Fire Escape

I never used to be that social, but in the last three years a Saturday Gym visit has become hugely beneficial. Even if I never talked to anyone, feeling part of a productive whole had advantages. Yesterday afternoon, working out in the garden whilst my husband used the static bikes in our shed, that feeling returned. Being with others makes that exertion easier. It makes the process of pushing yourself become that much simpler.

The lovely lass I do personal training with once a week joked with me that she could never see a day that the Gym would shut. She sends me messages every few days, making sure I am okay, and today there was an undeniable hint of desperation in the messages. If all the people she trains are forced to do so alone, who will need trainers once this is all over? I’ve missed her company terribly, I’ll happily admit.

You don’t get rid of me that easily :D

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There will be a lot of adjustment going forward, it occurs to me, and not just in the obvious areas where social contact was a given. Listening on the radio to which sportsmen can still exercise at home and those who require special equipment with thich to operate is a consequence of this I am very aware of. I already miss the bench press terribly: if there were money, I’d actually ask to have weights equipment right now.

Instead, body weight exercises will have to do.Β Legs are undoubtedly feeling stronger: I have switched up my exercise routine to push a bit harder for the next week, and we’ll see how things pan out. There’s enough upper body and core workouts online now to keep me going indefinitely, so today I’m gonna stick with my daily minimum and nothing more.

Tomorrow, stuff will get a bit more serious.

The Trouble with Us

I’ve been blogging as therapy for over a decade.

Things were pretty basic at the start, it must be said. It was more a diary or, in the case of talking about a video game, list of what had been achieved. However, over time, stuff evolved. Honesty replaced cautiousness. It was easy to tell which days I struggled with, there was no writing. Making that connection, believe it or not, took a bit of time and effort to accept. What seems obvious at distance is often invisible up close.

When I landed a paid gig on the back of my game writing, suddenly there was legitimacy where before had simply existed enthusiasm. Writing like an adult had been happening for some time, but honesty never went away. As I began to lose faith and enthusiasm for the subject matter that had once sustained me, reality very much crashed the party. I’d been using a virtual space as a crutch: walking unaided had been possible for years.

Stepping away remains one of the most complicated things I’ve ever done.

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I watch the world right now, struggling with a concept that once was all I ever wanted to do. There’s a joke doing the rounds right now: all us gaming introverts have been training for social distancing our entire lives.Β I’d accept the comment, to a point. Outside may have been a physical impossibility for me, at least for a period of a year in the past, but things got better. I love being outside now.

Except last weekend, a walk made me feel physically ill: looking at other people, not getting that what they were doing was potentially dangerous, not being able to rush up and tell them (for obvious reasons) and BOOM brain overloaded. It has taken this long… that’s four days, in order for my subconscious to have a chance to accept that you don’t get to change that. People have to be stupid. That’s what they do.

Some things never get to be changed, that’s alway the way.

allthefingers

Instead of talking about the C-Word, it is the best time now to discuss how I am learning to deal with change. This is something, if you read these blogs over time, it will become apparent I fucking suck royally at. Take last night, for instance: husband’s been working at home all day. Some bits of this were high stress, because he as HR is responsible for a lot of people’s lives right now. He decides to change his mind over evening exercise and not tell me.

Previously, this would cause a bit of a meltdown, and last night it almost did, except brain’s got the memo that reaction times really have to keep being up, and personal care has never been more important as it is now. Everybody got what they needed, there was only minimum stress once it was accepted that being in bed at 9.30pm wasn’t a kop out, but best way to deal with what I knew had been coming since Saturday afternoon.

More people need to start listening to their bodies.

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Exercise is vital to continued wellbeing, and if there’s no walking, part of that equation is broken. I’m not sure whether morning or evening is going to be best, but it will restart tomorrow, because there’s no way that good mental health survives long term without something happening in that regard. It won’t be the park. I won’t walk past the Hospital. Maybe there could be some actual planning of a 5k route.

I could possibly work up to being able to run.

There’s an idea.

Holy Calamity (Bear Witness II)

Situations are being judged right now by what I see and hear first, ahead of news and scaremongering. That meant on Thursday taking the cue from youngest’s school on her trip and latest advice, before it became apparent of the wider issues at play. Shelves were full this morning (with the exception of items that still have not been restocked after the first round of panic buying) but it didn’t stop the supermarket car park being half full at 8.30am.

The till assistant looked tired, in need of some support, so as a Mental health Champion that’s the job I’m supposed to be doing right now. I told her people are already thinking about the consequences on mental health. It’s not fair that customers get angry at staff (I saw it happen ten minutes previously) when they’re doing a job that is going to become increasingly grim as this all goes on. It’s up to us to be thoughtful and decent.

It’s not difficult to think about others as well as ourselves.

