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.

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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,

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 ❤️

March 2016: How Many More Times

Jon. is. not. DEAD. Game of Thrones

My life sucks. That’s not to say my life sucks more than others, but it does suck. It feels as though each month I set out to come here with positive feedback but everytime I get knocked back by something negative that happens in my life.

This month I wanted to come here and discuss how my first and only university social event of the year went, how my new healthy living was going after getting involved in a diet called ‘Keto’, and my return to the gym. I was also going to discuss how the last few sessions of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) went. But I guess some of this will have to wait until next time.

Stay out of Mom's Kitchen - Daredevil

Let’s do this from the beginning of this month of unfortunate events.

On the day of the uni social I fell, spraining my ankle. It was a stupid error, I just didn’t see the broken cobble on the pavement. I still managed to make it to the event, although enjoyed it less due to the discomfort, and I knew it was getting more and more painful and that I had likely done some damage. So I then spent the weekend recovering from that and had to miss all my shifts that weekend at work.

I returned to normal life on the Monday, more or less. But from the Tuesday I began to ‘feel not-quite-myself’. I thought maybe I was coming down with the flu or at the very least a cold, so I spent a couple of more days in bed trying to sleep it off. but as the days drew on I began to feel discomfort from around my groin/colon, and there was swelling.

What should you do if you get chemicals in your eyes - Fight crime. Protect Hell's Kitchen - Daredevil

By Friday I wondered if my symptoms were a hernia, but regardless I tried to keep going. I had planned to travel out of town with a friend of mine to an IMAX and an Apple Store to see Batman v Superman and get my iPhone repaired, respectively. By the end of the day I was in agony, and not because of the massive disappointment of BvS.

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On Saturday I caved and sought medical assistance. This was of course Easter weekend, and getting medical support was challenging. I spoke on the phone with various practitioners on a 24 hour helpline, and found myself constantly referred on. Speaking to one doctor I was recommended to go to hospital in a town a good distance away. So after speaking to another consultants over the phone I felt rather than getting to a surgery I probably needed surgery and called in my friend who lives out of town to come and take me to the hospital. Why I was calling for medical advice was because I didn’t want to call him as unfortunately my housemates were all KO’d from the previous night’s drinking – it was the weekend and they are students after all – and TK lives about 20 miles away (this is a fair distance in UK economics).

The drive to the hospital was horribly painful but absolutely necessary. I had to wait for over an hour before TK arrived to drive me, and that was more painful in itself. Nothing would relieve the pain. Once at the hospital I was seen relatively quickly in triage, and given some pain relief. It was around another hour before I was seen again, all this time I was forced to stand due to the pain and sitting was also excruciatingly painful. When the nurse took me to take blood samples I was also finally given a bed and some stronger medication that immediately gave me some relief.

Throughout all this I managed to hang on to a semblance of humour, joking with TK and making referential quotes that only we nerds truly understand. I had expected at this point to be kept in hospital, but TK stayed, hopefully waiting for a doctor to come around and to give a diagnosis and prognosis so we knew where we stood before he left. Luckily it wasn’t too long before I was wheeled in to a curtained area. The doctor took one look and decided it was a haemorrhoid and that he would simply push it back in! Knowing what I know now I can tell you that it was not a haemorrhoid. What occurred was unnecessary punishment, and in fact “pushing it back in” likely made what was happening much, much worse.

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I was instantly discharged and informed to buy over-the-counter medication to cope with the pain. I was also recommended to see my GP when the medical centre reopened after the Easter break. You and I both know that things did not improve. Pain medication did nothing even though the chemist provided me with the strongest they could. Just living for the next 2 days was horrific. Make no mistake, this is the worst physical pain I have ever been in.

