The BlogFather – The First But Certainly Not The Last

I’ve been wanting to do this for a while but just never got around to it.  Again, like I’ve said in previous posts, I have to start with a name and work from there and I could never think of a good name for this division of blogging.  Trying to think of witty titles comprising the paternal nature but without requiring much thought to figure out what the subject matter would be was pretty hard.

I started with a mental list and ‘The BlogFather’ was the first one.  I liked it.  I also figured it’d be something others must’ve coined.  I was right.  The next idea was ‘The Paternity Gauntlet’ – a play on Thanos’ coveted artefact, the ‘Infinity Gauntlet’.  Immediately after the idea, I was hit by the horror that it sounded more like a blog pertaining to the paternal pitfalls that no Jeremy Kyle show could do without – perhaps a blog about the antics of a misogynistic man-slut.  No, that won’t do.  After that, I had only one other name that seemed too obvious and just didn’t sit right.  ‘Family Guy’.  I couldn’t do the name any justice with my lack of comedic talent.  So, ‘The BlogFather’ it is.

This is not a guide to being a parent.  If anything, this is he exact opposite.  But it is the truth.  Growing up, the truths of parenthood were never made abundantly clear.  Perhaps it was ignorance due to the fact that it would be at some time in my future but ‘not yet’.  Perhaps it’s some sort of conspiracy to churn out additional workers-in-training to ensure the line continues – maybe ‘Children of Men‘ was a documentary from the future to prevent humanity ever hitting that point?

At the age of 24, I became a dad for the very first time.  I was excited yet fearful.  My then-fiancee and I had been together for about five years.  We had talked about and even tried to have kids and it seemed like it just wasn’t on the cards for us.  When we stopped trying (by that I don’t mean we stopped having sex, obviously) we slowly realised that our lives would forever change.  Neither of us knew what to expect and it brought about an evolution in our relationship.  No longer would we be able to just get up and go wherever we want whenever we want.  Although that last sentiment was never a consideration until afterwards.

No one can ever prepare you for what follows.  I’ve seen on movies and in TV shows, prospective parents having those dolls to simulate the experience and they don’t come close.  I’ve seen how labour is depicted in them also…Again, the reality is not captured.  To be fair, they can’t.  Who would want to watch the actors hang around and wait for the various medical professionals to come and go, wait for the epidural to be sited and play the waiting game counting seconds between contractions?  It’d be a fucking boring movie or show.  And it’s just as boring in real life.

I remember being called whilst in work to say she was going into labour and I raced from work to the hospital.  It’s normally just under a ten minute drive.  Like Winston Wolfe (Pulp Fiction) I arrived much sooner.  Without speeding, I might add.  It was surreal, the three sets of traffic lights en route were all green allowing me clear passage – something I have never experienced again since.

I was expecting a frantic situation where I rush to the labour ward to find her pushing/to have already had the baby.  Over eight hours later, our daughter was born.  I remember going out side every so often to have a smoke and call/text my family.  Being November, the air outside was bitterly cold and snow had started to fall.  Midwives clocked out for the new shift to begin and after an agonising wait (metaphorically for me, literally for her) things started to happen.

For the most part, I felt like a third wheel.  Think of that unnamed dance we do on the street when we almost bump into someone and we try to go to the right and they go the same way and there’s that awkward bit of banter before you can carry on your journey.  It was like that.  I was standing by her side, hold her hand [read: my hand being gripped by a vice] and the midwives would come and move stuff and I’d be shifting to allow them to pass/park the equipment.  I felt like I was more of an inconvenience rather than taking my rightful place by her side as she pushes out my offspring.

A lot of the details are a bit of a haze now but I remember her gripping my hand so tight I thought she was going to snap my arm like in the arm wrestling scene in ‘The Fly‘.  Weighing in at 7lbs 2.5oz, Seren flopped into the world.  I remember seeing her purple limp body being dumped onto my then-fiancee’s stomach after they cut the cord.  There was no noise and the way she was plonked down immediately had me panicking.  Is she alive?  Why isn’t she crying?

