The Fix

The poem began on the day I forced myself out of the house and into the countryside (such as it exists here) and that really proves the point that sometimes, external stimulation kick starts writing ability. I ended up with an opening line but no more: this morning after a night full of dreams where getting lost would finally provide inspiration to find the path back to my destination, ending became beautifully obvious.

My subconscious when all is said and done can be very easily read.

There’s two poems for this submission: after going to see the eldest at Uni and having a birthday meal (he turns nineteen this week) they’ll both be finally looked over and then sent. Next week is the re-write of an existing poetry collection for submission again. With the changes to style, content and approach that have taken place over the summer, I suspect little may remain of what is started with. We shall see.


I have a confession to make. I watch very little TV these days. It is therefore a bit of a stunner to have a bunch of things approaching that will be consumed, rather voraciously, leading up until Christmas. The BBC’s adaptation of His Dark Materials begins in early November. Tonight, the first proper TV adaptation of H.G.Wells’ War of the Worlds is on BBC1. In anticipation of this, last night, Netflix got fired up, and a new documentary series was begun.

This series is pretty much made for someone like me, and the opening episode did not disappoint. I’ll review it properly once all the content has been consumed, as the range of designers covers a fairly eclectic definition of the word. Let’s hope that the BBC does not shonk Wells’ original vision, and that the good vibes over their adaptation of Pullman’s work with all the contentious stuff left in really is as good as the trailers suggest.

At least it gives me summat to write about in the week :D

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.

Flawless

Before I went to bed last night, tea cups were put out for the morning, bags already inside: chai for youngest, breakfast blend for me. A protein shake got made and refrigerated. These are simple tasks that, for the last month, weren’t doable. Not enough space in my brain existed in order to plan that far ahead. Finally, order is returning from chaos.

There’s a lot of anger to deal with currently. Most of it is out of my hands, which makes rationalising situations occasionally problematic. Being the sole parent at home is the hardest thing for so many reasons. I miss my husband terribly. However, he is undoubtedly ill enough to be in the best place for him physically: mentally, however, there is a creeping doubt this is doing more harm than good.

I can only support him and hope there’s some comfort with each passing today.

The fallout from this month will continue to be felt for some time. Right now, it’s time to attempt to inject normality into existence as far as possible. That means a gym trip shortly, and a new exercise class this evening. Better eating, more sleep and less stress is the long-term goal, all three of which are very much dependant on personal circumstances.

After that, it’s time to fix my formal writing.

Sunrise

Definitely getting better.

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The biggest problem is energy levels. This 30 minutes yesterday ended up feeling like three hours. It’s probably sensible therefore that today is a rest day. An awful lot of excess sugar’s been removed from my diet, not really intentionally, it’s just happened. That needs to be replaces with something, and in this case it is fruit sugars and honey covering the shortfall.

Oh, and the occasional portion of bread and butter pudding.

School is back, and so that will mean a return to pseudo-normality. The difference this time around is that the eldest will be at University starting in a fortnight. That’s gonna be slightly strange, and I’m already missing him (as he’s been away in various places since I was hospitalised.) However, this is the march of life. That’s how these things work. The hope is that we’ve done a decent job as parents to prepare him.

Time will tell.

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The plan is to start writing again tomorrow, or rather start editing some stuff I want to submit to a contest next week. After that, I’ve almost found the bottom of the washing bin, and then there needs to be an effort to start working back to full fitness. I’ve lost nearly 4 kilos in the last month, half of which is muscle mass. There needs to be an effort to get that back as a matter of priority.

There probably needs to be more tea too.

That Thing

I’m gonna end up writing a gaming post today, on the back of comments that I’ve seen, despite having muted a key phrase in my Twitter feed. It’s inescapable, like the march of seasons and the annoyance of those who think waiting for someone else to solve their issues is the answer. What amazes me, and continues to do so, is the perception of different as better.

Often, different is exactly the same as it was, except you forgot that was the case.

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Porridge for me is a case in point. Oats have, for many years, been my way of getting energy throughout the day without the stress of over-sugaring myself. Except, over time, pre-packaged snacks have risen to challenge that dominance. Energy bars, conveniently presented, luring me into excess sugar I don’t need… making me think they’re somehow better than the first bowl of morning oats, with some fruit chucked in for good measure.

Hospital was a benefit in that regard. Porridge, small bowl, handful of berries. No fuss. No stupid concept treats with ingredients I don’t need. This is the fuel needed to get me through lunch without stress. Today therefore will be day three of the Huel shake plus a planned porridge and pomegranate snack that doubles as part of lunch, with some extra fruit and nuts. Why did I forget that simple was best? Why was I that dumb to begin with?

Mostly, on reflection, it is my own stupidity to blame.

