First day of the week and it’s another Fabulous First Issue
First day of the week and it’s another Fabulous First Issue
Hello again internet people
Back in May, I slipped back into the horror that was/is my depression. I handled it better this time, eschewing the medical side and going straight to talking therapy and the odd day off here and there. Now, on the understanding that I may need back up in a “not ruling out legal action against my workplace” way, I decided to get in touch with my local surgery and get what had happened on record. What I didn’t take into account was that this was a new doctors and the first time I visited any doctor since I hit my 40’s. Out came the need for blood tests and my blood pressure was taken. It was high.
Well no shit, I went in there about my depression and anxiety, which had been exacerbated by stress, it would be more medically worrying if I didn’t have high blood pressure. My new doctor, doing her due diligence referred me to a cardio clinic to get a 24 hours blood pressure monitor. So after a stressful trip to a different surgery and a couple of terrible days in work, my blood pressure averaged at higher than it should have been. So, after another visit to the doctor, aided by the MIGHTY Rosie now I am on blood pressure meds. I have a complicated relationship with doctors, they have helped and not helped in equal measure and I am not used to going for blood tests, or even an ECG, both things I had to do last week. So apart from high blood pressure, I have high cholesterol as well (doubtless due to a decade or two of neglect) and this whole things has made me really anxious. But here’s the thing, I needed to do this, I needed to take these steps and look after myself a little bit better, value myself just a little more and make this the start of me taking better care of myself.
Eating better is one step, then dropping my caffeine intake and a few other things like that, more cardio in my exercising and above all, less stress. I think that will be the hardest thing, it’s been pointed out that I am a stress-head and negative in my thinking even on my better days, which have not been the last two weeks. Above all I want to give my thanks to the MIGHTY Rosie, without whom, I would not have got through this last couple of weeks as well, she remains the brightest star in my sky, so I always know how to find home.
It’s been a reminder that your mental and physical health are connected and both need to tended to, this I suppose is my statement that I am going to do that and that starts with my walking away from my desk and going to see my dog.
Ttfn internet people.
After the tragedy of losing Wilma the WTF dog, it became quite apparent that our family was now one that had a dog as part of it and that there would be no getting back to normal, without one. A few weeks after that realisation, the MIGHTY Rosie began perusing a re-homing website, on the idea that we would be getting a dog at some point. She saw this collie/retriever cross and just had to, since she had a similar dog once herself. There were no red-flags when we spoke to the people in question, several times in fact. But when we arranged to go get the dog, there were all kinds of things wrong, there was no mess, not a thing out of place (with a puppy in the house? ) and all the toys for this 8 week old dog were distinctly unchewed and it seemed to live only in the kitchen. None of these things are that suspicious, but when the MIGHTY Rosie went to pick this little puppy up, she leapt into her arms, as if trying to escape. This wasn’t a dog being taken to a new home, which we had dealt with before, this was a dog grateful for being saved. After a trip to the vet and a couple of eyebrow raising reactions from the dog we all came to the understanding she was from a puppy farm and she had not really been taken care of.
Whenever we gave her food (special food, since being a puppy farm survivor she hadn’t really a great digestive system) she wolfed it down, as though she didn’t expect to be fed later. Kind of getting angry as I write that down to be perfectly honest. Still, we bonded pretty much immediately and she quickly became a member of our family. We got a bit of an all clear from the vets over Christmas, our original plan was to not tell SuperSam that we were keeping her, in case there were some medical things that came to light. It was for the best, since we were all devastated by the loss of Wilma the WTF dog. So with the all-clear given, we left a scroll in the Christmas tree with a request for her to stay with us for SuperSam to read. The moment when he realised we were keeping the new dog may be the best moment we had at Christmas this year.
Well we’re now walking her, training her and from time to time spoiling her. We’re a family that has a dog and we were never going to go back to the way it was before. So my mornings and lunchtimes consist of bites and clean-ups and also someone being happy to see me when I get home. I get out of work and walk home to her at lunch, I walk her at night and as a family we are happier that she is there.
So much of this blog can be negative in the personal stuff I write, but now with the dozy 4 legged wonder at home, well it’s a happier start to the year. And we’ve been able to take a scared and malnourished puppy into a happy little dog who can sit and cuddle and also have her mad half hour of chasing nothing.