To make matters worse, one of the midwives left the room promptly and a couple of doctors came in.  They quickly picked her up and put her on some sort of heating table.  Eventually, after what seemed a stupid amount of time, her shrill cry echoed out.  Thank fuck for that.  There had been some complications during the labour process – they couldn’t attach the clip to her head whilst she was stubbornly occupying the womb that had housed her for around 75% of the year, she had stopped kicking/moving prior to my then-fiancee being induced.  She was 8 days over her due date.

By the time they had cleaned my daughter up and my wife had a shower and freshened up it was almost midnight.  I was allowed to escort them to the maternity ward which would be their accommodation for the night and I had a few chances to hold the little life that had just entered this realm.  After being told I had to go, I walked out to the car and had another smoke.  The snow hadn’t amounted to much, but the thin covering hid any sign of other people coming and going.

After walking across the car park to our Peugeot 107 which was all on its own, I came to realise the windshield had frozen over and I had no de-icer or a scraper.  I jacked the heaters up full blast and resorted to scraping the ice away with a CD case – ‘Westlife’.  Not mine.  Definitely not mine.

I remember driving home and feeling this deep sadness take over.  It was my first night alone in my house (except for the cat, Stewie).  I waited all that time for a baby that would forever change the course of my life and I got to hold her for less than an hour.  It was such a bizarre experience.  Nothing could have prepared me for that day.  Nothing could have prepared me for what would come next.

In Blackest Night: Disclosure & Addenda

I’m feeling rather lost lately.  I had my last appointment with my MIND counsellor last week and the loss of that crutch seems pretty pertinent lately.  After some minor highs and some right kicks to the balls (the reasons to which I cannot go into because of other factors that preclude me from free speech), metaphorically, I’m left feeling pretty bewildered and I’m still trying to come to terms with my disability (or disabilities, as the case may be).  I feel disgusted, dismayed, disappointed, betrayed, fucked over and fucked off.

It occurred to me that, when I refer to my “Depression” or my “Anxiety” it is said in a similar fashion to me talking about my wife and kids.  It’s like the tone and ownership have given them this status of being more than just in my head.  It’s almost like I’m talking to someone who looks at me as if to say, “Aren’t you going to introduce us?” And then I oblige, “Oh, by the way, this cheeky little rascal is Depression”.

I’ve had a number of conversations which have steered towards me and how I’m doing and it feels like I have to make a little disclaimer about my condition(s) just to clarify/excuse certain things I may do or say.  Kinda like when an embarrassed parent will say, “Don’t mind him, he’s special.”

In hindsight, it’s a horrible way of belittling or trying to excuse something that one shouldn’t have to explain or justify.  But that’s the self-awareness kicking in.  We know what it’s like to feel uncomfortable by situations and try to consider others in our every day-to-day activities.  It would be easier and less anxiety-heightening to just hand them a dossier with everything to save addressing or even mentioning that elephant in the room.  I find it feels like (how I’d imagine based on seeing it in movies and TV shows) getting up to speak in an AA meeting – Hi my name is Craig and I suffer from social anxiety, general anxiety, depression and agoraphobia (to a degree).

I was asked recently what I’m like on a ‘good day’.  The very notion of a ‘good day’ makes me laugh (in more of a ‘you haven’t got a fucking clue’ kinda way).  A ‘good day’ would be none of the aforementioned issues.  No such luck.  So, as I’ve said before, a ‘better day’ is where the anxiety and all the internal workings and physical manifestations of it are less than usual and I don’t keep fantasising about how I want to die or generally just cease to exist.  A ‘better day, could very well involve me looking at something and working out the pain/success ratio but I daren’t mention that because, to the uninitiated, it seems to extreme and cannot possibly be a ‘better day’.

The irony of the situation is that I know I shouldn’t bottle things up and should be open and express myself in a constructive way so as not to tumble down the deep dark hole again but to get by on a daily basis I have to choose what I say carefully so as to avoid awkward conversations or concerns and so I end up bottling things up again.  It’s a very contradictory cycle to try and fly low on the radar to keep the virtual men in white coats away.  Every day becomes an increasingly difficult test of will and mental ability, applying tension to simple conversations and experiences where the only reward is getting through another day even though the noose will become tighter tomorrow.

