Posted in Mental Health Struggles, Miscellaneous

2022 What a s**tshow – Finale

To describe this year as challenging would be something of an understatement to the level of calling the grand canyon a bit of a ditch. I have come close to cracking more than once and joy and calm have been things that were seldom found. That said, I am trying to look at things in a more positive light and can look back at the year with a more cheerful disposition and look at the good things that 2022 have brought.

So it has been a strange and emotional year, so much of it tied to the house and our continuing drama regarding the living situation. I’ve spent my life so far living in other people’s homes, from my parents’ house to being a tenant and for the longest time that was okay, but a few years ago when our landlord passed away suddenly and all of the certainties and plans that we had disappeared. We had to start looking for a more permanent solution, which we couldn’t really get started on until we knew what was happening with what we had thought of as home. It was a stark reminder that although it was our home, it was not our house.

This has been a hard thing. Not knowing for the first time where I would be living in 6 months and maybe having to say goodbye to the only home that my son remembers was a hard thing. It took a toll on our lives on several levels almost to breaking point in some places. But this year was were it all changed. I write this at my new desk in a new room in a new house. In front of me is my collectibles and stuff to my back and left is a display case with mdidore stuff in it. Things have worked out.

For the entirety of 2022 I have worked in a Gisele free office. My old manager made much of my working life miserable and it’s only been this year that her impact on the job has faded away. Now I am part of a 5 man team with me, Disney Princess and Lil Jem under Posh Spice (I didn’t give him that nickname) and Donna and this has been the easiest December in work in a very long time. I have had problems, but these have mostly been overlap from home stuff. As soon as we closed on the house, things got better. We may be a 4 person team next year for a while after we got the news that Disney Princess is expecting, but knowing how things are now, we will cope and I can only wish her well.

Another great positive was SuperSam. As his final jnr school year came to an end, it was more clear that he needed out of there. Problems with bullying, balls ups from every non teaching part of the school and some friction with his teacher for that year we were glad it was his last one. We learned in spring that he got into a school nearby which does focus on sport and science. Given his love of science and being active this was not unwelcome news and we were only more impressed with the open day and the couple of testing days he did over the summer. With clear anti-bullying procedures and a higher degree of communication it was somewhere we were glad for him to go. Then came the scary part of his going to school alone. With google maps and a couple of test runs we had the logistics sorted, but the parents among you internet people can attest to how that doesn’t blunt the fear in any way and for the non-parents, well you wouldn’t understand anymore that I would have in my 20s and that’s okay. But precautions were taken and off he went into the next great adventure.

We needn’t have worried. He has thrived with this new semi-autonomy. And in the first month in this new school, he had more good days that he had in the previous school year. Its a bittersweet thing watching him group up so much, he’s gone from the little boy who needed you for everything to being able to go to school alone, come back alone, wash dishes, iron his uniform and at times cook a simple meal or two. I miss being needed so much, but as so proud that I’m not. It’s not been perfect, but I am so proud of him. So being a dad this year has been a tremendous positive.

Am also on my diet thing, as well as having lost nearly 40lbs in weight (wow that sounds impressive when you put it like that) I have also lost 4litres of visceral fat from my internal organs. That’s the same as two big bottles of fizzy drinks. I have dropped a shoe size, a shirt size and depending on the pants I wear two sizes in trousers. I am a 36″ waist for the first time since I was 36 years old. The battle isn’t won, but I have less of a belly than in years and feel better about myself because of that.

The last three years has been an exercise in surviving. But since the end of October its become about living again. I am hoping to be doing more writing, although what form that takes is as yet unclear, maybe it’ll be here, maybe the book I’ve been working on since…… yeah that’s been a long time. It’s time to use this fresh start and enjoy things again. The feeling of working together on the house, talking more, having fun together and such is what we went on holiday to enhance and it seems that this is all possible here. We even have a hot tub again. Maybe we should have moved years ago, but it felt like giving up on our home and we’re not people who do that. I drilled into my son the idea that the only time you fail, I mean the only time is when you give up. Every thing else is a setback. But we needed to fight for something other than bricks and mortar. Home is the people in your life, not the four walls they inhabit with you.

So this year has been something of a fresh start and a launchpad for betters years ahead. I get to leave a house with my name on it every day, pass several trees and go this is mine. I don’t know what the future holds, but honestly I’m optimistic. Wow, am optimistic, when did that start happening?

So 2022 what a s**tshow may not be accurate. Maybe it’s more we turned it around. I am wishing for a better year this year, not because I can’t do another year like the previous, but because I genuinely thing this will be better.

Come on 2023, lets see what fun we can get up to.

See you soon internet people, be good to yourselves, so you can be good to eachother.

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Posted in Mental Health Struggles, Miscellaneous

New address, new habits and a new future.

Hello there internet people.

After a few shaky months, some things have started to happen and weirdly these are good things. I know, I was surprised too and it’s taken some getting used to.