Naively I was hoping to recover in time to be good company for my family, who were coming down to Kent and staying over at my uncle’s house again. They travelled down on Easter Monday, and were due to see me on either Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on how well I was feeling. By Tuesday morning I knew I needed to see the GP ASAP, and that in all likelihood I would have to return to hospital for further treatment. My GP took one look at me and said, “You look terrible”, before I had even explained what was going on. She examined the region and said, “That’s no haemorrhoid, that an abscess” in her best Obi-Wan Kenobi impression. Okay, that actually didn’t occur. But she was right, it was an abscess. She called the hospital in Ashford and got me in for emergency day surgery. All I needed to do was get there. Again. TK was in classes all day, so he was out of the question, and in a shocking turn of events all of my housemates were unavailable./S

This left me with calling in my family. I’ve been using “family” as a catch all because it was both my parents and my Nan who had come down. I was awfully hesitant in asking them to give up their holiday to spend it with me in hospital, but being the supportive family they are of course they obliged, and we laughed about the situation all the way to the hospital. Even in waiting we were cracking jokes and trying to be cheery, but they could see how much pain I was in and the concern on their faces was something I hadn’t seen in a while. They had good reason to be concerned. The abscess was leaking profusely, the infection had begun to seep into my bloodstream. I was feverish. I was in terrible shape. I was in the worst condition they have ever seen me in outside of mental health related problems.

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It was only a few hours before I was taken in for surgery. The experience was fascinating. I was strangely looking forward to anaesthesia, if only for the pain to cease for a time. I remember once I was at the operating theatre I was almost experiencing it like a film in a first person perspective. I just found it amusing how having all these people working over you before you go under was oddly accurate in something that you would see in a medical procedural. I remember seeing a clock reading 16:00 on the right of me before I went under. My last thought going through my mind was almost Deadpool-like in that I had a request that they didn’t cut the wrong thing, but the anaesthetic took hold before I could verbalise.

The great thing was that surgery was quick. I was in and out within an hour. In recovery there was a clock directly opposite my bed that read 17:00. I was impressed. My family greeted me once I was released from recovery, and I was told the hospital would keep me in overnight for observation. This was all pretty much expected. I later enquired how the abscess would have formed – in case it was something I could have avoided or if I had done something wrong. The doctors said it was simply an ingrowing hair. A fucking ingrowing hair. A simple hair follicle that had fucked up and caused me pain, that on a scale of 0-10 with 10 being the most painful, it was all the way up at 11. It’s both astounding and ludicrous!

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The stay overnight, like any night in a hospital, was terrible. It was difficult to sleep mostly because  I was sharing ward with 5 other people, and one of them had what sounded like dementia setting in and was constantly trying to escape. Loudly. However, I had a little time to think, and as the anaesthesia wore off I began to realise that I wouldn’t be able to stay at university and I would need to come home to recuperate.

The next day I spoke to my family and they immediately agreed; I would need support at home. So the day after we packed up my essential belongings from the house and made the long journey back to Coventry. The trip was uncomfortable, and I thought I felt something akin to a rash forming nearby the wound. I shrugged it off as being a reaction to the dressing that was surrounding my butt-crack. Over the next few days I began to notice it swell, it became as painful as the original abscess, and by the following Monday I was back in hospital at the local A&E department. After a horrendous 6 hour wait I was finally admitted, but it would take another day before I was back in surgery for another operation to drain it.

It turned out that the initial abscess may be “horseshoeing” (I believe that is a technical term) and there could be a canal system running around my colon that’s infected. The surgery basically drained this new abscess, which was bigger and deeper, and additionally cleaned up the initial infection from the original wound. Now I had 2 new assholes around my ass hole! I later learned that I would require outpatient follow ups and an MRI further down the line to confirm whether or not there are any further complications.

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So by now, most of my humour around the situation was gone, and pressing on my mind was not just how this was affecting my studies (I was already falling behind and in a situation where deadlines would be missed) but now I was worrying that I would lose out on an opportunity to study abroad for a year in the US. I was fearful I’d need ongoing treatment that would not be feasible abroad.