As for her name, it was apparently supposed to be Rosey, but we have only ever called her Lottie (Short for Charlotte) and now she’s home, home is a little brighter.
It’s a fact that took me till my 40’s to learn, but dogs make life better.
I spent this weekend in the Lake District, myself, SuperSam, the MIGHTY Rosie and Wilma the WTF dog. I was relaxed, played games, saw ‘The Nature’ and read a ton of comics. It was exactly how I wanted to spend my birthday, with my favourite people, surrounded by beauty and far from the stresses of life.
And then you return. Some of the reasons why that was hard related to stories that are not mine, but needless to say, these last few days have been very trying. From my phone being unresponsive, despite the alarm ⏰going off every ten minutes. My fitbit went missing and my Tuesday started to off the rails long before 9. I got to work and my anxiety was high enough, but was cut off from the MIGHTY Rosie without my phone. I think I rely on that thing too much. I have had a rough one, preparing for our department to move to an office upstairs and it’s a bit of stress that I can do without. I have struggled with low moods, anxiety and more than a little exhaustion.
I have been here before, the edge of that darker place in your head, but I am not going to fall in. One Monday, I put my son’s bed together with the MIGHTY Rosie. I have booked a weekend away in February and have got myself a comfy chair for my new desk. It’s the little wins that get me through the day. On the good days they are the norm, on the less than good, they are the light at the end of the tunnel. I have needed that light this week and because of it, I know I will be okay.
It is going to be okay, I think I have started to really believe that.
Okay, this was rambling mess, something more fun tomorrow I think.
At the start of the year, I went to a comic mart near my home in Liverpool and to be honest, wasn’t in any way shape or form, impressed. Less dealers, less deals to be made and a sense of heigh-ho, here we go again. So when the next comic mart came up, I decided to go to the slightly larger one in Manchester. My intent was pretty much to go on my own, whilst the MIGHTY Rosie is geek-friendly or geek-adjacent, she is somewhat less an addict as I am, so given that, I expected to go alone. Instead, she decided to come with me and bring our boy.
Now let us be clear, I do not mean that I didn’t want to go with her, but I am uncomfortable when someone does a lot for me and since I don’t drive, my wife drove me there for little to no benefit to herself. When it comes to comics, I don’t feel comfortable asking someone to put themselves out for me, I really don’t, which I accept is dysfunction since I would do for someone else. We all went, it was a lovely sunny day, warm and bright, making me feel even more that we should be doing something else instead of feeding my addiction, but I digress.
We got to the mart and it was bigger than the Liverpool one, as expected, but with our recent experience of a sci-fi con and the recent increase in comic-cons and coverage of them, it may have been a little disappointing to the MIGHTY Rosie. It was, as most marts tend to be, lots of less than socially confident men, going through boxes, often with a list. There was an upside, saw an FaceBook friend there and that was a nice plus.
Then came the place to be at a comic mart, the cheap boxes. 50p and 75p comics are the place to dig for gold and dig I did.
I didn’t plug that many gaps in my collection, but I saw lots of fun stuff that I could have a look at, without breaking the bank.
That wasn’t the highlight of that particular trip, no, because as I usually do, I picked up something for Sam (in this case a trade of the start of the Jurgens/Romita Jnr run on Thor which is a bit of an under-rated classic) and when I expected him to run off bored, I instead find him at the longbox next to me, looking at comics. Not for me, he just wanted to be doing the same thing and started looking and picking some stuff up. He ended up getting a Justice League comic and some Rebirth era Aquaman. Him looking for his own comics, next to me, got me a little choked up. The moment passed and we headed out. Every eager to do something else. Before we left, I made sure I picked up a copy of X-Men vol 2 #1 and X-Force #1 (these were comics I got at the first couple of marts I went to back in the early 90’s, so it seemed fitting) and we got in the car and headed for home.
It was the drive home that I found the most touching, mum and dad in the front talking and son in the back, nose in a comic, oblivious to the world. He was me, a happier and better me and that right there was a beautiful moment that I don’t know I would have felt so clearly 9 months ago. Work has stressed me out, since this is the first year end that I haven’t been medicated in 4 years, so I’ve been feeling it. But that Saturday, I felt that too and it filled my heart.
Do I expect Sam to be a huge comic fan? Not really, but him getting the bug, just for an afternoon meant the world to me and the next weekend, when the sun came back out, we went to the park and played football for an hour or two. He got to be in my world for a bit and I returned the favour.
