Wednesday, 10 April 2019

What to do when you can't do anything

As someone who's mental state is about as stable as a 3-legged Ikea chair, I'm well experienced in not feeling able to do anything. To being stuck, unable to move, in bed for days on end being periodically visited by family members to check that I'm still, in fact, breathing. On these days the world is dark and painful, and it's nothing short of an understatement to say that living moment to moment is the only way of making it through.

When I feel like this which, thankfully, I haven't felt in a while, there are very few things that I feel able to do. Through my experience, however, I've put together a list of actions that I'd recommend you try. If you don't manage them, who cares, this is just what I've put together. Take care of you, and do whatever it is you feel able to.

Open the window

When in the midst of a BPD attack the last thing I want is sunlight. Remember that scene in Sex in the City where Carrie walks straight into the Mexican resort, lies down on the bed and instructs her friends to close the shutters? That's me. I become sensitive to light and the darkness is both comforting and easy to handle.

What's not comforting, however, is the headache that I get when stuck in a stuffy room for too long. When I've had attacks in the past I've, luckily, been at my mum's, where I was relegated to the box room after leaving for university when my brother took over my room.

The size of the room meant that it got very stuffy very quickly, and so opening a window, even if only for half an hour, was incredibly beneficial in clearing the air and preventing me from getting a headache. When you're feeling mental pain, the last thing you want is added physical pain as well. If you can't manage it yourself, as a friend or family member to do it for you. It's a simple action, but one that can really freshen your room.

Drink a glass of water

This is another one geared towards avoiding headaches, although keeping hydrated never hurt anyone.

When feeling low, different people have different attitudes towards food. Some people find themselves able to eat, some people find themselves overeating and some people find themselves unable to eat at all. However your body and stomach are feeling, trying to get at least one glass of water into your system is a bonus. Not only will it help ease any stuffy-headedness, but it'll also help you stay hydrated while your brain and body take the rest it wants to take. Can't manage a whole glass? Sip as much as you can throughout the day or place a cup of ice chips in a cup next to your bed to place in your mouth when you feel able to, anything to get some fluids into your body.

Get out of bed, straighten your bed, get back in your bed

When we spend days on end under the covers, things can get a little messy. Crumbs, tissues, stray hairs, our beds can start to feel a little uncomfortable, but changing your bed sheets can often feel like too much of a challenge. If this is the case, but you still want to feel more comfortable, simply get out of bed, wipe the crumbs from your sheet and straighten your pillow, and get back in again. It may seem small, but even the accomplishment of managing something so easy can make the world of difference.

Rinse with mouthwash

This is a personal one for me, but the thought of not brushing my teeth can leave me feeling on edge. My mum is a dental hygienist, and I will forever be scarred by the image of a puss-engorged gum she showed me when I was eight. My teeth don't always take front row in my priorities when I'm feeling low, but it's important to me to do my best.

Sometimes, however, brushing your teeth can just feel too much. When you're only making it out of bed to use the bathroom, standing for two minutes plus to keep your teeth clean can seem like the least appealing thing in the world. If this is the case, and you want to add some minty freshness to your day, try simply rinsing with mouth wash. Or, if that feels too daunting, try flossing from your bed. It's important to take baby steps and do only what you feel you can manage, without pushing yourself before you feel ready.

Change your pyjamas

In the same category as straightening out your bed, it's easy to feel a tad icky when you've been in the same pyjamas for days on end. If you don't feel up to showering and freshening up entirely, there are few things as comforting as a fresh set of pjs, or even a clean T-shirt if that's all you feel up to. When you're feeling on the edge of a black hole, it's not so much about what you feel able to do, it's about what you can manage without pushing yourself too far.


Thursday, 4 April 2019

Minimalism, Pt 1.

One of the things I've discovered since I started travelling is that I don't like "stuff". I can't stand clutter and I'm finding a lot of comfort at the moment through knowing that I want everything that I have.