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For the next few weeks I was fairly miserable. I was embarrassed by the loss of independence I once had. I could no longer go to the bathroom or get a shower without some form of assistance. My mother had to inevitably redress the wounds mostly everyday, and my future was looking to be in crisis. The icing on this cake of shit was discovering one of my wisdom teeth had cracked after I started to feel some amount of pain in my jaw. I’ve no idea how or when it happened, but there’s a possibility it could have occurred when I was intubated during the second surgery. Inevitably I had to see a dentist, and yes, another procedure was done on my person and the tooth was removed.

SIDEBAR: The bright side of this is that this tooth had been the bane of my existence since my 22nd birthday when it decided that was the perfect time to cut through and I spent the entirety of my birthday with a horrifically swollen face. Ever since then it had periodically cut into my cheek and generally caused all types of problems. To have a real excuse to have it removed had me like:

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So here I am now. Slowly recovering. The first wound has nearly closed up entirely, whilst the second one is well on the way to healing. I’m still in a bit of state, stressing out for the most part about studying abroad, finishing my course this year off campus, and also trying to get a transfer from work to a local store. I am reminded by myself and those around me that I should just concentrate on recovering, but I feel so useless. I hate not having things to do. Even now I’m home I have been looking around the house and seeing so many jobs that I would like to do, but I’m just not physically up to it. Even typing is an issue. It’s only recently have I been able to sit up in a position that’s comfortable to work in, and yet even then the painkillers I’ve been taking have made it very difficult to think clearly and critically. I’m sure that even as I edit this post I’ll find the language and style I use inconsistent.

The feelings I have now are that I’m constantly in a state of frustration and sickness, and not just from this recent turn of events. It feels like this has been my life since… Well, probably since I began writing this blog. I don’t view myself as being a hypochondriac or an overly pessimistic person, but life just seems to want to attack my wellbeing constantly. When I try to make a move to improve either my mental or physical states something transpires to kick me off balance. Furthermore, and I’m not a superstitious person in the slightest, but negative events often tend to arise around the end of March. Last year it was W being sent to prison; in the past I’ve had 2 break ups in this period that were painful to say the least, and other illnesses according to Facebook’s handy “On this Day” app. This is a period in the year that has dealt me the most anguish annually. Like I say, I’m not superstitious, but this makes me wonder if I am cursed.

This post is already overlong, but hey, I’m going to try and look at the positives to come. So… Um… I still need to move out of my uni house completely… Yeah, that’s not really a positive, just something that has to be done. Um… uni is nearly over, I’ve just got to finish my assignments and that’s it. All I need to do is pull together and write coursework for 2 modules within the next 2 weeks.

It’s fine, really

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I’ve got my year abroad to still organise – whether the uni is still going to accept me, apply for a visa, accommodation, classes/modules, money.

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Yeah, fuck me. There’s just more stress and anxiety coming up.

I guess I should really be thankful for still being alive (not that it was life threatening, but anaesthesia has its risks), and that I have my health for the most part. I should be thankful that I have a family that cares enough about me that they’d take care of me as well as they have. I should also be thankful of the support I’ve had from the university and even my part-time job over this period. But typically my mind is leaning into negative territory as I begin to stress about how much this is affecting just about every facet of my life including my aspirations.

I wish I could be more positive, and the fact that I’m still submitting coursework (and now writing this post!!!) is something I should applaud myself for. The thing is, anyone who has ever suffered depression in the slightest knows that giving yourself credit for positive things does not come easily. In fact, it’s harder than doing those positive things in the first place.

But look, I’m not going to drone on about how shit my life is, I’ll save that for next time.

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The fact remains that I hold myself to a high standard, and I have goals and ambitions that I want to reach, but this episode of physical ailment has really fucked me. So yeah, I really wish that life had at least taken me out for dinner and drinks before it decided to do that.

Until next time, much love ❤

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February 2016: Iron Man

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This month’s entry is going to be a little different in that I’ve not really planned how I’m going to give an update, but I’m going to give it a try anyway.

Firstly, the bad. After 4 months of quitting smoking I broke from stress a few weeks ago and have pretty much been almost back to my old habits. It sucks. I hate myself for it. But, I understand it is a crutch, and it is something that I lean on in times of high stress. Mostly that was to do with how I felt over January and into February. I just needed some form of cathartic release. I guess maybe it’s a form of self-harm? I don’t know, I’ve never been a self-harmer to what I would recognise.

