[ occasional pirate ], [ scribbly fellow ], [ hat devotee ], [ improviser ], [ cat dad ], [ sometimes unhappy in the brain ], [ AFOL ], [ consumer of eye-candy ], [ beer drinker ], [ enraged cyclist ], [ please talk to me about Transformers ], [ very bad at DIY ], [ enthusiastic duct-taper ]
[ occasional pirate ], [ scribbly fellow ], [ hat devotee ], [ improviser ], [ cat dad ], [ sometimes unhappy in the brain ], [ AFOL ], [ consumer of eye-candy ], [ beer drinker ], [ enraged cyclist ], [ please talk to me about Transformers ], [ very bad at DIY ], [ enthusiastic duct-taper ]
Exactly where I’ll find such glorious peace and quiet is unclear. It’s slightly concerning that I’m already seeking to hide away… I guess that’s mostly a consequence of the changes at work. Unlike many colleagues there’s a good chance my role will change considerably as business centres are merged and functions redistributed. I’m not against that… but all change is stressful to some degree.
Still, the evenings bring the fun stuff out. I’ve been munching through books and comics, especially Transformers since Comixology had a half-price sale on the Transformers Regeneration line. It returns to the US comic run which stopped at issue 80 back in the ’80s. I’m slightly confused by that as the UK comic ran to 300+ issues with (obviously) tonnes more stories and I don’t know what’s true in this universe. They’re fun though and it’s quite nice to return to the old style of drawing the Transformers (although I feel the more modern IDW comics generally represent them better).
Poor Shame-Hatted Beastie
Yup, that’s the Booberry with a cone of shame on. It’s been far too hot for the plush little princess and she gets overheated and grumpy and kicks massive chunks out of her fur. Currently she has a nasty looking porthole on her back and not much fur left between her eyes and ears. There is no choice but cone. And even more combing and brushing.
She deals with the cone terribly as well so we can’t even leave it on her all the time. She bumps into everything, including the floor and can’t get out of the house. Surprisingly she can get upstairs, though I dread to think how long it takes.
Pinkage As Tu
‘Nother month, ‘nother show. This time with us all in pink for a spot of solidarity with the little brothers who wish to wear pink but get bullied because of it. Stop teaching your children to be discriminatory little bastards – they can be better than their parents, if you let them.
Twas a really fun show, but also rather sad because it’s David’s last one before he goes off to another city to pursue science by injecting hearts with fat. Or something. It’s a science thing. I think we’re gonna reprise our Bitchcock Kerfuffle at the next Gorilla Burger before he vanishes in a cloud of stem cells.
I have deeply loved books since I was very small, even if it was just the amazing A3 sized(ish) art book my Dad has with paintings by Bosch and the agonising cleverness of Escher. Once I’d gotten over the minor hurdle of actually reading I discovered something I was quite good at, and wanted more of. I remember devouring Enid Blyton, and the particular shame of wasting my hard-earned book tokens on a crappy Faraway Tree book that was more than half pictures. I still feel a fool. But I had to have it – I’d read all the others and desperately wanted to consume more of Silky and Moon Face. Gosh that sounds odd, writing as an adult. At six it felt perfectly reasonable but I’m surprised the disappointment has stayed with me.
Then there were Doctor Who books, although I had to stop after reading an especially terrifying tale involving giant spiders. I can’t remember the title but I’m sure it was one of the Terrance Dicks ones. I loved the Hardy Boys (I still have The Twisted Claw) and eventually had about 70% of them; they were not that easy to get. One of my favourites is The Hardy Boys Survival Guide which teaches you how to make innumerable life-saving devices in the desert out of car wheels. Genius. I cheerfully dived through The Hobbit and Lord of The Rings when I was about 9 and started to get a feel for the fantasyish stuff. There was plenty of sci-fi at home though – Asimov and Clarke were everywhere and I got my first hit of Wyndham.
