chilled people who are non-judgemental and kind. So I am trying. I’ve reached out to someone at work who I thought was cool, and we’ve hung out a little.

I'm also trying to make connections with my cousins. I don't have a good relationship with my immediate family, and there is a lot of distance and in fighting at my parents level... but I don't see why that should affect 'the kids' (I say, we're all in our 30's and older). So I'm reaching out where I can and making plans to visit people, and just trying to build on something that has been lacking for over 30 years.

Next year I am going to make a commitment to go to more Meet Up events. I had some art classes through my work and that really rekindled my love for creative work, and whilst I can’t afford formal classes, I can afford a tenner to go out once a month for a drink-and-draw type thing where I can meet other people who like to draw, and at least we’ll have that in common. And if there’s no one I feel like I can talk to, I’ll at least have done some drawing. There’s also an art history group that I’m going to attend. If I could turn back time I would have done art history at college, but I can’t, so instead it’s a thing I can pick up now.

I also want find a choir I feel comfortable with. I attended a natural voice choir earlier in the year and was enjoying it right up until the moment the lady sat next to me ‘kindly’ pointed out that I was singing the wrong part… which just made me anxious and sad for the rest of the night as I tried super hard to sing the right bit. Which is a shame, because it was queer choir and I want to meet girls in an environment where I’m not trying to work out ‘friendly or gay’. I should probably just go back to this one, but I am lacking in the courage at the moment.

Another big step for 2016 is that I am starting to attend a class at the gym once a week to hit all the strength building needs. I feel like I’ve spent a year getting my base level fitness up and now I’m ready to step it up. I have an idea that I’d like to go on a cycling holiday later in the summer this year, and I’d like to start some short hikes this summer to get me used to it before I attempt anything in another country.

And related to this, I want to keep up with my language learning and I need to make it part of my daily routine. Not only will it make visiting friends easier, but it creates more opportunities for me.

Nearer to New Years I’ll hone this down properly to an actual to-do list for 2016, but Live Journal is getting my long form ramble about this all. Because this has also been the longest piece of writing that I’ve done in… months.

I have a couple of stories I want to write… or rather, worlds I want to play in. I want to get back into reading my friends writing too. I miss it, I really miss it. And I feel like losing this has been like losing part of me. But at the same time I have felt so incredibly busy, which I know is bullshit because I’m just playing computer games instead a lot of the time.

Well playing computer games and going to bed at a more reasonable hour, because funnily enough not getting enough sleep adds dramatically to my stress levels. And self-care is a kill-joy. Like, I do miss that slightly drunk irresponsible buzz you get when you’re sleep deprived. But I don’t miss the headaches and the irritability and the dizziness.

But yeah, I want to commit to writing some things this year. I would like to get past this… whatever it is… that is sat in the way.

Dec. 10th, 2015

(no subject)

I've been thinking about how to phrase this thing for a couple of days, and I can't find an approach that I like at all. So instead let me start with an apology for the clumsiness of this.

An internet friend (a very kind and sweet angel hence forth referred to as Agent) and I had been talking on and off for the past year or so about self-care things, offering support during low times, cheering through the highs. The usual kind of love and care you can expect from those who live a long way away and you've never met in meat-space.

We'd both wathced Jessica Jones and talked briefly about PTSD and how glad we were to see it presented really quite accurately (an anomoly for hollywood and mental illness). And she mentioned that she was going to be giving a talk at her college/university (I'm still never 100% sure what american's mean when they say school when it's clearly no-longer like... high-school). But anyway, she mentioned she was going to give a talk on the topic of PTSD to raise awareness and to promote empathy amongst people (have I mentioned Agent is an angel?). The topic of course is very close to me so I offered encouragement and said that I would love to see her notes from it.

And I woke the next morning to request from her to use one of my very early blog entries in her talk - and she provided a link to the piece. I of course said yes she could; these people are the other side of the country and there's nothing to connect the piece of writing to me directly, and for such a good cause I have no problem whatsoever. But what struck me on reading the piece was how eloquent I was and how little memory I have of writing it. But the feelings of that time came back pretty clearly. Now don't get me wrong, it was really good to re-read it to see how far I've come. I don't get panicky around people, I can walk outside without crying the minute I'm back indoors, I don't feel constantly stressed and angry. But, as Agent pointed out, even a month after the initial accident, even this one piece of writing that was just short of 500 words, I was already suffering from PTSD to the point where it could have been diagnosed on the DSM-V under Trauma and Stress related trauma's. Instead it took nearly 14 months to get some proper treatment, and just under 18 to get effective treatment.

Given that PTSD is a thing where the symptoms can worsen with time because you're perpetuating harmful behaviours... it's frustrating. But frustration is my over-riding experience of life in the last couple of years.

