Posted in Mental Health Struggles

And it is done…. Thank F*&@ for that

Over 18 months ago, the ‘government’ placed the country on lockdown, telling us all to stay indoors to stay safe. Now I am not going to comment on how they handled this, whether it was handled badly, incredibly badly or an unmitigated disaster. That’s not what this is about.

When everyone was told to stay home, the ‘government’ set up the job replacement scheme and placed as many employees as they could on furlough. You would stay home, your employer would pay you 80% of your wages and then the HM Revenue and Customs would pay them back. This scheme referred to as furlough then became part of my job and the bane of it.

As a person who works in finance, essential for services like care homes and the like, I still had to work. So my job only got worse. We lost staff as a couple of people left and got new staff and through it all, was furlough.

So many companies needed it, so many got it and there was a lot of back and forth and everything needed to be claimed via the HMRC’s online services which are…… not great. So as a result, my hatred for my job has increased dramatically.

But as of 30 September, the scheme has come to an end and as of 14 October 2021, the last claims have been made. It is a massive, a gargantuan weight lifted off of me and the team I am a part of, tonight I will be drinking, but today, we are eating pizza for lunch.

We got through it, much to everyone’s surprise and we are still going strong.

My greatest thanks to the Disney Princess, Big G, Superstar, Donna and new girl Little G for getting through all this.

Now on to the next crisis.

Posted in Feelings on a Friday, Mental Health Struggles

Feelings on a Friday 39 – Am on the positivity train, well am hanging on to the caboose

2020 was a year that wreaked havoc on the world at large. No one can deny that. No one was spared from being affected by the dumpster fire that year became very quickly. I do have to admit though, personally 2021 seems to be carrying that theme forward.

Just in the last couple of months, there have been two things on the in-law side that have been upsetting for all involved and that is all I can and will say about that. There have been house issues at my parents place, which are mostly resolved. There’s been upheaval in work (which I mentioned here in Stuff in my head – Or goodbye chief ) and I have been ill more than usual for this time of year. Without CoVid, that would be enough. But the Corona virus hasn’t left us yet. 

On the positive side, I have had both vaccination jabs, for those of you who are anti-vaxxers I respect that you have concerns over vaccines, but I made the right choice in that regard. It’s all done now. But there have been three CoVid scares at my work. One or two at the MIGHTY Rosie’s work and one at the extended family. Which is why I can be writing this post at 10:20am. SuperSam has to self-isolate and that means no work for me. I should be happy about this, three day weekend and all that. But it’s one more thing that CoVid has taken aware from this family. The weather in July so far has been spotty, but when it’s nice, it’’s very nice and we’re stuck in. I know that’s a little first world problems and all, but it’s what’s in my head today. 

It’s an ongoing feeling that this year hasn’t stopped. 2020 was the year of WTF? 2021 seems to the year of Dammit, now what? I feel, not broken exactly, but beaten down and the hits keep on coming.

So what can I do? Well I am doing it, am getting it out of my head and onto the printed page and that helps. I am going to spend the day with my boy and that also helps and whilst I don’t like letting work down, I am not in work today, so that is a hat trick of positive steps to make this day my own.

As a further attempt to get onto the positivity train (trademark MrsFilthy my ex-work wife) I am going to find my 5. 5 Positives to keep all the negatives away.

So here goes

1: Not in work, which means a sleep in and comfier shoes.

2: The sun is shining and we have a back yard.

3: There is food and drink in the house and there’s plenty to do.

4: The weekend has started early.

5: I heard this week that comic marts will be coming back to Liverpool in August. One of the first things that CoVid took is coming back.

I didn’t really have any thing to say here, but to be honest, I just need to get back into the habit of writing stuff here. I need this, more than I realised I need this.

Thank you for being here internet people. Look after yourselves and each other.

Its all going to be alright, but we need to be reason that it will.

Posted in Mental Health Struggles, Miscellaneous

Stuff in my head – Or goodbye chief

The only constant in the universe is change.

When I started this blog, nearly seven years ago now, I worked as part of a two man team with my manager who I have always referred to here as Gisele. The workload was hard and the deadline pressures constant and we lobbied for help as often as we would be listened to.

Now I am aware that I have not always been kind to Gisele when I have mentioned her on here, some of it is fair, but I can’t say all of it is.  But that’s not the point.

Things changed, we got a new person to work alongside me, lets call him Mr Coffee for the ridiculous amounts of caffeine that man took in. I won’t air out someone’s personal issues in public, but in three weeks, he put in 4 days work and I was glad it was only 4. He left shortly afterwards and the new partner’s sister was looking to get out of her industry and was given a week’s trial. I think it was more seeing if the job was right for her and not her right for the job, nepotism eh? Enter Disney Princess.

