November/December 2016: Four Sticks

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Things are going pretty well this month.

These past few months might have been my busiest yet between studies, film projects, and travelling. In the U.S. it was Thanksgiving break, so I took the opportunity and planned to take the time off as most students I knew would be away from school for the majority of it. My friend (who shall henceforth be referred to as “Garth”) came to visit in that time too and we took a road trip to Arizona/Utah for 5 days. In that time we visited Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon, which was just stunning. I’ll post some pictures below that I took on my iPhone 6S.

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Monument Valley from John Wayne’s allegedly favourite spot
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The view from Mather Point, South Rim, Grand Canyon
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South Rim, Grand Canyon

It was a great break away from all of the university related stuff I’d been experiencing, albeit exhausting at times, having driven 12 hours to reach Flagstaff from San Diego and visa versa, plus journey times elsewhere. It was overall a great experience in which Garth and I rekindled our friendship after not seeing each other for many years, even though we still kept in touch. His visit was exactly what I needed at the right time.

On a materialistic front; for a while I’ve been thinking about getting a DSLR camera. As a film student it would come in handy, giving me hands on experience that is more beneficial than any class will teach, but also as a film student it’s just stupid not to have a camera. My knowledge of lenses and focal lengths is still basically theoretical and I’ve been thinking for over a year now about getting a starter camera. Coming back with iPhone pictures of these incredible landscapes at Monument Valley and The Grand Canyon were great, but I really wished I could have taken better pictures. Basically, the trip gave me a kick in the arse to actually buy a DSLR camera.

The reason why I’m discussing this at length is that it is a pretty big deal to me. I try not to spend much money on myself for “things”, more so with moving around frequently, but also because I don’t especially have much in the way of money. I don’t really write about it any more, probably not since the days of 2012, but money has never been my friend and tends to trickle through my fingers like sand.

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In recent years it has become a lot better, or perhaps I should say I have become better with money. Meh, it’s a little of column A, a little of column B. I’m lucky enough to not only be funded for my education by the government, but also through university scholarships, and even some financial support from time to time from my family. Even so, typically, it can be difficult to make ends meet, even more so now I’m studying abroad. So spending a three-figure sum on myself was a tough decision and one that I had to talk myself into, because this is not a luxury item. This is not just for fun. This is something that will help me academically and professionally.

I mention all of this because of the anxiety money gives me.

It makes me feel extremely uncomfortable, and spending big sums makes me feel like I’d be making a huge mistake in doing so.

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I didn’t even want to tell my father I’d spent money on it, but I didn’t want to lie when I spoke to him on the phone when I expressed slight disappointment in the photos I took, he said, and I quote;

“You have a good eye for film and taking pictures.”the-flash-i-may-have-skullfucked-it

This gave me the courage to tell him I’d spent money on a camera (even though I don’t have to justify anything to him). Instead of an anticipated put down or derogatory remark he was actually supportive of my choice. He completely agreed with every rationale I had made and even suggested that I probably should have made the leap sooner.

It was validation I didn’t know I needed, something I never seek openly from my father because of our tumultuous history. Our relationship seems to be have repaired to a more standard familial dynamic, which is something that I’m not sure how comfortable I am with. This did however make me feel better about my choice, again, something that I wasn’t sure I was seeking from him.

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On the social front, the past few weeks have seen a marked improvement.

Seeing Garth and participating in so many film shoots over the past month, interacting with people, has helped improve my confidence and allowed me to become more extrovert – something I haven’t seen of myself probably since before I began this blog. In days of old I viewed myself as someone who, whilst introverted, had a large circle of friends with whom I could be extroverted with. This recent feeling of confidence has been a huge boost to my self-esteem.

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But having been so busy with film shoots and being an editor for most of them has left me with limited time. In fact, several weeks have passed since I began writing this post, which means it’s going up later than initially anticipated and is now encompassing December as well as November.

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This is what studying abroad has taught me; that studying at university level in the U.S. is much more hard work than anywhere else. Many European students that I’ve spoken to have also expressed a similar sentiment. Honestly, I have no idea how any student here finds free time to have a social life with the workload – and this is coming from someone who’s a borderline workaholic!screen-shot-2016-12-13-at-11-57-12So yeah, this workload has been intense. There have been sleepless nights, there have been all-nighters, and there has been an incredible amount of stress to get the work done.

I got to a point where I rationalised dropping the ball on some papers in order to get other projects finished, whether or not this will come back and bite me in the arse remains to be seen, but as I wrote above, I have no idea how anyone gets through their workload in the U.S. and no wonder it takes 4 years or more to graduate for a lot of students.

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But that’s all over with now. At least for 2016. In 2017 the pain begins all over again. (I’m only half joking).

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For now though, I want to look towards the future.

