I’m Your Man

After due consideration, Chocolate-Free January is cancelled. This is due to an unexpected change in mental fortunes, an obdurate receptionist and Elon Musk [*]. What it does mean is that the second cuppa has a far more enjoyable accompaniment, and it is high time to break down what’s changed inside me over the last three months.

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Once I was told Autism was part of my problem, I’ve regretted not pushing for a more specific diagnosis: the spectrum is wide, plus it is entirely possible that some of my mental issues are not tied to the disorder. Having encouraged a number of other people to go seek diagnosis in the last year, it was time to do the same for myself. My initial attempts to find any help through the NHS were woeful: bypassing that system has already provided a measure of relief. But where does that leave me in relation to everything else?

Yesterday’s issue, trying to deal with my daughter’s ongoing allergy problems, came as a real surprise. This will be (probably) the first time in about a decade that kind of panic has resulted from a random confrontation with people. With care and thought, all the issues are easily rationalised and avoided, but undoubtedly come moments where you can’t plan everything. Was that what played out yesterday morning? I don’t think so. It is actually becoming easier to deal with conflict at home, in places where previously that ability did not exist.

I think this is me, putting down markers for other people’s behaviour.

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My PT suggested yesterday that perhaps her absence was part of the problem, but that’s certainly not the case. Yes, I’ll admit there is often annoyance and frustration when other people change plans last minute or (as was the case on Friday with the Doctors) one receptionist’s suggestion was fairly robustly contradicted by another. Right now, sitting here, none of my normal rules or reactions appear to adequately cover the hole in my head that absolutely exists. I have no idea what it is, only that it needs to be uncovered.

Is it my inner child frustrated with her lot? Nope, that’s reconciled. Is it an impending Empty Nest where there’s no kids to lavish unconditional love on me? Nope. Is it personal relationships generally? Despite knowing I need more real people in my life, this isn’t causing as much issue as it did before the fact registered. In fact, looking at all of the potential stones in my road, nothing is a genuine surprise. I got emotional at the Doctors because someone who should have been understanding, wasn’t.

Yesterday I got upset at someone being mean.

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The automatic assumption when you are the unreliable narrator in every story is simple: that has to be your fault, not someone else’s. When it turns out that actually, that’s not the case, it can be quite a shock to the system. I’m not to blame for everything: some stuff sure, absolutely my problem, 100% me. Not this time, and that is why I lost the plot. That’s the first genuinely emotional reaction I’ve had to anything negative in quite some time. I still feel, am able to enjoy so much: the other side has been so well bottled up over the years…

The consequences of this are still percolating through my brain today. Maybe it is time to stop taking the blame for everything that appears to go wrong, and instead work out what is truth within the emotion. By doing so, I’ve been granted a clarity of vision that simply did not exist before.

This is something that needs far more thought.


[*] I crushed a dream this morning, expressed my opinion, and was met with stony silence in the car. Yeah, he makes great memes, but I don’t think he’s a particularly nice person.

Future Boy

Day 1:Β Start again: in Good News PT is back today. YAY.

The Next Chapter Bar

Today I am here to remind you that the Future is not as forgiving and understanding as some of you seem to believe.

In the last week, a significant number of people in my timeline have seen some form of bank fraud happen in their accounts. Is it a coincidence that the biggest breach of data ever took place shortly before this? I dunno, but it’s a sage reminder to check your online accounts, making sure you don’t hold excess cash in your main account. Any excess (if you are that lucky) should be stuffed elsewhere, regardless of whether it gets saved or not. Also? Two factor authentication as standard on any app handing your money.

I digress however, but only slightly. It’s time to reference the fact that tons of privately marked tweets were, it transpires, easily accessible to anyone on an Android phone. This isn’t really news at all, because the idea of Private Messaging and Encrypted apps should be ridiculous to anyone who still holds onto any belief that the Internet is some kind of mysterious place like it was back in the 1990’s, where Government never listens and big business cannot capitalise.

Privacy, in a public space, is the biggest issue everybody should be talking about.

