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.

 

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One Night Stands

Its coming, the weather is hotting up, the skirts are getting shorter, the tops are getting plungier and the hedonistic nature in all of us is effervescing away beneath the surface waiting to burst forth in a wave of skin revealing revelry. Summer. The time of year where the youth of the day return to a primordial state where the smell of sunscreen, sweat and hair products propels the masses into a frenzy of sloppy tonguing sessions and even sloppier sex. We abandon ourselves to our baser instincts, summer is prime time for one night stands and I am here to tell you the DO’s and DON’Ts of this oh so special of occasions.

First things first, if you don’t use a condom when bonking a stranger, you are essentially a vile slut who doesn’t care if she catches every STD under the sun. This goes for boys and girls, for both are sluts equally. Do not skip the rubber, you don’t know where Mr P has been, and you don’t know who has been visiting Mrs V, so why risk it. Better than to have to momentarily pause proceedings than have to call ever one of your sexual partners and explain that due to your foul sexual discrepancies, you may have given them herpes. The rule is essentially, if your partner doesn’t suggest the use of any sort of protection with you, the odds are they don’t use it with anyone. Bail.condom1

 

Now, the fun bits. One night stands are the perfect opportunity to try those weird sex tips your read in  magazines, or to try that thing you’ve always wanted to. For example, in my final year of uni, my sluttish behavior was at an all time high, I had a fire escape outside my room, which my bedroom window opened onto. I called it the balcony and it was a happening place. I therefore made it my mission to get laid on there at least once. And I did, with a total random, who was JUST terrible. Which brings me to do number two; always bring them back to yours. This means you have control of when your conquest vacates the premises; fire escape guy wanted to stay and cuddle (something I will literally never understand) so I had to deliver the classic line “oh shit, my boyfriend is coming home in like twenty minutes. You should go!” (scoffing quietly to myself at the idea of me having a boyfriend at all)  It is also the perfect time to be demanding. Once you know that bonking is on the cards, you can pretty much draw up a little contract in order to be fully satisfied, I once gave a guy actual rules before agreeing to sleep with him (which ended up being a three-hour romp, followed by wedding  jokes at breakfast with the rest of the group in the morning) Also, one night stands are prime time for hilarity; take the time to do something hilarious and socially inappropriate and create an urban myth that you know to be true. For example, I had one guy back and after thirty minutes of heavy petting he was still…..a little more Philadelphia than Parmesan in the penis department.  Anyway, I was drunk and intolerant and delivered the classic ultimatum “Babe, at this point, go hard or go home”…he went home and I passed out naked…again. Then there are those classic moments when you’ve drunkenly gotten naked with a friend with no real intention of actual penetration. This happened to me at uni and the pair of us ended up passing out au naturel. About an hour or so later, our mate came into my room (greeted by the sight of my bare ass) to get the guy to go back and smoke up at his place, and I (still in a naked drunken stupor)  could only repeat the words “Babe, just chill out, its fine”.  There are those moments when you both think you are porn stars and then catch sight of yourselves in the mirror and both have to take a second to laugh hysterically. There are those times when you take a mid-session break for a cigarette and end up performing a top-notch blow-job in the communal garden in full view of the upstairs neighbors… just cos. There are hilariously awkward moments, however. For example, I once ended up bedding my Uni’s water polo captain, who definitely forgot my name and just referred to me as  “Baby”, I have never been so pleased as when he got up and left in search of a kebab.

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Things to beware: Beware the “accidental slip”, we all know what I mean here, and there is a chance that in the fumble to pleasure you, your partner may have gotten too excited and popped something somewhere it doesn’t belong for a second or two, causing you to perform the gravity defying ‘gecko’ move up the nearest wall.  Beware Magic FM…Seriously, I remember ‘Careless Whisper’ coming on at 2am and being completely unable to continue, while my playmate thought it was the sexiest thing ever. I literally almost pee’d with laughter at how cheesy it was. Horrendous.  Beware volume control. There is nothing worse than hearing other people bumping uglies, honestly it isn’t ok, you end up feeling like some sort of aural voyeur because no matter what you do you can’t block out the sounds.Beware inequality; go tit for tat, if you go down for fifteen minutes, the favor should be returned…any guy who says anything pertaining to “I don’t do that” can suck your imaginary balls and get out of your bed.  Beware feelings. As I have said before, if your legs open faster than Google’s homepage, you are not girlfriend material…one night stands are called this because they have a very precise shelf life. You are not going to find ‘the one’ this way. What you will gain is confidence, skill, experience and fun. Try not to give a shit about reputation, because the only reason people will disapprove is if they aren’t getting laid or if one of you is cheating. Cheating is BAD. Do not get involved with ANYONE who is attached.

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Progress

So I don’t know whether its Bikini Panic, something in the water or the relentless romantic knock-backs, but something has changed within me (something is not the same). The last few months has seen some new sense of substance arriving with a force strong enough to have blown away a lot of the negativity i once embraced as a loved one. Living in the dark realms of catatonia used to be far more appealing, there was a sense of lone heroism to seeing the world through smog smeared glasses. The tempestuous nature of this kaleidoscope of mine has settled somewhat, and the sequins and glitter are beginning to gingerly swim into focus. I won’t pretend that life is sunshine, lollipops, puppies and rainbows because it isn’t, but it also isn’t rain-clouds and constant impending doom. Instead of it being an epic battle, rushing forward with my  battalion of mismatched soldiers, swords swinging, arrows flying, hooves, antlers, metal and bone shattering against the force of each other, its been more like sliding into a scorching hot bath; burning and uncomfortable at first, but I’m slowly submerging myself into this warmer sense of self.

