Bojack Weekends

I’ve had one of those perfect weekends when all the best new TV has made itself available and I’ve been able to go about my business of blogging and putting away clothes while watching it.

Relax haters, I also put on a dress and lipstick and went to see not one but two friends today, I’ve not been 100% hermit. Unfortunately.

Life has got increasingly busy over the summer with no sign of slowing down so these days seem few and far between at the moment. I cannot wait for it to get colder so I have a legit excuse to nest again.

Anyway, new Bojack is here and we’re already on Season 5. Let me tell you that when it first arrived on Netflix I didn’t know what to make of it. It was just an adult cartoon about a washed up horse and various other human and animal characters.

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But then… it started to shine and I realised it as one of the most wonderful things I’ve ever seen. It handles difficult subject matter in the most extraordinary way and has moved me to tears on more than one occasion. I would go so far as to say at least two episodes from previous seasons, one from last season (Ruthie, S04 E09) and one from the third (Fish Out of Water, S03 E04) broke me for a moment.

It’s been said that it’s handling of mental health and depression is some of the best and I’m inclined to agree. Despite it’s candy coloured appearance and wry observational humour, it doesn’t shy away from the uglier side of life. Not to spoiler but we’ve spent time examining feelings of failure and rejection, drug addiction, miscarriages, divorce, chronic depression and sexism.

It’s so relatable and though I’m not that far into the fifth season we’re already looking at the topic of asexuality. Meanwhile, *spoilers* Diane has travelled to Vietnam not only to get away but to get in touch with her roots, something her all-American family have always denied her. AND Bojack has become the accidental voice of feminism because who better to listen to on this topic than a man?

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It’s just so clever and spot on and I can’t wait to binge the rest of it. If you haven’t yet I would really recommend it – it’s definitely special and definitely some of the best TV around.

What are you watching?

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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?

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:

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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?

Anxiety 1, Voluptuous 0

I had a panic attack yesterday morning and had to come home from work. I lay down until it passed and then watched The Conjuring with a cup of tea and a banging headache. I’m off again today with the same headache but really it was frightening and I still feel out of sorts.

Even though I have an anxiety disorder, I very rarely have these attacks. I can remember two over the last year and they were scary bastards. This was no different – I felt like I was going to collapse and then I just felt an ominous feeling engulf me, like something really bad was about to happen. I felt like I had to flee and I couldn’t get out of the office quick enough.

Yesterday (and today) are the sunniest days we’ve had all year, everyone’s smiling and showing skin – and I’m home feeling sorry for myself. I know I’m normal but sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. Can’t I just live?

I feel daily as though there is a war raging inside me, one between the anxious me and the confident me. They’re such polar opposites with such vastly different attitudes and they butt heads constantly. Anxious me wants to break me with the self-doubt it sends coursing through my veins. I will never let her win but sometimes I’m not quick enough and I hear what she’s whispering – “You’re not good enough”, “Nobody likes you”, “You don’t deserve that”… oh, she’s a little cunt alright.

She’ll never get the better of me but sometimes I let her run the show, she is part of me after all. And while this is happening Confident me has a nap, posts Instagram memes and rallies against the patriarchy in her head (the patriarchy is responsible for consumerism and the unrealistic beauty ideals that keep us feeling like we’re never good enough). Confident me tries on jumpsuits and shushes Anxious me when she tells her (me) that I can’t wear that.

I’m tired and I’m feeling sorry for myself. My head hurts and I feel old and crabby. My skin needs moisture, my fringe needs a cut and everyone looks so effortless in the summer sun. I wish I was out there and I’m glad I’m indoors. I want company and I want to be left alone. Like I said, a constant battle, an eternal game of tug-of-war.

Blue Monday

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Here it is, the single most depressing day of the entire year.

I mean there are reasons to kick against it, to say “Fuck this, not today, Satan” but when it’s violently windy outside and your umbrella gets blown inside out 0.2 seconds after stepping out of the door, it’s hard to be strong. Plus, I got my period and have the worst cramps ever in the whole history of menstruation, so I’m not feeling today AT ALL. (Of course I’m jesting, these are not problems in the grand scheme of things. But aren’t Mondays hard enough?).

This isn’t a big post really, just an acknowledgement I guess to anyone feeling extra shitty today. I feel you and I’m here for you.

I’ll spare you a Reasons to be Cheerful list because it’s likely you already know there are blessings to be had in this life, even if they’re just Oscar Issac’s face. Depression doesn’t see all that or work that way, I know. But sometimes it’s useful to receive the message that you’re not alone, that other people feel the way you do and they understand.

Be kind to yourself today and every day, but particularly today, while everybody’s chattering about how depressing it all is. Do what you can but if you can’t do anything, that’s fine. Stay home if you can, avoid people if you need to.

Rinse Netflix, read a book – whatever you need, try and make time for it.

I’m thinking of you.

Stealing From Friends: Belle of the Bluegrass on Anxiety

I don’t often reblog but I think perhaps I should start because it’s always nice to share. It also takes the pressure off when you’re going off for the weekend and have forgotten to queue something up in your own words!  (Semi-kidding).

Please read Belle of the Bluegrass‘ post below as it’s frank and beautiful, and I think might come as a great comfort to people who suffer from the same condition.

I’m an anxious person (as are some of my closest friends) and I think it’s incredibly important that conversations about Mental Health, depression and anxiety are open and out there for all to access. Having to play down feelings or be made to feel like they’re trivial is not helpful at all.

Anyway, read and enjoy – and maybe give Lydia some solidarity!

My anxiety has been horrendous this past week, it hasn’t been this bad in a very long time. Multiple daily panic attacks have exhausted me and made me think at certain points, that I am losing my damn mind. I have a phobia of the doctors, but I dragged myself there feeling the weight of […]

via My heart is pounding, I don’t want to be in my skin — Belle of the Bluegrass