Safe Zone

My home is rarely tidy. It’s comfortable and warm but our furniture is worn, there are books everywhere and I only vacuum when I know I have guests coming. I believe there’s always something more interesting to be doing than housework and I live by this philosophy. I wish I were more house proud but I’m not.

My home is, however, a safe place. For myself, for my family and for anyone who needs it. The kettle is always on, we have tea and coffee and beer and crisps and anything else we might need is just round the corner. There’s a spare bed during the week (or a couch always) and a shoulder to cry on any time. We can sit in silence or we can watch crappy TV (or good TV). You can have a bath or a shower, and borrow my fluffy robe. You can even use my good conditioner.

What I’m trying to say is nobody should be alone when they need someone. Nobody should feel alone. It’s important to realise that it’s okay to not be okay and that we don’t have to be strong all the time. We have the right to ask for help and we should also be there for each other when we need it. Life is hard and frenetic and it’s very easy to lose sight of ourselves and other people in admist our daily life.

So my home is a safe zone and my shoulder is a sturdy one. My ears are open. I don’t have a clue about a lot of things but I do know how to just be there. And I know how to make an excellent hot beverage.

#mentalhealthawareness #bethere

*Post inspired by a status update on social media (not written by me).

Meet the Blogger

I recently read an article about blogging that figures a monthly questionnaire with the author is a good call. Something to do with engagement, blah blah blah. It was aimed at real bloggers and if I’m honest with myself, I doubt I’ve got enough material to fill more than a couple. I do like the sentiment though, so I stole this from the internet.

Welcome to my first Meet the Blogger feature. 

Who is A Voluptuous Mind for?

Anyone who wants to read it, I suppose. If I were to go a little deeper maybe people like me who are still figuring out what they want to do with their lives and like films. Geeks, weirdos, normal people. 

What are your struggles as a blogger?

Inspiration. Time. Blowing my own trumpet. And maybe not really having a proper focus, by which I mean I don’t really have a theme, my posts are either introspective or about B-Movies. I envy people who can commit to a theme. 

How do you deal with numbers and comparing yourself with other bloggers?

I don’t have any numbers! My blog is read by a very low number of people (people whose opinions matter to me) and that’s alright. I don’t do it for popularity or to be like other bloggers. This is my safe space. I don’t know how I would respond the pressure of being a blogging sensation.  

What makes you stand out as a blogger?

Honestly, I don’t think there’s anything. I think you can hear my voice in my words and hopefully I write with a tongue in cheek sense of humour but that’s about it.

What are some of your favorite tools for blogging?

I love the WordPress app and use it a lot. Mostly I slap my posts into NotePad at work and then email them to myself at home to post later. Old skool. 

What’s your favorite post you have written and why?

Wow this is a good question. I have lots but here are a few:

Which is your most read post?

I honest don’t know how to find out but this one always seems to be popular and I have no idea why.

How does your perfect day looks like?

I hate to say it but it’s a day with no plans, a whole season of new TV ahead of me and lots of nice food to eat. Like this one. I love blogging when I have the time and I have A LOT of film reviews to type up for my other blog, Thursday Night at the Movies.

My Blogging Space

It’s our sofa, which only I seem to inhabit. Cup of tea, two cushions and the TV. When I’m home I’m home and I love being cosy. 

Do you have any questions for me? Mum? 

Cry for the Bad Man

Ugh. Some days no matter what you do, things just won’t go your way. One thing can throw you off or get under your skin and then suddenly you’re sobbing for every bad thing that ever happened to you.

That was me this morning, Wasting perfectly good make-up on something (and someone) insignificant but also significant enough to (almost) mess up my day. At times like this I feel it’s good to just embrace the misery. Give it time to be what it is: an outlet.

So what if I want to sob uglyly (a word?) until there’s nothing left? So what if it leads me to remember all the heartbreaks I’ve ever suffered, every rejection, every fear? Dead pets too, why not?

Crying can be cathartic and sometimes so is sadness. It reminds us we’re human and that we care about life and people and ourselves. I am still sensitive after all these years and I’m glad because sensitivity helps me connect to others.

I won’t let it drag me down for long (I’ll fight my depression to the bitter end) but I also think it’s okay to feel your feelings. It passes, so far it always has. As soon as a colleague makes a stupid joke or someone puts a heart shaped Post-It on your desk, it’s gone. Until next time.