I’m not sure what I was reading after that, but I do recall the manias for acquiring every book by an author kicking in soon afterwards. It probably coincided with discovering that second hand bookshops offer very reasonably priced books and it feels like discount bookshops appeared when I was about twelve. So I bounded into Eddings and Moorcock, started the acquisition of everything Pratchett (thanks Colin), Steven Donaldson (stick to the first trilogy), got into Gordon R. Dickson, read the Anne Mcaffrey books until they introduced dolphins (why?), discovered that all the Hitchhiker’s books after the first one really aren’t that good (and that the Dirk Gently books are loads better). There are so many authors! I even found quite a lot of fun in the Games Workshop Black Library, Michael Crichton and even John Grisham.
Where Will We Keep Them?
By the time I went to university the volume of my own books was starting to rival Dad’s collection and had spilled out beyond my room. A Levels had taken it’s toll on my ability to read for fun and “studying” philosophy only gave my desire to read a further kicking. I did read for fun, but not as much. That took a few years to recover.
Earning money and living with my other half who is as avid a bookworm as I, possibly more so, has proven to be our library downfall. We used to do the charity shop run around Beeston every couple of weeks, hoovering up any book that could possibly span our interests, from historical fiction, to crime and detective fiction into interesting fantasy (I cannot stand the by the numbers fantasy of George RR Martin) and sci-fi. That covers a lot of ground, but leaves the Jilly Coopers on the shelves. Then, some bastard opened a huge bookshop in Nottingham where all books were a quid and then we were fucked.
Right now we’ve got a wall of books in the front room. The spare “bedroom” (ho ho) has a chimney breast spanning bookshelf with three waist-high piles of books in front of it, a wardrobe packed solidly six books deep, a stack of boxes of books bubbling up from under half of the desk up the wall (never mind the boxes on top of the other wardrobe. Our real bedroom has invisible powers – all of the space under the bed is stuffed with more boxes of books, as are the drawers and a single bookshelf pretends it’s got the only books in the room. It’s getting quite bad. We even managed to get rid of a few a while ago…
Read. Must. Read
We read quickly at least. I’m still just about managing a couple of books a week, unless one of them is a gargantuan Peter F Hamilton or Steven Erikson paper brick, plus a few comic collections; Marilyn’s doing at least that. I reckon I’ve got sixty books waiting to be read (plus Kindle and Comixology – shush). When will I find time to read them all? Will someone pay me to read them? Please…
I don’t think we can stop. That lovely picture of books is what my other half has acquired in the last fortnight. Curse The Works and their refurbishment sale. Sure, most of them cost much less than a quid each, but the only place they’ll fit is the kitchen table. I’m no better… I buy a couple of books for my Kindle every week and maybe order the odd one from Amazon. If we’re fool enough to go to a real bookshop it gets worse. And I buy comics, though now only (usually) from Comixology to read on my tablet. At least they don’t take up space.
BUT THEY’RE SO BEAUTIFUL
I should add that books are still very welcome gifts!
This weekend the wait is finally over. I have been in metaphysical agony since Pacific Rim awaiting more giant robot smashing entertainment. Sure, the new X-Men film had a few nice bits of metal boxing, but it wasn’t the main focus. I almost choked on my popcorn and lungs when the trailer for Age of Extinction first appeared at the cinema. I haven’t actually seen it yet, in part due to the initial asphyxia and subsequently because I put my fingers in my ears, close my eyes and chant the Transformers theme tune until it ends. Tell you what though, it’s got tonnes of bass – this film’s going to be awesome!
Me Grimlock My Little Pony
My excitement has only grown from catching glimpses of news and pictures of the new film. Dinobots? Yes. Oh yes. The giant standee in our local Cineworld of Grimlock bellowing in rage at Optimus Prime’s decision to ride him into battle made my knees go weak. The Dinobots have always been huge fan favourites, even when portrayed as educationally subnormal in the original cartoon series. Mostly, comics have avoided making the same mistake. I don’t know which of his chums are also in the film, though I hear they’ve renamed Slag to Slug. That makes no sense, especially for a film series that’s already had gross racial stereotypes with appalling names: Skids and Mudflaps (to their credit, Skids is a proper G1 character, but he wasn’t the arse end of an ice cream van). The latest IDW comic Dark Cybertron explains the name change as Arcee (the lady-bot) having pointed out its offensive connotations.