I’ve seen a number of things on TV and online covering mental health and the importance to talk and offer/accept support and, while I appreciate the efforts of those fighting for the cause, it seems society is still not ready to openly accept the hard work that that entails.  And because folks like me know this, we hold back which makes the demand for such a thing seem a little less than the stark reality would show.  It’s easier to say I’m okay than it is to say I’m not doing so well.  Why?  Because the response to “I’m okay” is something along the lines of “Okay, good.”  If I gave you the honest answer, your mind would be like “Oh fuck, I’ve opened a can of worms here, how do I close it again?”

It’s such a shame because now, more than ever, we need to be talking about these things and I do find it helps but because I don’t have a strong support network around me, I minimise my thoughts and concerns and that drives the negative feelings to spiral out of control.  If only you could just read the notes that accompany me to save me from having to explain it all again.  If only.

Despite one in four people in the UK likely to be affected by mental health issues, the level of ignorance and lack of support is astounding.  It’s like a cosmic joke that we are made to feel isolated considering our conditions cause us to feel that way anyway.  If only our thoughts gave over and let us enjoy the silence.

Word Up!

In yet another seemingly pointless blog post, here I am testing out Word 2016’s connection to WordPress. After a lot of faffing about, I managed to get it to finally connect to my blog. I don’t suppose running a multisite WordPress installation helps but I managed it. As with anything techy, I’m like a dog with a bone scouring forums and doing lots of tweaks and so on myself. You’d call it trial and error but it’s more error and trial.

Because Google Chrome is fairly resource hungry (despite me tweaking the settings under the hood) and because I refuse to use Microsoft Edge or any other browser for that matter, it made sense to me to try and configure it all through Word as I typically have that open at all times for putting down story ideas and all manner of brain farts. I like having the features of Word at my disposal although I was gutted to find that ‘Researcher’ isn’t available on the blog post template (please incorporate this, Microsoft!) which is a bit of a pain but I’ll manage.

Without really thinking about it, I have managed to do a post daily for the past few days so hopefully that will continue. I’m hoping (one day soon) to find my actual voice and just write. I must admit, having written on a (short-term) regular basis it seems to allow the words to flow much easier and if I can fine tune that into something with a purpose then I’m sure I’ll feel happier with the productivity and the platforms that may allow me to access.

In other news, I’m starting to feel a bit fitter. My knees haven’t been aching as bad since I’ve been walking more now that I am back in work. I’m on a phased return so I’ve gradually increased my hours and go back to full-time next week. Once the pain in my back eases off I’m hoping to get back up Pen Y Fan and hope to do another charity event to raise money for the Margaret Kerr Unit. I’ve been mulling the idea over as to doing a gaming marathon for Stand Up To Cancer but I’m not sure I will have the stamina (getting old now, see?) and I’d need to do something more than just stream gameplay. I’m not fond of the idea of being on cam as I’m gaming so I may resort to the [almost as] uncomfortable shit-talking via my mic. We’ll see.

So other than filling you in with the mundane, I also wanted to get the song stuck in your head. Enjoy!

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In Blackest Night – Indicators Of A Slump

My ‘In Blackest Night’ posts are my way of cataloguing all things depression related.  My experiences, musings…just a way of getting those thoughts out there.  My Mind appointment last week concluded with me having some ‘homework’.  We talked about it a little but I needed to do it objectively.

The task was to document any indicators of mood change.  Not just your typical bad mood days but when the darkness appears to be seeping back in and trying to take control.  I was able to identify a number myself from conversations I’ve had with people before or upon reflection with the new found wisdom that I seem to gain every time I relapse.  Different people may have different indicators, whether they be invisible or plain as day.

This list is in no way a reflection of what every person who suffers with depression will display or attest to.  It is merely me sharing what I know or what others observe.  I’ve said it time and again; I considered a lot of my dark thoughts as normal–everybody has to think like me, right?  This is a common thought process for folks suffering with depression and other mental health issues.  Because we know what we are thinking and those thoughts seem natural, we assume that others do the same.  It’s almost like an extension of Descartes‘ cogito ergo sum.

Perhaps my list won’t be dissimilar to yours.  Perhaps it will prompt you to consider your own and break the thought cycle that you endlessly run.  The cycle is almost like a chase scene in ‘Scooby Doo’ with the recycled scenery, predictability and the inability to change the ultimate outcome.  Perhaps it will help you to relate to someone close to you who suffers and won’t/can’t let you in.  Whatever your takeaway is, if it helps then awesome.