I get a lot out of comics and sci fi and all that stuff and all that, but my family are like the air in my lungs. I like having this place to talk geeky with all you fine internet people, but every now and again, I like to mention the things in my life that actually matter.
SuperSam, the MIGHTY Rosie, I love you both.
I’ve been anxious today.
Well that could be any day of the week really can’t it? I’ve taken it easy on the mental health stuff recently, focusing more on the calendar and other geeky stuff. Partly because it’s not something I want to constantly talk or think about, partly because it’s better to concentrate on more positive things isn’t it? But it’s not really something that has gone.
I will never say I am no longer depressed, I have good days and bad days and for the last 6 months, there’s more more of the good, so that’s a positive. But my anxiety is still very much there. I over think, worry about nearly everything and when I have nothing to be anxious about, I am convinced that I am missing something. How fucked up is that? My subconscious mind looks for things to be stressed about. I worry about getting older, about work, about the welfare of my loved ones and my relatives and all the while, my brain kicks me for being so anxious, as if it’s a personal failing or something. When work is busier than usual (with the financial year ending this week) it’s worse, so I am as the say goes ‘feeling it’ at the moment.
Yeah, I know, heavier than usual right?
So how do you battle this fresh hell? Well first I have to remember that it’s not fresh. This is no different from any other time when anxiety grabs at me. I am no stranger to this shit. So whenever I have been this way before, I have got through it. Experience, mistakes and disaster are often the best teachers, so I can use techniques that have worked before to ground me, or refocus my thinking. Another way is expression, hence this post. Speaking to someone about being anxious and knowing other people suffer anxiety conditions is a great way to remember that what you’re feeling is not an uncommon experience. Another technique, which is how I got through March is the ‘brass ring’ approach. Find something to look forward to and put your focus there. I had a fantastic weekend away not too long ago. (I think I will post about that sometime soon) and having that at the end of the tunnel really helped when things weren’t so good. So maybe I should be planning the next thing to do.
But in all fairness, the best way to battle the multitude of demons has been Super Sam and the MIGHTY Rosie, whose introduction to my life remain the best things that have ever (or will ever) happen to me. Last night me and the MIGHTY Rosie were laughing our arses off at a TV show that she had never seen before (more on that story another time) and just prior to writing this, I was using a stress ball my son made out of beads that absorb water. Stress ball wasn’t his intended use for it I am sure, but his wonder and excitement persist in my memory whenever I hold it.
Whenever you feel low remember this, you have survived. Whatever has tried to break you, kill you or ruin you, it hasn’t. You are still here, mightier than whatever befalls you. I am going to keep going, because I have too much to do, too much to look forward to and too much to live for.
I feel better after writing that.
With it being Mother’s day today, this sort of felt right.
The Oddball Choice: Jubilation Lee
Mother to Shogo Lee
Primarily used as an audience idenitification/Wolverine sidekick character, Jubilee was one of the many who filled that role originally set up for Kitty ‘Shadowcat’ Pryde. It was then handed to Jubilee, Armor, X-23 and others. Made more famous because of the 90’s animated series, Jubilee was then a charter member of Generation-X, but it became harder and harder to give her character something to do and she became a known victim of events. She lost her powers on M-Day, became one of the lesser remembered New Warriors after Civil War and became a vampire during Curse of the Mutants. During on the many relaunches of adjectiveless X-Men, she found a baby in the aftermath of an alien (sort of) attack and also being an orphan, took it upon herself to care for this abandoned baby that she named Shogo. Still fun-loving an effervescent, she is also a responsible and devoted mother. This is a drastic, but believable and well presented bit of character development, that avoids the trite-ness of the usual ‘make her a mother because we have run out of ideas’ trope prevalent in fiction. She went from mall-rat, to mutant hero, to creature of the night to single mum and teacher, not a bad character arc.
Recent Choice: Lois Lane
Mother to Jon ‘Superboy’ Kent
This isn’t the New52 Lois, but the pre-Flashpoint one seen in Convergence and is now the one running around in the Rebirth era of DC Comics. Able to stand as Superman’s equal, Clark Kent’s rival and a successful writer and kicking all kinds of arse on her own before motherhood, she is the how does she do it mum. She struggles but, won’t show weakness. The kind of mother that tells a kid who can throw tanks to go to his room and that kid will go to his room. With Jubilee, the changes motherhood put on her with overt and drastic, not here, this was just another layer of bad-ass added on, with more nuanced changes.