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I know I’m not supposed to be so hard on myself. Don’t worry, I get that. I also grasp, only too well, that improvement isn’t just a notional set of numbers, or a line or two that gets drawn in the sands of expectation. The problem for me is obsession. Separating need from desire is a tough ask sometimes, but things are improving on that front. I know I’m capable of great things. The problem’s in execution, not ideas.

So, it is no wonder that occasionally the path is deviated from. To fix it isn’t just about knowing what matters however, but how that’s reached with the most amount of enjoyment along the way. Let’s face facts, that’s summat I’ve forgotten how to do in the last six months. Enjoying myself, as it happens, is not nearly as stressful as used to be the case. In that regard, counselling is the gift that keeps on giving.

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Time for porridge, and then let’s see if we can start making sense of the bombsite that is this house.

Teenage Dirtbag

It’s already over 70 degrees outside on a Monday morning. There should therefore be a huge thunderstorm at some point in the next couple of days, ‘coz that’s how it works in the Estuary area. If it happens, there may well be standing around outside because I could do with getting soaked. Everything itches. I thought I’d escaped the worst of hay fever this year but BOY was I wrong. However, finally, my left ear is back to normal.

Today therefore, time to talk about moving forward.

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There is 5kg’s worth of fat on me that needs shifting. I can see it, and feel it: the importance of its removal has become wrapped up in an ability to prove to myself I can do hard work when it matters. I’m not setting a target date, but will make an effort. There’s other stuff that needs fixing too: personal things, shifts in axis that can’t all be done at once. You’ll grasp this when it’s done, with everything else.

For now, this is a busy week. I’ll finish off the last of my currently pinned poetry’s mirrored background gubbins this morning, then the last ten poems can go up. I’ve asked for two to be removed (and I’ll repin them when it happens) and then that’s it, the whole collection is ‘live’. I have then until Wednesday to get the last of the mirrored stuff up. That’s eminently doable in my time-frame.

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Kettle on, let’s roll.

Bad

I wasn’t sick per se yesterday: my throat’s been scratchy and uncomfortable since Friday, if truth be told. It was the two night’s worth of terrible sleep because of that which did me in on Sunday: instead of working, I relaxed. I dozed. A lot of sport was watched along with playing basic tablet games. By teatime, balance and comfort had returned; rest of the evening spent happily pottering on nothing important. Significantly, there was no exercise.

Today has dawned with a renewed sense of optimism.

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This is cycling for last week, done. Not as much as I’d hoped for but setting the benchmark for what ought to happen next: bit more effort, slightly less grumbling. After Easter, one of the 45 minute classes per week adds a 55 minute variant. I have to decide this week whether I take the challenge or not. It has to happen at least once, so there’s an idea of the difficulty curve.

It’s really lovely to have a lot of exercise options on the table.

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This month has been absolutely transformative. Good and bad, both have shifted so much of the bad away. The more good that can be built as a result, the better things become.

Thank you for sticking with me as I evolve.

Distant Past

I use the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ analogy/metaphor a lot more than is probably healthy, but it remains the best means of showing people how my brain tends to cut through layers of imposed meaning and societal restriction before pointing and yelling (yes, quite loud) ‘that’s total bollocks!’ On the flip side, this highlights wanton disregard for other people’s feelings and sensibilities. I’m the cleftest of sticks, when all is said and done.

If you wonder why I suddenly stopped talking to you, here’s your reason.

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The problem of course isn’t ever that black and white, but for the purposes of this exercise that works well enough: being quiet has become by far the best way of dealing with realities that don’t sit comfortably in my psyche. There are exceptions to the rule, and occasionally it does help if you can release a bit of pressure. It occurred to me, last night on a treadmill, all those people who treated me like dirt are still out there, potentially doing the same to others. Do I have a responsibility to expose them?

It’s a difficult situation: knowing the venom and anger that I’ve already been exposed to in the past for daring to upset the status quo, the consequences of standing up are fairly traumatic. Mentally, I’m not ready to do that yet: there needs to be a strength possessed that currently just does not exist. I’ve been accused in the past of hijacking other people’s situations to further my own career, which is as far away from the truth as it is possible to get. With that level of suspicion at play, silence really is the only option right now.

Effort to expose hypocrisy absolutely does not match the reward.

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I can’t fix everything, and shouldn’t be trying to. What’s more important now is to address issues that can be changed and improved first. Once that’s done, we’ll see where things stand.

That’s a far better use of my time.

Enough is Enough

This week has not been kind. I slept without my Fitbit last night because sometimes, you don’t wanna know. A 9.30 PT should, I hope, kick-start a day of solid exercise, followed by some good personal advancement. That’s all I can do: say it, do it, hope it works. Nothing else is in my hands, just my own progression. Do I learn the most important lesson of all, finally? Can mental blocks that continue to hamper be overcome?

