Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards

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Last week’s emotional breakdown was triggered by a few things. Weight was one of them, with the realisation that I’ve been trying to lose the same fifteen pounds of weight for over a year. I needed some rationalisation of what exactly is going on inside my body, and have turned to science for the answers. I am genuinely staggered by what I have found.

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This is my latest weigh in using the impedance scale at my Gym. It passes a small electrical current through my body, and as different types of matter return differing electrical impulses, I can see what I am made of. The 1kg of extra weight there is, I can tell from the scales, all water, so there is nothing there to be concerned with. Everything else is telling me that I am, like it or not, most efficient at converting fat to muscle. The fat that isn’t muscle remains stubbornly unburnt/unused, and this will be because of the sweet tooth that I keep falling back on when stuff gets tough, and on Sunday was banished to at least Christmas.

It is time to make my body work in a way it seems frankly unable to entertain.

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The plan is simple: maintain the calorie count as it stands, but remove as much sugar as possible from my diet: no more honey in tea and the ‘healthy’ snacks which still contain sugar enough to promote my body to burn them before I attack my fat ‘reserves.’ That doesn’t mean fruit sugars (still having the pomegranate with breakfast) because that is part of the important fuel required by my body. This is removing all the superfluous shit that I felt I’d deserved by working hard but was crippling progress. That also means not taking a take away at the weekend and cutting out all the stuff I know is a hindrance until this weight can finally shift. The last 72 hours shows that the water weight is being nibbled away at: it will be the next 10 days that are key. I promised myself not to obsess about weight but now I want this excess gone for good.

It has become a means of showing myself that self-control and hard work is more than a reward.

This is my new exercise of choice at the Gym: it has the air of looking incredibly simple but, as is the case with most things, is hugely dependant on upper body strength. A year ago I couldn’t even manage to hang. Now, I have the strength to do 12 raises in 30 seconds. It means that pull-ups are not far off, and this was one of the reasons why I began this journey to begin with. I can feel a major move forwards coming, with a lot of the disparate parts of my life coming together. Once this bit of the puzzle is placed?

We’re a long way towards achieving a ton of personal goals.

Shut Up

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I had my first decent night’s sleep since… well, sometime last week. As used to be the case when this happened during the sleepless nights of two early childhoods, I’ve woken up a bit confrontational. All that stuff that pissed me off whilst I was tired but I didn’t possess the energy to deal with is now all in my head simultaneously. There’s a lot I could address, but let’s take the old bloke by the shops yesterday that cat-called me and then made a lunge for my waist.

You really think women make this shit up, men?

Some people do, undoubtedly, to get attention… it would be churlish to think otherwise. However, they are such a pathetically small percentage of the real problem as to absolutely beggar belief. There are women who grope men who shouldn’t be allowed to do so either… then men who do it to other men. Women do it to other women. All over the civilised world, there are fucking thoughtless individuals who only care about themselves and their own individual gratification. These are the people who ignore personal space, boundaries and most importantly, the notion of respect.

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Many of these people are not smart. A lot of them (over a certain age) are never to be forgiven. Senility, ignorance, male privilege… I don’t care what it is, but just because you see a pair of breasts at 10.35am does not give you right or dispensation to fixate on them. JUST NO. The randomness of such events is enough to push half this fucking county into cars so they never have to deal with people on the ground. That’s unacceptable. I should be able to walk to and from places without the fear of being abused.

I have lost count of the places where that’s happened over five decades.

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For me, the worst thing of all is the women who defend men for doing this. There is a special place in Hell for those individuals, and I know they exist. I’ve seen them work, using other people’s situations to manipulate themselves out of the firing line. This is not powerful or aspirational behaviour. It is frightening, demeaning and ultimately as destructive as the men who do the same. It is directed at EVERYONE who ever thought it was smart to use other people for their own ends, and it’s just so utterly wrong as to beggar belief.

I saw people amazed at the number of #metoo hashtags on Social media yesterday.

Just because you’ve never experienced a problem, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. In this case, you’re a very lucky person indeed.

Mercy Street

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My sleep pattern is so badly shot that Fitbit has three distinct blocks of it recorded for yesterday into today. However, this is better than yesterday, and definitely an improvement on Saturday. Today is great, for lots of reasons. First up?

I can clean and press with weight on a bar for four sets of eight repetitions.

