Different Class

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It is well established that ‘people’ are frightened of things they do not understand: that list can become quite long when they put their minds to it. This is apparent every time I strap on a heart-rate monitor and hit the Gym: Complexity is a killer, as is effort expended when all that needs to be achieved is to turn up and break a sweat. The notion of effort’s a curious thing, all told. When do you know it’s hard enough?

Having broken that barrier a while ago, effort’s an ability in flux right now. The unexpected consequence of this extends out into other places too: not thinking twice over activities that previously would have caused all manner of anxieties. When you know there’s a palpable difference between how you react to things as opposed to most others around you? Your world view matters a great deal.

It also affects the amount of energy available to deal with any consequences.

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Mental effort’s a killer for me: ten minutes in certain people’s company is the cranial equivalent of running a marathon. Now this is apparent, avoiding the stress becomes easier with each passing day. The key is identifying what it is that causes such issues in the first place: once it’s clear what or who is causing the issues, eliminating that will entirely depend on your ability to cope with the environment around you.

There’s a realisation this morning that I lied to a lot of people in my past because their negative effect on my well-being was worth avoiding. However, more importantly, I then fail to keep up the good friendships because of the need to feel and act self-sufficiently in certain situations. This life things’ quite a delicate balance, when all is said and done. It can often be exhausting just keeping up with the basic stuff.

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Before you say owt, I know I’m not that different. However, there is quite a gap sometimes between the people around me and how my brain deals with daily existence. This isn’t intentional either: perhaps it is time to use these distinctions as a means to fuel creativity. That is certainly emerging in this month’s poetry project, and in the last week I’ve been able to funnel emotions in differing directions.

Perhaps this is a side road that is at least worth investigation.

Lies

When I first joined Twitter, nearly eight years ago, people encouraged me to talk about my mental health issues in an environment that felt instantly welcoming. The truth, however, was not nearly as open as was first apparent. There was that DM by one particular person which still lives bright in my brain: just want to make sure you’re not lying about these issues to gain attention. Their ‘brand’ now commands a five figure follower count.

The best thing I ever did was to block them.

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In the intervening seven years and eleven and a bit months, I’ve learnt an awful lot about how certain types of people can be massively detrimental for mental health. There’s the type that do anything to get attention, including actions that are only executed in an attempt to incite anger or fear. Then there are those who obsessively retweet or like everything you do in the vain hope you’ll notice them… and the list goes on.

As a woman, it is especially galling when, after having had what you think was a decent conversation with someone, they immediately decide this must be an overture to trying to start a relationship. Forget that you’re happily married with two children, because that would shatter the illusion of ‘that perfect internet connection’ and then, with a heavy heart, you’re blocking and ignoring another attempt at inappropriate behaviour.

Don’t get me started about telling certain people that they’re wrong about their opinions.

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Today is about making people aware that there is help in the world for their mental health issues, a drum I’m happy to keep pounding for the rest of my adult life. The problem with such days, inevitably, is ignoring negatives and only accentuating positives. There is no one thing to fix everybody. Finding individual peace can often be a long and complicated journey. Take it from someone who’s still working that out.

To assume everybody who says they are suffering really is… that’s a tricky issue. I’ve come into contact with a couple of people for whom Munchhausen via Internet could be applied, but realistically one must never take the chance people are lying for attention. Eventually, if you are being deceived, the truth becomes apparent. That’s been true in every single situation I’ve encountered over nearly a decade.

We have to believe everybody is telling the truth, regardless of our own feelings.

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My gut’s pretty sound after 50 plus years. The ability to spot a wrong’un amongst the genuine sufferers comes from taking time to listen to issues, even when others think nobody is listening. Shouting into the void is what began my path to enlightenment, and if there’s the means to continue that expansion of mind and body with other people, absolutely it is worth doing the work. It’s basic common decency.

Everybody has the potential to develop a mental health problem. It is our obligation to help anyone who does, regardless of how we might feel about their motives. However, as help is offered, be mindful of your own mental health needs. The world is as much about understanding yourself as it is helping others: for every action, inevitably, there is a consequence.

