Other Stuff, Personal

#justanxietythings

I had an actual blog post about the links between music and writing planned and half-written…and then this happened.

(I’m assuming that everyone’s familiar with the ‘justgirlythings’ meme?)

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I’m trying to be much more open about my mental health, hence…whatever this is. I think it’s so important to talk about the problems we have to abolish the stigma around mental illnesses and make sure that people aren’t afraid or embarrassed to get the help that they need.

I remember reading something once that argued that you don’t blame someone who has broken their leg. You don’t tell them they’re making up how much it hurts. And if they need to take painkillers to alleviate the pain a little then that’s not shameful at all. Why is it any different with mental health?

While in theory I subscribe to this entirely, I still find it incredibly difficult to talk about my mental health face to face with people, even those closest to me – often especially those people. But I’m working to change that, and I hope anyone else who also suffers feels that they can do the same.

So yes, I have anxiety, I have depression, and I’m currently getting help for other problems I haven’t got a name for yet. I have mood swings, hallucinations and psychotic episodes, and those are things I have to learn to deal with. But with the right support and a maybe a little help from medication I can live a normal, productive and healthy life. I’m still learning how, but aren’t we all learning really?

My Writing, Poetry, Writing Stuff

Space

I originally wrote this a few years ago in response to a relationship with a friend that turned sour, although it wasn’t all that sweet to begin with. It’s a little strange, but it was what I needed to say at the time and definitely helped me process what happened; the therapeutic power of writing.

You take up all the space.

You stretch elegantly, feline, filling every corner with yourself. And, like a cat, you have claws for those who cross you.

I feel them as you laugh lightly and place your hand on my thigh, exactly the way you know I hate so much. Your smile says you mean nothing by it, but in your eyes I see the challenge. Say something.

I never do.

I am a chosen one, privy to the barbed wire of your tongue as you spit venom about someone who has no idea they have invoked your wrath. I pity them, whoever they are, but I pity myself more as I hover too close to your sharp edges.

You tell me secrets that you create from thin air to bring us closer and I thank you for trusting me as though they were a sacred gift. All I really want is someone to tell my own secrets to, for they weigh heavy on my shoulders, but my life holds no interest for you and you tell me so. I bite my tongue and wait for the day when maybe you will like me enough to let me speak.

I am lucky you like me, you claim, as though you have an armoury stored away specifically to pierce my heart were I ever to fall from your good graces. I cannot think if anything I have done that you could use, but I strive to be better so you have at least a few less bullets with my name carved into them.

Were you anyone else, I would say I was weak for letting you drag your nails across my skin. But I convince myself it is for your own good, for rather you scratch me than yourself. I will bleed so you don’t have to, and never mind that I’m draining myself dry. If I can stand your poison for just a little longer then maybe your bottle will be empty, and then all it will take is to pour you full of perfume and we shall all smell sweeter.

Then one day you deploy your arsenal with military precision. Which do you want first, my head to mount above your mantelpiece, or my heart to roast on a spit? There was a time when I would have given you either.

You take up all of the space even now you’re gone. The places in me you used to occupy echo with the emptiness, the crumbling ruins of a temple I built for you.

For now I blame myself. Maybe just one more day would have changed things, one more day and you would have smiled at me just once without bared teeth.

But at least now your hand is not on my thigh, and for that I am glad.

Good Things, Other Stuff

Some Good Things

The world’s kind of dark right now. It’s not much, but here are some things that are keeping me going. I hope they help.

  1. Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary. This is the purest place on earth. With the motto “Where love never grows old”, OFSDS gives senior pups the best last years of their lives. Their Facebook and Instagram pages chronicle the dogs daily routines with delightful captions and the most best comment section on the Internet, with people sharing pictures of their own dogs. OFSDS is good for your heart.
  2. Hello from the Magic Tavern: I’ve got really into podcasts over this past year. They’re great for while walking or having on in the background while working. Hello from the Magic Tavern is my current favourite; completely improvised, it follows everyman Arnie Niecamp as he is unexpectedly thrown into the high-fantasy world of Foon. He sets up his podcasting equipment in the local tavern and interviews wizards, monsters, adventurers and even talking flowers. It’s great fun, especially if you’re familiar with fantasy tropes, and the three main hosts (Arnie, Chunt the shapeshifter and Usidore the Blue Wizard) have great chemistry. You can check out all of the episodes so far here.
  3. WebtoonsI’ve loved webcomics since my brother introduced me to Pokémon X waaaay back in the dark history that was the mid-2000s, and they provide a little light relief from the heavy politics that’s everywhere right now. Webtoons is my favourite site right now. It hosts webcomics across all genres and styles, so there’s something for everyone, and all the comics have regular update schedules. Some personal recommendations of mine include Bluechair, Brutally Honest, As Per Usual, Cluster Fudge and Trash Bird.
  4. ‘Calm the Fuck Down Tea’. I’ve always been a big fan of medicating with tea, and since friend got me this particular brand for Christmas I’ve been drinking it regularly whenever things get a bit much. It’s caffeine free and has rooibos and chamomile amongst other things. You can get it from Firebox.com and thank me later, because it is delicious.

I hope everyone is safe and taking care of themselves. Sorry that this is a bit different to what I usually post (maybe it’ll become a thing, maybe not); we will resume your regular posting shortly. For now, stay safe.

Other Stuff, Personal

Lessons from 2016

Ignoring the complete shitshow that 2016 has been (because what else can you call the year when ‘President Trump’ became not just an idea but reality), it’s been quite a year for me. Yes, I am going to use this post to be self-centered and pretentiously introspective.