The reality of course, is that loneliness will start doing horrible things to our brains as time goes on, and it is vitally important that there’s support for each other and those we know are vulnerable. Watching the videos from Spain and Italy of community singing and exercise, there will be some who’ll just assume this is some kind of flashmob or publicity stunt. People can’t come together and do stuff like that.

Except they can, and will. The biggest single measure of Community in the next three months or so will be how the Brits cope with COVID 19. All that guff about ‘Blitz Spirit’ is complete bollocks if at the first sign of a crisis you bulk buy like a sheep and shout at staff just there to help you. We’re all scared and uncertain, it isn’t just you. If that’s not your mindset right now?Β You are part of a problem that needs to be addressed.

Selfishness has destroyed the world before.

We already know people like this in our own personal circles. How you deal with this level of selfish entitlement is, I think, entirely up to you. Personally speaking, if these people aren’t listening now one can only assume they’ll continue not to give a fuck going forward, and so are largely a waste of time and effort, right up to the moment when they do something dumb, thus allowing you the opportunity to politely put them right.

It is people like this that will make containment impossible, put huge strain on the health services, and ultimately will complain for years afterwards that they didn’t get sick, so what was everybody else making such a fuss about?Β The personal reality that keeps coming back to me, again and again, is that some people really care about themselves more than they’ll ever do about you. These people are NEVER worth your time.

In that respect, not much has changed in 2020 at all.

The Flood

Once Upon a Time, the Bible was all anybody needed to make sure Humanity knew what was what. If you didn’t like Christianity, lots of other religions popped up to do the job in other places, with their own Haynes Manuals on ‘The Right Thing to Do.’ There are those who will readily point out that the Church of England only came into being because a king wanted to have his end away with someone whilst being told divorcing wife after wife in search of a male heir was immoral.

Once humanity had enough money to realise that free will beats religious doctrine… well, a lot of things did indeed go down the hole in the ground round the back of the hovel. We are, undoubtedly, the arbiters of our own downfalls. I know some of you will blame corrupt government, unavoidable circumstance and the selfishness of others. You’d be right, of course, but only to a point. As human beings, all of us inevitably have some blame to shoulder.

How you do that is becoming an interesting measure of humanity in general.

Somebody took their life this weekend and it was front page news. Many other people committed suicide this weekend too but none of them will be held up to such scrutiny. I suspect none of them will be forgotten either, loss of their existences resonating through countless lives. We spend so much time reacting to other people’s tragedies as this will grant us absolution from our own shortcomings, but it won’t.

The way to deal with our own shortcomings is to embrace them, improve them. You shouldn’t just sit and admit you’re wrong at something without making a concerted effort to alter yourself. That’s the worst kind of absolution going: yeah, I’m wrong about that but, you know, I can’t change so there, I admit it and that will have to be enough.Β It’s not. It makes you as bad as the people who take that wrongness and embrace it.

There should never have been different rules for those who believe that being ‘right’ means you can ignore all the actual evidence against your stance as being somehow an attack on personal freedom. The about face of those who champion ‘freedom of speech’ to spread hate, disinformation and ALL OUT LIES is, and always will be, the convenient actions of those not capable of considering themselves as wrong.

It’s selfish behaviour, fuelled by a need to ensure that the world around you does not collapse. In my particular case, it was a mind’s way of retaining status quo because the consequences will put you back decades, which was exactly what happened. However, now the damage is being addressed? Watching other people trying to justify that rule set is, at times, rather amusing.

Then there are moments when it isn’t.

kettleON

I had one of those at the weekend, and I wrote a poem about it, because poetry has become to me as drawing, painting, theatre, sculpture, cookery is to others… a thousand different responses to the realisation that you have seen injustice and it must be recorded, highlighted, dealt with. It’s not a coping strategy, but catharsis. It’s the language that is emerging as best way to cope with what happened in my life.

Whatever works best for you is a good start.

Believe

It’s a galling admission to stand in front of the room and admit, at least in part, that you’ve been conned. It’s even worse a personal revelation to grasp that actually, when all was said and done, you didn’t mind either, not one bit. When you’re lost and suddenly a friendly, judgement-free space appears to support you, it’s incredibly simple to not ask the right questions and just have a long, well-deserved rest.

Except life moves on, whilst inevitably you don’t. Eventually, other requirements supersede the basic need to just be safe, and there’s a choice to be made. It’s hard watching other people vanish around you, because inevitably a part of the brain assumes that you’re the reason.Β Well, my brain did, for the longest time, until with enough space between trauma and me, reality was able to establish a foothold.

Everybody leaves. That’s how life works.

haterstotheleft

Last year was when I finally started doing stuff really, just for me.Β This year will not only continue this trend but publicly acknowledge that gaming companies are not my family, despite many of my friends choosing to work for them.Β I have 100% support for them all, knowing they have discovered a place where they are truly happy. I’ll be honest too, I’m a little jealous of those who can find a place to be comfortable like this.