So here goes.  There may be things I haven’t added to the list because I haven’t identified them yet so I may end up editing this post with any subsequent observations/considerations.

  • I become increasingly irritable and find myself needing to shy away from people
  • Tying in with the first point, I become very quiet and avoid social situations where I can
  • Typical, every day noises irritate me to the point where I feel like I want to scream
  • I put my earphones in/headphones on and try to block out all the noise around me
  • If I’m wearing a hoodie, I will put my hood over my head (and often have my earphones in too)
  • I swear a lot more than usual and there is an element of vehemence behind it
  • I feel my neck tense up and the pulse going up the right side of my neck and face pounds away like a jackhammer (I liken this to Stressed Eric)
  • I often become incredibly drowsy and lie down and go to sleep
  • I (unintentionally) take a lot longer to do things like get out of bed in the morning, get washed and get out of the bath/shower, get dressed and often turn up late despite being an early/punctual person on my ‘good’ days
  • I tend to write a lot more (blog posts etc.)
  • My concentration span becomes non-existent and I need to get people to repeat themselves as the words they’re saying fail to register
  • I struggle to speak clearly–I stumble over words as if they are physical hurdles and I become increasingly angry at myself for it which then makes me do it even more
  • I fail to think rationally and simple problems seem insurmountable

There are probably a lot more that could be added and it may be the case that myself and others have become fairly complacent and unable to differentiate the different behaviours I may display.  But, to be fair, that’s a pretty hefty list.  A few months ago, I would probably only be able to write one or two.  That’s the funny thing about behaviours; we get so wrapped up in our own shit that we don’t stop and think how certain mannerisms, body language, physical manifestations etc. come across.  For the majority of the time we don’t even realise we do these things until our attention is drawn to it.  It’s a bizarre paradox considering I have a hyper-awareness and focus on how I am perceived by others and try to inhibit myself to avoid ridicule and such like.

A word of caution, though–these behaviours and other indicators I have outlined are what convey/feel myself.  Just because others may have similar traits doesn’t necessarily mean they are like me.  They may suffer less or worse than myself and the situation itself can be a minefield.  Until about a year ago, I refused to believe I was depressed.  It angered me that people banded the term about when talking to/about me.  It could easily have turned a lot uglier than it did and it’s a thin sheet of ice to walk.  If you think someone close to you may be suffering from depression or any other mental health issue, don’t go in all guns blazing.  It’s a tricky situation because pussy-footing around it can be just as damaging.  Maybe there’s a knack to it or maybe it’s just pure luck/a mater of time but they have to come to terms with it themselves and in their own time.  The stark reality for myself is that it took me around 14 years to come to terms with it.

Random Musing – In The Beginning – Ooga Booga Nights

I can’t remember (ha, no shit) if I’ve mentioned this in a blog post before but I know I’ve spoken about it.  I’m not a religious person – I used to believe but then I saw how prayers go unanswered and things don’t change.  Well, not for the best anyway.  There are those that believe in Adam & Eve and I am not one of them.  How we came to be remains an enigma, similar to the chicken and the egg but it never ceases to amaze me that we could have been blinked out of existence almost as fast as we came to be.

Like many people, I have wanted to time travel.  Not to change the past and ultimately change the future but to find shit out.  I would love to be able to go back and observe the first man and woman and see how long it took them to figure out that the penis goes in the vagina.  I mean, it’s not like a baby with a round peg and a round hole–the problem solving is a lot more advanced.  If he had decided to shove it up the wrong ‘un and never bothered with the other hole, their existence would have been full of pleasure (provided she enjoyed it) albeit short lived.

How many places had he stuck it before and also, how did he come to the realisation he should stick it anywhere?  Imagine the confusion on the neanderthal when he was greeted to his  first case of ‘morning glory’ and the recurrent boners throughout the day.

While there are people out there trying, and in a lot of cases succeeding, to advance technology and medicine I’m over here wondering what prompted folk to bone and to do it right.  I’ll be honest, cocks and vaginas are not the nicest things to look at and I find it amusing whenever I watch ‘Alien‘ or even think about the facehugger clinging to the next host because it’s basically face-sitting–the underside of those beasts look awfully like vaginas.