To backhand off of the smoking, my mood has been a little erratic. My own internal thoughts questioned whether the mood swings were from a misdiagnosis, “maybe I’m bipolar!” was a thought, but I just think overall it has been a shitty time to be me.

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So that’s the bad out of the way. The good is I am attending CBT classes once a week that have been beneficial. I’ve looked at how my way of thinking is overly self-critical, coming to terms with what my ‘rules for living’ actually are and how they trigger certain negative thoughts or reactions within me. Some of it was obvious, being cleanly and organised as a means to hold back depression, and overworking out of fear of failure. But one thing that I learnt a few weeks ago I didn’t expect to find. I discovered that even though I’m so incredibly lonely, I force myself into isolation because I’m afraid to get close to people for fear of abandonment. This is something I know I learnt years ago, that I have abandonment issues for a large variety of reasons, but that it is affecting me by becoming isolated was something very new. This comes as I also learnt that I have a polite and kind demeanour because I am fearful of rejection if I am not. Even from strangers.

It is a complicated issue, but I know the abandonment comes from what I perceive as rejection from my father (to get extremely personal about that) even though he was present in my life and in the home, it never felt like he wanted to be a part of my life. In fact, a lot of my life has been trying to earn his favour, that I just want to impress him. The other side is from my uncle, who passed away in 2002, and how he was more of a father figure in my life, but he left me because he committed suicide. There are then my long-term relationships with girlfriends who have mostly been the ones who rejected me, followed by losing my best friend Matt to cancer 3 years ago. Most recently I lost another friend to prison – abandoned without ever saying a word because of pride.

Han Solo - you know Kylo Ren gets this from your side of the familyLike I said, it’s all very complex.

What this has shown me, however, is that I need to open myself up more, because at this stage I am pretty much starving myself of affection or human contact. My fears are what are currently driving me, even if I didn’t know I had these fears. Sidebar: funny story. I remember at my induction to my part-time job last year we were all sat around a table and were told to write down our biggest fears, and afterwards we’d pick them out of a hat and try to guess which fear belonged to who. I also remember doing something similar in a uni class last year too. Each time I struggled to think of a fear. I didn’t think I was fearless, but I’m certainly much more of a rational person I guess. Heights scare me, but I wouldn’t say I was afraid unless I was dangling off a cliff. That said, knowing now that I’m afraid of being abandonment it’s not likely something I’d share with the world… well… outside of here, obviously. It’s just not something you would want to bring up in polite conversation I guess is what I am trying to say.

Suffice it to say, now I am making more of an effort with the world around me. I’m engaging with my co-workers more, talking to people in the coffee shop, and recently talking to a girl who I recognised from my course who is also taking CBT. I’ve seen her around on campus a few times and struggled to decide if I should talk to her or not. The day I decided I would talk to her she spoke to me first! I could feel my hands ball into fists and squeeze tight, it was one of the most stressful encounters I have had in quite a while, but I’m glad we finally spoke. That’s not to say that I have any sort of romantic interest, it’s because we have something mutual in common. Well, 2 things – film and a mental health issue. This might actually be someone I can fucking relate to, would you believe it!

Iron Man 3 - We're connected

Another ‘push’ I gave myself was to ask a security guard at work I had befriended, who knew my name, what his name was! We all wear name badges where I work, except for the security guards. They have IDs, but the names aren’t easily viewable. This weekend I plucked up the courage to step out of the comfort zone and ask and he was really cool about it. He’s an Egyptian national by birth so he doesn’t have a Tom, Dick, or Harry type name, and he patiently taught me how to pronounce it. It was really nice, and now I feel better for knowing his name.