 

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Things that would have sent me tumbling into the abyss where I would live, Gollum-like,  for days feeding myself on the tender flesh of my guilt and self-loathing, now merely smart on the surface of me, like the embers of cigarette ash, blistering for a few seconds, then all but gone. If anyone had told me a year ago I would be content, I wouldn’t have believed them, I would probably have snorted and offered up some hilarious remark about how content I was in my little pit of negation, how comfortable it was sleeping with a mind full of thorns every night. The difference in me feels huge, I’m not obsessing over things as much as I used to, I’m adopting a duck’s back in place of my own, letting everything roll over me like a wave of glorious indifference. Yes nasty things still happen every now and then, but they aren’t world-enders like before. Don’t get me wrong, the social inadequacy is still there in bucket-loads, I’m already panicking about a friend’s birthday party at the end of May when I’ll have to meet new people and try not to over think every little detail of said social encounter. But I know that there will be people there who I can have a quiet little freak out to, who will hand me a cigarette and tell me to calm my tits.

An Ode to Friends

For the last week I have been deliberately avoiding making contact with a recent conquest.  D (for doesn’t know what he wants) made it very clear he ‘just’ wanted to be friends (See my post ‘Romance vs ‘Singledom’ ‘ for the full rant). So, I thought; give the guy some space, let him cool off, allow him the time without any sort of pointless “hi are you alive” texts, to really consider what it is that he is willing to give to this so called ‘friendship’.  When I complained about D to a friend this morning, she told me  “you have friends who love you, an awesome home, and a job…sooner or later the rest will fall into place” and she’s right. To my mind, as I’ve said before, a friendship requires a far longer term commitment than any sort of ‘romantic’ endeavor, so why is it offered up as a substitute so easily? Seriously, I have friends who I’ve known since I was 3 years old, I have a friend who I physically helped puke up a dodgy cocktail in a supposedly ‘high end’ London club, I have a friend who once managed to impale herself with a pair of fish tweezers which I then had to remove from between her toes to avoid a lengthy trip to a and e and I have one friend who following an overdose, aged 15, I visited in hospital and did nothing but crack jokes at for the whole half hour visit. If you think that regular bonking and mutual fanciage equates to any of that then you are more out of your mind than I am!

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I have grown up with a lot of male friends; for a long time when I was little there weren’t any girls to play with, so I hung out with my older brother and his friends and I grew up close to my three male cousins. Whilst I did my fair share of playing with Barbies, I also spent a hell of a lot of time building dams in the local brook, making mud pies and eating bugs in the garden. This is the sort of thing which evolved into my being totally comfortable among large groups of males.  I am not a girls’ girl, until my second year of Uni I was very very wary of other women, and their mystical effects on my friends. It wasn’t so much that I saw other females as threats, more that I thought that their romantic interests in my friends would cause them to unwisely spend their time with what I considered to be lesser beings. The kinds of girls who go from relationship to relationship from their early teens and quickly assume that they are only able to function fully when associated with someone else.  Now there is obviously a chance that its bitterness talking, that if I had had any sort of long term romantic male contact that I wouldn’t be so negative towards these girls. There was one girl at Uni who I must mention here.

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R (for Rabid Bitch) began as one of my closest friends; we both had sort of a tough one at school, had pretty low self esteem as a result of the ‘popular’ kids’ constant put-downs. Despite having a hard time adjusting to the people she was living with, R soon made a huge group of friends at uni and pretty much became Queen Bee, she was the Regina George of my year. Then, something miraculous happened; boys started to fancy her (apparently for the first time).  The transformation this girl went through during second year of Uni was astounding. Gone was the initial loyalty and mutual understanding upon which our very important (to me) friendship had been built, suddenly it was like school all over again. It started with little things, like put downs in front of her hoard of adoring male followers, progressed to her climbing the object of my affections like a tree in front of me, making out with two guys she knew I liked and climaxed the time when I literally asked her to stay with me and she left. That night was one of the most humiliating of my life; without going into much detail, I am occasionally socially incapable and essentially don’t get drunk anymore because it simply ends in tears (mine). That night, following a fundraising event attended by pretty much everyone from my course, I had a minor melt down and ended up slumped by a Tesco Express, physically conquered by my emotions (I had probably had two or three glasses of wine as well but that was nothing at the time) . It was the kind of crying where you cannot catch your breath and your legs just give out, the kind of crying that you do curled up, alone,  in the foetal position, not in the street whilst your peers file past staring at you with eyes that can’t see past their own perspective. Luckily, I had, by this time, discovered three people who could understand. These three stood by me as I sobbed uncontrollably for about 45 minutes and it has never since been brought up as a joke, because honestly it wasn’t funny. I have never felt so completely out of control in my entire life, and I know that if R had simply stayed with me, been there, then i would have been fine. But then, I never would have realized that she was utter poison and run into the open arms of my glorious piggies.

 

Being abandoned by a close friend is far far worse than being betrayed by a lover could ever possibly be. Friends are those in whom you can recognize a part of yourself, for me they form the majority of the fabric of who I am. They are the people with whom you can get through literally anything; sure we laugh at each others’ misfortunes (because, by and large, they are hilarious), yes they use the words “I told you so” way too often, yes they have to be the ones to tell you when your paramour is acting like an utter bell-end and/or is clearly not interested in you. But ultimately they form the family that you can chose; I am lucky enough to say with absolute confidence that my friends are my soul mates. Each and every one of them (who will doubtless be reading this and smiling)  has seen me at my worst and still chosen to be associated with me. Each of them has watched me struggling on my belly in the various puddles of shit in life’s never-ending obstacle course, and they have picked me up time and time again, soiling themselves with my putrid misery and never once complained about it. Good job friends, you are better than any admirer could ever even dream of being!