In Disney Princess’ defence she is a hard worker and whilst she took a while to teach, she got it and is a great member of the team to this day. Still workload increased, client base increased and the pressure started getting to us all. It was near this time when I had my relapse and had to take some time off. After raising the needs of the department again we lobbied for another member of staff and in came Mrs Filthy. A parent like myself and someone who shared both a history of mental health problems and a wholly inappropriate sense of humour we got on like a house on fire. It’s been rare that I can get along with someone at work so quickly. (I am somewhat of an acquired taste) So we had a four man team and I had someone I could have a laugh with at work. The problem  was that Mrs Filthy and Gisele didn’t gel in the same manner. Gisele’s often curt manner causing a lot of friction and in less than 5 months Mrs Filthy left to go manage an optician’s. I wish her well and we keep in touch, mostly through dirty jokes and inappropriate memes and she is happier.

She was succeeded by Big G. He came in to replace Mrs Filthy, but asked for more money so a more supervisory position was created to help Gisele’s part of the job and we were back to a four man group. Then after the bank holiday at the end of May, Gisele gave in her resignation. I was stunned, I had worked with that woman for years and years, ups and downs, arguments and tension and finally over the last few years we were getting along and working as a team, even sharing some confidences and having long conversations. I wasn’t shocked that she wanted to go, far from it, she’d been unhappy for many years there and she wanted out, but it seemed so sudden. Still work needed doing and we got on with it. Thing is as she was training Big G in all of the things that she hadn’t got to yet and with a deadline looming, me and Disney Princess were left with the bulk of the job, which while no one’s fault, was very hard and has left the last couple of weeks being the worst in recent memory.

After a brief and awkward hug on Friday 2nd Gisele left for the last time and I am emotional about the whole thing. Whilst we have been each other’s worst enemies for much of our time together, I grew to understand her and as she saw me suffer, she became more understanding. Now at the time when we are closer to being work friends than manager and subordinate, she has left.

I am a northern englishman over 40, so as you can imagine I don’t handle change very well and the loss of this constant is a massive shake up in my life. But that’s not what I want to be thinking about here. Not how it effects me, I am sure that there’ll be more on that story later. The part of this story is, she has made a decision to make herself happy. She’s going to do a different job at the business her husband’s family own and run. She genuinely feels that it’s the best move to make and is sad to go, rather than anxious to start a new job. I am happy for her, sad for me, but mostly happy for her.

On 1st July, we left work at the same time and she told me that I should be writing again, that she enjoyed what I wrote. I then had to wonder, what I had said about her on here. I still haven’t dared to look. But she is right, I should be doing this. I should be sharing what’s in my head. So Chief, thank you. I am sorry to see you go, but you know what, I’m glad that you are going to go somewhere better for you. Take care of yourself.

 As for me, with a new person to work alongside Big G, I am expected another rough few weeks, but I jump off that bridge when I get to it. I just wanted all this out of my head to I could enjoy my weekend.

Take care of yourselves internet people, thank you for sticking with my rambling and I will see you soon.

Posted in Mental Health Struggles, Miscellaneous, Thinking Thoughts on a Thursday

2020 – What the hell was that?

As a self-imposed tradition, I have at the end of each year done a series of posts called For the Geek in me 20XX was awesome. This was further split into three sub-catergories of Movies, Comics and TV, my holy trinity of pop-culture interests. I had planned to do the same this year, but then I realised something, I have been the cinema once this year and have bought precisely one newly produced comic this year. So I wanted to do something a little different and just look at the year in general, rather than look at it solely through a pop culture lense. Kind of hard to do when the world is looking more and more dystopian as things go along.

January was as always a cold and long month, with being paid before X-Mas the paycheque has to go a little further than normal an it can be a tight period, so you tend to go out and to do less. The news was about the horrific wildfires in Australia and over in the states there was impeachment proceedings for Trump and our PM fresh from a snap election victory moved towards Brexit with enthusiasm which didn’t match his capability. February came and went with it’s usual mix of cold and miserable and when March began all the shit hit the fan.

The Corona virus first seen in the Wuhan area of China started spreading overseas at a drastic rate and One by one, many countries in Europe started to go into an enforced lockdown and in late March, so did England. Schools closed, non-essential shops, restaurants, hair and beauty places, venues and airports all closed down immediately. Food shops and financial services remained open, which meant that while the MIGHTY Rosie and SuperSam stayed at home, I went into work as usual.

Work became more difficult than ever before with financial assistance being a really bit thing and this affected my job on a huge scale. It hasn’t really let up since and it is now 9 months later, but I digress. So many people were trapped at home, online sales of food went up since no one dared go outside, we had online pub quizzes, lots of facetime/zoom meetings and we all went out and clapped for the NHS once a week as they manned the front lines as the number of Corona virus (or Covid) sky rocketed. Thousands infected and hundreds dying as NHS workers were compelled to put anyone over a particular age as DNR (do not resucitate) meaning so many more died. People worked from home and we all sort of just watched the news waiting for something positive to start happening.