Anyhoo, another notion that dawned on me was just how many times was the ‘experiment’ started over?  If we are some experiment observed from afar by this grand being or advanced beings from another planet, what version number did they get to when the first subjects were to successfully breed?  In an advanced game of ‘The Sims‘, did they watch neanderthal after neanderthal fail to get it right and restart the game until both were ready for some whoopy and match the organs accordingly?

I look around and, while I often take things for granted, I look in awe at some of the things mankind has achieved.  I also hang my head in shame for some of the diabolical things we have done over the centuries.  No feat will ever take away the amazement of the first pair of humans getting laid.  Poor bastards, though–they would have had no one to babysit while they went out for a nice meal at the local fruit bush.

What to Write?

Do you ever get that feeling where you want to do or say something but the actual doing eludes you?  I’ve been wanting to write something.  Anything.   But I just don’t know what.  I’ve heard and read authors saying ‘just write’.  Get the words down and eventually the flow will start.  Kinda like when it hurts to pee but once you get flowing there’s no stopping it.  Well, until you’re empty.  I have a few projects in mind–a science fiction novel/novella, a fan fiction piece and a kid’s book I (kinda) started with my eldest daughter.  There re other ideas but I don’t know if they will go it alone or be a part of something else or one of my current projects.  I just don’t know how to write.

I’ve skimmed through a number of books to figure out how to actually start the story.  You’d think that’d be the easy bit and the ending would be the tricky part–unfortunately for me, it would be a struggle for both but if I could at least nail the beginning I can worry about the rest later.  I’m not qualified in any form of writing and have never taken any courses for it (perhaps I should).  Shit, I didn’t even pass English in school.  I passed the basic but then I went on to take Higher English (the Scottish equivalent of A levels).  I didn’t like my English teacher and that was the basis for my failure.

See, I have to like what I’m doing or at least have some interest.  I loved reading but never understood the point of analysing written works and commenting on the juxtaposition, alliteration, onomatopoeia and all that lark.  I walked out of my close reading exam because the piece I had to do it on was shit.  Rather than sit there for around 2 hours, I just scribbled ‘THIS IS FUCKING SHIT’ and scored it out and then walked out.  I spent my afternoon on my PlayStation 2.  The creative writing part was where my shit was at.  I can’t recall the exact details but it was a story about a band member who had been involved in a car crash and lost the use of his legs.  It had a nice little twist that I really wish I could remember because it was probably the best thing I had ever written.  It ended on a cliffhanger with the build up to what I would lead you to believe was him either killing himself or not.  Funny how it all links back to me and my mental health, huh?

My creative writing wasn’t enough to salvage a pass mark and that day marked the end of anything decent I’d ever write.

Back then, starting stories was easy.  I suppose having to just write when you have little time to prepare and are against the clock will do that.  If only I could tap back into that resource that I once had in abundance.  All part of the unlearning process…if I even can.

Even starting a blog post is daunting.  How the fuck do you start?  A witty opening or a dry (no lube, head-down-bite-the-pillow style) opening?  I know there will be a plethora of courses and whatnot that I could utilise to get my writing down to a fine art but then it loses the whole ‘me’ thing.  I tend to be fairly gung-ho and, in the same vain as an over-the-top action flick, spray and pray that I hit my mark.

Sometimes it seems that the real me doesn’t come across in my writing because sarcasm and puns often come across as acts of stupidity as opposed to intelligent and stylish writing (unless there’s a knack to it that I am too ignorant to practice/learn).  Then again, how can my writing convey the real me when I don’t even know it myself?

Aaaaaaand would you look at that!  I started off with no idea as to what to write about and here I am at the end of a blog post having typed out a load of tripe that serves no purpose but to show that I could write something.  A clear case of “be careful what you wish for”.

In Blackest Night – After The Darkness

Hey folks.  So I haven’t written in a little while and it’s not from lack of trying.  In my teen years I discovered that I could only write when I was in the depths of despair.  The darkness fuelled my writing similar to the monsters behind Sutter Cane’s addictive series of books in John Carpenter‘s ‘In the Mouth of Madness‘.  I fucking love that film.