I’m kinda gushing now, and I feel like I’m rambling. This feels like an oddly positive post (for a change!) so I think I’m going to leave it at that. Next month I’ll have to fill you all in on what’s happening with a new diet and exercise thing I’m trying out. That reads kinda bullshitty, but I think it’ll end up being the focus of March’s post. So until then…

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Much love ❤

January 2016: Bad Reputation

Hello again. I have a lot to get through this month, so I’ll try to be as succinct as possible whilst filling in the gaps.

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January started out well. I returned to university the day before New Year’s Eve due to work commitments, and with no plans of celebrating the new year I spent it alone. Yeah, it was lonely, but I’ve honestly felt lonelier. I was hoping that work would throw me a few extra shifts over the next few weeks before uni started back up again just to give me something to get out of the house for in the week. Sadly this was not the case. I also came down with a fairly awful cold at this time, but I was also dealing with some nerve issues in not just my back/left leg, but my left shoulder and arm (an old injury), and my right hand. I was 95% certain the nerve issues in my hands were related to my neck, while the lower back and leg were linked to each other. Yet there was a 5% thought in my mind that I was experiencing the onset of Multiple Sclerosis. Over the past 4 years of writing here I cannot recall (but I’m sure I must have mentioned) that MS (as it is commonly referred to) runs in my family. My eldest uncle had it before dying due to complications from it, my uncle who was my godfather (and also more of a father to me than my own growing up) may have had the early stages of it before committing suicide, and my own father has it. So I was a little concerned, and I wanted to get that checked out. This was in the usual manner befitting of me as an info dump on my local general practitioner of medicine.

Because of this I was referred onto a physiotherapist for the nerve pain. I knew the cold was going to go away anyway but he had noted it anyway and noticed I was overdue for some tests – so I was sent for some blood tests just to be sure, and the nurse there also noticed I was overdue for an asthma check. *Sigh*. Of course it all comes back negative, except for a slight deficiency in iron or something. A prescription was written out for me, but 4 weeks later I still haven’t picked it up. Whatever.

Wolverine - Go Fuck Yourself

Anyway, back to the GP: I had been feeling a little low and stressed, and had been for sometime; I guess it had been ongoing for around 9 months with periods of highs and lows (as documented over the past 4 posts or so). So I asked about getting some help (just like a top up to stuff I already knew for shit I may have forgotten) with anxiety and depression and wanted to be referred to some CBT (AKA Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) that could help ease the symptoms. The way things turn out is it was a self-referral scheme and after a few phone calls I was on a waiting list, and then on a course that began this week (01/02/2016) – but more on that later.

Over the Christmas break I pretty much ignored my studies for university because I was pretty much busy all 14 days I was back home. I honestly barely had time to completely relax and recover from the previous semester. I had started to make plans for the 2 essays that were due in at the end of January, but I thought I had a number of weeks still remaining where I’d have the house to myself, and I was only working the weekends so the weekdays would be where I could get work done. What I hadn’t counted on was feeling so physically unwell that it would end up filtering into my mental wellbeing. I felt lonely, again, I felt pathetic because I was so physically unwell that I could barely look after myself, and just wanted to stay in bed. When I was finally physically better enough to do work I couldn’t focus on it long enough to get anything complete.

Time was counting down, I was still feeling the pain from the nerves in my back and shoulder/neck, I still had cold residue, and mentally I was psyching myself out.

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I had started the year well diet-wise too. I had been experimenting with healthy foods, discovering what vegetables I liked, and making more health conscious decisions. By the middle of the month, with my mind and body reaching breaking point, I had resorted back to eating take-out food and blowing through savings to save time and energy on cooking. The housemates had also returned by this point too, and so dealing with 6 other people in a kitchen that was constantly a mess added to my stress levels. I thought removing myself from that situation would help.

With one week until the deadline, my diet was in the toilet, savings dwindling, surviving on take-out food, entirely wrapped up in either university work or my part-time job, and no social life, on top of being physically unwell… Still… again… Whatever.