I don’t know if the Black Lives Matter movement was that, but it certainly saw the majority of the western world acknowledge the disparity in the way people of colour were treated by police compared to white people and it was upsetting viewing as the need for change was highlighted, as was the violence that stemmed from clashes between police and protesters. It was a moment in history and they never seem to be pleasant things at the time.

In the summer, the rise in cases seemed to slow down and restrictions lifted somewhat, some restaurants opened, some non-essential shops did and there was talk about schools opening, giving hw hard this lockdown had been on SuperSam and the MIGHTY Rosie, this was reason to feel optimistic. But that optimism wouldn’t really last.

In September the team added a new member (joining me, Giselle and Disney Princes) is CheekyMrsJ who has the filthiest sense of humour of any woman I know with the clear exception of the MIGHTY Rosie. She has also suffered with her mental health and more than that isn’t mine to tell. Between her humour and history we had enough common ground to get on and have become good work-friends in the last three months. There has been also inter-departmental strife over the recent furlough and job retention scheme shenannigans and more than a couple of times were there have been tellings off, including complaints to the directors regarding management. But in that there were victories. After years of animosity, myself and Gisele have got to a good place and we made the complaint together. In the end little came of it, but we stood up for ourselves and one another and I see that as a victory.

Also in September, SuperSam went back to school and got new teachers, new restrictions, but seemed to be having a better time and that lasted a few weeks, but with a greater sense of isolation and a little bit of bullying, we have had to deal with some old problems, but there were staff at school that helped and he ended the term in a much better place.

After a couple of weekends away fell to Covid, we planned to take advantage of the lessening of restrictions to book a week away at Christmas to a cottage in the west-f***ing-nowhere section of Wales, with a long year already we felt we needed a win for the end of the year and could relax and enjoy from a distance the theatrical fiasco that was the 2020 US election. It did not disappoint. There was a high voter turn out, despite covid having killed over 250,000 americans, there was a lot of mail-in voting and so many accusations of fraud and bad-faith actions on both sides. Ultimately the incumbent was defeated and after 4 long years, Donald Trump was beaten, not that he accepted or conceded this fact. There was lawsuits, unsubstantiated accusations and twitter tantrums and some of this is still going on. But the outcome is clear the 70+ old man with a questionable record with women that wasn’t Trump won. I mean congratulations to Joe Biden and his running mate/former rival Kamala Harris and it’s great to see the end of Trump’s reign, but things over there are going to get worse before they get better and I don’t think better will be much better, but I will be glad to see him leave the White House or be dragged out.

Work got harder, the rules kept changing and Christmas seemed both so far away and also appearing out of nowhere, we were going away, then we weren’t and then came a second lockdown and when it ended there was mass-testing and even a period when SuperSam’s school finished for a fortnight over a couple of cases in his school year. It was okay though, because no matter what we had a couple of weeks off together. Then on Thursday 17 December we learned that we were on, a  week in the countryside, no neighbours and no work related stress. We started panic-packing and getting things ready to spend Christmas away from home and then 2 days later it was completely cancelled. So with few gifts for one another (the holiday was the main present) and no great amout of food in the house we were faced with a lacklustre Christmas period.

But we didn’t get that, we had time with each other, time with my parents, time with her sister and her kids and lots of time together and ultimately it was one of our better X-Mas periods and now as I write this, we are near the end of 2020.

The reason I wanted to write something was that I was looking at my FaceBook feed and it shows you the stuff you wrote in previous years and most of mine for today pointed out how I was looking forward to a better year and it seems that this better year never actually happened. Maybe it’s time to look back at the positives of the year rather than the crapfest that 2020 so with that it’s time to find your 5.

1: I finally sorted my teeth out, at least getting the bad ones removed, a task I have procrastinated for a decade.

2: After several visits we were able to sort LoopyLottie’s tail and our dog is happier for it, no longer being in pain with it has made walking her easier and her training is going better?

3: Work has been better, not easier, but having another person there has made a difference and the whole vibe of the office is better than it ever was and when I had management problems I was able to deal with it in a better manner than I have before.

4: This  has been a bit of a crucible year, burning off all the unnecessary bits and forging tighter bonds inside our family. I feel closer to the MIGHTY Rosie than I have in a while and that’s helped deal with many of the challenges that we have faced this year.

