Talk.

Ok, so here’s a thing. Depression is the number one most diagnosed mental disorder in the UK with about a quarter of the population experiencing it in the course of a year. Think of four people you know. Odds are one of them is experiencing a weird kind of pain that you have no idea about, or maybe you do know and you have no idea how to help. Maybe you’re the one in four. I am. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Mark Twain said “write what you know”. So I will.  Since December 2010 my mind has been playing nasty tricks on me, making me feel things harder, think things through badly.

 

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Its not about being sad. Its not about crying. Its about guilt and self loathing.  Its about the cycle of doom which is going round and round in your mind without you realizing it. Its about cutting yourself off and being alone in something because you don’t want to burden other people with your stupid brain issues. Its about assuming the roles of other people in your mind as you put words into their imaginary mouths. Its about going to parties and feeling invisible. Its about how five minutes feels like an eternity in a room full of people where you’ve somehow never felt more alone.  Its about doing nothing. Not bothering to get out of bed. Not looking after yourself. Punishing yourself for not being better than you are. Not being as good as other people. But who told you that? You did.

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Depression is a master of disguise. I’m often the loudest in the room. The most boisterous. I command. I attention seek. I laugh and I make jokes and I have a good time. But there’s always a part of me, even when I’m with my closest friends, that feels out of place. Like somehow I shouldn’t be there and it wouldn’t matter if I wasn’t. That its probably what everyone wants anyway. Someone who suffers or has suffered depression on any level can instantly recognize it in others  because its like looking in a damn mirror. Your own pain reflected back at you. We know man. We get it. But what about the people that don’t? The partners, the parents, the friends? The people that worry on the outside of the glass house but can’t find the door to get inside. The people who have an entire toolbox but not a single thing that they can use to help. Help. Get help? How can I help?  Cheer up. Fuck, look at that I’m cured. They feel useless. You feel useless. We all scream for ice cream.

 

Let’s take a moment to think about the suffering of non-sufferers. Watching someone you know dig themselves a pit to curl up and hide in and standing on the lip looking down is terrifying. Its as though you’re both stumbling about in heavy fog, both trying to find a way to each other and a way out.  Missing the tip of their fingers by a hair as you reach out to help in any way you can. Its watching them sink in quicksand and beginning to sink yourself. Its the empty void swallowing you both. Its arguing and fighting. For us its rage that we feel for ourselves  projected on the ones closest to us because we don’t know what else to do. We push you further and further away bringing you closer to the edge of the pit. You are our punchbag. Our pillow fort. You are the only good thing we have and we don’t deserve you. We’re so sorry. We don’t know how to change our behavior yet. We know you don’t have the answers. We know its hard for you too. Separate us from the illness. We aren’t one in the same. Depression is selfish and nasty. Depression shuts you out and keeps us isolated. We need you more than we can ever articulate. Please don’t give up on us.

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So, what do we do? What is the answer? Medication? It helps. For real, it helps. The feeling of anti-depressants creates is best described as “Everything still sucks but it doesn’t matter as much”. You don’t go numb. You don’t suddenly walk out the door with your own theme tune playing in your head to be greeted by the mental equivalent of a sunny day. There are down sides though. I find I can’t really get drunk on them. Ever. Bad idea. My body tends to eventually just reject all the booze in my system at once. Which is horrendous. There’s the fact that if you accidentally stop taking them, you will crash and have a meltdown. Frighten your mum, worry your friends and set yourself back a few months. There’s the fact that they become kind of a crutch. I know I need them. I know that if I don’t take them I won’t work properly. But I do have the answer.

 

Talk. Own your madness. Know that its ok to not be ok. That your friends want to know if you’re feeling low. That it won’t be easy, but that there’s a major difference between actually having no one and choosing not to see the people closest to you as your shield in the fight. Show your weakness and let that in itself show you your own strength. Know that depression is not emotional weakness. Know that your loved ones want to understand, and the only way they can is if you explain. Own how you feel. Focus on you now and make the decision to care enough about yourself to get better. Reach out in the dark and finally find the hand that’s always reaching back.

 

Should I be freaking out?