Last year ended downbeat. Okay, to be completely honest, most of the past year or more my reflections month-to-month have been fairly downbeat. However, I don’t really feel like things are all that bad. Sure, my mental state is constantly in flux and that probably reflects in the negative posts. I’ve still not secured a therapist to work through my longstanding issues, but I think now I am a lot more aware of where my thoughts, and my ‘rules for living’, come from. I’m acutely aware now that these rules, or at least some of them, are the the reason why I make myself isolated as opposed to isolation happening to me. It’s something internal that needs work.

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I’m spending Christmas and New Year alone for the most part. From what I can work out I think 2 of my roommates will be around at different times, but mostly I’ll be alone – and I’m kinda okay with it. Sure, I miss my family, and I wish I could be home to spend it with them, but I also don’t feel so much like it’s going to be soul destroying. I’ll be able to FaceTime home and sort of spend some of Christmas with them in a long-distance way. It’s not ideal, but I think it will service both my emotional needs, and my family’s emotional needs. What I’m trying to say is that it is going to be hard, but it won’t be as hard as what some people would believe. I’m not likely to be found staring out of a window at the rain whilst wallowing in self-pity… despite San Diego being scheduled for (and even as I write this) rain most of the holiday weekend.

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My plans for the holidays were going to involve going to the beach, but the state of the weather will likely wash away any hope of getting out that way at least until after Christmas Day. Mostly the reason why I wanted to get down to the beach was because it’s somewhere I’ve not been in San Diego/California yet, but I also want to get some use of the DSLR. I was also thinking about using the beach as a place to sit and catch up on my reading… Well, comics. See, I have a digital pile of comics that have stacked up for the past year or more than I haven’t read. In my mind I’m trying to work out if there’s a reason why I’ve let it stack up. Have I grown out of comics or have I just legitimately not made time to allow reading of any nature in my life? I kinda want to find out this holiday. Aside from that I’ve a bunch of films/TV shows to catch up on. There are also still a few films out at the cinema that I’d like to get to see (I actually saw Rogue One: A Star Wars Story today as a treat to myself).

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I also got back on Keto this past Monday.

Readers will be aware that I stopped Keto after I was hospitalised earlier in the year and went home to recover. Keto was something that I had researched plenty into and prepared for to help drop the vast amount of weight I physically carry. I know a lot of people have had success with it, and for the 3 weeks or whatever it was that I was on it had me feeling a lot better about my physical appearance and even in my mental state I felt better.

Now that I have some free time and I’ve got an opportunity to prepare food for myself away from the university’s meal plan I’m getting back on the horse. Hopefully I won’t be hospitalised 3 weeks from now.

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But in all seriousness, I’m back in the mindset. Perhaps not as strongly as when I started it earlier this year, but at least strong enough to know what I need to do to enable the diet and keep to it. I now have cooking instruments and food storage containers. I let it slip a little today as I went to the cinema (like I said, it was an absolute treat for all I endured this past month or so for uni). I’m currently resisting the urge to take this cheat day to the next level and order pizza whilst watching Die Hard (because, Christmas!), which is taking all my willpower to convince myself that it will undo any of the progress in the past few days… But then again, I won’t be doing Christmas dinner this year… 🤔

So then the last thing I’ll be doing this break is getting the 2 short films I made edited to a more professional standard. I think both the stories are great and they (for the most part) look great, but they need more TLC in post-production. I’m picking up some new skills in sound and special FX that will hopefully remedy the issues with the shorts. I think if I apply the knowledge well they’ll turn out much more professional looking and would be something I’d be proud to show off to not just friends & family, but also to others at film festivals.

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This post has rambled on way too long, and I’m going to have to go back over it to see what could be trimmed down, or wether there is an appropriate GIF or meme that could be inserted to help pace this out. Regardless, I know the holiday season is not the best time for everyone. If you’re one of those out there that struggles, keep on struggling. If you feel like you need to reach out to someone at this time, you can reach out to me or please contact professional support from The Samaritans or similar organisations:

The Samaritans (UK & Ireland): http://www.samaritans.org

(The Samaritans also have a hotline to call: 08457 90 90 90 (UK), 1850 60 90 90 (Republic of Ireland))

The Samaritans (USA): http://www.samaritansusa.org

For the most part, however, I want to wish you all a Happy Holiday. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza, or don’t celebrate this season at all, I hope the New Year finds you in good health – both physically and mentally.

Until 2017 and the beginning of year 6 of this site….

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Much love  ❤️ ❤️ ❤️

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October/Early November 2016: In The Evening

Currently I am a little torn as to how to approach this month’s post. One one hand things are the same old, same old. On the other hand, things are actually going pretty well. I guess emotionally and practically I’ve been all over the place for the past 6 weeks (and beyond). Also, as this post has been long over due I have a lot to talk about, but I’ll try and keep it condensed.

Let’s get the bad out of the way first.