Things were hard. My learning plan with the university that was developed to aid me in times of depression/anxiety helped to alleviate some of the stress, as I found focus to write and concentrate on one essay, but even that wasn’t enough as I struggled to meet the deadline for that and had to call for a week’s extension on both of the essays. I thought a week was generous for one of them, as if I focused it should be finished a day after the original deadline. I was wrong. The deadline was for Thursday, I thought I would be done by Friday, but it took until Tuesday before it was done. And nothing had been done with the last essay, which was due on Thursday!

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The final essay was an incomplete mess, and it only met half the word count. I have never been so disappointed with myself in all my life. I was now completely exhausted, and I was only into the 2nd week of the new semester. My brain could barely string a cognitive thought together. I realised I needed to blow off some steam and an opportunity arose to go out with my housemates – This was the first time in a long while we would have done so. I decided I was going to forget all the rules that I had made over the past few months, and I was going to drink (not a lot) and smoke (maybe a little).

To make things easy in describing the events I’m going to refer to the group that went out as the main characters from the TV series How I Met Your Mother, circa season 5/6 – the time where Barney and Robin were basically together if you get the allusion. Except the Robin in my story is a guy and isn’t dating Barney, but Lily and Marshall in this analogy are. But Barney and Robin are as annoying together in this as they are in the series when they’re together. I hope you’re still with me here.

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The night was horrid. The country was experiencing another severe storm and Kent was taking the tail end of it. So whilst it wasn’t as bad as it was in some areas of the country it was still pretty horrible. We had walked into the city centre to go to a pub for some drinks and a few laughs. It also coincided with a graduation day and payday. The first pub we arrived at was packed, with the ambiance so loud it was difficult to hear each other across the table we had been lucky enough to grab. We had 2 drinks in this pub and moved on.

Now, Barney & Robin had brought with them half a bottle of Bacardi rum, the other half presumable they had drank, and had made us stop at a shop on the way into town so they could get something to mix it with. Like I said, the weather was horrible, and we had to wait for them to finish their drinks before we could go into the first pub. Marshall, Lily, and I ended up going in the first pub before they finished because it was so wet and cold out. Meanwhile, Barney & Robin stashed their bottle of Bacardi in a nearby graveyard(!!!).

So when we left the first pub they had to go and pick it up again. Okay, that was fine. It wasn’t out of the way. But as we got closer to the next pub we had all decided to go to, Barney & Robin decided they wanted a Subway sandwich. Okay. So the next pub we were going into was across the road, so we’d meet them in there. Except Marshall stayed with them, and it was only Lily and me who went to the pub.

Now, to understand, out of everyone I live with, (including Lily who doesn’t officially live with us…) she’s the one who I probably have the most in common with. This is followed closely by her BF Marshall. But sometimes we can both be extremely socially awkward, and most of that is probably on me. So on entering the pub, Lily went to use the restroom whilst I grabbed a beer, and we met back up and found a table. It was busy, but not too busy, and the music was pretty good – something I think we all would have been okay with.

After 10 minutes (not including the time it took to get served at the bar and find a table) Lily and I were beginning to wonder where the others were as Lily hadn’t bought herself a drink as she was waiting for Marshall. After messaging them all, Marshall came in a few minutes later and said the other 2 were not far behind. When Barney & Robin did show up they pretty much said they were only coming inside to say ‘goodbye’ as they were going to a nightclub. I was a little stunned, but shit like this had happened before, so we said our farewells and they left. Marshall and Lily didn’t get a drink as it was clear they just wanted to go home, and by this point I felt the same.

GoT - It's a Trap

So I finished my beer and we braved the long, stormy walk home to find Barney & Robin in the house – We didn’t know they were coming home first to get changed. “Oh. Okay” I thought, “Whatever.” I get to my room to shed my soaked clothes, and look at my phone. I haven’t checked it since we left the pub. Now, to let you know, the housemates have a WhatsApp chat group. Mostly it’s courteous stuff, passing on information and alerting about stuff to do with the house or organising to do social stuff. When I checked my phone I found this message from Barney: IMG_1311