5: I made it, after my relapse last May I have had many concerns that my depression and anxiety would flare up and cause many problems as mental health problems have been exacerbated by the lockdown and the endless Doomscrolling. But it hasn’t. Have I struggled? Yes, buy hasn’t everyone? Haven’t you internet people? But we got here. Not all of us and not easily, but we did. I still have all of the things I need, I have my family and my job, meaning a roof over my head. I have had 4 or so covid tests as part of the city’s mass-testing and all clear each time. This could have gone so differently,  but I got where I wanted to get to, safe at home with those who love me and whom I love.

 

In closing dear people, this rant/ramble was a way of saying that it’s going to be alright. Vaccines have been developed (maybe a good thing, maybe not) and I genuinely believe we will get through this. I do, because as bad as 2020 was, it could have been worse and there were some shining moments, I have seen smiles, laughter rainbows and the simple joy of a 10 year old at Christmas. It’s been a rough year, but after having a few of them already, I thing I am going to get through this one too. The important thing to remember is although we are socially distant from one another, we are not alone. We have overcome miraculous odds just to get this far and we are not giving up yet.

I think the reason we do the new year/new me thing is that this time of year gives us a chance to start again, to write a new tale in the new year. Maybe our resolutions and goals pan out, maybe they don’t but let us try.

The words I have ingrained into my boy about adversity are two fold. One is that you always get back up. The other is The only time you ever fail is when you give up, everything else is a set-back.

This is going to be a HAPPY new year and if it isn’t, I’m going to make it one.

Who’s with me?

Posted in Mental Health Struggles, Miscellaneous

Random Stuff, banging around in my head

I have been having nightmares.

Work stress has got to the point that my subconscious is affected. Nightmares affect sleep, bad sleep drains you, which makes you more susceptible to unhelpful thoughts and low moods, which affect your subconscious, which can lead to nightmares and so on.

There’s a lot to be stressed about, a lot to be afraid of, from the ongoing co-vid19 crisis which seems to be unending to the events across the pond as yet another racist crime committed by law enforcement has caused protests and riots. We are watching a 1st world nation of great prominence and arguably one of the most important nations in the last century devolve right before our eyes. My heart goes out to people of colour over there and their allies and loved ones and hope change comes from this, because it really needs to, we shouldn’t still be here. The people there deserve better.

But last night I got a training session with my personal trainer Ali. We used equipment in his backyard and kept full social distance between us, but I got to use weights, TRXs and also did lunges and today I am SORE!!!!!

There’s so much to be worried about, so much to fear. But we don’t have to consider that the default. I am enjoying the sweet pain today, pain I earned, pain I appreciate. This lockdown has taken so much from me. It’s taken the freedom to move around, my walk to work/school with my son. It’s taken time with my parents, shopping being a casual activity and not some kind of psuedo-military operation and the ability to hug my parents. It’s cost me a couple of weeks away and so on.

I’m not seeing this as any kind of oppression or anything and don’t want my convenience at the expense of someone’s life or anything like that. But it’s a fact that this current situation has taken stuff off me. Last night, having a training session, it felt like I got something back. I’m paying for it today like, but it’s a price worth paying.

Little is better, work is as hellish as it has been with clients and their employees being as dickish as ever, but I got something back last night. Maybe as lockdown restrictions are lowered, we can get more stuff back.

We will be alright.

We are never as alone as we think we are.

Take care of one another and stay safe.

 

Posted in Mental Health Struggles, Miscellaneous

Stuff in my head today

It’s been a while internet people. I haven’t had the time, nor really the inclination to write anything for a while, even my regular projects have fallen a bit by the wayside.

Since I last posted, we are still in lockdown, here in Blighty the government has decided to change their official policy from one of clear advice and instruction to vague handwavy suggestions. So instead of stay at home unless you are in a key or essential job, we have go into work if you can’t work at home, but don’t use public transportation. You can go to the park, but you still can’t go and see friends and loved ones at home, you can see a friend in public, but not be close to them. You can go and exercise as much as you want, but there’s no gyms. It has been somewhat confusing. We are getting daily briefings, but less and less actual information is getting across. So lockdown continues, death-tolls rise and we somehow know even less than we did in the past.

It’s been a scary and also somehow boring time and this has created unique mental health stresses in unexpected places. I am still in work, my work is not healthcare essential, but I am a key worker in that I am in financial services and people still want paying in this situation. With my wife (the MIGHTY Rosie) working from home, it wouldn’t be practical for both of us to do so, so I go to work every day as usual. The unusual is the workload, the constant interruptions and the no knowing when things would get back to normal. Giselle the dept manager was off last week, I can understand that, I genuinely can, but it dropped me and the Disney Princess into a huge vat of the brown stuff. It got so bad that she had a bit of what she called a breakdown on Friday. It was difficult to see that, partially because I know how that feels and no one wants to do that in front of people at work. The other reason is that I couldn’t just go over and hug her. She’s not a hugger really and with people I am not close to neither am I, but I would have anyway except for social distancing. The company’s director (also her brother) came in and offered to do all kinds to help, yet when I spend 2 years complaining about how we are understaffed and over worked, nowt. Still it looks like we are getting help and that sounds like a good thing. But whilst most people are working from home or not working, I am working twice as hard as ever and feeling the strain. I get up, go to work, go home for lunch, go back to work, go home. Every day of the week and I have been feeling the strain.