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The stress/anxiety/pressure/loneliness of uni life still hasn’t passed. Things are slowly improving, and I’m making moves to make those changes, but it is still something that has persisted. As previously discussed I have been looking into therapy whilst studying here. This has led me down a rabbit hole of making phone calls (which I’ve hated doing ever since the dark days of 2010-2012) and confirming medical insurance coverage. At the time of writing I have a tentative appointment tomorrow afternoon with a therapist, but there is a good chance the insurance isn’t going to cover that. Additionally, this therapist requires an upfront fee upwards of $100.00, which is not something I have readily available and I’m not willing to wait for a reimbursement from the insurance agency.

I have alternative options though. Earlier this month I visited the on campus health… centre?… center?… y’know, I’m just going to stick with British English, so screw it, it’s “centre”.

Anyway, I visited the health centre on campus as I was beginning to run low on my anxiety & depression medication, Sertraline (which I learnt in the USA is called “Zoloft” or something similar). My visit was nothing more than to get a refill, but I kinda figured that they’d need to do some due diligence to ensure that I wasn’t some drug fiend looking for some weird hook up. They ended up running a variety of tests that I guess are typical to American clinics; blood pressure, temperature, questionnaires on health history, and the standard mental health form – you all know the one.

When I finally met with the doctor we discussed my mental health history quite openly and candidly; and honestly, of all the GPs I’ve met and discussed my battle with mental health, he has probably been the best doctor so far. He was understanding, sympathetic (but not the fake or overly serious kind), he listened, and actually gave me some additional information about local therapists if nothing else works out. The funny thing is, with the way the search for therapy has been, I’m likely to try that number next as it might be the right fit.

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While we’re still on the medical front, it should be worth mentioning that I had a minor medical scare last week with what I thought could be another perianal abscess. I had noticed a lump “in that region” again and steadily it got more and more painful. The timing of which actually coincided with my going to the doctor, but I was hesitant to bring it up when I just wanted to get my prescription done. Luckily, 2 days later, it turned out to be just a regular abscess as I woke up in the middle of the night covered “down there” in blood and pus. It was lovely.

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I was in two minds about visiting the doctor anyway, but have ultimately opted to not go as it’s just embarrassing having to go through the examination and I’m almost 99% certain that I’ve healed with no chance of it reoccurring. If it comes back, yes, Mum, I will go to the doctor.

Segueing off of that, I think I need to mention that things are going well with the family. Even though I am still acutely aware that a lot of my mental health issues likely began with my relationship with my Dad growing up, I’m finding that our relationship has improved. I think I’ve written about this before that I think leaving home has helped that a lot, and that’s great, but I don’t know how I feel about dragging up a bunch of stuff in therapy that I know needs resolving, but that is likely to bring stuff up that could affect our improved relationship.

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I should also probably mention how my birthday went, and to a lesser degree, Halloween. Both events were spent with the MeetUp group I found online, which was great. I really enjoyed the company and had a good time, but I think I’ve been overcompensating on my social anxiety having previously struggled with interacting with people over the last few years. My way to overcompensate is to drink… and drink to excess. I’m not saying that I made a fool of myself, but after each event I felt like I had. That’s alcohol mixing with depression.

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However (in the good news section of this post), I have been attempting to be more social with my classmates. As I type this I am currently sitting on set of a production for a grad student who is making a short film. I’ve spent more time with other students that I’ve met in class, and I’m not going to say these are friendships forming, but they are social interactions where I am coming out of myself and raising my own self-esteem.

I also have something to look forward to in the coming weeks as Thanksgiving approaches in that a friend of mine whose relationship I had let deteriorate over the years to where we hardly ever saw each other is coming over to spend a break in the city. I’m currently attempting to plan a trip to Monument Valley with him, which will likely mean we’ll have to rent a car. It’s exciting, and I’m looking forward to a potential road trip with my old friend.

I, of course, still have many fears and anxieties about many things to come over the next few months, from minor things like financial standing to more emotional things like spending the long Christmas/New Year Break alone in a foreign land. I am hoping to get away for a few weeks during this period, but as I say I have my concerns and worries.

However, that’s not to say I am not optimistic about my immediate future. I’m doing a lot of film production work that I can put towards a CV/portfolio, but which is also teaching me a lot and putting me in more social situations to interact with human beings. I’ve got a friend coming to see me, and I have trips over the breaks being planned. Also, although I may be far from home, the internet will still allow me to at least be with my family visually during the holidays.

Until next time…

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Much love ❤

September 2016 – Over The Hills and Far Away

Hello there.

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I’ve continued to adjust this month to my new environment in San Diego, although with some great difficulty. I’m not sure if what I’ve been facing is the onset of a new dip in mood, or if my dip in mood has been brought on by this environment. By all regards; moving, especially to another country, can be one of the most stressful things a person can ever experience. Which is funny, because for the past 2 years I have moved at least 3 times. 4 if you include moving back in with my parents, too.