Once Agent had delivered the talk we chatted some more, and I was happy to hear that my writing had resonated with at least one poor girl to bring her to tears. She was from the Middle East and had been at a school which had been bombed whilst she was there. After she'd finished crying she was able to talk about how thunder storms bring on flash backs, and the nicest thing was that she was able to share this with her younger sister who is in the same group at school, and her sister had previously had no idea that this was a thing. It was really nice to hear that this girl whose life had been very different to mine was able to find through my work a way to connect to those around her.

And it's had a two pronged effect on me. I've been very in my head recently, a lot of thoughts about the person I used to be. The changes feel far more pronounced lately and whilst I am happy for the most part, there is a lot of things I want to reclaim and to make part of my life again. I guess writing this wall of text is part of that. I really need to get my confidence back with the written word, with what I have to say. And I feel very removed from who I used to be in a lot of ways, I've become aware of an intensity that I have that seems to have become far more prominent. I'm not sure if it was a thing that was always there, but my lack of social confidence meant that it didn't really come out. But I am a lot more assured now.

The second is that I'm seriously considering consolodating my blog entries and writing a book or a short story or something that could be illustrated. God I feel pretentious even writing it out. It felt amazing to know that what I had written had that kind of effect on someone who needed it, Agent's delivery and her handling of PTSD as a whole will have also assisted massively. But that connection feels incredibly powerful. And I feel like I have the opportunity to connect with more people, and maybe make the world a little better.

Nov. 14th, 2015

(no subject)

Ahh LiveJournal it has be a long time and a lot of good intentions since I last wrote here. However I find myself just over a month out of therapy and deeply missing being able to talk through all the crap in my head. And it's not even interesting crap, it's just the mundane ebbs and flows of being a person who is trying to be a better person.

I'm not very good about talking about this stuff with other people because I feel like it makes me seem weak, and it's such a core part of me that I have to be strong and I have to be able to look after myself. I really hate when people look at me with pity or treat me like I'm a delicate thing that needs careful handling, and I feel like if people know the mess that is in my head they'll treat me differently. And I don't want that.

I also know that that is complete bullshit because friends confide in me and I don't think any differently of them.

Or maybe I do for a couple of them, usually the girls, or... rather it's more they seem to have so much of their own shit going on that I don't want to 1) burden them with my own shit, and 2) have my own shit filtered through their obviously skewed lens. Actually as I write it down, it's the lack of empathy they often show. Which again, part and parcel of the depression that folks often carry, and a thing I know I can be guilty of. But at least I'm aware of it and try to do something about it. I try to be more supportive and understanding. And that's what I want in return. I don't want to feel like me telling someone what's going on with me is going to make me be a problem for them, which is honestly how a feel a bunch of the time.

I am trying to do stuff about this. I'm being more social and trying to find more people I connect with on more than a superficial/ colleague level. All I can say is that making friends as an adult is hard. 

Jul. 26th, 2015

(no subject)

lalalala i hate flaky friiieeendddssssss why am I plagued by them this weekend???

Aug. 3rd, 2014

Week 16 - A terrible beauty has been born

I'll always be really grateful that my friend encouraged me to enter for LJI. When this season started five months ago I was still recovering from being hit by a car and dealing with brain damage (of the non-permanent kind, thankfully). Thinking coherently for any period of time was very difficult for me. Thinking ahead in any kind of way, planning and plotting was impossibly hard. Back in March I could just about manage conversations but I was still mixing up words, if not forgetting them entirely. It was a rough ride, I'm not going to lie. So LJI was a great way to make me sit down and write a thing to a defined schedule that had to go up for public consumption, so it had to be a thing I was sure was right. And it was hard work, but I enjoyed it.

At that time I had the energy to write the entry, but not the energy for the social side of things. As the competition progressed it became obvious that the social element was nearly as important as the writing itself. And as I eventually returned to full time work, and gained a schedule of daily physio, I had even less energy for the social element, which I will always remain sad about.

But more disappointing for me was my own reliance on blog-style non-fiction entries. These style of entries are far easier and quicker to write. And much less fun. Both for me to write, and for me to read. So it was with great sadness that I saw an awful lot of entries that were blogging, and blogging on a similar set of themes on a week to week basis, no matter what the topic set that week was.

I understand that a goodly portion of my point of view comes from my misunderstanding about what this contest fundamentally is. It had been seven or more years since I last had a livejournal and the kind of posts that appear both in this competition and across the site all have a very similar style, a very similar tone. It was rather nostalgic revisiting it, but I also realised that it was a style that I've largely moved away from. Both in my own writing, and in my reading choices.

I wish everyone remaining all the luck in the world and I hope that as the competition progresses you all endeavour to be a better writer than the writer you think you are.

This will be my final entry for LJI and I thank you for reading this far.