Yes, they are.

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The greatest advantage of owning devices that track my health is not the data companies sell to other people an ability to clearly signpost progress. Now I’m in a position of strength, quite far down the road to wellness, those numbers become the glue that stick me together. I’ve noted previously that it was writing before that served that purpose: now the lifesaver’s become a profession, except, of course, there’s still an awful lot to learn.

The metric for writing success are woeful, absolutely dreadful. If I were using that as a means to stay mentally strong right now, it would have failed miserably. Fortunately, having found a new means by which progress can be bench-marked without it destroying my sanctity, there’s now breathing space to allow other stuff an opportunity to be approached and attacked with the same enthusiasm.

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I can’t stop time, nor would I want to. With exercise, I can reverse it however: adding sympathetic care returns a measure of flexibility and strength to both body and mind. This week’s writing revelations have been just that: massive insights into the way brain operates, how to stop demons attacking my work. In fact, embracing them this week presented work capable of reopening part of my brain that’s been closed since the 1990’s.

Going through this post now, carefully re-reading and editing as I go, is a new phenomena too. Before the obsession would be to just finish, get it done, not stop and think. Care has emerged in everything. It’s not like it didn’t exist before, far from it. What mattered back then was making the point. Now, considering why, how and even if I should come before a single word is written. This feels a better order to work in.

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Once upon a time there might also have been a desire to ramp up the drama. Nope, that’s not ever happening ever again. Other people can do that, there’s more important business to concern myself with than making the stupid stuff more apparent. For now, that means finishing up here, smashing that bonus Saturday PT of Win before letting Saturday sort itself out.

These are the best kind of days.

Smells Like Teen Spirit

Day 2: I need to make a phone call. I don’t wanna look too keen. Gonna write this first and then do it, yeah, that’s a good plan.

Today, we explain the difficulties with relationships via the medium of Hairdressing.

The Next Chapter Bar

A woman’s relationship with her hairdresser is both complex and incredibly subtle. You trust a (reasonably) total stranger to make you look fabulous, and not to destroy self confidence in the process. That whole thing with Samson and his locks equalling strength? Utterly spot on. When stuff does go wrong, it often means the end of your relationship. The chances you’ll hand over cash again to someone who turned your hair purple when you wanted blonde? Fairly slim.

I’d been with the same salon for a LONG time. I’d gone there before my son was born, cycled through two stylists, and the day I came home with purple hair having not asked for it was significant. When younger a lot of hairstyles happened, a few colours, but the desire to go 100% mermaid has never stuck. It isn’t me, and to have it imposed accidentally was not really as shocking as might have been the case. It made a tough decision a lot easier: it was time to leave.

When your stylist can’t get your name right… absolutely the right moment to move on.

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So, I’ve bounced between a few places in the intervening period, finding empathy in a couple of stylists, but never the desire to stay, until I took my daughter for a trim at the local hairdressers and found a young lady who is, quite frankly, welcome breath of fresh air. She’s professional and thorough but what I get most from her is the fact that there are no pretensions of anything. She is what she is, and that is what matters. For too long I was simply anonymous. Now, I feel genuinely wanted.

That’s the key in all relationships, I realise. To be a part of something where you don’t feel as if you’re doing all the work, or that you’ve been included because that’s what you think other people would do to look relevant. You shouldn’t be friends with someone  because of who they know, or what that relationship could provide. It just happens. Clicking a button then contributing no effort is not friendship. Reading about another person’s life and adding nothing of value to it is not friendship.

Just because you follow someone does not entitle you to part of their existence.

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Actual copy from a Robot-based ‘we increase your following for you’ website.

Robots continue to create an illusion of care and interest that, in many cases, will never exist. It is all about the business of ‘appearing’ popular and successful, without the genitalia-achingly tough task of talking to every person, establishing trust and belief, before moving on. Truly popular people end up that way because they focus on their desires 24/7, and keep on giving, in a way that cannot be faked or indeed replicated. Looking at my Twitter feed, more and more the genuine hard workers are abundantly apparent, putting lesser mortals in the shade.

It is a fine destination to aim for, continuing to be reassuringly inspirational.

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Not everything online has to be drama, but amazingly that doesn’t stop a lot of people aspiring towards just that. It’s not like there’s no other stress in the World right now either. I get that some of you want online to be your own safe, secure little Utopia of Calm. The reality of existence is that if you wilfully ignore one thing, it’ll happen with others, and that’s never a state of affairs that will ever end well. That lesson has been learnt the hard way. Friendship isn’t just turning up for the good stuff and ignoring the bad. That’s not how this works.

If this matters enough to you, make the effort.