It also hasn’t been helped by being thrown into the deep end of education that has left me feeling overworked, stressed out, pissed off, and finding little time to entertain myself in my new home. I’ve literally barely left campus in 2 weeks and I’m struggling to find time to entertain myself with TV programmes or films that I would normally enjoy. In fact, I think part of this is a rollover from the summer. You see, I’m having difficulty sitting down to watch complex shows, like Mr. Robot, which I’ve been trying to catch up with since before the new season began in July, and here I am at the end of September (with season 2 having ended last week) and I’m still 3 episodes off from finishing the first season. Now look, I’m not getting distressed over it. I’m not worrying myself stupid because I can’t finish one TV show, but what concerns me is losing enthusiasm for things I enjoy, particularly because it is a symptom of depression!

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So mostly now with my downtime (which used to be filled with listening to podcasts and watching YouTube subscriptions, too) I try to find something inoffensive to watch, like a sitcom, or comedy programme. And that’s fine, y’know. I can understand why I’m doing that, it’s a coping strategy that I’m using to lift my mood. I just miss being entertained by the emotionally complex and narrative driven shows I love(d).

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Elsewhere, I turn 31 in a few days. It’s my 3rd birthday away from home, and this one is guaranteed to be spent without any surprise visits from family. I guess I’m used to this by now, and I had started to ease up on doing anything special after my 25th birthday, but I suppose I’d still like to be able to spend it with some friends or family, even if it was just a pint down the local or a takeaway from my favourite Chinese place.

My birthday rolling around hasn’t helped my feelings of loneliness or isolation either. These feelings have been here for a long time. I can’t actually pinpoint it, but these feelings have definitely been around since I started university at least. These feelings never really ever went away. The hardest part is not really understanding how to alleviate them. I think I threw myself into working as a way to cope, but now with how frustrated I’m feeling with at least one of the classes I am reassessing that notion.


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This means I’m changing things up. I’m trying to make more of an effort to get back to things I used to enjoy. I’ve been catching up on YouTube videos as a first step, and I’m currently burning through Marvel’s Luke Cage on Netflix. This week has been exceptional for work load, but making time for relaxation and entertainment has made everything a little bit better. I’ve organised my work so that I stop working after 6pm having usually started around 9am/10am and worked solidly. Giving myself a few hours off in the evenings helps to unwind, relax, and even sleep better.

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I’ve even made arrangements for my birthday! After realising how isolated I was becoming here I decided to look into social activities or groups in the area. On Reddit a few weeks ago, I noticed a thread discussing an App/website called MeetUp that allows users to seek out and find social groups that share similar interests. I thought this was a good place to start with meeting, mingling, and hopefully making friends with people. I ended up joining a group with a nerd inflection that happened to be having a massive social gathering for new members that coincides with my birthday. It was as if fate had stepped in. So naturally I’m going, and hopefully things will go well enough that I’ll have a social group here in California for the remainder of my stay.

Until next time:

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Much love ❤

August 2016: Going to California

First off, shout out to my kid brother who discovered my anonymous postings here. That’s some mighty fine detective work you did. I tip my hat to you, sir!

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Second of all, this will be my last entry.

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Just kidding.

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To be honest, now is going to be one of the most interesting periods of my life. This will be the longest I’ve been out of the UK, the longest I’ve been on another continent, and the longest length of time I have spent away from home. The mental health challenges are going to be interesting to say the least, whilst also dealing with everything that come with studying in another country.

At the time of writing this entry I’ve been in the US for just over 2 weeks, and it has come with its challenges, but mostly it has been kinda good. So I say “kinda good” because I’m not very good at recognising good things in my life, but I guess in reality things have actually been good. As much as I loathed the idea of sharing a room with someone, so far it has turned out okay. The guy I’m rooming with is an American and we get on really well. We’ve hung out a lot together since he moved in last Friday, and dare I say that the potential for a lasting friendship is there. Awww. I also get on well with my other apartment cohabitants, having gone to the cinema earlier in the week with one and a few of his buddies.

Settling into education here has been a bit of a challenge. Classes tend to be a lot more crowded and the stupid desk chairs they have for classes do not do anything for my bodily confidence. There also appears to be more work involved here, which for a workaholic like me is a two-headed dragon. Yeah, it’ll keep me busy and I guess entertained, but will I be too busy to appreciate my time in the US? The next few weeks will actually indicate how much work I need to put in, and while I don’t particularly like the idea I’m about to throw out — I may just essentially take the year off, slow down, and do the bare minimum to pass. Because while I like the idea of seeing how the other side does things, I am acutely aware of how much I need a change in my life and have some newer experiences. I need some miles on my clock, as they say out here.

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Talking about miles, and being away from home…

So ‘W’ got out of prison, you all know that. You know about the first week and what happened, but what you don’t know yet is in the weeks leading up to my departure he leaned on me even more heavily for friendship. Now, I stated this last month: Things have changed and our friendship won’t be the same, in fact it’s probably over, but I just don’t have the heart to tell him. I’m just terrible at confrontation on a whole. Keeping it 100, I’ve been terrible at dealing with anything negatively lately as a whole. I’ve just become exhausted and passive about everything. So before I left, I got together with a bunch of my oldest friends for a BBQ, which hasn’t happened in a long while. After getting surprisingly drunk, I asked my host for some advice. I can’t recall if I’ve mentioned her here before, so for the sake of this discussion I’ll call her “Kay”. “Kay” has been my bedrock for a number of years and has always provided me with the best advice, and actually listens to me on a level you don’t necessarily get with boys. I told her about my contact with ‘W’ and how I felt about it, but she said what I already knew — I’m being too nice to someone who has treated me like shit. Basically, I should just cut him out.