Jul. 10th, 2014

Week 14 - Confession from the Chair

Chewing the wood wasn’t the hard part. You’d think it would be, but with enough time, you can get through anything. I thought for a while I’d cracked a tooth but it was only a splinter stuck in my gum. I could have taken that as a sign to stop, but I’ve never been a quitter. No sir, once I’ve set my mind to a thing it gets done.

Drying out the pulp wasn’t the hard part. It was hot in that little room and well, it took a lot of time to chew the wood up to a pulp. Pressing it flat looked like it was going to be tricky, but pacing across the room solved that part. In the end it was thinner and dryer than the pages of a bible. Problem solving you see; no problems, only solutions.

Finding something to write with wasn’t the hard part. I thought about fingers and then I remembered the bones of the chair, the connective tissues, the nails, the screws. Short scratching things meant to impale. Tell the truth, I was a little concerned something that sharp might damage the paper, but I’d sucked them dry weeks ago and sometimes you’ve got to take risks.

Finding something to write with wasn’t the hard part. I know, I know I’m repeating myself but you don’t just need a pen. Using piss was out of the question, I was already using that to make the pulp between swigs. You might want to think about some air conditioning in there, also a cleaner. It smells like a latrine in there. So blood. Yes. It’s a confession written in blood. A little dramatic, I know, but you use what you’ve got.

Finding something to confess… now that was the hard part. I’d been in that room so long I’d forgotten why I’d even gone in. Well, aside from getting a confession from a chair. And there I was, the chair had broken down, I was ready, poised, to take it’s confession, I had put my heart and urine into this moment. Finally. I waited. Held my breath. And all I could think was ‘why didn’t I ask what they wanted a confession for’?

How would I know if I’d presented the right thing? I tried to think back to those last meetings, but I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t thinking all that straight by then. I think the heat had been getting to me. That and only talking with a chair for a fortnight. Well, I say 'with', I suppose it’s more of a ‘to’. I mean it’s not like the chair could talk back, which now I say it, I realise that’s where the problem was. How can you make the chair confess? But I’m not a quitter, no, I am not, I told you that so that is definitely the truth. And because I don’t quit I present you this, “Yes.” Whatever you need, yes, whatever it was, yes, whoever did it, yes, whatever you need, yes, the answer is, yes, I wrote it in blood so I know it’s true otherwise I wouldn’t have done it would I? I mean what I say and I say what I mean and I mean, yes, definitely, without a doubt. You can make up a question later can’t you? Just so long as you take this yes.

Jun. 30th, 2014

Week 13 - Open Topic (Unlucky for some)

Call it gullibility, a too trusting nature, or letting things get away from me. You could go with my parents and call it an “over-active imagination”, or maybe you’d prefer my teachers’ favourite; that I was “a sensitive child”. Whatever name you want to give it, superstition has always flowed from me like a cloak; no matter the distance I put between myself and it, the connection remains.

In its most dangerous form superstition took the shape of lies I would convince myself were real. A world where I mattered, and a life where I had control. That if it were not for me the artifice in which I lived would crumble and be revealed to be nothing; meaningless.

I’d conjured a world where my every step kept reality in its place.

And that’s a lot of responsibility for an eight year old to carry. Chubby, quiet, blonde haired, blue eyed me with the cosmos and all of time balanced precariously on my shoulders. But I’m an oldest child by birth, so I was used to being responsible for others and bore that burden in silence so as not to trouble the people I was saving each and every moment, of each and every day.

The real trouble came when faced with those chasms built into the paths of shopping parades. The easily navigated stretches of square paving slabs would be crossed with wide rivers of patterned bricks, rendering the space between the chemist and the record store a source of panic and determination.

To keep pace with my family was a must, but stepping on tip-toe across the bricks would have me falling behind. The life that I knew, that I was protecting, depended on me.

This led to many a leap of faith. Throwing myself over the stretch of brickwork so confident that it would be a lesser crime to land clumsily and noisily and embarrass my mother and endure the beating when I got home than risk the obliteration that would have otherwise followed.

I grew out of this eventually; after I’d tempted fate enough times and realised that the world wasn’t going to end I learnt to deal with my insignificance. Or maybe it’s more that as I grew up and moved away from home I found other reasons to exist; I was in control of my own life at last.

But as an adult I still find myself keeping the world together on my travels. Now the urge finds me in cars; travelling down motorways I sew the world together. The thread spools from my soul and dips in and out of the asphalt, running stiches in the space's between the white lines, between the rhythmic thumps of the shadows of lamp posts.

If the passenger window is down you might find my hand surfing the air, only that I, and only I, know is that it’s the thread keeping us on the road. Because here again I'm a passenger, looking for some control so I can keep everyone safe. Always the elder sibling and doing my best to save us all.

Jun. 9th, 2014

Week 11 - Recency Bias

Content Advisory - Some talk of Trauma. Read More...Collapse )

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