As I’ve grown older (and uglier), I’ve come to realise that my mind jams up regardless of my mental state but when it’s in a ‘better’ condition I have less to write about.  Or it feels like it at least.  I’ve recently spent time reading up on stuff and studying and [trying to] put into practice in regards to mindfulness.  One notion I came across and it really got me thinking is that creativity isn’t something that can be learned.  Children pick up pens pencils and whatever the hell else they can get their grubby little hands on and they draw.  They write.  They create.  As we grow older the majority of us succumb to the constraints of life.  We adapt and conform to the rules life imposes us with and we lose that freedom.  Creativity has to be unlearned.  It’s easier said than done.  Like most things are!

So, here I am.  My head is in a much better place and thoughts of suicide, hopelessness and all manner of negative and draining thoughts pushed away.  I could say they are gone but I know they’re not.  If I lie to myself I’ll go back full-circle.  During my first proper bout of depression, I failed to fully understand it and when I came out the other side I thought I was cured.  The naivete can be forgiven.  After all, how was I to know?

I still don’t understand it fully and I’m under no illusion that I ever will.  And I’ve stopped trying.  I know, as I always have, that there will be good times and bad.  There will be days I will struggle to get out Of bed or spend a stupid amount of time getting dressed or doing other basic tasks.  There will be days where I will feel on top of the world and that I have so much energy I’m spoilt for choice as to how I can expend it.  There will be days that I hope I don’t wake up the following morning or regret that my eyes opened.  And then there will be days that I’m glad I’m awake and look forward to tomorrow.  In all honesty, I don’t think it gets any easier.  It just gets different.

I’ve had a number of ideas for projects to undertake  over the past week or so.  I have no idea how to start them or what to do with them.  At times it’s very difficult to form an idea and other times it’s easy to form them but I’m still none the wiser as to how I’m supposed to execute them.  Sometimes I blame time (or the lack of) but a lot of the time I’m busy doing nothing.  Not many people seem to understand how hard it is knowing you want to do something but have no drive to do it.  Motivation is not something that you can learn or accumulate through osmosis.  In my opinion, you either have it or you don’t.  If you don’t then it’s a hard slog to rewire your brain and reroute the network in your brain.

It doesn’t help when I read back what I’ve typed and feel like I’ve missed the point I wanted to make or to see my ideas mash up in to an indecipherable mess.  I can feel things slipping away.  My grasp on words is as fleeting as the ideas in my mind.  Verbally, my ability to form coherent and articulated sentences has, at times, become as limited as my concentration span. It’s not so bad when writing as I set the timescales and can come back to it later but in a conversation, it can (and has) lead to some awkward moments.  I’ve recently come to struggle with names too.  This past week or two I have gone from being the personification of IMDB to a stumbling mess unable to recall actors’ or characters’ names.  I’d normally worry about it but it is what it is.  If it’s temporary then cool.  If it’s a sign of my faltering/failing mind then there’s not much I can do about it.

Boy, this post seems to have taken a turn for the worse, eh?  Case in point.  Once my mind starts running it runs away like Forrest Gump.  But I think this Gump is all outta steam and shall draw this post to a close.


In Blackest Night – It’s Okay…

As part of my journey with depression, I have been trying to learn how to just chill.  It’s hard work trying to let go and stop focusing on things that are outside my control but it feels incredibly liberating.  It’s easier said than done but it’s a worthwhile venture if you struggle with anxiety and depression.  Don’t worry, I’m not talking about becoming a hippy or getting all zen-like.  It’s just a case of filtering the shit out.  Like I said in my last post, by reducing how much time I’m on Facebook and other such apps/sites I’m cutting out all of the negative responses that can be drawn out of me and it has certainly helped me gain a perspective I desperately needed.

Along this journey I also came to realise a number of things that was either doing or had wrong.  My approach to life has been at odds with other sentiments.  For example, I looked at life through world weary eyes.  Having perhaps grown up too soon, I always carried a sense of scepticism and cynicism and felt victimised by the various events that I had endured.  Growing up, I felt that approach was a realistic and mature method and through continual thought processes it almost became my mantra.  While I still maintain there is method to that madness and a wisdom that only life experience could teach me, I know there is a better way.