There is still this part of me that still wants him around, but it’s the part of me that’s in mourning for a friendship that is lost. I wrote about this last year. It’s not that I particularly want him in my life anymore, it’s just that a friendship that I had a lot of faith and trust in fell apart. It is quite essentially the death of a friendship, like the death of a relationship, a death in the family, or the death of a close friend. I’m mourning what was.Ironically it feels like I’ve spent most of my life mourning for what was lost, and especially so in the last few years with Matt’s death. And so that’s another thing that really bothers me about ‘W’ getting out, is that he says his mind was in a bad place with Matt’s death, but the dates and stuff don’t line up along with the fact that it still didn’t matter – it’s a piss poor excuse to use Matt’s death for his own actions. I think Matt would slap him for pulling that shit.

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So moving to California has been a kind of godsend that I could essentially “ghost” ‘W’ – ignore his calls (in fact I just straight up blocked all of his numbers that he could possibly call me from). I figured that messages would be the same, but apparently not. He texted me today. It’s so frustrating because I don’t want contact with him, and I do just want to move on. I wish I could still be friends but I do feel so betrayed, I feel that he doesn’t respect me or anyone else to be honest. I know I should tell it to him straight, but like I said, I’m a fucking pussy about confrontation.

I should have done this the first time he called me from ‘Inside’ and just ended things there.

So while I’m thematically on the relationship end of the spectrum I guess I should talk about something else that has been on my mind this week.

So… There’s some small stuff. It’s relatively minor. It really shouldn’t be on my mind, but it has for the past week, and it’s that my ex has gone “Facebook official” with her new man. Now, look… I’m not upset about that. I didn’t expect things to magically work out between us one day (Although I guess on a subconscious level I must’ve), and I want us both to move on with our lives. We’re not going to work out – I know it, she knows it – but there was something about seeing Starbuck moving on officially that kills me inside. I had known about them for sometime, and look, things with her are massively complicated. Fuck. You’d know that if you’ve been reading this for a few years. But I guess it’s something that hit me right in my weakest spot – which is my loneliness feels. Life is treating me relatively well, all things considered from the past few years, I’m in California for fuck sake! But the success doesn’t stop the loneliness and emptiness I still feel.

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So… I guess I’m about to spitball here… but this is something of a trait I’ve noticed in myself, this feeling of ongoing unhappiness. I can have a modicum of success, but I can’t celebrate it. Like, I don’t feel worthy of it. I guess on some level I feel like I don’t deserve to feel happy… and for that I can’t understand why. On paper I should be able to applaud myself for all the things I have accomplished, but it’s almost an impossibility. When I was younger I thought that unhappiness was to do with never having had a girlfriend, then I had a long-term relationship, and I was happy for a while, but I was unhappy in my professional life so I started getting that together and that relationship ended and the circle began again, and worked again and again. Now, I’m not saying that I’m unhappy with where I am at in terms of my career path, but I wonder whether I’m “an all or nothing” kind of guy in that I focus too much on one and not enough on the other which leads into failure for one of them. I am just spitballing. And I guess there was a period where I was happy with education and relationships when I was with Starbuck and studying at college. So I’m just overthinking it and trying to find reason where there is none. So fuck it. Let’s ignore this entire paragraph as the ramblings of a fucking psychopath.

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I guess the whole point of this post is just to highlight how I’m struggling to appreciate what I have. It’s not that I don’t appreciate it, because within all reason I do, I just don’t know how to make the connection in my synapses that I should feel good about things. It’s like I’m hardwired into thinking negatively, but guess what?! That is motherfucking depression for you.

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But understand this, as much as my mind is reaching constantly for something negative, I counter balance with as much positivity as possible. My downtime is usually filled with entertainment that makes me laugh or feel good. I’ve got out and explored more of San Diego in a week than I ever did of Canterbury! I’ve even made it to comic-con mecca at the San Diego Convention Center! Not while comic-con was on, but I still made it to a place that’s as much a landmark to me as the Empire State Building is to others.

So until next time,

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Much love ❤

July 2016 – The Battle of Evermore

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My mind is in a better place as I write this, so hopefully it won’t be as chaotic as last month’s post.

With that caveat, things haven’t really changed that much. I still feel on the verge of some massive anxiety attack, which isn’t being helped by the prospect of having to share a bedroom with a random stranger when I go to study in the US next month. I know it’s a common way of living at university over there, but I had asked for a single and laid out my reasons why – age, mental health, etc. – but I’m finding I’m having to fight for this.