How are you today?

Dreams Can Come True (But I really hope they don’t)

I’ve always been a dreamer but lately (and for a long while now) I’ve literally been a dreamer – every night I have dreams so vivid I have no fucking clue how to process them. Or even if dreams really do mean half as much as we give them credit for.

I’m thinking of getting a dream journal so I can work through them because some of my night time adventures are so off the chain they have to be something, don’t they? I want to believe they are, anyway. I know it’s really just my brain working through my anxieties and my thoughts from the day but could it be something more?

Last night, I dreamt I was being held hostage by a family of yetis in the woods. I managed to escape because I fortuitously found a yeti mask and was able to convince them I was one of them – and then I escaped. Not after having to grunt convincingly for the ringleaders, because one of them was suspicious.

WHAT THE FUCK?

It doesn’t sound as tense as the actual dream felt, but in the moment it was a life and death situation – and I knew my body language and my verbal nods had to seem legit. And when I was out, I felt that rush of being free, of being safe again – and it was GREAT.

So the yetis were a one off but I often have reoccurring dreams, or I explore similar themes. My horrid ex is always popping up, always angry and every time I’m trying frantically to get away from him – that’s a bad one to experience continually.

I suppose the reason I have that one is pretty straightforward; it’s my worst nightmare to bump into him or to ever have to clap eyes on him again – so duh.

I think those ones come down to guilt: the guilt of allowing myself to make the choices I did back then. It’s like a PTSD situation which might sound a bit casual to throw into a blog post about dreams but is testament to the damage leftover by an abusive relationship.

I wish those ones would stop because sometimes I act out violently and have a moment on waking where I believe I’m guilty of something I can never take back.

Ditto my old best friend, she makes appearances a lot but in a much less dramatic way. We’re usually friends again (no) and I feel guilty about having to tell my actual real life best friend. It’s a relief to leave those ones behind too.

Life is strange, isn’t it? We do what we have to do and everything we juggle can be overwhelming – and then we have to run away from Big Foot at night. It would be nice to switch off my mind at least half of the week – or maybe dream only on weekends?

What are your thoughts on dreams?

A History of Silence

The other week was Mental Health Awareness Week and I had planned to post this then as a celebration of my own mental struggles – but of course I never got the time/had the energy to sit down and polish off the right words. I do think it’s great that this week is marked in the calendar and that it prompts so many valuable discussions. In the wake of the devastating news about Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbits, it feels especially poignant.

Where do you even start though when you’ve been plagued with doubt your whole life? And why does it always feel so narcissistic to talk non-stop about this stuff? I’ve dealt (and sometimes ignored) my own depression and anxiety since teen age. I always thought I was just supremely anti-social and lazy (I am lazy) but I’ve come to understand that it’s not that black and white. Sometimes the feeling of not being able to physically haul yourself out of bed isn’t just because you’re a sloth. As for being around too many people, that’s all symptom of the same condition. Some days I can’t bear the thought of having to deal with another living soul. My family used to describe me as sensitive and you know what, I really am – and there’s nothing wrong with it.

When I first moved to Brighton I was grappling not only with a dramatic move and adult life away from home but with crippling loneliness. I didn’t like myself very much, felt hideous 24/7 (adult acne did not help) and all I wanted to do was hide away. As I adapted to my new life some of that fell away but I’d fall hard for the wrong men and then feel everything ten fold. The first time I sought (not very good) assistance from a medical professional was because of a man (I had an affair with someone completely unavailable). Really it was about all those feelings backing up one on top of the other and having no understanding of how to deal but the boy was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

I was immediately medicated with no other discussion and whatever I took then was not the one. My doctor was well-meaning but not exactly open to a conversation about mental health and I guess I didn’t really care to understand the whys then, I just wanted to be ‘fixed’.

A few years later, during my black period (age 24-30), I was in a very bad place. I was trapped in a relationship that was slowly killing me. For the most part I was numb and uncaring about everything but inside I felt trapped, scared and I did not want to be part of anything anymore. I walked on eggshells around a man that scared and controlled me in subtle ways. When he told me I was crazy I believed him. When he told me I was lucky he didn’t hit women, I believed him.