When you step back and consider facts, a lot of stuff is pretty well looked after. There are some basic mistakes that shouldn’t be made as consumers: online banking passwords really ought not be the same as the ones you use for porn site access. ANYTHING with a nominal value to your existence on the Internet should have a secondary form of authentication, preferably NOT tied to a mobile device.

However, what is abundantly apparent in recent years is that certain companies don’t really care about the privacy of the data you share. When you forget that Big Brother doesn’t need to watch you if you are dumb enough to use services without thinking through the consequences, the police and other organisations won’t even need a warrant to hack your Facebook account if every message you spew forth is tinged with hate. It’s just there, shouting into the void.

Just because nobody replies to you, does not mean there’s nobody listening.

The most amazing thing of all, of course, is that all this data combined adds up to an amazing way to unconsciously propel lots of industries forward. Targeting the right people online; not smart enough to grasp their news is fabricated but capable of casting votes, is one high profile example of using freely available data to influence all our futures. Yet people complain their privacy has been invaded, despite the unavoidable truth that this is not totally the fault of those doing the exploiting.

Let’s take an example: let’s say you wanted to train a camera to more accurately distinguish how faces age over time, as part of wanting to employ face recognition software for law enforcement. Picking the same person with… a ten year age gap between two pictures would be a decent starting point, wouldn’t it…?

[FX: Removes Tinfoil Hat]Β Okay, so maybe not everything is a government conspiracy, but on the other hand if you people could just stop sharing every single thing about yourselves 24/7 then the AI would have a far harder time deciding what you really like, before serving it up to you on a lovely, buy now and save 21%Β platter. I know that’s not going to happen, and a lot of people are betting on the same being true, or else I wouldn’t have a ton of people trying to invite me to a bazillion new ‘gamer only’ or ‘writer only’ social networks, or using my ratings to condemn delivery drivers and private cabs to personal hell if they don’t turn up on time.

‘Leave a review’ they say. Response to my blog posts is largely non-existent. What future is there in the writing world if you’re required to have a 3.6 star rating or above on your Blog before anybody will even retweet you? Has anybody thought through these systems properly, or are we condemned to a future where a Black Mirror episode looks more like a documentary of how life in the future was perfectly represented from a fictional past?

When I was a kid, the Future was shiny suits and flying cars. Now it’s all data and peer pressure and living a life online that should never be there in the first place. If your privacy really matters, stop doing shit online. It is terribly easy, and takes no effort at all to achieve: get your dick picks out of my DM’s, stop posting your cleavage in order to make you feel good about yourself. It isn’t difficult. You are the arbiter of your own destiny.

The only person making you share everything is yourself.

Up

Number of days since Chocolate = 0

If I eat chocolate pistachio cake with a Bestie in London on a Saturday, there is inevitably a way built in to negate those calories. In this case, it was doing all the stairs at Covent Garden tube station: 195 of them, equivalent to a 15 story building (as was periodically and gleefully announced via tannoy on the way up.) Yes, I had to stop (twice) because however fit I might get, there is always a problem with stairs when I’ve not had a warm up, and next time I’ll just go a lot slower. Because yes, I will do that in one hit next time.

It’s almost exactly as I imagined it would be, if truth be known. I picked up a contest flyer where (gasp!) there is no online entry component: I will have to USE THE POST for submissions \o/ More importantly there is a notice board, and the next time I come down to town there needs to be something made to advertise there. It MIGHT be worth doing a secondary recce to work out what space to use, or what is likely to make the most impression.

I take this as a challenge to my artistic creativity.

The Next Chapter Bar

Having had a much-needed conversation with a grown up yesterday about writing, I’ve come to realise there is no anger really about rejection. Where emotion springs from is how such rejections are communicated; so generic as to be insulting, yet with vague specifics that can allow individuals to tear themselves to shreds and never enter another contest again. Should it be the job of an individual to deal with criticism better, or an organisation to present criticism in a more helpful fashion?

I’ll write about this on the IoW tomorrow, but for now there is a sense that progression with your ‘voice’ isn’t just about flow or output, but a potential editor grasping how speech is such a hugely subjective thing. To sound like me is a particular process. To be coached on how to write is acceptable, but to a point, because there is undoubtedly a difference to my speech and the perception of it that comes from a brain that simply does not operate the same as other people’s.