But at least stuff to do with my visa is done. My brother and I took a trip to London for the day. Like I mentioned last month, yes, we ended up travelling at ridiculous-o’clock in the morning. No, it wasn’t fun.

Pulling out doesn't stop people coming

The visa interview process is a crazy conveyor belt. I mean, queuing up and getting through the door I could handle fine. I had everything ready. Once I was inside it was okay and just a matter of waiting for my number to be called. Once it was called though, I was told I “Had been called 3 times so now you will have to wait.” The woman behind the screen was incredibly rude and condescending, but I didn’t argue. I was too scared of being kicked out if I did. I just smiled and said “Alright” and waited again. I was so shocked and appalled by her behaviour that I just couldn’t bring myself to say that I came up the instant I saw my number appear on the screen. But the impression I got was that they have so many people coming through for visas that they just don’t give a shit and are trying to get through as many as they can.

Fortunately, the next person who I saw, and then the actual person who interviewed me were very nice and polite and made the experience a much more pleasant memory.

(Those last 2 paragraphs could be the most British thing I have ever written – “Nice and polite”, passive aggressive griping… Who am I?!?!)

Passive Aggressive Hippie

Anyway, I was so happy for my visa to be approved, and I met back up with my brother who had taken a wander around the Disney Store on Oxford Street. I took him to a few landmarks – like the Disney Store and Apple Store in Covent Garden, before heading over to the nerdiest shop I could think of, the massive London Forbidden Planet store! It was honestly a lot of fun just taking a walk around without having any pressure on to do anything. Well. Until we decided we wanted to hit some museums. We spent the rest of the day exploring the Science and Natural History museums.

On the negative side of the spectrum, ‘W’ was released from prison last week. I ended up to-and-froing for days prior to his release about how I felt about him. Could I forgive him? Had he changed? The short answer really is no. I ended up being dragged to his mother’s house for a drink – she wanted to pop a bottle of champagne (or rather it was just sparkling wine). This is where I began to feel much more conflicted. Why was he celebrating? Sure, go for a nice meal, have a drink, but champagne seemed like a step too far. I ended up staying quite late just so I could get a chance to speak to him alone and uninterrupted. What I found was that his story of what occurred was different to what was reported, but no less criminal. He was a fucking fool for what he had done, that’s for sure. But he threw in the death of our friend Matt as the cause for it all. I don’t believe that, and I feel disgusted that he would even use this as an excuse.

The difficult thing is that something like this happening had been on the horizon for a while. We had all heard stories, we’d even seen some of his Facebook activity over the years, but we dismissed it as his naivety. Getting caught and going to prison was probably the thing he needed the most to realise he was behaving inappropriately. Sadly, prison doesn’t seemed to have humbled him. If anything he is more selfish and narcissistic than ever. I don’t think he truly appreciates why what he did was wrong and why people are going to find it difficult continuing any relationship with him.

Padme aggressively presses panic button

At this point, I’m kind of glad that I’m leaving the UK for a while. I don’t really know how to tell him that things have changed between us, that I don’t trust him any more, and to a degree I don’t want to be around him in public because I’m worried of what others will think of me. I have very few friends remaining in this city and I think I have to choose wisely, otherwise I may find myself with no real friends at all – because ultimately I don’t really think of ‘W’ as a real friend any more. I think he only thinks of himself and doesn’t care about others, least of all me.

So this and organising the move abroad has really had an effect on my mental health. I’ve been feeling extremely anxious for at least 6 weeks. It’s a wonder I haven’t had a panic attack, or even a heart attack! I’ve been pretty low at times, I’ve fallen behind on things that I’ve been trying to get done before I leave – gardening, house repairs for my mother, but mostly writing. I’ve just not been kind to myself for a good while. To be fair, a lot of this comes from a place where I just don’t enjoy the things that I usually enjoy – which is a symptom of depression in itself. My sleeping pattern has been terrible, and my physical health has been in a similar situation.

5 Stages of Cat Depression

This is gradually improving as the date for departure closes in. Everything is now arranged, and the only worry I have for the year abroad is the sleeping arrangements. I’m trying to see as many friends as possible before I go, and I think I’ve pretty much decided I’m going to avoid/“ghost” ‘W’ until I leave. I can’t deal with his bullshit when I’ve got my own life to live.

The party has only just started motherfuckers

Tonight I’m going out for dinner with 2 of my oldest friends from school (that I still have regular contact with), and in the next few weeks I’m hoping to have a proper farewell party with a few others.

I’m looking forward to leaving. I’m hoping that being a continent away will help with so much that has been going on with me mentally. Like, moving to a different country will give me a fresh perspective or a different outlook. Even being in a sunnier climates for longer periods.

I have a lot of hope for my year abroad. I hope I meet people. I hope I can make friends. But most of all, I hope I can just enjoy my time away from home and not be susceptible to the stresses that are here from so far away.

Until next time in sunny California,

IMG_2028

Much love ❤

June 2016 – Trampled Under Foot

I like my coffee like I like life

Jesus, I really don’t know where to begin.