I doubt my arms will be up to much tomorrow but right now they’re still celebrating. I’ve flirted with doing this before, but never a full set of anything. This is a MASSIVE improvement. Secondly, I have successfully meditated more than once. I grasped at the tail end of last week that it was that plus the essay I wrote on Friday that made me remember stuff from earlier in my life I’d wanted to forget, which had combined with a hormonal overdose at the weekend to just send brain and body into freefall. Whilst a lot of it is still not really under control, I have a handle on everything else.

There is enough here to work with.

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After today I promise to keep the navel contemplation to a minimum. I have some REALLY good news on the weight front to talk about, and some discussions to have on the back of the Weinstein furore. Instead of making it about me we’ll focus on other things, and I’ll now go and try and work out what got missed from last week.

We’re all going to head forward now, okay?

Under the Sea

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Last night was the bottom of the hole. Now, it is a case of how long before body and brain decide to co-operate and mount an escape attempt. Brian, it must be said, is at least understanding the brief. However, I forgot how to do change at the Supermarket today and heard the woman next to me muttering under their breath ‘seriously could you be MORE stupid in holding up this queue?’ and so I did what any sensible person would do and burst into tears. As the eyes of the entire Supermarket checkouts were upon me I wiped a snotty nose on my sleeve, turned to the shitty person and told her that the next time someone’s struggling in her orbit, maybe she could stop being angry and find some sympathy.

Small victories, people. One idiot at a time.

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I’m also beginning to suspect that hormones are fucking about with my body. I’ve gone from sweating buckets to freezing cold today, and there are no flu symptoms at play. It would make a lot of sense as to how mind is working too. Either way, a public display of embarrassment did the trick: I still have fight in me.

This is better than it was.

On a Rope

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This, my friends, is depression.

This is crying in the Gym changing room after exercise that should make me feel stronger yet there are no endorphins spare today. This is hugging knees so tightly to my chest I think they’ll snap. This is knowing that happiness is for other people and not for me not because it is not deserved, but because it simply cannot be found. This is being objective enough to know I’m in trouble but subjective to the point of wanting to scream at everything to JUST GO AWAY. This is playing a game that used to be a means to help me feel something and instead there being nothing there at all.

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The rational part of my brain knows how much worse this could be, and is a lifejacket keeping me afloat. I think of friends who are in pain, fighting through cancer treatment, brain tumours, unemployment and personal trauma and I have absolutely nothing bad or wrong in life. Depression does not care about how good things are. All it wants is your soul, dragged down out of reach, so it can destroy weeks of confidence and progress. It is a measure of how good I’ve become that forcing brain into expressing the problem has made writing about it possible and explaining it to my husband far less of a horror story than on previous occasions. This is progress.

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I’ve been here since Monday. Work has suffered. I’ve managed to put the brakes on losing momentum, but am going to have to shelve the plans I had for today’s Haiku picture because there is simply not enough confidence to use myself as a model. Instead, I’ll show you what depression looks like when you’re lying to yourself. It’s a deception that is required to get out of the bottom of the hole so that the way back up doesn’t kill you.

This is why I don’t want to talk about stuff, but forced myself to do so to two total strangers yesterday. That’s distinct progress. I’m sorry if I’ve missed your stuff, but there are mutes on right now for very good reason. Sometimes, you can’t cope with other people in the same hole with you. I’m really sorry.

I’m trying to get out.

Train in the Distance

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I’m tired today, despite having slept better than has happened for weeks. The level of mental fatigue will not be assuaged by sleep. I have to hold myself back from shouting at people’s willful ignorance, arrogance and general inertia. I’m struggling to cope with the simple stuff, all of a sudden, and I know it is because there’s just too much sensory input right now. I stopped reading social media about teatime yesterday, and catching up this morning I marvel at how rich people deal with trauma. Yeah, I’d love to ignore Twitter for a day, but without it, I don’t make money.

Today is one of those moments when I wonder if chasing dreams is simply disappointment.

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Strength, I have come to understand, is built in many ways by individuals. Sometimes it is forced upon you by circumstance, whilst other forms are simply there without understanding why. Compartmentalising life is all well and good until a point is reached where the depth of sensory overload renders action effectively useless. The part of me that understands the inevitability of certain parts of life is where the failure is occurring: I can’t make people like me, I can’t stop people dying, I can’t beat inertia and force others to act against the glaring injustice they decide simply to ignore and mute ‘for sanity’s sake.’

Today, I made time to meditate. My Mindfulness course suggests that a way to deal with an excess of thoughts is to distance yourself from them: they’re trains passing through a station, or scenes on a film screen. It’s a useful exercise, and today’s session has allowed an ability to at least sort my issues into better-defined spaces. Dealing with them all is not impossible, just takes thought that let’s be honest, I don’t have at the end of a busy week. The key here is knowing your limits. For me, that’s easily defined. I’m already at the end of the pier and have run out of land to run on.