As a kid I always wanted to fit in.  Although my school days were not rife with cliques of the like you see in American TV shows and movies, there were a number of ‘survival’ techniques I used to get by.  From burying my love of comic books and other geeky traits to forcing myself to go out and partake in underage drinking and what-not, it was a tough grind.  I wanted to be liked.  I always had the belief that everyone could and should get along.  I’m turning 33 in about 1 month and a half and only now it hit me.

It’s okay not to be liked by everyone.  By having the ability to form opinions and develop tastes such as foods, music, movies and whatever else we are conditioned to be different.  We are designed to be different.  Society today seems intent on working on something that can never happen.  We can’t all get along and it’s fine.  Political correctness has a lot to answer for–forcing people to doubt their feelings for fear of hurting others.  While tact and consideration should still play a big part, we shouldn’t feel bad because we don’t like someone.  It’s only when that dislike turns ugly and is used as a mechanism for bullying and so on.  I don’t like lamb.  It’s as simple as that.  I don’t get all up in a lamb’s face and tell it that or plaster it all over the internet.  So why should people go out of their way to hurt others because they don’t like them?  Just move on.

It confuses me but I’ve stopped concerning myself over it because I can’t alter or control it so why should I worry about it?  Not liking a person is okay but you have to be mindful of the reasons and how you act in regards to it.  I no longer slate things like movies, games and so on because, even though I don’t like them, someone (or a number of people) made them.  They did more than I did.  Why should I get to hammer home my thoughts on someone’s livelihood just because I’m not their intended audience?  The same could (and does) go the other way with my work–my job is to offer technical support to customers and, while they may not like some of the information and answers I have, it doesn’t change the fact that those answers and information are correct.  I wouldn’t and don’t appreciate being told that I’m “shit”, “haven’t got a clue” and whatever other absurd comments come my way just because people don’t like the truth.  It’s a horrible experience having your best efforts in your job dragged through the mud because a small number of people don’t like or appreciate them.

The old adage “if you can’t say something nice then don’t say anything at all” has started to be a mainstay.  While I still have opinions and may not like something or someone, I keep those opinions to myself unless asked or find myself in a situation where I have to make them known.  What value to anyone’s life does it add for me to keep on about what I dislike?  In this, I have become rather selfish in so far as I don’t really care what impact it has on others but it certainly doesn’t make my life any better so what’s the point in doing it?

This post isn’t your typical “be nicer to each other” spiel–quite the opposite.  It’s just a simple case of not dwelling or focusing on things that hold little to no value for you.  It hasn’t completely cut out the stress and anxiety in my life but it has changed how I perceive things and it may hold long term gains.  I certainly notice a difference in myself and that can only be a good thing.  If I keep chipping away at specific aspects of my thinking it may free up some processing power to be more productive and perhaps creative.  Who knows?

When depression gets so bad, even the smallest ‘win’ can regain control over the blackened and poisoned mind even if it’s just for a minute.  The more little ‘wins’ we have the greater the chances of reclaiming more and more territory in a psychological game of ‘Risk’.

In Blackest Night – Turning Point

As I’ve mentioned in recent posts, I have been feeling much better.  I have had a certain…clarity that I had been lacking for quite some time.  As always, any new experience or feeling gets questioned by my probing mind.  I have come to realise that by avoiding things that don’t particularly add value to my life, I am able to think and function much better.  Whereas I once would flick through my newsfeed on Facebook and become irritated/annoyed/bored/repulsed multiple times a day I barely go on it any more.

I’d suspected for a while that Facebook was a catalyst in my negativity and to express that previously felt sad and pathetic.  But, just like chemical and substance abuse, it acts as a form of addiction.  When bored, I’d open the app and just trawl through the banal, bland and irritating drivel.  ‘Newsfeed’.  Interesting choice of words considering the ‘news’ consists of narcissistic selfies with stupid filters and shit, share after share of hearsay, memes and “Hey look at me trying to make my life look more interesting than it actually is”.  One of the more irritating facts is that I am guilty of most if not all of the gripes I have with social media.  One of the largest troubles nowadays is that it is very hard not to use social media.