So look, this is probably going to meander all over the place, but forgive me, my mind is a little scattered lately.

(Ha, lately.)

I have a serious problem right now. My problem is life. I am currently making plans to travel abroad and study in the USA for 9 months, something that I was skeptical about, but also kind of looking forward to. I thought it would be great to move away from the UK for a little while, experience life in different climates and social circles… Actually, that still sounds like a really good idea. *sigh*. So I guess my problem is with the legal and bureaucratic bullshit I’m having to go through for attaining a visa. And I understand why I have to go through this process, but it has been very taxing. Documents aren’t very clear about information required, or information it says I am required to have, that I have to have filled in and completed another document that requires X, Y, and Z. It’s been very stressful getting this organised. No, it’s been a fucking nightmare. I am in anxiety hell, and I feel like I have been on the verge of a panic attack for weeks.

The good news is that most of the hard work is done. Mostly. I still have an interview to attend at the U.S. Embassy next week, which is at stupid-o’clock in the morning on a weekday. It also means I either have to travel at ridiculous-o’clock on the day or get a room somewhere in London to stay the night. It’s likely to be the former, but travelling makes me stressed and nervous, because, well, fucking people, man. This is part 2 of my problems with life. 

Heart what just happened - i just watched the news

So my opinion of other people has been severely diminished in the past month. Some of this is from personal experience – negative interactions with Joe-public – the rest has been events that have occurred in the news (in no particular order): the Orlando killings, the assassination of Jo Cox, the EU Referendum and results followed by the fall out, and the death of the actor Anton Yelchin. The funny thing is that that last one shouldn’t have affected me as much as it did. I mean, it is still a huge deal to my nerd brain. He was a great young actor who honestly could have been the next Ryan Gosling of the screen. Why it affected me though was for two reasons. 1) It’s his age. He was younger than me, and didn’t die doing something reckless, it was a stupid fault with his vehicle that killed him. And 2) It was sort of the straw on the camel’s back after all this other stuff. It was sort of like losing optimism for the future that things could get better, but something outside of our control will still continue to fuck us. See, also: EU Referendum.

In all, my mind has been in a very negative head space. In the past few weeks I’ve transitioned from feeling stressed; to stressed and anxious; to stressed, anxious, and depressed; to just anxious and depressed. Yesterday (4th July) was my lowest point for a few months. I actually slept something like 13-14 hours, only waking up sometime around 5pm. Luckily I was still tired and my sleeping pattern wasn’t totally fucked so I managed to get to bed at a reasonable time and wake up relatively refreshed.

Y’know, I don’t even know where I’m going with this at the moment. Why am I telling you how much sleep I’m getting? I guess the point to be made is that I am trying to stay focused and keep a routine of some sort.

My desire to be well infromed is currently at odds with my desire to remain sane

I guess it should also be worth noting that I have been piling on tasks to keep myself busy. Perhaps I’m creating too much work for myself. Perhaps by working too hard and letting events in the news and my personal life get me down, and I’m just making things worse and worse for myself. Perhaps it’s time to restructure some things…

So the personal stuff I’m dancing around is, again, twofold. The first thing is that ‘Starbuck’ and I had a falling out which left me feeling pretty upset. I had been feeling emotionally vulnerable this month as this was my first full month of being well, and being able to get out to socialise properly. My encounter with her on one drunken night was extremely negative, and telling her that resulted in an even more negative reaction. Basically I felt as though she had been rude and insulting, and a few days later I told her. She apologised, and me, learning how to not say “that’s okay” in response to an apology (so as it not giving permission to do that again), said “thanks, I appreciate that”. She didn’t respond to well to that, and, well, here we are two weeks later still not talking after having a blazing argument. It shouldn’t even really matter, she’s not my girlfriend anymore, but she was probably one of a few people I considered myself close to. So I think that’s what has hurt the most. It feels as though someone I considered being close to dismissed my feelings. Ergo: Rejection. A reoccurring motif of my neuroses.

THe Good, The Bad, The Ugly, and the Cat

So I spent the rest of June relatively isolated. I put off organising to see other friends. I limited my interactions with people to just my immediate family and Nan. As I’m typing this I am realising that everything that has come since that argument has been a reaction to rejection.

So the second thing with my personal dysfunction is that I’m increasingly finding it harder to be around people. I’m starting to find my social skills are rapidly dwindling. Recently, my brother returned home to visit. Perhaps it was just poor timing as his arrival coincided with my descent into stress, anxiety, and depression, but I’ve found it hard to talk to him without sounding shitty; and on the day he arrived I didn’t particularly feel positive about his arriving. If anything I just felt apathetic. It could have just been bad timing, but it is something I have been feeling for a number of months now, and I’m starting to wonder if I have reinforced this somewhat subconsciously. I wonder if I have created another rule for living – “I cannot be around people because I’m bad at socialising”?

Meh. I don’t know.