Thanksgiving is not something I have ever celebrated, being from the UK it isn’t a tradition I was brought up on. However, this year I was invited to have Thanksgiving dinner with some family. Sitting at the table was an ex Investment Banker, the Director of a successful Advertising Company, a Children’s Theatre Manager, an Events Manager, a medical student about to receive his Doctorate and me… a receptionist and the youngest in the room by only a matter of months. Throughout the meal a thick helping of loaded questions was sprinkled upon me, the sum of which  was: “what are you doing with your life?”  I feel as though its a horrible question that people are asked only at the times of their lives when it is obvious that they don’t know what they’re doing. From my online ramblings alone, I think it is pretty clear that this has been a tumultuous year for this somewhat sporadic writer. And I ask myself this same question pretty much every day…”What are you doing with your life?” Honestly, I don’t know. I sit in an office in central London, working with perfectly nice people, in a perfectly nice job feeling perfectly unsatisfied. A bit like being in the gilded cage, its all very nice but its not enough. This weekend, I met up with the girls I used to live with at University. Of the 6 of us, 5 were living at home, and working in the gilded cage, trainee lawyers who worked their arses off for three years back in offices and retail outlets because that’s how you have to do it to get a trainee-ship. I’m told that we are supposed to get ourselves on the job ladder, to seek work from work. But how is that possible when you don’t know what you’re doing now, let alone what you want to do for the rest of your life.

 Bird in a Gilded Cage

It’s a shock spending 4 years away from home living what you thought was ‘independently’, using your student loan to buy food and pay rent, using money from a part time job to get yourself drunk on the days where you should have been working, then moving back home. I am one of the lucky ones; I live at home and I have an amazing relationship with my ma and her man, we eat dinner together every night, we have breakfast together on weekends. So for me, the pull of ‘independence’ is not so strong what with the lack of rent to pay and the constant feeling of support. In truth, I know that the only way for me to find me impetus to move would be to find my dream job somewhere I couldn’t get to from home in less than an hour by train. Very few of my friends have moved out of home, and those who have are paying though the nose for rent and bills. At the end of my working month, less than a grand goes  into my bank account. I am staying put until its at least a grand and a half. A lot of the time it is easy to get my head down at work, binge watch a series on an internet TV site and not think about the future. Other times, like Thanksgiving, I begin to freak out asking myself endless unanswerable questions; have I wasted my degree and gotten myself into over 10k’s worth of debt to sit in reception all day doing nothing? Was doing a drama degree a terrible mistake? Was my father right to unsuccessfully try to dissuade me for all those years? I felt, after this meal last week, about an inch tall. I was useless, going nowhere, I had no wish to act anymore because I dislike the attitude of young actors, I had no qualifications to get myself a job which I could potentially do well in. What I do have is my ma. I have my mates. I have a support network that will never fail me. Even if I feel I am failing myself.

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I have a friend who is an actor. He has gotten pretty constant work from when he left uni to the present (he’s currently touring with a show!) We had the most brutally honest conversation the other day over a glass of red wine in a virtually empty pub in North London. We came to this conclusion: everyone is struggling in some way or another. Whether its the problem of making ends meet and paying rent, whether its finding a job that makes you happy so that scraping by doesn’t matter so much, whether its freaking out because the idea of getting yourself a mortgage and paying real bills every month. Everyone of my generation, bar those who managed to sort themselves out (hats off), is freaking out a little. It seems as though we have to settle in one part of our lives, if we want a good job which pays well, we have to let go of our passion. If we follow our passion we wave a tearful farewell to financial security and what my friend described as comfort. Comfort comes in many forms, whether its treating yourself to a solo Wagamama’s at the end of a brutal day of envelope stuffing or receiving a drawn out hug from a parent. Comfort is one of those little things that can make everything ok, and put you in the frame of mind that says “Life is not so bad”.  So when comforts are few and far between, when pressure from sources out of your control gets too much, when you are unhappy at work, what do you do? Make time.

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It might be the spirit of the holiday season which is forced upon us like acid rain, but I honestly feel as though making time to see friends and family around this time of year is worth its weight in wine. And gold. And gin. And cheese. In all seriousness though, when you feel as though you are drowning in your worries, that you’ll be alone forever and die alone only to be eaten by Alsatians, that you’ll never pay this month’s rent on time, that you’ll be eating tinned beans until March, that you getting a promotion is about as likely as unicorn orgies; just find some time to spend with your loved ones. Talk things out, be honest. The less you talk about what’s worrying you, the more gravity you give it. Everyone is freaking out. Its only natural that you are too.

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Power and Passion

Today there is a worldwide lemon shortage as I have apparently eaten them all. Such bitterness has not been experienced since Megan Fox had hundreds of  thousands of dollars worth of cosmetic surgery done only to have her toe-thumbs pointed out (seriously, Google it) . Love and hate are twin emotions, both felt with a fiery passion which is hard to extinguish once the embers are crackling to life. One could argue that the difference betwixt the two are simple, one is positive, the other negative. We are supposed to associate love with romance, warmth, puppies and kittens, toasting with champagne and generally being really quite smug. Hate is the badlands, the shadows, lurking alone scowling and nothing filling the void. However, each can be as brutal as its brother. Love can put a sharper edge on the twisting knife just as hate can make you feel power and accomplishment. Love lifts us up where we belong but hate sends us into orbit. Both can send us spinning us out of control until we slow down enough to enjoy the view with which we have been presented. Yes, glorious perspective. Given the impetus for today’s post, I will focus on hate, with the promise that if I ever experience smugness of the romantic sort I will create a post full of puppies and kittens and feelings and sweetness. But that is not for now.