Shortly after my breakdown, myself SuperSam and the MIGHTY Rosie moved into a house, renting, but the landlord was on a family friend and the terms were really good. Three years ago, before covid and a hundred other things, he sadly passed away. There are details, but this is not my tale to tell, so I won’t. His properties went to his next of kin and there was a lot of legal bits and bobs that needed doing, so we have spent most of the time since in limbo. Things got worse when the house went on the market and we had to deal with people viewing the house, several times over several months. But then we had hope, another landlord we knew was trying to offload a property.

There was so much more back and forth and issues regarding buying the house, the mortgage and so on and so forth and to be honest I could write a book on this part of it alone, but after 3 years of limbo, effecting every element of my life in negative ways. Now the worry and uncertainty was replaced with the deadline of moving. Fortunately we didn’t have a dog full of anxiety and a child in his first year of secondary school to deal with as well…..oh yeah, we did. But still, for the first three weeks of October we moved everything we could, books, bookcases, dvds, blu-rays and my longboxes as well as most of our clothes, boardgames and other bric a brac. Still on Friday, the big stuff went too, white goods, beds and the like, leaving the living room with only half a now busted couch and the TV and on Friday night we moved.

We fit the TV in the back of the car and then added a scared dog (can you see where this is going yet?) and when I tried to set all the entertainment up, the TV lit up only enough to show the cracks. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and we could immediately see 3 or 4 ways it could be avoided. We had the TV replaced the next day and also a couch, so alls well and such.

So here I am in a new place, but this one is mine. I have trees, my own space and a renewed sense of optimism. For the first time in a few years, I feel I can move forward. I’m not trying to put back together the pieces of my life and restore anything, it’s more about building something new and using pieces of the past to get it. There’s so much to do, so many things to put right and yet for the first time in a long time I feel like I can do it.

I am now an hour from home by foot, meaning I can’t walk home during lunch, so I am able to do other stuff at lunch, you may get more of my meandering rubbish on here, you never know. But I am getting more exercise and am enjoying the de-stressing walk and podcast/audiobook time that I am getting without losing time with my family. The family who are all happier where we are.

I drifted too far from shore, before I realised and I became lost. Pieces of me over time fell away till I wasn’t someone I recognised, nor did anyone else. But now, I feel like I have constructed a sail. I don’t know where I am going yet, or who I will be when I get there, but it’s definitely better than where I am right now.

Posted in Mental Health Struggles

I am literally smaller

This last year, have had to do some work on me. Over the last few years I have sort of lost myself. When my breakdown happened nearly ten years ago now, I lost myself all at once and had to work very hard to get back. It took medication, therapy, support and time to do that and get myself back to a similar place than I had been before. But the thing is, that wasn’t entirely the goal. In truth, I never got back to where I was, I had aged, changed and taken on new responsibilities and outlooks and looking back, it feels like I got to some place after a lot of work, but then needed to do some more work to get to a better place and kind of didn’t, I just carried on.

This has cost me, but that’s neither here, nor there. The point is, I am not where I want to be and this has left me very unhappy. So one of the things I have neglected is my health. So I had replaced my glasses (after a dog-related mishap) and am now wearing old man glasses (varifocals) and as per this post I have found a new physical activity to keep me active and able to set and achieve goals. The one thing I have yet to work on is food. I am overweight and one of the things I have learned about myself is that I have unhealthy habits and issues in regard to food. I know, a shock. Who would have thought a middle-aged man with self esteem issues and a sedimentary lifestyle would also have weight issues, I mean I was surprised. I am both a stress/comfort eater and also have portion control issues. So a lot of times I struggle with diets, I even tried slimming world a couple of times. Whilst I had a great rep at slimming world, with it’s focus of balance and not on portion, I was able to eat more even when doing well and so when I fell out of good habits (and we always do) I was used to eating more and as a result, I gained more weight than I had lost.

So nothing was working, not that I was trying all that much. As always when a good idea is needed, the MIGHTY Rosie stepped in and suggested a thing she was doing. It was one of those meal replacement things. Now we’ve all seen the adverts for slimf@$t and all that, but this isn’t quite the same and it did offer a solution to my biggest problems, snacking and portion control. With only a smoothie for breakfast and lunch, it was only tea that offered an issue and I could plan one healthy meal a day. But there’s also a mid-morning and a mid-afternoon snack which are very calorie controlled and mostly down to a list of prefered options. There is also a person to talk to and a group that you meet with, but it’s very drop in and out, stay for 5 minutes or half and hour, it’s up to you. With their support/products and as always the support of the MIGHTY Rosie I have been on this program for a bit over 3 weeks, dropping in every 2/3 days to be weighed and pick stuff up. Yes, it’s a bit of a racket in that you only get the products from your supplier and yes it isn’t cheap, but based on my existing costs per day in food, it actually ends up saving a little bit of money.

But here’s the thing, it works.