Feminism, humanity or even the basic characterisation of any human character is unlikely to arise in this latest Baysploitation epic. At nearly two and a half hours long this stands a good chance of establishing entirely cardboard stereotypes who will be crushed by huge transforming robot shooting and punching action. I don’t even want people in a Transformers story (even improbably spined pouting people) – make the ‘bots good enough and with enough personality and no one will care about the fleshlings anyway. Bay makes massive, explodery, terrible films… but Grimlock… Transformers… these I love more than any narrative failings.
It’s been a nice weekend for buying stuff. I like buying things; I have fully invested my emotions in retail therapy. Obviously Lego just makes you feel better anyway, but other odd items can work too.
Fred Hallam Ltd, the excellent local greengrocer and fishmongers in Beeston is where we get our Christmas trees because they’re good and reasonably priced. They also fall within cycling-with-a-tree-on-my-bike distance, which is really handy as well as a satisfying challenge. They’ve had roses in for the last couple of weeks and we’ve oohed and aahed going past but not quite gotten round to acquisiting any.
We used to have lovely roses in our garden, but then our arsehole neighbours erected a fence and cut us off from the gorgeous roses we’d spent years tending. But enough about those total wankers…
Marilyn lugged two lovely bushes home on Friday yet still desired more. So I went off on Saturday to acquire specifically ‘Moment In Time’ and ‘Together Forever’. I know, “awww”. I like these names; I can say them. Well I found them, and two more climbing roses. We’re going to strangle the fence with them. They’re really pretty and I’m very happy.
While ambling through town and suffering the terrible disappointment of Greggs having none of their delicious pulled pork barbecue lattices, I sought the solace of discovery. That’s Entertainmentis organised in ways I don’t understand – a combination of alphabetic, popularity and genre all at the same time. I found some stuff I really wanted though. Then I turned round and spotted Marilyn flipping through the ‘lost case’ boxes.
Ahhh! It’s been ages since we had a good delve. You do need to be willing to put the time in and tug each disc up so you can check what it is. It takes effort, diligence and hope. We did well.
Moosic: 4Hero – Play With The Changes, 4Hero – Two Pages, Abba – The Love Songs, Beautiful South – Blue Is The Colour, Embrace – This New Day, Finley Quaye – Maverick A Strike, Goldfrapp – Black Cherry, Goldfrapp – Seventh Tree, Goldie – Timeless, Lamb – Between Darkness and Wonder, Lamb – What Sound, P!nk – I’m Not Dead, Royksopp – The Understanding, Tom Waits – Blood Money, Bloodstoned: EP
Vooing: 30 Rock (1st 3 discs of Season 1), ABBA Singstar (PS2), Alfie, Bring It On, Heroes Season 1, Heroes Season 2, Legend
I’m acquiring all the trip hop and drum and bass from back when I paid any attention at all to music and it’s very pleasing to update my Lamb, Goldfrapp and 4Hero collections for very very few pennies. CDs – still cheaper than mp3s, which is absurd. Plus, I love P!nk/Pink, and ABBA.
We’ll also now get a chance to give up on Heroes again. It was one of those shows where they started messing about with the scheduled time, and we just started missing it. Then didn’t miss it. Legend and Bring It On?! Amazing.
There are wonderful moments when rooting around in the minds of others (which is what reading really is), moments when the writer’s notions pierce our thickened skin and calloused skull. It’s all too easy to pretend that we’re different and special – we are, but in exactly the same way as everyone else.
As the kid in The Incredibles says (more or less) “everyone’s special; that’s just another way of saying that no one is” (slightly mangled quote by memory I’m afraid).
What does seem more special is the ways into our minds. Those neural pathways and complexes of memories and feelings create thorned and improbable lanes for ideas to loiter and flee into. Now and then I read something, or hear it (jeez, Portishead and Massive Attack have direct access to the gnarled emotional core of me), whether by a careful wordsmith or an off-hand quip and it ploughs through those fragile walls and the shambled maze is left stuttering agape in the wake of sudden solidarity.
Blundering in a Word Wood
So, the bit I stumbled across that touched my heart, possibly just because it seems to me to validate all forms of play as developmental and vital to the mind of a person, is from the (excellent) book I’m reading. From K.J. Parker‘s Devices and Desires
“Let a man therefore turn his hand to all manner of vain and foolish toys, so that thereby he shall make good his skill for when he shall require of it to serve a nobler purpose.”