Well, hindsight is a wonderful thing and it’s sometimes hard to remember how bad things were then but they were the pits. I thought seriously about ending it and planned my out meticulously, something I’ve never really told anyone and certainly nobody at the time. I had it all mapped out but now I think if I’d gone through with it, it would have been a cry for help. Not to trivialise the choice to end a life, I have every sympathy for anyone in that position but I personally wanted a way out or for someone to reach out and tell me what to do. I’m thankful I didn’t act on that and one day did find the strength to leave him. I still dream about that time and live in dread that one day I might bump into him again.

Life since has been up and down of course because it’s life but it’s been good. That anxiety though just doesn’t want to let go. Everywhere I go I am constantly wrestling with the internal voice that tells me I’m worthless and failing at everything. Every time I walk into a new social situation I’m sure everyone hates me – and I will often lie awake at night because I forgot to say goodbye to someone and have probably upset them in some irreparable way.

It’s a funny old battle – the war between this negative voice and the real me – but they are both me and we have to find a way to co-exist. I’m medicated again, I started up on Sertraline about ten months ago and it seems to be suiting me. My lovely doctor also got me signed up to some CBT training and counselling and has generally been adorable every time I’ve rocked up to her office and sobbed my heart out. I’ve been lucky this time and things feel more manageable. Some environmental changes can trigger a particularly bad period but other than that I’m coping.

My heart goes out to anyone with the same feelings and it breaks my heart when another person loses their battle but I understand. Suicide doesn’t make a person weak and if that’s the only way to find peace then I get it – although I would hope there’s always another way.

Things might be getting better and there is less stigma attached to these mental conditions but we still have a long way to go.

Here are a few deeply relatable illustrations about anxiety that I love:

Untitled2

Untitled

Untitled3 (1)

Untitled4

Smental

So much for Motivated May, eh? I had all these plans to keep the posts flowing throughout Mental Health Awareness Week and then… I couldn’t muster the energy. Instead I had a very chilled week, mainlined Safe on Netflix and spent time with my beloved. Which sometimes is all the self-care you need.

MHAW was a busy one at work though with workshops every day which I made sure I attended. While they won’t change my life forever, they have given me plenty of food for thought. Particularly when it comes to diet, direct sunlight and digital behaviour. I’m not talking going on a diet obviously, I’m talking about the things I ‘should’ be eating for optimum mental health – fermented foods like kimchi, anyone? Sauerkraut with every meal? I’m definitely falling short of my 5 a day (bare minimum) and probably should swap out my daily Wispa for an apple but we’ll see.

Apparently you’re also supposed to get at least 30 minutes of sunlight into YOUR EYEBALLS every lunchtime too – which I definitely do not do, what with being ginger and mutant and all.

For me it’s the digital side of things that is the real problem, I’m the worst for falling down a blue light rabbit hole before bed and not being able to sleep – so I’m looking at what I can do to rein that in. So much of the time I spend on social media could not be considered ‘quality’ and I can do without it. That’s what books were invented for, right?

All in all I think I’m in an okay place. I was going to do a whole spiel for the week about my history with depression and hey, I still will but in a few days when I get my act together. In the meantime, I’m just here thinking about life and kicking myself that May wasn’t the hive of activity I planned it to be. Joyous June, anyone?

Consider this a check in, filler post while I sort out my life.

How are you?

Update on Anxiety

My anxiety has been more in check these last couple of weeks since the panic attack but I am definitely feeling more sensitive to certain things. Like, if there are too many people at an event, I’m out thanks. I’ve always been this way to a point (50% introvert, 50% extrovert donchaknow?) but as the nicer weather starts to show its face and large pockets of people congregate all over the place, it fills me with dread. Even if they are all smiley and happy.

I’m not against joy or anything and I love people really, even though I pretend I don’t – but large collectives stress me out. Even at my own events (like I throw those regularly!), I feel like I can’t sufficiently spread my attentions around and get flappy. So I’m feeling a bit angsty lately and fighting the urge to hide away – I say fighting because so far I’m winning, go me.

These kind of introspective periods make me think a lot about what I’m doing with my life and although I’m pretty happy, I’m starting to lose patience with some things and some people. I think I just have to keep reminding myself that I have the power to make changes, however small.

Thankfully it’s the Bank Holiday weekend and I’ve got lots of plan to podcast, watch movies, see good friends and just chill the fuck out, without having to make any big plan yet.

Bring it on.