Fuck this shit I'm going to Asgard

What I do know is that it does concern me, as I feel like this is something that is affecting my social dynamic far too much. In fact, it has probably been affecting me ever since I went back to college 4 years ago. I was apprehensive back then about mingling with those who were potentially 10 years my junior as I am apprehensive now living/studying with students 10 years my junior. I guess my concerns have been about feeling alone, or out of touch with that generation and so far I’ve only really allowed myself to confirm that bias. So I guess I’m anxious that I’ll continue to believe this moving to San Diego.

And then I’m making myself anxious by thinking about how I’m posting this online and I worry that someone will see this and it’ll mean my visa is rejected.

I’m just a giant ball of stress and anxiety right now. All I can do is try to push through it, but each day is becoming harder and harder as my brain says “Hey, we could just write tomorrow off and just sleep it all away”. But that won’t fix any of this. I need to fix these things myself.

But fuck me, I really should have got therapy while I was back here.

Until next time…

For Anton - Star Trek

Much love ❤

April/May 2016: Red Flag

Hello darkness my old frind - I'm not your friend

Things with my mental health (and health in general) have continued to take a back seat as I recover from the perianal abscess of doom. To update the situation, the wounds from the drainages have fully healed, I had an MRI scan several weeks ago, and yesterday I had a follow up appointment with the Outpatient’s Clinic. The bad news from the MRI is that it showed a canal system was left by the infection trying to work its way out.  This created something known as a “Fistula”. This sort of guarantees that there could be a reoccurrence with chances of around 60%. However, because it appears to have healed on both ends much better than would otherwise be expected, the consultant believes that reoccurrence is now as low as 20%! This is incredible news as it was the single most painful experience of my life, and I saw BvS.

giphy

As I said, stuff with my mental health has been on hold whilst I’ve dealt with that. I’ve also had to get final assignments submitted for uni with extremely little time to do them. It should also be mentioned I had to drive back to Kent last week to move my stuff out of the house. In fact, as of late, I’ve made myself extremely busy. Perhaps I’m overcompensating for being incapacitated for so long. I now have a massive list of projects I want to complete over the summer, mostly stuff to help my Mum out around the house – like sorting out the gardens for her – but it’s really about keeping my mind busy. Really too busy.

In a way, I think I’m trying to clutter my time with projects so I don’t have to think about my mental health issues.

Before the abscesses at then end of March I had a partial breakthrough in CBT, so much so that it likely called for more personal therapy. Sadly, in Kent, I wouldn’t be able to access it for 12 weeks, but that didn’t matter because as soon as I began looking into therapy I was hospitalised with the abscesses. So during recovery it was low on my list of priorities. Now I’m recovered and I’m looking at time scales/costs and it just doesn’t seem feasible. I just won’t get anything out of it in the time I have before having to leave Coventry in August.

Error 404 room not found

The shame about this is that the breakthrough was realising, or rather being able to verbalise a rule I had built for living, and then telling someone about that rule. Finally speaking it actually brought me to tears because it made it something real, something that could be dealt with. What is that rule?:

I must keep my distance from people, even though I feel abundantly alone, because they will only leave me in the end and I don’t want to get hurt any more.

This ‘rule’ stems from a long list of negative experiences, from my childhood, all the way up to Matt’s death in 2013 and ‘W”s incarceration last year. It’s about feelings of rejection from when I was younger, and rejection in my adult years. I’ve known I’ve had some abandonment issues for some time, but I hadn’t quite realised the my had manifested themselves so deeply.

But if you look at everything I’ve done since Matt died, it has all been about containing pain. Even my ex, ‘Starbuck’, has noted that even though I could be loving and caring, I would be distant and often cold about things. That in of itself is a symptom of my foreseeing that our relationship had no future and I was already in damage control mode to avoid pain. After Matt died I didn’t keep up with nearly as many friendships as I had previously, and in fact after major episodes of depression in 2011 and 2008 there was a steady decline in maintaining good friendships.

What I would need from therapy is to untangle this, and other rules I have created and to get help in modifying them to live a healthier, social life.IMG_1698

Because the thing is, each time I go through an episode I lose a part of me. Often times it is my confidence, which currently is no where near its peak of 2009/2010. Engaging with society is just difficult. I find it hard meeting new people, or striking up conversations with strangers. I’ve fallen into a default “be nice and polite” to help engage, but it doesn’t help with rebuilding confidence. “Faking it until I make it” just doesn’t work. ‘t’s just another rule for living so “I can please people and not be immediately rejected by them”.

In the end it’s probably about searching for approval from others, but fearful that those I seek approval from will leave my life one way or another. And somehow, even though that is partially a fact of life, I cannot reconcile any of it. Thus: the need for therapy.

Hold the Door (2)

Perhaps I can deal with it better knowing it is there, and I can hold off getting therapy until next year. But I know one thing for certain, I can’t live in fear of rejection for the rest of my life.

Until next time,

Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem first make sure you are not in fact surrounded by assholes

Much love ❤️