This speaks to me in lots of ways. Not just in being able to wave away criticisms of just messing about with Lego or scribblings. Most importantly it shines a true light on the value of play and of playfulness. To my mind, every act of creation makes us a better person. I feel that it is when we are making, writing, building on stage, in life or on paper that we become ourselves most fully.
All we can ever be is ourselves; we can only pretend to be something else. In the end, it is only by being ourselves that we can hope to be happy. What nobler purpose? In play we are affectionate and happy, which allows those we are with to share in our happiness and affection and receive such in return. That’ll do for me.
We’ve been acquiring Lego’s Mixels as part of our weekly shopping expeditions. At £3 each they feel like good value for money, especially on a Friday and especially considering that the last Lego minifigures series saw the price bumped up to £2.49 for just a single figure. The Mixels are exceedingly satisfying to build, and adorable. From a disassembly and reuse point of view they’re also ace. Lego have introduced a set of brand new hinges which will doubtless prove handy, and there are loads of nifty and unusual bricks in each set. We’ve got all of the first wave and are fighting the shoplifters in Tesco for wave two. The Lego website has some nice suggestions for Maxs (combined Mixel teams) and Murps (building across teams), all of which can be downloaded as PDFs. So far I’ve only made the Cragsters Max so far but I enjoyed it.
Nothing Is Ever Good Enough
There were a lot of bricks left over though, so I felt obliged to tamper further… he needed ears and thumbs as a bare minimum. I’m really looking forwards to wave 3!
Not the TV show, just that general sense of time flowing past like hair in the wind. Or something. I skipped a week. It is a thing of regret, but it was for the best. The week before last week was not… good. The week that followed was troubling, but had many excellent things (most particularly the weekend). However I live painfully in the present alone and the end of that first week and beginning of last were just fucked all to pieces in my head. It was pretty clear early on that writing was just not going to happen. We shall skip the vileness and move swiftly to the significant bits (in my head).
Evenings Out & About
Since I’ve now got two weeks oddly concatenated in my head I can’t really tell which is which… We had a fine Gorilla Burger, and David and I reprised our Bitchcock Kerfuffle twoprov at the end of the evening. It remains one of my most enjoyed team ups. Sadly twas his last Gorilla Burger (for the time being at least) as he’s moving to Bristol to do amazing sciencey things. Since he was buggering off that clearly called for a number of farewell drinkings in some of the nicest pubs in town – The Ned Ludd, Fothergills (very nice food, sorry about my mood), The Roundhouse and the ever reliable The Salutation Inn. There is nothing quite like time out with beloved people.
Lego Trip I
It had been a good long while (gosh, almost months) since our last micro-pilgrimage to Meadowhall’s Lego Shop. It is a place of wonder, and Tuesday’s are excellent days to go. It’s quiet and relaxing. As usual we enjoyed the minifigure building, the pick-a-brick (more about this all during the week) and I acquired what I’ve been saving up for… Captain Metalbeard’s Seacow. Fuck yeah. Plus, The Lego Movie has just come out on DVD. It’s like Christmas in July.
All the crap and horror of the daily grind were tossed into flames on Friday when I (finally) went to stay with my brother and sister-in-law and excellent housemate way oop North in Manchester. It started with a very pleasant train journey; I like trains, they are comfortable (mostly) and have tables: this is better than most transport. Admittedly I did little except scribble and play Minigore 2, but it’s the principle…
Marilyn’s up there doing 2.8 Hours Later again, scaring the crap out of people running away from zombies, so we were all together during the day and I was left to my brother’s mercies in the evening. Friday night was just delightful – superb Japanese takeaway and beers in the garden while cats bounded around our heads and ankles.
Saturday was the main event, our cause: MCM Comiccon Manchester. I’ve never been to a proper comic convention, though it felt a lot like a bigger Alt-Fiction with a much larger market of stalls. I’m terrible for forgetting to take pictures and this was no exception. We did see hundreds of great costumes, in particular these ace Jawas and many, many, many anime characters I didn’t recognise. I also never saw the guys in the pantomime horse-style AT-AT. A shame.