This isn't anything to do with the KonMari method, although I have read her book and attempted and failed to watch her Netflix show, it's more a case of feeling weighed down by the negative connotations associated with having my life filled with things that don't benefit me. Clothes I don't wear, half used bottles of shampoo, earrings to which I've lost the matching pair and will never wear again. It becomes very stressful at times and I needed to find a way of streamlining what I had in order to feel relaxed, and so I've decided to put together a little series of posts on how I'm reintroducing minimalism into my life.

I first discovered minimalism through Conor McMillen and Brittany Taylor. Inspired by their oh-so-covetable life of living a nomadic lifestyle, I realised that I needed to feel more free in order to feel content, which was the exact opposite of what was happening when I looked at my possessions.

That isn't to say I'm particularly good at de-cluttering. My husband always says that my major clear-outs often lead to me chucking things I need and then replacing them days later. In the heat of the moment I become ruthless, but still have a hard time letting go of things that I really don't use or need.

My shoes, you will never get me out of my shoes.

Attempting to find a balance between the two is difficult, and has become more and more apparent since I've settled down in Toronto. I know that I want to reach a middle ground with finding what I need and what I want, but it's going to be a slightly longer process than I hoped.

That's why I'm revisiting my minimalist journey. Lately I've found myself buying things I don't need or use and so I need to address not only what I'm buying, but why I'm buying it. I've also been procrastinating a lot lately, and I'm hoping that finding clarity with the things and thoughts that are clogging my head will help me push through what's stopping me from sitting down and writing and allow me to find relaxation in putting fingers to keyboard again.

Here's hoping.


Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Excuses excuses

I've been making a lot of excuses not to write lately. I could bore you with them, I'm even making them in my head now, but they all boil down to a recently discovered terrible problem with procrastinating and a feeling that in order to actually be a writer again, I need to be employed as a writer.

It would seem that the logic of actually writing something was lost on me.

This morning I'm lying in bed, having recently moved from the strange chair/table hybrid I've been using as a desk where I was opening tab after tab after tab of job applications that I have no desire to apply for. I even wrote myself a list of why I struggle yesterday, with the main points being my lazy ass is fed up of sending out job applications. Job hunting and dating are feeling very similar at the moment, completely pointless.

A lot of my problem at the moment is that I'm scared. What if I never get the have the career I crave so badly? All, and I mean all, I want to do is write. Once I start and really get into it it's like my fingers no longer need me, and they simply tap away producing all the words, phrases and sentences that need to be said. I'd like to think that I don't need the validation of employment to be proud of what I do, but right now I'm really not so sure.

Another issue I have with job searching is that doing what you love in a capacity that you don't like quite as much, be it in a new format, for a different platform or working the dreaded 9-5 that I'm sorry I've tried and I find soul destroying, is that it has the tendency to replace your enjoyment with feelings of obligation. When you've spent all day doing what you love for someone else, doing it for yourself becomes difficult.

As always, what I need to do is stop thinking. To let the words just come and not pressure myself into applying for things that fill me with nerves and nausea. I'm going to New York next week, fingers crossed getting out the city will help.


Thursday, 28 March 2019

Debunking Resum-iths

As both a writer and a Millenial, you'd be correct in assuming that I've sent out my fair share of job applications in my time. From my very first waitressing job at 16, to which I showed up on my first day hanging out of my eyeballs with the goal of providing a bride with the dinner service she'd dreamed of since she was a little girl, to the video I once made in an attempt to enhance the application I'd sent just so I could have a vague shred of styling assistant experience on my CV. If it sounds like it sits just on the believable side of bullshit, then I've probably done it.

Today, however, I am going to revisit those past applications. Delve through my employment history if you will, and see if I can work out where the truth really lies. 