It is a delicate balancing act, but so utterly worthwhile when it works.

Holiday

I didn’t post at all for two whole days. Here’s why.

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#365daychallenge Sunday, Tate Modern

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There’s been some quite robust discussion in the house over what should happen at weekends. As a result, on Saturday and Sunday nothing was written as part of a plan. I’ve stated in other places that now writing is my job, there is requirement for alternate means to relax when that doesn’t happen. Saturday was gaming, Sunday was the Tate Modern. Both had their surprises.

I’ll write at length about Olafur Eliasson in the week, as his exhibition caused an unexpected anxiety attack. It’s a measure of my progress that didn’t utterly ruin the day. It also provided a surprising amount of material that I now wish to write about, so in that regard I’m very happy with the entire weekend’s exercise. If there was worry previously over being unable to be creative, this has greatly assuaged it.

I’ll be in a forest in a week, which is the holiday I’ve been looking forward to for a lot longer than was previously believed. There’ll be a lot of writing there, but all the real work will happen when I come back. Many things will be pulled from their spaces on hard drives to be re-written. I’m ready to do that now, and instead of using new stuff as contest entries, it’s going to be old things, re-imagined.

I’m surprisingly determined at what will be achieved.

Aquarius (Let the Sun Shine)

Yesterday was important for a couple of reasons. Let me talk to you about the one you didn’t see talked about at the time or retweeted.

Last year, someone told me that I was exhibiting a great many symptoms of autism, but was not in a position to confirm formal diagnosis. If I wanted that to happen, it would require a period of counselling, and then some effort on my part to get access to the specific testing mechanics that allow that to be considered. Having finished the counselling portion of proceedings last month, something significant has altered.

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It has, inevitably, required time for what was pulled up from counselling to settle and be digested. Part of that happened yesterday. As of right now, I am finally confident pushing for an autism diagnosis would be a waste of everybody’s time and resources, that others deserve those valuable things more than I do. There’s an incredibly complex set of reasons behind this decision, which I’m not as yet prepared to discuss in public.

Having a reason for why I was what I am became an obsession, for a while, until the truth emerged. This is the first time in my entire existence that everything feels at peace. It makes sense to me why I am what this is, right here, writing these words. Of course, there will be contentious issues, and returns to the heat of my fears but my ability to deal and process, to manage what I am, has improved vastly.

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After a night when dreams were full of things that had been forgotten, the future more optimistic than I ever remember it being, I’ve changed a line in my Twitter bio. Right now, I am dealing with multiple incidents of Trauma. Once that’s been managed and measured satisfactorily, we’ll look again at where I stand. For now, this is a journey that, on reflection, was never going to be easily labelled and then dispensed with.

At least that lesson is now learnt and taken to heart.

Fear

This month, so far, has been a bit of an eye-opener and we’re only three days in. Personally, I’m gaining great satisfaction as my personal confidence grows with reacting in the exact opposite way to that which is clearly expected of me when emotional manipulation takes place. Once you can see it, this shit becomes remarkably easy to deal with. After that, it’s whether you want to or not.

As long as I have time for a cuppa and werds each day, right now I’m pretty sanguine over everything else.

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Once upon a time, it was my dream to have a massive follower count, until I grasped that that very much depends on who starts following your account in the first place. Starting again from scratch, the writing Twitter account currently shows the kind of growth I dreamed about, back in the day, because I’m doing that in the right place. My ‘personal’ account’s stuck in a demographic where if I’m not gaming, nobody notices.

What this means effectively is zero growth unless I drive it. It also means that, like it or not, when I check for unfollowers at the start of the month, this (more and more) is the message I see:

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In the last three months, I’ve been the one solely responsible for decreasing my own follower count, and I couldn’t be happier. Mass unfollows have been wildly successful, mutes allowing me to concentrate on what really matters and not get distracted by stupidity. I’ve realised crucially too that those people I thought shared the same interests as I do really don’t. If they did, I’d be kopping a lot more flack for my actions.