Never mind – comics! art! badges! things! We spent a shocking sum between us. Even though I didn’t worry about getting autographed pictures I instead bought lots of fun and interesting comics and tiny prints from independent comic artists and writers. I think meeting and enthusing with them about their cool stuff was my highlight. We saw the Red Dwarf cast chatting in a panel, and a bit of the Game Of Thrones talk, which will make a lot more sense when we’ve watched the show.
Some of the most exciting things there were seeing the trailer for The Boxtrolls, adapted from the sublimely brilliant novel Here Be Monsters! by Alan Snow. We’ve been waiting for that to come out for years. Really though, the most consistently wonderful thing was being with my hilariously enthusiastic and excited friends. It was awesome. I’ll have to do some future posts about the comics and stuff we acquired.
After that we went for delicious drinkings in Manchester, followed by an ecstatic ‘California Screamin’ burger at Almost Famous. I cannot rate their food highly enough – I had a burger that made me think I’d died and been returned to Earth because Heaven don’t make good enough burgers. They also have insane cocktails mixed by dedicated and lovely people. Go there. Ah more drinks…
Sunday was mainly a trip into the Lego Shop in the Arndale Centre. They had very different things and I may have accidentally suffered from impulse purchase disorder. It was nice to introduce my brother and sister-in-law to the joys of make your own minifigure!
Some of my best days are those when we go to the Lego Shop. It’s a relatively small thing I know, but I’ve been finding it deeply satisfying and leaves me with a grin on my face.
We’d been planning to go back again for a while. I’ve been saving up for months for Metalbeard’s Seacow – the massive pirate ship from The Lego Movie, and how can one possibly sit still with all that money desperately trying to escape from one’s pocket? It would be terribly uncomfortable.
Short notice planning (resulting from being absurdly busy at work) made this into a Tuesday mission. That makes a single day week followed by a half weekend and a mere three day week beyond: this is living man. We’ve got our routine down…
We arrive at the Meadowhall train station, and seek out food. This time we went to the really quite excellent Handmade Burger Co. I had a Stuffed Burger with Mozzarella & Sun Blushed Tomatoes, which was succulent and lovely. They do a range of local bottled Real Ales which was a complete surprise, and very welcome. Oh, and the staff are incredibly friendly and nice. I liked it. Then we go to every other shop we’ve the slightest interest in. This time that took us past the Lego Shop an agonising four times. I was displeased.
Pick A Brick Bonanza
I can’t stop being enthused by the wall of bricks. It must be a combination of tactile and visual stimulation, the challenge of packing as much Lego in as possible and the very real visceral joy of pouring them out and re-sorting them at home. Gets me every time. On this occasion the Legoey folks outdid themselves. On top of the many wondrous colours of tiles (I can never have enough) – pink, purple, green and yellow and white (modified with stud-holes).
They have grey levers (a handful is a lot of levers), and some odd bits like the grey crates, fences, windows and doors and staircases. I had very few of these things before… now I have many! The crates especially only seem really useful if you have quite a lot of them. I got even more square white tiles as I’m building a space cube that needs to be lined with the things.
I’ve got a good sorting ritual now, using the interior of last year’s Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar:
We have a general talent for missing the best freebies at the Lego Shop, but this time we did alright. I love Lego Chima, especially the crazy helmet/heads (I’m really not sure which they are, which is rather creepy). Since we bought the *cough*Seacow they saw fit to toss a whole bunch of these little geezers into our bags! This little dude (Frax) is superb. I’m impressed with the new fire and ice theme, and even though his vehicle is quite crap in its own right it does have lots of lovely curvy pieces in it. Also – look at that mental face!
So, as a consequence of yet another ace trip to the Lego Shop, the kitchen shelves now look like this:
I wrote this a week or so ago when I realised I was beginning to crash. I don’t usually have the foresight/wit/willpower to write about how it feels. That in itself is part of the problem. I was then unsure about whether to post it, because y’know I feel pretty much fine now. That of course is the other half of the problem – addressing the damn things when you’re well enough not to feel like you need to.