This is a discussion that will run and run.

The Lunatics have taken over the Asylum

Again, wouldn’t normally be writing here on a Saturday but I’m off to town shortly, scoping out the place I’ll be performing at in few weeks time. It’s likely to be a fairly sympathetic audience, under the circumstances: safe space is a given, but I’d like the opportunity to give it a once over. I believe the technical term is a recce, and as there is a cafe there it will be a place to lunch at the same time. If there is a spot to leave a poster or maybe a flyer, that will also be investigated, in time for early February…

This thought however deserves being extracted from my brain, before potency is lost.

different

I’ve always been different. That’s small letter for d and not big: difference existed in my consciousness from quite early on. What this meant however has altered over the years, and only now occurs reality of everything slotting into place. Because it has taken so long, certain games of catch-up with what that means require more work than others.

I have a lot to thank Penny for, and this is a case in point. I’d never heard of this organisation: a cursory glance at their public face shows nothing as to why this OP Tweet would be correct. Digging, however, turns up uncomfortable truths that make me feel physically ill. There is a dystopian future, not far from here, that could easily see autism first identified as a genetic shortcoming shortly before it is eliminated like Downs Syndrome, or anything else other people don’t consider as ‘perfect’ in human terms.

That is a world that frightens me, especially when other people react to the idea of difference with negativity right now. I’ve interfaced with two women this week, both in front-facing positions where they are paid to interact with members of the public. One was too embarrassed to publicly ask me a number of awkward questions despite it being her job to do so, the other so dismissive and frankly rude about the notion of difference that my previous respect for her effectively evaporated.

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We all deal with change in different ways. Many choose to ignore its progress completely: those keeping shows like The Grand Tour alive and well with their patronage, who’ll get annoyed at the idea of having to reduce their meat consumption to save the Planet… and the list goes on. Accepting the inevitable is not something many people can do well, whilst those are those who go too far the other way, instantly bouncing from one new fad to another without the first thought for consequences. Looking at you, Goop fans.

Ideal reality ought to exist somewhere in between the extremes, or that’s the theory. It never really does, because most of the ‘moderation in all things’ brigade never need to have their voices heard to begin with because living life is far more interesting and fulfilling than telling other people you’re doing just that. Oversharing, especially in public, becomes a hindrance, but without it the realities of abuse and violence true harmony will never be fully realised. If you open Pandora’s Box and give one person the right on Social media to be themselves, everybody has to be afforded the same privilege.

For every action, consequences are both blessing and curse.

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More and more, such moments become fuel for poetry or prose. Telling stories and educating via poetry, short stories and long form works has merit, and it can alter consciousness. The trick is not to allow other people’s casual prejudice to deter you. Everybody has the opportunity to learn and be a better person, it is up to them whether those changes happen, and how fast.

The last thing that needs to happen is to erase difference from any conversation.

This is Not a Love Song

Day 6: So then, last night’s Blaze.

769 calories for the night. I’m not gonna lie: I didn’t do everything I was asked to do. There wasn’t really any slacking per se, however. There are red lines. ACTUAL RED LINES. They didn’t last very long mind, but HEY I don’t really care.

I am getting stronger. It is getting easier.

This may be a part of my life that can be very much improved.

The Next Chapter Bar

Yesterday I got into a conversation with a random person who seemed quite keen that they deserved a follow back. I’ve been trying to start a conversation with someone for months who lives locally to meet up, and every time a suggestion is sent off, there’s silence. Doing friendship on Social media’s a fucking mug’s game. Some people just drift in and get upset when they don’t understand WTF is going on in your Timeline (because they don’t read your feed except at a certain point in the day) and then others just retweet everything that looks important. Some days, I can’t cope.

That was yesterday. Today is better.

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There is an effort to get out of the comfort zones, obviously, and that’s happening now too as well as exercise and MIND EXPANDING WORDS but some days, when it’s just me and me alone in my head, I wish more people understood what that was really like. The ultimate irony of course is that those thoughts have existed here since… well, 2011. Trying to find someone to read them who a) I’m likely to get on with and b) isn’t a stalker ends up as the most ridiculous of asks, because if that happened…

Yesterday, something significant finally registered.