When the announcement came that schools would re-open early June, my primary though was “that’s nice, but my son won’t be going in.” We’ve something like the highest infection rates in Europe and we need to be sending children into places were social distancing won’t be viable. Have you tried keeping 4 year olds away from one another? Try it, it’s like herding cats. Even if children aren’t catching it as much, they’ll still carry it from their homes to one another and this looks likely to increase the rate of infection. Science may not back me up, but it still seems too soon to be doing this and it be safe. It turns out that our city Mayer agrees and Liverpool (along with Hartlepool) have chosen to defy this June return date. Our city has decided not to reopen schools on the basis of public safety. I am in the position of being proud of a political body in this country. That is a bizarre feeling I must admit. The safety and well being of my son has been my focus in this era, getting him to focus on reading and learning while he is off, making sure he keeps social distance from everyone, even his devoted grandparents and trying to manage his hayfever in an increasing warm climate is the thing that I am focused on, so I don’t see him going back to school straight away, even if other kids do. It does make me look like a bit of an anti-vaxxer, but I get the feeling that this is an unprecedented enough situation to get me the benefit of the doubt, I want his life to get back to normal as soon as possible, but never at the expense of his well being and safety.

So these are the things that are going through my head right now, well at least some of them and I felt the need to get these things out there. But here’s the thing, it’s not all doom and gloom and I feel like I need to get some positives out there.

1: My love of comics has made a resurgence, despite all of the local comic shops being closed and the distribution being stopped, I have been re-reading lots of comics as well as using the sales at Comixology to enjoy new things. DC comics have started doing digital first comics, 17-22 page one and done comics that aren’t so continuity heavy and aimed at younger and laspsed readers. They have been really entertaining and at 80p per issue, really well priced. Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman and the Flash all have one and I have been really enjoying them. I think there is a Swamp Thing and a DC Girls one too, but I haven’t been reading those.

2: Local shops have become a staple of my shopping in a way that they haven’t  been for years. There’s a bakers that sells the cream soda that you used to get from the lemonade van that used to visit the streets where I lived during my childhood and that’s been a lovely slice of my childhood brought back. I have also spent money at a butchers and a fruit and veg shop nearby as well as several corner shops and newsagents, rather than visit Asda or Tesco and deal with queues and shortages. Asda and companies like that will be fine, so these smaller outfits need our support and our £s.

3: Delivery businesses. There are local firms that deliver fruit & veg and others that do cakes and treats and as a result I have had some lovely cupcakes recently. I know I should be eating better right now, but damn that’s been some tasty stress eating.

4: Whilst I have not been able to binge watch TV, I have been able to enjoy what has been available and will be posting about that soon enough, but I have been able to enjoy a re-watch of How I Met Your Mother with SuperSam and the MIGHTY Rosie, a Power Rangers re-watch with Super-Sam and Grey’s Anatomy with the MIGHTY Rosie. I also watched the ‘documentary’ Chris Claremont’s X-Men, which I found interesting.

5: I have started exercising in the morning, some pull ups, push ups and stuff and now have a fitness tracker on my wrist (wow that’s a high pulse rate) and it’s kept my physical well being close to the front of my mind, which it should have been anyway and that early exercise has helped start my days off well.

6: My people. From the extended family I can only contact via social media, to my family (the aforementioned MIGHTY Rosie and SuperSam together with Lottie the Loopydog) my people have been the best thing about all this. SuperSam is reading stuff that I have given to him and we are walking the dog together and enjoying one another’s company. The MIGHTY Rosie and I are talking more and whilst we are both suffering in our mental health, we are talking about it more and being more of a team than we have in years, a year ago things were falling apart, but now even with the world ending outside our door we are good with and for one another.

7: It’s going to be okay.

I am not by nature an optimist, I suffer from anxiety and depression and as a result the negative is never too far away, but I honestly believe it’s going to all work out. The pandemic has exposed the ‘leaders’ in this world as being as uncaring as we feared, that the system is rigged against us and that all we are in reality all just in it together. But we are all in this together. Strangers say hello from 6 feet away, “Stay safe” has become the new “see you later.” We finally recognise our healthcare workers as the super heroes that they are and we are using social media to care for one another in a way we haven’t been for a long time. These are scary times, people are dying, but this shall pass and one day this will be alright and we will be able to walk in the sun again. We will be okay and if you are reading this, I hope that includes you. Well this random bit of verbal incontinence is done, take care of yourselves.