Oh Look – A Precarious and Invisible Cliff
So, it’s a weird sensation- this sudden lurch down a level of feeling. I feel it as a sag in my bones, and in the thinking meat beneath them. I’m not saying my brain’s in my marrow; I just meant the skull. Everything is duller, and thoughts and action have a blurry motion trail that envelops the next thought and the next till all of them are cloaked in a thick miasmic fug.
That’s how it seems to me anyway. I feel as if each individual act or feeling stacks up until there are too many of them that feel wrong and they begin to topple. Somehow the blurring occurs after that fall commences. These are messy mixed metaphors (like a bush full of fish), but it’s proven a difficult thing to grasp and summarise.
The Early Bird Catches A Mental Illness And Lays An Egg (in your brain)
I don’t usually catch myself this early. I don’t think I become aware of the downward spiral until it’s well on its way to the hellish basement of self-worth. So this is probably a good thing. Self-awareness enough to recognise that my mind has taken a turn. Aware enough to do something about it? I don’t know. In the meantime, until such optimism emerges from the sad brain clag, I should really think about why I’m feeling like this.
It’s cyclical. I know it is, but someone’s gotta be cycling, right? It can’t just be a solitary spinning wheel with my mind stapled to it (presumably deflating the tyre of vitality), though that would account for the sensation of being pressed down. Did you know that one of the interesting things about wheels is the shape they make? I didn’t, but someone or something told me about it, or I dreamed it (and so it may not be true). Anyway, if you measure the movement of a wheel by tracing out a fixed point on its circumference it does weird things like being briefly motionless when it’s touching the ground. It doesn’t draw out a circle, it’s a weird series of rises and falls; both more like the feeling of up and down and less like a cyclical thing. I may not have a good grasp of cyclical as a term.
Well that was great. Instead of penetrating the psychic mire I distracted myself with whimsy. I suppose that’s good – at least it wasn’t whimsical musing on forms of self-harm. See: “optimism”. Back to the point: since I can’t pick out a single event that would give me a little push, then a confluence of events or incidents seems more likely (avoiding that horrid notion that it might be a cycle with zero agency on my part – that seems unacceptable to me). In which case I may not be able to find the causes but I can try to identify symptoms, be aware of them (at the least) and maybe be able to do something about them…
Where Are All The Signs? Oh, Sorry, I Was Too Busy To Look Out For Them
Yesterday’s post was about the sensation of plunging into the bleak valley. It’s difficult to spot at the time, because it’s hidden behind some trees, or is wreathed in the dark smoke of activity and the symptoms that precede and accompany it.
It seems to me that maintaining an awareness of the stuff that retrospectively was in my head should help me to anticipate, recognise and ultimately enable me to bridge that valley, or at least only blunder partway down.
These signs seem at the time to come together, but I think the order I’ve got them in here is probably exactly backwards to how I really experience them.
I’m a fairly sociable sort of person (really), in that I find other people intensely stimulating. Sometimes too much, which leads to massive hyperactivity and inability to sleep. Seeing people at the right times… So if I get the feeling that I don’t want to be part of anything; that I’m rejecting the things, activities and people who usually make me feel good, or inspire creativity, then that’s probably not my ‘real’ response. A few quiet nights are fine, but it’s a swift and slippery slope into “fuck it, you can all fuck off”.
Difficult to manage: if I do too much it can be overwhelming and I don’t feel that I’m getting the all important quiet time with my other half, cat and books. And sitting. Just sitting around (while reading, watching TV and doing a few other things at the same time – that, to me is quiet time). If I do too little then I’m not getting the stimulation I crave and that has a direct knock on effect on my ability (or feeling about my ability) to create and do.
Maybe it comes from the perceptual lag between doing a cool thing and the next cool thing. I have a terrible memory of what I’ve just done. That lovely sensation of being on stage spinning bullshit into gold is frighteningly transient. It’s like a field projected around my sense of self and blends weirdly into time. And it just gets left behind in mere hours or days. It gets replaced by an emptiness – a gap where that good feeling ought still to be.