What I’d like now is people who I don’t know to be part of my life. Starting from scratch might be stressful for some, but actually it would be great to find individuals who don’t already know all the emotional baggage from the rest of my life. Maybe then, I get the opportunity to explain everything a bit better than the wibblings from my past. Employing that tactic with the people I have so far has been reasonably productive, too.

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Watching other people rave about ‘their internet friends’ can begin to be demoralising, after a time, especially when yours live a long way away and you don’t get to hang out very much. The more thought is applied, the more comes realisation that perhaps the next stage of my life isn’t best organised in this way, but might well be best served looking for inspiration in other places. It is, after all, a very big world ‘out there.’

Maybe I’ve just gotta watch out for the opportunities when they appear.

Get it Right Next Time

What day is it again?

I shouldn’t be blogging today, Thursday is my day off, but so much has happened: there needs to be a record of where this next part of the journey begins. Without too much detail (which might come in retrospect, I dunno) yesterday saw a self-referral to a mental health organisation for counselling. Trying to work through my doctor has not produced either results or care that should be expected under the circumstances. This is a time of massive change within that particular sector of healthcare and my practice is run by doctors in their 70’s, so this is not as massive a surprise as it could be.

I’m able to function as a human being, depression being very much under control. My mental issues neither restrict or hinder daily life. I have developed a raft of coping strategies that allow an extremely competent illusion of stability and normality when high function and reasoning fail. Being a mimic is a fantastic means by which truths can be hidden, but there comes a point where this is not enough. Yesterday was the day therefore to go ask someone else to fix things that are so broken I cannot repair them alone.

The process has begun.

The Next Chapter Bar

My PT’s on her way back from a much needed holiday. All my health data has been shared with her via the Red Belt of Unavoidable TruthsΒ so, when she’s back in the game next week, we can start working out how I get stronger. That’s really easy: more hard work, less bad food, a desire to improve. Just gotta keep putting in the effort. Talking of which, it is Thursday, and tonight I don’t worry about what my belt is doing and just focus on doing what is asked.

The Next Chapter Bar

The first rejection of the year arrived yesterday, and it will not be my last.

I’m still angry. It’ll pass, and that has nothing to do with failing. It is everything to do with how that failure was communicated.

I wonder if the organisers of such endeavours learn from feedback or whether they consider anything constructively presented as nothing but negative criticism… Hang on, this is a metaphor for how disagreement plays out over Social media, isn’t it?

There needs to be more tea.

Timebomb Zone

Day 4:Β Wow, that’s a two hours I never want to repeat again. I’m utterly with Duncan Jones: kids are hard work. I know, they didn’t ask to be born and you were the one who make the choice [and therefore accept the responsibility], but BOY some days is it tough. Anxiety-producing, pain inflicting, nerve shreddingly tough. If the sun was out and the country hadn’t just imploded, it would be easier. Today therefore is penance, and I’m surprisingly okay with that.

The Next Chapter Bar

There’s a significant fork in the road up ahead. Watching my husband cycle last night, his level of fitness is a reminder that if things matter enough, you will find a way.Β I don’t eat badly, exercise more than has ever been the case before and slowly, so very slowly, improvement is coming. It is on days like today when I’m mentally wiped that those gains matter so much more. Pushing beyond comfort zones might not be the answer for some, but for me there are days when if I don’t, the consequences can be catastrophic.

I should have started this particular journey with more vigour about 20 years ago.

The Next Chapter Bar

Decided to enter a book contest with the manuscript that keeps getting rejected. It’s really good, deeply personal and largely autobiographical, and I know full well why nobody I’ve sent it to thus far has shown the slightest bit of interest. So, if it gets rejected AGAIN it doesn’t get rewritten a third time. It stays this way, and we look for specialist publishers to send it to, and if that fails I fucking publish it myself, because sometimes it isn’t about compromise. Sometimes, what matters most is the idea, as you wrote it, not how someone else wants you to tell the story.

Occasionally you don’t write in the hope someone else validates you. You need to validate yourself.