The Obvious Choice: Susan ‘Invisible Woman’ Richards.
Mother to Franklin and Valeria
Marvel comics first title was the era defining Fantastic Four. They subsequently became known as Marvel’s first family and for good reason. They are iconic by the way they are defined by very basic traits, with nuanced layers added on, but remain intrinsically the extremes they have always been.
Mr Fantastic: The smartest
Human Torch: The most impulsive.
The Thing: The strongest.
The Invisible Woman: The most powerful, most caring, most fierce, most determined, most undervalued and so on.
She’s a character that through neglect has lacked definition, unless you look at her as primarily a mother, then her entire character makes sense, a fiercely protective caregiver. Cross her and she can be both ruthless and fearless. She’s still criminally underused, but seeing her as a mother first and superhero second, informs much of her potential as a character.
The Everyday Choice: Debbie Grayson
Mother to Mark ‘Invincible’ Grayson
Debbie Grayson, Invincible’s mum, is the quintessential rock of the family type of character, that could easily be ignored in this kind of comic. She has an alien husband, a super hero son and all manner of bizarre-ness, and there she is just a good woman that loves them both. In the first dozen issues, there’s a twist that tears her life asunder in a number of ways. We see her fall apart and we watch her rise again. One of many supporting characters in that series, but clearly one of the best.
The best till last Choice: May Parker.
Mother to her nephew Peter Benjamin ‘Spider-Man’ Parker
Spider-Man should really be a villain if you think about it. He’s more than a bit arrogant, often self serving and if you read enough comics with him in, he’s a bit of a d**k. There’s loss, reveling in his power and his first thought with gaining powers isn’t saving people, it’s ‘the world can go f**k itself, am looking after me and mine’. But underneath all that is a foundation of goodness, of responsibility and the drive to keep fighting. The drive is his own past pushing him to keep going, the responsibility is what happened to Uncle Ben, but that goodness, that noble heart, that’s May. May raised Peter after his parents’ death along with Ben, then upto his college years without him and continues to do so. Look at it this way, she has lost everyone, her only family in New York were the Parkers, Richard, Mary and her beloved Ben, she lost them all and was left with Peter. She give a boy with nothing, everything he would ever need and then continued on, even as he lied to her and at times put her life at risk. (Donating irradiated blood, letting her take in Doctor Octopus as a lodger and a dozen other things besides) Despite being an aunt, clearly the best mum in comics.
These are as I see them the 5 of the best fictional mothers in comics.
Mums who rise to the occasion.
Mums who kick ass.
Mums who are fierce and indomitable.
Mums who are there day by day, no matter what.
Mums who make the people in their lives better people.
These are opinions of fictional characters, to be considered inconsequential and frivolous things, but I know someone in the real world who embodies all other items on the above list.
There are so many reasons why I love the MIGHTY Rosie, but one of them is that she is and always has been a wonderful mum. When I started writing this list, I realised that she is my standard for good mothers, real and not, so despite this being about not real parents, I couldn’t leave the best one out, simply because she’s real.
Parenting is hard, a good parent is worth their weight in gold, Rosie: Platinum.
2017 Was not the smoothest of years. There’s been upset, sadness, more than a few tears and the odd unpleasant truth here and there. But I don’t want to say that 2017 was a bad year, it wasn’t, at least personally. There are many reasons why:-
When I started this year, I weighed 18.5 st (259lbs in old money), was on anti-depressants and was completely devoid of anything resembling motivation. Of those three statuses, none are currently true.
At the suggestion of the MIGHTY Rosie, I joined Slimming World and started going to group on a Saturday morning. (For much of the year I blogged this journey under the banner of Slimming World Saturday) some days I found soul crushingly boring, but more often than not, I found it inspirational and it helped changed the way I looked at food. I am not more than 3st lighter than that now and in this new year am once again committed to it.