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What, I hear you cry, has happened to send your blood boiling to this extent? What chaos has erupted into your life, miss salt, to make you unleash the beast? I’ll let you think about it for a second or two…..can you guess what it is yet? Ahhhh yes what else could it possibly be.  For a few months now I have been battling a ghost, something not quite there, but who is the vengeful spirit now?! Me… I am.  I have spent time with G (for Ghost) fewer times as I can count on both hands, and yet my mind has given him such power as the spirits themselves possess. Lurking in corners and disappearing from view when looked upon directly. There is nothing supernatural at work here, no measurable powers of charm, persuasion or seduction, there is only the smokey air of vague. I gave him undeserved weight, status and purpose in my stupid mind clouded by a pretty face and cracking blue eyes. And an accent. The journey of blogging began with him because I let myself feel. Well, lesson learnt, there is to be no more of that nonsense.

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The best thing about being on the other side of the fairground ghost train is knowing it’s not real. Knowing its cogs, bells and whistles. Seeing the horror house actors underneath the makeup and wigs and knowing that the fear comes mostly from you imagining what isn’t there. The same is true of whatever I have let myself feel, reading warmth into an icy blast, making allowances, omitting and adding details, essentially creating a person who doesn’t exist out of the good bits you find. And so Frankinstein’s Monster is given life by its creator and allowed to blunder about in my mind for weeks on end, trampling everything in its path. But in my version the monster doesn’t develop a sense of duty to those around it. It just ceases to be. Hate helps,like a torch in the dark it picks out pieces of Lego and upturned plugs on the floor wishing to cause us harm in the night. Nothing can hide from hate, nothing fogs its crystal clear focus.  It is not the nasty dark power people think it is,it is the last knife in the drawer when it comes to self-preservation. Hatred is both sword and shield, aggressor and protector. It gives a sense of purpose, an outlet for excess emotions, recently evolved from something softer and less able to protect itself. Where many of us are left in a state of dribbling confusion, unsure of what to do with ourselves when mere thoughts sting, we can use hate. Give your weakness strength; transform those fragile butterflies into iron dragonflies. Shed your exhausted and tear-stained skin and step out clothed in glorious hate, the smoldering embers in your eyes the only clue as to the depth of your true feelings. Some may say that promoting hate is a bad thing. I am promoting the kind of hate that you feel but never act on, it gives you a charge, an electricity that surges through your veins, speeding up synapses, reminding you what you’ve been through so you are not taken in again. I’m preaching power with a sustainable source, you don’t need to feel weak, no more tears only clenched fists and a source of power that will never run dry, after all, Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

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Break Ups

Mark Twain once said “write what you know” which is advice which, in these posts, I generally try to follow. However, today’s subject is one i have experienced many many times but only ever second-hand. Break ups. The words conjure different images for different people; some see tubs of Ben and Jerries devoured in a single sitting, tears over old pictures and love notes, Rom-Coms and lone walks on rainy days in the park wearing something floatey and feminine and looking vaguely vulnerable for the rest of time. Others see freedom, more time with friends, one night stands, a step up in lifestyle and the burning of effigies and belongings while you dance around in stilettos like Stevie Nicks in American Horror Story: Coven.

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I have watched my friends crumble time and time again: their relationship has reached its inevitable expiry date. I know, i know, how terribly cruel and unfeeling of me. Me being the cynical singleton i am, i see break ups as the inevitable punctuator that stops each relationship in its tracks. This is one of many reasons i have been devoutly single my entire life. I do not have the emotional strength or trust within me to give myself to another person completely having seen my friends go through what they have. From what i see, relationships occur when you find a best friend who you sleep with. Too many people describe the L word as finding someone who’s missing piece matches yours, someone you can ache with, someone to take the worst bits of you and exchange them for the worst bits of them. And both of you assume that this mutual misery that drew you to each other is enough to keep you together. There always seems to be a power struggle within the bounds of relationships, one person always giving, the recipient always wanting more. Something you both know but fail to acknowledge eventually tears you apart and one of you is always left more hurt than the other. There are always those people who have always been in relationships, those who like to plaster their Facebook walls with selfies and posts about being “so happy with my love bear” or spending “the perfect evening with the other half”, taking endless photos of their pets and calling them “the kids” then breaking up and posting emotional status updates about losing the one person they thought they would be with forever, listening to endless  Bon Iver and Adele, Alanis Morrisette and Tori Amos in an effort to use someone else’s words to purge your mind.