 

Posted in Mental Health Struggles, Miscellaneous

Getting back in.

This year, I took a bit of a break from blogging. It wasn’t intentional, just life sort of gets in the way and all that. Time gets away from you.

Over February, I managed to get back up to date with Pilot Era , but nothing new has been come up with since then. I wanted to get back into writing something, maybe something personal, maybe something geeky, but something nonetheless.

Then the f***ing world ended. The Corona virus has cut a swath across the world, affected countless people and more besides. The response from many nations has been a lockdown. 80% of staff aren’t there, doors are locked, so getting in and out is a pain and I have found my mental health suffering over the increased workload and the overall increase in bad news, frightening statistics and overall sense of gloom.

How can I write about comics and recent TV shows I have enjoyed when all this is going on?

I don’t know, but I can find out. As scary as this thing is and believe me it is scary. When I have colleagues in with me, they talk about how scary this is, the underlying sense of disquiet and impending disaster. For me, that’s a Wednesday. The one upside of all this is that I know how to function when I am afraid, when all seems bleak. I have had to teach Giselle and the Disney Princess about coping techniques, including one I have found most useful. Whenever you feel overwhelmed and the walls are closing in, stop.

Speak outloud: 5 Things you can see.

4 Things you can hear

3 Things you can feel

2 Things you can smell

1 Thing you can taste.

I have used this a couple of times, since this Corona Virus thing has been headline news and I was thanked for sharing it with my colleagues who have had no experience with mental health struggles. I suppose that is going to be the next big problem. We are going to be looking at something of a mental health crisis before too long. I have felt the edges of it encroaching on me, just as they did this time last year, but now I can see it and can talk about it and hopefully head it off, the MIGHTY Rosie and SuperSam have felt effects as well, but that’s not a thing to be discussed here. My parents are well as are my brother and his family, my sister-in-law and her kids and we are in touch often enough.

It’s a strange situation we find ourselves in, but even though we are locked away from one another, we are not. In this era of social media, we can reach out to one another, we can ask how each-other are. We’ve seen sing-songs across streets, I took part in a virtual pub quiz a week or so ago and a dozen or so things aside. We feel the absence of community, but is it absent? Or has our sense of what community is changed? We are isolated, we are socially distancing ourselves, but we can still talk to one another, we can still share our stories and remind one another of hope. This is not going to last forever, we will come out of the other side of this, with the knowledge of who is actually important in society. We forget about the people who make this world run, we pay them little, we ignore them and yet when a healthcare crisis occurs, they are there.

Every Thursday at 8pm, we open our door and clap, a nationwide thunderous applause to those people on the front line of the National Health Service. Those underfunded and over worked souls who care for us, who heal us and provide aid even at their own risk. Seeing people do that, week after week has warmed my heart. I have seen people put notes through doors asking if we need things. In my own road, there have been students going home with universities closed donating the food they would leave behind to anyone who needs it. A handyman we know asking if anyone needs anything when he is out doing essential maintenance, so we can cut down on un-necessary shopping. I have read the news, seen the scum-bags who have used this crisis as an excuse to be worse, but I have seen so many people step up. Leaders fail to lead, but helpers have been helping. It’s been little things, such as printing colouring in sheets to send to people who we know that have kids to keep them entertained, face-timing with my son’s grandparents, because they miss one another and saying hello to anyone in the street, so we know we are not alone.

This is a scary time, can’t get away from that, but I genuinely believe that there is a place beyond this. I believe that this crisis will pass and we will get back to some version of normal. Maybe it’s because I need to believe that, but I believe it nonetheless. We are locked away from one another, but we are not alone. We will get through this, if you are person reading this, that means you. It is these scary times that show us who we are and who we need to be. We need to be physically distant, but socially? No we need to remind one another that we are there. If there is anyone who you can think of that you haven’t heard from in the last few days, a call or a text might mean so much more than usual.

To all those on WordPress, thank you. You have been here for me when I have needed you, something to read, a response when I have read or even just reminding me that I and my family are not as alone as we think. I have rambled, but I need to say something, to not allow this part of my life to go dark. We need to do the things that make us smile, to remind us that we still can. My favourite podcaster on his excellent show Palace of Glittering delights always ends it the same way. “It’s all going to be alright.”

You know what, I think it will be. We can look out for each other, we can care for one another and can love one another.

Now I have rambled enough, I am going to go and give the MIGHTY Rosie a cuddle, like I said do the things that make you smile.

 

 

Posted in Mental Health Struggles, Thinking Thoughts on a Thursday

Thinking Thoughts on a Thursday 15: Forward is the only direction

I am not in work today.