Lately, I have shared things which I genuinely find interesting, funny, educational or that add some sort of value to the otherwise dismal, boring day.  As a result of me sharing articles from other sites and so on, I circumvent the actual Facebook app so avoid all the other nonsense.  As an inadvertent side effect I also miss a lot of things like birthday reminders and other events that crop up , but it’s a small price to pay considering the general benefits it has had on me psychologically.

Over the last few weeks I have spent time looking up techniques and activities to change my way of thinking and to aid my current therapy with MIND and cognitive behavioural therapy.  I’ve resumed and delved deeper into ‘Mindfulness’ and tried to focus more on a) what’s important to me, b) what I can control and c) what adds value to my life and others that I care about.

I picked up ‘Mind Hacking: Jedi Mind Tricks To Unleash Your Hidden Potential‘ and started putting some of the techniques into practice straight away.  If you’re looking to make similar changes or even just looking into it it’s a worthwhile read PLUS you can buy it pretty cheap or read it free if you’re a Kindle Unlimited user.  Obviously it’s too early t say what affect it has had on me but the fact that I took to it whilst riding higher than usual given my elevated mood of late, I definitely believe it will help in multiple areas of my life.

My mind had taken a jaunt down to ‘Negative Town’ initially over Facebook and social media in general.  Growing up, I always believed everyone should get along and be friends.  Seeing my ‘friends list’ drop numbers and knowing exactly who was no longer my ‘friend’ hurt the ego a bit.  But then I came to realise that not everyone will get along with everyone.  It’s human nature to like and dislike.  No doubt a lot of people don’t like the fact that I swear, have a particularly vulgar and cruel sense of humour or that I have come to talk openly about things like my depression etc.

Perhaps they did the same as I’m doing now–removing the things that do not add value.  Numbers on a social media account don’t really mean anything anyway (unless you’re running a business).  The greatest lesson I’ve learned is that, while it’s okay to be okay it’s also okay to not like or be liked.  If I were to base an analogy on a recent experience it would be my wedding – we couldn’t please everyone.  We had limited room so couldn’t invite every single person we thought of and had to focus on the people we spent more time around recently and the relationships that were more prevalent to us and needed to be maintained.  This meant that those who had slipped into the acquaintance category or simply ‘people we know’ wouldn’t get an invite.  Ultimately, people were undoubtedly pissed off that they didn’t get invited but that’s just how it goes.  Such is the way with life.  There will be more people that don’t like you than like you.  It’s simple math.  If you were to base your perspective on the number of friends on Facebook, subscribers on Youtube or followers on Twitter then you’d think the opposite but, bearing in mind (not to mention the bots and other interwebs nonsense) that it’s easy to be a friend with someone digitally but if you break it down, in a lot of cases, the majority of those friendships mean and equate to nothing more than knowing someone in passing or through a friend (of a friend of a friend etc.).

And so I reach where I’m at now: I don’t really care who friends me or unfriends me, how many likes a status or picture gets, whether I get birthday wishes from people that only know when my birthday is thanks to a notification on their account or what people I may or may not see again in real life think of me.  My name is no longer Blurryface and I’ve stopped caring what you think.

Based on a recommendation in ‘Mind Hacking: Jedi Mind Tricks To Unleash Your Hidden Potential‘, this blog post was powered by ‘Coffitivity‘ and ‘Pomodoro‘.

In Blackest Night – Another Bad Day

I’ve been feeling a bit better lately–stocked up on my meds and haven’t missed a dose and I attended an assessment with MIND on Tuesday.  I ordered some stuff from The Works for the kids’ creative box and ‘treated’ myself to a mindfulness colouring book.  My energy levels are still fairly low but more noticeable at night when I’d normally stay up and play the PS4.

Today, however took a different turn.  Perhaps it was too much sun yesterday or, most likely, the ever-increasing pain in my stomach.  It’s been six days so far where I have had really bad pains in my stomach and each day brings additional pain and discomfort.

I wouldn’t say I was bouncing off the walls yesterday but I was pretty productive–I did some cleaning, tidied the garden a bit and spent time out in the sun while the kids were on the trampoline, swings and seesaw.  The pain had been pretty bad but I managed to work through it and it only really became a larger impact in the night when I was in bed.  I awoke three times due to the pain and it took lengthy periods of time to get back to sleep.

Today hasn’t been my worst day but it may be a sign of things to come.

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