Time to stop and not overload myself anymore.

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I can still think and exist in this state, make choices and improve the world around me. What has to happen now is what I personally do to deal with this situation. I’ve done both therapy and counselling, and the point comes where expecting somebody else to deal with the issues might be the attractive choice, but it is not the right one. I possess all the tools required to fix myself and have for some time, and now is the moment when I have to look past the fatigue and anger and do just that. The time for eating cake and pretending life doesn’t exist is passed, at least for me.

If I want to move forward, there has to be pain.

I’d love to take a day and complain at social media’s ineptitude, but until the people with money and influence (that’s you, particular subset of successful men and women) stop wanking into/with your piles of cash and start acting? Not happening. For the rest of us, out here in the fields, there is no opportunity to boycott, just the understanding that if we ever make it to your level of wealth we SURE AS FUCK are not making the same fucking stupid mistakes you do. Yes, I’m angry, but I know now how to use that emotion not to self-destruct but to drive me onwards and keep me sane.

Time to think more about exactly WHY all this shit happens in the first place and then get it changed.

Hear My Voice

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A lot has happened on Social media in 2017 as it becomes apparent that a small, vocal minority has made a hobby of destroying high profile personalities. This has ultimately filtered down to the lower reaches of the system: I’ve suffered ‘anonymous’ abuse from sock accounts myself. However, it does not take a genius for me to work out who is responsible for the actions. When there’s a finite pool of people you’ve upset, working out who’s targetting you as result becomes quite easy to fathom.

Twitter’s response to this has not been to target those people responsible via subtle, well-considered changes to its UI. It has used sledgehammers, again and again, to crack nuts that clearly are considered not worth time or effort to target specifically. Instead, there are large, sweeping ‘mutes’ that the high profile user can use to effectively silence those individuals that Twitter has identified as being the largest groups of troublemakers. If you don’t have a phone number registered for recovery, or you never got around to making an avatar, then these people can be made to vanish with a click.

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Except this also removes a vast number of people from the interaction equation who may simply not wish to use their phone as security, or even know how to make an avatar. Not everyone is as tech savvy as their friends, and many people aren’t interested in becoming that invested in this platform as themselves anyway. It bothers me greatly that others celebrated these changes without considering the people they were silencing could also teach them stuff about themselves.

The ‘echo chamber’ nature of Social media becomes all the more disturbing with each passing day: I’m not just talking about far-right supporters either. Anyone with a perversion or a kink, the far left’s own radical supporters… fanatical sports fans, rabid gamers… and the list goes on. If you create a space that is excluding people, for whatever reason (logical or otherwise to you) there is the potential to distort what passes as reality on any given day. By doing so, there is a chance you’ll end up warping how life is perceived.

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On the flipside, I read increasing numbers of people who realise they simply cannot cope with the level of reality presented to them: the only means by which they survive on any given day is to simply switch off and ignore the timeline completely. However, the people they have made friends with via social media remain only means to help to understand this same chaos: where do you draw the line? How much consumption is healthy? Is it realistic to live with everything and still remain sane?

It is a question I ask myself almost daily, and the answer has begun to be the same each time when I do.

This man is a hero, inspiration and benchmark combined. The fact he can tweet a phrase that inspires me to write in response, read it and then retweet it, is one of the most amazingly magical things in existence. It is unreal and perfect, showing that there are ways for random strangers to interact with each other and nurture each other’s abilities. Although half a country separates us, for a moment there is a reminder that we both sit under the same sky and can eulogise about this in our own ways. I have no pretensions of being anything other than a fan of Ian’s work, but I know that these moments have a vital significance.

By taking away people’s right to do this with blunt, blanket swipes at a platform meant as means for free communication, such beauty will eventually be lost forever. The other problem, of course, is that as the modus operandi of Twitter becomes more and more about making money and less around freedom of expression, it won’t matter about the details anyway. By then, one hopes, we’ll find a new and better way in which to talk to each other without someone else making themselves rich on the back of it.

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I cannot help but sympathise with the increasing numbers of people withdrawing from Social media altogether. I, however, have decided to try and make my living using this platform as both soapbox and advertising media, and therefore this means spending time trying to work out how I can exist within the rules whilst at the same time not go insane. Some days, it is like being beaten unconscious with treacle. However, with sensible use and an increased ability to regulate me in response, things are getting better.

I may yet get the hang of this stuff in the end.