The structure of it helps with my obsessive side, I am either eating or drinking every few hours and I am enjoying food in a manner I have not in years. It’s not comfort, it’s food. But numbers are proof and in that, I have lost in overall size 21cm (or 8 1/4 inches in old money) and 9cm of that off my belly. I am also 9kg (19.84lb in old money) lighter as of this morning. I have a more positive outlook and am feeling good. I recognise it’s a small thing, but this feels like a small thing that has made a positive impact on my life and we could all do with a bit of that.

Ttfn Internet People, will have something to actually say soon

Posted in Mental Health Struggles, Miscellaneous

Trickier coming down

Though I don’t talk about it as much here, my battle with depression and anxiety is still ongoing. That’s a post for another day.

There are several methods of battling/managing these things. Talking helps, diet is a factor, support from those around you. But one that I have neglected is exercise.

I know, shocking that a geeky, overweight middle-aged man with high blood pressure isn’t getting enough exercise. Whilst you are reeling from that particular bombshell. I can tell you that it has started to change.

Through my sister-in-law, my son was introduced to indoor climbing. What I saw in the next 2 weeks was nothing short of remarkable. He grew in confidence and set and met challenges each time. After his 2nd week, I decided I would give this a try myself. And so I did.

Climbing Hangar is a company that has warehouses converted with climbing walls that a colour coded for levels of difficulty. Struggling to climb one wall, then try again and again. Once you crack that wall, you feel 2 feet taller. I learned two things the first week. One is that climbing up is quite a bit easier then getting back down.  The other is that I have missed that sense of accomplishment. I enjoyed the rush of almost falling and the next day sweet pain of overdoing it.

I quickly became a member and go regularly once a weekend, whilst my son goes twice. It’s been a boon to my mental health as well as my physical and every time I go, I improve. Last week, I tried a level 3 course and nailed it, today I did one that I have been aiming for all summer. Now I need a new target and I will have one by Saturday.  I would recommend it as an exercise and activity.  There is a huge cross-section of ages and fitness levels and a great sense of mutual good feel, everyone is rooting for everyone else. The only person you compete with is yourself.

With so much negativity around and in an increasingly uncertain world, its nice to find something that is only positive. Everyone should try this. Because it is a nice reminder of a truth we all need to remember. Whenever you fall, you get back up.

Posted in Mental Health Struggles, Miscellaneous

Right, where are we?

It’s been a while internet people and there’s been a lot going on, so lets have a quick status update.

Work: The end of furlough has made my job better in some ways, but there’s so many things that have made my job more difficult which were kept at bay during furlough, so this month has not been as easy as it could have been.

Home: There’s been some complications around the house that has caused no end of worry and upset. It’s been the worst that this situation has been and it’s brought about a tremendous amount of anxiety with no end in sight. In the interest of viewing the brighter side of life, it has gave us the kick up the arse needed to get the house more in order and get into the decorating side of things. As of yesterday, over half of the living room walls have been stripped. The job continues.

Health & Wellbeing: I have signed up to the local gym and am planning a 2/3 day per week and had my induction last week during some well earned not in work time. On the whole it seems like when I relapsed into depression a couple of years ago, I didn’t come all the way back like I thought and this has created problems in several areas in my life and it’s kind of like I didn’t notice. That was the terrifying bit I think. Drifting so far from yourself that by the time you notice, you don’t even know where you are anymore. So the best thing to do is to rebuild. Hence my going back to the gym. Also my decision to return to Slimming World. That wasn’t something I planned, but it is something I should do, because the last time I was happy, was when I was lighter. If I combine increased exercise and weight loss, I should feel better about things.

Other stuff: I had a birthday recently, hit 45 and I would love to say that I took stock of my life and stuff, but I decided to leave my life-stock alone and just live for a bit. I ate with my family, watched Dune in the cinema and generally enjoyed my day and have been doing my best to stay positive about a lot of things.

I didn’t really have anything to say, but wanted to get something down.

This is not the story of my defeat, but I need to put a lot of work in, before its a better story.

Love to you all internet people.

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

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

Reaching towards

I have let the blog slide. Whilst everyone else was stuck at home, I have only ever been working harder in the hours I have and when I get home, I can either open my laptop, or spend time with my family, so that’s the reason.

I don’t think that has helped me though, with the constant onslaught of work and the lack of other stuff going on, I can feel things getting on top of me again. There’s been family stuff as well (extended family, not the munkeyhouse so it’s not my story to tell) and it’s left us all tired and beaten down and this is after a year of lockdown.

So what do I do about it? I don’t know, but I am going to start writing again, putting stuff on here and maybe working on the story I have been not writing for a year and get back to stuff that I want to do for me.

I am reaching towards the light again, because right now all around is darkness, but I have been here before and I got back out of it. So, I will get out of it again. I have an appointment for a Covid jab coming and it looks like ComicCons are happening again this year.

There’s light at the end of the tunnel and this year, I don’t think it’s the train this time.

Take care of yourselves internet people, better days are coming.

I will be back.

In the meantime, the trailer for Shang Chi was released and that looks kind of fun.