There’s no childcare issues, no illness and not even time with the MIGHTY Rosie.

No I am off work because I had some teeth taken out yesterday. At three o’clock I was in a chair and doped up. It’s been the culmination of quite a weird week.

It started on Friday with an interview at the Asperger’s dept of Liverpool Hospital. I was there with my mother, since she has known me as both boy and man. I was there because I am not always the man I should be and about a year or so ago, I was not doing my best. It was suggested that I look into where I might be on the autism spectrum. I don’t know that I agreed, but in the cold light of day, I can see what my wife meant and even at my worst I respected her insight into my state of mind, since I couldn’t always trust that I saw things clearly. I forgot about it after that, until December when the referral came through. I moved it to when it was more convenient and went on Friday.

It was a long and drawn out interview, I and my mum had to answer lots of questions, on a wide variety of topics. It left the interviewer with the clear indication that I was not at the diagnosable part of the autism spectrum. So clearly I am just an arse.

One thing did come up though, there was a time when my mental state changed, which caused my self esteem  and confidence to suffer. At 12 years old I went to a new school and that was an isolating experience, since all of my friends went to different schools. I made a couple of new friends, but by 15/16 they had turned their backs on me. I was told that I likely had something of  a depressive episode that caused what I was informed something of a lost decade. The transitional period between 15-25 didn’t pan out for me quite so well and I went from a well balanced kid to a withdrawn and depressed one. I didn’t know, no one did and to be honest, withdrawn and moody doesn’t seem alien to anyone who has a teenager in their family does it? I was coming out of it in the years before I met the MIGHTY Rosie and more mental health stuff has happened since, but that was a bit of a bombshell to hit both me and the woman that raised me with.

It answered questions and raised others and  I may spend more time since dealing with this and unpacking it all, but it reinforced that I truly did grow up in a house full of love and support and that’s not changed, my mum and dad are there for me even now I live across town with the family I have made since. It also shows me that I still live in house full of love as all I have had is support from the MIGHTY Rosie and I am in a better place than I have ever been before. There’s nothing to change because of this and all it’s done is make my past clearer, it’s excused nothing or given me anything to blame. I don’t want that. The reasons that I had this referral are being addressed and  I am more engaged with my life than before and the MIGHTY Rosie and I are more of a team than ever, but it was touch and go for a while and have had to put the work in. Love is really easy to be in, but relationships aren’t, you really do need to do the work and let those you love know that you love them. Not in word, but in deed.

That should be enough for some, but I had to add some shit on there. After years of putting it off and years more of neglect, I have finally sorted out appointments to sort out my fucked up teeth. Yesterday, several of them had to be removed. I have only myself to blame there and it’s my fear and shame that have prevented me from getting this done earlier. As time went on, this fear grew bigger and it eclipsed the health benefits of getting this sorted, as well as being able to smile again, freely and wide.

But as I have faced everything else, I faced this too and finally made the appointments. Most people won’t see this as a thing and will be amazed that I ever let myself get in such a way that teeth would need removing, but I can only be who I am and can only have done what I did. This was my owning up to my failures and facing my fears. I did it for the MIGHTY Rosie, who needs to see a smile she once knew. I did it for my son, so he can see what facing your fears looks like, what owning up to your problems looks like and what can happen if you don’t look after your teeth. But really, above it all, I did it for me.

I don’t deserve to live the way I have made myself live and I needed to get this done, now I have pain and swelling in my mouth, but this feels so good to have done. I have another appointment in two weeks and then I have to go through the process of false teeth to restore my smile. I have a lot more work to do both physically and mentally, but doing this makes all of it seem doable.

I could not have done any of this without the MIGHTY Rosie, my parents or SuperSam.

There’s more to be done, more to be said and I want to thank you internet people for being here when I say it.

Posted in Mental Health Struggles, Miscellaneous

For the Me in Me, 2019 was a challenge.

Well that was a year.

It was a decade too, but I am not going to be all “look at the decade as a whole” about it.

It’s been hard, there’s no denying that, but there’s been ups as well, since I need some kind of structure I am going to break it down into categories.

Work

Work has been a hell of a lot of ups and downs. After a very stressful year last year, we lobbied for a new member of staff to work with Gisele (the Dept Manager), Trouble (credit control) and me, finally we got Disney Princess, the sister of one of the directors. It was great to have someone working with me doing the same job. The problem is that the workload has increased, so we are still as stressed as ever, but now we are 4 and not 3. But I have noticed that the atmosphere is better up here. We have more fun, have a laugh together and the year came to an end with more ease than the last two. Work has been difficult this year, but it ended well, a fact for which I am grateful.

Well apart from the fact that I was locked in the office on the day we broke up for Christmas and everyone had gone t’pub. Not my favourite moment.

