Filthy/Gorgeous

Not nearly as angry today as I expected to be, but for large portions of the working portion of business it did feel as if I was being followed around by Tim Curry as IT with a rubber hammer, with which he would hit me on the head every ten minutes or so before cackling demonically. I couldn’t breathe properly when weightlifting, nearly fell flat on my face on the run back. Of course, nobody got hurt, and it was all just minor mental inconvenience… but the point remains. some days it’s the stress that divides good work from just work.

For those of you don’t know, I’ve been accepted by the local NHS mental health unit for CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) as part of a longer journey to uncover what is going on in my head. The wait for this has been three weeks to be initially assessed and a week for the okay, and I’ve probably had four good night’s sleep that entire time. I have, effectively, been running on empty and am only now returning to what could be probably considered as normal. It’s also played havoc with eating habits. I need to fix a lot of stuff.

One of the things I’ve stopped doing is blogging, mostly because once a week I record twenty minutes of video blog for Patreon and, at least over the last few weeks, after that there’s been no extra mental space to accommodate anything else. Last week however I did a Zoom event, a Poetry Book launch and an Open Mic poetry/prose evening. It’s beginning to fit into place. The only problem, such as it is, remains getting other people to appreciate my poetry enough to publish it. However, as we come up on four years of doing this shit, there is undoubted progress. If there wasn’t, I wouldn’t be leaving the old life behind for good.

In a certain light, things appear to be going very well indeed.

Therefore, having tried to do a Newsletter and having had nobody really that encouraged to keep reading, I’m going back to what I know best. It helps that there is now a regular stream of actual life to report on too, that I’m pushing myself into things properly for the first time in probably six months. Let’s be honest, a lot of the time when there’s been no desire to share has coincided in when my mental health was sub-optimal. With a haircut (finally) and some genuine encouragement on my work, it is all just better.

Yes, I KNOW my own validation is all that matters, but sometimes it really helps when someone else turns up and reinforces that.

Unfinished Sympathy

This was written today, because if it were tomorrow, I would have not yet moved on, and that’s what needs to happen. That’s the problem with the World now: all these time zones, so much difference between what’s not for me and then for others. I could have scheduled for Monday but, by then, this is history. It’s taken a year, give or take, to decouple myself from an online persona that effectively saved my life. Some might want to use that as fuel going forward, but after I watched a grown woman on Friday night tell me how she stopped herself from taking her own life, something fundamental altered inside.

Knowing you are not alone is great: believing it is a different concept entirely.

When all is said and done, I have always thrived when nurtured. The problem in this Existence of Noise, which it undoubtedly has become right now, remains filtering out the stuff that is harmful. An awful lot of it isn’t, far more than you might think. So many good ideas come from Social media, staggering depth and breadth of beauty, and if you’re not smart enough to understand the difference between a need and an ask, it can all get terribly difficult to rationalize. It’s why it took so long to sort the transition out properly.

I remember someone long gone from what is now my personal feed, someone I’d loved as a mutual and wished for as a friend, staging the most impressive exit from the platform. I should have gone when he did, on reflection. That moment has been thought on for the longest time, that he did it right, and I’ve spent years hanging on hoping certain people might stop thinking this was what my life was, when it became just a place I lived in and stayed part of for so long out of an obligation to others. Those who interact and give back have kept me sane, and there’s hope that many of those will come and join me on this new journey.

However, many won’t, and now I have to move on.

Undoubtedly the problem before was the thought I couldn’t cope without that presence as support. When it became apparent that it was perfectly possible to cope on my own, the requirement was redundant.

If you’re reading this from the pinned tweet on my personal account: yes, I’m still there, but its no longer where I work.

I have finally accepted that, and moved on.

The Motor

It’s that moment when you realize that, actually, these people aren’t actually your friends, they are just Mutuals being polite because if they WERE your friends they’d have worked out how fucked you are right now and will have reached out and offered to help. It’s the comprehension that you are running at a different frequency to everybody else: mostly just out of their field of vision, undoubtedly over their range of hearing.

It’s the time to be polite and let people know what’s going on, whilst accepting most of them won’t even fucking notice anyway. Those who do understand that this isn’t like the other times either, she’s not doing it for attention but actually quite the opposite. She doesn’t need you to agree with her any more either. This is not about a fan club. It’s the realization this voice in her head is NEVER going away and that the cadence has existed for a very long time indeed.

It’s all here, like it’s always been for the entirety of my life but only now do I have the physical strength to mentally manage that workload. Six years to get tough enough. Absolutely worth the effort, and it’s not like I’m going to stop here either. The next twenty-four hours is gonna feel like a month, but on the other side is progress. That prolific work rate should have been the red flag a lot sooner, but it’s okay now, we’ve got this. The problem comes when people do actually start listening… but really, after all this time…

Is anyone really that bothered except me?

Inside Out

As I was working in the Gym this morning with my PT, she remarked how I seemed to be thriving right now in my exercise goals. Except, I’m not. This is me, coping. It’s hard work, and I am always tired and progress is just the next thing I can do without having to spend all my time thinking about it, and therefore wearing myself out even further. It’s an interesting observation, that on the outside I look assured but on the inside, it’s actually a mess.