In early 2013 I suffered a depression related breakdown. It’s hard to write that down sometimes. The events that followed that day revealed that I had suffered depression much of my life and changed the way I looked at both my past and my present. I am not going to tell you that it’s been easy internet people, nor that I’ve dealt with it in the best way. Through the support of work, some friends and relatives and mostly the love and care of the Awesome Sammy and the MIGHTY Rosie, I have been on the road to better mental health. But I have needed help from others getting there too. One was a therapist and the other was the pharmacological arm of the NHS. From January 2016 I have been on Sertraline to treat my depression. Once I needed it, afterwards, it helped still, but somewhere along the way it stopped either being helpful, or being necessary and I was not really experiencing the full range of human experience and emotion, so after seeking medical advice on the safest way to do it (telling the Drs what I wanted, not asking them what to do) I reduced and them came off my tablets. Finally free of them, I realise that they were not really doing too much this last year and as of early October, I am medicine free. I am more engaged with the world, more emotional and I hope to think a better version of myself than I had been for the 3 previous years. I also decided to take a break from therapy for the Christmas period. Been not having sessions for 4 or 5 weeks now and to be honest, I don’t think I will be going back. Like the tablets, I needed it, then it helped me, but I don’t think over analysing my moods and my past is going to help me do the things I really want to do, I want to move forward, be a better me and that is not what I was getting from therapy towards the end.
A lack of Motivation
I am almost pathologically lazy. I am like a rug on valium. I have reasons, explanations, but not really excuses, so that I have had to change that. The tablets and the weight loss things are signs that I do possess a small amount of drive and my writing does hint at it too, I have posted daily since December 1st and with the exception Sunday, feel no reason to stop. So it exists within me to better my particular lot in life and so have started to do that. As part of my overall wellness kick of 2017 I followed my excellent trainer Ali to a new company https://instagram.com/absolutebodysolutions and enjoy weekly sessions to increase fitness, strength and reduce stress ( a better option than a tablet I think we can all agree) and they have started a sort of life coaching/planning company called ABS Life and it’s done what therapy hasn’t, it’s helped me with tools to be a person. I am planning for the future and am setting goals and challenges and things are looking brighter. I am still lazy, but I have motivation and for the first time in years am investing in what I want.
It’s been a bit of year here at the munky house, log cabin days away, walks in the woods and more than a few zoo trips and we have got away here and there several times. It’s been quite a year. For years, I have avoided conventions and things like that, suffering anxiety kind of puts a dampener on that experience, but this year after mix up and stupid mistakes the Munky family went to For the Love of Sci-Fi in Manchester. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you can see some of the pictures of the Cosplayers who were amazing and so friendly to my 7 year old boy, including a scottish medieval Batman and the Dutch Daywalker (a Blade lookalike) as well as people from Dredd, Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica and I will be glad of all that.
But, it was badly organised, badly signposted and the reputed shitty behaviour of one William Shatner was very much confirmed when I posed for a picture I paid for. It would have been a complete waste except that we got a fantastic present for my mad sister in law and I met the Hoff. I posed for a pic with David Hasselhoff and the Knight Rider Trans-am and he was a delight, friendly and approachable and he even serenaded the MIGHTY Rosie. I couldn’t have asked for a nicer guy to have my photo taken with.
I want to do another convention, but I will be more selective, more organised and more prepared, but that’s another story.
My goal when I started this year, in a broad term was a better version of me. I am closer to that than I once was and am moving forward every single day. So I will take much of this year as a success, a qualified success, but a success nonetheless. But happiness isn’t a goal, it may be a direction, but it’s also moments, moments like walking in the park on New Years Day, enjoying all of it and being sad not about going back to work, but not being with your loved ones for another day like this. Like making your wife laugh, for no other reason that she needs it and seeing her smile is one of life’s great joys. It’s singing along to Queen on a car ride, all three of us and enjoying each second, I had moments like that in 2017 and it’s made me greedy, I want more. And that’s what I’m going to do.
2017 is one, bring it on 2018, I will not back down.
That’s enough looking backwards, time to turn my view to the horizon and all the steps in front of me towards it.
On the 24th day of Christmas the MIGHTY Rosie gave to me….
Yeah, something’s gone wrong there, hasn’t it. It was all giggles and I don’t know how that happened, but it made us all laugh at the Munky house. Christmas Eve is here and we are as ready as we are going to be. I have enjoyed doing this advent calendar series and appreciate all the likes and comments. This has been a lot of fun and the only way I fan end this is the final line of the night before X-Mas
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!
Two days to go and it’s getting exciting. The socks are comfy and anyone who knows my right arm is aware of my fondness for Captain America related characters. Christmas is almost here, Father Christmas is getting his sack ready.