I know what I want to be, but there is no destination to be clearly marked. A company does not exist which is the combination of factors I crave so badly, which might explain why going it alone is by far the most sensible alternative.That makes pursuing dreams that little bit harder as a result, but nothing now is going to stop me pushing for what matters so much. Whatever the way, I will find it. We will go there.

cycling-hero

I am still quite naive, when all is said and done, and that makes me naturally very reticent whenever something new or unexpected appears in my life. There’s also a remarkable amount of social anxiety that is yet to be dealt with, and will only finally be exorcised by continual exposure to situations where I have no choice but to interact.Β At least now when someone does stop talking to me or vanishes, it’s not painful.

There’s always going to be more emotional attachment on my side of the equation than ever happens with other people, I get this now. It’s just the way things are.Β Accepting your own shortcomings is a significant part of the growth process: it makes life easier to deal with, and ultimately will reward you with valuable insight about yourself and others. Remembering to keep loss as a small part of existence is the lesson that still isn’t really accepted.

I doubt I ever will either.

Go Up

It’s not the fault of the people trying to change things that people don’t listen. There is no fault to be laid at the door of ANY organisation who spends its time trying to break down stigma and challenge the status quo. There’s also a really good reason that, if you train to be a Time to Talk Champion, you are asked to have lived experience of mental health issues in order to contribute meaningfully to the debate.

From bitter, personal experience, I know just how hard it is to try and make someone who does not understand a problem do just that when you yourself are incapable of adequately explaining the issues. It has been a long journey to arrive here, possessing skills that simply did not exist a decade ago. It’s taken a phenomenal amount of work and stress to arrive, only to realise that my journey has only just begun.

Serious Mental health issues never end.

twist

This week’s been full of stuff that has boggled my brain: people pushing their own agendas on every possible subject under the sun. There’s a lot of irony when someone claims you’re being unfair to them, but when you pick them up for the language they use, it’s not their problem. No, really, it is. These issues begin with those people who see no problem in what they say or do, because they’re always right.

These are the people a lot of us out here beating the drum for Mental health reform really hope will one day stop assuming this isn’t their problem. However, for many, it is never really a realistic possibility. At the revelation this week that our Prime Minister ‘doesn’t really understand’ the concepts around Climate Change, I bet there’s also a lot of people of a similar mindset who don’t get mental health as a concept either.

How do we teach these people that it is an issue?

goodquestion

Like it or not, repetition is a key. Kindness, persistence, all of these approaches have positive consequences. I’m determined to keep writing about the process of recovery and adjustment: this entire blog has become testament to what counselling can do to help isolate and identify exactly what it is that’s at fault with your life. I can’t change my past either… but really, why would I want to?

This is not about closure, or somehow returning to people and places that others say should matter. Positive mental health is knowing what works best for you, and making those changes at a pace that suits your life. That’s where I am now, slowly making those changes, and learning how to become more resilient as a human being. When the past emerges to try and flummox me, I am increasingly better prepared.

Not everybody experiences mental health in the same way.

whothrowsashoe

Saying the words and then not doing the thingΒ is a childhood trauma that I remember only too well. The disappointment of being promised stuff and that never happening is a groove in my heart that, let’s be fair, never heals over. It’s why today’s Time to Talk task is not to go stand in a shopping centre and solicit random interactions, but will happen in a different way.

Knowing which battles to pick is often a tough ask, but in this case I know what matters most right now. That means today, I’ll do what needs to be done and then find some time for myself, because when all is said and done that is what both body and mind are currently crying out for. Healing doesn’t happen overnight: it takes time and effort to address the issues. However, if I’m needed, there’s ALWAYS Time to Talk.

If nobody is listening, no-one benefits.

All the Small Things

Training went very well yesterday. I made some important personal progress. I’ve also applied to be a Media Champion, so we’ll see how that goes.

And now, Progress News:

As it transpired, there’s still some work to do on this, but no matter. It’s gonna be finished today, as is the other stuff I planned to do. However, there’s a 5k Run to put in first, as we are getting close to the end of REDJanuary, and I still have some fundraising to do. The plan is to take a day off on Saturday and just do my daily yoga, and then start again on Sunday except this time rest days get scheduled in.

notdoingthatagain

I reckon it will happen again next year, assuming the planet survives that long and we’re not eaten by mutating viruses. Overall, it’s been a massively helpful learning experience, and I’m all for those in my life. There’s also an almost fully formed plan for February as well, which we’ll finish off sometime next week: i’d planned to try and do some video work this month too, but quite honestly there has simply not been the time.

We’ll fix that going forward.

topgear_notthatfast

I have often ascribed to the slogan ‘slow is the new fast’ and never was that more appropriate than right now. However, the momentum is all forward, where normally after an event like Thursday’s I’d either never acknowledge it happened, or just go backwards. So in that respect, this is new and potentially quite interesting. I thought about locking my ‘main’ Twitter account but nah, it can stay as it is for now.

We’ll do the discussion elsewhere.

Right, let’s get going.