Statement number 1: I work well in a team 

This is one you have to say you're good at, otherwise, you sound like either a total bitch or someone totally void of all understanding of social queues. Whilst it has graced the pages of many an application penned by my fine hands, what it should really say is "Works well in a team providing people do things to my standards". I don't give a shit if we have different opinions, voice them, fight with me, it's what I want. Just don't sit around half-assed doing something because you assume someone else will pick up the slack for you, or I will fantasise about castrating you with my craft scissors. 

Statement number 2: Handles stressful situations well

I came to realise that I was done lying about this one last night when I finally accepted that yes, I'm fucking highly strung, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. I may be dramatic and become tense easily, but that's only because I care and want to do my best no matter what the situation. Whether I'm making coffee or writing copy, I always need to put 100% in in order to feel happy with my performance, it's just who I am.

What is not helpful in these situations, however, is telling me I get stressed. No shit Sherlock, I'd kind of already noticed. All you're doing by telling me this is making me paranoid which is just going to make me more uncomfortable. Take a step back and let me get on with things and we'll all be right as rain.

Statement 3: Responds well to authority

Of all the problems I have within working environments, this one is the most deeply ingrained and, so it would appear, the hardest for me to work on. When I was a kid, I was shouted at a lot. Repeatedly told that I was a bad person, that I was rude, mean and hurtful and all in all feeling like I was wrong. As a result of this I always, always, feel like I'm going to be told off, like a child. You know in Pretty Woman when Vivian says that if people put you down enough you start to believe them? This is me.  Since then everything has changed and I have an amazing relationship with my mum and her boyfriend, but the feeling like I'm going to be told off is still there.

Seriously, when I first met my previous landlady, who I LOVE, I was convinced she was going to tell me I'd done something wrong, despite the fact that we had only just met.

Now I 100% know that this is something I need to work on, no one else is going to get me through this. But when I'm having a panic attack because I've made a mistake at work and feel like I'm going to be fired or shouted at, it really gets me down. It's not so much that I have a problem with authority, it's that I'm fucking petrified of it.

Statement 4: Self-starter

This one is actually true, but not in the way I think it means. When I say that I'm a self-starter, I mean that I just like to get on with things. If I'm working and something needs to be done, it'll be added to my list and I'll do it. I have no time for waiting around just because it might not 100% be within my job description, if I can do it and it needs to be done, I'll just get on with it. This one goes hand in hand with the whole "works well independently" thing. I do work well by myself, but mostly because I like to be left the fuck alone.

Statement 5: Tenacious

Fun fact, throughout all the time I've spent completing job applications over the past 4 months, I've spent a considerable amount of time googling synonyms for the word stubborn. Tenacious, determined, strong-willed, every bs term I could possibly find that boils down to one thing, I'm stubborn. I'm really stubborn, but unfortunately, in some situations, this just isn't considered to be a good thing. However, as I realise how much time, energy and stress I've put into finding employment over the past x or so years, I can now see that my stubbornness is really quite a good thing. Would I have been able to put the man who raped me in prison were I not stubborn as an ox? No. Would I have completed my degree while simultaneously putting said man in prison, self-harming harming, learning to live with an incurable mental illness and dealing with the death of a good friend? Also no. So fuck it, I'm stubborn and you know what? I'm happy this way.


Friday, 22 March 2019

Somebody that I used to know

The 19th of March would have been the birthday of one of my best friends. I say would have, they're not even remotely dead, we're just not friends anymore and, if I'm honest, I'm not sure how close we ever were.

They say that friend breakups are harder than relationship breakups and it's true. Throughout all the shitty breakups I've been through I've always been able to see a reason, to point out the end moment when I finally saw it was over even if I didn't notice it at the time. The end to our relationship wasn't over in second of choice words or an act of deception, even though it was a final message that put a nail in our metaphorical coffin, but instead, it was a slow yet unavoidable burn.