I’m also writing a selection of mental health poetry for Patreon, and this morning a poet of some note remarked how my choice of titles was far more optimistic than she herself would have considered, and now I’m absolutely positive there is a disconnect at work between how I see the world and how the world sees me. This is going to make for an interesting conversation with the mental health people on Thursday.

This week is one to watch, people.

Stuck in the Middle with You

The dentistry is done, but I am mentally fried. Stress does different things to people, for me there’s this rapid inability to be capable of anything except middle-distance staring and comfort eating. Right now both are largely under control, but a lot is left of the day to work with. Praise the Deities for more PopChips Corn Chips, is all I’m saying.

This afternoon I’ll attempt to get to grips with the next part of my Free Marketing Course Journey. Before that I need to write thank you letters to the three ladies that I worked with yesterday who were all unbelievably kind, and who are all light years ahead of me in terms of achievement and personal progress. Instead of letting Imposter Syndrome consume me, I’m going to try and get constructive results from what I have.

If I get through today intact, I will be happy.

If I Had a Heart

Today I should be writing something here, but all my creativity has been thrown into two Patreon videos. The Best Man’s funeral is set for this time next week and I’m still really angry. I cannot find the enthusiasm to do strength workouts at all because I want to be doing them in the Gym and not stuck at home. Right now, there is a lot of frustration and discontent quite close to the surface, and the last time this happened I snapped and it wasn’t pleasant, so here we are knowing there’s a problem and working out how to solve it.

My PC isn’t near smart or powerful enough to run Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, even though I’d love to so this (recommended by a friend on Steam for a fraction of the price) looks like a good alternative. This weekend therefore I will find some time to just sit and allow myself the opportunity to unwind. Work is great and everything, but honestly there comes a point where you don’t want to, and exercise becomes all well and good, but it won’t pull apart the knots in your psyche nearly as well as learning a new gameplay system.

I’ll let you know how I get on.

The Race

Dear Strava,

I’d like a quick word about your business model, if I may.

Before we start, don’t worry, this is not a rant about Summit, I have no issues paying a subscription and never have. You have to fund yourselves somehow, that’s a given. My problem, such as it is, revolves around the countless ‘wellness’ companies and fitness equipment providers who you keep encouraging to turn up and ‘challenge’ me for ‘rewards’ which we all know aren’t really rewards at all. What happens is that they get my email address under the mistaken apprehension I’ll buy their stuff, if of course I even bother now to ‘claim my reward’ in the first place.

I think it might be time to evolve past the digital finishers badges to something more tangible.

We all know you’re only competing with yourself, when all is said and done, except those people who do genuinely enjoy racing and being best. I know they’re out there, and also grasp all too well the significance of that as motivation. The psychology is above fault here. What might be nice, as is now the case in Zwift, would be to have some kind of virtual currency earned from events that could translate to… I dunno, being able to customise my homepage, or which you or a wellness organisation might take and match for a charity donation… because the more this becomes about consumerism, the less I want to take part.

Exercise, I will grant you for some, is a quite lucrative career path, but for most of us the fact we’re running or cycling is because we can’t realistically afford all these high-end ‘luxury’ goods that you seem to think we’ll buy if you offer a discount code. Being more ethical is something I’d like a lot of the companies I interact with at least try and look into, and although obviously you make quite a bit of money from selling us as a captive and aspirational audience, there is more to it than that. Take this group I’ve become a part of…

Mental health’s a subject I’ve always been passionate about, and this group is, like it or not, a reason right now to push hard. I get no reward except knowing other people have formed a community where nobody will /flex at me or try and belittle my progress… in fact, it’s quite the opposite. This is a place where I just feel happy to be, and thanks to this I’m beginning to stretch my legs as a runner… and that’s where my second group comes in. I ‘ve given myself three months to run across the UK, where my progress on a street in my town translates to a medal, thanks to @MedalVirtual‘s setup. Yes, I’ve paid for it too, more than happy to do so. It’s a memento, not a transaction, and that’s a vital difference.

The brilliant nature of Strava’s setup means I could easily enter an event across the planet and take part virtually, and the pandemic has highlighted how the importance of exercise is not just about large, group events but simply the business of getting yourself more active for both physical and mental wellbeing. I’m halfway across the country from both the people who have organised these groups but neither mind, this isn’t about having to turn up on the day and just be seen. I can contribute significantly and still remain at home, and that’s what makes this so brilliant.

So, Strava, if you won’t consider virtual currency for sprucing up my homepage, maybe you might consider working with companies to provide me some better rewards… other people are already aware of the benefits.

Yours, six days ahead of her January mileage total,
S
xxx

You’re Not Alone

My mate Russ is back on Social media after he went away and did his own thing. When he came back, there was a comment on how easy it was to just reintegrate into the world he’d left behind. The fact this was a surprise to him got me thinking… how you see the world really is just one part of a larger, intractable whole. You can leave things, then come back to them, and it’s perfectly okay. If you’re a basically decent person, that’s how life is supposed to work. Russ is absolutely good people.