In many cases these individuals have become redundant: not doing anything except keeping themselves happy. Understandably, the dopamine hit from doing this is pretty potent, but as I am no longer work in the industry you followed me for… there’s no loss in quietly removing those who don’t care, or think that just because I responded to them a few times makes us best mates.

A lot of people are creeping me out too, and that’s got to change.

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So, what have we learnt this week, kids? Don’t get dependant on any one thing as a means to survive. There always has to be a back up plan. Expecting people to be friends with you (as was discussed yesterday) is no a given, and your own shortcomings may be far more obvious than was at first apparent. Oh yeah, and you have them. That’s the kicker: no, you’re not perfect, and if your internal monologue tells you otherwise, it’s lying.

EVERYBODY gets to do better.

Immigrant Song

Day 1 Proper of the Summer Break [TM] because we’re not counting the two and a bit days last week, for lots of reasons. I have a lot that needs fixing, not simply because it is August on Thursday. Nothing ever gets really better without some pain and real effort. I grasp this, always have, yet never really bring the business to the table: maybe now it is time to once and for all fix my shit.

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In a very particular order, here’s what is going to happen:

No Weigh Ins, Lots of Effort

I won’t weigh myself again until September 2nd. This isn’t so I can eat and not stress, it’s meant as a conscious decoupling from the scales and the way my life seems to constantly end up revolving around them. I am aware of what needs to be eaten more of, and what ought to happen less. There’s not been a real effort in that department since the start of the year. Time to finally make a change.

There’s a lot of body image stigma that needs addressing this Summer.

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A Realistic Workload

Last year, I tried to do everything, and wasn’t successful with most of it. There’s enough intelligence to realise that a lot of that was my fault, and that I really wasn’t mature enough as a writer with technical skill. That’s changed now: there’s a lot of good in my ability, as the last month has adequately proven. That means that picking and choosing what gets done becomes a priority going forward.

Therefore this week, as well as planning for August, I’ll be working out what is realistically possible with the portfolio of work that’s currently on the hard drive. Some only need a polish, others probably a re-write from scratch. It’ll take a while, but the effort will be worth it. Plus, today it’ll be time to get back to novel-ing. There are at least five days this week with potential for work to be done.

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Learning to Relax

As specified at the weekend, there’s a real deficiency here. I’ve got the Pokemons on the phone sorted, some cats on my tablet, and a to watch list longer than the Amazon (river not retail outlet) to watch. It can’t be impossible to do all this and still say sane, right? Course it isn’t, just gotta realise that there’s a balance in everything to be found and then maintained.

If I’m going to learn ANYTHING about myself in the next six weeks, this is the bullet point that matters most, which is why it’s last in the post.

Time to do the work.

The Climb

Yesterday, I was supposed to go to somewhere, but I didn’t.

I let someone down: it was a Christmas present for her, and an experience for me. Except, somewhere between late last year and now, many things shifted. I’m still not over my anxiety issues, that is abundantly apparent, and maybe I was arrogant thinking that was the case. Yes, I really was. I know how disappointed I made my friend yesterday, but the fact remains if I’d have gone through with our trip, it would have set me back months, possibly years. Knowing that, in itself, is a massive step forward.

I can at least understand what it is that needs to be addressed.

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There are some quite serious issues that remain with my body image. Some of them have been overcome, but not all. Confidence is very much dependent on my ability to cope with everything else, and a lack of sleep is pretty much a fast-track to disaster. After the interview on Tuesday, I’ve not really returned to an semblance of either normal sleep or capability. The weather absolutely isn’t helping this. In fact, what I will be doing after this is having a kip.

So bad is my mental incapacity that I’ve cancelled tonight’s Blaze class. No novel will be attempted until tomorrow, because otherwise it’ll end up being trashed regardless. What is needed today involves as little stress as possible, and as much relaxation as can be mustered. Then, as it’s holiday time and there’s no stress to school run? Time to see what can be achieved over the weekend.

Grasping the problem before something really bad happens is distinct progress.