For years I denied it, telling myself to ignore the lump of dread in my stomach that appeared every time I planned a visit. Looked past the judgemental comments and condescending remarks that came over and over again despite the ongoing mirage of our friendship staying seemingly strong. All I ever wanted was to be her friend.

For a lot of our friendship, things were really great. We'd have girly sleepovers, eating toffee popcorn and cherry drops and watching films, I missed her so so much when I moved away,  but while I was desperate to hold onto a friendship I thought would last forever, there was a point when I just should have let go.

It wasn't until last year when I bumped into her cousin at my local pub during a World Cup game that things really ended. I attempted to reach out to explain a situation that had happened a year or so before, and she responded by telling me I was selfish and had no morals. If I'm honest, her words are the reason I think that people think of me as selfish, even when I'm told otherwise.

For the record, I am selfish at times. I will always, always do my best to put myself first because, without sounding like a martyr, I'm the only one that ever will. Another, really amazing, friend I used to live with made me see this after I sat next to her throwing myself a pity party while she got ready for work. "You need to man the fuck up because no one else is ever going to put you first", she said without taking her eyes from the mirror as she straightened her hair, and she was 100% right. Epic cliche alert, but there's a reason they tell you to put your gas mask on flights, you have to put yourself first before you can be there for anyone else, there's no other way around it.

I'd be lying if I said that I don't miss her, I miss her a lot. When I think about it though, I think I miss the idea of what I wanted our friendship to be rather than what it was. We were friends at one point, but there's no avoiding that people change as time goes on. It's human nature to adapt,  but sometimes that means outgrowing the people we once loved. It doesn't make it any easier, but it's something we have to live with.


Sunday, 20 January 2019

To the guy that drove me home

Just before I left for Canada, I went on a couple of dates with a guy I met on Instagram. It was obviously never going to be a go-er, he was “separated” with two kids and I was weeks away from leaving the country, but the idea seemed fun and so I thought that a couple of dates wouldn’t hurt. 

The first night we met went great, he was a really good kisser and, aside from referring to himself in the third person and using the word “smooch” everything went well. After a few moments of PG-13 making out in his car outside my house, we’d said our goodbyes with the promise to see each other again. 

From the beginning, I’d made it very clear that I didn’t want to sleep with him straight away. There was nothing personal in my decision, I wanted to bone him eventually, but I knew that I wanted to wait. Not something I have done regularly in the past, but I was confident in my decision and made sure he knew that, in no uncertain terms, was I going to change my “at least until the third date” resolution anytime soon. 

A resolution I’d thought he’d understood. 

Second date rolled around and, after a quick dinner, we went back to his for some more PG-13 action. It was here I realized that it was unlikely that fireworks were going to be flying anytime soon, call me shallow but the idea of dating a bald guy in this instance gave me the heebie-jeebies. I’ve never been bothered too much by the presence of hair before, and fuck knows how I didn’t notice it sooner, but right off the bat when the hat came off my legs clapped shut and my vagina began to resemble the Sahara desert. 

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I wasn’t going to have to drag it out for much longer, because his actions made my decision even before I’d registered how folicularly challenged he was. When I say no I don’t want to sleep, or even fool around, with you, I mean no. I don’t mean try harder, I don’t mean try again, I don’t mean pin my arms back in the hope that you can wear me down with sub-par domination and a thinly veiled ulterior motive. I mean no. 

After it had finally occurred to him that he wasn’t going to get into my pants anytime soon, or ever as the case turned out to be, he drove me home. 

At 9:30 

Having picked me up at 7:30

My landlady was just as perplexed as I was when I arrived home so early. 

As it happened, I ended up finishing things for a completely different reason, but his behaviour stuck in my head. Trying to get me to give it up using nothing but persistence is the behaviour I would expect of a teenage boy trying to get his rocks off. It’s in no means okay, but at that age hormones and the intense desire to bump uglies with anyone and everyone has a tendency to cloud the mind a little. 