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Bile spat, i have to admit that i have friends who are in the closest to perfect partnerships i have ever seen, each with their arguments and differences, but each of them feeds the tiny embers hope my soul often quells. Two of my friends met at a festival, both strangers three days previous, made it through a couple of long distance months and now are on the verge of smug most of the time. Another two came together out of very long term relationships, and found something completely new in each other after two years of close friendship. Two met over a photocopier at a school they both worked at and became ying and yang. Two found each other when one was with the other’s best friend and now have one of the most sickeningly sweet relationships in the world. So there is light at the end of the tunnel, but I suppose you must have the balls to set foot in the tunnel in the first place.

Love is a Tool

Love songs are unrealistic. Written to tell us what we want to hear, making him out to be a saint and her to be this perfect pedestal dwelling angel. They aren’t. They are people with flaws. It is the most written about subject in literature, film and song. Shakespeare had it right in his sonnet 130 beginning “my mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun”, in which he talks about his amour being imperfect and even ugly, but concludes with ‘and yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare as any she belied with false compare’;  essentially he loves her for who she is. A glorious revelation, but one whose value has been lost in time. We tend to listen to people drone on about how in love they are and how the world is new to them, how everything has changed,how perfect she is, how wonderful he is,  how lonely they were before and how fucking smug they are these days. Its fucking exhausting hearing about it. Today’s drive for perfection has seen beautiful women reduced to alien beings, more plastic than fantastic! Giving themselves horrifically over-inflated trout pouts, noses that belong on barbies and don’t even get me started on fake tits! These poor women think that looking ‘perfect’ outwardly will help them find love, help them to find someone perfect for them, when actually you should be more concerned with giving your mind a makeover because you will only ever attract someone who is as apparently vacuous as you seem to be. That’s the horrible thing, I see these barbie dolls walking around like clones of each other, all of them armed with their black leather Michael Kors Tote, hair up in a high bun, each clinging ferociously to the over-pumped arm of some orange skinned slick-haired buffoon.  I look around at these couples on MTV’s The Valleys and Geordie Shore and it’s no wonder it makes such good entertainment when those people essentially are caricatures of themselves. Covering themselves in war paint and hair extensions, the lads doing so many push ups they end up looking like a skinny guy coming out of the torso of a buff guy, it’s just not right!

 

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Love is a complicated mess and yet the pinnacle, the summit of our lives.  My uncle asked my mum recently whether I would be bringing my ‘latest squeeze’ to this family party we are throwing. And the truth is i have never had a ‘latest squeeze’. The relationship thing is a shadow to me, an illusion. I don’t know whether its me being hilariously picky, whether I ‘just haven’t found the right person yet’ (ps for the love of fuck, relationship dwellers, stop fucking telling us this…I know I haven’t otherwise I wouldn’t be on my fucking one now would I?) or whether its something deeper like a the constant need to self-sabotage for some reason. Who knows? But one thing is certain, whilst I may have missed out on many, many lovely things like make-up sex, couples holidays and whatever else it is that they do, I’ve also avoided break-ups, cheating, foul PDA and the absolute hell of meeting the parents. I think so many people these days are so preoccupied with not being alone that they will jump into any relationship offered to them, rather than spend some time getting to know themselves a little better. Especially the generation following mine, where 14 year old seem to think that listening to Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift makes them ready for any kind of committed relationship that isn’t with a celebrity who is unaware of said relationship. I have friends who have never been truly single and who like to pretend like they are just  like me… gurl…you  are not. Spending a couple of months post break up is not being single…it is being momentarily indisposed. Having to pick between guys and it being a struggle…not being single.  Spending at least a year struggling to even sleep with the same person twice…that, my friend, is being single. And you know what, for me, so far, it’s working. Sure I don’t have anyone to wrestle naked with, but I have friends with whom I can do literally anything a couple would. We cook dinners together, sleep in the same bed, share secrets, cry together, laugh and love. As I’ve said before, friendship is a BIG deal to me and there aren’t enough songs about that!

 

Here is a poem I enjoy immensely:

 

Love is a tool

Love is a tool to manipulate the weak.