From that I thought it was an exasperated kinda “I really need to dry something so I can go out tonight, can I take it out to put mine in?” type of message. I had a mountain of washing that had piled up for several weeks, including bedding and towels, because of the workload I had on due to being incredibly overloaded. As I said, the weather that day was awful. I had also noticed that the washing machine seemed to have been in constant use over the previous few days and there was a lot of clothes hanging in the living room – which is adjacent to my bedroom. So I sent this message back:

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To which I got this reply:IMG_1313

And I replied with this:IMG_1322

From here things spiralled in the chat. I felt as though I was being personally attacked and insulted (speaking to my counsellor/mentor today, he said that I may not have cognitively recognised it, but I had felt as though I had been insulted earlier by Barney & Robin’s absconding from the night out and that has fed into the argument and my anger in general towards him). I felt the angriest I had ever felt. I was actually borderline ready to physically lash out. I think if I had seen Barney before he left for the club (which was while this conversation was still going on!) I would have punched him.

I am one of the least violent people a human being is likely to encounter, and any anger I harbour is usually turned inward (hello, depression!), but this was all the anger, hatred, and resentment that had been building finally erupting  and that was it: No más.

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Barney apologised the next day, but by then it was too late, the damage was done. I had moved on from that, but I was too angry anymore. I was angry with everyone and everything. I was a powder keg, ready to go off. Working that weekend was a nightmare, and I’m sure my bosses are contemplating bringing me in for a meeting about my attitude. I’m not saying I was rude to customers, but the way managers and supervisors were looking at me by the end of that weekend it was with looks of concern. I was just so extremely angry for the next 5 days. The only time it was interrupted was through severe bouts of depressive lows: I just wanted to curl up into a ball under a table and cry. I tried to let it out, but the tears refused to flow.

All of this finally peaked on the Tuesday just gone. On my timetable this semester, Tuesday is my busiest day scheduled. I have a 3 hour seminar from 10am-1pm then a lecture at 2pm-3pm followed by a screening. For that screening I have to write a short film review that is due by 9pm the following day, so I try to get the first draft done immediately after the screening, more so now I have an hour gap likely between 5pm and 6pm before I have CBT.

I don’t know what it was about that day that made me into this steaming pile of rage. Maybe it was the change of convenors of the classes for that week due to a trip. Maybe it was being forced to watch the remake of Annie with Jamie Foxx (which is just a fucking terrible film. It has moments that seem to aspire to greatness but, like a new born lamb, the legs give out under the pressure) Maybe it was stuff to do with my ex, who the night before had texted me “Do you still think about me?” To which, still with burning rage and sadness of recent events, I replied “All the goddamn time”. tbt

This led to messages throughout Tuesday being sent back-and-forth semi-reminiscing about our relationship, but often at times being critical. She wrote some things that hurt. I apologised for being a terrible person because, in part because of the previous few days – I had been thinking about how I may be a terrible person and just not know it. I could just be completely oblivious to this. Then she said something that made me feel just fucking awful; that I had made her feel “lonely” When we were together. Long time readers know the complications of our relationship. Of all the things I could’ve made her feel, lonely was the one thing I that would never enter my mind. If anything, our relationship was born out of loneliness. To tell me that was to say I had failed in my job as a companion and as a human being. It was the deepest cut of all.

Maybe it was out of anger from what had been building over the past few days (N.B. This past year) that I lashed out, but there were these exchanges of messages…

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And that was the last I heard from her. That was Wednesday.

As I write this, it is Friday. I don’t know if I’ll get this posted by the end of the day, I know this is a long first draft and it is going to need a thorough going over. After seeing my mentor/counsellor I feel a lot better about myself, but I feel like my life is a complete fucking shambles. I hate the house I live in. I feel extremely alone at university. I’ve likely burned any bridge that remained standing between me and my ex who was really the only person I felt close to back home outside of family. On the bright side, at least the physical illnesses that had gripped me for much of January seem to be subsiding and I’m slowing coming off/reducing the amount of painkillers I’ve been taking for the nerve pain. So… Y’know… With the good comes the bad, the bad comes the good…

Much love ❤

Ghostbusters - End of the world Valentines Day February 14 2016