Family

This has been a game of two halves in that respect. My mum and dad and I have got on better than we have in a few years. The therapy I had in 2018 cleared a lot of my negative feelings about them and I was able to see them as they are, just two people trying their best with those they love. At 9, I had a grandmother who had 19 other grandkids and no grandfather as he had passed away. SuperSam has a pair of devoted grandparents whom he loves to spend time with and who are more than happy to spend this time with him.

Speaking of SuperSam, he finished year 3 and it was a rough one. We’ve had bullying and also the aftermath of losing our dog last year. But he pulling himself up and got through it with help and his own determination. Our new dog Loopy Lottie has helped with that and seeing him come back to the happy boy we knew has been so wonderful as it was having a great Christmas with him.

The MIGHTY Rosie and I have had ups and downs this year. I’m not always the man I should be, nor the one she deserves and there’s been many a time where that fact had to be addressed. But we had ridden through this particular storm and I need to work hard to make sure that the next one, isn’t one of my own making. I love this woman, always have and can see no reason how I would ever stop in my lifetime. Being away from her in November just reminded me how much I missed them and I came home early just to see them.

Mental Health

I think this has been one of the hardest years since my breakdown in 2013.

Back in May, I had a ‘wobble’ and it was terrifying being back in that place. It followed stress regarding work and family and it took me a while to get back to where I was.

Once more I have to thank the MIGHTY Rosie for everything she did and for taking off the kid gloves when I needed to be told some harsh truths.

I’m still struggling, maybe I always will, but I am still here.

Triumphs

I am still here.

That may not be much of a triumph, but it seemed a shaky proposition a couple of times this year. This year highlighted that most of the problem lies with me. I enjoy my job more than half the time. I love my wife, the always amazing MIGHTY Rosie and my son SuperSam who never fails to make me proud. I even love the dog 🐶 and enjoy my nightly walks with LoopyLottie. I like my life, it’s just me I can’t stand. So maybe this year is where I change that.

But apart from that, I have had many ups this year. I have made progress regarding my teeth, a sore subject that has been an increasing problem and is now being dealt with. There was also fun to be had, we went to Scotland for the MIGHTY Rosie’s birthday and had an amazing time. I wobbled, regarding my mental health, but pulled myself back without medication and continue to battle these demons (with varying degrees of success) and am moving forward. I went to a trampoline place with SuperSam and enjoyed it, despite how badly it hurt my knee. I also went indoor skydiving, taking my dad and son and all three had a great time. It’s definitely something I want to do again. I also did the comic convention thing that I have wanted to, but lacked confidence to do and met a couple of industry people that were lovely and a couple of podcasters I am a fan on. I will go again, but I will be more discerning in future in terms of guests and my spends. The fact remains though, that I did it. I also managed to post weekly to my Pilot Era blog, which has been a nice little bonus here.

This year has been difficult, there have been many challenges and it looked as though this year did it’s best to break me.

But it didn’t.

I was glad to see the back of 2019, but I am not expected 2020 to be easier. It doesn’t get easier. You simply get stronger.

This is not the story of my fall, it is the story of my rise.

Thank you all of you, who have been part of my journey, a journey which is moving towards a hopeful tomorrow.

It’s now 2020, welcome to the future.

Posted in Comics n Stuff, Mental Health Struggles, Morevember

More-Vember 21st – Cheerful Question? (Belated again)

Marvel 30 Day Challenge Question 21 – Most Memorable Marvel Death

With so many to choose from, so very few mattering in any long term, I went with the one that surprised me

In the aftermath of the s**tshow that was Civil War. (It was, there was a good idea behind it and good stories to be told, but that series was not what it should have been) the assassination of Steve Rogers was an emotional capstone to that era. From his last words being to get the crowd safe, to the reveal of who the shooter actually was, this was moving and dramatic stuff and a story I re-read from time to time. He was always coming back, but that doesn’t stop this being great. I recently lent my copy of the trade to a family friend and now, I kind of want it back.

Super Sam’s answer.

Again, not one for him, so he’ll be back with the next one.

Other Stuff

Time to get back to taking care of myself. After a strong weight loss in 2018, I let my body slide, gaining weight and costing me self esteem.  And yet, am surprised when my mental health suffered. So now it’s time to rebuild. Started with my gym session yesterday and the setting of goals and marking of accomplishments. I will lose that weight, I will be the better version of me and I will be happier again.

This was yesterday’s gym session

Gym – 22/11/19
Ran 0.51 miles in 5mins
Close grip pulldown 10 x 45.4kg
Close grip pulldown 16 x 54kg
Incline Barbell 30 x 40kg
3 laps with the prowler 0, 5kg & 10kg on top

Back soon internet people