We see love on TV every day,

But its something that’s followed with ads for Diet Dr Pepper and mascara or Trojan Condoms

Love is a marketing scheme designed by CEOs

Who have gone through five wives with no remorse

And haven’t paid child support in years

But their bank accounts support octuple digits

That can buy a new car

A Swedish cabin

Or a set of new shot glasses.

Thats why when you tell me you love me

I’m reluctant to believe it.

How do I know you’re not going to sell me shoes

Or trade me in when the new wears off?

I don’t want a price tag on my head,

So fuck love

And its sneaky trappings.

Love is a tool to persuade girls like me to buy romance novels

and Ben and Jerry’s

And sit and cry over guys in High School

Who called us fat one too many times.

That’s exactly what love is.

Take the Tesco sticker off your roses

And try to convince me otherwise.

– Anon

I think love is finding someone who drives you up the wall but you can’t kill them because you’d miss them too much. Its laughing at every fart (because they are always funny), sitting through questionable movies and braving awkward social situations like a two man army. Its finding a best friend who you want to have naked playfights with and who will hold your hair back when you puke. It isn’t just having someone.

Obsession, not Love

We go through most of our lives from one love to the next. It starts with your favorite toy, when you outgrow that,its your first bike, then your first pair of glitter jelly shoes until finally you start liking other people. Now before this you focused your attention on inanimate objects which have no choice but to silently and graciously accept your love, until the time comes you are ready to move onto bigger and better things. Ah a simple time, the chase is brief, the bond seemingly unbreakable. But when it comes to people, you are up against a sentient being which has its own wants and needs, not to mention the ability to destroy you with the greatest weapon humankind has in its arsenal: rejection.

Have you ever been so blinded by your own obsession with someone, hazed by your ability to convince yourself and, dangerously, other people, that you and this person are absolutely game on, perfect and its just a matter of time. I have, not even just once either; many many excruciating times. There are a few different types of people in the word when it comes to lurve; I will look at two of them. There are those who are blessed with the ability to attract those they like and to happily get on with things in a ‘normal’ manner and then there are people like me. The ones who, no matter what, something will happen to rain shit all over your heart. I have never been in love; I consider love to be what I call a ‘reciprocal’ emotion, you cannot love alone, it is a mutual thing. I have however had much experience with love’s ugly cousin: obsession. bunny boiler Obsession is something with which most of us suffer, and it seems with age comes the self-confidence to overcome this most crippling of weaknesses. Looking back at the compulsively kept diaries from my late teens, obsession was something which absolutely mangled my already fragile mind. Being a teenager is horrendous, we all know this, its a time of awkwardness and self loathing, made all the more difficult with those fucking hormones running riot in your veins, giving you weird tits, greasy skin and an increased awareness of your body hair. What a perfect time then, to discover feelings! Now over the years there have been several typical teenaged crushes, I’m talking the popular boy at school who smiled at you when everyone else was taking the piss, the guy from drama who always caught you staring at him but never called you on it, the boy you’ve known your entire life and never done anything about. These are the school crushes, they are the ones who shape you views on love. Then come the more complex ones.

At 18 I found myself living with 27 people 24/7 doing a year long course. One person will always stand out to me in a ‘special’ way. Let’s call him D (for dickhead). D was seeing someone, but D also liked me, so foolishly I allowed myself to think that I would be something to him, the way he was to me. A year of cheating (on his part) went by with various inappropriate texts, adult sleepovers (I would like to point out that at no point did I do anything beyond fumble with D) lies and confrontations, until the final night of the course, where he consolidated everything that had happened with us with a kiss under a bridge and then off he fucked. Our paths have crossed a couple of times since, but I will never be able to look him in the eye and have a normal conversation knowing that he effectively shat all over my very delicate heart. shat on my heart Since then, I pretty much decided that sex was a non-emotional thing, the majority of the sex I’ve had was drunken and essentially meaningless, I remember in my third year of uni my housemate gave my number to the head of the waterpolo team (oh sweet jesus what a bod) who had just broken up with his girl and was looking for a rebound; which I graciously provided. I slept with a guy I met in class in first year who in third year revealed he was single (nb never judge a penis by its abs, this guy was shredded, but man was he tiny) I am coming to learn, that sex is not so emotionless to your partner; a guy I encountered of late told me that ‘the casual sex thing doesn’t work for him’. Now this was astounding to me, the girl who has basically spent the last 5 years being the man, fucking and dropping. The ones I actually like, nothing has ever happened with. Four times now I’ve fallen for a close friend, and each time I’ve fallen hard. I have always gotten over it, with time and drugs….lots and lots of drugs. These guys know who they are, one of their girlfriends has come to be one of my closest friends. But why is it that I can seduce those I have no real interest in, but those I do I repel? Discuss.