Far from being the teenage possibility of my youth, this guy was 35. 30 fucking 5. Almost twice the age of some teenagers and possessing what can only be described as 1/3 of the brain cells required to understand how to respect other human beings. He has two daughters, how would he feel if they were treated in the same way? The fight for equality across the globe is one thing, but basic human respect is equally important. 

Were I to see him again, I’d have far more to say than I had at the end of our connection. When I say no, when ANYONE says no, they mean no. Hitch was wrong, it doesn’t mean “try harder stupid”. It most certainly means “get away from me now.” So do the right thing, ignore your junk and spend the night with your hand instead. 

Trust me, we’re all better off that way. 


Thursday, 17 January 2019

Insecurities, procrastination and prostitution

Last week my writer's block finally decided that it was done sucking my dick and my ability to form sentences returned. Since then, I've found a plot line for my novel, killed a fuck tonne of darlings and realized that I need to get my finger out of my ass and actually send proposals for freelance work if I'm ever going to get hired.

The life of a creative is not that of a prostitute, I can't just stand around saying I'm a writer and hope the work will come to me, I have to go out and get it.

This morning, however, I've realised that, along with being cripplingly insecure, I am also a class a procrastinator. For years I've blamed my self-esteem on the fact that I never manage to apply for any writing work, which is partly true, but it's also to do with the fact that I never get off my ass and do it. There is no physical way of getting what you want without putting the effort in. Life doesn't work like that.

Last week, I received an email saying that the agency I've been writing for for the past two years was changing their working model. They would no longer be taking external work from freelancers and instead would be producing all of their copy in house. Meaning my very last paid writing gig was finally gone.

*Weeps internally for my bank balance*

Whereas previously I may have taken this to heart, instead I am using this as an opportunity to force myself to put my writing out their once more and actually find some new work. I need to be stimulated in order to keep my inspiration flowing, and nothing forces you to get on with your work more than an imposing deadline.

This week I have two more days off and have decided to spend said days getting my ass in gear and applying for as many freelance positions as I can, determined to actually find someone to employ me.

That and do my laundry. I'm running out of clean pants.


Sunday, 6 January 2019

Two months in Toronto

Why hey there, long time no speak.

Next week, along with being my 3 year 10 months self harm free anniversary, marks my second month in Toronto. Bizarre as it seems, as I feel like I've been here forever, two months ago on November 11th I was boarding a plane from Gatwick hoping for nothing more than a peaceful flight and an ungodly amount of free snacks. 

Bro tip, fly with, they have good free shit. 

People keep asking me how I'm finding it here and, honestly, I haven't quite decided. It's not the cold or the cost of the city, that I was expecting, but more how I've felt since I've been here. 

Side note, this is the last winter I will ever spend in the Northern hemisphere, I physically, emotionally and mentally can not handle another year of fighting with my seasonal affective disorder. Fun panic attacks and suicidal thoughts are not. 

Anyway, back to Toronto. Moving here was supposed to be a fresh start but, as a particularly cute fuck boy managed to work out within hours of meeting me, in reality I was running away. 

I still don't want to use your face as a chair though, sorry bro. 

For some deluded reason, I thought I would be different here, that I would miraculously leave who I was behind and emerge, phoenix like, from the ashes as a stable and sane functioning member of society. Turns out, I'm feeling more River Phoenix than anything else. 

Don't get me wrong, for the most part it's been great. The hostel I've been staying in, Planet Traveller, is amazing and I've met some really great people and happily fallen into a mish-mash of people from all over the globe I affectionately call my orphan family. I just didn't expect to be living the exact same life I was living back home, just with different accents and reasons to apologize. 

So far I'm planning on staying in Toronto for six months, after that I'll pick a new city and spend the summer there. There's no chance in hell I'm going back to England, but I'm not keen on the idea of staying in one place for too long either.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to listen to River Phoenix in true tortured Millenial style and plan my next trip.

I'm thinking Mexico.