It’s been my first year living away from my parents, resulting in a fairly…bumpy ride for my mental health, to put it somewhat lightly, although for the first time it feels like I’m making real progress in getting the treatment I need. I met someone who is so kind and patient I struggle to believe that he’s real sometimes. I’ve made new friends in a new city and had some great times visiting old ones. I’ve made some fairly major mistakes, but I’ve also learned how to pick up the pieces and keep myself going.

I don’t know if I could exactly claim that it’s been a good year, but I can definitely say that I’m proud of myself, and that’s enough for me.

So now that I’ve got all thoughtful and broody on you, I’m going to pretend that I’m in any way qualified to give life advice from the things that I’ve learned over the past year.

  1. Adults really don’t know what they’re doing either. Entering the inner circles of the adult working world is great, because you learn that everyone is making it up as they go along, just like you. You just get better at hiding the fear in your eyes.
  2. Independence is terrifying but ultimately wonderful. Yeah, it’s really weird the first time you have to pay bills or get a P60, but then you realise that you have the ability to buy a huge chocolate cake and eat the entire thing and no-one can stop you, and it’s all uphill from there.
  3. The world sucks a lot of the time, and it’s okay to step away from that every so often.  It’s important to remember that you can’t focus intensely on everything all the time; it’s exhausting and ultimately achieves nothing. You shouldn’t have to feel guilty about taking time for yourself sometimes.  Just appreciate that you are privileged enough to be able to step back from these situations and have some tea.
  4. You’re going to hate your job sometimes. Yes, even if it’s the ‘dream job’, there are going to be days when the last thing you want is to drag yourself to your desk and do whatever it is you’re paid to do. You’re an adult now, you just have to do it anyway. That’s what coffee’s for.
  5. If you want something, you’ve got to ask for it. People aren’t mind readers (fortunately). If you want something, it’s no good sitting quietly and just hoping it’ll happen without your input. I really struggle with this; my anxiety and my general upbringing have taught me to try and get in the way as little as possible, so asking for things is a big no. This is definitely something I’m still going to be working on in 2017.
  6. Tinder does work sometimes. Speaking from experience here. I know it can be disheartening, wading through the weirdos, cultists and dick picks, but one day you might just find a guy who asks you out using movie quotes and then takes you on a personalised tour of the city because you mentioned you were new here and shares his umbrella with you when it starts to rain. Just keep swiping and you might find him. Maybe. No guarantees though.
  7. Your significant other is human, just like you. Your partner is going to mess up sometimes, and you can’t resent them for that because you’re going to mess up just as much, if not more. Everyone has their bad days, but it’s wanting to be with someone even during those times that makes a relationship work.
  8. Tea is actually magic. I drank a lot of tea through my teens (I’m from Yorkshire, it comes with the territory), but I never truly appreciated the medicinal properties of a steaming mug of English Breakfast after the most stressful day at work, or a cup of chamomile while you read in bed.
  9.  It’s okay to not be okay. It’s taken me a long time to figure this one out. Still working on it.
  10. People are good. I’ve always taken the attitude that people as a group are awful, but most individuals have at least the potential for goodness. This year has kind of proved that for me. As scary as things may seem right now, surrounding yourself with compassionate, generous people makes life seem just a little brighter.

It’s not much, but it’s kept me going this year. I hope that 2017 is a wonderful year for everyone, and that things won’t seem quite so hopeless after a cup of tea.

Other Stuff

March TBR and Other Things to Come!

I know this is a few days late, but I wanted to finish my last read, Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman, before even thinking about what I was going to read next. Those damn Physics books really take it out of you, but I’m back in my comfort zone with fiction and ready to throw myself completely back into reading!

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I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of the next book in The Firebird Chronicles series by Daniel Ingram-Brown, The Nemesis Charm (if you haven’t already, check out my review of the first book in the series, Rise of the Shadow Stealers). I’m already about a third of a way through this and am thoroughly enjoying it so far. It’s a little darker in tone than the previous book, but includes the same heartwarming whimsical fantasy that I loved in the first one. Keep an eye out for my review of this one!

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I’ve had Carry On since Christmas now, and despite having been incredibly excited for its release, I just haven’t read it yet and I really don’t know why. I’ve heard only good things about it, and I adored the Simon Snow segments in Fangirl (along with the rest of it). Also, Harry Potter-esque fantasy with meta-commentary on the Chosen One trope and a well-written LGBT romance, which you practically never see in this kind of fiction? Yes please!

 

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Well written LGBT fiction seems to be a theme this month, because I’ve heard nothing but amazing praise for The Song of Achilles. Which is great because, as a massive Classics nerd, this is right up my alley. Also, as a massive Classics nerd, I know exactly what happens, so I’m preparing to have my heart ripped out and stomped on, which is exactly what I want…for some masochistic reason.

 

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And finally, The Edge Chronicles. I grew up on these books; I always associate them with family holidays to a tiny bungalow right on the coast – possibly the last place in England that ran entirely on gas – where my Mum would read them to us just before bed. I’ve been meaning to re-read them for years but haven’t got around to it until now. I remember the stories being equal parts fantastical and gruesome, and the illustrations were darkly beautiful. The Gloamglozer, a shapeshifting demon who held terrifying grudges, particularly scared me as a child. I haven’t spoken to very many other people who have read them though, so if you enjoy gory fantasy then I cannot recommend these enough.

In other news, I’ve spent the weekend completely revamping the blog (do you like it? Please say you like it.). I’ve decided to start dedicating more time to this, so I’m hoping to introduce some new post styles, a wider array of material and at least some kind of regular post schedule! So keep an eye out for not just more reviews but things like writing tips from an enthusiastic amateur, book recommendation lists and posts about my experiences working in a library (hopefully!) arriving soon.

So that’s my round up for what’s to come in March. Has anyone else read any of these? Or do you have any recommendations for next month’s list? I’m always open to suggestions, even if I do have a TBR pile taller than I am…