The prospect of future awesomeness is utterly intangible to me. Until I’m within a couple of days of an event (such as last weekend’s trip to Manchester) it has no impact on me, no window for light to shine through into my anxious psychic architecture. I have a weak sense of future anyway, so I guess that’s wrapped up together.
I like a good argument, a spirited discussion with good humour. I even like talking to most people. But if I’m on the way down (or wallowing in the filth of that bleak valley), everyone talks in my head, picking fights over what I’ve done, what I’m doing, what I haven’t done. From friends to colleagues to strangers in the street: it’s a running verbal battle where I anticipate their enmity and criticism and initiate a counter attack before it’s even happened.
It’s a really stressful way to not-quite-interact with others. Everything is on a knife’s edge of likely failure and defence becomes angry and premature. It generates even more stress than actually having the argument for real would do.
So that sounds like a weakened sense of general self-esteem or a perception of fragility in what is otherwise excellent (the only things I do – joke). It’s one I have trouble preventing it from escalating in my head. I can feel the tension, tightness and clenching jaw of stress both inside and out. It makes me really angry, and hot with self-hatred as well as loathing for the imagined assault on me. A ridiculous state of mind. But once it’s got you…
It was only when I was talking to an excellent friend, some time before I engaged with counselling, that I discovered that actually most people don’t think about self harm or killing themselves now and then. I genuinely figured it was normal. Apparently not. It is not always in my mind, and when I am manically skipping over the waterfall that occludes the dark valley with its spray, it is very far from my thoughts. It might be days or even weeks before suicide lights up darkly in the back of my head.
The symptoms above trigger it; I suppose they all interact, intensifying each other. It seems like the simplest solution to any given problem -resting, of course, on the basic principle that what is causing the problem or what is wrong, is me. Now I know that isn’t true (it’s all them other fuckers), but it’s so self-evident sometimes. It’s the only sure way to wrest control of the situation back again, or to resolve it utterly. Control is the key. Self harm, more than a cry for help (which it may be) is definitively causing an effect that no one else can interfere with, or do themselves. The act is all mine. As is the pain, so beautifully clean and perfect. A complete distraction of everything else running around inside, like all those feelings have just been impaled, stapled into stillness.
If I’m thinking about self-harm or suicide more frequently than a couple of times a week (which I reckon is probably my baseline, and emerge from temporary frustration); a few casually considered thoughts about staple guns and razor blades and burns – then I’m likely on my way back down again. It’s been my intention for a while to start tracking that, though I’ve not figured out whether having to think about whether I’ve thought about a thing counts as having thought about a thing…
Upside Down And Back To Front
Yeah, I think they are backwards. Here’s how I think it goes: I am stressed / anxious / slipping down the slope. My go to response is to contemplate self-harm (I just don’t know why. Next the imaginary arguments kick in, which is the feelings esaping and making themselves articulate and known. The only possible response to that is to get the hell away from everything, because everything is where the conflict and the pain will be. Ah, sorted.
That’s how it always feels in the run up to a little bit of time away from work. It’s my birthday next week see, so I get to not be at work for a few days. This is excellent. Work is, at present, fucking insane. As ever, too much cannot be said. However, separating a public service into part private, part public is as difficult, poorly planned and badly managed at the top as you could possibly imagine. Locally I think the work we’re doing is good (and seriously bucking the national trend), but it’s a constant struggle against systems, appalling levels of competence at the top and there being no time to actually plan anything or handle what we’ve been given. Fun!
On the plus side, last week we finally planted the beautiful roses we bought. That was almost the best thing that happened last week. Our cat’s also rather pleased because there’s now a lovely turned over and available flower bed for her private use.
Anyway, that’s the main reason why I’m days behind my plans again. Also last week, and possibly down to work pressures in part, was not a great mental health week. Regrettable, but there we go. I did spend most of last Thursday’s improv jam making loom band bracelets, having discovered I was not in a fit state to participate. Not into loom bands yet? Why, you must not be a nine year old. Well, as ever it proved addictive and several other improvisers now have their own made bracelets. Yay for organised creativity!
I had the particular joy of being in the audience for the first time during MissImp in Action at The Glee Club. I’m glad I watched – I was able to drink (heavily) and laugh all the way through it. A fine night.