Then, this morning, I woke up to see someone in my Socials that I’d not clocked for a while. Their name had changed, just enough for me to remember who they used to be, which was someone who did some pretty horrendous stuff when previously active. The block came without a thought, and then it occurred to me to go look at who was following them. Just because I used to be in a fandom does not mean I’ll refollow everyone who decided to come back after absence. Some were distanced for a reason.

These are the perils of being digitally omnipotent.

There’s a lot of reasons why this .GIF is simultaneously brilliant and depressing, quite apart from the fact the guy who made this film has turned out to be a bit of a dick in old age. If I tell you not to touch something, most will ignore me, because I told you not to. You won’t assume it’s for your own good, that some things never stop being dangerous, to know for yourself is the only education that will stick… and that’s why I refuse to point out the bad people any more, and only support the good. I’m not living your life, that’s your job.

Most of this commentary falls on deaf ears, I realise, because only a few people are experiencing this version of Reality [TM]. When someone asked this week how I was managing to be so dedicated to my exercise goals, the reply was a reflex: the consequences if I don’t are unacceptable. You can complain you don’t want to, or there’s no desire as much as you like but really if it matters enough, you will find a way. If it transpires there is a mental health issue stopping that from taking place? Support exists.

Everything else comes down to your idea of what matters more.

From time to time people will reappear in my life and profess surprise that ‘ooh, you’re still here’ when she never left. I’ve owned this domain since the 1990’s, people. If you’d been paying even the most basic of attention it is not hard to seek me out, but most of you have forgotten how this works, because if you can’t locate me in a Facebook search, or I’m not on Instagram, I’m obviously dead. Honestly, if that’s the mindset we’re working with, its probably for the best you don’t have a clue.

I’m not here to pointlessly recollect on the point in your life where you were happiest either. That should be here, right now, every moment in the present. If that stuff’s not happening, then you really should be looking at the reasons why. Memory serves a vital function, and it is not to restrict your options. Going back to the time when things were great because right now they suck? Well, you can see the consequences of that all over the shop. We’re supposed to feel sorry for those people too because they made mistakes and are now trying to atone?

Some things you cannot ever forgive, and that’s that.

What you perceive is not the Truth, like Opinions are not Facts… all these things are being measured from a subjective standpoint that will never, EVER encompass everybody’s version of Reality. Once you grasp this, everything gets a fuck of a lot easier to cope with. Of course, some people will never do this: their Reality is the only one: give them enough power and everybody’s screwed. It’s why Government, increasingly, is not your enemy. Gaming companies are not your friends. That person vanished off the Socials last time for a reason.

Think more, whilst you still have the opportunity to do so objectively.

It’s a Sin

Sometimes, you wish you weren’t built the way you are.

Loneliness isn’t because there’s nobody to talk to, it’s because there’s no-one around who really understands. You wish, more often that you would ever care to admit in public, that it would be great sometimes not to have all this stuff going on in your head. Trying to explain what you see normally goes one of two ways, too: people get it, or they think you’re the sad one, because you won’t let other people be themselves. That’s not what this is about, I didn’t come here to piss on the fireworks. It’s just how I work.

Being alone is soul-destroying, and in the days before you could just go sit somewhere or do something when it was bad. You’d just sit, and watch the other people who were lucky enough to not be burdened with this and pretend everything was fine. You’d start conversations with strangers just because it was great to have someone to talk to. No, of course these people weren’t your friends, but it didn’t matter. You just wanted to talk to someone, anyone. It just made you feel as if being here was important.

If you don’t understand why this is a Thing, I doubt you ever will. You’re lucky enough to not need that connection, that you don’t ache when someone else doesn’t ‘get it’… this has taken a very long time for me to get my head around. Other people mistake it for things too, think that perhaps this isn’t just about a dialogue and that you want something more. No, it really isn’t. This is finding empathy, and trying to encourage better dialogue, and if it were an exact science I’d not need to sit here, aching to work out how I stop feeling so fucking empty.

Sometimes, you wish there was a simple answer to your problem.

Open Up

Today, as I though might be the case, is the fastest I’ve done 5 km for almost a year. This time last year I was in the midst of RED January but yesterday, I had a day off. It wasn’t because I was that tired either, it just felt like a good idea, having covered 10 km for the first time the day before. Tomorrow, I have quite a challenging virtual climb to deal with, and we are into the realms of new and unexplored in terms of exercise.

This is an interesting time in terms of knowing what’s possible and what should be avoided. For the record, yesterday’s rest day was the first one taken since December 23rd. That’s not meant as a flex either, it’s just a statement of how much more adjusted I am to working hard and recovering differently. It’s also got a lot to do with the fact I’m not lifting anything hugely heavy and that endorphin burst, as a result, needs to come from somewhere else.

The biggest step forward, undoubtedly, is pulling this level of effort in the real world and not hidden in the shed. A lot of that has to do with a growing confidence from elsewhere: I submitted the NaNo to a contest yesterday, which would NEVER have happened this time last year. There’s a choice, simple and inescapable: either move yourself forward or never know how good you could be. Balancing the options can happen for the rest of my life but nothing ever changes.

It’s time for some positive, assertive action.